Ashley Cole undecided over LA Galaxy move despite deal being ‘close’

Ashley Cole’s proposed move to LA Galaxy is still hanging in the balance as the English left-back is mulling over “two or three options” as to where his career will likely finish.

Reports emerged earlier this week suggesting that Cole was “close” to securing a deal that would seem him move to MLS with LA Galaxy, but that does not seem to be the case at this stage.

The 35-year-old defender is believed to enjoy his lifestyle in Italy, where he has been since joining AS Roma in July 2014, and could even decide to remain where he is.

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Crystal Palace and Manchester United have also been linked with Cole if the former Chelsea and Arsenal star opts to make a return to the Premier League.

LA Galaxy is still seen as Cole’s most likely destination but no deal appears to have been agreed as we enter 2016.

Galaxy head coach, Bruce Arena has revealed he is actively looking to bring in a few players before the start of the 2016 MLS season, with experienced additions a priority after seeing Omar Gonzalez and Juninho transferred to Mexican clubs.

“I would anticipate that we’ll add three or four players to our roster,” Arena said. “There are a lot of factors on why players come to our team as opposed to others.

“The Galaxy have a good reputation. Our players from Europe that have played here or are playing here are good spokespersons for our club.”

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A move to LA Galaxy would see Cole link up with former England teammate Steven Gerrard as well as Irish striker Robbie Keane.

However, it would be highly unlikely that Cold would sign as a Designated Player, given the fact that the Galaxy already have Keane, Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos tied down on DP contracts.

Would Ashley Cole be a good signing for LA Galaxy? 

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Bruce Arena slates ‘awful’ LA Galaxy after 4-0 drubbing by Orlando

Bruce Arena has slated his LA Galaxy sides ‘awful’ performance after their 4-0 thumping by Orlando City on Sunday.

This was the Galaxy’s worst defeat since 2013 when they lost 5-0 to New England Revolution and Arena is far from happy with his squad’s performance.

“We were awful on the day. Out of 14 players that played, I thought about three of them played in an acceptable manner. We were outplayed all over the field, and, really, there’s not much you can say.

“You go into a game and most players lose their battles on the field, you don’t have a chance to win,” Arena was quoted as saying by MLSsoccer.com.

LA fielded a lacklustre side without any Designated Players as Robbie Keane remains injured and Omar Gonzalez was on the bench. When those two are back in the side we can expect to see a more forceful Galaxy.

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The loss has left Galaxy in seventh in the Western Conference, one place outside the playoffs and their performances have been below par. They have won just three, drawn five and lost four games so far this season. Arena needs a reaction from his players.

Galaxy have the chance to redeem themselves on May 22 when they face Houston Dynamo at the StubHub Centre.

How bad were LA Galaxy against Orlando and can they bounce back?

MLS Fantasy Tips: Top Defensive Picks

The third installment of our fantasy tips series sees us preview the best defensive options in the official mlssoccer.com fantasy football game.

With the 2015 MLS season fast approaching, we take a look at the best defenders to consider starting in your MLS Fantasy lineup. Here are the five we think could top the points chart this term in defence:

1. Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) – $9.0m

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A hefty price for the LA Galaxy Designated Player should be money well spent as LA are the favourites to retain their MLS Cup title again this year. With eight clean-sheets in the 2014 regular season, Omar Gonzalez is certainly worth a look so long as your budget can stretch.

The USMNT star is also a threat at set-pieces. He scored four times last season and his experience will be key in defence and attack. One concern would be that he has been known to have injury problems.

2. Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers) – $8.5m

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Portland Timbers are expected to have a good season and Liam Ridgewell will play a huge part in any playoff push the Timbers mount. The Englishman is a free-kick specialist and can also play in midfield.

At $8.5m he is an expensive pick but he is worth a look as he has a keen eye for goal and will pick up clean-sheet points that will be so valuable for your team.

3. Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City) – $9.0m

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The other half of the USMNT World Cup centre-half pairing, Matt Besler is a strong centre-back that can also pop up with a goal. Top players cost top money and Besler is valued at a price that is risky ($9.0m) but he could bring huge rewards if Sporting KC remain tight at the back.

Sporting Kansas City will be playing in the Western Conference this season but Besler should pick up some clean-sheets on the way. Last year saw Besler record his lowest fantasy points tally in three years but that was largely down to fatigue after the World Cup and he should bounce back in 2015.

4. Brek Shea (Orlando City SC) – $8.0m

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Some might say Brek Shea is a gamble but his versatility could see him move forward from left-back, where he is expected to play, throughout the season and with that he becomes more of a goal threat.

At $8.0m he is still a risk and may not settle back into MLS instantly. But he is going to get game time with Orlando City and may be worth the money so long as the Lions can remain relatively solid at the back.

5. Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) – $9.0m

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FC Dallas star Matt Hedges is a mainstay in a very good Dallas team. With the introduction of Dan Kennedy in goal, Dallas have only strengthened at the back and they are certainly contenders for the MLS Supporters’ Shield. Any club in the hunt for success needs to keep clean-sheets and Dallas are no exception.

Hedges popped up with three goals last season and that total could well increase this term. He was the fourth-highest scoring defender in 2014 and deserves serious attention.

Who do you think will be the best MLS Fantasy defender in 2015?

6 Bold Predictions ahead of MLS Cup 2014

With the MLS Cup Final just a couple of days away, the MLSGB team have put their bold predictions forward and we’re expecting goals!

LA Galaxy take on New England Revolution at StubHub Center in what should be a thriller as Landon Donovan has the chance to end his soccer career with another trophy.

The game kicks off at 20:00pm in the UK and can be watched live on BT Sport 1.

Our full game preview can be read here. And be sure to check out the MLSGB TV Show as the team preview the big game:

But here are the MLSGB team’s five bold predictions for the 2014 MLS Cup Final between LA Galaxy and New England Revolution.

1. Lee Nguyen will score a hat-trick – Louis East

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Lee Nguyen has been sensational this year. That’s not a secret. But he will be slightly disappointed to have not won the MVP award after netting 20 goals from midfield so far. That means Nguyen will be out to prove a point once more and he could win New England Revolution’s first ever MLS Cup title single-handedly.

2. Landon Donovan to score a penalty – Simon Pyne

Donovan will step up and do what he does best – score a penalty. The legend can handle the pressure and will have the chance to send 30,000 Galaxy fans into raptures in what should be a memorable night for the star man.

3. LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez will score an own goal – Jamie Ives

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The Galaxy are favourites to lift their fifth MLS Cup but they could make things tough for themselves by scoring at the wrong end. Omar Gonzalez is a star at the back for the Galaxy and has scored four goals in 2014 so far, but he could do the Revs a favour by putting it into his own net on Sunday.

4. New England Revolution not to have a shot on target – Ben Ashton

The Revs have been scoring for fun of late, especially away from home, netting 13 in their last five away games. But that will all change at StubHub Center on Sunday as the Galaxy will dominate and ensure the Revs don’t even register a shot on target.

5. Landon Donovan will cap off his career with a hat-trick – Lewis Addley

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All eyes will be on Landon Donovan on Sunday night. He is hoping for a night of glory in his final game as a professional. The pressure will be on but he will deliver as he did against Real Salt Lake by scoring three goals in another legendary performance.

6. Both teams to score within a minute at some point – Zack Walford

Both teams have so much to offer in attack and although it could start of cagey, the game will come to life when both teams score in 60 seconds. Donovan will score and while the stadium are celebrating, the Revs will go up the other end and stun everyone immediately.

How do you see the MLS Cup Final shaping out?

Preview: FC Dallas vs. L.A Galaxy

Toyota Stadium will play host to LA Galaxy on Sunday night as FC Dallas will look to end the Galaxy’s 10-game unbeaten run.

They will be glad to hear that the Galaxy will be without three of their stars as Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan have all been away on international duty this weekend.

Though Dallas will be without Blas Perez, who is away with Panama, Je-Vaughn Watson, who is with the Jamaican team and Raul Fernandez, who is with Peru.

Both teams come into this clash in a rich vein of form, with Dallas having won their last seven at home. They have also scored at least twice in those seven games.

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However, they have lost their last four away games and will be hoping that home advantage can help them to avoid their third loss to the Galaxy this season, as both previous matches have ended 2-1.

In contrast, the Galaxy have won eight of their last ten both home and away. The only thing that’s almost certain of this tie is goals, as both side’s are still in with a shout for the MLS Cup.

LA have the chance to get one hand on the Supporters Shield following Seattle’s loss to Vancouver, while Dallas will be able to rest easy knowing that a playoff place is all but secured if they can seal all three points in what should be an entertaining encounter.

Key Player: Gyasi Zardes: The flyer has netted 16 times in MLS this season and he will need to deliver on Monday night as the Galaxy will be without their usual stars.

Key stat: LA Galaxy has scored in each of their last 23 games in Major League Soccer. Impressive stuff.

Prediction: FC Dallas 1- 2 L.A Galaxy – The Galaxy to get their third 2-1 win against Dallas this season at Toyota Stadium.

USA win again but there are still major problems within the set-up

The USA beat Turkey 2-1 on Sunday night, setting the benchmark for upcoming performances, however Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn’t know his best team.

We can assume he will play the diamond formation, having used it in both warm-up games so far, but they are left open at the back and better teams like Germany and Portugal will tear them apart.

We take a look at the areas that need more attention:

1. Left back.

Klinsmann has used DaMarcus Beasley and Timothy Chandler so far and both have looked questionable at best.

Klinsmann isn’t budging on moving Fabian Johnson from right back, even though Chandler and Johnson prefer the opposite flanks.

They need to find a solution at left back and quick, or hope that Chandler or Beasley are up for the challenge come June 16.

2. Should Jozy Altidore lead the line?

Altidore looked very good but the only thing missing was a goal.

He hasn’t scored a goal since the 4th December so fans will be hoping he finds the net before the big opener against Ghana.

He used his strength throughout and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper.

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3. Julian Green – too early?

The 18-year-old has only had one cap prior to his World Cup call up, and has yet to win over the USMNT fans.

Coming on against Turkey, he failed to make a valid contribution and the omission of Landon Donovan will look even worse to the USMNT faithful.

4. Portugal have Ronaldo, but the USA have Bradley.

We’re not going to begin to compare the two players, but they do mean a lot to their respective nations hopes at the World Cup.

Bradley is the pivotal player for the US and any hopes of them progressing out of the group lie solely on his ability to supply the goals, as he did last night. We expect him to have a great World Cup, although he will need a good supporting cast in front.

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5. Geoff Cameron, first choice centre-half?

Cameron has only played one game at centre back domestically this year, yet he looks set to play there at the World Cup.

Unless Klinsmann knows something we all don’t, we can’t understand the logic behind his defensive combinations. He has a right back playing left back, a left back playing right back, and another right back playing centre back!

If Cameron does start in the heart of defence, where does that leave natural defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez?

Key takeaways from the USA’s 2-0 win against Azerbaijan

The US national team made hard work of a win on Tuesday night, which saw them snatch a 2-0 win late on against Azerbaijan in the first of their three games in the send-off series before the World Cup.

The USMNT dominated most of the game, enjoying 70% of possession, but they failed to convert on several occasions.

There were a few issues to be addressed and these are our key takeaways from the performance:

1. Can Chris Wondolowski lead the line?

Clint Dempsey pulled out last minute due to a precautionary injury concern with his groin. He has recently stated the minority of the issue, and has claimed that he should be fit to play Turkey on Sunday night.

The concern will still be felt across the nation, as if he were to miss out the fate of the team would lie on Wondolowski and the out-of-sorts Jozy Altidore.

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2. A new era for the No. 10 jersey.

In the absence of Landon Donovan, the unoccupied No. 10 jersey has been filled by Mix Diskerud. The 23 year-old midfielder started on the bench but made an instant impact by coming on and scoring on Tuesday night.

It is still unclear as to how much of an impact Diskerud can make at the World Cup, with Jurgen Klinsmann opting for a diamond formation on Tuesday night, but he proved against Azerbaijan what a valuable asset he is to the squad.

3. Fabian Johnson starting at right-back?

It was thoroughly documented that Fabian Johnson has been training exclusively at right-back and as expected he played there.

We struggle to see how this will fair for the Americans, as playing Johnson on the right leaves the side imbalanced. However, it does allow DaMarcus Beasley to operate at left back, as he was up and down the left flank all night, in a stellar performance from the veteran.

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4. Is Omar Gonzalez fully fit?

Omar Gonzalez came off the bench to replace Geoff Cameron last night, and with question marks over his fitness, should he have played at all?

Klinsmann will be happy to see him get through the second-half, and if he were fully fit, he would surely resume his great partnership with Matt Besler in the heart of the American defence.

Preview: USA vs. Azerbaijan

The USMNT take on Azerbaijan tonight in the first of their World Cup warm-up friendlies, and we take a look at the things we expect to see.

First of all, reports coming out of the camp are that Fabian Johnson has been almost exclusively training as a right-back. This comes as a surprise that the left-footed Johnson will assumingly be preferred to natural right-sided fullbacks in Deandre Yedlin and Timothy Chandler.

Another surprise is that Jurgen Klinsmann believes that Geoff Cameron’s (another player who can operate at full back) best position is centre-half.

Due to a recent injury to Omar Gonzalez, it’s no surprise that Klinsmann would want to see who could fill in. But Cameron has only played once there for Stoke City this term, and all his other appearances were at right-back.

In a squad that boasts the talents of both Matt Besler and John Anthony Brooks, it seems strange that Geoff Cameron is being thrust into centre back at such a late stage.

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With only 16 days until the world cup, we should assume that Klinsmann knows his team, but trying players out in obscure positions at such a late date, is something the fans will be concerned about.

They should however comfortably beat an Azerbaijan team that is ranked 85th in the world, and should use this game to gel players together.

Expect a comfortable win for the USMNT, whichever team is put out, and with the next warm-up game against Turkey on the 1st June, we can assume that Klinsmann may be saving his ‘best’ team for then.

Prediction: 4-0 – USA to win at least 3 – Expect a very aggressive approach, as well as domination of the possession stats.

One to Watch: Jozy Altidore – Following a poor season with Sunderland, the powerful striker will be looking to get on the score sheet tonight, and prove why he has made the squad.

LA Galaxy finally get a win, but what did we learn in their victory against FC Dallas?

FC Dallas travelled to LA on Wednesday night and were confined to a 2-1 defeat as the Galaxy ended their run of four games without a win. Here are a few things we learnt from this result:

1. Feed Robbie Keane and he will score.

As we said in our recent podcast, the Galaxy has to get the ball to Keane, especially in the absence of Landon Donovan, who is likely off to the World Cup, and it is down to ‘Keano’ to get the goals.

The Irishman scored his sixth of the season last night, and it is already a contender for goal of the week as he beat two defenders before planting the ball the in the top corner.

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(Photo: Keane celebrating after his brilliant goal last night)

2. Fabian Castillo is dangerous.

The 21 year-old Dallas winger has pace to burn and will cause fullbacks problems all season. He will however, need someone to get on the end of his inviting crosses, which means his teammates will have to keep up with him!

He is a similar player to Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon or Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, as Castillo has impressive acceleration which can leave defenders for dead, and his opponents will struggle even more if he were to adapt by cutting in and shooting more often.

Castillo is one to watch for Dallas!

 

3. Dallas need to change it up.

Without a win in six after last night, it must be time to revert back to basics. Too many times the ball would be launched up field, but would not stick.

Dallas needs to go with a strike partnership up top and spend more time in the opponents half, which is difficult with the number of injuries but they just need bodies going forward.

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(Photo: Fabian Castillo needs support up top for FC Dallas)

 

4. Juninho can hold the fort till Donovan returns.

As mentioned before, Landon Donovan is away with the USMNT and as such, the Galaxy midfield is missing a lot of experience.

However, in Juninho they have a defensive midfielder who can direct attacks and shield a defence that has been below par this season.

 

5. Omar Gonzalez could not come back sooner.

Like Donovan, Gonzalez is being missed in LA. The defending hasn’t been good enough and they need their star centre-half back as soon as possible.

With the Galaxy expected to push on for a playoff berth, LA will need Gonzalez back to stabilise the defence.

 

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

All square in Portland as the Timbers leave it late

By Jamie Ives

LA Galaxy travelled to Portland on Sunday night, but were unable to leave with the win as Diego Valeri scored a 95th minute equalizer.

The Galaxy left it late themselves, with Robbie Keane scoring what he must have thought was the winner in the 92nd minute.

The Los Angeles club were without star defender Omar Gonzalez due to a knee injury, but he still remains on course to make it to Rio with the USMNT, after he was picked in the preliminary 30-man squad on Monday.

The game was rather dull until the twenty-ninth minute when a Robert Friend effort from outside the box went just over.

The rest of the first half followed the trend with neither team taking the initiative.

The second half was a different story however, with Jaime Penedo straightaway involved, parrying a Diego Valeri effort wide, before holding a Darlington Nagbe effort moments later.

The Timbers went close again, just before the hour mark, as Futty Danso connected with a free kick and guided it onto the far post, only for it to be scrambled off the line.

The next big chance came in the eighty-second minute, when a Landon Donovan left-footed strike didn’t have enough on it to trouble Donovan Ricketts.

The Galaxy were pressing for a winner, and a minute later ex-Leeds and Tottenham striker Robbie Keane had a strike deflected, that seemed to be looping over Ricketts. However, the Jamaican pulled off a miraculous save to tip it over for a corner.

With the game entering stoppage time, Keane latched onto a throw on which evaded everyone to score with a header. Vintage ‘Keano’, alert and alive in the box.

But as the Timbers showed last week, they are partial to a late goal of their own, and they equalized in the ninety-fifth minute through Valeri. The Argentinian created some space for himself to put it past Penedo in a wild finish at Providence Park.

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(Photo: Diego Valeri’s late strike rescued a point for the Timbers)

The Galaxy will want to pick themselves up, and hopefully pick up three points next time out when they travel to Houston.

While Portland face Columbus next week in a game between two sides desperate to snap a poor run of form.

Highlights via the MLS YouTube channel: