Thursday Kick Off: Samba Soccer, Galaxy Gameday and Blanco in L.A.

U.S. Crashes Out of World Cup

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

Game details here.

The U.S. now turns its attention to the Olympics next year. But questions arise: has the rest of the world caught up to the U.S.? And will Ryan remain the coach?

Galaxy Preview

The Galaxy plays the Kansas City Wizards live at 5 p.m. today on ESPN2. There’s a viewing party at the Underground Pub & Grill in Hermosa Beach.

David Beckham, by the way, took the first flight to London he could after learning late last night that his father had suffered a heart attack. Details here.

Beat writer Billy Witz has the game preview.

And just to catch up with Wednesday’s stories: Cobi Jones said he may not retire.

And columnist Paul Oberjuerge has this take on the Galaxy’s season.

Blanco Ball

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.

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