Palos Verdes’ John Thorrington: Back From the Brink

Chicago Fire midfielder John Thorrington was acknowledged as one of the finest soccer products to emerge from the South Bay when he joined England’s storied Manchester United out of the Palos Verdes Peninsula’s Chadwick School.

His pro career hasn’t quite had the expected trajectory, however, with injuries stifling his anticipated progress.

But Thorrington persevered, scoring two goals for the Fire last weekend to beat the Colorado Rapids.

Here’s a concise profile that traces the challenges he has faced.

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Home Depot Center Concessions Hard to Digest

Guess we’ll soon find out whether the Galaxy Ambassadors have any clout.

A worthy, if perhaps ultimately futile, effort is here (caution strong language and opinions).

Food, generally, at the HDC from the press box and stadium club to the concessions is virtually indigestible.

Cardboard churros. Servers who regard a food order as a completely alien experience and apparently have never seen a cash register before you order. Few concourse televisions to assuage the paralyzed concession lines.

Makes you pine for the day of King Taco. And why can’t we have some local flavor if we’re drinking over-priced beer?
(It’s the best pub nearest to the HDC and where the Riot Squad meets before games).

Of course, there’s always the ubiquitous bacon-wrapped hot dog outside the stadium anyway.

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Tuesday’s Column & More

I get paid to worry.

As in today’s column, which takes a look at the dominance of David Beckham and Landon Donovan and the implications for the Galaxy’s season.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, here are the highlights of Becks and Donovan dismantling Chivas USA.

Not surprisingly after that performance, Galaxy forward Landon Donovan was named the MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters, for the second consecutive week.

Elsewhere, Long Beach State has announced its 2008 recruiting class including defender Nicole Hubbard (Lakewood/Mayfair High) and U.S. Under-17 international midfielder Shawna Gordon (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos High) as freshmen, while Marissa “Bo” Rael (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos High), who played last semester at the University of Oregon, is at LBSU.

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Galaxy-Chivas USA Post-game

Alan Gordon scored two goals and an assist within eight minutes, after coming on as a sub.

Landon Donovan scored the first Galaxy hat trick in four years.

And Wayne Gretzky, Tom Cruise, a rumored Luis Figo and Gawd knows who else put in appearances on a memorable night where the action matched the hype (what hype?).

This was a glorious night for the sport that seemed to catch just about everyone by surprise.

“Gordo did an excellent job when he came in,” Gullit said. “He changed the game.”

Or as Sigi Schmid was fond of saying: goals change games.

Gullit was effusive, too, about the play of rookie defender Sean Franklin in the center of defense.

“He’s made huge progress and that makes me happy,” he said, adding that he needed speed at the position to counter the Chivas USA forward line. Gullit made no mention of Franklin partner Abel Xavier, by the way.

Landon Donovan, one of the few players to stick around and answer questions (as usual), said his pre-game preparations have been key to his on-field performance.

“I’m raising every aspect of my game preparations very, very seriously,” he said. “I feel like I’m being more assertive and more aggressive and I’m reaping the benefits of that.”

And he had encouraging words for Gordon, too.

“He adds a different dimension so we can play more direct at times,” Donovan said. “I’m just happy for Gordo because he works so hard.”

Not surprisingly, Chivas USA players didn’t hang around for the post-game inquest.

No matter.

There are games that are turning points in a season and games that are exclamation points. This was the latter. There were no complaints tonight (at least from the Galaxy).

Check out the game in pictures.

Next for the Galaxy: May 3 at Real Salt Lake.

Next for Chivas USA: May 3 at Houston.

Notable local: John Thorrington (Chadwick School) of the Fire who scored two goals Saturday to lead Chicago to a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

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Final Result: Galaxy-Chivas USA

The Galaxy overwhelmed Chivas USA with four second half goals en route to a resounding 5-2 triumph.

In truth, the Galaxy put this game out of Chivas USA’s reach in a two-minute second half span, Alan Gordon capitalizing on a Brad Guzan error to snatch the go ahead goal five minutes after coming on as a sub and then setting up Donovan’s third of the night a minute later.

Donovan’s hat trick was the first by a Galaxy player since Alejandro Moreno scored three on May 19, 2004.

Chivas USA had started the second half promisingly, Panchito Mendoza sending a stinging drive off the Galaxy’s far post after just three minutes.

But Donovan put the Galaxy 2-1 up 10 minutes later, stripping the ball away from Chivas USA defender Claudio Suarez after Mike Randolph had pulled the ball back.

A wide open Ante Razov clinically finished to pull Chivas USA level after 62 minutes before the Galaxy onslaught gave their opponents no way back into the game.

Gordon added the fifth six minutes from time, stabbing home a Beckham pass.

More after the press conference.

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Half Time: Galaxy 1 Chivas USA 1

A packed house saw Landon Donovan continue his torrid scoring streak, grabbing his sixth goal in five games.

It was a fortuitous goal: Brandon McDonald clearly handled the ball in poking it through to Donovan, who connected nicely with a 20-yard left-footed half-volley.

Chivas USA has never won an MLS game after conceding the first goal, but apparently Sacha Kljestan didn’t get the memo. He victimized Galaxy defender Abel Xavier for the equalizer, unleashing a lovely 17-yard shot into the top corner as the former Portuguese international backed up and gave the Chivas USA midfielder way too much space.

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Galaxy-Chivas USA SuperClassico

Lovely evening to watch, if not play soccer at the HDC, with the temperature at kickoff hovering around 86 degrees.

The Galaxy and Chivas USA come into the game tied at four points and know that only once in the history of the series has the team that scores first gone on to lose the game.

Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit has made two changes from the starting 11 that drew with Houston last weekend, with Josh Tudela sitting out and Abel Xavier coming in for his second start of the year in the center of defense. Joey Franchino replaces Alan Gordon in midfield, while Mike Randolph moves to midfield from the back four.

Steve Cronin is in goal as usual, with Chris Klein, Sean Franklin, Xavier and Greg Vanney in front of him.

David Beckham, tied for the MLS lead in assists with three, is in midfield alongside Franchino, Brandon McDonald and Randolph. Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, who needs one more goal to become the 12th player in the league to score 70 goals in a career, are up front.

Chivas USA Coach Preki has made two changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Dallas last weekend, Panchito Mendoza and Sacha Kljestan both returning from suspension in midfield.

That prompts Lawson Vaughn to drop to the back four with Claudio Suarez, Shavar Thomas and Jonathan Bornstein and Brad Guzan between the posts.

Jesse Marsch and Paulo Nagamura line up in midfield with Kljestan and Mendoza, while Maykel Galindo and Justin Braun are up front. Ante Razov, still struggling with an injury, is on the bench.

Forgot to mention: Stevie “2 Pounds” Forbes (33-5, Nine KO’s), prepping to fight Oscar de la Hoya May 3
at the HDC, will make the ceremonial coin toss at the start of the game.

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Why One Local Galaxy Fan Won’t Attend Tonight’s Game

Bumped into fellow Galaxy fan Mike Adams at my local watering hole Friday where conversation inevitably turned to soccer and today’s game.

Mike made some good points I’ve been dismayed to hear more often of late and I asked him to put his thoughts down on paper (as it were). Hopefully, Home Depot Center management is taking note:

Today is the big intercity rivalry between the Galaxy and Chivas USA.

Though I’m excited about the match and the Home Depot Center is only 10 minutes away from my house, I will also be sure to watch it from my couch or at my local pub.

The crowd that attends the Galaxy-Chivas USA game too often crosses the line with their conduct.

I’m a sports fan raised in Torrance, and have long enjoyed taking in local live events

I’ve had Lakers season tickets for 10 years, and attend Dodgers games regularly.

I was raised on football and baseball, but my wife, Michelle, and I have discovered that nothing beats sitting back at Home Depot Center with a cold beer and enjoying a good soccer match.

The atmosphere in the stadium is great, and there are people of all ages rooting on their team with intensity.

We’ve had Galaxy seats for the past couple of years, and have seen some great games. The excitement and fan banter was second to none when the Galaxy played Chelsea and Scotland’s Rangers last year, and also during many of the hard fought matches during SuperLiga.

Unfortunately, there have been a few matches that have erased our good feelings about the experience, namely Galaxy-Chivas USA games, as well as the Galaxy-Pachuca match.

We have found that there is group of fans that attend these matches that want to take their fanship to another level and take it as a personal affront if you root against their team.

Last year we took two friends to their first live soccer match vs Pachuca after telling them how family friendly the Galaxy games were, and encouraged them to take their kids to future matches.

But then the pro-Pachuca fans in the crowd were in their faces screaming insults within 10 minutes of taking our seats.

We were challenged to fights multiple times, and when we didn’t get involved, they would fight amongst themselves.

I believe we witnessed more than five ejections from our seating area.

The Chivas USA matches were the same.

Drunken fans, with their insulting comments, exhibited generally aggressive behavior.

There were too many fights with too many people throwing things.

Wearing a Galaxy jersey to the games makes you a mark for a challenge to fight or as a target of beer and other flying items.

I am all for being a diehard fan for your team and mixing it up respectfully with those around you, but I don’t attend the matches to get in fights or have things thrown at me.

So here’s to enjoying this great rivalry with a cold beer in hand – from my couch.

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Galaxy-Chivas USA Gameday

Hostilities resume today between intra-stadium rivals Chivas USA and the Galaxy, although that term may be a tad extreme in a city that barely notices the rivalry.

Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit, who during his career as a player, coach and match commentator with the likes of Newcastle, Sunderland, Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan, Spurs, et al has really experienced some intense derbies, tried to be diplomatic this morning about the still-budding contest.

“The big difference (compared to) other places like Milan, is the city is not as involved,” said Gullit, the Galaxy’s coach. “You don’t know about it so much, like in Milan or any other city. It’s a little bit odd, I must say. You don’t have that same feeling. For us, of course, it’s important.”

A game preview is here.

Just to set the stage further: Chivas USA trails in the 12-game series overall with a 3-7-2 record, although the club won the last two games by 3-0 margins including a Sept. 13 contest that (among other things) cruelly exposed the shortcomings of aging Galaxy defender Abel Xavier.

Highlights (lowlights?) of that encounter below.

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel. A sellout is expected, although tickets were still available this morning.

In related news, defender Dan Gargan, who played in last week’s Chivas USA reserve game, has signed with the club. From the Chivas USA press release:

A three-year veteran of Major League Soccer and native of Philadelphia, Pa., Gargan, 25, made 49 appearances for the Colorado Rapids from 2005-2007 (31 starts), mainly as right-sided defender, following a standout four-year career at Georgetown University. Gargan joins Chivas USA as a disabled list replacement for defender Alex Zotinca, who was placed on Chivas USAs disabled list prior to the season after undergoing ACL reconstruction on his right knee.

Dan is both young and has good experience in the league, and will bring depth to our squad, particularly on the right side, said Chivas USA Head Coach Preki. Hes got a good mind for the game and were happy to bring him into the team.

Originally selected in the third round of the 2005 MLS Supplemental Draft, Dan Gargan recorded three assists in his 49 games with the Rapids, and also appeared in a number of Reserve Team matches for the two-time defending Reserve Division champions. Prior to joining MLS, Gargan played at Georgetown , where he was a starter all four years for the Hoyas and served as the teams captain in his senior year. Though primarily used as a defender or defensive midfielder, Gargan scored a total of 11 goals and added 18 assists in his collegiate career.

In addition to his experience in MLS, Gargan spent two weeks training with Pachuca of the Mexican First Division in January of 2007. He was awarded the Rapids Most Improved Player award after a breakout season in 2006 in which he started 18 of the teams final 20 matches of the season.

Also, Chivas USA defender-midfielder Jorge Flores has been called into the U.S. Under-20 National Team for three friendlies against the Bolton Wanderers, Manchester United and Liverpool reserve teams.

Finally, Chivas USA will hold a “Practice in the Community” at 10 a.m. Sunday at Rio de Los Angeles State Park.

The squad will sign autographs until about noon afterward.

Rio de Los Angeles State Park is at 1900 San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, just off the Golden State (I-5) and Glendale (SR-2) Freeways.

I’ll blog from the game as usual.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the Weekend

Virtually no local reporters bothered to show up for Thursday’s presser advancing Saturday’s Chivas USA-Galaxy derby, so we leave it to this scribe to do the job for us.

Meanwhile, the legacy of David Beckham’s visit to Hawaii continues with this pathetic little tale.

On a happier note, former Galaxy coach and longtime South bay resident Sigi Schmid, currently in exile in Ohio, is nearing a milestone.

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