Friday College Gameday & More

The UCLA women’s team plays at 7 tonight at Drake Stadium (kick off was pushed back an hour to accommodate TV in the Pacific Northwest, although there’s no local broadcast) against Portland with a place in the final four at stake.

The two teams are arguably the hottest in the country right now with the Bruins taking a 16-match winning streak into the game, while the Pilots have won 11 in a row.

The Daily Bruin has a preview.

Tickets are $10 adults and $8 for youths and students.

The USC women face the tall order of beating West Virginia on the Mountaineers’ home turf today in their bid for a place in the final four.

The Daily Trojan has a preview.

David Beckham continues to wow the Kiwis in advance of Saturday’s game against the Wellington Phoenix.

He’ll impress even more if he can duplicate the goal he scored against Sydney:

Meanwhile, ESPN has announced it will televise the Euro 2008 draw at 6 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2.

The draw details:

The draw will place the 16 teams, set to compete in the 2008 championship for Europes national teams, into four groups of four teams. Austria and Switzerland automatically qualified as hosts and the remaining 14 teams are broken into four pots and will be drawn from each pot into one of the group. The winner of EURO 2008 will represent the UEFA at the 2009 FIFA Confederations in South Africa where the U.S. Mens National Team will represent the CONCACAF region having won the 2007 Gold Cup in Summer.

Pot 1: Austria (host), Greece (defending champions having won Euro 2004), Netherlands, Switzerland (hosts).

Pot 2: Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden.

Pot 3: Germany, Portugal, Romania, Spain.

Pot 4: France, Poland, Russia, Turkey.

ESPN will air all 31 games from the June 7 through June 29 tournament.

Finally, FIFA has announced its three World Player of the Year finalists.

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Galaxy To Participate in Another Irrelevant Tournament

In the wake of the World Series of Football and SuperLiga comes the latest meaningless tournament with a grandiose name: the Pan-Pacific Championship.

Essentially a MLS pre-season tournament scheduled for February, the four-team event in Hawaii unveiled today will involve trophy-winning teams from Japan and Australia, MLS champs the Houston Dynamo, as well as the Galaxy, which will participate because they have David Beckham and MLS Cup runner-up the New England Revolution doesn’t.

“This tournament will unite four terrific clubs from across the region to crown a true Pan-Pacific champion,” said Doug Quinn, president of Soccer United Marketing (apparently with a straight face), which is organizing of the event.

Well, no, it won’t Dougie. If it did we’d have teams from Korea, Mexico, (insert other countries here) all playing as well.

Just call it what it is: a way to make more money off Becks and expose another American market to the MLS product. Or another excuse for a Hawaiian vacation. Nothing wrong with doing that is there?

MLS’ credibility (or lack thereof) is called into question (yet again) when self-important and inaccurate press releases are issued containing such pronouncements as the tournament “will crown the top club from the Asian and North American soccer confederations.

Let’s hope Becks doesn’t twist his ankle again.

Full details are here.

The official Web site is here.

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LA Coliseum and Soccer

While much of the media coverage today about USC’s threat/negotiating ploy to leave the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has centered on USC fooball, it should be noted that the venerable stadium is the second most important soccer venue in Southern California, after Carson’s Home Depot Center.

It’s practically the second home of the Mexican National Team and has been part of America’s soccer history since the days of the now-defunct North American Soccer League.

I’ve been there both as a fan (most recently for the Manchester United tour a couple of years back) and as a reporter (I was one of a handful at the USC-Florida women’s NCAA Tournament game Saturday) and was reminded on both occasions of how much the stadium blows in pretty much every respect

It’s an embarrassment on the scale of the LAX terminals.

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett summed up the (minimal) needed improvements:

1. Complete replacement of concession facilities to afford modern food and beverage services like those offered at all major stadiums.
2. Replacement of, and additions to, the currently inadequate restroom facilities.
3. All new, state-of-the-art video and score boards.
4. Replacement of the grossly inadequate sound system.
5. Improved access through renovated and replaced stairs, elevators and escalators.
6. Repair of crumbling concrete stairs, walkways and infrastructure.
7. Replacement of all seats.
8. Reconfiguration of entry gates in order to move fans in and out of the stadium safely and efficiently.

Even the parking is poorly signed and incredibly tight and inconvenient. And you have to leave the stadium to reach (or get back from) the (tiny) press conference room.

To turn down $100 million in renovations from a private school requires more explanation even if there are significant strings attached (sounds like it comes down to control of the venue).

I dread going there and I know most soccer journalists do.

A fix is direly needed.

Still, Pasadena shouldn’t get smug.

The Rose Bowl is a 50,000-seat stadium masquerading as a 90,000-seat stadium (have you ever sat in those seats?) and access through those residential neighborhoods is a task.

While I’m at it, shouldn’t the city of Pasadena have updated their Web site by now that observes “the Rose Bowl is home for the UCLA Bruins Football team and the Galaxy Soccer team.”?

The Galaxy, of course, haven’t been tenants since 2003.

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Olympic Team Training Camp Roster Named

Plenty of familiar names on the roster named today for the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team (which doubles as the Olympic team) training camp that opens this weekend at Home Depot Center.

The list includes MLS Rookie of the Year Maurice Edu of Fontana and Toronto FC; Robbie Rogers of Rolling Hills Estates and the Columbus Crew; Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan; Mike Randolph of the Galaxy; and former Galaxy players Nate Sturgis and Robbie Findley (both Real Salt Lake).

Here’s today’s (edited) press release from U.S. Soccer:

U.S. Under-23 Mens National Team head coach Peter Nowak has called 22 players into training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in preparation for a two-match tour in China where the U.S. will face the Chinese U-23 national team.

This will be the first gathering of the U-23 MNT since Nowak took the reins in August, and is the first major camp in preparation for the final round action of the 2008 CONCACAF Mens Under-23 Championship to be held from March 11-23, 2008, in Los Angeles, Tampa and Nashville. The eight-team tournament will send the two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The team will gather on Saturday in Carson and train for a week before departing on Dec. 8 for China. The U-23s will play two matches against the Chinese U-23s, first on Dec. 13 at the Changsha He Long Sports Centre in Changsha, then three days later at the Yue Xiu Shan Stadium in Guangzhou.

“This is an excellent opportunity to begin preparing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said Nowak. “We will have the chance to get in a good week of training before playing two matches against a very good opponent. As we have seen in the past, the possibility of getting to travel and play in the host country before a tournament is especially valuable, so we are going to take full advantage of it.

Of the 22-man roster assembling in Carson, 20 are playing professionally in the United States and abroad. Charlie Davies (Hammarby) and Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96), are the representatives from Europe, each having earned their first caps with the full team earlier this year. All told, seven players on the squad made their debut at the senior international level in 2007, including Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan who made four appearances, including three as a starter.

The heavily-MLS laden roster features the 2007 Rookie of the Year Maurice Edu as well as two winners from the MLS Cup-winning Houston Dynamo, midfielder Stuart Holden and defender Patrick Ianni. New England Revolution striker Adam Cristman represents the runners up having posted four goals and four assists in his rookie season for the Revs.

Nine players are graduates of the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., and 14 of 22 players have represented the United States in a world youth championship event.

Seven players were part of the USAs quarterfinal run in the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada this past summer. Four players Jozy Altidore, Robbie Rogers, Nathan Sturgis and Zizzo started all five matches for the United States, while goalkeeper Chris Seitz turned in one of the stellar performances for the U-20s in Canada. Additionally, both Sturgis and Tim Ward were part of the squad at the 2005 FIFA Youth World Championship in Holland, where the U.S. opened with a stunning 1-0 victory over eventual champions Argentina and then shutout Germany (0-0) and Egypt (1-0) to win Group D before eventually falling to Italy, 3-1, in the Round of 16 to finish in 11th place.

The U.S. is gearing up for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in March, with seven out of the eight participating teams having been finalized. Reaching the final round to join Canada, the USA and Mexico were qualifiers Guatemala and Honduras from the Central American Zone, and Cuba and Haiti from the Caribbean Zone. Panama and Costa Rica will play a two-game home-and-away playoff series later this month, with the winner becoming the eighth team in the final round tournament.

The Home Depot Center and Raymond James Stadium will each host three doubleheaders in group play, while LP Field in Nashville will host the semifinals on Thursday, March 20, and the championship match and third-place game on Sunday, March 23.

U.S. Under 23 Mens National Team Roster By Position: GOALKEEPERS: Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake).

DEFENDERS: Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Jon Leathers (Furman University), Mike Randolph (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC).

MIDFIELDERS: Arturo Alvarez (FC Dallas), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Michael Harrington (Kansas City Wizards), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (CD Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas).

FORWARDS: Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Adam Cristman (New England Revolution), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)

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Becks & Bruins Wednesday

The Galaxy are in New Zealand readying for their next loss, um, game on Saturday.

Actually, they should have a chance of winnning this game since the Wellington Phoenix are an A-League expansion team currently lying seventh in the eight-team league.

Among their roster is former UC Santa Barbara defender Tony Lochhead who was drafted, but never played, for the New England Revolution.

UCLA plays today in their second round NCAA tournament game against Santa Clara.

The Daily Bruin has a preview here.

Finally, The (London) Times opines that OC resident Jurgen Klinsmann is not the man to become the next England coach.

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Galaxy Lose in Oz, Tuesday’s Column & More

Despite a trademark David Beckham goal from a free kick, the Galaxy lost 5-3 to Sydney F.C. before more than 80,000 in Australia where Tuesday night has come and gone.

New Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit saw midfielder Kevin Harmse sent off in the supposed friendly and shaky goalkeeper Joe Cannon was pulled at half time.

Full details here.

Back here in LA I devoted Tuesday’s column to the USC women’s soccer program, enjoying its best season in history, and defender Amy Massey from Manhattan Beach.

More information on the nonprofit mentioned in the story is here.

Steven Goff over at The Washington Post said two sources have told him Chivas USA Coach Preki is interested in the New York Red Bulls about its coaching vacancy

But that didn’t stop Chivas USA from trading reserve goalkeeper Preston Burpo to expansion team San Jose Earthquakes for a fourth round draft pick. The (edited) Chivas USA press release:

This was a key trade for us ahead of next years SuperDraft, Preki said. We also hope it represents a good opportunity for Preston to compete for a starting spot in a new environment in San Jose.

Burpo, 35, was a member of Chivas USA for two seasons, in which he accumulated a 1.18 goals-against average (GAA) in 22 regular-season games played (all starts). However, Burpo played just three of those games in 2007, when he served primarily as a backup to Panasonic MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Brad Guzan.

Burpo was originally acquired by Chivas USA in March 2006 as a discovery pick from United Soccer Leagues Division I side Seattle Sounders.

The trade raises the possibility Chivas USA will have an entirely new goalkeeping corps in 2008 if Guzan heads to Arsenal of the English Premier League when the European transfer window opens in the New Year.

And Lawndale’s Kei Kamara is heading back to California after being traded to San Jose from the Columbus Crew. The (edited) Crew release:

The Columbus Crew announced today that it has acquired midfielder Brian Carroll from the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for forward Kei Kamara. Carroll, a member of D.C. Uniteds 2004 MLS Cup-winning squad who has earned six caps with the U.S. National Team, appeared in 121 games over five seasons with D.C. before being selected by San Jose in Wednesdays MLS Expansion Draft.

We are excited to acquire someone of Brian Carrolls ability and experience, said Head Coach Sigi Schmid. He is someone who has been a part of an MLS championship and he will help bring that mentality to our team. At the same time, we thank Kei for his efforts on behalf of the Crew and wish him the best of luck in San Jose.

Carroll, a 26-year-old native of Springfield, Va., was originally selected by D.C. United in the second round (No. 11 overall) of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft out of Wake Forest University. In 2007, the defensive midfielder saw action in 28 games (19 starts) and collected a career-high four assists. He has two goals and 11 assists in his career. Carroll also represented the United States at the Under-20 and U-23 levels, prior to his six appearances at the senior level.

Kamara, a native of Sierra Leone who played collegiately at Cal State Dominguez Hills, spent two seasons with the Crew after being selected by Columbus in the first round (No. 9 Overall) of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. He scored five goals in 36 games (13 starts) in Black & Gold.

Finally, the U.S. Under-15 Girls National Team wrapped up a three game series in Florida over the weekend with two losses and a win.

Southern Californians on the roster were Michelle Cruz of Thousand Oaks, Natalia Ledezma of La Mirada and Haley Rosen of Palos Verdes.

The U-15s end the year with a 5-2-4 overall record, the most-ever international matches played by the U.S. U-15s in a calendar year.

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Kyle Nakazawa, Seeking Revenge

This is Kyle’s fifth post.

What a year for UCLA men’s soccer.

I haven’t blogged in a while, so for those who haven’t been following our season closely, I’ll try to catch you up.

We ended up finishing our season with a 8-8-3 record; not particularly what we were hoping for, but we all knew we needed to have at least a .500 record to have any hope of qualifying for the playoffs.

With our fingers crossed, we anticipated the day of the draw to find out that we did, in fact, make the playoffs and were going to have a first round home game.

We were all very relieved to hear the news and for an entire week prepared for our first round game against New Mexico, anxious to get the playoffs started.

The one point we all made before going into the Saturday night game was that the past is history.

We all knew that we did not have the season we had hoped for, but each individual learned something important from every setback we encountered this year. We did not look at the season as a failure, but as a learning experience.

Most importantly, we discussed how important it was for us to act now, and that the present is a gift.

So, why not take advantage of the opportunity that we are given?

With that mindset, we came out with a win in our first playoff game in front of a large, supportive crowd. We set the past behind us and focused on what was at hand.

The playoffs are a second chance to showcase to the nation our great ability as a team. I believe we truly did accomplish that with our win against New Mexico, with great performances by everyone on the team.

With the first win behind us, we are looking forward to our second round game against Santa Clara on Wednesday at Santa Clara.

If anyone is not aware, we lost to Santa Clara earlier this year in overtime.

We are seeking revenge.

Go Bruins!

Kyle is apparently too modest to talk about his contribution in the win against New Mexico.

Here’s how the UCLA press office described it:

Bend It Like Naka Sophomore midfielder Kyle Nakazawa’s bending free kick for a goal with 1:39 remaining in regulation provided a dramatic finish for the Bruins in a 1-0 victory over New Mexico in the NCAA first round. Nakazawa earned the free kick when he was taken down just outside the penalty box. His curled his free kick around the Lobos wall and into the back of the net for his third goal of the year and first off a free kick.

“It was an unbelievable way to finish the game,” Nakazawa said. “When I first lined it up, I didn’t see an angle, but then I found a little hole and thought I could bend it in. I couldn’t have hit it any better. It was one of the greatest feelings I have had in my college career.”

It was Nakazawa’s second game-winning goal of the season. Both have come in the final two minutes of the game. On Oct. 21 at Washington, he scored the game-winner with 53 seconds left in regulation in a 3-2 victory. Nakazawa ranks second on the team in goals (3) and points (13) and is the team and Pac-10 leader in assists with seven.

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Sunday Soccer: World Cup Draw, Bruins Win & Becks in Oz

The U.S. learned today that it opens qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in June against the winner of the Barbados-Dominican Republic game after the draw in South Africa.

Meanwhile, with fewer than two minutes remaining in UCLA’s NCAA Tournament opener against New Mexico Saturday, Palos Verdes Estates’ Kyle Nakazawa scored a dramatic winner from a 20-yard free kick to send the Bruins through to the next round, 1-0 .

It was an unbelievable way to finish the game, Nakazawa said of his third goal of the season. When I first lined it up, I didnt see an angle, but then I found a little hole and thought I could bend it in. I couldnt have hit it any better. It was one of the greatest feelings I have had in my college career.

UCLA (9-8-3) faces Santa Clara on Wednesday at Buck Shaw Stadium. Last month when the teams met the Broncos won 2-1 in overtime, scoring both goals while the Bruins were down a man.

It would be great to get revenge on Santa Clara, UCLA Coach Jorge Salcedo said. Santa Clara has been a very successful team this year, and in the game we played up there earlier in the year, we played well enough to win. They dont play the most attractive soccer, but theyre effective, and our team will be ready for the battle.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy have arrived in Australia where the familiar scenes of Beckhammania are playing out and Landon Donovan is called just “another Galaxy player.”

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