I couldn’t resist these items collected in the last week or so. All strange. All true.
For instance, you’ll be relieved to know South Africa’s tourism authorities are looking out for the fans when they indicated earlier this week they wanted to legalize prostitution during the 2010 World Cup.
In truth, the next item is more sad than funny, but it still falls under the category: “And you thought MLS refs were bad.”
Finally, here’s a story brave enough to ask the question: What do you do when a moose interrupts a soccer game?
Sounds like the New England Revolution had a strange flight to Southern California today for Sunday’s SuperLiga game against Chivas USA:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles was diverted to Oklahoma City on Friday after a passenger stripped, put his clothes back on and then tried to open an emergency exit door before being subdued by members of a pro soccer team and others, the FBI said.
American Flight 725, a Boeing 757 with 151 passengers and seven crew on board, arrived in Oklahoma City at 1:35 p.m. CDT and was back in the air an hour later on the way to Los Angeles, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.
The passenger was removed from the plane in Oklahoma City and was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said.
Members of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer were among those who grabbed the passenger near an exit door, Johnson said.
Tie wraps were placed on the man, whose name was not immediately released, he said.
Stacey James, a spokesman for the New England Patriots, which shares a common owner with the Revolution, said three Revolution staff members helped restrain the unruly passenger: former U.S. international Mike Burns, vice president of player personnel; assistant coach Gwynne Williams; and general manager Craig Tornberg.
According to Johnson, the passenger emerged from a bathroom without his clothes on.
“He was asked to go back to the bathroom to put his clothes on and he did and went back to his seat and then allegedly attempted to open an aircraft emergency exit door,” Johnson said.
“Members of the Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution, were on the flight. They were able to subdue him,” he said.
The New England Revolution plays Chivas USA at Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.
The Galaxy waived defender Abel Xavier today, which is not surprising since he and Coach Ruud Gullit had a poor relationship.
“We don’t have any kind of relationship, unfortunately,” Xavier said. “I don’t accept any coach who thinks I pretend to be injured.”
Gullit questioned whether Xavier was actually injured last week when he sat out the game against Chivas USA.
Updated: By the way, Xavier being waived means Argentine Eduardo Dominguez, 29, was placed on the active roster and is likely to play Saturday against the Red Bulls.
The Galaxy released some Xavier stats:
Xavier joined the Galaxy in June 2007 and appeared in 20 games during his 13 months with the club, including 10 matches this season. He started 19 of the 20 matches in which he appeared, playing 1,754 minutes while collecting two assists, five yellow cards and one red.
No word on just how many goals he was guilty of allowing the Galaxy to concede over that time though.
Another soccer-filled weekend is on tap, so let’s get to it.
*The Galaxy are out of town in New York where Claudio Reyna retired this week and the Red Bulls signed two South American midfielders who could make their debuts Saturday.
The game airs live at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel and a crowd of more than 45,000 is expected to turn out largely to see David Beckham who continues to prove why he’s nicknamed Golden Balls.
Need a reminder why so many people want to see the game? Check out the highlights from last year.
*Meanwhile, they’re expecting a similarly large boost in attendance in Kansas City on Sept. 13 when Becks and the Galaxy visit so the Wizards announced Thursday they are moving the game from the 10,000-capacity CommunityAmerica Ballpark to vast Arrowhead Stadium.
*Chivas USA are at home at 5 p.m. Sunday playing at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium in the third and final SuperLiga game (live on Telefutura) where three teams in Group B could finish tied with six points by the end of the weekend.
How complicated is the picture for qualification for the next round? Here it is broken down from a New England perspective courtesy of the Revolution, but it also tells you what Chivas USA need to do:
A win or a draw on Sunday would assure the Revolution first place in the group, while a Pachuca loss to Santos Laguna in the group’s other game would also secure New England’s passage to the next round. Even if the Revs lose to Chivas USA and Pachuca defeats Santos, the possibility still exists that the Revolution could advance to the competition’s final four, because in that case, New England, Chivas USA and Pachuca would all be tied atop the group with six points. If that happens, the group would be decided on goal difference, and the Revs (+2) currently have a better goal difference than both Chivas USA (0) and Pachuca (0).
*Meanwhile, Chivas USA defender/midfielder/forward Jonathan Bornstein of Los Alamitos was named as a replacement for Olympics-bound players in the MLS All-Star Game even though he’s missed plenty of games this season and has not quite found the form he did last year (yet).
Plenty of other players are more deserving of course, such as D.C. United’s Luciano Emilio (third in the league in scoring) or the Crew’s Guillermo Barros Schelotto (the MLS assist-leader who had another two plus a goal Thursday in Columbus’ 3-3 draw with Kansas City). Yet another reason to question the game’s credibility.
*Also, Chivas USA has had Amber Hernandez, a 15-year-old member of the South Valley Chivas Academy in Porterville called up to the Mexican Under-17 National Team for the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship that began Thursday in Trinidad & Tobago.
*In other youth soccer news, the Los Angeles FC Under-18 boys team (led by U-17/18 Coach of the Year Rafa Moran) plays for the U.S. Development Academy championship at Home Depot Center live at 8 on ESPN2 tonight. Full details here.
The Quakes need a win Sunday against the Fresno Fuego in a 7:05 p.m. game at Calabasas High to make the playoffs.
Here’s why from the Quakes Web site:
The Fuego overwhelmed the Southern California Seahorses 5-2 Thursday to move into first place on 29 points; the San Francisco Seals, in second place, take on Bakersfield Brigade today, and will move to the top of the league on 30 points if they win. The Quakes now lie third, on 27 points, with Fusion in fourth, their playoff hopes virtually over.
*In the W-League tonight it’s Pali Blues at Los Angeles Legends in a 6 p.m. game at Esperanza High.
Plenty of Southern California representation on the Olympics roster announced today by Coach Peter Nowak.
Locals include soon-to-be-ex-Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Fontana’s Maurice Edu (Toronto) and former Bruins Marvelle Wynne (Toronto), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo) and Benny Feilhaber (Derby County).
Notable omissions: the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan (needed by the full national team for World Cup qualifying) and former Bruins Chad Barrett and Sal Zizzo (who is trying to establish himself with Hannover in Germany).
The complete squad:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake).
DEFENDERS (5): Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio).
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Brian McBride (out of contract), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew).
McBride sounds like he’s going to enjoy the Olympics as one of three over-age players on the squad judging by his tale of how he got on the roster:
“It’s actually a pretty funny story. We had just finished a game against West Ham and [Men's National Team player] Jonathan Spector was outside the locker room and [Olympic Team assistant coach] Lubos Kubik was there with him – they were just talking. I knew Lubos from when he played with the Fire and Jonathan and I are pretty good friends. So, we all just started talking and all of the sudden Jonathan said jokingly ‘Lubos, did you hear Brian wants to play in the Olympics?’ After a few more jokes I told Lubos that I would seriously consider it if he would. Then I threw it out as just talk at the time, but a few days later, Peter [Nowak] called me! I was a little shocked but that’s really when it became an interest and a possibility. The idea has come a long way since then but it was pretty crazy at the time. I just feel terrible that Jonathan ended up getting injured, as I know that he really deserves to be there, too.”
Reporter Phil Collin caught up to Kljestan after last night’s SuperLiga game and asked how he felt about leaving Chivas USA in the middle of the tournament:
“It’s tough. … After (the SuperLiga game) Sunday I switch my focus to the Olympic team. That’s something I’ve dreamed about for 22 years now. It’s exciting, it’s going to be crazy. I’d feel terrible if I have to leave this team going into the semifinal game, but that’s the way international football is sometimes. Unlucky for us that this tournament falls right in the middle of summer and right when I have to leave for the Olympics. It’s tough, but on the other hand I’m going to the Olympics.
And so is once and former teammate Guzan. Reading between the lines, he’s going because Aston Villa projects him as a backup to Brad Friedel or ? and so is unconcerned the Olympics clash with the EPL season:
“We’re all very happy for Brad. We know sooner or later he will be the first (choice) keeper – I’m not saying he’s not going to be right now.”
Here’s Nowak on Rogers’ inclusion:
“In the last couple of months Robbie Rogers started to play the game everybody loves to see him play,” adding that he has “worked on stuff he didn’t work on before.”
Here’s more from U.S. Soccer on the team’s timetable:
The U.S. will begin their final preparation for the Beijing Olympics on Sunday with six days of domestic training in San Jose. The team will then depart for Hong Kong, where they will participate in the ING Cup, facing fellow Olympic participants Ivory Coast on July 30 and Cameroon on Aug. 2.
*A dozen players on the Olympic roster have played for the full national team.
*Eleven players were on the Olympics qualifying roster.
*Players on the roster were drawn from eight different leagues around the world.
Also today: Striker Lauren Cheney (UCLA) will replace the injured Abby Wambach on the U.S. women’s Olympic team, U.S. Soccer officials announced today. The 20-year-old has 12 caps and three goals for the U.S., including two this year.
Before we get started, take a deep breathe and read this fine piece of journalism on Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan and his father.
But then we figured Kljestan would be going to the Olympics, didn’t we? The squad will officially be announced at 10 a.m. today (Thursday).
*Midfielder Paulo Nagamura, who suffered a mild concussion during the match, and defender Jonathan Bornstein will be suspended for Sunday’s game against New England because of yellow-card accumulation (2 apiece).
*We were discussing in the press box about the tie-breakers in SuperLiga given the possibility Chivas USA, the Revolution and Pachuca could end up tied on six points at the end of the games Sunday.
Colleague Phil Collin kindly researched the issue (based on last year’s rules):
3. point differential
4. goals scored
5. drawing of lots
Now here’s the catch: if after the first four criteria, a team qualifies, that team advances. Then the process is repeated. For instance, if Pachuca wins 2-0 and Chivas USA wins 1-0, Pachuca advances on goal differential. Then you go back to the top and play the string out with the two remaining teams.
Curiously though, Sunday’s pair of games aren’t played at the same time: the Revs and Chivas USA game is later than Pachuca-Santos Laguna. Not that I’m suggesting anything.
And (for those of you who read until the end of the game story) it looks like yet another foreign veteran (Wicky) is a total bust in MLS, doesn’t it?
On to the quotes:
*Preki on the economy of shots for Chivas USA:
“We got one shot on goal tonight – we scored. We’re going to take that. We’re not going to complain about that. Sometimes things don’t go your way, you lose. Tonight, I thought the ball bounced our way. Sometimes in this game you have to be lucky. You’ve got to get a bounce.”
*Ante Razov on the ball Kljestan served him that led to the goal:
“It was good work out on the wing with Sacha and we’ve developed pretty good chemistry as of late, especially. I just wanted to try to set my guy up and get to the near post, and fortunately I was able to get a piece of it, I also think the defender got a piece of it too. Great ball.”
*Did Santos Laguna Coach Daniel Guzman think the 90th minute goal his team scored was offside?
“It was a goal. There was no-one offside on that play. That’s when we started the whole debate with the referee, but it’s over now.”
On the loss:
“They had a goal-scoring opportunity. They put it in. Sometimes soccer is that way. You play well. You don’t win. You play badly, you win.”
*Preki on how the team came out:
“I didn’t feel like we got a grip of the game in the first 10-15 minutes. I thought they were the better team, I thought they were moving the ball a bit better than us, I thought we were nervous, but I was expecting that given the fact that we’ve changed quite a few players from the other night to tonight.”
Finally, here’s the first half sitter Christian Benitez of Santos Laguna missed in the first half with Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and the net at his mercy.
Photo by Scott Varley
Abby Wambach, the top scorer for the U.S. Women’s National Team broke her leg in the final game before the Olympics against Brazil Wednesday in San Diego, and will miss the games in China.
“Obviously, it’s devastating, but above everything else, I’m only one player, and you can never win a championship with just one player,” said Wambach, a resident of Hermosa Beach. “I have the utmost confidence in this team bringing home the gold.”
Laudable comments from Wambach, but this is nothing short of a disaster for the U.S.
As the U.S. Soccer press release points out:
Wambach is the USA’s leading scorer this year with 13 goals and 10 assists. She has led the team in scoring in the last three world championships and is one of the top scorers in U.S. history with 99 goals in 127 games.
In other words, Wambach is quite simply irreplaceable and the American gold medal hopes have been dealt a crushing, and potentially fatal, blow.
It’s almost irrelevant, but the U.S. won the game 1-0.
Here are more details on what sounds like a particularly nasty injury and the game from the Associated Press.