LA Galaxy: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher (Julian Araujo 65’), Diego Polenta, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik; Sebastian Lletget, Jonathan dos Santos, Joe Corona; Romain Alessandrini (Juninho 90’), Zlatan Ibrahimović, Uriel Antuna (Ema Boateng 75’).
April 13th was just another Saturday night in Carson. Zlatan Ibrahimovic led the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-0 victory against Philadelphia Union in front of 24,053 fans.
The whole team played really well and dominated the first half. They moved the ball forward, created chances, and got corners early on. By the 20th minute, it was a wonder LAG didn’t score yet. The Union did their job to smother the Galaxy. But, they kept up good momentum and build up that led to Zlatan scoring in the 27th minute.
The G’s maintained good passing in the 31st minute. Then, a minute later, Ibrahimovic was undercut in the box. He was prepared to take the penalty when the refs decided to go to VAR.
The Galaxy were awarded the penalty and Zlatan converted it to make the score 2-0 in the 34’. That was the Lion’s sixth of the season.
After halftime, LA was a letdown. The midfield didn’t have the same intensity or drive. The team even had an advantage playing up a man when Philly’s Austin Trusty earned a second yellow. In the final result, they kept a clean sheet despite their lackluster effort.
Rolf Feltscher had to be subbed out for an injury, so Julian Araujo got minutes. Emmanuel Boateng came on for Uriel Antuna. And finally Juninho was back on the pitch, replacing Alessandrini.
The midfield this season has been on fire, though there are still weak links and kinks to be worked out, but it’s only the sixth game of 2019. This team is once again fun to watch thanks to head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who wanted to make the stadium a fortress again. Check out the stats: TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 9; SAVES: 2.
The LA Galaxy is unbeaten at home so far, is on a four-game winning streak, and is third in the Western Conference.
The next match is another home game at Dignity Health Sports Park against a flaring Houston Dynamo, Friday, April 19.
Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Jorgen Skjelvik (Diedie Traore 88′), Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna (Emmanuel Boateng 84′), Romain Alessandrini (Chris Pontius 82′) and Zlatan Ibrahimović
In front of a crowd of more than 22,000, the L.A. Galaxy won their fourth game of the season when they overpowered the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Zlatan made the decision not to play on turf last year due to a significant knee injury sustained in April 2017, but decided to take the risk this time and played the entire 90 minutes.
The first half of the game, both teams were out of sync and appeared to be unable to find their groove, struggling to keep possession of the ball and see it through to goal. In the second minute of the game, Jorgen Sjkelvic fouled Lass Bangoura in the box resulting in a disastrous panenka attempt by newcomer Ali Adnan. David Bingham easily kept the failed shot out of the net while the players and fans looked around in disbelief.
Center back Diego Polenta was out with a strained abductor leaving the Galaxy’s backline struggling to effectively work together. However, Bingham was a force to be reckoned with in the goal with 5 saves.
The Galaxy came back from half time with a renewed energy and quickly took control of the game. Zlatan got the ball in the net but it was called back for off side. In the 62nd minute Zlatan provided an assist to Daniel Steres who headed the ball in for the first goal of the game. It was his second goal of the season. Zlatan then scored his fourth goal of the season off an assist by Rolf Feltscher, a ball he was able to torpedo past Whitecaps keeper Maxime Crepeau.
Up next for the Galaxy is a home game against Philadelphia Union on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 PM PST.
Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Diego Polenta, Daniel Steres, Jorgen Skjelvik; Romain Alessandrini (Chris Pontius 74’), Sebastian Lletget, Jonathan dos Santos, Joe Corona, Uriel Antuna (Ema Boateng 77’); Zlatan Ibrahimović
This was a different team that showed up on this ZLAtanversary. One year ago on March 31, The Galaxy came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat LAFC in the first installment of El Tráfico. Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his debut, scoring both the equalizer and winning goal.
The Lion scored two goals this night as well—this time against a struggling Portland team, who showed up with something to prove, since they were finalists for the 2018 MLS Cup. This match, they did themselves in by tripping Zlatan on two different occasions in the box, resulting in penalties that, of course, Zlatan converted. The Timbers did score a goal in the first half and had chances late near the end of the match.
So far this season, The Galaxy are playing better as a team. Still, the defense needs improvement. Jonathan Dos Santos was often playing defense. Rolf Feltscher was virtually non-existent. Diego Polenta is running out of excuses. Why leave Dave Romney on the bench when you could use him in Daniel Steres’ place?
The midfield worked well with JDS, Sebastian Lletget, and Joe Corona. But, Portland did good to concede the wings and slow their attack, which is why crosses into the box didn’t work. That said, Portland’s top players Valeri and Blanco were silenced. The Galaxy didn’t allow dangerous possession. Their only mistake was allowing one goal in the 44’, which I blame on Bingham for not staying in net and letting the defense do their job. He trusts them more now than when Mike Ciani played. One fan observed that Skjelvik pulled Polenta out of position by not staying wide. Bingham should’ve manned his post,
I wanted the Galaxy to do more to score on their own. They certainly had chances, but couldn’t finish in front of net, the balls going over the net, and the only shots on target being the penalties, because Portland didn’t allow otherwise.
It didn’t help that the strategy seemed to be to service the ball to Zlatan. Again. When last match they seemed to figure out how to slide Antuna into that spot. They showed they can do 20 or more passes and techniques to play it on the ground. Ibrahimovic needs to be freed up more and the rest of the team needs to be a scoring threat. Hopefully they, and head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, will figure it out soon.
Schelotto is doing great with what he has, but he needs a striker who can get Zlatan to grind it out or start in his place when necessary. The Galaxy are in the process of trying to get allocation money so that Giancarlo Gonzalez can join. Maybe with a good center back, Polenta can play better.
LAG had a good offensive start. Jørgen Skjelvik held the ball too long though.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a shot that hit off the bottom of the post in the 14’.
Ibrahimovic wanted to and almost scored a hat trick near the end of the match, but blamed a bad pass also from #16 for not being able to score.
He played over 90 minutes. It’s incredible to bounce back from an Achilles injury, especially at 37 years old, but this also could’ve ended his season; which makes one wonder why he should play the full time. There’s a short turn around before the next match on turf in Vancouver, which “G9D” has said he’s got no problem playing on now. So maybe he comes off the bench and plays 65 minutes with Chris Pontius coming in.
We’ll see how our Los Angeles Galaxy take on the next challenge this coming Saturday, April 5, play the Whitecaps at 7PM PST.
Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto used the same lineup in consecutive matches. This team lost away to FC Dallas just the week before. But, the team that showed up on the field Saturday March 16 played in a stellar way that fans hadn’t seen in years.
The stars on the pitch were captain Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget. It was a dream come true to watch spectacular passing at home.
Each week we’ll see the LA Galaxy grow more and more with the GBS system.
The midfield figured it out this game. Uriel Antuna was a stud. But, Minnesota actually scored their first goal on a shot that Bingham should’ve saved.
It should be noted that not only did the Galaxy play well, this Minnesota team is a team that has grown a lot and is a contender. That they had to travel could’ve been part of it, but the G’s really controlled the game. Some fun stats: Galaxy had 62% possession. Completed 497 passes with a 87% completion rate. Had 20 shots with 17 chances created.
And they pulled it off without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini, which was a big concern. Joe Corona got comfortable in the week that had past. Many other injuries have kept key players out and have given other players like Julian Araujo his debut.
The Galaxy were relentless and capitalized on the pressure.
Osvaldo Alonso, who recently joined Minnesota from a long stint with the Seattle Sounders, took down Antuna in the box, gifting the Galaxy a penalty, which was taken by JDS to put the Galaxy up in the 36′ after VAR review.
Ema Boateng found a streaking Rolf Feltscher who crossed to Chris Pontius and made it 2-0 at the half. By then the offense was clicking.
Lletget, who has a broken nose, risked playing without a mask (he tried to play with it and took it off promptly) scored on an assist from Antuna.
LAG showed that the skills are there, but aren’t up to par. The final score was 3-2. The Loons scored a late goal on a Skjelvik giveaway. The original header went off the post and Feltscher just watched the ball. So, the defense is still a weakness.
Alessandrini trained outside and Zlatan reportedly trained indoors as of March 19th. I would infer it means they’re on the mend.
We’ll see how the Galaxy do in their next match when they host a struggling Portland Timbers at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, March 31 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
FC Dallas took full advantage of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s mistakes Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Real chances weren’t created. The first half was a battle for possession. Emmanuel Boateng and Sebastian Lletget both had chances to score early on. Uriel Antuna almost made a goal on what was meant to be a cross in the 28′ but it hit the corner of the post.
Dallas could have scored on a wide open net in the 37′ but Jimmy Maurer missed it.
In stoppage time of the first half, Rolf Feltscher had a shot right off the crossbar and moments later Chris Pontius almost had a header.
It was the second half when the Galaxy got punished. The home team were awarded a penalty after Diego Polenta kicked a defender right in his side in the box.
The absences of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romain Alessandrini were strongly felt.
Injuries are out of the control of the players and coach, so it’s how the team adjusts to these changes that is key.
They’re slow and it’s clear the team didn’t know what to do when they had the ball, which was dire in front of the net. Boateng bested an FCD defender and then missed a crucial shot on an open net.
The ones really let down are the fans. Traveling supporters kept their spirits up though and were the only ones heard in Toyota stadium.
The best and the only attack came from 16-year-old Efrain Alvarez, who hasn’t ceased to amaze in only his second game with the LA Galaxy. His shot came in stoppage time, right on goal. But FCD’s keeper made the save to deny the teen from scoring and maintained his clean sheet.
This match really showed the Galaxy need to develop structure and play as a team. The passion and attack were missing as well. There’s plenty of talent, but they’re utilizing their skills individually. Even Daniel Steres came through to defend until he didn’t. Feltscher did his own thing, earning himself a yellow card in the 21’ for his tackle on Michael Barrios. Joe Corona didn’t get much time on the ball. Pontius wasn’t coming through either.
Lletget had to be subbed in 59’ after taking an elbow to the face and getting a bloody nose that took him out of play. He just can’t stop getting injured. Prior to that though, he did have a fantastic curl that went just too wide.
Boateng was finally subbed in the 76’ giving homegrown LA Academy and LA Galaxy II rising player Ethan Zubak his debut.
Jonathan Dos Santos took on the role of captain, which was a good move as he’s also shown leadership skills and can step up when needed. He is integral to the midfield creating chances.
LAG problems with defense are not new. The backline hasn’t had any changes. However, General Manager te Kloese and Head Coach Schelotto have made moves to build offense and depth. Once again, this team is a work in progress. LA Galaxy II Open Tryout Diedie Traore has also just signed with LAG after acquiring an international spot from Columbus Crew SC.
Expectations need to be kept realistic, which doesn’t mean standards need to be lowered. At this point, fans are hoping just to qualify for the playoffs. Considering both teams had highs and lows this match, there’s still plenty of reasons to keep the faith as Galaxy fans.
The LA Galaxy’s next challenge is Saturday, March 16 against Minnesota United at Dignity Health Sports Park. Kickoff is set for 6pm PST.
A sold-out crowd of 25,866 LA Galaxy fans came alive at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 2, 2019, even in the rain.
Opening day hype began with the reveal of David Beckham’s Statue, a project two years in the making. The event was open to the public and hosted by Fox commentator Rob Stone. Other Galaxy legends in attendance were Robbie Keane, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, Cobi Jones, and MauricioCienfuegos. Former Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, club president Chris Klein, AEG President and CEO Dan Beckerman and Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean were also present. Beckham was also honored at halftime by being only the fourth player to be inducted into the Ring of Honor, joining Doug Hamilton, Cobi Jones and Cienfuegos.
Seven-year-old singing sensation Malea Emma returned to give her inspiring rendition of the national anthem, which definitely got the stadium pumped.
Saturday night was head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s debut for the LA Galaxy and the MLS. Other debuts included Diego Polenta, Uriel Antuna and Emil Cuello. They were key to getting the ball moving forward.
The first half showed much-improved squads for both teams. The Galaxy made good crosses and passes, but most were intercepted by the Chicago Fire. Anyone who could score was being serviced, not just Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which was a strong change for the Galaxy’s strategy.
Emmanuel Boateng had to be subbed in early for Romain Alessandrini, who pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring strain.
Bingham’s performance all night showed he’s in top form. The only time he was scored on was when he was left hanging against CJ Sapong, who took advantage of a wide open net to put Chicago up 1-0 in stoppage time.
Four minutes into the second half, the Galaxy found themselves down and fans feeling the ghost of seasons past haunting them. Still, fans roared on, encouraging the players as they made their runs and created chances.
The much needed offensive spark came from 16-year-old Efrain Alvarez. By subbing on for Emil Cuello, he became the youngest player to play an MLS match for the LA Galaxy. Eight minutes later, Daniel Steres was able to score a header on a cross from the teen’s left foot.
Chris Pontius was also a game-changer. Alvarez flicked the ball to the midfielder whose shot hit off the crossbar, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic was there for the rebound and scored what would be the winning goal in the 80th minute. The final score of the eventful night was 2-1. The Galaxy pulled off a victory that brought back the feeling that their home could be a fortress yet again.
Angel City Brigade, Galaxians, and Riot Squad supporters groups could be heard across the stadium. I was sitting in GA near the away supporters and G’s fans began playfully taunting, standing up and getting loud. All around, the winning atmosphere was amped by fans.
LAG are already looking to be in better shape despite a few poor deliveries and literal slip-ups. Quite a few injuries (Perry Kitchen-ankle, Juninho-knee, Sebastion Lletget-hamstring) and the departures of Giovani Dos Santos and Ola Kamara changed the line-up, which meant the G’s had to adjust. Still, this allowed for Alvarez, Polenta, Cuello, and Antuna to get their chances. The players connected slowly, but surely. Ibrahimovic’s leadership as captain really showed through, especially for Alvarez.
In their next match, the Galaxy will travel to Texas to face FC Dallas on Saturday, March 9.
After much anticipation and concern regarding the Galaxy’s seeming non-compliance with the MLS 3 designated player policy, the L.A. Galaxy announced Friday afternoon that Giovanni Dos Santos would be leaving the club.
The 29-year-old forward, joined the Galaxy on a transfer from Spanish club Villareal midway through the 2015 season with big goals and a lot of hype. According to MLSsoccer.com, Dos Santos performed well in the first year and a half of his Galaxy career with 17 goals and 17 assists. His playing time and success on the field began to fade with a mere 3 goals and 2 assists in the 2018 season.
After ongoing injuries and muscular issues, Gio was off the field for the entirety of the Galaxy’s 2019 preseason. Gio’s lack of presence and continual injuries were not the Galaxy’s only problem as they still had 4 designated players while the league allows only 3.
The other 3 DP’s on the Galaxy’s roster are French midfielder Romain Alessandrini, Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Mexican midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, Gio’s younger brother. Gio dos Santos’ contract guaranteed him $6 million in 2018, the 5thhighest salary in MLS soccer.
Photo credit L.A. Galaxy
On Wednesday the Galaxy announced the transfer of 29-year-old Norwegian forward Ola Kamara to Shenzhen F.C.of the Chinese Super League. Kamara spent 4 years in MLS, first with Columbus Crew and one season with the Galaxy. In his lone season with the club, he played 31 matches and had 14 goals and 2 assists. The Athletic’s Kristian Dyer was first to break the details of his 3-year, $3 million a year contract with a hefty $3.5 million transfer fee.
L.A. Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese was quoted as saying “This decision will be mutually beneficial to both our club and Ola. Ola wanted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, and we worked to complete a move that will give us options to strengthen our roster moving forward. We thank Ola for what he has contributed to this club and wish him the best in his future.”
Photo Credit: L.A. Galaxy
The Galaxy may have lost two players this week but they were excited to announce two very promising additions. Midfielder Emil Cuello, 22, was picked up by the Galaxy with the 19thoverall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Cuello, an Orem, Utah native played midfield for Southern Methodist University the last four years winning a slew of awards and accommodations.
Te Kloese said “He has played well during our preseason, showing his ability and technicality. We look forward to Emil officially joining our roster and his contributions during the upcoming season.” During the preseason games, the fans were buzzing after seeing first hand what Cuello has to offer the team.
Photo credit: L.A. Galaxy
The Galaxy Friday announced the signing of 17-year-old defender Julian Araujo after much talk about the teams need for defenders. Araujo, from Lompoc, was a part of the L.A. Galaxy Boy’s Academy and has also spent time with the U.S. Soccer Youth National Teams.
Te Kloese stated, “Julian is one of the best young defenders in Southern California and we thrilled he has chosen to begin his professional career with the L.A. Galaxy.”
In order to secure Araujo, the Galaxy, in a prior transaction, traded $50,000 in TAM to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for the number 1 spot in the Waiver Order. The Galaxy was then able to select Araujo off those waivers.
With all the last minute changes to the Galaxy’s roster this week, the fans are curious to see how all this change will materialize on the field. The L.A. Galaxy 2019 home opener is Saturday, March 2, at 5pm against the Chicago Fire at the Dignity Health Sports Park.
Starting XI: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Diego Polenta, Jorgen Skjelvik; Romain Alessandrini, Servando Carrasco, Emil Cuello, Uriel Antuna; Ola Kamara, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Missing four players for their last preseason game, the L.A.Galaxy was unable to keep up with the Colorado Rapids, losing the match 3-1. During the first half of the game, the Rapids had possession of the ball the majority of the time while the Galaxy just couldn’t seem to move the ball forward enough to look dangerous in the final third.
In the 13th minute, goalkeeper David Bingham took a ball to the face from Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta. Bingham was down for a few minutes while the concussion protocol was initiated by medical staff. He was able to leave the field of his own volition leaving Matt Lampson to defend the goal for the remainder of the game.
With Jonathan dos Santos out as a precaution, Sebastian Lletget out with a right hamstring injury, Perry Kitchen recovering from a right ankle injury and Juninho dealing with a knee injury, the Galaxy was spread thin leaving the midfield duties to Servando Carrasco and Emil Cuello, who just couldn’t keep up with Colorado’s constant press. Giovani dos Santos is still out with an unceasing muscle injury.
The Galaxy was unable to fend off the much improved Rapids offense, allowing them 20 shots at the goal throughout the game in comparison to the Galaxy’s 10. In the 42nd minute, Dillion Serna delivered a cross that striker Kei Kamara headed in for the first goal of the game. Diego Rubio scored the Rapids’ second with a lofted ball past Lampson in the 69th minute.
Uriel Antuna, on loan from Manchester City, showed up once again with speed and impressive footwork serving up a cross that Zlatan headed into the net in the 77th minute for the Galaxy’s first goal.
The Galaxy defense just couldn’t hold off the Rapids and Daniel Steres gave the ball away to Diego Rubio in the 85thminute resulting in a third goal. The final score was 3-1.
Watching this game felt reminiscent of last season and the Galaxy’s struggle to effectively defend the goal. One thing that is different this year is it was reported that head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto required some gym time from the players after the game.
The L.A. Galaxy 2019 season opener is a home game this Saturday, March 2, at 5pm against the Chicago Fire.
With the jersey launch and preseason wrapped up, we head into the new season. Are the LA Galaxy and fans ready? Full of anticipation and optimism, fans attended the jersey launch at the Novo on Feb. 17, 2019, which was exclusive to Season Ticket Members.
Despite the leak of some photos of the new kit, many fans were excited to see it up close and personal; to order theirs and get 5 stars added to their current jerseys.
The 5 stars representing the Galaxy’s MLS Cup championships, won in 2002, 2005, 2011, and 2012, is the main appeal of this season’s kit. The Galaxy’s design isn’t changing from last year’s except for the 5 stars adornment above the crest.
The new Adidas Night Navy away version features a pixelated pattern and vertical stripes. The “This is LA” jock tag and the Galaxy wordmark on the back of the neck have made a comeback. The white uniform is an MLS staple across the league, and the one unveiled in 2018 makes a return as well.
For the first time together, the 2019 LA Galaxy team sported the new uniform. Fans are proud to represent the Galaxy’s legacy and hope the players can continue leading the league this season.
The event hosted by Rob Stone, commentator of Fox Sports, egged on the crowd and Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined him onstage.
Afterward, fans could meet and greet with players. Those available were Midfielders Romain Alessandrini, Chris Pontius, Juninho, and Sebastian Lletget; Defenders Dave Romney and Rolf Feltscher, and Goalkeeper David Bingham.
A simulated locker room and interactive player wall were available to fans. Every aspect of the event was to get fans hyped and ready for the 2019 season.
I wandered around the first floor of the Novo, enjoyed seeing the players interacting with fans and to see fellow season ticket members celebrate.
As media, I was only able to observe. But, I redeemed my fan experience on February 26, when I drove out to Long Beach to meet with Sebastian Lletget. Originally, Ola Kamara was scheduled for the autograph session. But, news broke earlier that day that he was en route to join a super league in China. Unfortunately, there really was no longer a place for him on the team, which forced him to often play out of position, so his desire to move is understandable.
Still, the problem remains that the Galaxy currently have four designated players when MLS regulations restrict it to three. Financial adjustments must be made, but it’s not yet clear what the front office intends to do to resolve this.
All eyes of MLS teams and fans are on the LA Galaxy.
Many fans are calling for Giovani Dos Santos to be moved and sold to open up the DP spot. However, he has a contract that isn’t allowing the move. As a result, there are reports of tension in the locker room, which not only puts more onto GM te Kloese’s plate, it’s not the way anyone wants the season to start.
Latest update: The Galaxy have bought out Giovani Dos Santos’ contract, officially ending his time with the club.
Opening day is quickly approaching, on March 2nd at Dignity Health Sports Park and will be eventful. It begins with the unveiling of the anticipated Legends Plaza where future statues honoring historical Galaxy players of the club’s grand past, including that of David Beckham, will be displayed. The reveal is scheduled for 3pm PST and is open to the public.
It’s a crucial time for the Galaxy’s dynasty to be recognized as fans are feeling the tension and the spark of the new season. With new players Emil Cuello, Diego Polenta, and Uriel Antuna, the Galaxy seem to be taking advantage of new talent, which was something to look forward to under head coach Schelotto. Perhaps now the Galaxy can find better connections on the pitch with existing players. There are still some kinks to be worked out, but more than anything, this is the time for potential to be displayed.
Kickoff is set for 5pm PST and rain is predicted for the forecast. Get ready! Go Galaxy!
Featured image of midfielder Chris Pontius with fans: Michelle Huitink
Watching Tomas Hilliard-Arce walk into an L.A. Starbucks, you’d think he was any average 20 something college student grabbing a cup of coffee before class. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The 23-year-old center back, a twice PAC-12 defensive player of the year, lead his team at Stanford to three consecutive NCAA National Championships. He was then picked up by the L.A. Galaxy as the second pick of the first round in 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
Debbie Haar: Are you ready to do this?
Tomas Hilliard-Arce: Let’s do it.
DH: The day after you were picked up by the Galaxy in the SuperDraft, what was going through your mind?
THA: I was scared. It was overwhelming. I’m confident in myself, but I just went from somewhere where I knew how to control the situation in college to where I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. There were a lot of stars on the team who probably wouldn’t respect someone coming right out of college, so I had everything to prove. I was fortunate to come into a situation where I had 30 automatic friends and a club that cares about me.
DH: Do you have any pregame rituals?
THA: The team manager would give me smelling salts, then I would just hit him as hard as I could, like a chest bump or I’d smack myself in the head and get myself completely fired up. Makes me feel like if someone else were to hit me, I’m ready for it.
DH: What is your family like?
THA: We are very competitive. My Dad has set a very high standard so I’ve always feared failure.
DH: Did you fight with your sisters growing up?
THA: I started soccer late, like 11-12. My older sister and I were in karate growing up and she used to physically dominate me.
DH: Was there that pivotal moment when the tides turned?
THA: She just channeled her dominance into being emotionally abusive. (laughs)
DH: Are you a dog or a cat person?
THA: I really wanted a dog. My Dad said I had to train myself to be responsible, so I had to get a fish and keep it alive for 6 months first. (laughing) We used to leave and go on road trips and there was no one to feed it. I would just dump an unbelievable amount of food in there. It didn’t even make it 3 months.
DH: I’ve seen you talk about faith, do you think your faith impacts you on the soccer field?
THA: My big moment of finding faith was on the field, so I feel like that is the place where it comes out the most. I’ve been able to play for those in my family who have passed away or gotten sick and I get a lot of strength from them. This year I was looking for something to really play for and put my heart on the field for. My 44-year-old cousin who lives in Costa Rica, who is just an amazing person, recently died unexpectedly a couple days after our vacation there ended. I was with her the day before we left, and being a pro soccer player here in the USA might not mean anything, but there it’s everything. My mom called me the day after the funeral and said I was my cousin’s hero, so I need to play for her this season. I have so many people supporting me, the least I can do is give them my all.
DH: What household chore do you hate to do?
THA: My mom is Latina and my Dad is American. My mom is a stay at home mom and loved to baby us kids. I was the only son, so she super babied me. Now that I live alone, I am really, really bad at laundry. It costs $3 in quarters and I feel bad going to the cashiers and asking for all their quarters. Plus, it always comes out wrinkly.
DH: Do you play video games?
THA: I am a video game guy! Right now I’m all Fortnite. A lot of my friends are professional soccer players so we get home at 1pm. What are you going to do all day?
DH: I see other players on the Galaxy playing [Fortnite], like David Bingham.
THA: I play [Fortnite] with him, he’s a fun guy to play with. He’s super competitive on the field and at video games.
DH: Do you have a favorite TV show?
THA: I’m pretty religious about The Bachelor.
DH: Do you have a favorite movie?
THA: I’m a big RomCom guy. I’m supposed to be a big tough center back so I can’t say The Notebook, but it’s such a good movie. I’m a big Rachel McAdams fan. I’m a hopeless romantic.
DH: Toilet paper roll, over or under?
THA: I live in a little apartment with another guy who plays soccer and we have the most male apartment ever. We don’t have any essentials. We don’t have scissors or anything sharper than a butter knife. We don’t even have a toilet paper dispenser thing.
DH: Tell me something you are bad at?
THA: Cooking! I never cook. Most of the time when they give us lunch at the facilities I take a bunch of to-go boxes and eat it for dinner.
DH: Do they tease you about that?
THA: Oh for sure! They say learn how to cook or stop looking like a homeless dude when you’re leaving.
DH: Tell me about a time in your life when you were being tested or challenged.
THA: To make it to pro soccer you have to have been “the man” on the team you came from and to get here and be competing with 30 other men is challenging. I realized I was a college player and now a rookie, and pretty much the youngest out there. You can either get frustrated with it or create a lesson learned from it. I remember sometimes when I felt like I deserved something, and it wasn’t given to me, I was on the verge of anger or frustration or even tears because I felt helpless, I had done everything I could but I still wasn’t getting what I wanted. That’s part of being a professional, putting the last play behind you and moving on. This year when I face those things I’ll be prepared.
DH: What’s a phrase you say a lot?
THA: I say this in just the weirdest situations. I like to say “let the kids play!”. It started in college when the players who didn’t play much, on the days after games, would be so excited to play. Coming into last season when I wasn’t playing much, I always just wanted to get out there and play, and have fun, and show what I can do. So I’d say, “let the kids play.” Now I say it in any situation. If there’s a really good lunch buffet they’ve given us, “let the kids play!” (laughing) Doesn’t really make sense.
DH: Do you have huge goals you want to achieve?
THA: Actually I don’t with soccer. When I got recruited for soccer, Stanford wasn’t very good, they were ranked like 100th in the nation. I went to this prestigious private high school where people looked down on me for either my intelligence or my dedication to soccer. Then when I got into a very good school because of [soccer], I thought that was the end of it. I’ll go to Stanford, get a degree and a good job and show those people. Playing pro soccer is like the icing on the cake. My goal is to continue to prove people wrong. After my first year in pro soccer, I now have doubters. People have said I can’t do something, now I can prove to them that I can. I think I’ve always just wanted to be a really good dad. I want to push my kids to exhaustion. My kids have no choice, they have to play soccer.
DH: What if they are derpy and uncoordinated?
THA: I will force that out of them through exercise! (both laughing)
DH: You do well under pressure, clearly, you play professional soccer.
THA: My first game I started playing in front of 30,000 people was my best game ever because of the pressure. I like being the guy at the front of the sled and helping push it along. Even now being one of the younger people on the team I try to be a leader.
DH: What is the best gift you’ve ever been given, like a birthday or Christmas gift?
THA: My parents don’t give birthday or Christmas gifts. I feel like my parents love me so much and don’t get me presents. When someone does I’m like, “holy crap you love me.” My ex-girlfriend did that. I’ve only been in one relationship. She did so much, it wasn’t even a [specific] gift, it was her heart, every day.
DH: That’s so cute. :gives sappy look: (both start laughing)
I’m excited to see how Tomas brings his competitive personality and drive to the field. The Galaxy had a rough season defensively last year and I’ll be watching Hilliard-Arce to see how he can contribute to the back line.