Friday Football: USC-Mexico & More

The USC women play Mexico tonight at the Coliseum, while up the coast in San Luis Obispo the Earthquakes play the Columbus Crew in the MLS Central Coast Showcase.

Mexico also plays Cal State Long Beach Sunday.

Swiss international Raphal Wicky has started training with Chivas USA after off-season ankle surgery, while they’re down to the last 60 players for Sueo MLS: The Dream Continues.

Plenty of high school soccer on tap from the Daily Breeze here and here, the Daily News and Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Finally, if you’ve got $10,000 (or so) to burn all this could be yours. Bucks for Becks, I guess.

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RSS Feed & Facebook

This is what’s called a slow news day.

Shameless promotion starts here: Eagle-eyed readers of the 100 Percent Soccer blog will notice there is (finally) a RSS Feed.

Add it to your Facebook page, My Yahoo or whatever and get instantly notified of blog updates. It’s down to the left of the page under my profile.

And the 100 Percent Soccer blog has joined Facebook. It’s the thing to do in journalistic circles so come be a fan or a friend or whatever. The page is here.

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A Trojan, Bruin & Boxxy Named to USWNT Roster For Algarve Cup & More

Coach Pia Sundhage has begun the youth movement needed to rebuild the U.S. Women’s National Team, dumping veteran goalkeeper Brianna Scurry for next month’s Algarve Cup in Portugal and bringing in Nicole Barnhart (four caps).

Although 15 of the 20-player roster were on last year’s World Cup squad, including Torrance’s Shannon Boxx, Sundhage has also brought in the likes of UCLA’s Lauren Cheney and USC striker Amy Rodriguez. Uncapped defender Rachel Buehler gets her first tournament call-up, while at age 19 defender Tobin Heath is the youngest player on the roster.

From the U.S. Soccer press release:

The U.S. opens play March 5 against China, faces Norway on March 7 and finishes the first round against Italy on March 10.

The U.S. will use this tournament as final preparation for 2008 CONCACAF Womens Olympic Qualifying, which will be held April 2-13 in Mexico.

The Algarve Cup is a very important tournament for several reasons, said Sundhage. First, it is excellent preparation for the Olympic qualification, especially playing four difficult matches in eight days. That is a test of our fitness, our mental toughness and also our depth. But also, like we faced in the Four Nations Tournament in China, it gives the team a chance to play against three very good teams in the group who all play different styles, and that is fantastic for the development of our team rhythm, as well as for our young players getting experience at a big tournament.

The roster, with caps/goals: Goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart (4), Hope Solo (54); defenders Rachel Buehler (0/0), Stephanie Cox (33/0), Tobin Heath (2/0), Kate Markgraf (168/0), Christie Rampone (179/4), Cat Whitehill (123/11); midfielders Shannon Boxx (80/18), Lori Chalupny (56/6), Angela Hucles (72/5), Carli Lloyd (47/10), Leslie Osborne (55/2), Lindsay Tarpley (82/21), Angie Woznuk (3/1), Lauren Cheney (4/2), Natasha Kai (35/8), Heather OReilly (75/15), Amy Rodriguez (8/2), Abby Wambach (108/86).

Preps news from the Daily Breeze is here and here.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram has this report on girls soccer.

Finally, thanks to those who voted in Tuesday’s poll that asked whether the EPL should play games overseas. Interesting to see how divided fans are on this one. (And yes, you can still vote).

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Preseason Result: Gamba Osaka 1 Galaxy 0

The Galaxy crashed out of the semifinals of the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii Wednesday losing 1-0 to Japanese team Gamba Osaka.

Only 15,128 were reportedly at the 50,000 Aloha Stadium.

The Galaxy plays a rematch Saturday against last year’s opponents Sydney FC, which lost 3-0 in the nightcap to the Houston Dynamo.

There were only three players in the starting line-up for the Galaxy who played in the final home game against the New York Red Bulls last year – Chris Klein, Troy Roberts and Josh Tudela.

Roberts – or was that Michael Gavin? – was caught out on the early fourth minute goal that sealed the victory.

The result could have been worse – the new-look Galaxy line-up looked unsure and hesitant, especially the defenders and the team was comprehensively out-shot (14-2 in the 70th minute).

No sign of defender Abel Xavier, while Carlos Ruiz and Landon Donovan, as expected, didn’t play.

David Beckham’s contribution was negligible, too, although he did go the full 90 minutes (and looked winded).

Still, Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit, quoted on the MLS Web site, sounded satisfied: “I think we played an excellent game,” he said. “It took us a bit of time to adjust but after 20 minutes we started to play well. We made some mistakes but it is valuable to spend this kind of time with the players.”

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Wednesday Galaxy Gameday & More

It’s only a preseason tournament with a grand name, but both games of the Pan-Pacific Championship are live on ESPN Classic tonight (the Galaxy game against Japanese team Gamba Osaka airs at 8 o’clock) and it’s the first chance to see what a Ruud Gullit Galaxy team looks like.

Landon Donovan is out with an (achilles?) tendon injury according to the preview on the tournament’s Web site and, of course, midfielder Kyle Martino was left off the Galaxy roster.

Gamba Osaka is reportedly missing seven players through injury, but Gullit conceded last weekend he knows nothing about the Japanese team. Still, he said a win is not the most important thing about the game anyway.

I spoke with Donovan and a couple of other players last weekend before the team left the state.

Donovan said that at least the attacking half of the team looked good in scrimmages last week against two college teams even without striker Carlos Ruiz:

“Attacking-wise we look pretty good because we have a lot of talented players,” Donovan said. “We still dont have Fish on the field and thats going to help too (when he returns). Defensively is where were going to need to get better and thats just because you dont know the guy next to you. You dont know how he moves. Its a new coach so you don t know completely what style he wants to play. Those things you have to figure out. And unfortunately, you can get away with a lot playing against college teams.”

Newly-anointed starting goalkeeper Steve Cronin sounded eager to get between the posts, too:

“Since I’ve been with the national team I’ve basically been practicing, doing fitness and stuff like that for a month and a half now so I’m real anxious to play a competitive game,” he said. “I want to solidify my spot on the team, gain the players’ confidence.”

It’s a tough game so early in preseason, but midfielder Pete Vagenas welcomes the challenge:

“They’re quality opponents so theres going to be tough matches,” he said. “It’s important we schedule games in preseason where you’re going to face adversity. Its a waste of time where you go out and face college teams all the time and dont face any type of adversity, dont even lose. Sometimes it’s good to see your team and players struggle to see how they come out of that because we all know MLS is a grueling season and everything is not going to always go great. So for me the most important thing is to schedule the toughest games you can. And if that means you’re going to have to lose and take something in the behind because your team is not exactly ready, so be it. I think in the long run it benefits us.”

The Galaxy Web site has pictures of the players working out Monday and tonight’s weather looks ideal for a soccer game, which could encourage reportedly tepid ticket sales (only 10,000 or so sold was the word Tuesday). All sorts of discounts are on offer.

Here at home Chivas USA continue to prepare for Saturday’s benefit game in Santa Clarita against the Columbus Crew.

Finally, high school playoffs are in full swing and there’s prep news from the Daily Breeze here, the Daily News here and the Long Beach Press-Telegram here.

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Galaxy (Finally) Release Roster For Pan-Pacific Championship

It took long enough, but here are the 27 players in Hawaii for the preseason tournament that starts Wednesday night:

Goalkeepers Charles Alamo, Steve Cronin, Josh Wicks; defenders Celestine Babayaro, Sean Franklin, Michael Gavin, Ante Jazic, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, Troy Roberts, Julian Valentin, Greg Vanney, Abel Xavier; midfielders Ely Allen, Alvaro, David Beckham, Kelly Gray, Kevin Harmse, Chris Klein, Josh Tudela, Pete Vaganas; forwards Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan, Carlos Ruiz, Israel Sesay.

The missing: Galaxy draft picks Daniel DeGeer and Matt Hatzke, open tryout selection Vito Higgins (who is from Hawaii) and midfielder Kyle Martino.

Martino told me last weekend that’s he’s healthy and recovered from offseason surgery, so the question arises: Is the relatively high-paid veteran trade bait as the Galaxy look both to reduce their wage bill and log-jam in midfield?

I have no idea whether Ruiz is healthy enough to play; he didn’t feature in either of the Galaxy’s two closed-door scrimmages last week. Similarly, it’s unclear whether Babayara has yet secured a work permit.

And I bet Higgins is crushed.

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Galaxy in Paradise

The Galaxy have landed in Hawaii for the Pan-Pacific Championship amid the requisite scenes of Beckham hysteria and the typically bland press conference.

Best line at the press event went to Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear, who quipped:

“I am surprised the tickets only cost $10. I had a Pina Colada last night and that was $10. So if people just hold off on one Pina Colada then they can come down and see some great soccer.”

i-afdf16ea37f23ff4bd49c88e3b053f09-PPC08_Press_Conference_08.jpg18 February 2008: Brian Ching of the Houston Dynamo and David Beckham of the LA Galaxy pose with the Pan-Pacific Championship trophy during a press conference for the inaugural event at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, HI.

Still no travel roster from the increasingly secretive Galaxy.

Perhaps this new set of squad photos provides a clue and signifies who is likely to win a spot on Coach Rudd (sic) Gullit’s team.

Check out the uncomfortable looking Alexi Lalas and defender Abel Xavier, who appears to be striving to look like one of those little plastic trolls that were a fad in the ’70s.

Finally, Galaxy beat writer Billy Witz has more on who will return from the Galaxy’s trip to Hawaii and Asia still on the team.

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Tuesday’s Column & a Poll

The last week has seen a heated global debate over a proposal to play regular season English Premier League games overseas, including the U.S.

Read this week’s column for my take and the opinion of local players, then take the poll.

Comments welcome.

Should the EPL play regular season games overseas?
Sounds splendid. When do tickets go on sale?
Don’t be daft. Have EPL officials lost their collective tiny minds?
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Free polls from

Updated: And the debate rolls on.

Good set of links with reaction, etc., on that page, too.

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Preseason result: Chivas USA 1 D.C. United 0

Defender Shavar Thomas remains stranded in Jamaica with visa problems, Chivas USA still has a dozen or so injured players and yet they looked good going forward in a 1-0 win today against D.C. United at Home Depot Center.

Preki played a lot of youngsters in the second half, yet was pleased with what he saw.
“They stepped on the field in the second half and played pretty good,” he said. “We’re making progress every day.”

Defensive midfielder Jesse Marsch took exception to a tough challenge from Luciano Emilio and left the game in the first half to apply ice to his right ankle (the one he always ices after games), but it’s not believed he will add to the Chivas USA ranks of the walking wounded.

Former Galaxy midfielder Quavas Kirk played for D.C.

Incidentally, reality TV show winner Jorge Flores’ nick name: Sueo (Dream).

Here are the match details from Chivas USA.

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Pan-Pacific Championship Press Conference Begins at 4:45 p.m.

To listen, go here. or here.

Participants:Will Wilson, SUM Executive Vice President
Dynamo Head Coach Dominic Kinnear
Dynamo forward Brian Ching
Sydney FC Head Coach John Kosmina
Sydney FC defender Tony Popovic
Galaxy Head Coach Ruud Gullit
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham
Gamba Osaka Head Coach Akira Nishino
Gamba Osaka defender Satoshi Yamaguchi

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