Sunday Soccer

There is none, well, not for me. I’m off to Vegas for a few days, so blogging will be sporadic and minimal.

I’ve written a Tuesday column ahead of time though where I’ll preview the U.S.-Sweden game at Home Depot Center Saturday, so look for that.

The Galaxy take to the field Wednesday as the 2009 preseason gets under way and I should make it out there later in the week.

Until then: Vegas Babee!

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Beckham Notches Assist in AC Milan Home Debut & More

David Beckham had another solid game for AC Milan today where for once he was overshadowed by transfer speculation over teammate Kaka.

He helped create the lone goal of the game, though.

The Galaxy’s other player in Europe, Landon Donovan, played 45 minutes for Bayern Munich in a game most notable for the atrocious weather conditions. (It was in the mid- to upper-70s in Southern California today, BTW).

Said Coach Jurgen Klinsmann of Donovan on the official Bayern Munich Web site:

“I have a very positive impression of Donovan, not just in our friendly matches, but also because he’s fitting in well with the group.”

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Saturday Soccer: Becks Starts Today in AC Milan Debut

The game against Fiorentina is live at 11:30 a.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

More here.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy has posted a short video introducing their top draft pick, Omar Gonzalez. Not much in the way of highlights, but, hey, he’s a defender:

BTW, the Galaxy officially announced they will open training camp Monday with players hitting the field for the first time Wednesday. The club will also announce a series of preseason friendlies.

In other MLS draft left-overs, a reader pointed out that UC Irvine Big West Defender of the Year David Sias (Fountain Valley High) was drafted by the Chicago Fire. He’s only the fourth Anteater ever taken in the draft.

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U.S. Men’s National Team Training Camp Update

The Galaxy’s Sean Franklin left camp at Home Depot Center Thursday with a lower abdominal strain; no word yet on the extent of the injury.

Former Chivas USA defender Jason Hernandez suffered a slight calf strain Friday; an MRI was scheduled to determine how bad it is.

Meanwhile, photographer Robert Casillas headed out to camp Friday and shared the shots below:
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Above is a battle of Palos Verdes Peninsula lads as the Chicago Fire’s John Thorrington of Chadwick School holds off Robbie Rogers of the Columbus Crew, who grew up in Rolling Hills Estates.

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Coach Bob Bradley has his practice face on.

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Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein is the sandwich between Chris Wingert and Charlie Davies.

Finally, here’s a little bit of soccer tennis Friday:

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WPS Draft Concludes: Sol Picks

The Women’s Professional Soccer draft just ended.

Here’s who the L.A. Sol selected in addition to top pick Brittany Bock of Notre Dame and Stanford defender Allison Falk, who we mentioned earlier today:

Third Round (19th pick overall): BYU midfielder Katie Larkin, the Mountain West Conference Offesnive Player of the Year.

Fourth Round (24th pick overall): West Virginia defender Greer Barnes.

Fifth Round (33rd pick overall): Pali Blues goalkeeper Val Henderson.

Sixth Round (38th pick overall): Former WUSA player Katie Hooker.

Seventh Round (47thnd pick overall): UCLA midfielder McCall Zerboni .

Eighth Round (52nd pick overall): University of San Diego goalkeeper Brittany Cameron.

Ninth Round (61st pick overall): Cal State Fullerton defender Erica Janke of Simi Valley.

Tenth Round (66th pick overall): Former Portland midfielder Lisa Sari.

The Sol open their season March 29th at Home Depot Center against Abby Wambach and the Washington Freedom.

Other notable picks included Ashley Nick of USC who was chosen 56th overall, Brandi Chastain by FC Gold Pride (45th overall), while goalkeeper Briana Scurry went to the Washington Freedom (35th overall).

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WPS Draft: Trojan Rodriguez Goes First & Bruin DiMartino Third

As expected, Boston selected speedster striker Amy Rodriguez with the first pick in today’s Women’s Professional Soccer draft.

UCLA’s Christina DiMartino was picked third by Bay Area team FC Gold Pride.

The Los Angeles Sol took Brittany Bock of Notre Dame with the fifth overall pick.

Live draft updates are here.

The seven-team WPS also announced its playoff format. The regular season winner hosts the title game. The No. 3 and No. 4 teams play a game to determine who faces the second-place finisher with a place in the final at stake.

Updated: The Sol’s second pick is Stanford defender Allison Falk.

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Friday Football: WPS Draft & More

Some quick kicks:
*The drafts aren’t done; next up is Women’s Professional Soccer at 7:30 a.m. today. Trojan Amy Rodriguez is the consensus No. 1.

*Correcting a bad oversight, Palos Verdes Peninsula native Joy Fawcett was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame Thursday night (with Jeff Agoos). Fawcett won two World Cup and two Olympic gold medals, played 239 internationals in a 15-year national team career. And where is she now? She currently directs the Saddleback United Soccer Club in Mission Viejo. Chivas USA Coach Preki just missed out: he made 60.4% of the ballots cast; he needed 66.7 percent.

*Cal State Dominguez Hills’ NCAA Championship trophy will be on display in a secured case in the Holiday Inn Torrance lobby until Wednesday. The hotel is at 19800 South Vermont Ave.

*Finally, Lawndale’s Kei Kamara has not forgotten his roots. Check it out. (It’s the Dynamo, Tony – singular).

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Arena on the Galaxy’s Draft

I spoke briefly with Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena about the draft today.

I blogged earlier about the Galaxy’s top pick – big defender Omar Gonzalez and the trade of defender Ante Jazic.

The others:
*University of Maryland defender A.J. Delagarza, who played all 26 games in 2008 for the national champion Terrapins.

*Ghana native Josh Boateng, a midfielder from Liberty University, who scored a career-best 13 goals and six assists in 2008.

*Kyle Patterson from St. Louis University, who was a former West Bromwich Albion youth player.

Arena told me that the club went into the draft wanting to emphasize the defense (no kidding) and achieved its goals with the top two picks who are likely to see significant minutes this season.

“These two players in particular have the ability to impress us and hopefully play some significant minutes in the first couple of seasons of their MLS careers,” he said.

I asked Arena about the knock against Gonzalez – namely his perceived immobility: “I’ve seen (Chelsea’s) John Terry a couple of times as well,”he said. “Omar has the tools to become a good defender and in time we’re going to find out the answer to that.”

Arena also said:
*His starting lineup is more than 50 percent set and the roster is already “much improved” over last year.
*He expects Donovan to return to the Galaxy from Bayern Munich: “It’s been in our agreement all the time.”

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Chivas USA’s Kljestan to Train With Celtic, Panchito Joins CD Guadalajara & a Draft Day Update

Chivas USA announced this evening that midfielder Sacha Kljestan has left the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp and is en route to Scotland as I write this to train with Glasgow Celtic beginning Saturday.

He’s due back Jan. 22, two days before the U.S. friendly against Sweden at Home Depot Center, but let’s not kid ourselves – this is a trial. And if Manager Gordon Strachan likes the wee lad, Kljestan is gone.

You can see it coming.

Kljestan, 23, had the best year of his young career.

The club ticked off his achievements in its press this evening, observing that he earned “MLS Best XI honors after leading Chivas USA in assists (7) and goals (5, tied) in 22 league matches played, while being named the club’s 2008 MVP and Budweiser Golden Boot Winner. On the international level, Kljestan was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year, after representing his country at the Beijing Olympics, where he scored two goals in three matches for the U.S., including a strike against Holland that was voted U.S. Soccer’s ‘Best Goal of 2008′. For the senior U.S. National Team, Kljestan has appeared in 11 matches since his 2007 debut, including four World Cup Qualifiers in 2008.”

Chivas USA is scheduled to open training camp Jan. 28. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he’s there.

Also gone: Panchito Mendoza, who has joined CD Guadalajara (he’s actually been on loan to Chivas USA for the last four years).

“My experience in the U.S. has been important for my growth not just as a professional but also as a person. I hope more Mexican players will consider my example and take a serious look at developing their careers in MLS,” said Mendoza from Guadalajara, where he was today officially presented alongside Chivas de Guadalajara’s newest signings Jared Borgetti and Aarn Galindo.

(Guess we know which MLS team has the inside track on eventually signing Borgetti now).

Good for Panchito, but it’s a move that won’t hurt Chivas USA much. Mendoza was always a little too frenetic for my tastes with a tendency to hold onto the ball far too long.

He played 111 times for Chivas USA, a record for a Mexican-born player in MLS.

“Over the past four years, ‘Panchito’ has come to represent the spirit of Chivas USA . We are happy he now has the chance to return home and join our partner team in Mexico,” said Chivas USA President and CEO Shawn Hunter.

Meanwhile, draft day happenings included Chivas USA picking up Canadian defender Ante Jazic from the Galaxy.

That clears up cap space for the Galaxy and gives Preki another defensive option (so who will be left back – Jazic or Jonathan Bornstein – and what does the move bode for the latter?).

More on Jazic – and other Chivas USA draft day moves comes from the club’s (edited) press release:

Chivas USA made Wake Forest University midfielder Michael Lahoud its first-round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, while also acquiring veteran defender Ante Jazic from the LA Galaxy, on a busy draft day today that saw four new players join the Red-and-White.

After selecting Lahoud with the ninth pick overall, Chivas USA traded its second-round pick (19th overall) in exchange for Jazic and the Galaxy’s third- and fourth-round picks, taking forward Kyle Christensen from the University of Denver (35th overall), and Jamie Franks of Wake Forest (49th overall) with those selections.

Got that? Who are these players? Here’s the Cliff Notes version:

*Lahoud scored 14 goals in 95 games for Wake Forest, which in 2007 won the NCAA title.

*Jazic, who has 25 caps for Canada, made 41 starts over three years with the Galaxy and also played professionally in Croatia, Austria and Russia.

*Christensen scored 27 goals in 72 games for the University of Denver.

*Wake Forest midfielder Jamie Franks was second on the Deacons in assists his senior year with 11.

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