Half Time: Chivas USA at FC Dallas

Dallas 0 Chivas USA 0

Both sides have had chances, but both teams have wasted good chances in front of net, with Kenny Cooper squandering chances for Dallas and Atiba Harris shooting straight at the Dallas goalkeeper from point blank range for Chivas USA.

“Kenny Cooper is running free too much and getting chances,” Jesse Marsch said at the half on television, acknowledging that Chivas USA need to be crisper with their passing and shut down Dallas better defensively.

Chivas USA miss striker Maykel Galindo (who is on the bench).

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Sunday Soccer Gameday: Chivas USA, Sol & More

AP Photo

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El Salvador’s Rene Gonzales, left, and the rest of his team presented a bigger hurdle for the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and his U.S. teammates than expected.

*That was close – a below par U.S. clawed back a two-goal deficit Saturday to tie El Salvador 2-2 in World Cup qualifying.

*Chivas USA seeks its second consecutive win to open the MLS season against Dallas at noon (live on TeleFutura and Prime) and will face their opponents’ backup goalkeeper.

*More than 10,000 are expected at Home Depot Center today for the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer game between the L.A. Sol and Washington Freedom (live at 3 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel). The Sol perspective is here; more on the Freedom is here.

* Gameday rosters here.

Sol injuries: Midfielder Aly Wagner is doubtful with a left hip strain (and won’t start – she’s Twittering) and striker Han Duan is listed as probable with a left knee sprain.

Twittering details:

Follow Wagner here.

Follow the Freedom’s Kati Jo Spisak here.

Follow WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci here.

Follow Sol General Manager Charlie Naimo here.

And I will blog/Twitter from the game, too.

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Saturday Soccer: WCQ & More

Today’s (selected) games
8 a.m. GOLTV Wales-Finland
Noon GOLTV Germany-Liechtenstein
4 p.m. Telemundo Mexico-Costa Rica
4:30 p.m. Fox Socccer Channel New York Red Bulls – New England Revolution
4 p.m. GOLTV Holland-Scotland
6 p.m. ESPN/Telefutura El Salvador-U.S.

World Cup Preview
The Cal State Northridge connection to today’s U.S.-El Salvador World Cup qualifier is here.

Deal Of the Week
Apparently in reaction to a crowd of fewer than 20,000 for the home opener, the Galaxy have slashed prices in a promotion they’re dubbing March Madness (has a clever ring to it, doesn’t it?).

For the five games against Colorado (April 4), Chivas USA (April 11), New York (May 2), Columbus (May 17) and Houston (June 28) the most expensive sideline seats (usually $75) are $14 and $50 corner seats are $24. The catch? There are a “limited number” of tickets at that price. Call 877-3GALAXY.

Long Beach State Sign Nine
Long Beach has signed nine players for the upcoming season including Shannon Bullock (right) of Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa High School. She will join her sister, Lindsay, on the team who earned Big West Midfielder of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2008.

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“Shannon is an athletic winger-type player that can also play forward,” said Coach Mauricio Ingrassia. “She has a competitive spirit that will push others around her to be better. Her attitude and work rate are traits that will transform her as a player and I am looking forward to seeing her development.”

Youth Will Be Served
From the official Galaxy blog:

On Saturday the Galaxy will host Arsenal, one of the top clubs in Southern California, on Field No. 5 at Home Depot Center. The U-16 game begins at 1 p.m. and the U-18 game starting at 3:15.

Both teams are back in action on Sunday, hosting FC Portland from Oregon. Those games be played on Field No. 7 at the HDC, with the U-16 game starting at 11 a.m. and the U-18 game starting at 1 p.m.

The U-16′s, who are coached by Steve Myles, go into the weekend with a 5-2-1 record in the SoCal Division and a 10-5-2 mark overall. As it is the Division record that determines the standings in Development Academy play, the Galaxy currently sit in third place with 16 points, two points behind Arsenal and one point behind Nomads.

The U-18′s are currently coached by Pomona College head coach Bill Swartz, who recently took over the job from Warren Barton, who left the organization. They enter the weekend with a 4-4-0 mark in the SoCal Division, leaving them with 12 points, eight points behind Division leaders LAFC Chelsea, and a 7-8-2 mark overall.

Sueno MLS
Galaxy forward Edson Buddle, defender Omar Gonzlez and midfielders Dema Kovalenko and Stefani Miglioranzi kick off the try-outs at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at the San Bernardino Soccer Complex, 2500 E. Pacific St. More than 1,800 would-be soccer pros will take part.

WPS begins Sunday
Finally, the Shannon Boxx WPS commercial:

Find more videos like this on Women’s Professional Soccer

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Chivas USA Signs Serbian Winger

After training with Chivas USA for the last month, Serbian winger Bojan Stepanovic, 26, signed today as an international player.

The midfielder joins from Serbian side FK Srem and could make his debut at noon Sunday against FC Dallas in a game live on prime and TeleFutura.

“Bojan Stepanovic is a solid offensive player who hits a good final pass and can play on either side of the field,” said Coach Preki, who said on the team’s blog he saw him play a few years ago and kept an eye on him. “He fits well with how we play here and we hope he will bring a lot of good qualities to our team”

Stepanovic played from 2007-2009 for FK Srem of Serbia’s First League (second division) and also played in the 2005-2006 season with Serbian First League club FK Vozdovac.

To make room on the senior roster, forward Justin Braun has been designated as a developmental player.

More from the team’s official blog is here.

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Twittering WPS & Abby’s Road

Women’s Professional Soccer Commissioner Tonya Antonucci tweeted this afternoon that the L.A. Sol’s Aly Wagner and the Washington Freedom’s Kati Jo Spisak will Twitter from the inaugural game of the new pro league that kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday from the Home Depot center.

Wagner hasn’t signed up for Twitter yet (or at least I couldn’t find her just now on a search), so I’ll pass along how to receive her tweets later.

Meanwhile, here’s an AP profile (and picture) of the Freedom’s Abby Wambach, a South Bay resident who will play in her first competitive game Sunday since breaking her leg with the U.S. Women’s National Team, which meant she missed the Olympics.

By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
BOYDS, Md. (AP) – Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach was still in the ambulance, morphine easing the pain from her broken leg, when she got a call phone from her hero, mentor and friend Mia Hamm.

The conversation – between the most prolific international goal-scorer of all time and the
person who will likely take over that title someday – began like something from the
theater of the absurd.

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“She said, ‘What are you doing, why are you picking up?’” Wambach said. “I’m like, ‘Why are you calling me if you didn’t want to talk?’”

As they shared information about the injury, Hamm was as devastated as Wambach.

The fracture, from a collision with a Brazilian player during an exhibition game on July 16 2008, would keep the United States’ most powerful scoring threat out of the women’s soccer tournament at the Beijing Olympics.

“She knew what an impact I would be,” Wambach said, “and she knew how difficult it was going to be.”

Hamm, a Manhattan Beach resident who lives only 10 minutes from Wambach, would bring her twins over to Wambach’s house as a sort of divert-your-mind therapy.

Wambach watched every minute of every game on television, occasionally yelling at the screen as her teammates won the gold.

Wambach also chilled out.

She played the guitar, read a lot and went surfing once her leg would permit it.

The downtime led to a realization: Before the injury, she had worn herself to
a perfection-driven frazzle trying to be The Next Mia Hamm.

“I definitely did a lot of soul searching,” Wambach said. “Why did I break my leg? Why the timing? Why then? I think I really need to consider what this game meant to me and why I played it. I was stressed during that time going into the Olympics, and that’s not what brings the best out of me. I couldn’t show it to anybody. I didn’t want anybody to know — and that’s the game. It’s a really big mind game when you’re going into a world event like that. It’s comical how stressed I was, because then I’m laying on my couch with a broken leg, I’m like, ‘Why was I even thinking about being so stressed? It’s a game.’

“And so when they won, it was even more calming to me, like, ‘I’m really not all that
important.’ Of course I am, but I’m not the end-all and be-all.”

Wambach returned to the practice field this month at the wind-swept facilities of the Maryland SoccerPlex in the far-out suburbs of the nation’s capital, practicing with her new-old team, the Washington Freedom.

Wambach played for the Freedom during the three-year run of the WUSA,
and she is back with the franchise again for the launch of the new Women’s Professional Soccer league, which debuts when Washington plays the Sol on Sunday.

“I personally think that (the injury) is going to extend my career five years longer,” Wambach said. “First of all, getting eight months rest for your muscles and your joints and your body, and then the mental thing where if I was stressed like that and we kept winning, I would have stayed that stressed. I wouldn’t have been able to really detach myself from playing.”

Not that Wambach looks any different on the field. She is still big, strong, powerful and
agile – a nightmare for any defender.

Off the field, she is still a goofball who has yet to meet a practical joke she doesn’t like, yet also a person who speaks her mind as a budding humanitarian and philanthropist.

She was one of nine American athletes the Chinese listed as potential troublemakers during the run-up to the Olympics.

So, yes, Wambach is still living life 100 miles per hour.

“Now she’s going 100 miles per hour – but she knows where she’s going,” said Briana Scurry, the longtime U.S. national team goalkeeper and Wambach’s teammate with the Freedom.

Wambach is Exhibit A why the U.S. needs a topflight league to support its Olympic and World Cup teams.

She was a bundle of nerves during her first camps with the U.S. team eight years
ago, but her games with the Freedom – with Hamm as a teammate – allowed her to showcase her talent and win the confidence of then-coach April Heinrichs.

Wambach has an amzing 99 goals in 127 games in international play as well as a gold medal from the 2004 Olympics in Greece. At age 28, she’s well within striking distance of the world record of 158 goals set by Hamm, who retired after the Athens Games.

Oddly enough, the new league could hinder Wambach’s chances of reaching the record because the national team will play fewer games to accommodate the WPS schedule.

Also, Germany’s Birgit Prinz (122 goals at age 31) could overtake Hamm first.

Right now, however, Wambach’s priorities are the Freedom and the new league, which both have more modest budgets and expectations than the failed WUSA. Even so, leagues need stars, and she knows that’s a role she’s expected to fill.

“I was clueless six years ago when I first got to the Washington Freedom,” Wambach said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s just totally different. I feel confident. The things that I’ve learn the past six years will really help this team, and really the league. I’m in more of a leadership role and a role where you set the standard, so how I train, how I play, the mistakes that I make, how I present myself, it all makes a difference.”

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Special One In Southern California

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho flew to Los Angeles today where he is expected to tour UCLA’s facilities in preparation for this summer’s workouts the team will hold there.

And, of course, Chelsea plays Inter Milan at the Rose Bowl July 21 as part of four-team, six-city round robin tournament that also includes Club America and AC Milan dubbed the World Football Challenge.

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Thursday Quick Kicks

Briefly:

*Galaxy squad player Leonard Griffin goes under the knife today in Munich for a hernia operation. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is still not in full training. And those of you with fantasy football teams should know Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers of the Columbus Crew is not expected to play Saturday so he can rest a hamstring issue.

*For what it’s worth English tabloid the Daily Mail is the latest media outlet to speculate about Mexican Coach Sven Goran Eriksson and his job security (or lack thereof).

*Chivas USA fan group the Union Ultras host a viewing party for the club’s game in Dallas Sunday in West Covina.

*And the Croatian community in San Pedro is gearing up for its third annual Small Goals Tournament set for May 23 to coincide with Croatian Independence Day.

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