Monday Morning Buzz

Well, not really, but if I called it reheated weekend left-overs you may not be reading.

While Mexico was getting dumped out of the Olympics by Guatemala (who played as big a role in the proceedings as Canada at Home Depot Center) Chivas USA was shutting out minor league team the Fresno Fuego Sunday night 4-0 in a game that saw striker Maykel Galindo sent off.

On target for Chivas USA: Jesse Marsch, Atiba Harris, draft pick Keith Savage and Shavar Thomas.

The Chivas USA line-up: (4-4-2): Sam Reynolds; Jon Bornstein, Shavar Thomas, Claudio Surez (Bobby Burling 57), Lawson Vaughn; Raphael Wicky (Eric Ebert 69), Jesse Marsch (Jim Curtin 84), Paulo Nagamura, Keith Savage; Atiba Harris (Justin Braun 76), Maykel Galindo.

Meanwhile, the five finalists for “Sueo MLS 2008: The Dream Continues” who will train with Chivas USA Under-16 team for the next two weeks were named Sunday and include a 17-year-old midfielder out of Compton named Juan Moreno.

The Galaxy, meanwhile, apparently spent the weekend trying to control time.

Coming full circle, West Ham United’s Jonathan Spector joined the U.S. Under-23 team Sunday ahead of Thursday’s Olympic qualifying semifinal with Canada. The winner, of course, goes to China.

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Olympic Qualifying: Mexico Out, U.S. to Play Canada

Despite beating nine-man Haiti 5-1 Sunday night at Home Depot Center, Mexico crashed out of Olympic qualifying on goal difference.

The result means Canada, the second place finisher in Group B, plays the U.S. Thursday, while Guatemala faces Honduras.

In a game that featured wave after wave of Mexican attacks, El Tri could have scored several many more goals, but missed a penalty while Toluca’s Santiago Fernandez missed two point-blank chances within two minutes.

Cruz Azul’s Cesar Villaluz opened Mexico’s account with a diving header in the 18th minute before 12,824 mainly Mexican fans.

Edgar Andrade of Cruz Azul made it two in the 61st minute, while Haiti pulled a goal back two minutes later as Mexico got caught pressing forward.

Fernandez claimed Mexico’s third in the 70th minute and Club America’s Enrique Esqueda made it 4-1 seven minutes from the end of regulation.

Luis Angel Landin of Morelia scored Mexico’s fifth in the 90th minute, but despite five minutes of stoppage time, El Tri couldn’t score the sixth that would have propelled them to the semifinals.

Mexico finished with 24 attempts on goal to 14 for Haiti, with shots on target 14-4. Mexico was called offside 14 times.


Well, Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez didn’t resign after the game, though Mexican Football Federation officials held a press conference and said his contract would be discussed at a March 30 meeting. Still, they also observed Sanchez has a contract through the 2010 World Cup.

“Obviously, this is a failure,” Sanchez said. “I don’t like to use that word, but you guys are going to keep bringing it up until I do so I will.”

“We had hoped to make history,” he added. “Mexico has never won an Olympic gold medal (in soccer).”

Sanchez lamented the absence of his four European-based players their clubs wouldn’t release and then noted the U.S. and Canada had their European-based players for the competition, which isn’t quite true (the U.S. couldn’t secure the release of Michael Bradley from his Dutch club, for instance).

His counterpart, Haiti’s Wilner Etienne, was quite blunt about the performance of some of his team.

“There are some players who can play at a high level and there are some players you can’t count on,” he said.

Canadian Coach Nick Dasovsic, who had said he wouldn’t comment on the U.S. until after the Mexico game, was quite voluable when I bumped into him in the Stadium Club en route to the Mexico-Haiti press conference. It probably helped he was on his third beer.

“When (Haiti) went down to nine men, I thought we were done,” he said. “I think I died eight times. It was like something out of a movie. We’re through, though, we’re going to Tennessee.”

“It’s a one-game cup final and (if we win) we go to the Olympics,” he added. “The guys will be up for it.”

“They’ve got quality,” he said of the U.S. “It’s going to be huge for the guys.”

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Mexico Faces Almost Impossible Task to Reach Semifinals of Olympic Qualifying

Canada beat Guatemala 5-0 Sunday afternoon in the penultimate group game of Olympic qualifying at Home Depot Center, meaning Mexico must beat Haiti in the second game of the doubleheader by at least five unanswered goals to retain any hope of reaching the semifinals Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

Even then, Canada and Mexico would need a coin toss to send one team through since the two would be tied on goal difference and goals scored. The Mexicans must score at least six goals without reply to go through.

The Mexicans have scored just two goals in two games during the tournament and unlike Guatemala, who had already qualified, the Haitians are motivated; a win would send them through to the semifinals.

Guatemala didn’t look particularly enthusiastic about the game, raising more than a suspicion they would be perfectly happy to see Mexico exit the competition.

Canada, not exactly renowned for their goal-scoring prowess, got two goals from former Chicago Fire forward Will Johnson, back from a one-game suspension after being sent off in Canada’s opening game, a pair from Tosaint Ricketts and the fifth from substitute Kyle Hall deep into second half stoppage time.

Guatemalan fans celebrated after the game as if they had won.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could win 5-0,” said Coach Nick Dasovic, who paid tribute to his players. “They were extraordinary.”

Player of the game Will Johnson said he was seeking a measure of redemption in this game: “Any time you get a red card you feel you let your teammates down a bit,” he said. “I was fresh today, I was a lot fresher than the other guys, so I took it upon myself to make a difference.”

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Sunday Soccer

The Galaxy played to a dull scoreless draw in Dallas Saturday, the U.S. made it through to the Olympic qualifying semifinals with a very late goal over Honduras the difference, while Mexico is seeking to ensure it doesn’t make an ignominious exit from the competition today at Home Depot Center.

Meanwhile, protests in Tibet against Chinese rule are growing although no one is yet suggesting the Olympics are at risk.

Finally, Chivas USA beat San Diego State 2-1 Saturday in a scrimmage at Home Depot Center.

From the Chivas USA press release:

Chukwudi Chijindu put the Red-and-White ahead just seven minutes into the game when he received a ball from Ante Razov and hammered home a shot to the near post from 12 yards. Chivas USA continued pushing up for goals throughout the first half, and were caught on a quick counter attack by San Diego State in the 27th minute, when Steven Beitashours shot was deflected to Daniel Ortega, who finished for the Aztecs to tie the game.

The match went into the half tied at one, but Chivas USA quickly took the lead once the second session started. Razovs free kick from 25 yards was saved by the Aztec goalkeeper, but the rebound fell to Erasmo Solrzano, who finished easily. The Red-and-White had a number of chances in the rest of the half, with forward Anthony Hamilton hitting the post and Solrzano seeing his header bounce over the net, but the game ended with the 2-1 scoreline.

Chivas USA lineup (4-4-2): Lance Parker; Eric Ebert (Arnaldo Salazar 46), Jim Curtin, Bobby Burling, Gerson Mayen; Chukwudi Chijindu (Erasmo Solrzano 46), Daniel Paladini, John Cunliffe, Anthony Hamilton; Ante Razov, Justin Braun (Jorge Flores 46).

Chivas is in Fresno today playing PDL team the Fuego.

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Saturday Soccer Update

*The U.S. plays its final Olympic qualifier live at 4 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel against Honduras.

*A reminder that the Galaxy preseason game against FC Dallas will be shown live on the team’s Web site at 5:30 p.m. Link is over to the right.

*Chivas has announced one final preaseason game at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton against ex-Galaxy striker (I use the term loosely) Carlos Pavon and his new team Honduran First Division side Real Espaa.

From the Chivas USA press release:

The match will feature a ceremony prior to the match honoring three members of Honduras 1982 FIFA World Cup team: Gilberto German Yearwood, Jaime Enrique Villegas y Roberto Macho Figueroa.

Real Espaa is one of Honduras most popular and successful clubs, having captured the league championship nine times in their history, most recently in 2006-2007. The Espaa roster features forward Carlos Pavn, who was with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 and has 78 appearances and 47 goals with the Honduran National Team. Los Aurinegros, or the Gold-and-Black, are currently in second place in the league, with a record of 5-3-3 (W-L-T).

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 dollars at the gate. More info: (310) 467-6637.

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Olympic Qualifying Result: Guatemala 2 Mexico 1

After the game with Canada two days ago Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez said he wasn’t worried because his team hadn’t lost.

He’s worried now.

Despite out-shooting its opponents 17-10, Mexico was upset by Guatamala 2-1 Friday night before 19,638 fans at the Home Depot Center.

“They’re just another team,” said Guatemalan Coach Rodrigo Kenyon.

The result means Mexico must win Sunday against Haiti and either hopes Canada doesn’t win or scores fewer goals (or allows more) in their game against Guatemala. Because if the two teams are even (as they are now) on goal difference and goals scored it will come down to a coin flip.

“We’re under fire, we have to show what this team is capable of and we have to attack,” Sanchez said.

The only Mexican goal came from American-born Edgar Castillo in the ninth minute after the Guatemalan defense failed to clear its box, leaving one to wonder what Sanchez is thinking now considering his criticism of his predecessor for using naturalized American citizens on the team.

But Guatemala doggedly stayed in the game five minutes before half time when a long ball from Jean Marquez caught the Mexican defense napping and Carlos Villa, one of a half dozen CSD Municipal players on the roster, raced through to score.

Guatemala sealed victory in the 67th minute on a Maynor Ignacio Lopez header from a corner kick.

“They were more effective in their finishing,” said Sanchez, calling his opponents “just conquerors.”

He also blamed the media for giving his players “bad vibes” for getting on them for not scoring goals.

“We’ve done good things, not everything has been bad,” he protested.


Just most things, Hugo.

More here.

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Olympic Qualifying Final From Carson: Haiti 2 Canada 1

Haiti scored two goal in 12 minutes to seal a shock come from behind 2-1 victory Friday night in the first game of a doubleheader at Home Depot Center.

The Canadians, on the defensive for much of the second half after opening the scoring through Tyler Rosenlund (who doesn’t have a club, but might after tonight) in the 17th minute, only had themselves to blame.

The first Haitian goal came after Canadian Nikolas Ledgerwood went down injured in the 72nd minute and a teammate put the ball out of play. The Canadians expected Haiti to give the ball back to them as is customarily done in soccer, but instead Leonel Saint-Preux passed to wide-open substitute Alain Gustave who volleyed home a first-time shot from 17 yards.

Canadian Coach Nick Dasovic was not amused.

“For our fair play we got it in the backside you might say,” he said. “It was atrocious.”

Haiti sealed the win in the 84th minute with a beautifully taken long-range shot from at least 35 yards out that soared into the top corner and caught Canadian goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, on trial with Toronto FC, off-guard and out of position.

The Canadians had seen a chance for a second goal evaporate in the 54th minute when Andrazes Ornoch hit the bar from 17 yards out, but Dasovic blamed a lack of fitness and inexperience for the loss that sent his team spiraling to the bottom of Group B.

“We knew the Haitian team has a strong team physically and they were obviously emotionally driven,” he said. “I think our boys were a little bit naive. … I kept yelling to them a draw is good, we didn’t need to win today.”

But Canada needed to avoid losing – and didn’t.

Next up tonight: Mexico-Guatemala.

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Friday Football: Olympic Qualifying and More

It wasn’t a thing of a beauty and a Freddy Adu penalty kick was all that separated the teams in the 1-0 win over Panama Thursday, but Coach Peter Nowak’s revamped line-up showed more initiative in attack and more resilience in defense in the second Olympic qualifier.

Nowak summed up the difference between the Cuba and Panama games:

I think we learned from what happened last Tuesday. Everyone was over anxious. I think we were pushing too much just to score goals. I think today the combinations (were better) and we just played faster and found the right people at the right time. The timing was good. The build-ups were very effective, so its not only the patience. You can be patient, but still develop your game in the right moment at the right speed.

The U.S. must merely avoid losing Saturday against Honduras to advance to the semifinals.

Honduras, by the way, beat 10-man (yes, you read that right) Cuba.

In Carson tonight, it’s Canada vs. Haiti (at 5:30 p.m.) and Mexico vs. Guatemala (at 8 p.m.).

The Galaxy plays in Dallas Saturday with English scouts watching David Beckham and Chivas USA plays San Diego State University at 10 a.m. at Home Depot Center before heading to Fresno Sunday to play the Fuego.

The 5:30 p.m. Galaxy game will be shown on the team’s Web site, incidentally.

Also, from noon to 4 p.m. in Carson Saturday, it’s ChivaFest.

Finally, the dumb quote of the week award goes to noted ESPN soccer-hater Jim Rome, who oblivious to the sell-out crowds, Beckham jersey sales and general Beckhamania, declares his signing a bust:

“Soccer may be the world sport, but here it ranks right behind darts and just ahead of foosball. It doesn’t matter now and it never will. The fact the greatest footballer of them all came here and didn’t move the needle at all proves that once again.”

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SuperLiga 2008 Schedule Unveiled

The second annual version of SuperLiga, the eight-team competition featuring MLS and Mexican teams, has just unveiled its schedule at a Home Depot Center press conference.

Last year, the Galaxy lost in a thrilling final and this version will feature Western Conference champions Chivas USA.

The relevant dates for games in Carson (except where noted):

Sunday July 13 – Chivas USA vs. defending champions Pachuca CF.
Wednesday July 16 – Chivas USA vs. Santos.
Sunday July 20 Chivas USA vs. New England Revolution. (Venue TBD).

Full competition details here.

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Thursday Update: U.S. plays Panama in Olympic Qualifying Tonight

The U.S. faces Panama in the second game of Olympic qualifying at 5 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel and desperately needs three points from the game after Tuesday’s tactically naive draw against Cuba.

Meanwhile, Mexico has announced the opponents for three of five planned games in the U.S. this year including a June 4 game in San Diego against Argentina.

While the MLS teams in the second edition of SuperLiga have long been known (Chivas USA, Houston Dynamo, New England Revolution and D.C. United) dates for games and the Mexican teams involved will be announced at noon here.

As reported here a couple of days ago, Chivas USA signed goalkeeper Lance Parker (Missouri State) and three other players to developmental contracts (a maximum of 10 young players whon don’t count against the cap are allowed per team).

The others: the team’s only draft pick this year, 22-year-old midfielder/forward Keith Savage (University of West Florida); forward Justin Braun, 20, discovered playing rec soccer in Utah; and former Galaxy 2006 Supplemental Draft pick Dan Paladini, a midfielder out of Northridge.

Finally, Chivas USA have announced an 18-game broadcast schedule with Fox, starting with the March 30 opener in Dallas.

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