Becks Named LA Sports Person of the Year

Pretty much the only way to generate soccer news in LA between Christmas and New Year’s Day is to make it yourself.

So we did.

David Beckham is our LA Sports Person of the Year. His move to Carson (of all places) had the entire world watching, as Sports Editor Kevin Modesti puts it, “the LA Bloody Galaxy.” His story is here and don’t forget to vote on whether your agree with the selection.

At the moment most readers believe Kobe Bryant’s trade threat/request was the biggest story of the year.

Just to catch up a little, U.S. Women’s National Team Coach Pia Sundhage has called up a trio of players from USC and UCLA to the six-day camp that opens Thursday in Carson.

U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Lauren Cheney and midfielder Tina DiMartino, both from UCLA, as well as forward Amy Rodriguez from the newly minted NCAA champion University of Southern California will get an opportunity to impress Sundhage.

Rodriguez, who scored twice in the NCAA semifinal, has played for the U.S. at the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Womens World Championship in Thailand, and along with Cheney, DiMartino and Tobin Heath, at the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Womens World Championship in Russia. Rodriguez has five senior team caps, but did not play for the USA in 2007.

This is the first call-up to the full national team for DiMartino, while Cheney participated in residency training camp last year and has two caps and one goal. Heath will be participating in her third full national team training camp.

Here’s the rest of the 27-player camp roster and some comments from Sundhage from the (edited) U.S. Soccer release:

Sundhage has called in 16 members of the USAs 2007 FIFA Womens World Cup Team including striker Abby Wambach, who was recently named 2007 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Defenders Kate Markgraf and Heather Mitts, and midfielder Aly Wagner were not named to the training camp roster as they continue to rehabilitate injuries. Veteran Kristine Lilly has not yet decided if she will pursue a spot on the roster for what would be her fourth Olympic games.

The additional 11 invitees range from numerous players with extensive youth national team experience to players getting their first-ever call-ups to the full national team as Sundhage continues to evaluate the player pool.

Sundhage called in seven players who recently finished their college seasons, including former University of Portland defender Stephanie Cox, a starter for the USA at the 2007 Womens World Cup who missed the mini-camp in December, in part due to her wedding (she was formerly Stephanie Lopez).

Sundhage will select a 20-player roster to travel to China next month for the 2008 Four Nations Tournament.

This is an exciting tournament as they will be the first games with the new coaching staff, Sundhage said. We want to continue to play with passion and start our change in attacking style. We want to try to dictate the tempo of the matches in the attack and while staying true to the principles in defending. The injuries we have to some veterans will most likely give some young players a chance (during the Four Nations), and it’s important to find a good mix of young inspiration with experience.

The full camp roster – goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.); defenders Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Marian Dalmy (Lakewood, Colo.), Keeley Dowling (Carmel, Ind.), Amy LePeilbet (Crystal Lake, Ill.), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Becky Sauerbrunn (St. Louis, Mo.), India Trotter (Plantation, Fla.), Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
midfielders Shannon Boxx (Torrance), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Tina DiMartino (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Ali Krieger (Dumfries, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Joanna Lohman (Silver Spring, Md.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), Angie Woznuk (El Cajon, Calif.); forwards Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Heather OReilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

Finally, CONCACAF has announced the match schedule for the Olympic qualifying tournament that takes place in Tampa, Fla., and Carson in March:

Group A (Tampa, Raymond James Stadium)
March 11 Panama- Honduras 5:30 p.m. ET; U.S.-Cuba 8 p.m. ET.
March 13 Honduras- Cuba 5:30 p.m. ET; U.S.-Panama 8 p.m. ET.
March 15 Cuba-Panama 4:30 p.m. ET; U.S.-Honduras 7 p.m. ET.

Group B (Carson, Home Depot Center)
March 12 Haiti-Guatemala 5:30 p.m.; Canada-Mexico 8 p.m.
March 14 Canada-Haiti 5:30 p.m. PT; Mexico-Guatemala 8 p.m.
March 16 Guatemala-Canada 3:30 p.m. PT; Mexico-Haiti 6 p.m.

The semifinals are March 20 and the final is March 23 in Nashville, Tenn. Two from CONCACAF qualify for the Olympics.

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Christmas Eve Santa Soccer: Becks on Capello & More

The Galaxy’s David Beckham makes nice with new England manager Fabio Capello, his former coach at Real Madrid, in a BBC radio interview scheduled to air Christmas Day (right after the Queen’s annual address just in case you didn’t think Becks is treated like royalty in England). Details here.

And the latest rumor involving a new Galaxy striker names Darren Huckerby of England Championship team Norwich City as a potential target.

The reliability of the original unnamed source is always open to question when it comes to the English press, but the Galaxy’s need for a striker will be the subject of my Christmas Day column in the Daily News and Daily Breeze.

Down the hall at Home Depot Center, Chivas USA has given local soccer players another reason not to over-indulge during the holidays by holding open tryouts next month. The cost: $15 a player.

Meanwhile, Loyola Marymount University Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Michelle Myers has apparently been named the new coach of expansion W-League franchise the Ventura County Fusion. Details here.

Finally, the weekend’s prep action from the Daily Breeze is here and here.

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SoCal Pros No. 2: Cobi Jones

Second in a series highlighting the careers of Southern Californians who play professional soccer.

Technically, of course, Cobi Jones is no longer a playing professional and has hung up his boots to become an assistant coach with the Galaxy under Ruud Gullit.

But the guy who grew up in Westlake Village has been part of the Southern California soccer scene for so long it would be just wrong to close 2007 without acknowledging Jones’ accomplishments with the Galaxy and the U.S. Men’s National Team.

At one time Jones was the face of American soccer, playing more times for the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Galaxy than any other player.

“He’s been the cornerstone of the team,” former Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid said when Jones announced the 2007 season would be his last back in March. “He’s always a player fans get excited about because he brings you to the edge of your seat. … He didn’t like losing at all and that’s what made him the player he is.”

At his peak he possessed a devastating pace that could – and did – change games.

Here’s the lead from a June 24, 2001 Galaxy game story I wrote for the Breeze that sums up what he was capable of:

Just three minutes remained when Galaxy winger Cobi Jones collected the ball, split two MetroStars’ defenders, eluded a sprawling third and crossed to Luis Hernandez, who slotted home the first of what proved to be a pair of opportunistic strikes within a minute.

The much-needed turn of brilliance all but wrapped up a game that had droned on for 86 minutes with a sense of humdrum inevitability as the dominant Galaxy finally disposed of the listless New York-New Jersey MetroStars, 2-0, Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

“It was a great move,” Hernandez said after the game via an interpreter. “He made 90 percent of the goal, I made 10 percent.

The win, accomplished in 81-degree heat and before a national TV audience, meant the Galaxy became the first Major League Soccer franchise to win 100 regular-season games.

The best way to appreciate Jones’ career, however, is not in words, but when he wore the No. 13 shirt we will never see at Home Depot Center again.

Here’s a compilation of Cobi clips (mainly with the U.S. National Team) shown before the Galaxy’s game last month against the Minnesota Thunder:

And here’s a pic of Cobi enjoying one of the side benefits of being a pro soccer player.

Thanks for everything, Cobi.

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Thursday Kicks: A Chivas USA Trade & More

The Salt Lake Tribune reported today that Real Salt Lake traded midfielder Atiba Harris to Chivas USA, although as of now his stats remain on the RSL Web site. No confirmation from Chivas USA, although their PR staff are on vacation right now.

Former Galaxy great Mauricio Cienfuegos, meanwhile, has apparently taken his first coaching job back in his native El Salvador.

And USC’s first year Coach Ali Khosroshahin was named Soccer America Coach of the Year.

From the USC press release today:

In his first year as head coach of the USC womens soccer team, Ali Khosroshahin wasted no time in making an impact. He not only turned heads at Troy in pushing the Trojans to a number of new program records, he capped off the season by capturing the nations top prize the 2007 NCAA Championship. For his outstanding efforts in leading the Women of Troy to their first-ever national title and a record-breaking 20-3-2 season, Khosroshahin has been named the Soccer America Coach of the Year. Four Trojans also were honored with postseason awards by Soccer America. Sophomore goalkeeper Kristin Olsen continues to rack up accolades, as the Honda Award finalist was named to the Soccer America MVPs First Team. Three USC freshmen defender Kasey Johnson and midfielders Megan Ohai and Ashli Sandoval have been named to Soccer America All-Freshman teams. Johnson has earned a First Team nod, and Ohai and Sandoval are Second Team selections.

Finally here’s Wednesday’s prep action from the Daily Breeze (Mira Costa-Animo) while a roundup is here.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram has a Moore League preview.

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And the Best Soccer Blog in America is…..

Not this one.

It’s this one. And a worthy winner it is, too. The award was announced today by U.S. Soccer.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff is probably the best-sourced soccer reporter in the nation and regularly breaks news at his Soccer Insider blog. It’s a daily must read.

Taking second place was Soccer by Ives of the Herald News who takes a look at the sport in New York and internationally with what he describes as a “Jersey flavor.” I was going to make a lame joke about mobs, then noticed the front page of the Web site.

Third was the U.S. Women’s National Team blog. No matter how much I like the loquacious wit of USWNT press officer Aaron Heifetz (the unidentified author of the blog since U.S. Soccer likes to remain a faceless monolithic bureaucracy) corporate/official blogs generally lack a distinctive voice. (Are you listening LA Galaxy? After all, were we really going to find out the latest on the Hope Solo saga from US Soccer? And what’s with your own blog being nominated for your own award anyway?

Still, at least that’s a good segue into mentioning some of my favorite blogs.

Best aggregator of links and stories in the nation is DuNord. Bruce does on a national level what I try to do for Southern California. Besides, where else would I have discovered MLS Commissioner Don Garber is a wine freak connoisseur?

New York Times’ Goal blog retains the kind of definitive air you’d expect (loved this post on NASL jerseys) from the newspaper.

For local content, the Sideline Views written by press box colleagues Luis Bueno and Andrea Canales is worth a look. Luis is far more knowledgeable than this gringo will ever be about Mexican futbol and Andrea can get photos uploaded in flash from games and training sessions (the garish blog color scheme has to go though).

Finally, the blog by uberfan Dan Loney is to the soccer blogging world as dry heaves are to your morning. Loney is one of the wittiest guys I know and is the only person I’ve ever seen wear a Tibet National Team shirt.

Of course, I could be wrong about all this.

Have I missed a great blog? Perhaps yours? Send in the link.

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Tuesday Tidbits: Olympic Qualifying Draw & More

Lots of soccer news today, so let’s get to it.

Olympics in Carson

CONCACAF announced today that the U.S. will host Cuba, Honduras and Panama in Tampa, Fla., on March 11, 13 and 15 in Olympic qualifying.

Here on the West Coast it’s Canada, Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico at Home Depot Center with doubleheaders on March 12, 14 and 16.

Series tickets, by the way, go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday priced between $36 and $195. Call 213-480-3232. Individual match day tickets will go on sale at a later date, if they’re still around.

Two teams from the eight qualify for the Olympics in China.

MLS Tweaks Rules

MLS announced today it added one international player slot per team and will not require the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and two other high-paid players to become designated players.

The moves mean:
* Teams can have eight internationals on the roster. This year teams were allotted seven international spots per team, four of them so-called senior international and three youth International slots. That distinction has now been removed.
*Donovan, striker Eddie Johnson of the Kansas City Wizards and Carlos Ruiz of FC Dallas who had big buck contracts before the adoption of the designated player or Beckham rule, will not become DP’s, which simplifies things greatly for the Galaxy since they would have to trade for another slot.

MLS also released its (early) 2008 calendar.
The highlights:
Jan. 11- 15 – MLS Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Jan. 15 – April 15 – Transfer window.
Jan. 18 – MLS SuperDraft.
Jan. 24 – Supplemental draft.
Jan. 26 – Pre-season training camps may begin.
March 29 – Season opens

Awards, Awards and More Awards

On Monday, UCLA forward Lauren Cheney and USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen were named as two of the four finalists for the Honda Award, which recognizes the nation’s top collegiate player.

Cheney led the Pac-10 with 23 goals, a UCLA single-season record.

Olson had 12 shutouts and allowed a record-low 13 goals for USC.

Also nominated: Ashlee Pistorius of Texas A & M and Mami Yamaguchi of Florida State.

Galaxy Update

Three Galaxy “moments” are up for consideration in awards in 18 categories for the best sporting moments in 2007 in Southern California. They are: David Beckhams first game, the run to the SuperLiga final and the retirement of Cobi Jones. More info and vote here

Meanwhile, tickets to the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii in February went on sale Tuesday starting at $10. Details here.

Finally, this link is a couple of days old, but new Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit riffs on England and David Beckham here.

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Tuesday’s Column

The nation’s most prolific soccer-specific stadium architectural firm Rossetti is based here in LA (actually El Segundo) and is the subject of this week’s column.

A comprehensive look at soccer-specific stadiums is here.

Check out Rossetti’s work below. From top to bottom, are the Rossetti stadiums in Chester (Philadelphia), Sandy (Salt Lake City) and Harrison (New York City).




Minor revelation: The Home Depot Center has 25,500 “seats.” Add another 1,500 people on the grass berm and you get the purported capacity of 27,000, according to Rossetti principal Tim Lambert.

Now you know.

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