Late and light post this morning, since some of the boys in the press box hung out at the bar at Alpine Village, a true kitschy South Bay institution, after the Chivas USA game and I got home at 2 a.m. just in time to watch the U.S.-Norway game.
If you didn’t stay up, you can catch up on the action here.
The U.S. found a measure of redemption with its win, but here’s a memo for U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati: hire Germany Coach Neid Silvia.
Discipline beat flair in the World Cup final, with Germany showing the U.S. how to stifle Brazil.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy continue their improbable playoff slog today against former Coach Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew.
The game is sold out (thanks to Beckham) and the Crew are asking fans to wear black in what the team is dubbing a “black out.”
Galaxy beat writer Billy Witz has a preview of the game and its playoff implications. The game is delayed three hours until 5 p.m. on FSN.
The Crew have plenty to play for as well, sitting just two points behind Chicago for the last playoff spot.
Chivas USA saved their unbeaten home record when Claudio Suarez scored an 82nd minute penalty kick after Brown had brought down Maykel Galindo.
The goal was throughly deserved; Chivas USA had attacked relentlessly and were desperately unlucky not to get a goal in the 72nd minute when a Mendoza volley from close range hit the underside of the bar, yet somehow still didn’t go in.
Guzan secured the tie with an acrobatic fingertip save off a 25-yard Gutierrez blast in the 89th minute that was on its way into the net.
There was even more drama just before the final whistle when Blanco was brought down in the penalty box by Zotinca, but the referee awarded a corner much to the disgust of the Chicago bench.
Coach Juan Carlos Osorio was red carded apparently for not leaving the field while virulently protesting the tackle.
Cups of soft drinks and who knows what else rained down on Blanco as he waited to take the corner, which came to nothing.
Updated: Osorio didn’t speak to the media after the game, although it turned out he was more angry about a previous tackle than the one on Blanco.
Chivas USA midfielder Jesse Marsch, who had just written for this blog about some of the league’s worst unabashed divers, observed in the locker room that he may have to revise his list after dealing with Blanco “cheating all over the place.”
“I know he’s shifty and I know he’s faster than you think and I know he likes to draw contact and I know he likes to fall and he did all that tonight,” he said, adding this was the first Chivas USA home game he had experienced significant support for the opposing team.
“Blanco’s a big draw,” Marsch said. “And he’s a polarizing figure. It’s good for this league. I just wish he’d stay on his feet a little more.”
Did Chicago Assistant Coach Daryl Shore (who spoke for Osario) agree with the diving comment? No.
Claudio Suarez enjoyed scoring on that penalty in a soldout stadium (a real one not the pseudo ones the Galaxy have) with a crowd that reminded him of Mexico.
“Classico’s in Mexico have that kind of passion,” he said. “We gave the fans their money’s worth. It was a great show.”
It was sub Alex Zotinca who surreptitiously slapped Blanco around the back of the head to draw the retaliation that led to Blanco’s 85th minute yellow card, by the way.
And speaking of yellows: Chivas USA striker Maykel Gaylindo will miss the game next Saturday against Real Salt Lake after drawing a 54th minute yellow card.
A politically correct Blanco didn’t say much interesting in the locker room and denied he was guilty of diving.
“You guys saw the game, you saw all the kicks I was getting,” he said.
Fans who haven’t had enough can take in the reserve game at 10 a.m. Sunday on the sunken field near the tennis courts (take a right at the stop sign in front of the fountain).
The Palos Verdes Peninsula’s John Thorrington will play.
Thorrington has been taking things relatively easy since failing to hook on with either the Galaxy or Chivas USA before the season began. He has stayed fit playing with his brother’s club team, FRAM, which plays in Rolling Hills Estates on a superb private facility called Nansen Field (it’s where aging rocker Rod Stewart plays when he’s not marrying another young blond).
Thorrington said he was happy to return to Chicago, especially since the Fire had a new coach (Dave Sarachan had waived him).
“This was the only option I was willing to look into other than (playing in) LA,” he said.
Thorrington said he has recovered fully from the hamstring injury that restricted his playing time to just two games for the Fire last season.
A world class Blanco goal from a 30-yard free kick in the 24th minute was the highlight of an entertaining first half.
In a piece of sheer artistry, Blanco somehow managed to find a sliver of space between the Chivas USA wall and the right post, leaving goalkeeper Brad Guzan no chance. The player who least enjoyed that skill: Chivas USA’s Jesse Marsch, who fouled Blanco in the first place and then apparently got a yellow card for sharing some choice words with the referee.
Blanco had claimed at Friday’s press conference that this was just another MLS game for him.
Don’t believe it. He was in the middle of everything Chicago did and was clearly revelling in the large crowd that appeared to contain just as many Club America as Chivas USA fans.
The crowd buzzed every time Blanco received the ball waiting for an audacious back heel (check), theatrical dive (check) and yes, that, stunning goal that was still rising as it hit the back of the net.
Chivas USA, who have not lost at home this season, were not without their own opportunities in front of goal and had four shots to Chicago’s one.
Maykel Galindo had a goal disallowed for offside that appeared perfectly fine, while Razov saw a shot take a wild deflection and hit the top of the bar.
There’s an incredible atmosphere at this game and a second half any soccer fan would drool over in anticipation awaits.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco received a big cheer – yes, cheer – from fans when he came out for the pre-game warm-up. Lots of Club America fans in the stadium tonight and it looks to be one of Chivas USA’s largest crowds of the season.
Former Chadwick School star John Thorrington, resigned by Chicago just before the transfer window closed, is on the bench. He’s scored a goal in the Fire’s last two reserve games.
Goalkeeper Matt Pickens can tie the regular season team shutout record if he keeps a clean sheet tonight.
Wilman Conde starts at the back as usual for the Fire, Logan Pause has moved from midfield back into defense with Dasan Robinson benched. C.J. Brown and Gonzalo Segares complete the back four.
Diego Gutierrez is moved to midfield, with Chris Rolfe stepping in alongside Chris Armas and Blanco.
Up front: Costa Rican Paulo Wanchope and former UCLA star Chad Barrett.
Chivas USA Coach Preki has benched defender Alex Zotinca and moved Lawson Vaughn from the midfield slot he played in the 2-1 win against Kansas City last Saturday. As usual, Claudio Suarez, Shavar Thomas and Jonathan Bornstein compolete the back four.
Jesse Marsch returns from suspension alongside Sacha Kljestan, Paulo Nagamura and Panchito Mendoza, who is awaiting a possible national team call for Mexico’s Oct. 17 friendly against Guatemala at the Coliseum.
The forwards, as usual, are Maykel Galkindo and Ante Razov, three goals behind D.C. United’s Jaime Moreno (who scored today against Toronto) on the MLS all-time goal scoring list.
Chicago, hanging on to the final playoff spot, are seeking their first win in four games.
Chivas USA were just three points behind MLS leaders D.C. United coming in to today’s game, but D.C. slaughtered Toronto 4-1 earlier in the day.
It will be fascinating to see the reaction of Chivas USA’s Legion 1908 to Blanco tonight when he walks out on the field at Home Depot Center with the rest of the Chicago Fire. Kick off is at 7:30 p.m., although if you’re watching on TV FSN has delayed airing the game until 8 p.m.
It will be no where near as friendly as at LAX Thursday when Blanco was greeted by Club America fans.
I’ll blog from the press box as usual.
Chivas USA beat writer Ivan Orozco filed this Blanco profile and game preview.
World Cup Final Preview
While the fallout from the U.S. loss continues before the 1:55 a.m. Sunday third place game on ESPN2, U.S. Coach Greg Ryan has confirmed goalkeeper Hope Solo has been banished.
Torrance’s Shannon Boxx is suspended for the game after her red card that really wasn’t in the loss to Brazil.
Meanwhile, Ajax America Coach Brian Boswell provides the pregame analysis of the enticing Brazil-Germany matchup in the final set for 4:55 a.m. Sunday on ESPN that’s mandatory viewing for any soccer fan:
Current champions Germany, with four wins, a tie and most importantly, no goals conceded, are extremely well organized.
They play a 4-4-2 system with overlapping outside midfield players. Look out especially for the lightning quick surges from Kersten Garefrekes (two goals) on the right.
Their 19 goals have come from a variety of players with their world class forward Birgit Printz and playmaker Renate Linger getting four apiece
Veteran Kirsten Stegeman anchors the defense and is the calming influence on a young back line that includes 22-year-old Annike Krahn.
The Germans have struggled at times, especially in the first half of each game; they need to start better against a free scoring Brazil side that starts fast. They must play the ball quickly to avoid the Brazilian offensive pressure.
The defense must remain compact and keep its shape and not be pulled apart by the Brazils creativity.
Germany must make the most of its free kicks in the Brazilian half. Brazil does not defend well from dead ball situations and goalkeeper Andreia has not really been tested.
Brazil, fresh from a resounding 4-0 victory over the U.S., are a joy to watch. In team possession, individual creativity, solid defense and confidence, theyve got it all. If you watched the game with the U.S., its hard to believe anyone can beat them.
Marta was superb, the fourth goal possibly the best you will see in womens soccer. They boast attacking threats all over the field with Marta, Cristiane, Daniella and Formiga all capable of working their way inside the box or shooting from distance.
Defensively I was surprised how quick Brazil was to pressure the ball and how strong they were.
The Brazilians, as is their heritage, have great technical ability. Add that to a Brazil that is playing well as a team, and Germany have their work cut out for them.
Look for Brazil to get into their rhythm early and try to pull the organized Germans all over the field. Brazil will then attack quickly through a combination of passing, individual skill and shots from anywhere. If they get Germany on their heels as they did the U.S. they will score and score. Germany must start playing right from the whistle, keep compact and play down the outside. If they can stifle the Brazilian offense and possess the ball, the experience and goal scoring ability of Prinz and Linger will put goals on the board for Germany.
Prediction: Brazil will win 2-1 or 3-2.
Friday’s College Roundup
After missing all of last year with a knee injury, including the first seven matches of this season while at the Womens World Cup in China, Canadian international striker Kara Lang returned to the college game in a big way Friday evening, scoring both UCLA goals in a 2-1 overtime upset of No. 2 Portland at Drake Stadium.
Lang, whose last game college game happened to be against Portland (7-2) in the 2005 NCAA Final, opened the scoring after just eight minutes with a 30-yard strike. Portland equalized eight minutes from time, but Lang scored her second seven minutes into overtime.
UCLA (5-1-2) extended their home winning streak to 31 matches.
Next: San Diego State Friday in San Diego.
Senior Jamie Bell continued her goal-scoring binge for the Lady Lions, finding the net for the third consecutive game as Loyola Marymount defeated 3-1 Friday afternoon at Sullivan Field. The Lions have won five straight to post the program’s longest winning streak since 1998 and tie the school record.
The 5-3-1 Lions can break that record 1 p.m. Sunday against UC Riverside at Sullivan Field.
No. 14-ranked USC (7-1-1) beat Long Beach State (6-4-0) 3-0 Friday before a record crowd of 954 for a women’s soccer match at LBSU.
Evoking memories of the 1998 World Cup debacle that rightfully focused on then U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Steve Sampson, pressure on U.S. Women’s Coach Greg Ryan is intensifying in the wake of the humiliating 4-0 loss to Brazil.
Even though Hope Solo backtracked on any perceived criticism of backup Briana Scurry on her MySpace page (click on the “2007worldcup” link for her statement) after her angry words in the wake of the Brazil game, Solo pointedly did not express any regrets in regard to Ryan.
Fans have the knives out.
Over on BigSoccer.com they’re discussing potential successors.
There’s also a poll asking when (not if) Ryan will be fired.
And Nike’s World Cup advertising campaign around its “the greatest team you’ve never heard of” slogan (am I the only one who found those ads incredibly annoying?) isn’t immune either from general derision.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Women’s National Team stars are also calling for Ryan’s head.
As usual, the outspoken Brandi Chastain was particularly damning in her assessment:
People say this is a step back, but I think Greg Ryan has put us three steps back all the way to the starting gate,” said Chastain, the 1999 World Cup hero who watched Thursday’s loss from her home in Northern California. “He lacks the ability to communicate and is not in tune with his players, and he’s obviously not a tactician or he wouldn’t have made the decisions he did.
For what it’s worth, I e-mailed U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati for his view. No, I haven’t heard back, but if I do, I’ll post the response here.
Updated 4:45 p.m.: Sunil got back to me via e-mail, gave me a quote, then told me it wasn’t for use. So, to ensure the president of U.S. Soccer does talk to me again I’ll respect his request and won’t use it for publication.
I’ll say this though, Ryan is in trouble. (I can read between the lines).
Next for the Galaxy: A visit Sunday to former Coach Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew that FSN will air on tape-delay at 5 p.m.
Weekend College Games
The Cal State Northridge men host tenth-ranked UCLA at Saturday in the first game between the two schools since 2005. The Matadors have never beaten UCLA.
The Loyola Marymount women (4-3-1), winners of four straight games, play at 4 p.m. today against Idaho (4-3-0) and 1 p.m. Sunday against UC Riverside (5-3-0). Both games are at Sullivan Field.
The Long Beach State women (6-3-0), winners of four in a row, host two games this weekend First up at 4 p.m. today is No. 14-ranked USC (6-1-1), while at 11 a.m. Sunday it’s Wyoming (4-4-0) in town.
If you only watch one game this weekend, make it Germany against Brazil in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, a game between a team yet to concede a goal in the tournament against one that put four past the U.S. Kick off is at 4:55 a.m. The third place Norway-U.S. game is at 1:55 a.m. on the same channel.
Are the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros big in Uzbekistan? The revamped Cal State Dominguez Hills Athletics Web site has surpassed 14,000 hits since it was launched one month ago with visitors coming from 42 different countries including South Korea, Kenya, Uzbekistan and Turkey.
Finally, former UCLA soccer player and avid supporter Jonathan Moore died at his Los Angeles home Wednesday, just days after his 60th birthday.
A member of the UCLA soccer team in 1968 and 1969, he led the team in scoring in his first season. After graduation, he was a fixture at UCLA soccer games.
A brilliant individual goal from Marta in the 80th minute sealed a historic 4-0 win for Brazil over the U.S. this morning and handed the South Americans a deserved World Cup final berth Sunday against Germany.
Bad luck, questionable coaching decisions and uninspired play all combined to work against the U.S. and gave Coach Greg Ryan his first and possibly last loss since his 2005 appointment, rendering a two-year undefeated streak meaningless.
It was the worst U.S. defeat ever and it could have been even worse: Brazil hit the post shortly before the end of the game.
Brazil’s players celebrate the victory over the U.S. after their semifinal match
Lots of fans are expected at the American Airlines terminal at LAX today to greet Cuauhtmoc Blanco as the Chicago Fire step off an airplane en route to Saturday’s game against Chivas USA. American Airlines Flight 55 is scheduled to arrive at 5:30 p.m. if you want to take in the scene or just avoid the crowds.
From the Chivas USA press release:
There will be brief media availability with Blanco and Fire personnel upon arrival at the airport, where scores of fans are expected to greet the controversial Mexican National Team and ex-Club Amrica icon ahead of his only scheduled appearance of 2007 in Southern California.
Blanco, reportedly Major League Soccers second-highest paid Designated Player after David Beckham, signed with the Chicago Fire in June and in just 10 games since his MLS debut has scored three goals and registered six assists, leading the Fire to a 4-2-4 record (W-L-T) and, for now, the eighth and final spot in the race to the 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Mexican-owned Chivas USA (14-6-5, 47 pts) is currently in first place in MLSs Western Conference with five regular season games remaining. Led by three-time Mexican World Cup star Claudio Surez, Chivas USA will look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games on Saturday against the Fire and Blanco, who for over a decade represented Club Amrica, the Mexican archrival of Chivas USAs parent club, Chivas de Guadalajara.
Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire face off this Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. PT at The Home Depot Center in a preview of a potential first-round 2007 MLS Cup Playoffs matchup.
A 20th minute own goal from a corner kick, a second Brazilian goal scored seven minutes later in a manner usually athletic goalkeeper Briana Scurry was brought in precisely to save and Torrance’s Shannon Boxx sent off just before half time. That Boxx should not have been given a second yellow card – replays showed she was clipped by a Brazilian player and not vice versa – is no consolation for the U.S.
Down to 10 players, the U.S. has just 45 minutes left in the 2007 World Cup unless it scores at least two goals.
Ajax America Women Coach Brian Boswell returns to provide 100 Percent Soccer with a match analysis of the U.S.-Brazil semifinal:
The U.S. have been preparing for this game since the end of the 2003 World Cup, whereas the Brazilian team disbanded that year and did not come together until early 2007 for the Pan American Games.
The U.S. is fresh off of a 3-0 victory over a good English side, despite starting slowly and allowing England to play at a comfortable pace, ceding most of the possession.
Upping the tempo of the game in the second half, the U.S. put the English on the back foot and scored three goals in 15 minutes. They played better possession soccer and looked like a team capable of winning the World Cup, with good goals from key players Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Kristine Lilly.
Brazil beat a plucky, hard-working Australian team 3-2. Although out-shooting Australia 20-4 and leading 2-0, they found it very difficult to put the Aussies away.
The U.S. is getting better with every game.
It played the England game with Shannon Boxx and Leslie Osborne as the central midfielders. Although both have been used primarily as holding midfield players, they played well together. Boxxy was able to go forward more often and this resulted in a great left-footed goal. The U.S. played the ball wider than they have in previous games and cut out a lot of the Route 1 long balls, which allowed the midfield to support Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly up front. This put a lot more pressure on the England defense.
Expect to see this on Thursday.
The U.S. will try to dictate the pace against Brazil, speed it up and put the Brazilians on their heels. Look for the U.S. to be dangerous on set pieces; the U.S. is the best womens team in the air and Brazil does not mark well from set pieces.
The U.S. will play more down the lines to try to get around the back of Brazil and use Abbys prowess in the air with Lilly, Lori Chalupny and Heather OReilly picking up the knock downs and Boxxy coming through.
When defending the U.S. must pressure the ball quickly as Brazil has great individual talent and loves to shoot from outside the penalty area.
The Brazilians are the most entertaining of the womens teams.
Good team work and great individual skill make them fun to watch, plus they have in Marta the No. 1 player in the world.
They play like their mens team.
They beat Australia 3-2 after dominating the first 30 minutes and leading 2-0. Australia didnt quit, were able to narrow the field and congest the midfield and claw two goals back, which shows the Brazilian defense is not at the same standard as its attack.
When Brazil are allowed to play they attack quickly, push their outside backs up and into your penalty area. They will then shoot from anywhere looking for goals, deflections, balls knocked down, anything that gives them a chance of scoring. They play well as a team, but rely on individual skill to win games.
Brazil play a 4-4-2 with forwards Marta and Christiane and attacking midfielders Formiga and Daniella interchanging positions, making them very difficult to mark. Marta is very dangerous from free kicks in scoring positions.
They are not as well organized when defending, which comes from lack of preparation time as a team. Defending is more about organization than individual ability and they’ve missed some of the finer points. Vulnerable at set pieces, Brazil has had the easier games to the semifinal, so the defense has not been tested in the way it will be against the U.S.
Expect the U.S. to start quickly and prevent Brazil from developing a rhythm.
To do this they will need to pressure quickly when Brazil have possession and then attack quickly on the flanks, getting midfield support to the forwards. Even though they need to attack quickly they will need to show patience and avoid the long ball that has stretched the U.S. team in previous games.
I think this will be a fun game to watch, a game of goals, Brazil loves to attack and with their individual talent they should score. The U.S., with talent, strength and organization, should score more.