L.A. Galaxy shoots for the moon [2012 Newsmaker]
The soccer team of the stars, the Los Angeles Galaxy, picked up a fourth MLS Cup this year and second in two seasons. Rookie defender Tommy Meyer, 21, a transplant from St. Louis now living in North Redondo Beach, never expected to hold the top honor during his first year in major league soccer.
“It was an amazing experience, especially the way we ended the season,” said Meyer. “It was a crazy ride. We played really well. The final was pretty amazing.”
The team overcame a difficult first half of the season to clench the MLS Cup after a rematch of last year’s championship game against Houston.
“My personal opinion now, as I look back on the 2012 season, is as an organization, as a team, we never let go of that 2011 Cup,” head coach Bruce Arena told MLSsoccer.com. “I think it impacted us on the field and off the field. And I think it’s a great experience for us. I’m hopeful this year we pat ourselves on the back for it and get on with work in 2013.”
For Meyer, seeing a stadium full of spectators is what makes him excited for a game.
“It’s a rush of emotion and gets your adrenaline going and gets you ready to play,” said Meyer.
He also thinks people are starting to pay more attention to soccer, especially after the Galaxy’s two-year winning streak.
“It’s on TV all the time. I think people are starting to realize there’s actually a soccer team in L.A.,” said Meyer. “A lot of cities around us are getting stadiums.”
The majority of the soccer team lives around the South Bay and commute to the Home Depot Center in Carson, which they share with their rival Chivas USA. Meyer lives in the South Bay because his teammates are nearby and the area reminds him of home.
“It’s different living out in L.A., but I love living in Redondo Beach. It’s different than living in downtown and the people remind me of Midwest people,” said Meyer.
The Galaxy, a rising star on the soccer turf, hasn’t always had the best luck, starting with the death of Doug Hamilton, the team’s general manager who had a heart attack on a plane back from a game in Costa Rica in 2006. Midway through 2006, two-year head coach Steve Sampson was fired and replaced by Frank Yallop. Arena, the current coach, began in 2008 after interim coach Cobi Jones replaced Rudd Gullit.
In 2007 they signed Real Madrid’s star midfielder David Beckham. Since acquiring the super-star player, both soccer fans and non-soccer fans have started paying attention to L.A. soccer and stadiums have been filled with more fans than ever. In early November, the 37-year-old Beckham announced that the 2012 season was his last with the Galaxy.
Even without their famous player, Meyer still has high hopes for 2013.
“The main part is during the season you get to play with people… who are obviously on a big international level and have played in World Cups and big clubs like [Manchester United],” said Meyer. “Just to play with those guys is an experience. They’re the guys I grew up watching, and now I get to play with them.”
Their long-standing local rivalry against the San Jose Earthquakes and other local teams like Seattle and Salt Lake City keep fans coming back and the blood boiling in the players’ veins. “It’s a battle every time we play them and each time is more heated than the last. It’s fun just to be a part of it,” said Meyer.
“I’m excited for the next season, we’ve won it two years in a row and obviously the goal would be to win another one,” said Meyer. “Winning the championships is a moment you dream of doing, just to get that feeling in the first season is amazing.”
Their 2013 season will begin on March 3 with a home game against the Chicago Fire. Visit www.lagalaxy.com for ticket information.