2012 MLS Cup - Los Angeles Galaxy Training Session

Notable happenings from Saturday’s MLS preseason matches


Several U.S. internationals, having recently returned to their teams following a few days off after U.S. national team camp, got onto the field.

For instance, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez (pictured) were back into the Galaxy’s starting 11 as Bruce Arena (presumably walking around with a copy of that new contact folded up into his jacket pocket) and his team met Armenian club FC Shirak.

A couple of prominent names, however, still weren’t on the field. Robbie Rogers sat out with an ankle strain picked up in training, and that’s what Rogers needs as he seeks to put things right after last season’s disappointing re-entry into MLS.

Nor was Robbie Keane around, although Arena sold the LA Galaxy blog that the Irish international, who has been limited to jogging, may be back in training next week.

Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin were back in Seattle’s lineup in a 0-0 draw against Portland. In fact, Evans had the captain’s armband as the teams met down in Tucson. And things got a little testy, apparently.

I mean, who could have seen that coming?

Mike Magee wasn’t quite ready to get back on the field for his team, but that didn’t stop Chicago from topping D.C. United, 2-0. That’s two in a row for Frank Yallop’s new team following a 1-o win over Toronto in the Fire’s preseason opener earlier this week.

New frontrunners Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola saw their first action for D.C. United, but the wise guys at Black and Red United said the ongoing lack of chances created stuck out. If you’re a D.C. United fan, “lack of chances” is the last thing you want to hear after a 2013 season that resembled the first 21 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. That is to say, it was pretty hard to watch.

Brad Davis, another U.S. World Cup hopeful, was back on the field for Houston, helping to set up one goal as his team got past San Jose, 3-1. Omar Cummings, who never quite got going for Dominic Kinnear’s team last year, had two goals.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.