The Unprotected

The newly-minted San Jose Earthquakes will choose 10 players from the other 13 MLS teams at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the expansion draft.

Each time can lose a maximum of one player and three won’t lose any.

Chivas USA left these players available today: temperamental and punted playmaker Amado Guevara (they still own the MLS rights), French striker Laurent Merlin, defenders Alex Zotinca, Jason Hernandez and Orlando Perez, Honduran Ramon Nunez, backup goalkeeper Preston Burpo, rookie English striker John Cunliffe, Anaheim’s Jorge Flores, David Arvizu, Anthony Hamilton, injured veteran defender Carlos Llamosa, Rodrigo Lopez, LMU’s Bobby Burling, Justin Myers, Desmond Brooks, Eder Robles and Erasmo Solorzano.

The Galaxy’s list: Kyle Martino, Pete Vagenas, reserve strikers Gavin Glinton and Alan Gordon, veteran Kelly Gray, Canadian Kevin Harmse, newly signed Clint Mathis, Josh Tudela, defenders Kyle Veris and Abel Xavier as well as backup goalkeepers Steve Cronin and Lance Friesz and Newhall’s Mike Caso.

Other notables for Earthquakes Coach Frank Yallop to consider (one per team): Chadwick School’s John Thorrington (Chicago Fire), ex-Galaxy midfielder Jovan Kirovski (Colorado Rapids), ex-Galaxy midfielder Ned Grabavoy (Columbus Crew), Denilson (FC Dallas), ex-Galaxy defender Greg Vanney (DC United), former Earthquakes goalkeeper Pat Onstad (Houston Dynamo), former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (Kansas City Wizards), the San Fernando Valley’s Willie Sims (New England Revolution) and (briefly) ex-Galaxy player Santino Quaranta (Red Bulls).

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MLS Cup Returns to Home Depot Center in ’08

Presumably captivated by the possibility Clint Mathis (sorry, I meant David Beckham) could lead the Galaxy to next year’s MLS Cup (insert chuckling here), the league announced today its championship game will return to Carson next year.

From the press release:

MLS Cup 2008 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET (live on ABC and TeleFutura) on November 23, 2008 at the home of the Los Angeles Galaxy.

We are proud and excited to bring Major League Soccers championship event back to the City of Los Angeles and The Home Depot Center, one of the finest sports venues in the United States, said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The pageantry and top-notch presentation of two previous MLS Cups and the inaugural SuperLiga final prove that The Home Depot Center is a superb stage for national and international showcase events like MLS Cup 2008.

The two previous MLS Cup matches held at The Home Depot Center were resounding successes. In 2003, a sold out crowd of 27,000 witnessed a remarkable match with the San Jose Earthquakes taking home the title with 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire in a wide-open contest. In 2004, D.C. United lifted the MLS Cup trophy after an intense 3-2 win over the Kansas City Wizards.

The LA Galaxy are honored to once again be hosting Major League Soccers premier match, MLS Cup, at The Home Depot Center, LA Galaxy President and General Manager Alexi Lalas said. We feel that we have the best fans in MLS and I can think of no better way to reward them for their support than winning our third MLS Cup in front of them at home next season.

Since opening its doors in 2003, The Home Depot Center has served as the home of two-time MLS Cup Champion and five-time MLS Cup finalist the Los Angeles Galaxy. Designated as an Official U.S. Olympic Training Site, this facility is also home to Chivas USA and the National Training Center for the United States Soccer Federations (USSF) Mens and Womens National Teams. In addition to two MLS Cups, the stadium has hosted numerous memorable soccer matches, including the 2003 FIFA Womens World Cup Championship game, the 2003 MLS All-Star Game, CONCACAF Mens and Womens Gold Cup matches, InterLiga, this years inaugural SuperLiga series and several other elite soccer competitions.

Hosting the most important game in American professional soccer at The Home Depot Center for the third time shows our continuing commitment to bring exciting and entertaining events to this stadium and city, said Rod OConnor, general manager, The Home Depot Center. We are proud to partner with MLS and the Galaxy for what promises to be a great day for soccer fans in the city of Los Angeles, and across the country.

“I can think of no better place to host soccer’s biggest match than right here in Los Angeles,” said City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Los Angeles is the international hub of the world and is a place where everyone comes with a vision and a drive to achieve beyond themselves. We proudly welcome the 2008 MLS Cup match and the league’s teams to chase their championship dreams right here in Los Angeles at our Home Depot Center.”

The Home Depot Center has apparently moved to LA?

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Clint Mathis Returns to the Galaxy from Red Bulls

His options dwindling, Red Bulls striker-attacking midfielder Clint Mathis was traded by New York to the Galaxy in the brief three-hour MLS trading window this morning in exchange for a third round draft pick.

Mathis, whose big-money contract with MLS expires at year’s end and under-performed (as usual) in New York, is expected to sign an incentive-laden contract with the Galaxy so the mercurial midfielder can prove he still has what it takes to play in the league.

“We’re hoping Clint is motivated and ready to continue,” said Paul Bravo, the Galaxy’s director of soccer. “I think he thrives in this kind of environment – if we can make him see the light.

It’s always going to be a challenge with Clint,” Bravo added. “But we’re looking to bring in guys who can handle a pressure cooker environment – I think he gets bored. For a third round draft pick, he’s definitely worth the risk.”

By the way, the Galaxy had the inside track on Mathis because his in-laws live in OC.

Also, Bravo said the Galaxy see Mathis as a potential back-up playmaker for David Beckham, should he end up playing for England next summer at Euro 2008.

From the Galaxy press release:

Mathis, who was originally drafted by the Galaxy in the 1998 SuperDraft, is the 16th leading scorer in MLS history with 59 goals in his nine-year MLS career. He will join his new Galaxy teammates in Los Angeles this week before heading to Australia with the club on Friday.

Mathis, who will turn 31 on Sunday, was drafted by the Galaxy in the first round (sixth overall) of the 1998 MLS College Draft and went on to appear in 65 games for the club, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists. Midway through the 2000 season, Mathis was traded to the MetroStars (now New York Red Bulls) as part of the Galaxys acquisition of Luis Hernandez. He played the next three and a half years in New York, where he is now the clubs all-time leading scorer in all competitions, and with whom he was a finalist for the 2000 MLS Honda MVP Award and was named to the 2000 MLS Best XI.

After a year in the German Bundesliga with Hannover 96, Mathis returned to MLS, joining expansion club Real Salt Lake in 2005 before being traded to Colorado for the 2006 season and then on to the Red Bulls in 2007, with whom he scored six goals and added two assists in 26 games. In the Red Bulls 5-4 win over LA in August, Mathis tallied a goal and an assist, with the goal giving him a team-record 45 in all competitions during his career with the club.

A member of the U.S. National Team, Mathis has collected 46 caps and scored 12 goals since debuting with the National Team in 1998. He was a member of the U.S. squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup scoring the Americans only goal in the 1-1 draw with the host nation Korea Republic.

Red Bull New York Technical Director Jeff Agoos was also pleased with the move:

By acquiring this pick, we will now be able to have a selection in every round of the 2008 SuperDraft. This allows us more flexibility moving forward.

Is Mathis still capable of scoring five goals like this?

What do you think?

I’ll have more on my conversation with Bravo and word of a Chivas USA player who won’t be leaving the team as rumored after all in Tuesday’s 100 Percent Soccer column in the Daily Breeze and Daily News.

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Monday Morning Buzz: Becks, Bruins & More

A quick update before I head off to the Galaxy practice this morning:
England players are gathering ahead of Wednesday’s crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

And while England wants no repeat of the last-gasp David Beckham free kick it needed six years ago to qualify for the 2002 World Cup there are calls to bench Becks against Croatia.

Meanwhile, the UCLA and USC women both made it through Sunday to the next round of the NCAA tournament.

Playing for 76 minutes a man down, the Loyola Marymount men (3-16-1) suffered their eighth one-goal loss of the campaign and lost 2-1 to Saint Marys Sunday in their last game of the season.

Finally, the Galaxy host their annual Thanksgiving meal in the Stadium Club this afternoon for more than 200 local children and their families:

Several Galaxy players and front office members, as well as staff from The Home Depot Center and Albertsons, will be on hand to help serve meals, which will include all of the traditional Thanksgiving fare. Galaxy players including Landon Donovan, Quavas Kirk, Mike Randolph, Troy Roberts, Peter Vagenas and more, as well as other special guests, including actress Bianca Kajlich, the star of the CBS comedy Rules of Engagement and the wife of Landon Donovan, will also be signing autographs and taking photos with the children.

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Dynamo Dynasty Wins MLS Cup For Second Consecutive Year

Sporting an all ex-Galaxy front line of Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua, the Houston Dynamo beat the New England Revolution 2-1 today in a come from behind win.

This is a team initially molded by former Galaxy Coach Frank Yallop, of course, and four MLS titles in six years is a testament to what can be achieved if stability exists.

Are you listening Galaxy?

The Galaxy at least won something this weekend: retired Galaxy great Cobi Jones on Saturday won the Commissioner’s Award

That was a nod to the past.

If we’re talking about the present, two Chivas USA players, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Jonathan Bornstein of Los Alamitos were named to the MLS Best XI:

GOALKEEPER (1): Brad Guzan* (Chivas USA)

DEFENDERS (3): Michael Parkhurst* (New England Revolution), Eddie Robinson*(Houston Dynamo), Jonathan Bornstein* (Chivas USA)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Christian Gomez (D.C. United), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Dwayne De Rosario (Houston Dynamo), Ben Olsen* (D.C. United) Guillermo Barros Schelotto* (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (2): Luciano Emilio* (D.C. United), Juan Pablo Angel *(New York Red Bulls)

* First time Best XI recipient

No Galaxy players on the list, you’ll notice.

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Sigi Schmid, Season Ending Thoughts


Sigi Schmid agreed to guest blog as MLS wraps up 2007:

MLS Cup is the culmination of a long season.

Some rambling thoughts come to mind:

1. The winner of MLS Cup is very rarely the best team in the league.

It is a Cup; not a league championship.

An old coaching friend of mine said to me long ago that during a season the cream rises to the top; in a cup competition it is like Fantasy Island – everyone’s dream can come true.

Although this year two of the more consistent teams made the finals, that is not always the case.

2. Are new rules coming?

Perhaps two designated players per team.

We have the Beckham rule; now we might have the Landon Donovan rule.

I see arguments on both sides; we will see what happens.

Trading for a second DP spot is possible, but it has a value that needs to be respected.

3. On the expansion Seattle franchise – New teams and marching bands. I love it.

Fans as members. I agree – let’s get involved.

Now we need a team name.

Are we going to get another FC team or team FC?

I hope not.

Maybe it will be an SC for soccer Club.

How about an SSC, Soccer and Social Club? I like that.

4. High profile coaches – I think it is great for our league.

Big salaries – great. I wish some of that would pass down to the current coaches.

MLS is different.

When you are used to going player shopping and not looking at price tags, it is hard to start hunting for bargains.

A bargain for a European team is $2 million or less.

In MLS that is called a DP.

Happy hunting, time to go to those big outlet stores for those quality specials.

5. Finally, MLS gets better every year.

The fans are better every year.

There is a better atmosphere every year in the stadiums.

Media coverage is getting better.

The teams are better.

Players are better.

Now if only the refereeing would do the same.

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Saturday Soccer: U.S. Wins, 100 Percent Soccer on the Radio & More

U.S. Escapes South Africa With 1-0 Win

Good morning, especially to those who rose early to watch a young American team beat the 2010 World Cup hosts 1-0 at altitude today in Johannesburg.

Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan came on at the half to preserve the shutout, while his club teammates Sascha Kljestan and (briefly) Jonathan Bornstein also saw action in the last U.S. game of the year.

Freddy Adu started in attack for the U.S., while Fontana’s Maurice Edu, the MLS Rookie of the Year, acquitted himself well and earned an assist on Steve Cherundolo’s goal.

Next for the U.S.: a game against Sweden Jan. 19 at Home Depot Center in Carson.

Next for armchair soccer fans, especially those of English descent, the 9:55 a.m. game on Fox Soccer Channel between Israel and Russia. England need help from Israel if they are to qualify for Euro 2008, remember.

Program notes

I’ll be a guest this afternoon on Ultimate Soccer, a radio show on 1260 The Team Sports Radio out of Edmonton, Alta., talking about Becks’ time with the Galaxy, etc.

How did I hook up with a soccer show from the Great White North?

Turns out the show’s host is married to a daughter of my Canadian-born wife’s father’s cousin. Hey, I’ll take the distant nepotism.

I’ll chat with host Soccer Steve, a former player with England’s not so mighty Port Vale (it’s apparently some sort of rule that old pros from England must host soccer radio shows judging by how many there are) just after noon.

Those so inclined can listen here.

Also, longtime South Bay resident and Columbus Crew Coach Sigi Schmid will guest-blog for 100 Percent Soccer later today, sharing his views on the MLS season.

Chivas USA Update

Chivas USA plays its mother club, CD Guadalajara, in Mexico tonight in a benefit game for victims of the recent floods south of the border.

Billy Witz and Ivan Orozco took a look at what the offseason holds for Chivas USA today.

College Update

The UCLA women Friday won their NCAA Tournament home opener.

In other games, San Francisco scored twice in each half Friday to defeat the Loyola Marymount men, 4-0.
LMU fell to 3-15-1 and closes out their season Sunday.

Finally, the Cal State Northridge men clawed back to a .500 record in their last game of the season with a 2-1 win over UC Irvine Friday. Northridge ended its season at 7-7-6.

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Friday Football Part Deux: Americans in Africa, Becks & More

Breakfast in Africa

The U.S. kicks off at 6 a.m. in South Africa on Fox Soccer Channel.

It’s a young (but worldly) U.S. team.

From (the edited) U.S. Soccer release:

Glasgow Rangers midfielder DaMarcus Beasley is the leading cap-winner on the roster (average age 23) with 71 international appearances. The 25-year-old has scored 15 international goals.
There are five players heading to South Africa with five caps or less, including two 2007 MLS season award winners. Brad Guzan was voted Goalkeeper of the Year in only his second season with Chivas USA, while Maurice Edu who earned his first cap in the win against Switzerland has been honored as the Rookie of the Year. Fellow U-20 World Cup teammates Freddy Adu and Josmer Altidore will be reunited for the first time since Canada this summer, with the New York Red Bulls striker seeking his first-ever cap with the full team. Sacha Kljestan has three appearances for the full team, all this year.
A total of six players on the current roster are age-eligible for the 2008 Olympic Games : Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber and Jonathan Spector.
Twelve of the 17 players on the roster ply their trade in seven different countries in Europe (Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Scotland).
GOALKEEPERS (2) Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS (7) Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Dan Califf (Aalborg BK), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (6) Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA)
FORWARDS (2) Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC)

And lest we forget, U.S. Soccer reminds us that:

“eight days after (Saturday’s) match, South Africa will host the Preliminary Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The event, held in Durban, will determine the qualifying schedule for 156 countries spanning five confederations. The South American qualifying competition began Oct. 13 with all ten teams in action. The U.S. will learn on Nov. 25 its potential opponents for the second round of CONCACAF Qualifying. To ramp up the hype, the domestic leagues biggest derby between JoBurg based Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates has been moved to Durban to coincide with the weekends festivities.

Beck’s is Back

And creates the goal from a corner kick as England beat Austria 1-0 in a game that nevertheless sent the populace panicking.

The Times had a rather savage assessment of Beckham’s contribution:

That Englands winner came from a dead ball from David Beckham was also somewhat misleading, considering the tepid nature of his performance. Looking as fit as can be expected of a man who has started three competitive matches since June and even those in an inferior league his only serious contributions came when the play was stopped. Even then, successive corners were cleared by a resilient knot of red-shirted Austria defenders, while long-range free kicks were delivered as if guided by faulty radar. He looked about as far off a top-level international footballer as he did on the occasions when Sven-Gran Eriksson insisted on sending him out half-fit.

But, even in his dotage, Beckham will be able to deliver the odd mean one indeed, if McClaren uses this talent to justify his continued place in the team, Beckham could be pulling on the white shirt at 50 and in the 44th minute it was his inswinger that set up the goal that relieved the tension building in the England camp.

His partner in crime was, as ever, Crouch, a striker whose frame is built to act as the antenna for Beckhams passes into the box. So it proved. It was a classically worked Beckham and Crouch goal, the ball whipped in by Beckhams corner on the left, Crouch rising at the far post, Jermain Defoe on the goalline, pivoting to his side to allow it to pass into the net as Alex Manninger scrambled across his line.
There is something of the flat-track bully about this alliance, though: destroyers of Trinidad & Tobago, Estonia and, now, Austria.

And this was their rating for Beckham:

David Beckham 6 Looked out of shape, which is hardly as a surprise given he has played as much football as your average LA resident recently, with 54 minutes on the pitch since suffering a knee injury in August. Remains as effective as ever from set-pieces, however, whipping in the corner from which Peter Crouch opened the scoring and doing just enough to earn his 99th cap against Croatia.

Israel and Russia kick off at 9:55 a.m. on Fox Soccer Channel, by the way.

More MLS

Finally, good to hear from The Washington Post’s Steven Goff that Home Depot Center could host MLS Cup 2008 and that we can mark March 28, 2008 on our calendars.

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Football Friday: England & Becks, Bruins & Trojans

MLS suits will discuss the David Beckham rule today. Whatever happens, it’s the first domino to fall in what will be a busy Galaxy off-season.

Meanwhile, Becks has returned to the England midfield for today’s noon game against Austria (it’s only available on closed circuit television in pubs and bars locally).

And not everyone is happy about the move.

College beat writer Chris Jackson takes a look at the local women involved in the NCAA Tournament, which starts today.

Here’s more on the USC game and the UCLA match.

I’ll be back later today with more on the England game, MLS Cup activities and the U.S.-South Africa contest, which will be televised at 6 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel.

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