Football Friday: Guzan, Kamara and Vegas

Running late today so just time to pass along a couple of items:

*Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan finds out next Friday whether he can complete his move to England’s Aston Villa.

*Fed up with waiting for Lawndale’s Kei Kamara to find the net on a regular basis, the San Jose Earthquakes have punted the Cal State Dominguez Hills product to the Houston Dynamo where he will hook up with equally productive (ahem) former Galaxy forward Nate Jaqua.

*MLS confirmed Thursday it intends to expand by two teams in 2011. The usual suspects: Atlanta, Las Vegas, Montreal, a second team in the New York area, Ottawa, Portland, St. Louis and Vancouver. Bet I’m not the only Southern California soccer fan pulling for a successful Vegas bid (can you say road trip?) for a casino-stadium with a retractable roof.

*The Galaxy play at 4 p.m. Sunday in Dallas (live on Prime), while Chivas USA is off this weekend.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Email Of The Day

Here’s one response to my column today on David Beckham.

”Funny thing about American sports heroes, they have to perform to earn/retain their status. What has this over-hyped boy done except bundle away a lot of foolishly spent cash?”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

MLS All-Star Gameday

The MLS All-Star Game airs live at 4 p.m. on ESPN from Toronto where the inaugural visit of David Beckham is naturally the big story (the natives have missed out on seeing Golden Balls twice before).

Our own Scott Wolf though is singularly unimpressed with Becks’ effect on the sport so far.

EPL team West Ham United provides the opposition with a roster that includes England striker Dean Ashton and former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.

How good is Ashton? Check out his goal against Manchester United last season.

Meanwhile, blog Soccer By Ives provides the rumor of the day with the word that Norwegian club Rosenberg have bid $1 million for Galaxy striker Edson Buddle (although Buddle knew nothing about it). Landon Donovan also reacted to those rumors that have him more interested than ever in a return to Europe by saying, well, exactly what he’s always said: that he’s open to the idea and no move is imminent.

And while we’re talking trades it looks like soon-to-be former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan will have a more experienced American in front of him in the pecking order as expected.

Lastly, blogger Dan Loney picks up on my criticism of the game Tuesday and provides his own view.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

MLS All-Star Rumors, Stats & More

While speculation continues over the Galaxy’s reported interest in former EPL star Nolberto Solano (see previous post), another rumor has resurfaced: the future of Landon Donovan.

The source of this one was two-fold.

Donovan was quoted by England’s Sky Sports as saying:

“The older I get and the more I play, the more I’m yearning for that highest level I can play at. I think the Premiership would be the best place to play.”

The Web site Yanks Abroad further stirred the pot when it quoted Donovan’s agent Richard Motzkin as saying “sure,” Donovan would consider a move overseas by Aug. 31, providing an actual date that lends a sense of urgency to the story.

A couple of observations.

First that quote by Donovan is not new. I’ve heard him say pretty much the same thing annually since he returned from his aborted stint in Germany.

Donovan loves Southern California. Still, if any club outside Germany dangled a big enough contract at him (his MLS paycheck is relatively modest by EPL standards) you can bet he would consider it.

The second report is more notable for what it doesn’t say than what it says. The Yanks Abroad report is technically correct, but they didn’t need to run to Motzkin to get the Aug. 31 date.

Why?

That’s when the European transfer window closes so Donovan would have to get traded by then or wait until the New Year.

So where does that leave us (and Donovan)?

Probably in exactly the same place as last week. Or last month. Or last year.

And remember, if MLS sold Jozy Altidore for $10 million as rumored, how much would they demand for Donovan?

That said Donovan will certainly be in the shop window at Thursday’s MLS All-Star Game (live at 4 p.m. on ESPN).

ESPN observed today that:

“ESPN International will provide live coverage of the match in 87 countries and territories reaching more than 17 million television homes. Tape-delayed presentation of the 2008 Pepsi MLS All-Star Game will also be distributed in 19 countries and territories reaching over 22 million homes.

While we’re talking numbers, the one-year anniversary of David Beckham’s arrival in the U.S. has prompted a small tsunami of stories summing up his effect on the game here.

Perhaps the best though is one the fewest number of people have seen because it appeared in the subscription-only trade magazine the SportsBusiness Journal.

So for those of you who haven’t (and can’t) see the story here are the salient stats from it:
*”Television viewership on ESPN2 rose 17 percent to an average of 289,000 viewers over 15 matches in 2008, compared with 246,000 viewers over 13 matches in 2007. Ratings remained flat at a 0.2 cable rating.”

*To put that in context the magazine observed “ESPN2 drew stronger ratings for its (midday) Euro 2008 coverage. … Those games averaged a 0.6 cable rating and 673,000 viewers.”

*”Average attendance for MLS over the first half of the season — which will be Beckham’s first complete season with the league — increased 8.8 percent to reach a 12-year high of 16,378.”

(To put that in perspective, those figures are skewed because of the massive 40,000-plus crowds Beckham draws in places like New York.

*”Beckham’s Galaxy led the league in average attendance with 22,586 fans through 10 home games at midseason this year. Only three other teams — Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and D.C. United — averaged more than 15,000 fans a game.”

Returning to the subject of the MLS All-Star Game, after an altercation between West Ham United and Columbus Crew fans at a recent friendly between the two teams authorities will closely monitor the contingent of English fans arriving in Canada for Thursday’s game.

If you read my rant Tuesday on the All-Star game (be sure and check out the comments at the end of the piece) you know how feel about it. I’m not the only one who questions its value.

Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers didn’t sound too broken up about missing the game. But then, he’s going to the Olympics.

Finally, former Los Angeles Times Chivas USA beat writer Jaime Crdenas has bid an eloquent farewell to the newspaper (and possibly sports journalism).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Nobby Solano & the Galaxy

Soccer writer Scott Wolf expanded on his earlier post on this blog about the possibility of the Galaxy signing Nolberto Solano (but frankly, I like saying Nobby) with a story today in the newspaper.

I’ve always admired Peuervian Solano, a player with panache and verve, but let’s hope if the Galaxy do sign him they have more success than they did with Portuguese Abel Xavier (so inept he was dumped even with a guaranteed contract) and Nigerian Celestine Babayaro (last seen trying out with EPL team Portsmouth) who was cut before the season even began.

Ex-EPL foreign stars just haven’t turned out so well, have they?

While we’re at it, what’s with the Galaxy’s lack of disclosure about Solano?

If they’re thinking about signing him, why don’t they just say “we hope to reach an agreement on personal terms.” If not, say so. A “no comment,” (which is what the Galaxy have said so far) essentially means “we’re talking to him, we just don’t want to tell you.”

Silly, considering (and correct me if I’m wrong) Solano is a free agent anyway.

Are the Galaxy worried other MLS teams will figure out who they’re talking to? Too late.

The lack of disclosure until every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed is counter productive. Let’s face it Galaxy, most sports fans don’t care about you anyway. Throw a bone to those who do.

Updated: this video shows what Ruud Gullit (a former Newcastle United coach) likely sees in Solano -

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Olympic Games Soccer Web Site Launched

NBC has unveiled what looks the most comprehensive Web site I’ve seen yet that covers the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments at next months Olympics.

Hey, you’d come with something like that as well if you’d invested jillions of dollars for the rights to the Olympics

Check it out here.

NBC has announced similarly comprehensive television coverage for soccer (although given the number of channels they’re using the Web site is probably a must-have resource to figure out what’s on where when):

NBC Universal will launch a channel exclusively dedicated to full coverage of Men’s and Women’s Soccer at the 2008 Olympic Games. A total of 32 Men’s and 26 Women’s Soccer Games will be shown in their entirety on the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, in addition to coverage on USA Network, MSNBC and live streaming on NBCOlympics.com. The seven NBC Networks — NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD — will provide an unprecedented 3,600 hours of coverage, all in high definition. NBCOlympics.com will also provide over 3,000 hours of on-demand access to full event replays and extensive highlights. The NBC Olympic Soccer Channel is available on most major cable, satellite and telephone companies and distributors.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The Week Ahead

*The alleged MLS All-Star game is 4 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. I’ll have more on that in Tuesday’s column.

*The Galaxy play at 4 p.m. Sunday in Dallas (live on Prime).

*Chivas USA plays next Aug. 2 in Chicago.

*From the Women’s Premier Soccer League:

Saturday at Esperanza High (Anaheim):
5:30 p.m. – South champion West Coast F.C. (7-2-1) plays Sonoma County F.C. Sol (6-3-1).
7:30 p.m. – North Division winner California (10-0-0) plays second-place south side, 2007 U.S. Open Cup champion Ajax America (6-3-1).

The winners of the Pacific Semifinals face off the next day in the conference final at 6:30 p.m. for the final berth in the WPSL Championship.

*From the USL:

United Soccer Leagues announced Monday the Premier Development League and W-League playoff schedules set to begin midweek with the Divisional Rounds and continue with the Conference Championship tournaments on the weekend. The 19-team PDL playoff field begins play today with the W-League’s 13-team postseason field starting Wednesday.

PDL:
Conference Semifinal Saturday – Vancouver vs San Fernando Valley Quakes – 4:30 p.m. Fresno.

The Pali Blues won the W-League regular season title and a berth in the league semifinals in Virginia Beach.

*Noted: The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team beat Germany 3-0 today to win the Nordic Cup. Bruins Valerie Henderson and Tina DiMartino played the entire game.

*Also, from the Galaxy press release:

The Galaxy Rios U-20′s clinched the USL Super-20 League Pacific Southern California League title Saturday with a 6-0 win over Riverside MGFM. The Rios finished the season with a league best 22 points from a 7-2-1 record, while outscoring opponents 41-7 en route to the title.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email