Half Time: Galaxy-Dynamo

Sean Franklin, the rookie defender who has been so impressive for the Galaxy so far this term, was well and truly beaten by the Dynamo’s Brian Mullan on the opening goal by Houston about 10 minutes before half time.

Mullan beat Franklin by the touchline, then crossed the ball to Argentine Franco Caraccio who headed it down to Brian Ching. He whiffed on it, but the ball fell to Brad Davis who tucked it away.

Houston thoroughly deserved the lead having dominated possession and strung together the more impressive attacking opportunities in the opening half.

The Galaxy needed Josh Tudela to clear off the goal line to prevent a goal in the seventh minute, while Steve Cronin pushed a Davis free kick onto the bar in the 26th minute.

Galaxy attacks were largely restricted to a well-worked third minute move slickly begun by David Beckham and an Edson Buddle header that went wide in first half stoppage time.

The Dynamo ended the half with 10 shots to the Galaxy’s five.

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Galaxy-Dynamo at Home Depot Center

Good evening from Victoria Street where the green paint is gone from the field and the turf looks vastly improved over the Toronto game last weekend.

Injuries have enforced changes for the (1-2-0) Galaxy tonight, Although goalkeeper Steve Cronin, suffering from a left groin strain, passed a late fitness test, denying Josh Wicks the opportunity to make his MLS debut.

The back line remains the same: Sean Franklin and Greg Vanney in the center of defense with Mike Randolph expected to overlap from left back and Chris Klein playing on the right.

Josh Tudela replaces Ely Allen (right hamstring strain) wide on the left, with David Beckham on the right and Brandon McDonald in the middle alongside Alan Gordon, who drops into midfield to deputize for Brazilian Alvaro Pires, out with a left knee issue. Incidentally, Gordon hasn’t played in midfield since the first game of the Galaxy’s preseason Asian tour, when he scored from the deep lying position.

New signing Joey Franchino is on the bench.

The (0-1-2) Dynamo, winless on the road so far this season, will see former Gretna goalkeeper Tony Kaig, 34, continue to deputize for veteran Pat Onstad (shoulder) in goal.

Wade Barrett, (201 MLS starts as of tonight and counting), Bobby Boswell, Patrick Ianni and Richard Mulrooney are arrayed across the back line, while Ricardo Clark (done with his lengthy suspension) makes his second successive start in midfield, behind Dwayne De Rosario. Brad Davis and Brian Mullan patrol the flanks, with Bring Ching and 21-year-old Argentine striker Franco Caraccio providing the one-two punch up front.

Defender Eddie Robinson is out, missing the first game of a three match suspension, while Craig Waibel (hamstring) is also absent.

The game is on Fox Sports West, by the way.

I’ll be back at half time.

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Joey Fights His Way Back to LA



Most recently, Franchino was rumored to be one of two Revs players dressed in Yankees gear who went to a Red Sox game between the teams, got drunk and was thrown out of the stadium.

Perhaps his most impressive stats: 52 yellow cards, two red cards in 210 regular season games.

Fighter. Drinker. Enforcer.

Like a character out of The Sopranos, 31-year-old Joey is back for a second go-around (you got a problem with that?) for the Galaxy in exchange for a 2009 second round draft pick.

From the Galaxy press release:

Franchino was selected by the Galaxy in the third round of the 1998 MLS College Draft and played 49 games for the club, helping the Galaxy reach the 1999 MLS Cup. In May 2000, he was selected by the Revolution in a special draft that followed the Galaxys acquisition of forward Luis Hernandez. Franchino would go on to play in 162 games for the Revs during his eight years with the club, placing him second in New England history in all-time games played


To make room, defender Michael Gavin was moved to the Galaxy’s developmental roster.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the Weekend

There’s a full slate of soccer this weekend in Southern California, with both the Galaxy and Chivas USA playing home games at Home Depot Center in Carson.

The Galaxy are up first, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against defending MLS champions, the Houston Dynamo. With the Beckham buzz apparently wearing off, tickets are discounted 35 percent, a free Galaxy hat is on offer and pop-punk band The Burning Tree Project play a pre-game concert.

Check out the band below.

Want to see the Galaxy free? The reserve team plays at 1 p.m. Sunday against their Houston counterparts at the HDC.

Injury-riddled Chivas USA, meanwhile plays FC Dallas at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Want to see Chivas USA for free? The club’s Under-16 and Under-18 teams play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday against Real So Cal at Agoura High School in Agoura Hills.

Incidentally, the Galaxy, which has been slow to get its youth programs going as required by MLS, launches two teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program this fall.

Also progressing at a glacial pace has been the Galaxy’s entry into the new Women’s Professional Soccer league that aims to start play next year. Rumors a month ago that Galaxy parent company Anschutz Entertainment Group was looking to sell the unnamed team before it even starts play are apparently false. The team is accepting $25 deposits for season tickets.

In other women’s soccer news, Loyola Marymount University Thursday announced the signing of two more players: Midfielder Jaide Timm-Garcia (Desert Christian High, Lancaster) and goalkeeper Katie Graul (Santiago Canyon College).

Finally, MLS Commissioner Don Garber belatedly joins the blogging party, penning “The Commissioner Speaks” every other Friday beginning at noon today. But will he actually say anything?

And, if you only watch one game this weekend, check out Manchester United against Brad Friedel’s Blackburn Rovers at 9 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel.

I’ll be blogging from the HDC at both MLS games this weekend, as usual, by the way.

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Thursday Kicks: Soccer Journalism at its Worst & More

Mexico beat China 1-0 in Seattle Wednesday night in a largely meaningless game rendered even more inconsequential by this irrelevant story in today’s Seattle Times apparently written by the only Latino guy in the nation to never see a soccer game involving Mexico.

From Jos Miguel Romero we learn that Mexico has really loud fans just like the Seahawks (can we get through a soccer story without an unnecessary American sports reference, please) and that they even (gasp) throw plastic bottles (in Mexico those bottles are usually filled with a recycled liquid).

Sadly, patronizing stories like this written for non-soccer fans are not a thing of the past and just reinforce how out of touch many newspapers are with their readers, most of whom do not regard soccer as some alien novelty act. You need to get out of Renton more Romero.

While I’m on a rant, things don’t get much better over at USA Today, which manages to suck the life out of today’s D.C. United-Columbus Crew game (live at 5 p.m. on ESPN2) with the following soulless slab of stats-laden sterility that passes for a game preview:

Playing their third match in eight days and seventh since March 12 – including a CONCACAF Champions Cup game – United (1-2-0) lost 4-0 at Real Salt Lake on Saturday to drop to 0-2 on the road.

United went 6-5-4 on the road in 2007 en route to finishing with an MLS-best 55 points, but they’ve been outscored 6-0 away from home this year.

D.C.’s lone win came 4-1 over Toronto FC on April 5 at RFK Stadium.


Though United went 10-2-3 at home in 2007, they’ll be facing a Columbus team that was 2-1-0 against them in 2007. The Crew won 3-2 at RFK Stadium on Oct. 20 in the most recent meeting.

United had just three shots on goal and six total shots against Salt Lake. D.C. will be looking to avoid being shut out in a third straight road match for the first time since going scoreless in five straight away from home from April 15-June 12, 2005.

They couldn’t cram another number in?

For perspective and context (and a reporter who uses numbers for actual journalistic effect), let’s turn to the excellent Steven Goff over at The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most candid interview I’ve seen so far with former Galaxy midfielder Santino Quaranta (now back at D.C.) includes this excerpt:

I never really did the right things just in life, I couldnt really deal with life in lifes terms you know what I mean? I was trying to juggle being a father, being a husband, being the guy that everybody looks at to go out and party. It was a lot of fear. I knew that things were going bad and I knew that everything was slipping away from me and that I couldnt control that. It was out of my control, that was the best I could do at that point.

Read the whole thing here.

Finally, perhaps the best reason to check in on tonight’s MLS game for Los Angeles-area fans is to monitor the continuing progress of Rolling Hillls Estates’ Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers
who has 15 shots in just three games, more than any other player in the league. Rogers scored two goals, including the game-winner, in the Crews 4-3 victory over Chivas USA last weekend and is rapidly maturing into a dangerous, creative player. In sum, he has five MLS goals in 13 games.

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Mapping MLS

Good morning class.

Today’s topic: geography.

Being married to map geek (known professionally as a geographic information systems analyst) means acquiring an appreciation for the world of cartography.

MLS recently issued an interesting map showing the cosmopolitan origins of its players, which makes even more interesting reading when compared to last year’s version.

The most striking difference: the number of Argentines in MLS (10 as of March 26) has now exceeded the number of Brazilians (9); last year there were only five Argentines compared to eight Brazilians in the league.

The importation of foreign talent means more competition for Americans to make MLS rosters. This year 229 Americans found places on MLS rosters, compared to 218 last year. And that’s with an additional team in the league.

That’s raised the quality of play, most observers agree, but it also has repercussions for the development of young American talent.

Still, attendance is up.

Finally, with the 39th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon approaching, here’s a fun map that puts his lunar journey into perspective for soccer fans.

Class dismissed.

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Tuesday’s Column & More

Here’s Tuesday column on why American soccer fans should be backing EPL team Fulham.

*The Galaxy signed two developmental players Monday – defenders Vardan Adzemian (Ventura County Fusion) and Scott Bolkan (Stanford) – and promptly shipped both to the USL Portland Timbers to gain experience.
*Former Cuban Under-23 National Team players Yordany Alvarez, Yenier Bermudez and Jose Manuel Miranda, will continue to train with the Galaxy through the end of this week at least after impressing the coaching staff.
*The San Jose Earthquakes signed Loyola Marymount University senior defender Adam Sloustcher to a developmental deal after watching him play in a reserve game against the Galaxy earlier this month.

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Galaxy-Toronto Post-Game

I had a choice: listen to a droning lawnmower in the outdoor HDC press box while blogging.

Or opt for the Wi-Fi at the air-conditioned Red Car microbrewery in Old Torrance (and watch the game again on delay).

No contest.

Just watch out for the Turbo Porter.

Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit lamented the “sloppy” defending, “unnecessary” goals and generally crappy finishing that led to the 3-2 defeat he described as a “huge disappointment.”

“It was just one of those days,” he said.

But he insisted the Galaxy were the superior team for most of the game and observed that Toronto had three chances and successfully converted all of them.

Landon Donovan was contrite.

“I’m disappointed in myself because having three chances like that would have changed the game,” he said. “If we were a little better in front of both goals we probably would have had a comfortable victory.”

David Beckham was in a bit of a combative mood in the post-game press conference, but then for the second consecutive home game was subjected to a annoying question from one of the assembled media. Last game it was about the relationship between Beckham’s kids and Tom Cruise’s child (?); this time a radio reporter took an unnecessarily adversarial position regarding Beckham’s midfield contribution (marginal at best, but then Beckham undoubtedly recognized that).

Then, in somewhat of a contradiction, Beckham laid out what had gone wrong today:

“When you don’t keep the ball and you don’t pass the ball well, it brings all sorts of problems and we lost our shape in the second half.

Um, so pretty much everything went wrong, huh?

Then he ripped the media for over-reacting to the results so far.

“We’re three games into the season and maybe people are starting to panic too much.”

Hmm, let’s take stock.

The Galaxy got destroyed by a weakened Colorado Rapids, squeak by the expansion Earthquakes and lose to last year’s worst team in MLS.

Who us? Panic?

One diversion was Beckham’s cameo as a central defender in the 70th minute, when he brought down Jeff Cunningham as the last man back. That’s a red card offense.

“It was definitely a foul,” Cunningham said. “I think it would have been quite harsh to give him a red card to be honest.”

Gullit knew Becks was fortunate though.

“We were lucky there,” he said. “It was the only luck we had today.”

And so did Beckham.

“Thankfully, we got away with that one,” he said.

Quote of the Day comes from Cunningham regarding the trade rumors (again?) surrounding him.

“My career has always been on the move,” he said. “I pack light.”

Game details from a Canadian perspective here.

And here’s the Daily Breeze/Daily News version.

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Final Result: Galaxy-Toronto

This was one of those games that wasn’t as good as the 3-2 score suggests.

And the 20,426 allegedly in attendance let the Galaxy know about their insipid performance, boos cascading down from the stands at game’s end.

The Galaxy did indeed pay the price for squandering chances, with Toronto’s Jeff Cunningham scoring an 88th minute-winner, turning a hapless Greg Vanney around 180 degrees to rifle it home. Hopefully Ely Allen, who missed a golden opportunity three minutes from time when he took an unnecessary second touch a couple of yards from goal and had the ball poked off his foot, will take note.

The Galaxy were forced to play catch-up for much of the half, Toronto’s New Zealand striker Jarrod Smith collecting his first MLS goal in the 53rd minute, when Steve Cronin could only parry a bullet of a free kick from Fontana’s Maurice Edu. Vanney, continuing to show his age, had given away the free kick, incidentally.

The Galaxy evened the game when Toronto’s Marco Velez handled in the box in the 57th minute and Landon Donovan scored from the resulting penalty kick.

More after the press conference.

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