Sportsmanship, Sol & Seacrest

And yeah, the headline is in order of importance.

Heartwarming tale of a Los Angeles-area girls youth soccer team who won a championship, but then couldn’t afford to travel to the tournament they had qualified for.

(Any yeah, I know Ryan Seacrest is involved, it’s still worth a listen).

Check it out here.

The Sol also trimmed its roster today ahead of Sunday’s WPS opener against the Washington Freedom. Here’s the roster.

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Shannon Boxx Day in Torrance


Sol midfielder, Olympian, gold medal winner and South (Torrance) High grad Shannon Boxx was awarded the key to the city she grew up in at Tuesday’s City Council meeting by starstruck Mayor Frank Scotto (a huge soccer fan and long-time coach) with her mom, Julie, looking on from the audience.

“I’m nervous just standing up here with you,” Scotto said after twisting his tongue a couple of times as he prepared to present the U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder with a proclamation on what was dubbed Shannon Boxx day, while receiving a Sol jersey in return.

Scotto added later: “We are very proud to call her one of our own.”

Boxx, twin Olympic gold medals dangling around her neck, seemed genuinely touched by the honor.

“I’ve been everywhere in the world,” she said. “I’ve lived in different states and countries and somehow Torrance always draws me back. … I love the key – the fact I have my own day is pretty big, too.”

Coincidentally, the city was also honoring the championship-winning South High girls team that evening so Boxx was naturally recruited to present each player with a certificate and added a Sol shirt for the coach and hats for the players.

Boxx and the Sol debut Sunday at Home Depot Center against the Washington Freedom.

The proclamation


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Chelsea to Play Inter Milan at Rose Bowl July 21


Chelsea’s John Terry celebrates after scoring a goal in 2007 at Home Depot Center.

It could be a special game; Chelsea didn’t meet the Italian team in the European Champions League this season, making the game the club’s first reunion with the Special One and former Manager Jose Mourinho since he (ahem) left.

“We’ll look forward to re-engaging with Jose at that game,” Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon told me this morning from New York where a press conference was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Pacific.

“We managed to miss him in the draw in the Champions League,” he added. “This will also be the first time there’s competitive contact between the two clubs.”

Tickets go on sale today at (I’m told the link will go live later today, BTW).

The game is part of a nationally televised, four-team, six-city round robin tournament that also includes Club America and AC Milan in what’s being called the World Football Challenge.

“We’re looking forward to playing in the Rose Bowl, which is one of the iconic stages (in sport),” said

Here’s the full schedule:

Sunday, July 19
Club America vs. FC Internazionale Milano at Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.)
4 p.m. ESPN2

Tuesday, July 21
Chelsea FC vs. FC Internazionale Milano at the Rose Bowl
8 p.m. ESPN2

Wednesday, July 22
AC Milan vs. Club America at the Georgia Dome (Atlanta)
4 p.m. EST on ESPN2

Friday, July 24
AC Milan vs. Chelsea FC at M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
5 p.m. ESPN

Sunday, July 26
AC Milan vs. FC Internazionale Milano at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
2 p.m. ESPN2

Sunday, July 26
Chelsea FC vs. Club America at Cowboy Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
4 p.m. ESPN2

Yes, the idea is to make money. And yes, in a sense it’s taking money out of MLS teams’ pockets.

But let’s face it, a lot of Eurosnobs don’t go to MLS games anyway. And what soccer fan is going to pass up the opportunity to see the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Ronaldinho, Kak, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Andrea Pirlo, Pavel Pardo, Guillermo Ochoa and Adriano. Beckham who?

It’s the fifth time in six years Chelsea have played preseason games in the U.S., Kenyon said. That has prompted Chelsea’s U.S. fan base to more than double in the last three years and is now well over two million supporters strong, Kenyon said.

How much hunger is there here for European soccer? Last May’s UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United was seen by a record 1.1 million viewers in the U.S.

Chelsea last played in Southern California two years ago in the World Series of Football at Home Depot Center. Fans will remember the game for a crunching tackle by Steve Sidwell on David Beckham that exacerbated the injury he was carrying when he arrived from Real Madrid and helped ruin his and the Galaxy’s season.

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Tuesday’s Column: The New (Inter) face of Women’s Soccer

The Sol and Washington Freedom open the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer season Sunday at Home Depot Center.

I took a look at the league and the grass roots marketing strategy being employed in this week’s column.

Updated: BTW, today is Shannon Boxx Day in the city of Torrance; the Sol midfielder, who grew up in Torrance, will be honored at tonight’s City Council meeting, which begins at 7 o’clock at City Hall, 3031 Torrance Blvd.

Coincidentally, the South High girls team, which Boxxy played for between 1991 and 1995, will also receive a certificate of recognition tonight for winning the CIF-SS Division 5 Championship. How’s that for motivation?

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So Cal Youth Soccer Spotlight

I stopped blogging about high school soccer last year and I don’t think any readers noticed (or at least said anything). All the newspapers this bog is affiliated with have prep sports blogs now and I didn’t want to be redundant.

But what about youth soccer?

Do you care? Let me know.

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team
The U.S. beat Bolivia 2-1 today and faces Argentina Wednesday and Uruguay Friday in Buenos Aires as part of a three-game trip in South America ahead of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Tijuana.

Southern Californians on the squad include midfielders Luis Gil (Pateadores; Garden Grove) and Carlos Martinez (Wilmington Juniors; San Pedro).

U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team
The team holds a 24-player camp from April 5-11 as part of early preparations for the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

Among the locals called in are midfielder Katie Speidel (Real So Cal/Oak Park) and striker Courtney Proctor (Santa Clarita United Blazers/Santa Clarita).

U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team
The U.S. will hold its first training camp of the year April 4-11 at Home Depot Center with Southern Californians on the roster including forwards Michelle Cruz (Slammers/Thousand Oaks) and Samantha Johnson (Real So Cal/Palmdale).

U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team
UCLA Coach Jillian Ellis has been named coach of the U.S. U-20 team as it begins a new cycle that will hopefully culminate in Germany with a spot in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup; she had previously served as coach of the team, but had stepped down in January 2008 after she was named assistant coach with the national team. Now she will continue in that post and add the U-20 team (again). Got that?

2009 U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Champions
*Crowned as champions Sunday were the 1993 Girls from California South who beat North Texas 1-0 in Frisco, Texas. Locals on the roster included Marie Mackenzie of Simi Valley, Monique Pendleberry of Newbury Park, Courtney Proctor of Santa Clarita and Haley Rosen of Rolling Hills.

*The 1993 California South Boys beat Oklahoma 4-3 in OT with such locals as Christopher Lopez, Reseda; Eduardo Quezada, South Gate; Henry Rios, Norwalk; Cody Thompson, Westlake Village; and Andrew Trejo, Santa Clarita on the roster.

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Fantasy Football: Week 1

The first week of MLS is in the books and that means so is the first week of fantasy football for those of us who believe we can put together a better team than real life coaches.

It’s going to be a long season.

My team, the South Bay Boyz, is sitting 11th in the 14 team division, already 21 points behind the leaders, Hirudinae FC.

My team is made up largely of local products (including Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers, Palos Verdes’ John Thorrington and Los Alamitos’ Jonny Bornstein) with the likes of Norwich City’s Darren Huckerby and impressive Jamaican Dane Richards (hence the name) thrown in for good measure. And, I have to say, they must do better.

There’s room for another 10 or so teams over at the 100 Percent Soccer division so sign up and giggle over who I have in goal.

And go Zakuani!

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Galaxy Post-Game Quotes (and a Beckham Update)

AP Photo


Landon Donovan makes it 2-1 against D.C. United from the spot Sunday. Despite the penalty call, replays showed there was no hand ball, though.

Reporter Phil Collin kindly sent along some extra quotes from Coach Bruce Arena and Landon Donovan after the 2-2 draw against D.C. United today at Home Depot Center.

Here’s Donovan on the overall performance:

“As time went on we had to be more urgent and we did a pretty good job of that. For having a lot of young guys on the field I thought we did a good job of just putting the ball in dangerous areas so that guys could make plays.”

On how he’s adjusting to MLS after playing sparingly in Germany:

“I’m continuing to get sharper and more aware in every second of the game so that at any moment the right service comes, a ball gets knocked down, a play breaks up I’m ready for it. That’s kind of what happened on the second goal. I took a chance and just made a run into a good spot and the ball got there.”

On how the rookies played:

“For the most part Omar and A.J. did very well. Kyle came in and did a very good job to make a difference and he did it last week in Phoenix and he just gave us a spark. Omar, he got beat on a header that led to the first goal. He’s got to know that when he goes up with his size and ability he needs to win. Other than that I thought he played very well.”

Here’s Arena’s assessment of Donovan:

“He was quiet at times. The penalty kick helped him. He was dangerous in particular the second half. He did quite well playing the midfield in the last 15 minutes of the game. Landon’s going to get better. He’s not where he needs to be right now. His tenure in Germany was good but he didn’t play enough. His fitness has to get a little better and he has to get a little sharper on the ball.

Arena had this short verdict of Sean Franklin’s first game at right back):

“OK. He’s almost a rookie basically. His first MLS game as a right back. He needs more experience. He’s a young kid with a lot of potential, but he’s got a long way to go.”

Arena’s view of A.J. DeLaGarza:

“I think he did very well. That position is new to him obviously. Because of some of the injuries we’ve suffered that decision to play him there was made over the last week. He’s done well. He’s a good smart player. He’s a player with a good future.


Finally, Arena on the overall performance:

“Actually for the most part I thought the first half we played well. We had that breakdown right at the end of the first half. I didn’t like the way we came out in the first 15 minutes (of the second half) but thoroughly enjoyed our commitment to get back in the game in the last 30 minutes. We can be better in every area … It’s going to be hard to fully assess our team until we get all our players on the field. So far it’s OK. It’s certainly not good enough, but it’s OK at this point.”

AP Photo


The Galaxy’s David Beckham acknowledges the crowd after today’s AC Milan game against Napoli.

Updated: David Beckham’s AC Milan drew 0-0 with Napoli today and he was also called up into the England squad for the friendly against Slovakia Saturday; England also play Ukraine April 1 in a World Cup qualifier.

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Final Result: Galaxy-D.C. United

The game ends 2-2, an extremely fortunate Galaxy escaping with a point at home after Landon Donovan scored a PK from a non-existent hand ball and then equalized five minutes later from an offside position.

Updated: A vociferous response to my offside claim from readers. The YouTube video a reader sent along is inconclusive; Donovan is in an offside position by the time the ball enters the frame, but we don’t see where he is the moment the ball is kicked. Still, it’s close enough that I’m going to retract my assertion it was clearly offside. Especially since I’m a huge advocate of giving the benefit of the doubt to the forward whenever possible (and believe refs don’t do that enough).

Thanks for all the responses.

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