Sunday’s MLS Games
Operation Soccer Chopper
Peace via soccer in Afghanistan.
OK, that’s an exaggeration for the sake of a punny headline.
But at least the jammed toe that forced the U.S. Women’s National Team’s top scorer out of the Finland game Saturday in Carson is nothing serious, if we are to believe the folks at U.S. Soccer. They filed this story today on ussoccer.com.
And those who want the “inside” scoop on the USWNT in China can check out the official blog written by press officer Aaron Heifetz here.
Diverting and well-written, if not earth-shattering stuff.
“Not a pretty game tonight, kind of ugly,” said Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan after the game.
But it’s nine points from three games in seven days. How many did the Galaxy get during that span?
Chivas USA (11-6-3) are now second in the Western Conference, has nine shutouts (Guzan is tied for the league lead with the Revs’ Matt Reis) and remain the only MLS team unbeaten at home.
“We’ve been taking control of games lately by imposing our style,” said Man of the Match Jesse Marsch. “Everybody is kind of challenging each other.”
And they’re rising to that challenge.
RSL didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 84th minute and in truth never looked like scoring. Chivas USA, on the other hand, could have scored plenty more with Ante Razov in particular guilty of not finishing chances.
But in the end it didn’t matter.
Next up for Chivas USA: D.C. United Sept. 6 on ESPN2 in prime time.
Chivas USA dominated the opening 45 minutes against the league’s worst team and actually had the ball in the back of the net twice.
Ante Razov’s 37th minute header was clearly offside though; still, the build-up was nice.
The opening goal came in the 31st minute after Real Salt Lake failed to clear a Razov corner. Razov collected the ball again and sent a cross into the near post where it was met by Jesse Marsch who beat veteran defeder Ritchie Kotschau to the ball to poke it home.
Chivas USA will tie FC Dallas for second in the Western Conference if they win.
By the way, the Galaxy lost 3-0 to the Rapids this afternoon.
They rested quite a few starters — Landon Donovan stayed home, for instance — to ready for the only thing that can save their season, Wednesday’s SuperLiga final against Pachuca.
The game just started. It’s on FSN.
Chivas USA top scorer Maykel Galindo has a slight groin strain and is on the bench, alongside defender Shavar Thomas.
New signing Ramon Nunez gets his first start up front partnering Ante Razov.
Jonathan Bornstein returns to the starting line-up after being rested for last Thursday’s Galaxy game. Alex Zotinca and Lawson Vaughn are both suspended.
Torrance’s Jack Stewart, who had a ghastly outing the last time he returned to the South Bay, did not dress for the game for Real Salt Lake; former Galaxy striker Robbie Findley is starting up front, marking his first return to the South Bay since his trade.
Here are the details from last night’s U.S. Women’s National Team game in Carson.
Columnist Paul Oberjuerge has more on the declining profile of the women’s game. Still, to be fair the Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain et al generation was akin to capturing lightning in a bottle. This version of the team is undoubtedly better, it’s just that most Americans respond better to hype because of a lack of knowledge about the game.
Back in the 1960s a group of American players trooped around the world in matching white cowboy hats playing games on a goodwill tour. They produced plenty of goodwill; they lost everywhere they went.
The modern-day version of this are the Galaxy with their splendid new team suits and horrible record. One of two MLS teams without a road win this season, today they come up against the Colorado Rapids.
The Galaxy had a slow start to the season, but pointed to what turned out to be the mirage-like number of games they had in hand as their ace in the hole.
Of course, their other ace (David Beckham) is injured, exhausted, and for this game, absent, the game schedule is murderous, the squad’s lack of depth is being brutally exposed and no-one has any sympathy for the flagship MLS franchise many believe has always received preferential treatment.
“I wish the public at large had a better understanding of what this organization is going through,” GM Alexi Lalas said after the loss to Chivas USA. “When we say it, it sounds like excuses.”
Yes, it does.
Chivas USA are much more fun to watch.
Here are today’s game previews.
Here’s the rest of Saturday’s MLS action.
The story of the game: target practice.
Finland didn’t get in its first shot in until the 80th minute; the U.S. ended up with 38 shots to Finland’s two and neither of those hit the target.
Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly got the two U.S. goals in the second half.
Both were well-worked pieces up the right wing, but the Finnish defense was largely snoozing this evening.
Still, it took a half hour into the game before the U.S. broke down the Finns, which as Coach Greg Ryan observed played a 4-5-1 and kept 10 players behind the ball for most of the first half.
Boxxy gave reporters the most alarming news of the game: “I think I broke my toe,” Boxx said Wambach told her as she left the field. She’s getting an X-ray at a local hospital and we won’t know more for a while.
Ryan said that Boxx, who was playing in front of about 30 family and friends who were among the crowd of just 7,118 appeared back to her old self after her serious knee injury.
“She looked like a forward tonight, taking on players,” he said.
“It must be the home crowd or something,” Boxx said with a big smile, adding that she loves playing in the South Bay. “I’m not considered a goal scorer, but here I get up for scoring goals.”
Perhaps the most significant news of the first half was that U.S. striker Abby Wambach was forced out of the game in the 27th minute with what turned out to be a jammed toe on the right foot.
She looked pretty glum sitting on the bench, but it isn’t supposed to be a big deal. Carli Lloyd came in for her.
Torrance’s Shannon Boxx scored the game’s first goal, a header from about eight yards off a Kristine Lilly free kick. Lilly now joins Mia Hamm as the only U.S. player with 100 goals and 100 assists.
She’s now scored five goals in five games at the HDC and more than 25 percent of her 15 career goals have come at her home stadium, where she made her national team debut back in 2003.
Veteran Kristine Lilly scored an easy second from five yards out after receiveing a square ball from Lori Chalupny in the 36th minute.
The Finns have had few attacks and the result isn’t in doubt. The Finns have had zero shots, the U.S. 15 with eight on target.
The floodlights went out in the 40th minute and they played the last five minutes in an unusual twilight.
They’re back on now.
U.S. Coach Greg Ryan starts the same 11 he did in the victory over New Zealand: Hope Solo is in goal, while the back four consists of Christie Rampone, Cat Whitehill, Kate Markgraf and Stephanie Lopez.
In midfield are Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny, Heather O’Reilly and Kristine Lilly.
The attacking duo consists of Lindsay Tarpley and Abby Wambach.
Looks like this is the starting line-up we’ll see in the opening game of the World Cup against North Korea.
The game is on ESPN2.
A crowd of fewer than 10,000 is expected tonight in Carson where the U.S. women take on Finland in the final World Cup tune-up. I’ll be there blogging (computer willing) and here’s a preview focusing on the South Bay’s Shannon Boxx.
The Galaxy said late Friday that David Beckham will not travel to Colorado Sunday to play at a sold-out Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in favor of resting his yet-to-heal ankle injury.
Also on Friday, the Galaxy announced that Assistant Coach Paul Bravo will be come the club’s new (and I believe first) director of football.
This is a sometimes ominous sign for the current coach and/or general manager so time will tell what this means for Frank Yallop and Alexi Lalas.
Bravo is a former UCLA assistant coach and had a six-year MLS career with the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Clash.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy finally won something on Friday: the MLS lottery for U.S. Under-17 star Israel (he goes by Izzy) Sesay. The Sierra Leone native has made 10 starts for the U.S. youth team, collecting three assists in the process.
Despite scoring first in the fourth minute, the 16th-ranked CSU Dominguez Hills men’s team lost their season opener Friday 3-2 to Concordia University in overtime.
Next up: a trip to Phoenix to take on Grand Canyon, before returning home Sept. 2 for a 6 p.m. game against Seattle University.
The CSUDH women did better in their first game of the season, beating sixth-ranked University of Nebraska-Omaha in a come from behind 2-1 victory propelled by two goals from senior Corrie Hirokawao, a former North (Torrance) High star.
CSUDH returns to action 6 p.m. Tuesday, hosting Azusa Pacific at Toro Stadium.