Beckham Back in Full Training

It appears David Beckham may well play Friday against Chicago at Home Depot Center after all.

He trained with the squad Tuesday and “upped” the pace in practice again today; no adverse effects I’m told and things are looking good for the crucial encounter that could see (depending on results Saturday) the Galaxy make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Beckham, of course, missed the last Galaxy game with an Achilles issue and was on Monday officially listed by the club as “questionable” for the Fire game.

Incidentally, Chicago Fire midfielder John Thorrington of the Palos Verdes Peninsula is out of the game with a right groin strain, while Cuauhtemoc Blanco is listed as questionable.

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Honda Player of the Year Finalists: Altidore, Donovan, Howard

Those were my no-brainer picks for the three finalists, too, in the annual award given to the best national team player of the year.

Here’s how Ftbol de Primera, which organizes the award, described the three finalists:

*Jozy Altidore (Hull City, on loan from Villarreal) – A first-time finalist at age 19. At just 18, he became the youngest player to score for the United States during a 2-2 draw against Mexico in 2008. On April 1 2009, he also became the youngest U.S. player to record a hat trick when the U.S. won 3-0 in the World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago. Altidore has scored 8 goals in 19 games since his debut with the National Team in 2007.

*Landon Donovan (Galaxy) – The 27-year-old five-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year Award, is the only player to be a finalist seven times. Donovan is the all-time goalscorer for the U.S. National Team scoring a total of 41 goals during his 118 games.

*Tim Howard (Everton) – The 30-year-old goalkeeper is a finalist for the Honda Player of the Year Award for the third year in a row. Named best goalkeeper at the Confederations Cup last summer, he has 46 U.S. caps since his debut in 2002

The winner will be named Oct. 20 at The Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A.

Who do you think should win?

Who is the 2009 Honda Player of the Year?
Jozy Altidore
Landon Donovan
Tim Howard
Free polls from

Updated: Note the question is who should win, not who will win.

If you disagree with the choice of finalists feel free to comment.

My rationale for choosing the trio: Donovan is simply the best and most influential U.S. player, Howard keeps the U.S. in games against top-class opponents almost single handedly at times and Altidore is the best pure U.S. attacker.

Among other candidates Clint Dempsey is error-prone and had some poor games this year, Oguchi Onyewu needs to be more dominating and Michael Bradley more consistent (and learn to control his temper).

What say you?

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Tuesday’s Column: Sending Out a Search Party for Sacha

The lack of form by midfielder Sacha Kljestan (below) has been one of the talking points of the season for Chivas USA. I took a look at the issue in today’s column.

Down but not out? (AP Photo)i-91f6f26ce1f78893c104eb25a8fa0788-208619_m03.jpg

I had a few quotes left over that didn’t get in the column for space reasons.

Here’s Preki on what the club is doing to support him:

“We’re doing as a staff and the guys in the locker room whatever it takes to get him where he needs to be. Why is he not performing to the level he can? Honestly, that’s a question for him because I try to talk to him every day. The staff tries to talk to him, we try to encourage him to do good things.”

Here’s defender Jonny Bornstein on the reason for Kljestan’s sub-par performances:

“I don’t know. All those qualities are still there. Some of the bounces haven’t been going his way. I don’t know. It’s a tough question. It’s something that all players go through. I’ve gone through that myself. You’re playing pretty well and then all of a sudden you might get a little nick here, a little nick there and it’s kind of hindering you. Your confidence stops being so high and you stop playing as well.”

Finally, here’s Kljestan on his determination to win back his spot on the U.S. squad in time for next year’s World Cup in South Afrca:

“I’m motivated for sure. (U.S. Coach) Bob (Bradley) and I have always been honest with one another and when I wasn’t called up he went and talked to me and told me I wasn’t going to be going to Mexico. He said we both know I need to be on a confident level and consistent level of play that’s equal to the national team. So since then I’ve tried to refocus and regroup and (I’ve been) working with Preki a little bit extra and working with the staff and trying to get a few goals and trying to help the team win. So I think if we keep playing well and we keep winning I’ll hopefully be back on the team.”

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Beckham “Questionable” for Friday’s Chicago game.

Nationally televised on ESPN2: check.

Playoff implications on the line since the Galaxy can clinch their first playoff berth in four years with a win over the Chicago Fire on Friday night and a D.C. United loss to Chivas USA Saturday: check.

David Beckham returning from what was initially dismissed as a 50-50, long-standing Achilles tendon issue: Maybe not.

The midfielder could miss his second game in a row at a crucial time of the season after being one of five players listed as questionable in today’s Galaxy injury report ahead of Friday’s game.

The complete list:

OUT – Alecko Eskandarian (Head – Disabled List), Julian Valentin (Right Foot – Disabled List)


QUESTIONABLE – David Beckham (Right Ankle – Inflammation), A.J. DeLaGarza (Left Knee – Bruise), Dema Kovalenko (Right Achilles – Tendonitis), Eddie Lewis (Left Ankle – Sprain), Stefani Miglioranzi (Left Groin – Strain)


You’ve got to feel for Eskandarian: his injury is not broken nose or concussion symptoms – it’s just “head.”


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UCLA Striker Kara Lang out for Season With Knee Injury

The redshirt senior, who ranks fourth on the team in scoring with three goals and one assist, suffered the injury in the 21st minute in the 2-0 win Friday over Cal State Northridge.

It’s a “re-tear” of the right ACL the Canadian international originally tore in her sophomore year, which forced her to miss the entire 2006 season.

“I feel extremely sorry for Kara to have suffered this type of injury during her senior year,” said UCLA Coach Jill Ellis. “She is a vital part of this program and I know she will continue to be with us and support this team in some capacity the rest of the season. Kara is a strong individual, and I have full confidence that she will rebound from this injury and continue to have a successful soccer career.”

UCLA has plenty of scoring punch elsewhere, but the injury occurred just as Pac-10 play was about to begin.

Lang set UCLA freshman records for both goals and assists in 2005, but her college career is now over.

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College Roundup

Sunday’s Men’s Games
Cal State Bakersfield 1 Loyola Marymount 0
The No. 20-ranked Lions (5-3) fall in their final game before beginning their defense of their West Coast Conference title. Next: against San Francisco 4 p.m. Friday at Sullivan Field.

Cal State Northridge 1 Coastal Carolina 2
A 62nd minute strike from Milan Radovic wasn’t enough for the Matadors (5-2-1) to win their final non-conference tune-up. Next: at UC Riverside 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Two goals from senior Kyle Nakazawa of Palos Verdes Estates and a goal by freshman Chandler Hoffman in the second half moved the Bruins to 5-1 on the season. Next: a pair of Pac-10 road games against Oregon State and Washington.

Cal State Dominguez Hills 1 Chico State 0
Sophomore Mike Piechota’s 61st minute header moves the Toros to 6-3-1. Next: a four-game road trip.

Sunday’s Women’s Games
UC Santa Barbara 3 UCLA 1
UC Santa Barbara 1 UCLA 3
Forward Sydney Leroux had a brace and defender Jenna Belcher added another goal as the No. 3-ranked Bruins (8-1-1) won their eighth straight game. Next: at Pepperdine at 3 p.m. Friday.

Loyola Marymount 3 Cal State Bakersfield 0
Three goals in the first 25 minutes earned the Lions (7-3-1) the win and extended their unbeaten streak to four games. Next: at Arizona 4 p.m. Friday.

Cal State Dominguez Hills 1 Chico State 2
The second goal in as many games by Oxnard freshman Yadira Gomez wasn’t enough for the Toros (6-5) to make up a two-goal deficit. Next: a four-game road trip.

Santa Clara 0 USC 2
The road win makes six consecutive victories for the Trojans (7-3). Next: at home against San Diego 3 p.m. Friday.

Utah 0 Pepperdine 1
Freshman Callie Payetta’s third goal in four games was enough for the Waves (6-3) win. Next: at home 3 p.m. Friday against UCLA.

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Chivas USA-New York Red Bulls Postgame

Chivas USA 1 Red Bull New York 1

Game story

Notable: In the 12th minute Red Bulls defender Mike Petke moved into the tenth position in MLS history in minutes played. He’s played 24,459 minutes over 12 seasons for three teams.

Quotable: “We make one mistake in 90 minutes and we got punished,” said Preki.

It was an extremely subdued locker room as you can imagine. I didn’t stick around long and neither did Sacha Kljestan not surprisingly. But a persistant Chivas USA PR type tracked him down and gave us this quote on his performance:

“I’m just disappointed that I didn’t help the team win. I think, and we all think, we should’ve won the game before we let Angel tie it. We had multiple chances and obviously we didn’t put the game away. I have the chance on the PK in the last minute, obviously it doesn’t go in so I’m disappointed I didn’t help the team win tonight.”

Chivas had plenty of opportunities in the second half, but couldn’t convert any. Chivas USA had 13 shots to New York’s four in the second half.

Here’s Preki on that:

“It’s really hard to comment on a game like this because I thought that we were the better team the whole 90 minutes. It was tough for us to find a breakthrough and once we did we failed to score a second. We had so many opportunities and that’s what in the end cost us the game.”

Attendance: 14,211

Next for Chivas USA: at D.C. United Saturday.

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Galaxy Cough One Up For Crew

An absent David Beckham. An invisible Landon Donovan. A Galaxy loss.

The Galaxy went meekly down 2-0 to the Columbus Crew Saturday even though the co-MLS leaders rested the likes of reigning MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, former Galaxy striker Alejandro Moreno and Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers ahead of Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League game against Costa Rica’s Saprissa.

They didn’t need them against a Galaxy team that yet again illustrated its lack of venom in front of goal, strikes by Eddie Gaven and Steven Lenhart on either side of halftime giving the home team a comfortable victory.

The Galaxy’s best attacking moment: midfielder Chris Birchall’s stinging shot that smacked off the woodwork in the 68th minute.

The Galaxy’s worst defensive moment: the glacial Gregg Berhalter verses Lenhart on the second goal. How many times are we going to see that complete lack of pace/awareness lead to a goal?

Key stat: 23 Galaxy fouls, their highest in a game this year (but that wasn’t sufficient to throw off Columbus apparently).

Key omission: Chris Klein, who saw his MLS record streak of consecutive MLS games snapped at 141, the first time in four years he had missed a game for his club.


“We weren’t going to beat them tonight,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena told The Columbus Dispatch. “We were just second all night.”

Game story.

Galaxy XI: Donovan Ricketts, A.J. DeLaGarza (Alan Gordon 54′), Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant (Eddie Lewis 62′), Stefani Miglioranzi (Jovan Kirovski 34′), Chris Birchall, Sean Franklin, Landon Donovan, Brian Jordan, Edson Buddle.

Updated playoff standings.

Next: Chicago Fire 8 p.m. Friday at Home Depot Center (and live on ESPN2)

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Final: New York Red Bulls at Chivas USA

Chivas 1 New York Red Bulls 1

Chivas USA let three points get away in this one, two ball-watching defenders (Jonathan Bornstein and Yamith Cuesta for those of you keeping count at home) allowing Juan Pablo Angel to get his 10th goal of the campaign with a determined header off a Sinisa Ubiparipovic six minutes from the end of regulation time.

That was his 46th career goal in all competitions for New York making Angel the all-time franchise leader in that department (he had been tied with Clint Mathis).

Things got even worse two minutes into stoppage time when an Andrew Boyens handball resulted in a penalty kick that Sacha Kljestan missed when he limply shot the ball wide, pretty much summing up his season.

Chivas USA had looked far livelier in the second half than they did in the opening 45 minutes and appeared to deserve the win – and the three points – until the late-game lethargy and missed golden opportunity struck.

Maicon Santos twice went close in the second half, notably pinging a ball off the bar in the 74th minute.

Preki will rue the missed chances as he attempts to solidify a shaky-looking team ahead of the playoffs. For Kljestan it was a cruel way to end the game.

And it was just New York’s second point on the road all season.

I’ll have more later.

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Updated: New York at Chivas USA

Chivas USA 1 New York 0

Just as I was contemplating doing a “what is wrong with Sacha Kljestan column?” he scores a goal out of absolutely nowhere.

Actually, it came just after he’d moved from an isolated position wide left to a more central position and it immediately resulted in a booming 25 to 30 yard strike in the 64th minute that gave Bouna Coundoul no chance.

Hopefully that will enliven this game.

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