It’s Called Football Podcast (& More)

“It’s Called Football” is a Canadian podcast out of Toronto.

I’ve been on the show three times and despite the feeling I get more incomprehensible every time they keep asking me back.

This is their MLS mid-season show and I’m on babbling about Alecko Eskandarian, the Galaxy and David Beckham. And in that order, too.

Here’s the link.

Before I forget here’s the Barcelona roster for their three-game U.S. tour including Saturday’s game against the Galaxy at the Rose Bowl (BTW, I don’t think any of their practices are open to the public and the media are being asked not to reveal the locations anyway):

GOALKEEPERS – Albert Jorquera, Jose Manuel Pinto, Victor Valds

DEFENDERS – Eric Abidal (FRA), Maxwell Andrade (BRA), Henrique Adriano (BRA), Daniel Alves (BRA), Rafael Mrquez (MEX), Gerard Piqu, Carles Puyol, Vctor Sanchez, Marc Muniesa, Andreu Fonts

MIDFIELDERS – Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernndez, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez, Victor Sanchez, Seydou Keita (MLI), Toure Yaya (CIV), Jonathan Dos Santos (MEX)

FORWARDS – Eidur Gudjohnsen (ICE), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE), Thierry Henry (FRA), Bojan Krkic, Lionel Messi (ARG), Jeffrn Surez.

(Nationalities of players are Spanish unless otherwise).

Barcelona has arrived in Los Angeles.

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No Column Today: Gone Fishing

Taking a break for a few days.

But since I’m sitting in an Old Town Pasadena Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf right now, it’s appropriate to point out that the Galaxy has an MLS All-Star game viewing party scheduled nearby from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday at Redwhite + Bluezz, 70 S. Raymond Ave.

I’ll return before the Barcelona game at the Rose Bowl.

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Were You at the Galaxy’s First Game at the Rose Bowl?

Then I know someone who wants to hear from you.

And on a day after the Galaxy announced they had sold more than 70,000 tickets for Saturday’s game against Barcelona there (remaining tickets start at $35) it’s an apt post:

I’m Miguel Melendez and I’m a sportswriter at the Pasadena Star-News. I’m working on a story about the Galaxy’s return to the Rose Bowl Saturday for the first time since leaving in 2002 for Home Depot Center. The story is scheduled to run later this week in such newspapers as the Daily Breeze, L.A. Daily News and the Star-News. I want to talk to fans who were at the first Galaxy game in 1996 at the Rose Bowl. Tell me about your experience, your thoughts on the atmosphere and the game itself. E-mail and be sure to put “First Galaxy game” in the subject line. Thank you all very much!

I’ll go first: I was there as a fan.

MLS had opened its inaugural season the previous weekend, Eric Wynalda’s 88th minute goal for the San Jose Clash against D.C. United saving the league (and its fans) from the humiliation of its first-ever game ending scoreless.

It seemed somewhat unbelievable to think that top class professional soccer was returning to where I lived for the first time in a dozen years.

All week long the L.A. Times revised (upwards) the estimated attendance for the Galaxy’s first game Saturday against the New York-New Jersey MetroStars: 25,000, then 35,000, 45,000 and then somewhere north of 50,000.

I drove down from Ventura with my wife in our 1983 Oldsmobile Omega, which had a habit of overheating and certainly didn’t disappoint on April 13, 1996, grinding to a vapor-spewing, volcanic halt in bumper to bumper traffic en route. We finally got to the vast stadium, negotiated the grassy oceans of parking lot/golf course and got in a huge line for tickets (the first and last time I bought tickets the day of the game).

It was around half time before we got in. It was impossible to find your seat. People sat and stood anywhere. I didn’t care. Football was back. In the end almost 70,000 attended.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the game (and certainly didn’t have the best view anyway). Cobi Jones scored the Galaxy’s first-ever goal in the 37th minute and I missed it. The Galaxy won 2-1. And I’m sure New York was as crap then as they are now.

(The Galaxy XI: Campos, Semoli, Calichman, Fraser, Noamouz, Jones, Cienfuegos, Armas, Motajo, Karapetyan, Hurtado; Andrew Shue came on as a second half sub).

There were things to like about the Rose Bowl: the pubs in Old Town Pasadena, tailgating before the game, barbecuing on the lush golf course, the numerous bacon-wrapped hot dog vendors after the final whistle.

But it was a long trip (made longer at the end with the seemingly never-ending winding drive through residential neighborhoods with no signs pointing to the stadium and populated by people that quite clearly didn’t want you there) to sit in those tiny uncomfortable seats (and I’m not a big guy) in often oppressive heat. (BTW, I still remember sitting sweating in full sun and then seeing Dennis Hopper walking past me clad in a huge heavy coat as he negotiated the steps of the Rose Bowl on June 16 when more than 92,000 of us – the largest crowd ever to a (professional/club) soccer game in the U.S. at the time – crammed in to watch the Galaxy play the now deceased Tampa Bay and the U.S. face Mexico in a doubleheader).

These days I appreciate the cozy confines of the HDC and my 15 minute drive. But I’ll be reliving memories of the early years of MLS at the Barcelona game. I’m heading out to a few days of vacation. Posting will be light and there’s no column Tuesday. See you at the Rose Bowl.

Including you, Josh. Hope Becks buys you a Becks one of these days.

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U.S.-Mexico WCQ to be Widely Available on English Language TV After All & More

I’m guessing NBC Universal caved into the public outcry and saw that a free preview of its little known channel represented a golden promotional opportunity at the same time.

Here are the details on today’s announcement.

And how do I define “widely available”? Well, I get DirecTV. Mun2 is on Channel 410.

Incidentally, I’m no fan of Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game, as regular readers know, but it’s good to see Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton get added to the squad in the absence of the Houston Dynamo’s Pat Onstad.

From the Chivas USA press release:

Thornton, 35, has played every minute of the MLS season for the Red-and-White, notching seven shutouts and a 0.88 goals against average in 17 games. His eight wins and seven shutouts are second only to Onstad, who has played two more games. Thornton and Seattle Sounders FC’s Kasey Keller are the two goalkeepers on the All-Star Team roster for the match against Everton.

They’re already getting psyched about the game in Salt Lake City.

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The Ugly Truth

Mexico has a better “C” team than the U.S.

Good thing no-one cares about the Gold Cup anyway.

But no matter the competition or team the U.S. should never – never – lose 5-0 to Mexico. And certainly shouldn’t collapse on that scale, conceding five goals in just over 30 minutes.

How different would it have been if the likes of Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers had converted first half chances?

It was the first time a team scored five goals against the U.S. since Czechoslovakia won by a 5-1 margin in the 1990 World Cup.

If this doesn’t motivate U.S. Soccer to lobby CONCACAF to move this tournament to an every four year rotation nothing will.

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Sunday Soccer: Galaxy-Wizards Highlights & More

Bowling for Becks in KC (AP Photo)i-9820f135601a5079d940d44940002867-bowlingbecks.jpg

The Galaxy failed to win a fifth consecutive game Saturday, drawing with the Wizards 1-1 in Kansas City. Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (Peninsula High) kept his former team at bay with a superb performance. But a stunning goal of the season contending strike by the Wizards Claudio Lopez that left Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts injured was the high point of the game.


“I thought (Hartman) was outstanding,” said Wizards Coach Curt Onalfo. “He did what he’s done most of the year, which is make saves when he’s called upon. We had some missed clearances in the first half that led to chances for them and he made some real good saves.”

Game story.

The Kansas City perspective.

MLS standings.


*Despite taking the lead on a goal from San Pedro’s Peter Hazdovac, the Hollywood United Hitmen fell to the Ventura County Fusion in the PDL playoffs.

*The Pali Blues came from behind to win in the W-League playoffs.

* And don’t forget this game that kicks off at noon today on Fox Soccer Channel.

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Galaxy-Wizards, VC Fusion-Hollywood Hitmen Saturday Gameday

First off, if you only click one link in this blog post make it this one, a 16-picture gallery by readers of English newspaper The Guardian illustrating the Landon Donovan-David Beckham soap opera. Some hilarious stuff in there.

Donovan was still addressing the issue Friday in Kansas City before today’s nationally televised game (live at 6 p.m. on ESPN2).

Three points separate the Galaxy and the chasing Kansas City Wizards in the Western Conference standings.

Here’s more on the game from a local perspective and here’s even more from Donovan including the apparently increasing likelihood he will head to Europe to play. (BTW, shouldn’t he be updating that pic on his Web site?)

Those who like their soccer live should know that Premier Development League teams the Hollywood United Hitmen and Ventura County Fusion clash at 3 p.m. today at Pacific Palisades High School’s Stadium by the Sea in the Southwest Divisional Final.

Here’s a game preview.

Time constraints prevented much blogging this year about the PDL. but the Hitmen are in their first season in the league, having replaced the San Fernando Valley Quakes just weeks before the season started.

Their roster includes San Pedro’s Peter Hazdovac (last seen playing professional football in the lower divisions in Croatia) and the San Fernando Valley’s Willie Simms. The Fusion have former Chivas USA forward Anthony Hamilton on their squad.

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Gold Cup Final Preview

The game begins at noon Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel.

AP Sports Writer

This was the perfect Gold Cup for an outsider to steal. Honduras, perhaps. Or Canada.

Instead, Sunday’s final at the Meadowlands will have that familiar if not comfortable look
when the United States and Mexico, by far the most dominant nations in CONCACAF, meet for the title.

Neither country sent its best team to the biennial event, with the United States fielding
something of a JV squad with players unproven on the international scene. Those players, particularly Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers, as well as Stuart Holden, Kyle Beckerman and Riverside’s Chad Marshall, have performed well on the regional stage after the big boys lost in the Confederations Cup final to Brazil earlier this summer.

Mexico is missing some key players, too, and it has been struggling in World Cup qualifying, sitting fourth behind leader Costa Rica, the Americans and Hondurans. Yet Mexico survived a difficult round-robin in the Gold Cup, beat Costa Rica on penalty kicks in the semifinal, and has every reason to believe it can walk off with the trophy for the fifth time in its sixth trip to the finals.

“The United States is always a very difficult opponent and it will be a challenge for us,”
said Guillermo Ochoa, whose penalty-kick save was the difference against Costa Rica. “But we played well (in the semifinals) and it gives us a lot of confidence for the final.”

Ochoa was a backup when the Americans beat the Mexicans for the 2007 Gold Cup.

With Mexico in dire straits in World Cup qualifying, and facing an Aug. 12 home match against the U.S. team –with all of its top players — Ochoa could do some positive for his career and his nation’s chances to make the South Africa 2010 field by beating the hosts.

But winning in the United States has been impossible for El Tri this decade: the Americans are 9-0-2, with some of the games getting downright nasty. Of course, U.S.-Mexico is as heated a soccer rivalry as you’ll find in CONCACAF.

“We need to be looking at this final, not the other match,” Mexico coach Javier Aguirre

Still, a win Sunday, even with a vastly different lineup than each side will field at Azteca
next month, would be huge for El Tri.

“I don’t think it sets a tone,” U.S. forward Brian Ching said.

Ching is a rare veteran of international play on this U.S. squad, and wore the captain’s band in the semifinal. “But on a personal level, we’ve done well against them in the U.S. and you don’t want to be the team that lets them win at home.”

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MLS Fines Beckham for Confrontation with Riot Squad

It’s only $1,000, but I suppose it’s the principle of the thing rather than amount. Hope he doesn’t take it out of Brooklyn’s weekly allowance:

NEW YORK (AP) — David Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer, which said his gestures toward taunting fans suggested that they leave their seats and come on the field.

The fine by MLS commissioner Don Garber on Friday came five days after the English star confronted Los Angeles Galaxy fans in a group called the L.A. Riot Squad. The Galaxy and AC Milan played to a 2-2 tie in an exhibition game. Beckham played with AC Milan this year and was booed through much of the game.

“We support our players interacting with fans, whether it is at clinics, charity events or by
high-fiving their supporters in the stands while celebrating a goal,” Garber said. “However, our players should never engage in conduct that can be interpreted as encouraging fans to come out of the stands and onto the field, regardless of the reason.”

At halftime, Beckham walked toward the group while shouting and pointing. He challenged fans to meet him on the field and tried to lift himself over advertising boards before security intervened. Police arrested a fan who left the stands.

Then after a second-half corner kick in front of the Riot Squad’s section, Beckham immediately turned to those fans, put his index finger to his lips, shrugged his shoulders and blew them a kiss. The kick resulted in a goal.

Beckham has been unapologetic about his actions.

“At the end of the day, I play my game,” Beckham said Thursday. “If it’s not good enough for some people, as long as it’s good enough for myself and the team, nothing else matters.”

The Riot Squad blamed Beckham for agitating the situation in a statement on the group’s Web site Thursday.

“Had David responded differently on Sunday, the booing and the chanting probably would have ended at halftime,” the statement said. “We don’t believe questioning Beckham’s commitment to our team is over the line, but it’s clear that David feels otherwise.”

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Waiting for the Weekend

There are almost two dozen soccer games listed in today’s Daily Breeze print edition (y’know the thing made of dead trees that only costs a quarter, but is far easier to carry around than a laptop) you can watch on TV today through Sunday (and far more than that on niche channels).

Arguably the highlight: U.S.-Mexico at high noon Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel with the Gold Cup title at stake.

(BTW it looks like the two teams are getting acquainted already – here’s what U.S. Soccer just tweeted: “On our plane – we are about to depart for NYC. We are flying with Mexico and a bunch of CONCACAF officials. Ochoa’s hair is huge”).

Click to the right for a full listing, but here’s what I’ll also be watching:

*Noon Saturday on ESPN – Chicago Fire at Seattle (I just love watching games with that rocking atmosphere at Qwest Field).

*6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2 – Galaxy at Kansas City Wizards (A hopefully still pissed off David Beckham and the Galaxy look for a fifth straight MLS win). Click here for viewing parties.

*2 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2 – AC Milan-Inter Milan (a Milan derby in Boston).

Chivas USA has the weekend off.

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