Reaction to tonight’s 2-0 Pan-Pacific Championship victory – yes, victory, even if it is only preseason – over Japan’s Oita Trinita AKA the “Terrible Turtles,” comes from Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, veteran midfielder Chris Klein and top draft pick Omar Gonzalez.
Here’s Arena on tonight’s performance compared to last season:
“I saw more of a team tonight than I saw in a number of games last year. … We have a lot of new faces and there’s always a lot of unknowns at this time of year. To have a start like this in February with a positive result is good.”
On Edson Buddle’s first half goal:
“Really an alert play to strip the defender; the finish was incredible.”
On Gonzalez’ professional debut:
“Omar did well for his first game. A couple of mistakes he made on the ball and his positioning could have been better on a couple of plays, but overall I was very pleased with his performance. I think he’s a good young player with a lot of potential so hopefully he can continue to move forward. .. Omar’s a talented kid, he’s going to have his ups and downs, but he’s a player whose certainly going to contribute to make our back line a little bit better than it was last year.”
On not dressing the likes of Ely Allen, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, etc., for the game:
“Most of the players I introduced tonight were new faces. … We’ve seen those other players in the past and have a pretty good feel for them, not that we know them completely. We wanted to look at some new faces at a time you can do that. Tonight was the occasion and we took advantage of it.”
On goalkeeper Josh Wicks:
“He was solid tonight and the group in front of him did a real good job. I liked the fact that Josh was pretty steady tonight. At times last year we saw an inexperienced guy out of the goal, (who) at times ran himself out of position or his decision-making wasn’t good. Tonight I thought he was pretty solid in the goal.”
On what the team will look like Saturday:
“I don’t know yet. … This is the first time any of our players played over 60 minutes so we know they’re going to be feeling it come Friday. We’ll have to make some smart decisions to have a fresh team on the field come Saturday.”
Here’s Klein on the game:
“I’ll tell you one thing – it’s good to win. It’s good to walk off the field and win. No matter who we’re playing or where we are or what group of guys we have in the locker room, we have to create a winning mentality here in this locker room and it’s a decent start.”
On the feeling in the locker room:
“It feels like a group now and a lot of that comes from the themes Bruce is trying to instill within our locker room. He’s demanding (of) the older guys (that) not only are they inclusive of the younger guys, but (they) take responsibility for the locker room and if something is not right it’s up to us to fix it.
Here’s Gonzalez’ assessment of his performance:
“In the very beginning of both halves I gave two bad balls away, but I got over that hump and I thought I did well after that.”
On the difference between the college and pro games:
“It’s a lot harder, the players close down the space a lot faster and it’s harder to get the ball at your feet and I think I’ve just got to get used to the overall speed of the game. I think if I do that I can come into my own.”
On the foul on him that led to the penalty kick decision:
“I just had to sell it y’know.”
On playing with a former national team player like Tony Sanneh in the center of defense:
It was just amazing. He’s just so calm back there and I obviously have a lot to learn from him. I think he’s going to teach me a lot and I hope to be one day as good as he is and go to the places he’s been.”
Not a terribly (ahem) compelling game:
Galaxy 2 Oita Trinita 0
Jovan Kirovski converted a 53rd minute penalty after defender Omar Gonzalez was allegedly brought down on a corner kick that frankly looked like a dubious call with minimal contact.
Notable individual performers included:
*Hard-working Chris Klein, the best Galaxy player on the night, and Mike Magee who sparked a couple of scoring chances after coming on as a second half substitute.
*Goalkeeper Josh Wicks, who did well to get a hand to a 35-yard blast from Shingo Suzuki that appeared to be heading for the corner of the net in the 71st minute. Have we seen the last of Steve Cronin, who was uninjured?
*Omar Gonzalez and Tony Sanneh were quietly competent in central defense, although to be fair their opponents offered little in the way of dangerous scoring threats; right back Sean Franklin, however, was dispossessed in midfield at one point, bringing a concerned Bruce Arena to his feet.
The attendance: just 5,624.
The Galaxy win means they will face Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings, which dispatched China’s Shandong Luneng Taishan 1-0 in the earlier game, in the final at 8 p.m. Saturday.
More later, but there’s no locker room access, which usually means players take their time getting to the mixed zone, so don’t hold your breath.
Edson Buddle, the Galaxy’s second highest scorer last season with 13 goals, showed he hadn’t lost his opportunistic touch just before half time, picking off an errant pass between defenders to break free and blast a left-footed shot inside the post to put the Galaxy 1-0 up against Oita Trinita.
That was largely it for goalscoring opportunities in a choppy first half, with both teams struggling to find their feet as one might expect at this stage of the year; Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Wicks made just one save, while Oita’s keeper made none.
The Galaxy had a goal disallowed in the 10th minute for offside.
Updated: Buddle came off at the half and was replaced with draft pick Kyle Patterson, who dropped into midfield, with Jovan Kirovski moving forward to partner Alan Gordon up front.
The Terrible Turtles is (are?) the weird nickname of Japan’s Oita Trinita.
And it’s almost as weird as Bruce Arena’s lineup:
In goal: Josh Wicks (where’s Donovan Ricketts)?
In defense, Cal State Northridge product Sean Franklin is at right back as expected (he played one game there last year), top draft pick Omar Gonzalez partners geriatric Tony Sanneh in central defense (no wonder the Galaxy are still looking for a central defender), while Eddie Lewis, captain for the night, is on the left.
In midfield, Josh Tudela and Dema Kovalenko clog up the middle of the park (which Kovalenko might well do literally given his reputation, but I suppose he’s the playmaker), Chris Klein is on the right in Beckham’s spot and Jovan Kirovski will wander around on the left.
Up front: Edson Buddle and Alan Gordon.
On the bench: draft picks A.J. DeLagarza and Kyle Patterson are joined by Stefani Miglioranzi, Bryan Jordan and Mike Magee. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders (where’s Steve Cronin exactly?) is back for another go around with the Galaxy, while there’s also a new face – defender Yohance Marshall out of South Florida. Press box colleague Scott French observed some had projected Marshall as a first round draft pick, but played himself out of the draft altogether with a terrible combine, so that’s comforting.
As for Oita Trinita: you’re on your own.
Updated: Ricketts has a tight left hamstring and the medical staff advised rest. But how to explain the absence of the likes of Ely Allen, Brandon McDonald, Julian Valentin and Mike Randolph? Those guys are under contract, of course, so one Galaxy official suggested Arena perhaps wants to take a look at those who aren’t. We’ll ask after the game.
The Galaxy (pre-) season begins tonight with the first of two doubleheaders at Home Depot Center in four days.
Up first at 5:30 p.m. are Suwon Samsung Bluewings (Korea) vs. Shandong Luneng Taishan FC (China) followed at 8 p.m. by the Galaxy against Oita Trinita (Japan). Plenty of tickets starting at $15 are available, although both games will also be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel.
Fortunately for the Galaxy, considering last season’s results and the absence of David Beckham and Landon Donovan, the team also apparently known as the “Terrible Turtles” (!) are in fact fairly damn terrible according to this Web site that has more information than you ever wanted to know about the franchise.
Not much time today to add more, but I plan to blog from the game so join me this evening for updates and quotes from coaches and players
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan is apparently too old for Germany’s Bayern Munich:
MUNICH (AP) — Landon Donovan is unlikely to stay with Bayern Munich on a longer contract once his loan expires in mid-March, according to the club’s chairman.
Donovan practiced with Bayern in December and then joined the German champions during the Bundesliga’s winter break in a loan deal similar to the one his Los Angeles Galaxy teammate David Beckham has with AC Milan. Donovan’s loan expires March 15.
“Donovan is an interesting player,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the Munich newspaper TZ in an interview published Tuesday. “But when you have Klose, Toni and Olic already under contract, we think the fourth player (striker) should really be a young player with perspective.”
Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni are Bayern’s starting strikers, while Hamburg’s Ivica Olic has been signed as a free agent for next season. Backup striker Lukas Podolski is returning to FC Cologne at the end of the season.
After arriving at Bayern, Donovan said he would be interested in a longer contract. He scored four goals in practice games and has made four appearances, all as a substitute, in the Bundesliga and the German Cup, without scoring.
Donovan failed to break through in two earlier Bundesliga stints, both with Bayer
Donovan, BTW, is all of 26 years old.
So where now for Donovan if Jurgen agrees with his chairman? Does he try somewhere else? And why aren’t European clubs lining up to buy America’s best-ever player? Thoughts?
In other soccer news today:
*The U.S. Women’s National Team squad for the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal in March was named today and included Torrance’s Shannon Boxx and Kendall Fletcher of the Sol.
The squad (in parenthesis are the number of Algarve Cups the player has participated in):
Goalkeepers – Nicole Barnhart (3) (FC Gold Pride), Hope Solo (6) (St. Louis Athletica)
Defenders – Rachel Buehler (2) (FC Gold Pride), Lori Chalupny (6) (St. Louis Athletica), Kendall Fletcher (1) (Los Angeles Sol), Heather Mitts (5) (Boston Breakers), Christie Rampone (9) (Sky Blue FC)
Midfielders – Shannon Boxx (6) (Los Angeles Sol), Tina DiMartino (1) (FC Gold Pride), Carli Lloyd (4) (Chicago Red Stars), Heather O’Reilly (7) (Sky Blue FC), Lindsay Tarpley (7) (Chicago Red Stars), Kacey White (1) (Sky Blue FC), Angie Woznuk (2) (St. Louis Athletica)
Forwards – Angela Hucles (5) (Boston Breakers), Natasha Kai (4) (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (1) (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (4) (Boston Breakers).
*Eight players were signed to letters of intent at the UCLA women’s program it was announced today including U.S. Youth National Team players Zakiya Bywaters (Las Vegas) and Chelsea Cline (Des Moines, Iowa).
Others include defender-midfielder Sierra Mack (Anaheim/ Fullerton High) and national team pool players Lucretia Lee (Bothell, Wash.) and Ahsha Smith (Oakland).
*in the first Pepperdine’s women’s soccer game of the year, the program lost 2-1 to UC San Diego and then returned home to defeat UC Riverside by the same score. The Waves return to action at 10 a.m. Saturday against UC Irvine and at 1:30 p.m. against Westmont. Admission is free to all three games.
*The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team is in Madrid, Spain, for a week-long training camp through Sunday, that includes matches against Spain, a Real Madrid youth team and Rayo Majadahonda.
Included on the squad is Carlos Martinez of San Pedro.
The Goats are winging their way back to L.A. today after a 10-day camp in Guadalajara, roughly the amount of time (including weekends) I was absent.
So to bring you (and me) up to date, here’s a look at what’s been going on south of the border.
Before stepping on an airplane today, Chivas USA downed Irapuato 1-0 with top draft pick Michael Lahoud scoring his first goal for the team with a 65th minute volley off a pass from former Galaxy defender Ante Jazic.
Here’s the Chivas USA lineup:
Zach Thornton, Carey Talley (Dan Gargan ’57), Shavar Thomas (Javier Ledesma 57′) , Jim Curtin, Ante Jazic, Sacha Kljestan (Jesse Marsch 5′) (Gilson Tussi 57′), Michael Lahoud, Diego Scotti, Jonathan Bornstein (Jamie Franks 46′), Eduardo Lillingston (Justin Braun 57′) , Romn Cuello (Alecko Eskandarian, 52′).
Some of those names a tad unfamiliar?
*Cuello is a Uruguayan forward who began a trial with the team last Wednesday (along with Mexican defender Omar Briceo and no, I don’t know his current status with the team, but he didn’t play today).
*Defender Ledesma is the son of former Chivas USA assistant coach Javier “Zully” Ledesma.
*Midfielder Scotti, 32, is another Uruguayan who has bounced around various South American teams, most recently with Argentina’s Newell’s Old Boys.
*Striker Lillingston, 31, has played for five different Mexican teams, most recently Tecos.
*Tussi is a 24-year-old Brazilian midfielder.
Chivas USA scrimmages at 11 a.m. against Swedish club Hammarby and 1 p.m. against UCLA on Saturday at Home Depot Center.
A correction to the column: there is television coverage. It’s on Fox Soccer Channel. But the fact I wasn’t immediately aware of it (even if I have just returned from a week off) is yet another indication of how little promotion the tournament is receiving from organizers.
Also, Scott Wolf has the latest on Milan’s machinations.