A Few Words With Chivas USA Striker Ante Razov

i-e07e379690ded943bdcd06916aa2d471-Razov.jpgPhoto by Juan Miranda/Chivas USA

On the year’s scariest night it’s perhaps apropos to chat with veteran Chivas USA striker Ante Razov, known as one of the moodiest players in MLS and one you always want to make sure is in a reasonably good one before approaching his locker after a game. So perhaps it’s for the best this interview was conducted via e-mail.

Still, Razov comes into the post-season fifth all-time in goals (11 in 33 games) and third behind active players (although neither D.C. United’s Jaime Moreno or Toronto’s Carlos Ruiz can add to their totals since their respective teams failed to make the playoffs). This is his time of the year.

A goal Saturday against Real Salt Lake ties Razov with Moreno in playoff goals; two ties him with Roy Lassiter. A hat-trick and he ties Landon Donovan. There’s motivation.

But Razov has struggled with injury this season and managed just five goals and six assists in 22 games. Having just recovered from his latest, the MLS original (one goal in three games for the Galaxy in 1996) is happy just to be still playing (I think).

In fact, I asked Razov how much longer he plans to play. He didn’t answer. I didn’t push it.

Q: How are you feeling physically? Are you fully recovered from your latest injury? Will you look to go an hour or so in the game Saturday or are you capable of going the full 90?
A: Yeah, I’m ready to go. I’ve played the last few games and this is it. There’s nothing to save myself for at this point, so I’ll put it all on the line. I expect to be out there [the whole time].

Q: Chivas USA has made the playoffs for the third straight year. The Galaxy have missed the post-season for the third straight year. Is that significant for the team or not something you worry about? Is the fact MLS Cup will be played on their field an extra source of motivation for the team?
A: It has nothing to with us. It’s not our problem. I would say yes, [that possibly playing MLS Cup here in Carson is extra motivation]. It would be a special treat for us, if we could do that, and then have a nice game here for our fans.

Q: If what I hear about midfielder-striker Atiba Harris is correct he picked up an injury in training Thursday and won’t play Saturday, just the latest in a mind-boggling series of injuries to players this year. How difficult is it not to have a consistent lineup of strikers and attacking midfielders from a forward’s point of view? Has it been more difficult to get into any sort of rhythm this season with all the changes to the lineup through injury?
A: Absolutely. In any team sport, if you change your lineup every game then it’s nearly impossible to get any rhythm and I think it shows in the way we’ve played at times. Defensively, you can always be tight and that stuff, but in terms of getting on the same line with players going forward and attacking, it’s just been very, very difficult.

Q: Compared to the Galaxy and other MLS teams, Chivas USA has a small, but increasingly devoted fan base (the Union Ultras are taking 50 members on a bus to Salt Lake City). Does that reinforce the team’s underdog status and motivate players to prove to fans Chivas USA is worth watching? Any special desire to put one over on Real Salt Lake given that both teams were expansion teams in 2005?
A: We’re happy that we have a fan base that cares enough to travel, and stuff like that, it clearly helps us in the games. They give us a boost while we’re out there trying to win, win for everyone; for the club, for the fans. And no, it’s the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who we play. It’s a playoff game and nothing else matters.

Q: What do you expect from the game?
A: It’s going to be a hard game. I’ve played in a lot of playoff games and a lot of the time it’s not pretty soccer. It’s guys rolling their sleeves up and going to battle, and the team that can pull off a play or two goes through, and I’m sure that’s the way it’ll go.

I’ll be back Saturday with a full preview of the 3 p.m. Chivas USA-RSL playoff opener.

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Frightning Friday Football: Weekend Preview


Now that the zombie-like MLS regular season is over, it’s time for the um, meaty part of the season.

New England and the Fire kicked things off Thursday with a tight 0-0 contest, setting up a winner takes it all showdown this coming Thursday in Chicago. Rolling Hills Estates’ John Thorrington (who had a nice shout out to the South Bay as the lineups were announced before the game) made two key, well-timed tackles for the Fire inside their own penalty box; Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis earned his eighth career shutout, after a Brian McBride goal was called back for offside. BTW, Is it just me or did the bundled up former Bruin look like the character on Dilbert who wanders around with the coffee cup all day? (I have to be careful here; Matt’s mother-in-law lives just around the corner from the Daily Breeze office in Torrance).

More on Saturday’s Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake playoff opener is here.

A complete playoff schedule is here.

Other TV options this weekend include:
*8 a.m. Saturday Chelsea-Sunderland on Fox Soccer Channel.
*10:30 a.m. Saturday Tottenham Hotspur-Liverpool on Fox Soccer Channel
*3 p.m. Sunday Tecos-Club America on KAZA

Local college games this weekend include:
*No. 10 USC (12-3-1, 2-2-1 Pac-10) take on California (10-5-1, 3-2-1) in a 3 p.m. match today at McCalister Field. The game will be shown on tape-delay at 1 p.m. Saturday on FSC. The Trojans’ final Pac-10 home match is set for 1 p.m. Sunday against undefeated No. 2 Stanford (16-0-1, 6-0-0) at the Coliseum.

*Two doubleheaders this weekend for the Bruins. The No. 3 women play second-ranked Stanford at 5 p.m. today at Marshall Field and are followed by the surging UCLA men who host No. 8 California. At noon Sunday it’s the women against Cal followed by the men against Stanford.

*The LMU men host St. Mary’s at 3 p.m. today in Westchester.

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A Few Words With Chivas USA Midfielder Carey Talley

Photo by Juan Miranda/Chivas USAi-50e795c85c3a5e2c00f73b3bb6e6efad-chivas0002.jpg
Chivas USA defender-midfielder Carey Talley is a journeyman closing in on 300 MLS appearances for five teams over 11 seasons. A Carey Talley fun factoid: he is the answer to the trivia question – who was waiting to make his first appearance for the national team as a (very) late sub when the game was called and has never won a U.S. cap? Talley joined Chivas USA from Real Salt Lake in May and has established himself as a regular, starting 18 of the 20 games he has played for the club. He chatted via e-mail ahead of the Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake playoff opener set for 3 p.m. Saturday.

Q: First off, Real Salt Lake got in the playoffs in perhaps the most dramatic fashion possible – a 90th minute equalizer against the Rapids. Were you surprised?
A: It was a little surprising to me because I thought they got outplayed in the game, and they kept going, and going, and in the 90th minute, a guy who I don’t think has gotten a lot of credit from around the league, Andy Williams, comes through. He was very close to getting the goal, but he makes the play happen. Andy, in the right spot, battled a guy off, got his toe on it and they’re in it. I was as surprised as anybody, being in the 90th minute, but all credit to them, they kept going, and I was happy to see that Andy was such a big part of that goal because he’s been a good friend of mine for a while, and I think he deserved it.

Q:Is there any special resonance about playing your old team in the playoffs – especially at Rio Tinto Stadium, which you’ve never played in, but awaited for so long as a Real Salt Lake player?
A: I’m really trying not to look at this as any different an opponent from any other one we could’ve met up with. The series that we played with them was a pretty tough series, each team getting an away result.
I had gone through the whole process (of the stadium). I was excited to see them get it, and I was hoping that Chivas would get to play in Rio Tinto this year, and now we’re getting to go back there and play in it. What I’ve heard from everybody is that it’s a great stadium, it’s a great atmosphere, and I assume that since it’s the first playoff game in the history of that club, it’s going to be going pretty crazy there.

Q: This year’s Real Salt Lake media guide profile of you began – “Death, taxes and Carey Talley could become the new phrase for reliability as the veteran midfielder returns for his 11th season in MLS and third as a member of Real Salt Lake.” Then in May they traded you. Any lingering resentment over that? Do you have something to prove? Or did you understand and accept what Jason Kreis was trying to do for the team with the trade?
A: I knew that I had to leave. That was between me, Jason, and their GM. There are reasons behind it, but I’m in a good place now with Chivas USA and I’m very happy. This is the place for me, and I’m happy to be here.

Q: How are you feeling physically after the long season and especially after suffering a concussion? Was that hard to come back from?
A: I’ve had a couple of those before, and this was the first time that I’ve had some real lingering effects on it. That went on for about two weeks. I’d never experienced anything over a couple of days, so I was a little worried about that, but now it’s back to normal. I’m ready to go. I couldn’t be more ready for this playoff run. It’s not because we’re going against Salt Lake, it’s just the first time I’ve been in the playoffs in the last two years, so I’m ready to get this off and running.

Q: How does Chivas USA match up with Real Salt Lake? What weaknesses do they have the club can exploit?
A: I think that’s something that we’re reviewing as a team and trying to go over. They’re a good team, and they’ve proven to be a good team. That’s what’s done it in this league – it hasn’t always been the prettiest soccer team out there that’s won, it’s been the best team – the best group of guys that can keep it together for five or six games in a row, and they’re definitely a side where there’s quality.

Q: You’re 32 years old now and in a league where inexpensive youth is apparently often more valued than an experienced, but more expensive veteran, is there a sense of urgency to return to MLS Cup at your age, especially since the final is at Home Depot Center this year? How long do you plan on playing?
A: I’d like to go until 34 or 35, but that all depends on how well the teams that I’m on are doing, of course. I’d love to be in MLS Cup again. I’ve only been in two, and I’d like to be at the third one, especially with the fans that we have here who have shown support when it got a little rough in the summer. They kept coming out to the games, and the fan support in my opinion has been tremendous. To come out and make it a Chivas stadium that day would be very good for us. Like I said, it’s great here in LA, and the atmosphere that’s provided by the fans, and Chivas – it’s great to be here.

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Chivas USA Playoff Update, MLS Names Awards Finalists & More

Chivas USA Coach Preki and players look ahead to Saturday’s conference semi-final match against Real Salt Lake in this video preview:

Here’s a profile of Chivas USA’s apparently ageless defender Claudio Suarez who now sounds like he will not retire at season’s end after all.

Not a single Chivas USA player was named as one of the three finalists in the various categories for the MLS 2008 season awards announced today.

Galaxy defender Sean Franklin is up for Rookie of the Year (no surprise there) and Landon Donovan for MVP (or there).

Full disclosure: I didn’t vote. I’m not a huge fan of awards or some of these categories (MLS Referee of the year!? Are you kidding me?) And let’s dump Rookie of the Year completely (as MLS gets better, rookies just don’t make that much of an impact any more). Whatever.

Here’s the complete list:

Goalkeeper of the Year
Jon Busch – Chicago Fire
William Hesmer – Columbus Crew
Matt Reis – New England Revolution

Fair Play Finalists
Juan Pablo Angel – New York Red Bulls
Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
Chris Rolfe – Chicago Fire

MLS Comeback Player of the Year
Jon Busch – Chicago Fire
Kenny Cooper – FC Dallas
Santino Quaranta – D.C. United

Defender of the Year
Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards
Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
Bakary Soumare – Chicago Fire

Referee of the Year
Michael Kennedy
Jair Marrufo
Terry Vaughn

Rookie of the Year
Geoff Cameron – Houston Dynamo
Kheli Dube – New England Revolution
Sean Franklin – Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS Coach of the Year
Dominic Kinnear – Houston Dynamo
Sigi Schmid – Columbus Crew
Frank Yallop – San Jose Earthquakes

MLS Most Valuable Player
Cuauhtmoc Blanco – Chicago Fire
Landon Donovan – Los Angeles Galaxy
Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew

Newcomer of the Year
Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes
Claudio Lopez – Kansas City Wizards
Andre Rocha – FC Dallas

MLS will gradually release the winners in the days leading up to MLS Cup, beginning with the goalkeeper of the year honor on Tuesday.

Fans are being asked to choose the 10 best goals of the year from 35 semifinalists. Vote here.

Finally, the Cal State Northridge women (7-9-2, 2-4-1 Big West) lost 1-0 today to UC Riverside (7-10-2, 2-5-1 Big West) at Matador Soccer Field.

The loss severely dented the Matadors’ playoff hopes.

Here’s what has to happen, according to CSUN:

“To make the playoffs, the Matadors must defeat Cal State Fullerton on Sunday and hope UC Irvine either loses both their matches or draws in one and loses the other combined with Pacific dropping their match against UC Davis on Sunday.”

Got that?

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Beckham Loan Move to Milan Finalized & More

David Beckham heads to Milan in January the Galaxy and AC Milan announced today.

Also, from the Galaxy press release:

AC Milan and the LA Galaxy have additionally agreed to a technical partnership that will provide great benefit to both clubs.

Terms of the agreement will remain confidential.

Does this mean Kaka comes on loan?

The Galaxy have scheduled a 2 p.m. conference call with reporters.

Meanwhile, former Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid sounds like he’s contending for understatement of the year with this comment about the problems at his old club to The New York Times: “Probably too many to name.”

Read the whole thing here.

Finally, the Cal State Northridge men (6-6-4, 2-2-3 Big West) lost 3-1 to UC Santa Barbara Wednesday.

Perhaps predictably, not many more details of Becks’ loan move emerged from GM and Coach Bruce Arena who frankly, as one reporter observed on the call, seemed more than a bit out of the loop.

Arena, for instance, sounded unsure of when Becks would actually head to Italy (why was the Dec. 11 game in Oz canceled if he doesn’t leave until January, one reporter inquired?).

*On when he will return to the Galaxy:

“He’s going to be back in March – and we believe it’s around March 1 – and he will be available for our opening game.” (MLS is likely to begin in the second or third week of March next year).

*On the benefits of the “technical partnership” with AC Milan that’s part of the loan deal:

“I’m not going to tell precisely how we’re going to benefit from this. … It’s just working with a club of this stature.” (So it could mean AC Milan players coming here on loan. Or not).

*Finally, I asked whether Bruce was going to tell Becks not to go for risky 50-50 balls or stay away from attempting one of those rash challenges he’s prone to try in an effort to ensure he doesn’t get a silly injury:

“When players don’t go 100 percent they get hurt,” he said. “I’m not going to advise David to pull out of tackles. … I’m certainly not going to encourage him not to give 100 percent or play 100 percent.”

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Chivas USA Playoff Update: Galindo Out For Season & More

Chivas USA announced that last year’s top scorer Maykel Galindo went under the knife for the third time this season today in yet another bid to tackle his nagging sports hernia issue.

The Cuban will be out up to three months, effectively ending a season that had never really begun anyway.

Galindo scored 12 goals and added five assists last year, but this season his hernia issues restricted him to just one goal and two assists in 10 games and only five starts.

The successful (although that’s what was believed after the other two surgeries in January and June as well) “bilateral sports hernia” surgery was performed in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the Union Ultras fan group will hold a viewing party for the Chivas USA playoff opener Saturday in Sylmar. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. The party is at the Red Vest Pub & Pizza, 12639 Glenoaks Blvd.

Incidentally, the fan group has chartered a 50-seat bus to travel to the game, one of its members (and a loyal blog reader) e-mailed me today. All the seats were sold. Thinking optimistically, the Union Ultras have also purchased 50 tickets for MLS Cup.

Wonder what they’re thinking in Salt Lake City about the series? Read this.

The return leg is Nov. 8 in Carson. Tickets are still available.

Finally, here’s a couple of fast facts about the series:
*Chivas USA Coach Preki is looking for his first career playoff win. Last year Chivas USA went 0-1-1 in the playoffs.
*The 2005 expansion teams have faced each other 14 times. Chivas USA holds the edge with a 8-3-3 record.

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Torrance’s Shannon Boxx Named FIFA Women’s World Footballer of the Year Finalist

L.A. Sol holding midfielder Shannon Boxx, a former South (Torrance) High star, was today named one of the 10 finalists for the annual FIFA honor. The U.S. Women’s National Team player finished third in balloting for the award in 2005.

Also named to the list: her (hopefully) soon to be Sol teammate Marta.

The full list: Nadine Angerer (Germany), Shannon Boxx (USA), Cristiane (Brazil), Daniela (Brazil), Marta (Brazil), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Kelly Smith (England), Hope Solo (USA) and Ingvild Stensland (Norway).

Boxxy stopped by the Home Depot Center Sunday to chat about the new Sol franchise, before the nominees were announced.

Here’s some excerpts of what she had to say:

*On the new Women’s Professional Soccer league and having a team in L.A.:

“It’s very exciting to finally say that to be close to home we have a league, obviously I’m a product of the last league, so to be close to home – I’ve always wanted an L.A. team – to stay close to home and play in front of my friends and family, I’m very excited.”

On how the team is coming together:

“I think we have a great team. … (Coach) Abner (Rogers) is going to be playing possession style, I love that, so it’s fitting for me as well … We want to play style that’s fun to watch.”

BTW, here are the 23 nominees for the male award: Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Sergio Agero (Argentina), Andrei Arshavin (Russia), Michael Ballack (Germany), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Deco (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Cte d’Ivoire), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Steven Gerrard (England), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andrs Iniesta (Spain), Kak (Brazil), Frank Lampard (England), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Franck Ribry (France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), John Terry (England), Fernando Torres (Spain), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).

Winners are scheduled to be announced in January.

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Wednesday Quick Kicks: Becks Loan Fallout, the Anschutz Cup & More

A few items this morning:
*The impending David Beckham loan deal to AC Milan has prompted the Galaxy to postpone its scheduled Dec. 11 game against the Queensland Roar due to the uncertainty of his availability, according to the BBC. Hmmm, it’s the Beckham tail clearly wagging the Galaxy dog. Until now, he had supposedly not been leaving for Italy until the New Year.

*MLS officials announced today they have named a new MLS Cup trophy after Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz:

“Phil Anschutz has transformed the face of soccer in America,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Through his commitment and support, Major League Soccer has become an important part of the American sports landscape and an emerging player in the global soccer scene. Phil’s vision and deep love of the game have helped establish a vibrant ‘Soccer Nation’ in America. We are honored to name the MLS championship trophy the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.”

*The new sterling silver trophy was created by Tiffany & Co., and unveiled at a morning ceremony at the jeweler’s New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue. From the MLS press release:

The Philip F. Anschutz championship trophy is 24″ tall with an additional seamless base of 4 5/8″. The trophy features fluid and dynamic handles that include 11 facets on the front and back, symbolizing the 22 players that participate in a soccer match. The gold star represents the championship club, which often incorporates a star into its team crest for each MLS Cup title it wins. The new trophy inherits select design elements from the previous two trophies, thereby honoring the League’s history while moving forward. The bottom of the Philip F. Anschutz trophy features a map of North America, with a star identifying the location of each MLS market.

*The Galaxy’s Tristan Bowen and Chivas USA’s Jorge Flores were named to a U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team squad that will train in Spain later this month. The most interesting thing about the roster is the number of young Americans with foreign teams. Here’s the full squad:

goalkeepers Earl Edwards (San Diego, Calif.), Josh Lambo (FC Dallas); defenders Gale Agbossoumonde (Syracuse, N.Y.), Anthony Arena (Kenmore, Wash.), Kyle Davies (Southampton FC), Zarek Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.), Anthony Wallace (FC Dallas); midfielders Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin), Jorge Flores (Chivas USA), Gregory Garza (Sporting Lisbon), Josh Hernandez (Dallas, Texas), Jared Jeffrey (Club Brugge), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Giuseppe Nazzani (Reggio Emilia, Italy); forwards Vincenzo Bernardo (SSC Napoli), Tristan Bowen (Los Angeles Galaxy), Abdusalam Ibrahim (Toronto FC), Jose Torres (Loros de Colima).

*Meanwhile, the Galaxy have knocked someone out of the MLS playoffs – Revolution striker Taylor Twellman. The club announced Tuesday he is out indefinitely after continuing to suffer from concussion-related issues in the wake of Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin punching him on the head Aug. 30. Cronin suffered a broken finger on the play. Twellman missed 14 games through injury this year and his latest set-back couldn’t come at a worse time.

*UCLA senior defender Brad Rusin has been named the Pac-10 Player of the Week. He scored his third goal of the year over the weekend in UCLA’s 1-0 win over Oregon State.

*Finally, want to win four L.A. Sol season tickets? Click here.

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Goals, Goals, Goals, Goals: The Best of 2008 From the Galaxy, Chivas USA, Landon Donovan & Robbie Rogers

Something for everyone here.

Galaxy fans can console themselves with some great strikes (Brandon McDonald’s screamer is not the No. 1 goal in this video); Chivas USA fans can savor these and look forward to the playoffs; U.S. fans can relive Landon Donovan’s finest season; and the Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers today had his effort against New York last month named the team’s goal of the season.


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Tuesday’s Column: Galaxy Can Return to Earth & More

Next for Becks: the bright lights of Milani-faf4e1fe111f4f4f951750557f4afd47-TS27-Galaxy.SV-248.jpgPhoto by Scott Varley

The dimming of the star power at the Galaxy is the subject of today’s column. It’s a good thing.

David Beckham and Landon Donovan have already left the building judging by their recent comments:

“I’m ready to take that step (of going to Europe) and I want to,” Donovan said Sunday. “Competitively I have that itch and I want to do it and I’ll make that very clear to people.”

And you don’t think Becks needs to play in the off-season? Rest is not what he needs. Minutes on the field are. Or his immobility on the field the Galaxy have seen on several occasions this season will be exacerbated. Beckham was hampered by a quad injury Sunday and one reporter observed he looked like he was running on a treadmill:

“It’s just my age, maybe,” he said only half joking.

By the way, in the wake of Beckham’s first full MLS season, I asked him Sunday about some of his impressions of players and teams so far:

*Toughest opponent: – None (he didn’t want to single anyone out, perhaps knowing anyone he didn’t name might want to make more of an, er, impression on him next time out).

*Best team to play against – “Every time we play against Chivas, for me it’s a tough game. I always enjoy that game. It’s obviously a huge rivalry, but that’s the game I personally enjoy playing in.”

*Best opposing player in MLS – “One of the best players in this league is (New York’s Juan Pablo) Angel. He’s obviously played in top flight football and you can see the quality of the player and how hard he works. He’s older now, but still a threat to many teams.”

And finally:

*The Houston Dynamo reserves (9-1-2) captured the MLS Reserve Division title Sunday with a 3-0 win over the Chivas USA reserves (4-5-3) at Home Depot Center, claiming a $20,000 first prize. Roberto Nurse was the Chivas USA leading goalscorer with four goals and one assist in six games.

*The Galaxy reserves (1-8-3) finished their season with a 2-0 loss Sunday to their FC Dallas counterparts at the HDC.

*The Chivas USA Under-18 team (5-1) won 5-2 over the San Diego Surf on Saturday keeping them in first place in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s SoCal Division. Polo Morales had his second hat-trick of the season, and Victor Sanchez, playing his first full game of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, added two more.

*The Galaxy Under-18 team (2-4) lost 3-2 to Nomads FC at the HDC.

*The Chivas USA Under-16 team fell 2-1 to the Surf on Saturday. The loss dropped the U-16’s to third in their division with a 2-3-1 record (W-L-T).

*The Galaxy Under-16 team (5-1) beat Nomads 1-0 at the HDC and lead the SoCal Division.

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