Busy over the Easter weekend?
Here’s a recap.
David Beckham is looking at cap No. 100 – and beyond – for England against France Wednesday, Landon Donovan is eying cap No. 99 – and beyond – for the U.S. against Poland the same night, while the U.S. fell to Honduras 1-0 Sunday in a meaningless end to Olympic qualifying in Nashville, Tenn.
The U.S. has already qualified for the Olympics, but plays at 2 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel against Honduras in Nashville for the Under-23 CONCACAF championship.
Not that there’s a great deal of cachet in that: Freddy Adu, Charlie Davies, Jonathan Spector and Sal Zizzo flew out Friday to return to their European teams.
Both teams have only conceded one goal in four qualifying games so far and you’ve got to wonder how interested either will be in breaking an honorable draw.
Chivas USA beat Honduras’ Real Espana 4-1 Saturday in Fullerton. And no, ex-Galaxy striker Carlos Pavon did not score for Real Espana.
Details from the Chivas USA press release:
In a match played in Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, Francisco Mendoza and Alecko Eskandarian both marked returns to the Chivas USA lineup after injuries by scoring in the win.
Atiba Harris gave the Red-and-White the 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute when he headed in a perfectly placed Ante Razov cross, sent from almost 40 yards. The goal was the only tally in the first half, and Chivas USA could not break through the Real Espaa defense again until the 68th minute. It was then that Chivas USAs only selection in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, Keith Savage, dribbled through the defense before hammering home a shot to the near post to give the Red-and-White a 2-0 lead.
Francisco Mendoza, in his first action in a preseason match for Chivas USA in 2008, finished a short pass from Harris in the 72nd minute to add to the lead before Alecko Eskandarian, also recently returning from injury, closed the scoring for the Red-and-White in minute 78. Real Espaa striker Douglas Caetano knocked home a penalty in the 89th minute for a consolation goal.
Chivas USA lineup: (4-4-2): Brad Guzan; Lawson Vaughn, Shavar Thomas, Claudio Surez, Jonathan Bornstein (Eric Ebert 57); Keith Savage, Jesse Marsch, Paulo Nagamura, Francisco Mendoza; Atiba Harris (Justin Braun 73), Ante Razov (Alecko Eskandarian 59)
More than 4,000 people attended the Galaxy’s annual fan fest Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
The free event included a 3-1 Galaxy win over PDL outfit the San Fernando Quakes, with Carlos Ruiz, Michael Gavin and Landon Donovan scoring.
Donovan headed to LAX before the event had even finished to catch an airplane for the U.S. game Wednesday against Poland, while David Beckham was similarly scheduled to fly out to join up with the England squad.
I missed the “fan with biggest Galaxy tattoo” contest unfortunately, but heard Alexi Lalas’ address to season ticket holders in the Stadium Club.
Last season was a “hell of a year” Lalas told the crowd , while acknowledging that in their “zeal’ to promote the brand with Beckham the Galaxy had overlooked “the product on the field.”
He pledged that would be different this year although he again acknowledged the “calculated risk” in tying up much of the salary cap in just three players; Becks, Ruiz and Donovan.
Lalas expanded on the reason for releasing former Newcastle United defender Celestine Babayaro, conceding that his was a “perfect example” of a playing style that didn’t fit the team.
“It’s difficult, but I’d much rather make that decision now than four or five months down the road,” Lalas said.
Living up to the hype, Freddy Adu, apparently benefiting from playing in Europe with Portugal’s Benfica, led the U.S. to an Olympics berth in a 3-0 win Thursday over out-classed Canada with two goals from set pieces, while Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan added the third.
A reminder: the Galaxy hosts its Fan Fest Saturday.
David Beckham, who will talk to the local media today before jetting off to England, was busy handing out awards this week. Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz was also honored for his contributions to the sport at the event.
Chivas USA has resigned fan favorite 22-year-old Panchito Mendoza, the leader in games and minutes played for the club, and acquired Irvine native and defender Eric Ebert from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for a supplemental draft pick.
The U.S. women have scheduled games April 27 and May 3 against Australia in the first domestic dates of the year in North Carolina and Alabama respectively.
In one of the best bargains in televised sport, the MLS Direct Kick package that gives armchair fans 115 games for $79, is back.
Finally, if you watch just one game this weekend, check out the Chelsea-Arsenal London derby at 9 a.m. Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel.
David Beckham and manager Simon Fuller of “American Idol” fame have an option to buy an MLS team in 2011 when his Galaxy contract expires, according to a “60 Minutes” report scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
Neither MLS nor the Galaxy would comment.
Beckham receives a salary of $5.5 million annually and a “large share” of Galaxy ticket, merchandise, and concession sales and Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, the Galaxy’s corporate parent, said that despite injuries and limited playing time, Beckham beat financial expectations.
“When we set down on a piece of paper and said to David, ‘Here’s what we think you can make here,’ he did better than that,” he said.
Becks also demonstrates his trademark bending free kick and gives a guided tour of his tattoos, for those who care.
Qualification for the Olympics is at stake at 6 p.m. tonight live on Fox Soccer Channel for the U.S. and Canada.
As expected, David Beckham was recalled to the England squad, while the U.S. game against England May 28 in London has been confirmed.
Closer to home, Chivas USA defender Alex Zotinca may be out for the season and the Red & White Wednesday thumped Cal State Fullerton.
Lastly, the Galaxy announced that AM 570 KLAC (home of the Lakers) will broadcast at least 24 games this season.
Not strictly LA-soccer related, but a touching piece of journalism that was selected as the winner of the new North American Soccer Reporters group feature story of the year.
Read it here.
Several different English media reports indicate David Beckham will win a recall to the England team Thursday when Fabio Capello names his squad for next Wednesday’s game in Paris against France. Becks is widely expected to notch his ton of caps in that game and as an added bonus for Galaxy fans will be nice and rested for the MLS season opener that weekend (ahem).
Incidentally, for those who like to get a head start planning this coming weekend, the Galaxy follows last weekend’s ChivaFest with their own open house on Saturday.
MLS rivals Chivas USA have launched a new blog called “Inside the Flock,” which reports that first-choice goalkeeper Brad Guzan returned to training Tuesday after his injury. Actual information in a blog (Galaxy take note)!
Finally, new Pacific Palisades-based W-League franchise Pali Blues have announced the signings of three more players including former Trojan midfielder Rosie Tantillo.
U.S. Women’s National Team Coach Pia Sundhage named 26 players today to the pre-Olympic qualifying camp that opens at Home Depot Center Friday, including all 20 players on the Algarve Cup-winning team in Portugal plus six others, including veteran defender Heather Mitts and goalkeeper Brianna Scurry.
Sundhage will whittle that roster down to 20 for Olympic qualifying next month.
The complete roster and more details are here.
Sundhage and captain Christie Rampone held a media teleconference to discuss the camp and qualifying this morning. A podcast is available here (look under podcasts).
For Tuesday’s column I looked at the on-going struggle of Chivas USA to achieve some sort of critical mass in drawing a fan base.
One point left out of the column for space reasons was whether Chivas USA should own and operate its own stadium. Team President Shawn Hunter indicated that leaving Home Depot Center was a long way down the road for Chivas USA.
“Every team wants to own its own venue,” he said. “My first task is to fill this one.”
On the player signing front, MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis told reporters on a teleconference call Monday that teams in general are still looking to sign players and he expects more acquisitions.
“We’re still early in the cycle for imports,” he said, observing MLS has signed 21 foreign recruits since MLS Cup, including 18 from Latin America, where players are technically adept yet relatively inexpensive.
The largest foreign contingent in MLS: Argentines (17) whose physical style of play suits MLS (there are also 10 Brazilians).