Donovan Quotes

Here’s Landon Donovan after today’s Galaxy practice:

On following the Galaxy while playing for the U.S. national team: “I was watching like every other fan, online.”

On the Galaxy being in first place: “It’s early. But this can help us if we get home-field advantage.”

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Beckham Quotes

Beat writer Scott Wolf will contribute to the 100 Percent Soccer blog while yours truly is otherwise engaged.

Here’s David Beckham after today’s Galaxy practice:

On the return of Landon Donovan: “It’s always great to have all of your teammates back. It’s important to carry on this run.”

On being able to score goals in Donovan’s absence: “That was one of the worries, but not from the players or the team. As long as we have confidence in each other, there’s a good chance of us scoring goals.”

On Euro 2008: “I haven’t seen much of it. The time difference is tough. It’s still something I don’t enjoy (watching without England). I’ve seen the majority of Spain because I have friends playing.”

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Friday Football: Weekend Preview

Hot soccer, hot weather.

Two of the best teams in MLS, the Galaxy – who sit in first in the West – and second place Columbus in the East clash Saturday at Home Depot Center. I’ll have a complete preview of the game Saturday.

Things are heating up for local PDL teams, too, as the season hits the halfway mark, while in a case of bad timing the Ventura County Fusion leave the cool air of coastal Ventura for the steamier Conejo Valley for their game tonight against the San Jose Frogs.

In other PDL games in the Los Angeles area this weekend:
On Friday – Orange County Blue Star at Lancaster Rattlers at 7 p.m. at Pete Knight High.
San Francisco Seals at Los Angeles Legends at 7:30 p.m. at A.P.U. Cougar Stadium.

Saturday – San Francisco Seals at Southern California Seahorses at 7 p.m. at La Mirada High.

Sunday – Orange County Blue Star at San Fernando Valley Quakes at 7:05 p.m. at Calabasas High.

In the WPSL Saturday – Ajax America Women v West Coast FC at noon at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates.
Claremont Stars v Los Angeles Rampage 5: 30 p.m. at Claremont High.

Sunday – Los Angeles Rampage v Ajax America Women at 5:30 p.m. at Granada Hills.

Finally, former U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team coach John Ellinger has resurfaced at Dallas after leaving Real Salt Lake.

Stay cool.

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Chivas USA Post-Game

The biggest crowd of the year so far for a Chivas USA home game – 24,143 – saw a 2-0 win by the hosts Thursday over the Chicago Fire that was thoroughly entertaining to watch.

Actually, it was fun to ask (most of) the participants questions about it too, although Chicago players were obviously not happy.

Here’s Sasha Kljestan on his goal celebration that incorporated a Blanco goal celebration routine:

“I was sitting with my friend Benny Feilhaber yesterday and he said if I scored I had to do something about Blanco. He’s obviously a bit of a rival for us. No disrespect to Blanco, he’s obviously a great player. But I like his (goal) celebration, so I thought I would add it into my little karate celebration. I thought it was kind of funny.”

On the crowd:

“It was probably 50-50 out there tonight, if not more Blanco fans. I was trying to get our fans involved early on. We ended up getting the lead and I was happy the fans were into it. … We haven’t had the best home crowds here so far this year. … The feel inside the stadium just makes the game a little faster. We get pumped. We’re excited about these big games and we want to please our fans. Everything just gets a little more buzzed almost when you play a game like that. It changes the game.”

On the second half:

“We knew what the second half was going to be like and I thought we dealt with it very well. (Goalkeeper) Brad (Guzan) didn’t have to make any huge saves. It was a good team effort.”

On his attacking runs in the first half:

“Going at Diego Gutierrez was something I felt I could do tonight, so I tried to make the best of it, tried to make those runs behind him. Just try to use my youth, I guess, a little bit against him. It worked on the one play for the goal so that was good.”

Jesse Marsch on what the game meant to Chivas USA:

“This is a big victory for us. More than anything we need to get on a roll. … I hope we can play like this more often. I hope we break through here and capture the momentum.”

Last year Marsch was not happy with the calls Blanco was getting and the refereeing and although he tried to be diplomatic, was similarly unhappy this year, calling one hand ball called against him (Blanco struck the ball) “shaky”:

“I’m just running and the ball hit me. .. I have some issues with the referee, but I’d rather not air them. … In this league I’ve always seen some of the bigger names get calls. … Good players get calls sometimes. Refs are fans …. The Blanco thing I think is an issue a lot of teams would bring up about the referees.”

Chicago Coach Dennis Hamlett on why his team didn’t respond in the second half:

“We felt when it was 11 v 11 we had some very good looks that we didn’t finish and now you’d think having a man advantage you were going to get some more chances. We weren’t all on the same page as far as getting the ball out wide because the space was there. We just kept forcing things down the middle, playing balls in the air. When they have two guys who are pretty good in the air with (central defenders Claudio) Suarez and (Bobby) Burling it just played into their hands. We needed to get the balls out wide and create some one on one’s and whip some balls in. You’re going to create some chances because that’s what the defence is giving you.”

There was none of that a two goal lead is the most dangerous one in soccer from Preki:

“We were very professional, we knew how to play the game with a two-goal lead – a very good performance by us.”

On Nagamura’s red card:

“I thought it might have been a little bit harsh. I thought his first yellow was a little bit harsh because it was his second foul of the game .. I advised him to be a little bit smarter next time, you can’t take a risk like that.”

On goalscorer Justin Braun:

“The kid is working his butt off. He has a good mentality. He works hard. He looks for the ball in tough spots. For a guy who was playing amateur soccer three months ago he’s doing extremely well and can only get better.”

The game story is here.


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Final Result: Chicago Fire at Chivas USA

The second half was exactly as one might expect with Chivas USA up two goals and the Fire enjoying a man advantage; constant Chicago pressure, with Chivas resolutely defending.

Still, the Fire didn’t boast too many clear-cut chances that would allow it to cut the 2-0 deficit, with shots going wide or goalmouth scrambles going nowhere.

One could even argue Chivas USA had the better opportunities, Sasha Kljestan almost snatching one with the end of regulation time looming.

The game undoubtedly suffered from the ejection, but the crowd of 24,143 sounded as if they savored every moment from Blanco’s yellow card to Kljestan’s mocking impression of Blanco’s goal celebration after the Chivas USA midfielder had scored in the first half.

The win lifted Chivas USA to a tie with Houston for second in the Western Conference behind the Galaxy.

More later from the locker rooms.

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Half Time: Chicago Fire at Chivas USA

First off, this is a pulsating game, the players being spurred on by a large and boisterous crowd, which makes all the difference.

Chivas USA is leading 2-0 with Ante Razov playing a massive role in creating both, but Paulo Nagamura was sent off after receiving a second yellow card just before the end of the half, likely changing the whole complexion of the game.

Chivas USA had the better of the first half, landing four shots on target to the Fire’s one, but Chicago have also looked promising going forward, with John Thorrington linking up well with Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

Razov and Sacha Kljestan combined for a give and go for the opening goal in the seventh minute, Kljestan outrunning a Fire defender to fire the ball home from about seven yards.

The second arrived six minutes later, Francisco Mendoza sending a ball down the left win to Razov who sent a quick cross over that was met by Justin Braun at close range. It was the second goal of his short MLS career.

Chad Barrett had a chance to pull one back four minutes after that, receiving a ball in what looked like an offside position that allowed him to get behind the entire Chivas USA defense and forced goalkeeper Brad Guzan to come outside his box in an unsuccessful effort to stop him. But Barrett was unable to apply the finishing touch with the goal open and the Chivas USA defense scrambling back.

Incidentally, Legion 1908 arrived in two buses with a police escort and requested tighter security around them, fearing they could be targeted by Club America fans.

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Chicago Fire-Chivas USA at Home Depot Center

Nothing like a healthy hatred for Cuauhtemoc Blanco to bring out the Chivas USA fans.

A crowd in the low 20,000 range is expected tonight, which would be the biggest crowd for Chivas USA so far this year.

Brad Guzan has returned in goal for Chivas USA (4-6-2) from international duty, relegating backup Dan Kennedy to the bench.

The defense sees the return of Claudio Suarez in favor of Jim Curtin partnering Loyola Marymount product Bobby Burling in the middle, while Cary Talley and Francisco Mendoza retain their full back slots. Jonathan Bornstein, who started the last game as a forward before being substituted at half time, apparently can’t win back his left back spot and is on the bench, too.

In midfield, former Swiss international Raphael Wicky is preferred to Atiba Harris in midfield, while Sacha Kljesten (who also will join up with the U.S. team), Jesse Marsch and Paulo Nagamura start as usual.

Up front it’s Ante Razov and Justin Braun, who impressed Preki in last week’s loss to Real Salt Lake.

Jorge Flores and Shavar Thomas are also on the bench.

Chicago (6-4-1) starts Chad Barrett and Chris Rolfe up front, both of whom we learned earlier today, are in the U.S. squad for the Barbados game this weekend.

John Thorrington, who grew up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and has also been called in, starts in midfield alongside Blanco, Logan Pause and Justin Mapp.

The defenders: Brandon “I’ll take a vowel for $500 please, Alex” Prideaux, C.J. Brown, Bakery Soumare and Diego Gutierrez man the back line in front of goalkeeper Jon Busch.

The game, in case you forget, is on ESPN2.

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Chivas USA Gameday

So my wife is taking the day off work to watch the Portugal-Germany Euro 2008 quarterfinal (11:30 a.m. ESPN).

I’m going to work in part because of tonight’s Chivas USA-Chicago Fire game at Home Depot Center (7 o’clock ESPN2).

What’s wrong with this picture?

A preview of the MLS game tonight is here.

Meanwhile, as U.S. Coach Bob Bradley tries mightily to persuade MLS clubs to release players for the largely pointless second leg of the World Cup qualifier Sunday against Barbados, names are filtering out although the complete squad apparently won’t be released until Friday.

There have already been Chris Seitz and Danny Szetela sightings at the U.S. camp in Florida and the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Arroyave is now reporting on his blog that a trio of Fire players including John Thorrington (Chadwick School) and Chad Barrett (UCLA) will join the team after the Chivas USA game.

Over in Galaxyland there have been sightings in Carson of the mercurial Clint Mathis, former Dutch international Edgar Davids and um, Brian Perk. More at the official Galaxy blog.

Meanwhile, I had hoped to ignore this one (much as I did the baseless rumors about a certain Brazilian joining the team – I’ll let you guess the name).

The only problem with the story?

Galaxy officials told me Wednesday they don’t have a player with a Brit wife. Except David Beckham. And he’s too busy selling underwear to go to mighty Scunthorpe.

Lastly, as expected, the U.S. women beat Italy 2-0 overnight in Korea and advances to Saturday’s Peace Cup final against Canada. More here.

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Blanco Eve & More

Chicago Fire star Cuauhtmoc Blanco isn’t doing a pre-game press conference as he did last year to take advantage of the post-Lakers hangover, so the nationally televised 7:30 p.m. game Thursday against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center will come in with a whimper rather than a snarl.

I’m guessing the hope is Chivas USA doesn’t have a pathetically small crowd on ESPN2 before Thursday’s prime time game.

Both teams are seeking to end two-game losing streaks and free foam fingers are on offer for fans. (Yes!).

From the (edited) Chivas USA press release regarding defender Claudio Suarez in his final season as a pro:

On Wednesday, Chivas USA announced they would be celebrating The Year of the Emperor’, honoring the 20-year career of Surez.

Known as ‘El Emperador’ (‘The Emperor’), Surez was for years a mainstay as Mexico’s captain, and is currently number two overall in international appearances among male soccer players worldwide, having played for Mexico 178 times from 1992-2006.

Surez was also a member of Mexico ‘s World Cup squads in 1994, 1998 and 2006. He was a key player at top Mexican First Division clubs Pumas, Chivas and Tigres, in addition to captaining Chivas USA in MLS since 2006.

Starting with Thursday’s match versus the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA will display a series of video tributes prior to its MLS home games at Home Depot Center highlighting important moments from Surez’s career.

In July, during the lead-up to Chivas USA’s international debut in SuperLiga, Surez will officially launch his new biography, ‘The Story of a Warrior’, which traces his career.

In August, Surez will throw out the first pitch before the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Meanwhile, a suburban Chicago newspaper caught up with Chivas USA striker Ante Razov, who reflected on his career in the Windy City.

In other news, the U.S. Women’s National Team faces Italy in Korea in the Peace Cup early Thursday morning our time.

From the U.S. Soccer press release;

The USA needs a win or a tie against Italy to win Group B and earn a spot in the Peace Queen Cup championship game against Canada, which won Group A today with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand. The USA would qualify for the championship game before kicking off against Italy should Brazil and Australia tie in the match that will begin at 2 p.m. local. The USA won its first two Peace Queen Cup matches by one goal, downing Australia, 2-1, and Brazil, 1-0. Italy has dropped both of it matches so far, falling 2-1 to Brazil and 3-0 to Australia.

Finally, Josh Green, a former assistant coach at Minnesota State, Iowa, and Pepperdine, has been named to the same position at Loyola Marymount University, with an emphasis toward recruiting.

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Tuesday Wrap: Chivas USA Update & More

Chivas USA learned Tuesday they will play their third group game in SuperLiga against the New England Revolution at 5 p.m. Sunday July 20 at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium.

If I recall correctly, Cal State Dominguez Hills, upon whose land Home Depot Center sits, restricts the number of games on “week nights” on campus and Chivas USA came up against a number game.

Of course, the Chivas USA SuperLiga game against an American opponent will draw fewer fans than those against Mexican teams.

Chivas USA probably could play the game at the HDC’s Track & Field Stadium and comfortably accommodate all fans. But then the lights would bug the neighbors and that’s a no-no, too.

From the (edited) Chivas USA press release:

Chivas USA opens its participation in the 2008 SuperLiga on Sunday, July 13, facing Santos Laguna, the current champions of the Mexican First Division, at Home Depot Center. The Red-and-White will then face 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup winner Pachuca, also at Home Depot Center, on July 16.

Chivas USA hosts Cuauhtmoc Blanco and Chicago live at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2.

Meanwhile, the Deseret News caught up with former Real Salt Lake defender Cary Talley (presumably before he was nailed for the lone and winning goal his old team scored against Chivas USA last weekend) here.

After demolishing Barbados 8-0 Sunday in Carson, U.S. Soccer apparently decided not to continue to piss off some MLS teams and released 10 players from the squad ahead of Sunday’s return World Cup qualifying leg against Barbados.

From the (edited) U.S. Soccer press release:

The 10 departed players are Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Steve Cherundulo (Hannover 96), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids) and Matt Reis (New England Revolution).

Six out of the 10 players started in Sunday’s first leg match against Barbados and three players notched five of the eight U.S. goals. Dempsey’s goal put his name in the record books, scoring the fastest goal for the U.S. in FIFA World Cup qualifying history, just 53 seconds into the match.

Answer to Monday’s trivia question from the (edited) U.S. Soccer press release:

Former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation Werner Fricker was honored during a ceremony on Sunday before the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifying match against Barbados.

A memorial located at the northeast corner of Mooch Myernick Field at Home Depot Center was unveiled during the ceremony. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati unveiled the bronze bust and presented a commemorative plaque to Werner Fricker’s children: Werner Fricker Jr., Marlene Fricker and Janet Malofiy (nee Fricker).

Werner Fricker, who passed away in 2001, served as President of the U.S. Soccer Federation from 1984 to 1990, during which time he led the successful bid to obtain the 1994 World Cup for the United States.

Fricker was born in Yugoslavia and raised in Austria, but emigrated to the United States with his family in 1952. He lived his adult life in Pennsylvania, where he was a star midfielder and captain for the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia soccer club from 1954 to 1969, leading the team to the National Amateur Cup in 1965.

He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1992.

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