Thanksgiving Eve Kicks: Gazidis to Arsenal & More

Before you head to Gramma’s house for the holiday, know that:

*Those English newspaper reports were true for once and MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis is off to England’s Arsenal as chief executive officer in the new year. Is this Stan Kroenke at work?

Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: “Ivan’s credentials are first class. It is evident that he has a wealth of business acumen together with a broad knowledge of football that will not only help to maintain Arsenal’s pre-eminent standing but enhance our reputation within the football community and international commercial markets.”

The South African was one of the founding executives of MLS and was responsible for all player contracts.

*The Sigi Schmid family’s run of cup success continues. UC Irvine, (15-1-6) where the MLS Cup-winning Schmid has a son who plays and another who is an assistant coach beat Cal Poly 3-0 Tuesday to advance to a NCAA Tournament semifinal Saturday against St John’s. The game was played before the first-ever sellout (and drenched) crowd of 2,500 in the OC.

Complete bracket.

Soccer on TV today:
*At 11 a.m. on ESPNU the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team plays China in its third and final group game of the U-20 World Cup; the U.S. is through to the final round already, while China must win.

*At 11:30 a.m. on ESPN Bordeaux plays Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League.

*At 2 p.m. on ESPN Classic it’s Sporting Lisbon-Barcelona.

* At 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel it’s the Houston Dynamo and El Salvador’s CD Luis Angel Firpo in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Dynamo must win to advance.

Back later with word on the MLS Expansion Draft.

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Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers: Champion

i-5b880b7072413013c8ed946baf0726bf-08111012180_1.jpgThe most amazing thing about this snapshot is it’s only two years off in foreshadowing the champion in the picture.

This is the South Bay Gunners 11 years ago in a Nike ad (?!).

When I asked the person who supplied the photo which 10-year-old kid was Robbie Rogers, who grew up in Rolling Hills Estates, he said “Far right, blonde with pot belly.”

Is this like your mother showing your naked baby pictures at age 2 to your fiancee? Close.

Champion.

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CD Guadalajara, Club America to Play in InterLiga in Carson

Home Dept Center will host six InterLiga games Jan. 8, 9 and 11 in the eight-team competition that determines Mexico’s participants in the Copa Libertadores, it was announced today.

Morelia plays Pachuca at 7 p.m. on Jan. 8, followed by Toluca verses UAG in the third and potentially pivotal group games for the four teams in Group A.

The big night is Friday when Mexico’s two biggest clubs take the field. Atlas faces Club Amrica at 7:30 p.m. followed by Tigres-Chivas in Group B action..

The finals of the sixth annual competition (and fifth year in Southern California) are on Sunday beginning at 4 p.m.

The first eight games take place in Texas on Jan. 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Competition details from the Soccer United Marketing press release:

InterLiga 2009 will determine two Mexican club berths for Copa Libertadores known as “Mexico 2″ and “Mexico 3.” The other spot known as “Mexico 1″ has been awarded to San Luis de Potosi due to the club’s finish as SuperLider of the Mexican Torneo de Apertura 2008, or the regular season champions of the current Mexican season.

Following the draw for the 2009 Copa Libertadores, it was revealed that Mexico 2 will be part of Group 6 with Lans (Argentina), Everton (Chile) and Caracas (Venezuela). Mexico 3 will play a two-leg play in series against la Universidad de Chile. If victorious, Mexico 3 would be placed in Group 3 with Aurora (Bolivia), Boyaca Chico (Colombia) and a team to be determined from Brazil.

The new qualification system for InterLiga 2009, announced in March of 2008 by the FMF, to accommodate the CONCACAF Champions League, is as follows: the eight best teams in the general standings at the end of the current Apertura season of the Mexican domestic league move on to InterLiga, except for the club that finishes first in the regular season standings, which will qualify directly to Copa Libertadores as “Mexico 1,” per FMF regulations. Due to their participation in the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League, Atlante, Cruz Azul, Pumas and Santos will not participate in InterLiga regardless of their place in the Apertura standings.

InterLiga was a great spectacle earlier this year, BTW. Highly recommended viewing.

A pre-sale for Visa cardholders begins Dec. 8.

Incidentally, Fox Soccer Channel announced today it has secured English-language rights for the 2009 and 2011 editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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Tuesday’s Column: MLS Winners & Losers (& More)

Lists are “in” these days in online journalism circles. So here’s mine.

Who did I miss?

The MLS season is over, but soccer never ends.

Today’s televised Champions League games:
*11:30 a.m. ESPN Villarreal-Manchester United
22 p.m. ESPn Classic Bate Borisov-Real Madrid at 5pm on ESPN Classic

Lastly, the NCAA Tournament resumes tonight.

I have it on good authority that Sigi Schmid, coach of the MLS Champion Columbus Crew, will be at the Cal Poly-UC Irvine game. Both his sons are involved (one playing, one coaching) with the Anteaters’ program.

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Galaxy & Chivas USA Announce Protected Player Lists Ahead of Wednesday’s Expansion Draft; Kirovski Back in L.A.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena made his first major (I use the word loosely) player deal today, reacquiring midfielder Jovan Kirovski from San Jose – and then promptly leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft.

Arena must figure Seattle won’t be crazy enough to pick a player whose stock has dropped precipitously since his 2005 move to MLS with the Galaxy.

Kirovski was traded for a first round draft pick when he moved to Colorado in 2007 after an unimpressive 48 games and 12 goals for the Galaxy; this time around, after missing most of last season through injury, he was nabbed for a conditional pick in the 2010 Supplemental Draft.

Kirovski, who has been training with the Galaxy recently, scored 12 goals in 61 games with the Rapids.

“Jovan is an experienced player who we are happy to have back with the Galaxy,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “He has shown the ability to play abroad, internationally and in MLS and is a welcome addition to our roster.”

If you say so, Bruce.

At least he’ll be familiar with another under-performing former Manchester United youth team colleague – David Beckham.

So which 11 players did Arena choose to protect?

Here’s the list: defenders Sean Franklin, Ante Jazic and Troy Roberts; midfielders David Beckham, Eddie Lewis, Brandon McDonald and Alvaro Pires and forwards Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan.

Gordon? Pires? Hmmm.

By subtraction, that makes the following players are available: Vardan Adzemian, Charles Alamo, Ely Allen, Jeremy Barlow, Steve Cronin, Eduardo Dominguez, Joe Franchino, Micheal Gavin, Jovan Kirovski, Chris Klein, Mike Munoz, Michael Randolph, Josh Saunders, Josh Tudela, Pete Vagenas, Julian Valentin and Josh Wicks.

The alphabetical list of Chivas USA protected players: Jonathan Bornstein, Justin Braun, Bobby Burling, Alecko Eskandarian, Maykel Galindo, Atiba Harris, Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Panchito Mendoza, Paulo Nagamura and Shavar Thomas.

So here’s whose available on the Chivas USA roster: Kraig Chiles, Jim Curtin, Eric Ebert, Dejair Ferreira, Jorge Flores, Anthony Hamilton, Dan Kennedy, Gerson Mayen, Roberto Nurse, Daniel Paladini, Lance Parker, Ante Razov, Keith Savage, Claudio Suarez, Carey Talley, Zach Thornton, Lawson Vaughn, Sasha Victorine, Raphael Wicky and Alex Zotinca.

Braun and Harris were protected, but Flores and Kennedy weren’t?

Remember, each team can only lose one player in the ten-round expansion draft and four teams won’t lose any personnel.

Notable names available for Seattle include goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, midfielder Eddie Gaven, Quavas Kirk, Ben Olsen, Nate Jaqua, Clint Mathis, Dema Kovalenko, Andy Williams and Ned Grabavoy.

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MLS Cup: Post-game Sigibration

Game story.

Highlights:

Sigi’s a winner.

Robbie Rogers on the year with Sigi:

“It’s been a great season. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a season this great again. He said to me “great that I can win a championship with you” so that means a lot. I hope there’s more to come. … It feels great to win it in L.A. where I grew up watching the Galaxy.

Quotable – Crew Coach Sigi Schmid:

“It was special walking out and having the Riot Squad chanting for me and say that they still remember me.”

On his future:

“I don’t know where I’m going to be next season, to be honest. My contract expires at the end of this month.; (I) didn’t want to talk about it during the playoffs, but the last offer came in two days before the last regular season game. I felt that was too late, so I just wanted to get through this and get through the playoffs.”

Aly Moreno:

“It was an emotional moment there for me I lost it there for a couple of seconds because Sigi means a lot to me and a lot to my career. He stuck his neck out for me, I stuck my neck out for him and we’ve won two championships together.”

Frankie Hejduk on whether the Crew should hustle to re-sign Schmid:

“Of course. He’s one of the main reasons why this club’s where it’s at. He built this club to be here today. He had his three-year plan and it worked to perfection. He got all these players together and we made the rest happen on the field. I really hope he re-signs and is able to go back a long time and hopefully they can get that sorted out. “

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MLS Cup Final Result: Columbus Crew-New York Red Bulls

Sigi Schmid 3 Galaxy 1

Columbus Crew 3 New York Red Bulls 1

Justice is served, MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto is a worthy MLS Cup MVP with a record three assists in an MLS Cup game and Crew Coach Sigi Schmid has his second MLS title in the home of his former employer in the South Bay where he has lived so long.

The third goal, especially, was a thing of beauty as a supremely confident Schelotto flicked an impudent ball over four Red Bull defenders that Frankie Hejduk connected with by sending a close-range header past Danny Cepero.

Schelotto could even have had a goal; he cracked a 20-yard shot off the bar in the 77th minute.

The Red Bulls had struck first six minutes after the break, the dangerous Dane Richards beating four defenders with a simple three-yard ball to John Wolyniec, who equalized.

But the Crew was back in the lead within a minute, MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall turning into the attacker of the moment, heading home a Schelotto corner kick.

I’ll have more later.

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Half Time: Columbus Crew-New York Red Bulls

Columbus Crew 1 New York Red Bulls 0

The goal came just as I was about to write at the 30th minute mark that Columbus had failed to use the flanks – one of their strengths – that playmaker Guillermo Barros Schelotto had barely touched the ball and the Crew had rarely threatened the New York goal.

Schelotto sent a long ball up the right wing, Alejandro Moreno beat Red Bull defender Diego Jimenez and slotted it home at the far post.

Until then, the Red Bulls had the better of the play and more attacking opportunities, with Dane Richards in particular causing consternation in the Crew defense with his runs.

Richards did well just before the goal to find Juan Pablo Angel, who could have taken more time before snapping off a shot.

Still, it was New York that finished the initial 45 minutes without a shot on target; the Crew found the goal mouth, if not the net, four times.

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MLS Cup Lineups

An overcast day (ah, the sun is just beginning to break through) and 68 degrees here in Carson – perfect for football.

Still, quite a few empty seats; it will be interesting to see if they fill in.

The New York Red Bull starting XI (4-4-2): goalkeeper Danny Cepero; defenders Chris Leitch, Diego Jimenez, Carlos Mendes and Kevin Goldthwaite; midfielders Dane Richards, Luke Sassano, Sinisia Ubiparipovic, Dave van den Bergh; strikers Juan Pablo Angel (Capt.) and John Wolyniec.

Not much in the way of surprises here: Mendes is preferred over Andrew Boyens who is on the bench; Sassano, who has been nursing an ankle injury, is fit enough to satisfy Coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

Mike Magee is among the options off the bench.

The Columbus Crew starting XI (4-4-2): goalkeeper William Hesmer; defenders Frankie Hejduk (Capt.), Chad Marshall, Danny O’Rourke, Gino Padula; midfielders Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Brad Evans, Robbie Rogers; strikers Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno.

This is the same team that beat Chicago 2-1 in the Eastern Conference final. Former Galaxy players Ezra Hendrickson and Stefani Miglioranzi, as well as Pat Noonan are on the bench.

The game is on ABC.

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