Because Jesus Has Already Taken the Penalty, You Can be Saved & Other Friday Football Funnies

After the realities of the last week – politicians seeking to bail out their banking buddies or (even worse) the Galaxy doing an excellent impression of a PDL team (no disrespect intended to that league) – I figured those of us with brains shaped like this (thanks to reader KLF for the link) could do with a laugh.

So check out these (mostly) true and (mostly) funny soccer-related items and have a good weekend:
*The Church of England is targeting soccer sinners.

*If you’re heading to Vegas this weekend you might want head for the Riviera Casino and check out this huge freaking foosball tourny.

*Now this is taking youth soccer a little too far.

*This next one is not strictly soccer related, but could proove useful to those LA Riot Squad members who have been known to enjoy a beer (or four). The best part: it’s a public service announcement by England’s National Health Service (can anyone see our laugh a minute federal government doing this?). (Thanks to Joseph for the link).

*Finally, this one proves that the new Women’s Professional Soccer league has not one shred of self-awareness.

Just like D.C. United, the WPA will be fussy how the media uses its acronym:

Please first reference the league in print or broadcast coverage using the full name of Women’s Professional Soccer. Please do not abbreviate the leagues name to Women’s Pro Soccer, or qualify it as the Women’s Professional Soccer, the WPS, Women’s Professional Soccer league, WPS league, the Women’s Professional Soccer league, or the WPS league.

Fair enough. But as observant reader Llew pointed here’s the e-mail address the league will be using just in case anyone needs clarification: (leaguedepartment)


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Friday Football: Waiting for the Weekend

I know I’m ready for some half-decent soccer after watching two bad games in two days involving Mexico and the Galaxy (although in truth Blanco was fun to watch as usual and it’s great to see a DP actually make a difference on the field rather than just selling shirts off it).

Guess I should be glad I didn’t make it three games by watching the No. 2 Bruins (7-0-2) get held 0-0 by Santa Clara on national TV last night (although to be fair a combined 30 shots from the two women’s programs likely made the game more entertaining than the final score suggested).

Also on Thursday, the UCLA men (2-3-2) were held to a 1-1 tie by UC San Diego. Next: Cal State Northridge at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Drake Stadium.

Let’s hope Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. Chivas USA-Kansas City Wizards game at Home Depot Center provides an antidote (it’s Manhattan Beach Night).

That means, according to Chivas USA:

Families can take advantage of Chivas USA’s Family Pack, which gets you four tickets, four hats and four hot dogs starting at just $58. Chivas USA will also be celebrating Manhattan Beach Night, where city leaders will be greeted by Manhattan Beach resident Jesse Marsch and a special ‘Parade of Champions’ will give soccer-loving kids from Manhattan Beach the opportunity to walk around the field prior to the game. For tickets call 1-877-CHIVAS-1.

Unlike the Galaxy, Chivas USA (sitting second in the Western Conference) actually have a legitimate chance at making the playoffs.

Other games in Southern California include:
No. 5 USC-LMU 3 p.m. today at McAlister Field.
LMU men-Oregon State Sunday at Sullivan Field in Westchester.
Cal State Northridge women-San Francisco Sunday at Matador Field in Northridge.

TV best bets:
7 a.m. Saturday Stoke City-Chelsea on Fox Soccer Channel
9:30 a.m. Saturday Arsenal-Hull City on FSC
7 p.m. Saturday Atlas-Chivas Guadalajara on KFTR
8 a.m. Sunday Wigan Athletic-Manchester City on FSC
11:30 a.m. Sunday AC Milan-Inter Milan on FSC
2 p.m. Sunday Club America-Cruz Azul on KFTR

Almost forgot: Here’s a preview of the Cal State Dominguez Hills women’s program.

Yvonne Vasquez, who led the CCAA in goals last year, returns as the Toros’ top scoring threat.
Photo by Scott Varley

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Galaxy Losers Again

Just not good enough is the verdict.

An unspectacular David Beckham. A sublime Blanco move. A goalkeeper and others – Sean Franklin is not the MLS MVP folks – that are just not good enough. Did I say that already?

At this stage of the season it’s not worth doing tactical analysis. The season (again) has pretty much passed the Galaxy by.

Game story.

Box score basics.

YouTube highlights:

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Thursday Galaxy Gameday

Apologies: the blogging software has been down for hours, only just came back up and I have other things to do.

So very briefly:
*The Galaxy play another must-win game against Chicago at 6 tonight on ESPN2.

*Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan played – and lost – his first game with Aston Villa Wednesday night.

*The Cal State Dominguez Hills men are eyeing another championship.

Toros midfielder Scott Mariano started 14 games last year.
Photo by Scott Varley

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Final Result: Chile-Mexico from the Coliseum

That a Juan Carlos Valenzuela own goal in the 75th minute gave Chile a 1-0 win over Mexico pretty much summed up the tenor of this game.

Neither team exhibited much rhythm and attacking opportunities were sparse – especially in a dull first half dominated (and I use the term loosely) by Mexico.

In fact, the only two real scoring opportunities of the opening 45 minutes provided bookends to the half. In the second minute a Chilean defender came close to scoring an own goal, while Chile striker Fabian Orellana produced the game’s sole moment of intoxicating brilliance on the right wing, beating three Mexican defenders and unleashing a shot in stoppage time.

The second half goal came as Valenzuela attempted to rather casually cut out a cross by striker Jose Fuenzalida from reaching a lurking forward behind him and knocked it in the net from a couple of yards out.

Overall though, not much value for money for the overwhelmingly pro-Mexican crowd of 32,924, many of whom not surprisingly didn’t stick around long and headed for the exits early.

Updated: That’s the first time I’ve heard a post-game press conference conducted in the three languages of Spanish, English and Swedish, but Mexico Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson didn’t have much to say in any of them.

Samples of what he said (with what he actually meant following):
*”I like the mentality of the team. They worked very hard.” (But they played like generally crap and I couldn’t point to anything that was particularly effective.”

*”It was very important to me to work with players we’d never worked with before.” (And after that performance thank gawd I don’t have to see most of them again in a national team jersey).

Paraphrased question: Could you tell us who especially impressed you?
Paraphrased answer: I couldn’t single anyone out. (Are you kidding me?)

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Marta, World’s Best Female Player, Picked by L.A. WPS Franchise

Marta, generally universally acknowledged as the world’s best female player, was picked today in the international draft by the as yet unnamed L.A. Women’s Professional Soccer franchise.

All told, 28 foreign players were picked by the seven WPS teams over four rounds.

It doesn’t mean the players will automatically join the league. It simply gives the team that picked a player the right to negotiate with them – if the club currently holding their contract agrees.

“The international draft was created to allow an equitable opportunity for the individual WPS clubs to develop their teams, by assigning the WPS-playing rights to the seven franchises that are beginning play in April 2009,” said Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. “Now they can go out to the market – and after receiving permission from the player’s clubs – put together the most competitive team they possibly can based on their selections.”

Still, Marta is apparently interested in the WPS, even though she currently plays for a Swedish team. But she won’t come cheap: L.A. picked third, so it’s likely the first two teams to pick were scared off by her price tag.

L.A. also picked Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama, who has been compared to a female David Beckham by some British newspapers and Chinese striker Han Duan.

The complete international draft.

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Mexico-Chile at the Coliseum

Smaller crowd than usual for a Mexico game tonight, perhaps because of the relatively high ticket prices given the squad of youngsters and “B” team players trying to force their way back into the international reckoning.

BTW, Mexico and Chile last met June 4 in the Copa America when they played to a 0-0 draw.

The Mexico starting lineup (4-3-3):
GK Memo Ochoa
D Diego Martinez
D Juan Carlos Valenzuela
D Leobardo Lopez
D Pausto Pinto
M Antonio Naelson
M Jaime Correa
M Luis Ernesto Perez
F Enrique Esqueda
F Francisco Fonseca
F Carlos Ochoa

Chile (4-3-3)
GK Miguel Pinto
D Marco Estrada
D Osvaldo Gonzalez
D Han Martinez
D Roberto Cereceda
M Manuel Iturra
M Fernando Meneses
M Emilio Hernandez
F Jose Pedro Fuenzalida
F Boris Sagredo
F Fabian Orellana

The game is on Telemundo.

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Mexico-Chile Gameday at the Coliseum

The basics on the 8 p.m. friendly were recounted in Tuesday’s column.

Here’s more on the challenges facing Sven.

And former CD Guadalajara prodigy Carlos Vela was otherwise engaged Tuesday banging home a hat trick for Arsenal in his first start for the London club.

I plan to blog from the game tonight and fans who are attending should remember there’s a pre-game Futbol Fiesta Zone with live music and a massive 50-foot-tall Mexico National Team jersey fans can sign. Activities crank up at 4 p.m. in parking lot six.

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Abbreviated Galaxy Update: LD, Becks, AEG TV – and Golf

A smattering of Galaxy related reads for your perusal:

*Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney looks at Landon Donovan’s MLS MVP chances. (On track for a career-best season, Donovan is doing his best to impress so he can jump ship to Bayern Munich, Europe in general or really anywhere as long as he flees the increasingly erratic Galaxy).

*Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl checks in with the latest scheme being concocted by Galaxy power broker Tim Leiweke. (Leiweke’s latest contention that the Galaxy are actually being harmed because of the designated player rule has a kernel of truth, but good luck selling this to the rest of MLS long since convinced L.A. receive preferential treatment).

*Variety reveals the television empire building plans of Galaxy owner Anschutz Entertainment Group. (Televised reserve team games anyone?).

*Finally, I keep forgetting to blog this, but if you’ve always wanted to know whether Alan Gordon can hit a really little hole better than a yawning big one (and you have $500 you didn’t put in WaMu stock burning a hole in your pocket) you might want to sign up for the annual Galaxy Day on the Links.

From the (edited) Galaxy press release:

The LA Galaxy Foundation will host their annual Day on the Links golf tournament on Monday, October 20 at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms Resort in Industry Hills, Calif. LA Galaxy players, coaching staff and TV personalities will tee off at 11 a.m. on the Eisenhower Course, with on-course contests and prizes, a post-tournament awards dinner, raffle and silent auction adding to the festivities. Foursomes and individual spots start at just $500.

The event’s proceeds will benefit the LA Galaxy Foundation’s outreach programs, including Kicks for Kids, Camps for Kids, a new Reading Garden built with the Home Depot Charitable Foundation, the annual Foundations’ Feast and the Holiday Assist Program.

To register for “Day on the Links,” go here, call Gloria King at 310-630-2222 or e-mail

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