Saturday Soccer: Galaxy Season Begins Tonight in Colorado Against Rapids

Game preview. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

A (very) little more background on Brazilian midfielder lvaro Pires, signed as expected by the Galaxy Friday in time for today’s game, from the team press release:

The 23-year old has trained with the Galaxy for most of the preseason and started all six of the clubs preseason matches, playing 472 minutes in those games, collecting one assist and one caution.

Alvaro is a player that has been on our radar for some time now and were glad to finally have him as a member of the Galaxy, Galaxy Director of Soccer Paul Bravo said. He has done well so far in our preseason and we feel that he will be a tremendous asset to our club.

A native of Jardinopolis, Brazil, just outside of Sao Paulo, Pires signed his first professional contract at the age of 16 with Brazilian side Internacional and broke into the first team at the age of 19. He spent three years there, appearing in a handful of games with the First Division team before trying his luck abroad. He signed with Spartak Nalchik, a club in the Russian First Division.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Friday Football: Waiting For The (MLS First Kick) Weekend.

For me, it’s already here.

With both the Galaxy and Chivas USA on the road this weekend, it seemed the perfect opportunity to head to Vegas with the soccer widow before weekends become a thing of the past. I don’t intend to do too much staring at a computer screen.

So blogging will be minimal to nonexistent, depending on the vagaries of finding Wi-Fi in hotel lobbies or whether a sports book is foolhardy enough during March Madness to show the 6:30 p.m. Galaxy game Saturday from Colorado on Fox Soccer Channel or the noon Sunday Chivas USA opener at Dallas on Telefutura. Regular blogging resumes Tuesday, although I’ll have no column this week.

While you await the return of MLS (Houston plays New England in the first nationally televised game in a rematch of MLS Cup at 4 p.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel), enjoy the best of Chivas USA’s goals from last season and Galaxy highlights from 2007 (such as they are).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Argentina Final U.S. Opponents Before World Cup Qualifying Soccer Begins in Carson

U.S. Soccer announced the game this afternoon.

From the press release:

The U.S. Mens National Team will face Argentina at Giants Stadium June 8 to cap off a blockbuster trio of friendlies before kicking off 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The match against the worlds No. 1 ranked team follows a two-game tour in Europe where the U.S. will take on England May 28 in London and Spain June 4 in Santander.

The match against Argentina will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN Classic and Galavision.

“Argentina is clearly one of the best teams in the world and playing against an opponent of that caliber is a great opportunity for our team,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “Combined with the matches against England and Spain, we have put together a very good schedule to help us prepare for World Cup qualifying. We expect it will be a fantastic crowd at Giants Stadium, and we are looking forward to an exciting atmosphere.”

The U.S. begins the quest to qualify for their sixth-consecutive World Cup finals when they take on Barbados on June 15 at Home Depot Center. The second leg of the home-and-away series will be played either June 21 or 22 in Barbados. Prior to the USAs first World Cup qualifier, the U.S. will have faced six teams that have been ranked in the top 15 in the world since 2007 Argentina, Brazil, England, Mexico, Sweden and Spain.

The U.S. has played top-ranked Argentina eight times in their history, holding a lifetime record of 2-6-0 against the South American juggernaut. Of those eight matches, only three have been played in the United States, with the other five taking place in neutral sites. The two U.S. victories include a 3-0 upset of the defending champions in the group phase of the 1995 Copa America, and a 1-0 win in 1999 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., when a Joe-Max Moore goal was the difference.

The teams last met during the 2007 Copa America, with the Argentines outclassing a young and inexperienced U.S. team in their 4-1 win in Venezuela.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Guest-blogger Vanessa Rojas: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying

Torrance resident Vanessa Rojas, who played for North High and Loyola Marymount University and is a member of the Costa Rica Women’s National Team, has agreed to blog for 100 Percent Soccer during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. Her first post is below, followed by the 2003 article I wrote for the Daily Breeze when I first met Vanessa, who made her national team debut in Carson.

For those of you who dont know who I am, which Im guessing is everyone reading this minus my family, let me give you a brief bio.

My name is Vanessa Rojas and I play on the Costa Rican National team, but I am also from the South Bay, Torrance to be exact.

I am a proud North High Saxon alum, played for FRAM soccer club and am currently going to LMU.

You are probably wondering how Costa Rica got into the mix.

Well, when I was 16 the U.S. Women’s National Team was playing against Costa Rica and my dad (who is from Costa Rica) got in contact with the coach though e-mail. He told him how I was a dual citizen and sent him clips of me playing. So when they came down I had an unofficial tryout and got to play a miniscule 10 minutes, but for a 16-year old at the Home Depot Center it was a rush.

As time passed, I played off and on with the team, but it was not always easy assimilating to a new style of soccer, customs and players.

Fast-forward five years and I am getting ready to go to an Olympic qualifier.

I arrived in Costa Rica March 20th on the red eye and am practicing with the team until we leave Wednesday for the tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Even though I have been training four hours a day in preparation to come down here, the sun has no mercy and the tropics defiantly know how to make someone sweat.

On Tuesday, I played in my first scrimmage with the team since I played with them in November.

Now that you know a little of who I am I will be dropping in with some blog posts as the tournament unfolds.

Here’s the 2003 Daily Breeze article on Vanessa’s national team debut, which also happened to be the first appearance in U.S. colors for one Shannon Boxx. Incidentally, when Vanessa trotted out onto the field she immediately found herself standing next to none other than Mia Hamm.

A tale of two Torrance women underlines the gulf between American and Costa Rican soccer as the two nations prepare to meet tonight at Carson’s Home Depot Center in the penultimate warm-up game for the United States before the World Cup begins later this month.

Shannon Boxx, 26, a graduate of South Torrance High, who helped Notre Dame to its only NCAA championship in 1995 and this season was named MVP of the WUSA’s New York Power, may make her national team debut for the reigning World Cup champions. Despite her experience, Boxx made history last week when she became the first-ever uncapped player named to a U.S. World Cup roster, which boasts a dozen veterans who won the trophy in 1999.

The tough-tackling midfielder will have 30 friends and family members in the stands to cheer her on in the nationally televised game.

”This will be the one game they are going to be able to come to,” Boxx said. ”If I get to play I’m going to go in with a lot of confidence.”

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Vanessa Rojas, who will begin her senior year at North Torrance High this fall and plays on a Rolling Hills Estates-based FRAM’s second-tier women’s club team, was scheduled to train Sunday with Costa Rica.

Rojas was not listed on a preliminary roster given to the U.S. team, but it’s possible the North Athlete of the Year could be added to the Costa Rica team roster. She qualifies to represent the country via her father, who is a native Costa Rican. Rojas had sent Costa Rican officials a videotape of herself in action and a letter of recommendation from her club team coach, Jeff Tuttle.

Rojas’ father, Mario, bought 20 tickets to the game for family and friends who will watch a team ranked 45th by FIFA take on a U.S. team that outscored Costa Rica by a combined 15-0 in its only two games against the U.S. in 2000 and 2002.

”It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” Tuttle said. ”I told her if she plays 90 minutes or doesn’t play at all, to cherish the moment.”

The U.S. team, which will play the 300th match in its history tonight and is riding a 22-game home unbeaten streak, is simply looking for an uneventful work-out in what will be the first game for a U.S. national team at the Home Depot Center.

”You always have to look for a competitive game. Teams are motivated to play us hard every time,” American forward Mia Hamm said. ”If goals come, they come. If they don’t, you can’t get frustrated and upset.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

International Soccer Wednesday Wrap: U.S.-Poland & More

In a result that emphasized the increasing importance of set-pieces in international soccer, the U.S. beat Poland 3-0 today with the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan supplying two assists from corner kicks and Eddie Lewis scoring the third from a free kick. Game story here, overly enthusiastic details here.

David Beckham notched his 100th appearance for England, a yellow card and the general consensus that this game should be his last for the national team.

In other results, the Koreas drew in a game more important than the result, the U.S. learned it will play Barbados in the opening World Cup qualifier in June 15 at Home Depot Center, and the Canadians figured out how they will choose a CONCACAF Champions League entrant from all of three teams.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Midweek Update: U.S.-Poland Preview & More

While the Galaxy’s David Beckham is winning his 100th cap for England today in a game only available on pay channel Sentanta here, the 28th-ranked U.S. led by Landon Donovan will wear its new anthracite (charcoal grayish?) away jersey for the first time against 24th-ranked Poland in a game shown live at 12:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

Meanwhile, Mexico plays Ghana in London at 12:30 p.m. on Univision Telemundo among a host of other international games on tap.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy & Chivas USA Updates – And Swag

The Galaxy made official today what was reported here Monday, when forward Bryan Jordan and goalkeeper Josh Wicks joined from the USL Portland Timbers.

The two appeared regularly in preseason games.

Bryan and Josh have impressed the coaching staff since the beginning of the preseason and have earned the right to be on our roster, said Galaxy Director of Soccer Paul Bravo. We believe that both players will add depth and quality to our group.”

A 22-year old California native, Jordan, 22 scored five times in 26 games for Portland last year after four years at Oregon State.

Wicks, 24, spent the last three years in the USL with Portland and the Vancouver Whitecaps and played four years at Cal State Bakersfield. After winning the 2006 USL Championship with the Whitecaps, he was the USL Goalkeeper of the Year in Portland in 2007 with a 0.60 goals against average.

Josh came in and has opened a lot of eyes with his play, Galaxy goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer said. We knew that we needed someone who could push Steve (Cronin) for the No. 1 spot and he has certainly done that. Not only that, but he has a great attitude, works hard and always livens up the locker room. He will be a tremendous asset to the club.

Meanwhile, Chivas USA announced the signing of former San Diego State midfielder Kraig Chiles to a developmental contract. He was the club’s first draft pick in the supplemental draft.

Finally, those who plan their soccer-viewing at Home Depot Center around the freebies at the gate should know the Galaxy have announced their 2008 loot grab, sorry, promotional schedule.

The opener sees the first 4,000 fans get the latest limited edition “collectible” T-shirt, while 10,000 magnetic Galaxy schedules (always mandatory for the fridge door) will also be given away.

The rest of the incentives:
*April 19 vs. Houston – Galaxy hat.
*May 10 vs. New York – Collectors series T-Shirt No. 2.
*June 21 vs. Columbus – Galaxy soccer ball No. 1.
*Sept. 6 vs. Real Salt Lake – Collectors series T-Shirt No. 3.
*Oct. 12 vs. Colorado – Galaxy soccer ball No. 2.

Still no $2 brat and beer night.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday’s Column: The Return of Ruiz (with Video Highlights)

For today’s column in the Daily News and Daily Breeze I riffed on the return of a changed Carlos Ruiz to the Galaxy.

Omitted from the column for space reasons was Ruiz’ penchant for on-field dramatics:

Fans loathe it to such an extent that on Saturday when Lalas addressed season ticket holders and mentioned Ruiz, one fan bluntly asked: Did you tell him to quit diving?

The short answer is no (although Lalas acknowledged he cringes on occasion too when Ruiz dives and jokingly suggested acting lessons may be in order).

And the reason why isnt hard to understand. As Lalas pointed out, the Galaxy come equipped with the worlds best dead ball specialist in Beckham, who can be expected to swerve in a free kick or two stemming from a Fish flop.

The questions remains, though, can Ruiz replicate the form he showed with the Galaxy the first time around?

At least he hooked up well with David Beckham on the Galaxy’s recent Asian tour as the video of his hat trick in China showed.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy Announce Reserve Team schedule

The best deal in MLS – the reserve division – begins play this weekend, too, with the Galaxy’s second string facing Colorado.

Until now it’s been free admission, free parking and a generally relaxed attitude that enables fans to mingle with established stars returning from injury and up and coming youngsters.

Here’s the details on the six home games (10 a.m. at Home Depot Center except where specified) of the 12-game schedule:
Fri., April 4 San Jose Earthquakes.
Sun., June 8 Colorado Rapids.
Fri., July 11 Chivas USA.
2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3 San Jose Earthquakes. (UC-SC Training Field).
Fri., Aug. 15 Chivas USA.
Sun., Sept. 7 Real Salt Lake.
2:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 26 FC Dallas.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy Injury, Roster Update

Just got back from Galaxy training and thought I’d pass along a couple of items.

On the injury front, defender Julian Valentin is doubtful for this weekend’s MLS season opener in Colorado with a right ankle injury he suffered last Thursday; striker Alan Gordon and veteran midfielder Pete Vagenas are listed as probable with a right ankle injury and right quad problem respectively; goalkeeper Charles Alamo and defender Ante Jazic are both out with long-term injuries as most readers already know.

Incidentally, striker Edson Buddle returned to full training today (and was being driven hard by Coach Ruud Gullit in practice) and looked fairly sharp.

Expect a bunch of fairly routine roster moves for the Galaxy this week, which as of today has 19 senior players (and must get down to 18).

No one will be cut, but midfielder Brandon McDonald, defender Michael Gavin and striker Bryan Jordan will all be signed to developmental contracts this week that don’t count against the salary cap or senior roster limit.

Backup goalkeeper Josh Wicks of San Bernandino has won a senior roster spot, while Brazilian midfielder Alvaro Pires (technically still a trialist) is awaiting a work visa any day now.

Lastly, striker Carlos Ruiz, held out of the recent game as a precaution when he felt a slight twinge in his hamstring, is good to go this weekend.

I’ll have more on the return of Ruiz in Tuesday’s column, which I’d better go write.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email