Robbie Keane during practice on Tuesday, January 28 at StubHub! Center. (Facebook/LA Galaxy)
The Los Angeles Galaxy began their preseason training ahead of the 2014 MLS season Tuesday at the StubHub Center in Carson.
With the U.S. Men’s National Team preparing for their tune-up friendlies prior to the 2014 World Cup, Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan were the two notable absences of the day. Team captain Robbie Keane was there, but only did some light jogging on his own while the rest of the team trained together. Keane is recovering from having surgery on his Achilles in late November.
When asked how his recovery process was coming along, Keane said, “I’ve been doing strength work on the Achilles. I did few jogs last week, and so far, so good.” He added that he’s been doing more than just jogging, saying “I did a little bit last week with the ball…we just want to be extra cautious. If I really wanted, I could train (with the rest of the team) now, but like I said, we have to be extra cautious.”
Keane was asked if he thought 2014 would be an important year for Robbie Rogers, who had a subpar season after returning to soccer following a long layoff. “Yeah, certainly. I think for a lot of players…I think he’ll benefit from last year, I think this year we’ll have a stronger Robbie, he’s had a good preseason behind him now.”
Keane talked about his optimism coming into the year, and why it’s important that all players buy into that optimistic mentality. “You have to be very positive at the start of every season and I think we’ve got a good chance to win the championship. Because if you don’t believe that, there’s no point in being here. (Last season) we did okay, but we certainly could’ve done better.”
Rogers was in high spirits and beamed of optimism heading into 2014. Rogers talked about how much he’s been looking forward to this season. “I’m really excited, I felt like the offseason was too long. I felt—especially in the last two weeks—I was really eager to get back and just start playing.”
This offseason was a little different for me, I ran a lot and worked out a lot…I missed so much last year, that I didn’t really feel like I needed that time to rest my body. The past nine or ten days I’ve been coming in (to training).”
Rogers was also asked if he felt like he needed to make a statement this season. He said, “I think I need to make a statement, I think our team needs to make a statement. I think we’re a great team and last year, I know it wasn’t our best season, but I still feel like we could’ve won it.”
Give Real Salt Lake credit for doing well, but I really felt like we just didn’t live up to our potential. So I think we just need to focus on the beginning of the season, having a great start, and just having a positive season.”
Rogers concluded by voicing his excitement about the Galaxy brining in big forwards like 22-year-old Brazilian loanee Samuel from Fluminense of Brazil’s Serie A, and former UC Santa Barbara Gaucho and Canadian international Rob Friend from 1860 Munich.
Rogers gained national notoriety beyond soccer circles last season for being the first active athlete in American sports to come out as gay. Rogers shared his thoughts on the type of distraction that brought him upon returning to the pitch following his announcement. “I think at the end of the season I did (feel comfortable). I think in the beginning of the season it was very much overwhelming, and then I had a number of injuries. I feel really great right now, I feel like this is my home now and I feel comfortable.”
The Galaxy will open their pre-season with a friendly at home against Armenian side Shirak FC February 8 at the StubHub Center. Then they’ll fly Mexico City to face Pumas UNAM in a closed-door scrimmage February 11, followed by a friendly against in-state rivals San Jose Earthquakes in Fresno February 15.
The Galaxy will open the MLS regular season at home March 8 against Real Salt Lake. The Galaxy were eliminated from last season’s MLS Playoffs by Real Salt Lake in overtime.