Chivas USA Camp Update: Razov Signs Contract, Promptly has Surgery & More

At the end of last season, Chivas USA striker Ante Razov downplayed the likelihood of returning to the club and in the off-season was connected to Mexican team Leon.

But Razov returned to preseason camp with Chivas USA and the club announced today he has signed a new, presumably one-year deal, although terms were not announced.

But in what’s becoming a regular occurrence for the veteran who turns 35 next month, Razov underwent arthroscopic surgery Friday on his right ankle to remove bone spurs. No word on how long he’s out of full training.

Razov, who has scored 114 goals over 13 MLS seasons and is the league’s second all-time leading goalscorer, has missed the crucial end of at least the last two MLS seasons through injury. He surely can no longer be considered an automatic starter if the club hope to do better in the playoffs than it has the couple of years.

In other Chivas USA news, Jim Curtin, Jesse Marsch, and Carey Talley are filling out the numbers at the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp that’s also under way in Carson, but not before Marsch offered these observations Wednesday after the club’s first day back:

Lasty, it appears Kljestan will not be moving to Europe – yet – after Scotland’s Celtic ended their interest in the midfielder.

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Soccer on TV: Donovan Debut & More

The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan could make his Bayern Munich Bundesliga debut against Hamburger SV today in a game that will be televised live at 11:30 a.m. on GOLTV.

In other televised games this weekend it’s:

*Brad Friedel’s surging Aston Villa taking on Wigan at 7 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel followed at 9:30 a.m. by Everton’s visit to Manchester United.

*The pick of the Mexican games Saturday sees Chivas face Monterrey at 3 p.m. on KVEA, while at 5 p.m. Club America visits Morelia on KAZA.

*On Sunday, Chelsea and Liverpool clash at 8 a.m. on FSC, while at 11:30 a.m. David Beckham (if he recovers from a slight muscle strain) and AC Milan play at Lazio on the same channel.

*Finally, Argentina’s Boca Juniors and River Plate play at 4 p.m. Sunday on FSC in what is usually one of the biggest games of the year in that nation.

Enjoy your weekend.

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A Few Words With Van Nuys’ Tristan Bowen of the Galaxy

Los Angeles native Tristan Bowen took a different route to becoming the first youth player signed by an MLS club to professional terms than you might expect.

Bowen played soccer at Chatsworth High in the ninth grade, but after that was home schooled. Mentored by his uncle Hugh Carter, Bowen played soccer in Brazil between the ages of 14 and 16 making maybe a dozen or so trips to attend camps held by pro teams such as Corinthians and the like.

He became the first player at age 16 in March 2007 signed to the Galaxy’s new youth Rios program after a tryout and last year signed a professional contract.

An engaging and articulate youngster, I had anticipated one of your regular Q&A sessions, but frankly it took some time to get his background straight at what is his first preseason camp as a professional.

So here’s a (much abbreviated) version of our conversation:

Question: What did you think about making MLS history when you signed to professional terms?
Answer: It was pretty exciting. Just to be a professional at all is a major deal for me and to be the first one to come through the system was great. The family was excited. Everybody was excited for me and I couldn’t be happier.

Q: Where do you like to play best?
A: My preferred position is up top or on the wing. There’s space on the wings. I can utilize my speed a little more, go one v. one.

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U.S. Roster for Carson Camp Ahead of Mexico WCQ Named

After a five-day break, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley today named 20 players for the camp that begins Friday at Home Depot Center ahead of the final round of World Cup qualifying.

All except the Columbus Crew’s Frankie Hejduk were in camp for the Sweden game; expect experienced overseas players to gradually filter into the nine-day camp before Bradley names an 18-player roster for the sold-out Feb. 11 game in Columbus.

The roster:

Goalkeepers – Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Will Hesmer (Columbus Crew), Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids)

Defenders – Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Ugo Ihemelu (Colorado Rapids), Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Midfielders – Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Jack Jewsbury (Kansas City Wizards), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)

Forwards – Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)

Updated: And here’s a story on Thorrington and Rogers from today’s Palos Verdes Peninsula News, which serves the area where both grew up.

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Thursday Kicks: U.S. to Bid For 2018 or 2022 World Cup & More

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati will unveil all at a noon Monday conference call and will also introduce the executive director of the USA Bid Committee.

From today’s (edited) U.S. Soccer press release:

FIFA set Monday as the deadline for federations to submit the official paperwork expressing their interest to bid for either or both of the competitions. FIFA emphasized that at this initial stage in the bidding process, the only requirement is for countries to be able to demonstrate their ability to host a sporting event as large as the FIFA World Cup.

In related news, on the same day that tickets to the Feb. 11 Mexico-U.S. World Cup qualifier in Columbus sold out in just 90 minutes, Mexico lost 1-0 in Oakland to essentially the same young Swedish team the U.S. beat at Home Depot Center.

Meanwhile, Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders will reportedly train in Ventura Monday and will play the Galaxy in a closed-door scrimmage Feb. 9 at the HDC. Former Galaxy midfielder Pete Vagenas won’t participate though reportedly because of a bone bruise on his knee that requires surgery. He’s expected to be on the sidelines for quite a while.

Lastly, Pepperdine associate women’s soccer coach Twila Kaufman was recently announced as the new head coach for the Los Angeles Legends of the W-League. The Legends play at Citrus College Stadium in Glendora.

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Chivas USA Open Preseason Camp

Overshadowed by the David Beckham soap opera was the opening Wednesday of the Chivas USA preseason camp:

*Former Galaxy defender Ante Jazic was there having been signed to a new contract in the wake of his trade. The Canadian had played 44 games with the Galaxy over the last three years. He’s only the second player who could feature for both of the intra-stadium rivals in a SuperClasico. (Extra points if you can name the other – answer at the bottom of the post).

*So was new Assistant Coach Carlos Llamosa. He took over from Mike Matkovich who was named coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team (and also subsequently assistant coach with the Chicago Fire). Llamosa played sparingly for Chivas USA for two years.

*More on the camp (and hirsute news) is on the official Chivas USA blog.

*Finally, here’s the ticket deal of the week from Chivas USA: five games for $50 including those against the Galaxy July 11, the Chicago Fire (and Senor Blanco) May 28, as well as the season opener March 21 against the Colorado Rapids and final game Oct. 25 against the Houston Dynamo. The April 18 game against Sigi Schmid’s expansion Seattle Soiunders is in there as well.

And that’s not all: the so-called All-Star pack also includes a ticket to a SuperLiga game for a limited time.

Call 1-877-CHIVAS-1.

Trivia answer: The only Galaxy player (so far) to turn out for Chivas USA in a derby was defensive midfielder Paulo Nagamura.

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Your Daily Beckham Update

David Beckham scored again for AC Milan today, while Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena continued to decline to make a substantive comment about the Galaxy midfielder staying in Italy.

Here’s Beckham’s goal – his second in as many games – this time from one of his trademark free kicks in a 1-1 tie with Genoa:

Colleague Phil Collin went out to training camp today in an effort to get Arena to acknowledge reality, but the Galaxy coach continues to have his head up his ass in the clouds seemingly indifferent to reality and threatening to have events overtake him.

It’s unknown whether AC Milan has made an official approach for Beckham, but it appears the Italian team has certainly called Arena’s Monday bluff and is getting serious about trying to keep him.

I won’t scoop Collins’ print story here on the blog, but midfielder Chris Klein explains why Galaxy officials are being circumspect over the possibility of Beckham and Landon Donovan not returning:

“You get all that cap space, theoretically, if one or both don’t come back, but how do you turn around in a week’s time to just get a replacement? It becomes very difficult. I think that’s why you’re seeing resistance. The Galaxy can’t just sit back and say ‘you guys decide, we’ll make do.’ The Galaxy has to look at what’s best for it and same with MLS. Each group has its own decisions to make.”

And here’s Klein on Beckham staying in Italy:

“Knowing him like we do, he’s a good friend and a good guy and so when you take a step back and look at it from that standpoint, you really want what’s best for him. In my mind what’s best for him at this particular moment may not be the greatest for the Galaxy.

“He’s playing very well with AC Milan and with that obviously is going to come rumors and speculation, some true, some untrue, but he may stay there. Milan wants him, we want him, who wouldn’t I guess at the end of the day?

“Listen, at the end of the day his personal decision is up to him and if that’s what he wants to do, I’m definitely not going to fault him. It is AC Milan, one of the biggest, most storied clubs in the world.”

Updated Thursday: Today’s story in the print edition.

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MLS Season Schedule Released

The complete schedule is here.

The Galaxy schedule.

The Chivas USA schedule.

The basics from
*A total of 27 regular season games will be broadcast in hi def on ESPN2 (yes!).

*Each of the 15 MLS teams will play 30 regular season games for a total of 225 games. Each team will meet twice for a base of 28 games and the two remaining games will be against conference opponents, with a priority on rivalries.

*This year, 90 percent of the games will be played on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, compared to 84 percent last season and 80 percent in 2007 (giving us another reason to dump MLS Direct Kick, which I have). The league has also reduced the volume of games on World Cup qualifying dates Aug. 12, Sept. 5 and Oct. 10 (but not eliminated them – nitwits).

*All MLS games on ESPN2 will be broadcast simultaneously on ESPN Deportes.

*Thirteen games on ESPN2 will shift from Thursday to Friday nights, Saturday or Sunday.

*TeleFutura will air 24 games on Sunday afternoons.

*Fox Soccer Channel will again have a three-hour programming window called “MLS Saturday on FSC,” with 30-minute pre-game and post-game coverage for its 33 regular-season games.

Local highlights:
*The Galaxy and Chivas USA meet April 11, July 11 and Aug. 29.

*The Galaxy visit Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders Sun. May 10; the return date in Carson is Aug. 15.

*Blanco and the Chicago Fire visit Chivas USA Thusday, May 28 in a nationally televised game.

*Road trip possibilities: the Galaxy visits San Jose June 20; Chivas USA does so May 2.

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Beckham Backlash Brewing?

While Landon Donovan was quietly making his competitive debut for Bayern Munich Tuesday – coming on as a 67th minute sub with the game effectively over in what ended up as a 5-1 mauling of Stuttgart in the German Cup – David Beckham will be assured of a much more attentive audience when AC Milan faces Genoa Wednesday (5 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel).

England Manager Fabio Capello will be watching amid reports that AC Milan are prepared to pay $6.5 million for Beckham now ahead of October when a clause in his contract would supposedly let him leave the Galaxy for free.

As usual the Galaxy have yet to comment, but AC Milan apparently took L.A. Coach Bruce Arena seriously when he essentially exhorted them Monday to shut up or make a formal offer for the player.

That’s unlikely to sit well with Galaxy season ticket holders who plunked down money to see Becks next season and sure enough I heard from an angry Ed Kaspar of Hermosa Beach today who wrote in part:

I have been a Galaxy season ticket-holder all the way back to the Rose Bowl days, and I’m furious over all of this transfer talk about Beckham, especially since I was assured by the club’s season ticket representatives that he would definitely be back this season. I was so confident that I even shelled out an additional $2K and bought an additional pair of season tickets.

So what will happen to people like me if they allow Beckham to bail out this season? Will we be made “whole” and refunded our money if I elect to cancel the additional tickets that I just purchased?

And what will this say about the MLS? Would the “failure” of the Beckham experiment relegate the league to laughing-stock status among the sporting public? Are they (AEG..) willing to deal Beckham just so they can pick-up a measly $6-million dollar transfer fee? I think that the headline of any such deal would be all of the negativity that Beckham was a failure and so is the MLS. They’d be signing their own death warrant.

Interestingly, while the Galaxy front office is typically mum, Kaspar observed that their ticket reps weren’t quite so reticent, firing off a “damage control” memo based on Arena’s remarks to me and other reporters on Monday that both players were expected back at the end of their loans as scheduled.

The rep sent part of a news story based on that conversation with the accompanying comment “below is part of an article sent to me by my boss, it proves rumors are not always true. šŸ˜‰ .”

Or not, perhaps.

Kaspar is surely representative of a lot of season ticket holders, who having endured an injury-stricken Becks first season and a bloody awful second one could rightly be expected to see a half decent effort from Beckham and the Galaxy under Arena the third time around.

Or not.

Incidentally, Kaspar told his ticket rep he’s first in line for a refund should Beckham leave.

Updated: For those needing to get caught up, the story in the print edition this morning wraps up the events of the last two days.

And here’s the latest from the Italian press this morning, which includes the Beckham quote:

“Playing here is the dream of every footballer. But it’s not easy to make a decision, this situation needs time.

“I have a contract and I have a lot of respect for Galaxy. But the opportunity to play with Milan is something special.

“I knew I would enjoy it here but I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much.”

We’ll have more from the Galaxy later today, I’m sure.

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