Chivas USA Manhattan Beach Night & More

In their quest for a fan base, Chivas USA has never met a promotion club officials didn’t like (the Mexican-oriented club even had an Armenian night earlier this season) and tonight is Manhattan Beach Night.

Given the city’s connections with soccer this makes a modicum of sense (former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, Galaxy playmaker Landon Donovan, U.S. National Team Coach – and former Chivas USA Coach – Bob Bradley all live there, while new Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena has said he intends to move there).

While most Chivas USA fans simply hope the team beats the Kansas City Wizards tonight (7:30 Fox Soccer Channel) and continues its playoff push, it’s bonus night for residents of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.

Residents of those communities qualify for $4 off a prime seat at midfield ($32) and $3 off one behind the goals ($15) and get a free Chivas USA hat to boot. The first 200 fans who buy a ticket will attend a meet and greet with Chivas USA holding midfielder (and Manhattan Beach resident) Jesse Marsch as well as defender Jim Curtin who lives on the border of Manhattan and Hermosa. Call Chivas USA ticket rep Mike Gratten at 310-630-4599 to get in on the action.

MB Mayor Richard Montgomery (a nice guy and soccer fan as it turns out) will conduct the pre-game coin toss and a five-minute film about the city will air on the stadium’s big screen. About 1,300 MB kids play soccer, according to the mayor, and they are invited to parade across the field before the game.

The Daily Breeze wrote about Marsch (one of the game’s nice guys as long as you don’t have to play against him) when the brat-eating Wisconsin boy moved to MB a couple of years ago. Here’s writer Bob Holtzman’s October 2006 story on his change of lifestyle:

Jesse Marsch carried his surfboard away from the water and through the sands of Manhattan Beach and gazed up at the homes of the beachside town.

It was more than 10 years ago and Marsch dreamed about watching the sun set every night across the Pacific Ocean.

The Chivas USA midfielder retold this story last week from his home on The Strand, sitting on his patio, looking down at the water and beach.

The native Midwesterner has adjusted well to the South Bay lifestyle, welcoming visitors into his home while drinking a cup of coffee while wearing black sunglasses, dark plaid skater shorts and a pink designer T-shirt. His hair is a little shaggy and he bragged about how Emerson, his 5-year-old daughter, proudly wears flip-flops everywhere she goes.

Marsch has scored two goals and had three assists for Chivas in 30 matches and will try to help Chivas advance to the Western Conference championship today at 5 p.m. in Houston.

Marsch and his wife, Kim, grew up in Racine, Wis. So far, they have no complaints about the ocean view from their house or the moderate weather that enabled them to take Emerson and their son, Maddux, who turned 3 last Monday, to Disneyland with Marsch’s parents on Tuesday.

“It makes things a lot easier when you don’t have to help the kids get on their snow pants and boots,” Kim Marsch said.

The family almost never made it to California.

They were living in Wrigleyville, the Chicago neighborhood surrounding the Cubs’ Wrigley Field, while Marsch played for the Chicago Fire. But the Fire told Marsch he wasn’t part of their plan for the future. Marsch, who will turn 34 on Nov. 8, considered retirement.

Instead of making a snap decision, Marsch consulted with an old friend and coach, Bob Bradley, who recruited Marsch to Princeton University and coached him as a rookie at D.C. United and then from 1998 to 2002 in Chicago.

Marsch liked the idea of playing for Bradley again and couldn’t turn down the chance to live in Southern California again. This time, it would be in one of those houses overlooking the ocean.

“I came out here a little early and researched it, looking at Westside Rentals and on Craigslist,” Marsch said, retracing the steps so many people do to find a rental home by the beach. “And the woman we rent from is actually from Kenosha, Wis., which isn’t far from Racine. And she took a liking to me.”

Marsch has seemed to have a bit of a blessed time during his time in Southern California. When he spent the summer working on his senior thesis, friends helped him get a job bartending for a catering company, serving drinks to “Hollywood-type people,” and living in Westwood.

He actually had a chance to work the Emmy Awards, but it didn’t work out.

“I bartended the L.A. (PGA event) Open and if I had been here another week, I would have worked the Emmys but that meant calling Bob (Bradley) and telling him I’m going to be late for preseason camp. I didn’t have the (guts) to do that.”

Decision-making like that is why Bradley has such deep trust in Marsch. Bradley said that he could tell from the first time he saw Marsch play he knew Marsch “had a soccer brain and an idea of how to play.”

Marsch has shown that knack all season for the Goats.

“My soccer career is rejuvenated,” Marsch said. “Playing for Bob again feels right. On the field, I know what he wants and expects. He’s done a fantastic job with this team. Before I got here, I thought, maybe I’ll retire. Now, I’m thinking about one or two more years, maybe a little bit longer. Of course, you’ve got to look at it year-by-year at this point.”

Kim said it took some adjusting, and was a little confused when people would ask where she was from.

“I thought do I look that different?” Kim said. “People would tell me they know I’m not from here because I’m too talkative, too nice.”

Marsch is doing his best to fit in, though. He’s got a surfboard in his bedroom and the ocean is just steps away.

Not that everyone is completely buying this transition from the Midwest to West Coast. Fellow midfielder Sacha Kljestan grew up in Huntington Beach and he’s not convinced that Marsch has fit right in just yet, either.

“He tries to think he’s SoCal with his shaggy hair,” Kljestan said. “He’s still got no style, but we love him anyway.”

Chivas midfielder Jesse Marsch enjoys walking with his wife, Kim, along The Strand behind their home in Manhattan Beach. The winters are more enjoyable in the South Bay than in Chicago, where he used to play.
Photo by Scott Varley

Here’s more on the game from a Kansas City point of view.

I’ll blog from the game as usual.

There was plenty of local college action Friday:
*No. 5 USC 3 LMU 0 (The sixth consecutive home win for the Trojans (8-1-0), which also set a program record with what’s now a 15-game home unbeaten stretch. LMU is now 4-4-2).
*Pepperdine 6 Idaho State 0 (Amanda Rupp of Encinitas, a La Costa Canyon High grad, had two goals and three assists as Pepperdine moved to 4-4-2).
*Long Beach State 2 Arizona 0 (Lindsay Bullock scored two goals as Long Beach State improved to 6-2-2).
*Cal State Dominguez Hills women 1 Cal State San Bernadino 0 (Sophomore Kristan Boyle of Long Beach’s Wilson High headed home a cross from Jessica Murphy of Torrance’s West High with just two seconds left in regulation for the win. The Toros evened their record at 5-5).
*No. 9 Cal State Dominguez Hills men 1 Cal State San Bernadino 0 (CSUDH moves to 8-1-1 on the season).

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