The Los Angeles Galaxy Academy were in action this week for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs. Alex Yi’s Under-18s were placed in Group 6 with the San Jose Earthquakes, New England Revolution and Dallas Texans.
The Galaxy Under-18s are led by an influx of promising talent, including Justin Dhillon, Raul Mendiola, Sebastian Velasquez, Willie Raygoza and Jaime Villareal, the brother of Jose Villareal.
“In terms of how they of how these guys have come together, I couldn’t be happier about where we are now compared to any point in the season,” Yi told LAGalaxy.com Adam Serrano. “Even appearing at Dallas Cup, even in the first half of the year with Eddie Soto as the head coach and having only lost one game in the first half of the season.
“It’s been growing pains throughout the whole year and these guys have come together and I think right now is the best moment that we’ve had heading into these playoffs.”
“Everybody starts fresh and we know that we have to win every game, but we need to focus on the first game before everything else,” said Mendiola. “Whoever is playing has to focus and respond well and we need to play well as a team.”
The Galaxy opened the playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Earthquakes thanks to a hat trick from Dhillon combined with an insurance goal from Velasquez. However, the Texans upset the Galaxy in a 2-0 shutout that forced Los Angeles into a must-win scenario against the Revs on Wednesday. Even if Los Angeles prevail, they are not guaranteed a spot in Finals Week in Houston, so they can only control what they can control.
One of the products from the Under-18s, Jack McBean, is nearing full match fitness for Bruce Arena’s Galaxy first team after suffering a fractured left clavicle in April. McBean hopes to play for the Galaxy this Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.
“I’m feeling good. It’s about three weeks back and I feel close to getting back to normal. I can tell that there are things that are still a little bit off. My feet are slow still, but it’s getting close,” said McBean on Tuesday to Serrano.“I feel confident that if [head coach Bruce Arena] was to put me in on Sunday [against Chivas USA] then I would have been fine.
“[Forward] Gyasi [Zardes] played really well and he’s a dangerous player, but we’re all good players and we’re all professional athletes. We all want each other to do well, but we all want to be on the field. You wouldn’t want to be without competition because it wouldn’t be as gratifying when you get to play and score.”
Meanwhile, a bunch of military players are prepping for the World Military Cup in Baku. The U.S. Military men’s soccer team was training at StubHub Center for their footballing mission this week.
“It’s a good experience of watching the level of play. It makes us pick up our games a little bit, even in training,” said Andrew Hyres of the U.S. Army, a native of Seattle, Wash., to LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan. “I look forward to them coming back to Seattle and playing the Sounders.”
“I first thanked them for their service. I have such an utmost respect for people in our military,” assistant manager Dave Sarachan said. “I got an understanding of what their mission is and we talked a little bit about my experiences in 2002, being a real team and putting themselves in a position to advance.
“That’s what group play is all about. I tried to make them understand that game one (against the Ivory Coast), win or lose, really doesn’t mean anything. Just position yourselves so that in game three you have a chance to advance.”
The World Military Cup takes place from Jul. 2-14.