Sunday Soccer Wrap

Quickly: Chivas USA lost 4-0 to the Japanese Under-23 team Saturday at Home Depot Center and supposedly had 13 players missing because of injury. Sounds like a great way to start the season.

Chivas USA line-ups: (first half; 4-4-2): Brad Guzan, Omar Becerra, Alex Zotinca, Jorge Flores, Jim Curtin, Keith Savage, John Cunliffe, Jesse Marsch, Sasha Kljestan, Arnolfo Salazar, Atiba Harris.

(second half; 4-4-2): Brad Guzan, Omar Becerra, Gerson Mayen, Trey Lee, Darren Spicer, Chukwudi Chinjiju, Kraig Chiles, Dan Paladini, Steven Kaufman, Eric Ebert, Justin Braun.

Chivas USA plays D.C. United Monday at Home Depot Center in a game I plan to attend.

Also: Fontana’s Maurice Edu put two shots past Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (Peninsula High) as Toronto FC disposed of the Wizards 2-0 over the weekend.

Long Beach State women’s soccer hosts the Mexican National Team Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. at George Allen Field, two days after the Mexicans play USC at the Coliseum. Tickets are $7 adults, $5 kids.

Plenty of prep soccer from the Daily Breeze is here and here; from the Daily News here and here; and the Long Beach Press-Telegram here.

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Galaxy Training Camp Update

Some 22 Galaxy players trained Saturday morning (Greg Vanney was not there) at Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy played two games against college opponents this week beating Loyola Marymount 6-0 or 7-0 Tuesday (no-one could quite remember the exact score by Saturday) and UCLA 4-1 Friday with the Bruins’ moms and dads allowed in the stands, but warned not to bring any cameras in.

The games were divided into thirds and goalkeeper Steve Cronin played the first 30 minutes of each game.

He only faced one shot (against LMU).

“We were just trying to figure some things out,” said Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit, saying he couldn’t remember who scored. “It’s not about the score.”

Midfielder Pete Vagenas sounded like he was looking forward to Hawaii, comparing this camp to the early Sigi Schmid years: “I’m exhausted,” he said, adding that coaches usually slack off the double days – but Ruud and Cobi Jones haven’t. “Its been unique. … We’re licking our wounds so to speak.”

On the Greg Vanney trade: “I thought I’d stepped into a time machine or something.”

For those playing catch-up, here’s the report from today’s dead tree edition (to steal a phrase).

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Friday Football Final: Camp Updates & More

Defender Jay Needham was cut from training camp today, Galaxy officials said. Although he plays in the USL his MLS rights were owned by D.C. United and the Galaxy obviously didn’t feel he was much of an upgrade.

Brazilian defensive midfielder Alvaro, last seen playing in Russia, is in camp. Aussie goalkeeper Chris Sharpe, who played in Denmark and for the Vermont Voltage (is that a great name or what?), was let go earlier in the week.

Excellent camp update is here.

The Galaxy also announced today they have entered into a multi-year broadcasting agreement with ESPN Deportes Radio KWKW 1330 AM to provide coverage of all 30 Galaxy games this season including a weekly program Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Over at Chivas USA, draft pick El-Hadj Cisse (North Carolina State University) picked up a knock on Tuesday against the Red Bulls and hasn’t trained the last couple of days. Chivas USA plays Saturday against the Japanese Under-23 National Team in a game in the main Home Depot Center stadium that’s only open to the media.

U.S. Women’s National Team update (such as it is) is here.

Mexican Olympic Team head coach Hugo Snchez announced the roster for 2008 CONCACAF Mens Olympic Qualifiying today as well as warm-up games against Australia March 2 in Oakland and against Finland March 6 at Pizza Hut Park.

The squad: goalkeepers Guillermo Ochoa (Club Amrica), Jorge Villalpando (Puebla) y Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey); defenders Omar Esparza (Chivas), Luis Robles (Atlas), Julio Csar Domnguez (Cruz Azul), Rodrigo Iigo (Club Amrica), Luis Omar Hernndez (Necaxa), Hugo Ayala (Atlas), Francisco Gamboa (Toluca) y Efran Velarde (Pumas); midfielders Jorge Hernndez (Atlas), Patricio Araujo (Chivas), Alan Zamora (Atlante), Gerardo Rodrguez (Pachuca), Juan Carlos Silva (Club Amrica), Edgar Castillo (Santos), Csar Villaluz (Cruz Azul) Sergio vila (Chivas); forwards Enrique Esqueda (Club Amrica), Pablo Barrera (Pumas), Edgar Andrade (Cruz Azul), Santiago Fernndez (Toluca), Luis ngel Landn (Morelia) y Omar Arellano (Chivas).

Finally, UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo today signed seven players to national letters of intent: goalkeeper Joseph Scachetti (West Torrance High), midfielder/defender Chris Cummings (Chatsworth/Crespi High), midfielder Daren Flitcroft (Great Falls, Va.), defender Oscar Reyes (Santa Ana, Saddleback High), midfielder/defender Andrew Rose (Bristol City) and midfielder Christian Vazquez and defender Zach Zerrenner (both Santa Barbara High). In addition, striker Fernando Monge (Bellevue, Wash.) graduated from high school early and will join the 2008 freshman class.

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Galaxy Confirm Vanney-Kirk Trade and Defender Ty Harden’s Departure

From the Galaxy press release on the trade:

The LA Galaxy has confirmed today acquired defender Greg Vanney from D.C. United in exchange for midfielder Quavas Kirk. Vanney, who began his MLS career with the Galaxy in 1996, returns to Los Angeles after previous stops at FC Dallas, Colorado and D.C. United, as well as a three year stint with Bastia in Frances Ligue 1. A native of Tempe, Ariz. and a graduate of UCLA, Vanney was out of contract with United but has signed a new deal with the Galaxy. Per league and team policy, details of the contract were not disclosed.

Ruud and the entire coaching staff are pleased to be acquiring a true professional such as Greg, who is coming off a great season with D.C. United in which he helped the club capture the Supporters Shield, said Galaxy Director of Soccer Paul Bravo. Greg is coming back to our club a stronger and more experienced player, who will be able to play multiple positions in the backline.

The 33-year old Vanney has played in 245 career regular season games during his first nine years of MLS, scoring 22 goals and adding 22 assists, as well as five goals and six assists in 32 postseason matches. During his six seasons with the Galaxy (1996-2001), Vanney helped LA reach the MLS Cup three times, as well as leading the club to the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup and the 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship.

Its great; I am excited to be back. I left six or seven years ago and I always felt like this was where I belonged, said Vanney. Though I have been through several experiences, my heart has always been with this club. I am looking forward to bringing trophies and championships back to LA.

After leaving the Galaxy following the 2001 campaign, Vanney signed with Bastia of Frances Ligue 1, appearing in more than 50 games, mostly at right back, during his time at the club. He returned to MLS for the 2005 season, joining FC Dallas, with whom he played two seasons, appearing in 54 games before being traded to Colorado prior to the start of the 2007 season. He split time last season between Colorado and D.C. United, appearing in a total of 24 games, making 23 starts at both center and left back.

Vanney made 37 appearances for the U.S. during his 10-year National Team career, helping the Red, White and Blue qualify for the 1998, 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Vanney was named as an alternate for the U.S. squad at the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea and was briefly added to the 23-man roster following a pre-tournament injury to Chris Armas, only to suffer a knee injury himself, ruling him out of the tournament.

Entering his fourth season in MLS, Kirk joins United after appearing in 33 games for the Galaxy, making 15 starts in his three seasons with the club. Kirk scored his only ever goal for the Galaxy in their 2-0 win over Roma FC in the Fourth Round of the 2006 U.S. Open Cup. The 20-year old Illinois native battled foot injuries for most of last season, limiting him to just 16 games in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Harden’s exit was indeed so he can concentrate on “philanthropic endeavors away from professional soccer.”

The (edited) Galaxy press release:

The Galaxys 2007 Visa Defender of the Year, Harden made 24 appearances, all starts, and played 2,086 minutes with the club.

“While it’s difficult to lose such a talented young player, we recognize that there is much more to life than soccer, said LA Galaxy President and General Manager Alexi Lalas. We respect Ty’s decision and are happy that he will have the opportunity to fully pursue his mission of helping others. He remains a member of the Galaxy family and the door is always open for his return.”

A native of Junction City, Oregon, Harden made a big splash in 2007, his rookie season. Despite missing playing time in the second half of the season with hip and calf injuries, Harden, 23, provided stability in the heart of the Galaxy defense after being selected by the club in the second round of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. Tough and strong in the air, Harden battled some of the leagues top forwards game after game last year.

“My parents have worked for Goodwill for over 25 years, so it has been ingrained in me that helping others is something that we have been put on earth to do. It has always been part of my life and something that I wanted to do, said Harden. I have loved soccer for a long time, but I have always loved helping people and doing things for others. I just got to the point where I felt there is more that I can do than just playing soccer.

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Reports: Defender Greg Vanney to Return to Galaxy; Harden Retires

Both Steven Goff’s Soccer Insider and Soccer By Ives are reporting this morning that former Galaxy defender Greg Vanney will return to the Galaxy today in a deal with D.C. United, which owns his rights.

In a related story, young central defender Ty Harden has unexpectedly retired.

With rookie Sean Franklin and EPL veteran Celestine Babayaro installed as the de facto Galaxy full backs could this spell the end for central defender Abel Xavier? The Galaxy won’t need (or can afford) two aging and expensive central defenders. And who will play alongside Vanney? Troy Roberts?

No confirmation from the Galaxy’s blog, which apparently busied itself Wednesday moving San Luis Obispo from the state’s Central Coast to Southern California. Must have comes as a shock to the folks up there.

The exodus of young players may be continuing for the Galaxy this morning.

Now Goff is reporting that classy young Galaxy prospect Quavas Kirk is out the door as part of the Vanney deal.

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Thursday Quick Hits: Chivas USA and the LA Rampage gives us this update on Anaheim’s reality television show winner Jorge Flores, who is making an unlikely name of himself with Chivas USA and the U.S. Under-20 National Team.

The SI article coincides with the beginning Friday of the second version of the show.

From the (edited) Chivas USA press release:

Sueo MLS, The Dream Continues returns to Los Angeles Friday in the first stage of a six-week quest to find the best undiscovered soccer player in the nation.

The 2,000 hopefuls come from around the world and more than 40 U.S. states.

Four days of open tryouts will be held locally at the Bell Gardens Sport Center, home to Chivas USAs academy and youth teams.

Sueo MLS returns to Republica Deportiva every Sunday at noon on Univision in a reality show within a show format. The winner will be announced March 30, just hours before the start of the MLS season.

Finally, the new Women’s Premier Soccer League franchise in the Valley has announced its first player signings, including a contingent from Cal State Northidge. Details here.

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Wednesday Wrap: Training Camp Updates & More

Chivas USA officials said today that Japanese World Cup veteran Takayuki Suzuki has left camp, while Frenchman Marko Muslin has arrived.

In other camps, it sounds like there was a nasty collision at U.S. Women’s National Team training today in Carson.

In Bradenton, Fla. today, Rolling Hills Estates Robbie Rogers scored a 26th minute equalizing goal from the middle of the box in what ended as a 3-2 Fire win over the Columbus Crew in a preseason scrimmage.

Closer to home, there’s less than a week left to buy tickets for the Crew-Chivas USA charity game in the Santa Clarita Valley at $5 off the regular prices of $20 for adults and $15 for youths. The Feb. 23 game is at College of the Canyons’ Cougar Stadium, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road.

Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Michael Hoefflin Foundation that provides financial and emotional support to children and their families facing childhood cancer in the Santa Clarita and surrounding valleys.

Details here.

UCLA signed seven players to letters of intent today: Camarillo High midfielder Hannah MacKechnie, the younger sister of Bruin midfielder Caitlyn MacKechnie; defender Amelia Mathis from Ventura; Canadian Under-19 international striker Sydney Leroux; Canadian Under-17 international defender Robyn Dutton from Calgary, Alta.; midfielder Summer Williams from Orinda, Calif.; U.S. Under-17 international defender Whitney Sharpe from Iowa; and goalkeeper Yiana Dimmitt from Redwood City, Calif.

Incidentally, former Chicago Fire Coach Dave Sarachan, last seen at the recent U.S. Men’s National Team camp in Carson was appointed scouting manager for U.S. Soccers Development Academy. One of two scouts just hired: former MLS striker Raul Diaz Arce.

The always suspect FIFA Rankings were released today. Here are the rankings for CONCACAF. Looking forward to those CONCACAF Champions League games involving clubs from Belize?

Finally, because sheer stupidity is always worth blogging about, there’s this. Ditch the names maybe?

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Wednesday Galaxy Frequent Flyer Update & More

The Galaxy, apparently failing to learn from last year’s grueling schedule designed to wring every dollar possible from the presence of you-know-who (no, not Canadian defender Ante Jazic), are at it again.

Today the club announced a May 13 (that’s a Tuesday) rematch against the USL Vancouver Whitecaps in Edmonton, Alberta sandwiched between a home date against New York the preceding Saturday and a road game in Dallas the following Sunday.

Assuming the Galaxy return to LA before heading to Texas, that’s three games in nine days covering 5,222 as-the-crow-flies miles in two states and two nations.

Almost as curious is the Galaxy press release. There’s no mention of the main reason for the Canada game (and no, it’s not so fans can see Jazic):

We have a tremendous relationship with the Vancouver Whitecaps and share their view of growing the sport throughout North America, said Galaxy Assistant General Manager Tom Payne. The first time that we played the Whitecaps the game ended in a draw, this time we are looking to score goals, entertain the fans of Edmonton and come away with a victory.

This will be the Galaxys second friendly against the Whitecaps in a six month span, with the two sides having played to a 0-0 draw in Vancouver on November 7. A crowd of 48,172 was in attendance at BC Place Stadium for that match, making it one of the biggest crowds ever to see a soccer game in Canada.

We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play the Galaxy in Edmonton, said Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi. One of our clubs mandates is to grow the game of soccer and this match will allow us to showcase two of North Americas most storied soccer franchises. Alberta has successfully hosted some of the biggest soccer events in Canada and I am positive that this match will be no different.

The Whitecaps play in the 11-team United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) and boast a formidable roster, which includes a mix of youth and experience. Long-time veterans include Canadian international Martin Nash, Jeff Clarke and Steve Kindel. Nash, the 2007 Whitecaps team MVP, has won three USL-1 titles and earned 38 international caps. All three members were key contributors to the Whitecaps 2006 USL-1 championship season.

And let’s hope the snow is off the ground in Edmonton by then. It usually is, but late season blizzards are not unheard of. (There’s a reason the city’s CFL team is called the Eskimos).

In other Galaxy news, the club announced today they had unearthed a goalkeeper from the just-ended open tryouts: former Gonzaga goalkeeper Vito Higgins.

From the (edited) Galaxy press release:

Higgins, who played four years at Gonzaga University, will begin training under the tutelage of goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer on Wednesday.

Vito had an outstanding career at Gonzaga and was somebody whose talents we were well aware of in advance of this weeks open tryouts, Galaxy Director of Soccer Paul Bravo said. He came into the tryouts and impressed us with his play and has without a doubt earned his chance to train with the Galaxy.

The 22-year old Hawaii native appeared in 69 games during his four years with the Bulldogs, including 38 in his last two seasons when he played every minute of every game for the school. As a senior in 2007, Higgins compiled a 9-6-4 record along with a 0.70 goals against average, which is the second best single season mark in club history. Higgins helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA Tournament last year and recorded a career-high 14 saves in the Bulldogs 1-0 loss to SMU, with the games lone goal coming via a late penalty kick.

Higgins will train with the Galaxy for the rest of the week in the hopes of earning a spot on the clubs trip to Honolulu as part of the inaugural Pan Pacific Championship, which begins a week from today.

How cool would it be for a long shot to make a pro roster in that fashion and then possibly end up playing a tournament with the team in your home state? Good luck, Vito.

Finally, the Galaxy announced today that half season and six-game mini-plans are now on sale. One of the games included in the mini-plan is the Red Bull game, incidentally, presumably so fans can see the team before everyone is exhausted (again).

From the (edited) press release:

These plans are currently the only way for fans to purchase tickets to multiple Galaxy games this season without buying a season ticket and offer a significant discount over single game ticket prices.

Fans who order the Big Six plan, which range in price from $75-$420, will receive tickets to the Galaxys home opener against San Jose on April 3, the first installment of the SuperClasico against inter-city rival Chivas USA on April 26, the May 10 visit of the New York Red Bulls, the Galaxys annual July 4th fireworks match against New England, an MLS Primetime Thursday meeting with the Chicago Fire on August 21 and the 2008 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, November 23.

Fans who select the half season plan, which range in price from $125-650, will receive tickets to all of the games in the Big Six plan, including the 2008 MLS Cup, as well as the Galaxys game against the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo on April 19 and three other matches.

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Preseason Result: Chivas USA 1 Red Bull New York 0

The game was played this morning at Home Depot Center.

From the (edited) Chivas USA press release:

An early goal from striker Ante Razov was the only goal of the match, Chivas USA’s all-time leading scorer taking a pass from Sacha Kljestan in the fourth minute and placing a low shot past New York goalkeeper Jon Conway. The goal was the second in as many pre-season games for Razov, who also scored Saturday in Chivas USAs 2-0 win over UCLA.

First half llneups:
New York Red Bulls (3-5-2): Jon Conway; Scott Palguta, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes; Marshall Leonard, Seth Stammler, Dema Kovalenko, Dane Richards, Claudio Reyna; Juan Pablo Angel, Diego Serna.

Chivas USA (4-4-2): Brad Guzan; Alex Zotinca, Claudio Suarez, Jim Curtin, Jorge Flores; Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Marko Muslin, John Cunliffe; Ante Razov, Atiba Harris.

Second half lineups:
New York Red Bulls (3-5-2): Zach Thornton; Mateus Anjos, Eric Brunner, Chris Leitch; Danleigh Borman, David Roth, Sinisa Ubiparipovich, Luke Sassano, Michael Palacio, John Wolyniec, Chris Megaloudis.

Chivas USA (4-4-2): Brad Guzan; Zach Flores, Mike Munoz, Marko Muslin, Jorge Flores; El-Hadj Cisse (Nick Blanco 77), Kraig Chiles, Dan Paladini, Keith Savage; Justin Braun, Chukwudi Chijinju.

Updated: Chivas USA named former Toronto FC Assistant Coach Mike Matkovich to that post with the team, replacing Martin Vasquez who joined Bayern Munich.

From the Chivas USA press release:

Mike Matkovich is one of the most experienced coaches in the country, said Preki. He brings knowledge of everything from youth soccer to MLS, and has an ability to scout and develop players that will help Chivas USA for years to come. Im thrilled to have him on our staff.

Matkovich served as Director of Soccer for the Chicago Magic Soccer Club, a Chicago youth club that he founded in 1987 and which from 2005-2007 has been named the top youth club in the country. One of the players that Matkovich coached while with the Chicago Magic is current Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who was at the club with Matkovich from 1996-2004.

Matkovichs wealth of experience also includes serving as the Head Coach of the Chicago Power of the indoor National Professional Soccer League from 1990-1994, where he won a national championship in 1990. Matkovich also spent 2000-2006 at the helm of the Chicago Fire Reserves of the Premier Development League, where he amassed a 71-8-7 record, which gave him the highest winning percentage of any coach in PDL history.

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Tuesday’s Column & More

So Ruud Gullit has trained the Galaxy for all of a week or so now.

Time to take a closer look at the chap and what the Galaxy hope to accomplish by hiring him. This week’s column is here.

Meanwhile, access is increasingly a problem in journalism period, but I’m not sure the cause is helped by this sort of whining by perhaps the most boorish sports columnist in the country.

And anyway, the premise of the column is false. Becks isn’t the voice of MLS, he’s the face of MLS.

He just needs to stand there, look handsome and score the occasional trade mark free kick. More standing than scoring so far, of course.

The Galaxy have confirmed trainer Ivan Pierra has departed the new Gullit regime after a dozen years, joining the U.S. National Team set-up. He’s replaced by Armando Rivas who comes over from the Angels.

Also joining the Galaxy: Fitness Coach Chris Neville, a Brit and former pro.

Meanwhile, former Galaxy forward Diego Serna (three goals in 10 games back in 2003) is in town working out with the New York Red Bulls.

Finally, NYRB play Chivas USA in a scrimmage starting at 10 a.m. today at Home Depot Center’s Track & Field Stadium. Chivas USA beat UCLA 2-0 last weekend in a closed door scrimmage, with veteran Ante Razov getting on the score sheet.

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