Team by Team MLS preview

i-ff97a3aded3e2076074ee5764baee71c-mlslogo0001.jpgHere’s a look at the 16 MLS teams as they head into the 2010 season, in alphabetic order, by the Associated Press:

Chicago Fire

LAST YEAR: 11-7-12 (second place), lost to Real Salt Lake in Eastern Conference final.

WHO’S BACK: D C.J. Brown, D Wilman Conde, M Justin Mapp, F Brian McBride, D Marco Pappa, M Logan Pause, M John Thorrington.

WHO’S GONE: Coach Dennis Hamlett, F Cuauhtemoc Blanco, G Jon Busch, D Gonzalzo Segares, F Chris Rolfe.

Coach Carlos del los Cobos, M Corben Bone, G Andrew Dykstra, D Steve Kinney, D Krzysztof Krol, M Julio Martinez, F Collins John.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Fire opened 2009 with an 11-game unbeaten streak (5-0-6) then played around .500 the rest of the way to finish second in the MLS Eastern Conference behind Columbus. Still, Chicago advanced to within a game of the MLS Cup finals before a 5-4 loss on penalty kicks to Real Salt Lake in the conference finals. In a busy offseason, the team hired former El Salvador national team coach de los Cobos as new field boss and signed former Premier League striker John. He’ll be paired with a healthy McBride, his former Fulham teammate. Salvadoran international Martinez joins veterans Pause, Thorrington and Mapp in the midfield, while Fire original Brown and all-star Conde anchor the defense. Dykstra, a 24-year-old rookie, will start in goal. Veteran keeper Busch was surprisingly released earlier this week after three seasons with the Fire. And Chicago will be without star forward and drawing card Blanco, who returned to Mexico to continue his career.

Chivas USA


LAST YEAR: 13-11-6 (fourth place), lost to Galaxy in first round.

WHO’S BACK: GK Zach Thornton, GK Dan Kennedy, D Jonathan Bornstein, D Yamith Cuesta, D Mariano Trujillo, MF Sacha Kljestan, MF Marcello Saragosa, MF Michael Lahoud, F Maykel Galindo, D Ante Jazic, F Jesus Padilla, F Maicon Santos.

WHO’S GONE: Coach Preki, MF Paulo Nagamura, MF Jesse Marsch, D Shavar Thomas, D Carey Talley, F Eduardo Lillingston (on loan at Tijuana until June).

WHO’S NEW: Coach Martin Vasquez, MF Osael Romero, D Michael Umana (pictured above), MF Blair Gavin.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Goats’ fourth consecutive first-round playoff exit — this time at the hands of their L.A. rivals — prompted the departure of Preki, who always produced a consistent side, but never challenged the Galaxy for pre-eminence in their shared hometown. Vasquez, the former U.S. and Mexican national with coaching experience in MLS and the Bundesliga, will attempt to generate some offense from a club that profoundly struggled to score despite its playoff run. Romero could be a key part of that progress as he looks to replace Nagamura and Marsch, the foundations of Chivas’ recent offense alongside Kljestan, the U.S. international who hasn’t put his club on his shoulders. With a little more cohesion on offense, starting in Friday’s home opener
against Colorado, the Goats could be ready to roll up the Western Conference standings.

Colorado Rapids

LAST YEAR: 10-10-10 (tied for fifth place), didn’t make playoffs.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Gary Smith, F Conor Casey, F Omar Cummings, M Colin Clark, M Pablo Mastroeni, D Julien Baudet, GK Matt Pickens, D Kosuke Kimura, D Drew Moor.

WHO’S GONE: GK Preston Burpo, D Ty Harden, M Jacob Peterson, F Pat Noonan, M Greg Dalby.

WHO’S NEW: D Danny Earls, M Jeff Larentowicz, GK Ian Joyce, M Wells Thompson.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Rapids missed the playoffs for a third straight season, the longest postseason drought in franchise history. They were cruising along before being derailed by a late-season slide. Part of that was due to injuries as Colorado lost Clark, Jamie Smith and Peterson to knee ailments. Casey turned in quite a year for the Rapids, finishing with a team-record 16 goals. His reward? A three-year deal in early March. Cummings tied for the league lead in assists with 12 and set a career-high by scoring eight goals. Pickens will start in goal for the Rapids after a season in which he finished 9-6-4 with a 1.16 goals-against average. To bolster their midfield, the Rapids acquired Larentowicz and Thompson from New England in January.

Columbus Crew

LAST YEAR: 13-7-10 (first overall in MLS), lost to Real Salt Lake in Eastern Conference semifinal.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Robert Warzycha, D Eric Brunner, M Brian Carroll, M Emmanuel Ekpo, F Jason Garey, M Eddie Gaven, D Frankie Hejduk, G William Hesmer, F Steven Lenhart, D Chad Marshall, M Adam Moffat, D Danny O’Rourke, D Gino Padula, M Robbie Rogers, F Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

WHO’S GONE: F Alejandro Moreno.

F Sergio Herrera.


WHAT’S AHEAD: The core that brought two consecutive Supporters’ Shields (most points overall) and the 2008 MLS Cup title to Columbus remains with only Moreno (expansion draft, Philadelphia) missing. The Colombian Herrera and late-season addition F Emilio Renteria from Venezuela were brought in to spark an attack that lacked finishing other than the 14 goals from Schelotto, the 2008 league MVP. The defense should again be rock solid starting with 2008 and ’09 MLS Defender of the Year Marshall and a back line that lacks speed but oozes with experience. Hesmer, after tying a team record with 10 shutouts in 2008, had seven last season in 10 fewer matches. Carroll anchors a steady midfield, but more is expected from Rogers (pictured), a U.S. international who had only one goal in 20 starts for the Crew last season. The disappointing first-round playoff exit still gnaws at the team, but a good showing in the recent CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Mexican club Toluca has the Crew eyeing a record third consecutive Supporters’ Shield and another crack at the MLS Cup. The Crew open at home Saturday against Toronto FC before playing at FC Dallas on April 10.

D.C. United

LAST YEAR: 9-8-13 (fourth place), missed playoffs.
WHO’S BACK: F Chris Pontius, F Jaime Moreno, M Santino Quaranta, M Clyde Simms, D Bryan Namoff, D Dejan Jakovic.

WHO’S GONE: Coach Tom Soehn, M Ben Olsen, F Luciano Emilio, M Fred, M Christian Gomez.

WHO’S NEW: Coach Kurt Onalfo, G Troy Perkins, F Danny Allsopp, M Christian Castillo.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Once MLS’ flagship franchise in every sense of the word, United has suffered through a malaise of sorts recently and watched the rest of the league pass them by on many fronts. Several highly touted player acquisitions have gone awry, keeping the club out of the playoffs for the last two seasons, and the last of the club’s four MLS titles was back in 2004. And as soccer-specific stadiums are springing up for MLS clubs across the country, United remains stuck in antiquated RFK Stadium while several proposed deals for a new facility have fallen apart. The team started its competitive overhaul by letting Soehn’s contract expire and replacing him with Onalfo, the former United player and Kansas City coach. Former league goalkeeper of the year Perkins was also brought back after his overseas stint, but that was the only major roster upgrade for a team that lacks depth, especially after preseason injuries to Simms and D Marc Burch.

FC Dallas

LAST YEAR: 11-13-6 (eighth place in Western Conference).

WHO’S BACK: F Jeff Cunningham, M Daniel Hernandez, M David Ferreira, M Dax McCarty, D Heath Pearce, D Ugo Ihemelu, D Brek Shea.

WHO’S GONE: M Dave van den Bergh, M Pablo Ricchetti.

WHO’S NEW: GK Kevin Hartman, M Zach Loyd.

WHAT’S AHEAD: FC Dallas started last season 1-7-3 and missed the playoffs for a second straight year. The club finished strong with the addition of Pearce, a U.S. international who helped the league’s worst defense last season hold all of its opponents under two goals a game over its final five games. The club had the most goals (50) in MLS last season led by the league’s Golden Boot winner Cunningham, but also led the league in most goals allowed with 47. After sitting on the bench for the first part of the season, Cunningham went on a second-half tear after the trade of striker Kenny Cooper to German club 1860 Munich. Cunningham scored 17 goals in 16 games and should benefit from a full season as a starter. The team also added Hartman to compete with veteran Dario Sala in goal. Although 35, Hartman holds just about every meaningful MLS record including games started in goal, wins and shutouts. Last season Hartman started 30 games for Kansas City and finished with a 1.40 goals-against average. The club will also look to improve with a full season from team captain Hernandez and Ihemelu — both of whom were midseason additions last year. The team is also high on rookie Loyd who may be able to break into the starting lineup and allow Pearce to play in the midfield.

Houston Dynamo

LAST YEAR: 13-8-9 (tied for first in Western Conference), lost to Los Angeles in Western Conference final.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Dominic Kinnear, F Brian Ching, GK Pat Onstad, M Brad Davis, F Cam Weaver, D Geoff Cameron, D Bobby Boswell, M Brian Mullan, M Corey Ashe, D Richard Mulrooney.

WHO’S GONE: M Stuart Holden, M Ricardo Clark.

WHO’S NEW: M Lovel Palmer, M Adrian Serioux.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Dynamo were once again one of the league’s top defensive teams in 2009, tying Seattle for the fewest goals allowed (29). Midfield mainstays Holden and Clark left to play in Europe and Houston signed Palmer and Serioux to replace them. Palmer played for the Jamaican national team and Serioux, who helped the Dynamo win the 2006 MLS Cup, returns after starting 25 games for Toronto in 2009. Ching, the team’s all-time scorer, and 2009 assists leader Davis are back to lead an offense that ranked sixth in goals last season (39). Onstad recorded 10 shutouts and had the longest shutout streak (491 minutes) in 2009. The 42-year-old Onstad was one of three goaltenders to play every minute for his team last season, and he is the league’s all-time leader in goals-against average (1.05). The Dynamo went 8-1-6 in 2009 at rowdy Robertson Stadium, where they averaged more than 17,000 fans.

Kansas City Wizards

LAST YEAR: 8-13-9 (sixth place).

Coach Peter Vermes, and M/F Davy Arnaud, D Jimmy Conrad, F Josh Wolff, M Jack Jewsbury.

WHO’S GONE: Coach Curt Onalfo, G Kevin Hartman, M/F Claudio Lopez, M Herculez Gomez.

i-6628914c923f9fb4c3e0c8e6eea20bc8-Teal Bunbury.jpg

WHO’S NEW: M Ryan Smith, M Stephane Auvray, F Teal Bunbury (pictured), G Jimmy Nielson, D Pablo Escobar.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Wizards have always had talented rosters, but haven’t gotten results to show for it. Kansas City, which reached the 2004 MLS Cup, has finished fourth, fifth and sixth the past three seasons. Last year’s disappointing run cost Onalfo his job after 2 seasons. Vermes returns after taking over when Onalfo was fired. The biggest change this year for the Wizards will be in goal. Hartman, who holds nearly every significant MLS goaltending record, couldn’t agree to a new contract and was traded to FC Dallas. Danish keeper Nielson, a veteran European league player, takes over after signing in the offseason. The biggest concern in Kansas City is scoring. The Wizards managed just 33 goals last season, second-worst in the league, and lost former Argentine international and playmaker Lopez. Wolff was impressive after rejoining the team in 2008 — 11 goals in 27 games — but Kansas City will need more production to stir interest with a new soccer-specific stadium due to open in 2011.


LAST YEAR: 12-6-12 (T-first place), lost to Real Salt Lake in MLS Cup.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Bruce Arena, F Landon Donovan, F Edson Buddle, F Alan Gordon, D Omar Gonzalez, D Gregg Berhalter, D Todd Dunivant, MF Eddie Lewis, D A.J. DeLaGarza, MF Mike Magee, MF Dema Kovalenko, GK Donovan Ricketts.

WHO’S GONE: MF David Beckham (though injury) MF Stefani Miglioranzi, MF Kyle Patterson, D Julian Valentin, D Leonard Griffin, D Tony Sanneh.

WHO’S NEW: MF Clint Mathis, MF Juninho, D Alex, D Leonardo, M Michael Stephens.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Beckham Experiment is on hold for at least several months after the superstar English midfielder injured his Achilles’ tendon, which will keep him out of the World Cup and could sideline him for the entire Galaxy season. Yet this resilient club has learned to play without its world-wandering midfielder over the past few years, and every other significant part of the core from last season’s MLS Cup finalist is back for another run. All eyes again will be on Donovan, whose successful loan to Everton has Los Angeles’ fans expecting even bigger things from the top American goal-scorer. The Galaxy’s fate could be determined by whether Lewis, Magee, Kovalenko and others can step into Beckham’s huge playmaking shoes. Arena drew raves for his reinvigoration of the Galaxy last fall, and his sophomore campaign begins at Home Depot Center Saturday against the New England Revolution.

Philadelphia Union

LAST YEAR: First year for expansion franchise.


WHO’S NEW: Coach Peter Nowak. Assistant coach John Hackworth, G Brad Knighton, G Brian Perk, G Chris Seitz, D Danny Califf, D Jordan Harvey, D Dave Myrie, D Michael Orozco, D Shavar Thomas, M Fred, M Andrew Jacobson, M Sebastian Le Toux, M Stefani Miglioranzi, M Omobi Okugo, M Shea Salinas, M Toni Stahl, M Roger Torres, M-F Kyle Nakazawa (pictured), F Jack McInerny, F Alejandro Moreno, F Danny Mwanga, F Nick Zimmerman.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The league’s 16th team, Philadelphia hopes to join Chicago and Seattle as the only expansion teams to win their openers. The Sounders set a high standard last year by going 12-7-11, and Le Toux will be returning to Seattle after playing there with in the USL. Fred is suspended for the opener following a red card in his final match last season for DC United. After playing on artificial turf in the league opener at the Sounders Thursday, the Union returns home for two games at the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field starting against D.C. United on April 10. They open their new stadium, 18,500-seat PPL Park in Chester, against Seattle on June 27.

New England Revolution

LAST YEAR: 11-10-9 (third place), lost to Chicago Fire in Eastern Conference semifinal.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Steve Nicol, D Kevin Alston, D Darrius Barnes, M Mauricio Castro, M Nico Colaluca, F Kheli Dube, F Edgaras Jankauskas, M Shalrie Joseph, F-M Kenny Mansally, M Sainey Nyassi, D Emmanuel Osei, D Pat PhelanZZSB, G Matt Reis, D-M Chris Tierney, F Taylor Twellman, M Michael Videira.

WHO’S GONE: D Chris Albright, F Stephane Assengue, D Jay Heaps, D Amaechi Igwe, G Brad Knighton, M Jeff Larentowicz, F-M Steve Ralston, M Wells Thompson.

WHO’S NEW: D Gabriel Badilla, F Zak Boggs, G Preston Burpo, D Cory Gibbs, M Joseph Niouky, F Zack Schilawski, G Bobby Shuttleworth, D Seth Sinovic.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Revolution clinched a postseason berth with a win in their final game of the 2009 regular season then were eliminated from the playoffs by Chicago for the second straight year. They’re still without Twellman, their career-leading goal scorer, who hasn’t been cleared to play after appearing in just two games last season because of concussions and a neck injury. With 101 goals, he is the fifth player in MLS history with more than 100. The Revolution lost two fixtures after last season, Ralston and Heaps. Ralston, who leads MLS with 378 games played, became an unrestricted free agent and signed with St. Louis of the new North American Soccer League. Heaps retired after 11 MLS seasons, the last 8 with New England, where he played in a club record 243 games. And Reis, the Revolution’s starting goalkeeper for the past six seasons, is expected to be out until late May or early June after having surgery on his left shoulder in December and an operation to fix the quadriceps tendon in his left
knee on Feb. 4. Burpo, acquired in the offseason, is expected to fill in. The Revolution’s
season starts Saturday at the Galaxy.

New York Red Bulls

LAST YEAR: 5-19-6 (7th place, Eastern Conference).

i-2edba8646be2dc7af8fbf609468d4f68-redbullsfireworks.jpgRed Bull fireworks in 2009? (AP Photo).

WHO’S BACK: F Juan Pablo Angel, F Macoumba Kandji, F Dane Richards, F John Wolyniec, M Danleigh Borman, M Seth Stammler, M Sinisa Ubiparipovic, D Jeremy Hall, D Carlos Mendes, D Mike Petke, D Andrew Boyens, D Kevin Goldthwaite, D Luke Sassano, GK Bouna Coundoul, M Ernst Oebster, F Giorgi Chirgdaze.

WHO’S GONE: GK Danny Cepero, M Jorge Rojas, M Albert Celades, D Carlos Johnson, M Matthew Mbuta.

WHO’S NEW: GM Erik Soler, coach Hans Backe, D Roy Miller, D Chris Albright, M Joel Lindpere, M Austin da Luz, D Tim Ream, M Tony Tchani, M Carl Robinson, M Irving Garcia, GK Greg Sutton, F Conor Chinn, F Ibrahim Salou.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Red Bulls have a new coach in Backe, a new sporting director-general manager in Erik Soler and a new $200 million stadium called Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The team would like to forget about the disastrous 2009 season that saw the franchise that played for the MLS Cup in 2008 collapse to the worst record in the league. The team didn’t make wholesale changes. Angel, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, had 12 of the team’s 27 goals last year and eight in preseason. He starts this season favoring a knee injury and his status for the opener against Chicago is in question. Kandji and Richards, who scored four and three goals, respectively, last season, have benefited from a solid offseason conditioning program. Lindpere should add stability to the midfield. Coundoul, who came over in a midseason trade, is the man in goal for now. Veteran defenders Mendes and Petke are healthy and the club added another veteran when it acquired Albright. Miller is a solid free agent signing and draft
picks Ream and da Luz should play from the start.

Real Salt Lake

LAST YEAR: 11-12-7 (fifth place), beat Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS Cup.

WHO’S BACK: Coach Jason Kreis, F Robbie Findley, F Fabian Espindola, M Javier Morales, F Andy Williams, M Kyle Beckerman, D Jamison Olave, G Nick Rimando.

WHO’S GONE: F Yura Movsisyan, M Clint Mathis.

WHO’S NEW: F Alvaro Saborio.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The defending MLS champion slipped into the 2009 playoffs on an unlikely combination of wins and losses by other teams at the end of the regular season. RSL got all bounces it needed, beating Chicago on penalty kicks in the semifinals and then winning on penalties again against the Galaxy in the MLS Cup championship match. Coming off that success, the club made very few changes in the offseason. Veteran midfielder Mathis was sent to the Galaxy in a draft-day deal, F Movsisyan left to join a club in Denmark and backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz went to the Philadelphia Union in the expansion draft. RSL picked up Costa Rican forward Saborio on a loan from a Swiss Super League team. Salt Lake hopes the continuity and confidence after last season’s playoff run carries over into a better regular season in 2010. RSL was just 2-12-2 away from home before the playoffs last year.

San Jose Earthquakes

LAST YEAR: 7-14-9 (last place).

WHO’S BACK: Coach Frank Yallop, F Ryan Johnson, G Joe Cannon, M-F Arturo Alvarez, M Bobby Convey, F Cornell Glen, D Brandon McDonald, D Ramiro Corrales, M Andre Luiz, M Ramon Sanchez.

WHO’S GONE: M Darren Huckerby, M Shea Salinas, D Mike Zaher, M Simon Elliott, M Antonio Ribeiro.

WHO’S NEW: M Eduardo, M Joey Gjertsen, D Ike Opara, M Brad Ring, M Javier Robles, D Justin Morrow, M Steven Beitashour.

WHAT’S AHEAD: The Earthquakes have struggled in their first two seasons back in the league after San Jose lost its franchise to Houston in 2005. Yallop, who led the team to MLS titles in 2001 and ’03, hasn’t been able to get the Earthquakes back to the playoffs in his second stint here. The loss of Huckerby to retirement and Salinas to the expansion draft deliver a big hit to the midfield. That will put even more pressure on Convey to regain the form that put him on the U.S. World Cup roster in 2006. He had only one goal and two assists last year. The team added some help in the midfield by signing Eduardo from FC Basel in Switzerland. The Brazilian adds some offensive flair that had been missing. The addition of Gjertsen from Canada also could be a big help. Opara, the third pick in the draft, will miss the start of the season while he finishes work on his degree at Wake Forest. When he does arrive in May, Opara is being counted on to offer a big upgrade to San Jose’s defense. In good news off the field, the San Jose city council recently approved the rezoning of a site for a new 18,000-seat stadium that would allow the team to leave its temporary home at Santa Clara University.

Seattle Sounders FC

LAST YEAR: 12-7-11 (third place), lost to Houston Dynamo in Western Conference first round.

i-6fa857972da74d033f8eaecb030ea402-kaseykeller.jpgCapable Kasey Keller (AP Photo).

WHO’S BACK: Coach Sigi Schmid, F Fredy Montero, F Nate Jaqua, F Steve Zakuani, M Freddie Ljungberg, M Brad Evans, D Tyrone Marshall, D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, D Leo Gonzalez, D James Riley, G Kasey Keller.

WHO’S GONE: F Sebastien Le Toux.

WHO’S NEW: F Blaise Nkufo (arriving in July).

WHAT’S AHEAD: Priority No. 1 in Seattle is making sure there is no sophomore slump. The Sounders inaugural season could not have gone much better: sellout crowd for all 15 home games, the U.S. Open Cup championship and becoming the first expansion team in 11 years to reach the MLS playoffs. Within that remarkable first season were plenty of problems, none more glaring than Seattle’s struggles to score. Montero emerged as a young star with 12 goals, catching the eye of some European clubs. Jaqua netted nine, but no one else scored more than four. The Sounders goal total of 38 ranked eighth in the league, only standing up because Keller showed he’s still one of the best goalkeepers in America. Keller’s back, Ljungberg decided to remain with the Sounders rather than accepting the overtures from European clubs and Seattle hopes to get a scoring punch when Nkufo arrives after the World Cup. The Swiss striker is the all-time leading scorer for Dutch club FC Twente.

Toronto FC

LAST YEAR: 10-11-9 (fifth place).

WHO’S BACK: D Nana Attakora. F Chad Barrett, D Jim Brennan, M Sam Cronin, G Stefan Frei, D-M Gabe Gala, D Nick Garcia, D Emmanuel Gomez, M Dwayne De Rosario, F O’Brian White, D Marvell Wynne.

WHO’S GONE: Coach Chris Cummins, M Amado Guevara, M Carl Robinson, D Adrian Serioux, G Greg Sutton, MF-F Pablo Vitti

WHO’S NEW: Coach Preki, D Ty Harden, M Jacob Peterson

WHAT’S AHEAD: John Carver quit as coach after a 2-2-2 start and Chris Cummins, who had been an assistant coach, took over. He led the team to an 8-9-7 record, but the team didn’t renew his contract after missing the playoffs. Preki was hired, leaving Chivas USA after leading the team to the playoffs in three straight seasons. The biggest change is the switch to grass from artificial turf at BMO Field, which could be important for a team with a 2-9-4 league road record last year. Honduras captain Guevara, the MLS MVP with New York in 2004, had five league goals last season but left Toronto to re-sign at home with Motagua. Barrett, Gomez and Peterson have been injured during preseason, and F Ali Gerba was sent home from preseason training in Charleston, S.C., after the team said his performance was not up to expectations. De Rosario (11 league goals last year), Barrett (five league goals) and de Guzman, Toronto’s designated player, will be counted on as leaders.

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Final: Mexico 0 Iceland 0

i-a858ff417950738ff308d81b0149efce-vivamexico.jpgAn El Tri fan in North Carolina: The agony of the scoreless draw (AP Photo).

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — Goalkeeper Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson made three saves in the final minutes as Iceland held on for a scoreless draw with Mexico Wednesday in an international friendly.

Gunnleifsson’s final save was a header by Mexico forward Miguel Sabah with seconds left in the third match of Mexico’s U.S. friendly tour. More than 60,000 fans were on hand.

“I didn’t like not winning,” Mexico coach Javier Aguirre said through an interpreter. “I said before I didn’t care about winning or not winning … but a goal would have been great.”

Mexico — which will open its World Cup against host South Africa on June 11 — had won the first two games over Bolivia and New Zealand by a combined 7-0 score.

Mexico had two good chances in the first half, its best coming when Adolfo Bautista was set up for a header 10 meters out from the goal with 11 minutes remaining. His shot slid to the outside of the right post.

Iceland’s best opportunity came in the final minute of the first half, from a free kick by Jon Gudni Fjoluson from 20 meters out. Mexico keeper Luis Michel made a diving save to deflect Fjoluson’s shot.

“Normally, my players play in Iceland in front of 1,000 people,” coach Olafur Johannesson said. “This was a very new experience for them. They’re going to remember this the rest of their lives.”

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Wednesday Kicks: El Tri & LD on TV & More

On the eve of the MLS season, here’s a few items to much on until the games begin:

*Here’s the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan on KTLA this morning:

*Mexico take on Iceland at 5 p.m. on KVEA. Game preview is here.

*If the Galaxy or Chivas USA makes it to MLS Cup this year, fans will have a looooong way to go to watch the game in person.

*Chivas USA announced today that all 30 regular season games will be aired on TV in English and Spanish for the first time. Click to the link at top right for the complete schedule details; the Galaxy have their TV info up, as well.

*Former UCLA midfielder David Estrada, 22, the Seattle Sounders’ first round draft pick, has signed a contract with the club, the franchise announced today.

*U.S. Men’s National Team Coach Bob Bradley has been named 2009 National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. It’s the first time a soccer coach has received the award since the USOC began handing them out in 1996.

*Finally, Becks is now No. 2 on the soccer rich list. And judging by these figures we may have to wait a little longer than we thought to see Thierry Henry in MLS:

PARIS (AP) — Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has deposed David Beckham to top France Football’s list of the soccer players who earn the most.

The Argentina forward, the reigning FIFA player of the year, is said to have made $44 million last year in salary and endorsement income. Beckham, who has been first or second in each of the last nine years, took home $40.5 million in 2009, according to the report Wednesday.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2008 FIFA player of the year, was third with $40 million, while teammate Kaka, the 2007 FIFA player of the year, was fourth at $25 million, followed by Barcelona’s Thierry Henry at $24 million

I’ll have a complete MLS preview up a little later.

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A few words with Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy

i-74b3d38c1fc5666b6160ded99b2d26b5-dankmug0001.jpgGoalkeeper Dan Kennedy looked to be Brad Guzan’s worthy successor for Chivas USA between the posts before going down in the 2009 preseason with a serious right knee injury that kept him sidelined until now.

With last season’s starter Zach Thornton seeing limited minutes in preseason it appears Kennedy, a Southern California native, will get the start Friday in Chivas USA’s season opener at Home Depot Center.

I spoke with Kennedy this week about his injury and his return to competitive soccer:

Question: How is the team shaping up for the season under new Coach Martin Vasquez?
Answer: We’ve had plenty of time and plenty of preseason games to adapt to Martin and the coaching staff. At this point we’re as prepared as we’re going to get. We have a long preseason here and I think the guys are jelling well. Even though there’s been a lot of change there’s still a great core of guys we’ve had over the last two to three seasons and that should be a group we look to to show some experience and leadership.

Q: How did you handle the lonely task of rehabbing that injury month after month?
A: Sometimes when you take a step back away from the game and you go through a serious injury, coming back you have lot of time to reflect. My main goal was to be fully fit by preseason and I was.

With that time off you realize what you have here and the job of being a professional soccer player in a town that you grew up in is pretty special. So for me it was a little bit eye-opening and hopefully I come back more disciplined and more professional than I was before. I don’t take this for granted. At some points you felt like you’d never play again, that’s the reality of it. Now I feel great. If you were to walk on this field and tell someone I had a serious injury you wouldn’t be able to pick which knee it was, that’s how strong I feel.”

Q: How will Chivas USA play differently under Vasquez than Preki?
A: Martin is emphasizing possession as our strength. This team is forever known as a stingy team on defense. Bob Bradley started it, Preki ran with it so hopefully we can continue to hold that reputation, but hopefully score more goals going forward and we’re hoping that would put us in a place to win something.

Q: What’s the biggest change this team needs to make to win a trophy?
A: I don’t think it’s any secret in big games we haven’t put goals on the board and that makes it tough. With some of the personnel changes here I think we’re going to be a much better attacking team and hopefully with the style of play that we have we commit some more numbers forward and that will create some more goalscoring opportunities.

Q: What was your goal coming into the 2010 season?
A: The goal coming into this season was to win back my job and prove to myself and the coaching staff and my teammates that I can (still) play at a very high level. I want to play an important role on this team. My goal is to compete for that starting job to the best of my ability.

Q: The projected back line of Ante Jazic and Mariano Trujillo as the full backs, with Jonny Bornstein moving into the center of defense to partner new signing Michael Umana looks one of the league’s strongest.
A: The biggest thing is that three of the four – Mariano, Jonny and Jazic – have been at Chivas for some time so they have immediate chemistry. And everyone knows in soccer defensive chemistry is a very, very important factor in a team being successful. Umana has been here since day one of preseason, he’s adapted very well, he’s shown that he’s a very, very good player and can play with us. So we’re confident in that group of defenders getting us some good defensive results.

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Chivas USA waives defender Talley


Cary Talley, a dependable veteran defender for Chivas USA who played a dozen MLS seasons for five clubs, was waived today ahead of Wednesday’s 5 p.m. roster compliance deadline as anticipated.

“Carey provided leadership and strong play for us in the last two seasons,” said Chivas USA Vice President of Soccer Operations Stephen Hamilton. “This year, both he and the club decided to move in a different direction.”

Translation: he didn’t want to take a pay cut from the $110,000 he made last year.

Talley, 33, played 43 games for Chivas USA after joining them from Real Salt Lake in 2008, all except one as a starter.

All told, he’s clocked up more than 300 MLS games since 1998 in his rookie year for D.C. United; he also played for Kansas City and Dallas.

Also gone: goalkeeper Jon Conway, who made all of one appearance in a friendly for Chivas USA after joining them last September after stints in New York and San Jose.

I’m going to miss Jesse Marsch and Talley in the Chivas USA locker room this season; both were great quotes who knew how to break a game down.

But at least I got to use that mug of Talley from his RSL days.

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Garber: MLS wants more star players

Hopefully more along the lines of Juan Pablo Angel and not David Beckham.

After all, if it’s more profitable clubs MLS wants it needs designated players who actually stick around to play more than a game or two here and there.

Here’s the story:

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer is looking to add stars and teams now that it has avoided a strike and agreed to a five-year labor contract.

“It’s in all of our best interests to ensure that we have star players that can help drive
interest in our league and grow attendance and ratings,” commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday. “Now that we’re past the CBA, we could sit down and we can tackle that issue.”

Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham, the league’s top attraction, will be sidelined for most if not all of this season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

MLS has just four other star “designated players,” whose salaries don’t fully count against a team’s salary cap: New York forward Juan Pablo Angel, Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, Houston forward Luis Angel Landin and Toronto midfielder Julian de Guzman. The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan isn’t a DP but doesn’t fully count against the cap, either.

Each team has a designated player slot and can trade it, with no team able to keep more than two DPs at once. Most of the DP slots are open.

Barcelona’s Thierry Henry and Real Madrid’s Raul Gonzalez often are mentioned as possibilities for the Red Bulls.

MLS says Seattle and Toronto were the only profitable teams last year, when regular and postseason attendance averaged 16,391.

“Clearly you’re looking for a player that can be breakthrough figure locally and nationally, somebody that can give the team relevance in the local market against all competition but also give us respect throughout the international soccer community that proves that Major League Soccer is serious about building a professional soccer league that at one point can be competitive with the other leagues around the world,” Garber said. “You’re looking for somebody that can clearly move the needle on ticket sales and on sponsorship and on television ratings and get that buzz factor that we got with (Cuauhtemoc) Blanco and with David Beckham and a lesser extent but an important one with Juan Pablo Angel.”

Philadelphia, which plays Thursday’s MLS opener at Seattle, is the league’s 16th team.
Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, British Colombia, are set to join in 2011. Garber said he will reopen talks to add Montreal, possibly for 2012, and that Atlanta and owner Arthur Blank could join later.

“You can’t be a national league unless you have teams in the South,” he said.

Garber said this year’s MLS title game could be played in Toronto and new Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., which he said cost $250 million, was a top candidate to host in 2011 or beyond.

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Tuesday’s Column: Galaxy-Chivas USA season preview*

*Updated and edited

Read the column here.

One correction: Chivas USA have now fallen at the initial stage of the playoffs four years in a row, not three as I incorrectly stated in the column.

Chivas USA open their season at home Friday against the Colorado Rapids, of course, with the Galaxy following suit Saturday against the New England Revolution.

Notable: Of the 26 Galaxy players who were with the team at the end of last season, only eight were on the Galaxy roster when Bruce Arena was named the club’s coach on Aug. 18, 2008.

And speaking of cuts, World Cup-bound New Zealand midfielder Simon Elliot, a former Galaxy player, was waived by the San Jose Earthquakes.

Here’s a little more info from the Chivas USA camp:

*Before fans get their knickers in a twist and blame the club completely for dumping defender Cary Talley (there was a report last week he’d been waived) – oops, too late, Coach Martin Vasquez told me there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Vasquez said Monday it wasn’t entirely up to Chivas USA whether Tally stays or goes and there are family issues involved:

“We’re waiting on him to make a decision at this point. We had a conversation and that’s where we stand right now. … We’re looking at what’s best for him and his family and what’s best for Chivas USA. If it were up to us I would be honest in telling you.”

Still, if you saw the quote from Talley’s wife in the above link, you know he isn’t sticking around. Reading between the lines I’m guessing that at the very least he was asked to take a pay cut and declined.

*Here’s a little more on the status of Costa Rican striker Froylan Ledezma, mentioned at the end of the column as being on trial with Chivas USA. He has most recently been playing in Austria. He requested to train with the club, but hasn’t played much lately and isn’t match fit:

“We’re going to be patient with him,” Vasquez said. “Maybe in a couple of weeks we’ll see how our first games go and we’ll see how our guys go and make a decision.”

*While we’re at it, here’s more on the status of trialist Artur Aghasyan, an Armenian-American striker who last year played for the PDL Ventura County Fusion:

“We don’t have anything to offer him,” Vasquez said. “We told him he’s welcome to stay, he’s welcome to continue to fight for a spot. There’s some little details (of his game) he needs to improve on and he accepted that invitation to continue to stay with us and continue to improve those weaknesses. If something happens this week we’ll sit down and have another conversation.”

Unlike Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, Vasquez is keeping his options open when it comes to potential new recruits.

*Incidentally, we’ll know more about the new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday later today.

Full details of the collective bargaining agreement here.

Here’s MLS players union rep and Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant on the new collective bargaining agreement that he called “historic”:

“The players have a lot more protections in terms of what happens if you get dropped, if you get waived, if you get cut. The players have a lot more freedom. Under the old system I think that was the thing to us that made the least sense. The fact that a team could cut you, but still own your rights, that doesn’t make a lot of sense and we eliminated that. The fact we have more freedom now to go where we want, we have an ability to go somewhere without being penalized and that’s an important step for us.

“It’s common sense. Now we have the ability, whether you’re option is not picked up, whether you’re waived or whether you’re cut that you can go to other teams without that team having to give compensation to your previous team that cut you … We have a lot more players (contracts) that are guaranteed now.”

Also, from the Associated Press:

*The developmental minimum will go up to $31,250.

*Last year, 40 players among 323 listed by the MLS Players Union at the start of the season made the $34,000 minimum and 12 more made the developmental minimum of $20,100. The senior salary will increase 5 percent annually.


i-cf9dda531fa0ccc2392d2aecbfc90628-galjersey0001.jpgAdidas unveiled a new Galaxy jersey Monday called the “TECHFIT PowerWeb.”

The company explains in its press release:

TECHFIT PowerWeb is a cutting edge athletic apparel technology that improves muscular endurance and responsiveness, and reduces muscle vibration, ultimately maximizing the athlete’s performance. Through the use of compression fabrics and strategically placed TPU (Thermoplastic Urethane) bands, located in key areas to enhance muscle power, TECHFIT is proven to increase a player’s power by 5.3 percent, vertical leap by 4 percent, sprint speed by 1.1 percent and enhance endurance by 0.8 percent.

The TECHFIT jersey as worn by the players on the pitch will be specially packaged and retail for $150 starting in July.

All other MLS teams will wear the adidas FORMOTION uniform. FORMOTION is engineered to move naturally with the athlete’s body resulting in an ideal fit and comfort while in motion. It also features adidas CLIMACOOL technology which combines a moisture wicking fabric and mesh construction in the player’s highest heat zones to improve body ventilation and keep the athlete at optimum temperature.

Alrighty then. D.C. United and the Chicago Fire will also wear the Techfit PowerWeb jerseys as will teams at the World Cup.

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Preseason result: Galaxy 0 CD Aguila 0

i-0c6da0c2f87b35255ca7fb36a54f7343-omaraguiola.jpgGalaxy central defender Omar Gonzalez heads over CD Aguila’s Hermes Martinez in the first half (AP Photos).

Full disclosure: I had to work today and missed most of the game.

That was a good thing, judging by the final score and Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena’s reaction:

“I think it was a sloppy performance by us tonight. On the night we were sloppy on the final third of the field and on the night our passing wasn’t good enough to break down a team that obviously came to defend with eight or nine players behind the ball.”

But frankly, he didn’t sound too concerned either.

The Galaxy outshot Aguila 19-2, but that’s a deceiving stat; for instance, in the first half the Galaxy had just one shot on target.

On the other hand, Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts didn’t have to make a single save.

i-ed7cf65fdcbc761ed10d7a72dff5baa5-LDaguila.jpgLandon Donovan challenges CD Aguila’s Hermes Martinez in the first half.

It was a final preseason performance that was hard to assess anyway given that central defender Gregg Berhalter was given the night off, Edson Buddle’s strike partner Mike Magee had personal issues to attend to and the likes of Alan Gordon, Jovan Kirovski and Clint Mathis are all injured.

Notable: The Galaxy’s three Brazilian offseason acquisitions – Alex Cazumba, Juninho and Leonardo all started for the Galaxy.

i-905bd689b2fa2ae5c04c74bd9fa127b2-alexcazumba.jpgPicture of determination: the Galaxy’s Alex Cazumba.

Galaxy lineup: Donovan Ricketts; Alex Cazumba (Todd Dunivant 46′), Leonardo, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin; Dema Kovalenko, Eddie Lewis (Michael Stephens 68′), Juninho (Chris Klein 87′), Tristan Bowen (Chris Birchall 46′), Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle.

Attendance: 6,364.

Next for the Galaxy: the home opener at 8 p.m. Saturday against the New England Revolution.

Look for a Galaxy and Chivas USA season preview in Tuesday’s column.

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Carson’s Home Depot Center paved way for Red Bull Arena

i-ac4cdf894da4a960a9ddc6205373d962-redbullarenaopens.jpgMajor League Soccer’s newest stadium opened Saturday when the New York Red Bulls beat Brazil’s Santos. Amazingly, the Red Bulls won (AP Photos).

By all accounts, Red Bull Arena surpasses Home Depot Center as the finest soccer-specific facility in the United States, although considering it cost twice as much as the Carson stadium that’s to be expected.

But as writer Michael Lewis points out (in this piece written before the canceled March 13 international youth game that was to act as a “soft” stadium opening) the venue owes a a massive debt to the Anschutz Entertainment Group-built (and paid for) edifice.

i-3dd16b2a0895284b9f23b36c6c4e1216-MLS stadium comparison.jpg

Here’s more on Saturday’s opening:

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — On a picture-perfect night many fans longed for, the New York metropolitan area finally got its own soccer stadium Saturday.

The long-suffering Red Bulls even got a win, and Major League Soccer ensured five years of labor peace by signing a new collective bargaining agreement before the match.

The sky was cloudless blue, and the first evening of spring felt more like early summer. A sellout crowd of 25,000, many in shirt sleeves on a 73-degree night, filled long-discussed and much-delayed Red Bull Arena and watched the Red Bulls roll over Brazil’s Santos — Pele’s old team — 3-1 in a chippy exhibition.

Joel Lindpere scored off the rebound of his own free kick in the 11th minute, Mike Petke added a goal in the 43rd and Dane Richards made it 3-0 two minutes later. Germano headed in Santos’ goal in the 90th, just before the lights were cut and a fireworks display was shot off from the center circle.

Fans filled the $200 million, two-deck oval, and league officials immediately proclaimed the nation’s eighth soccer specific stadium its finest. The arena had been planned for a decade, but construction repeatedly was pushed back.

“It was six weeks away, six weeks away,” said Petke, the Red Bulls’ captain. “These last 10 years have been the longest six weeks of my life.”

Franz Beckenbauer, a World Cup champion for Germany as a player and coach, was on hand to mark the moment along with Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn. When Der Kaiser played for the Cosmos from 1977-80, they filled up Giants Stadium in nearby East Rutherford with crowds of nearly 80,000. But with MLS mostly lacking the biggest stars, the Red Bulls averaged just 12,491 fans for league home games last year, 12th among 15 teams.

And they were forced to play on artificial turf that was slightly too narrow. Now they’re in a gleaming stadium that looks as if it could have been transplanted from a wealthy regional club in central Europe, with a translucent glass roof over the seats to protect fans from rain.

“Thirty or 40 years ago, almost no one in the country played the game, and it takes time,” Beckenbauer said. “Also, it’s a question of tradition. So it takes time to get used to, to compete with the best teams in world, which you are doing now.”

In a league that will miss its biggest draw, Los Angeles midfielder David Beckham, for most if not all of this season because of his torn Achilles’ tendon, the Red Bulls hope to add a star later this year. Barcelona’s Thierry Henry and Real Madrid’s Raul Gonzalez often are mentioned as possibilities.

“It should be the beginning of a new era in New York soccer,” said Dietmar Beiersdorfer,
sporting director of parent Red Bull. “For sure we are also working on one other player maybe to strengthen our team.”

The biggest stars were missing from this match because of injury — Santos’ Robinho and New York’s Juan Pablo Angel. Beiersdorfer knows what sells, especially in the Big Apple.

Neymar, the biggest star on the field for Santos, gave his jersey to Red Bulls defender Jeremy Hall at the half. Many fans wore yellow Brazilian national team jerseys, and Santos coach Dorival Junior called it “a party atmosphere” even though he was disappointed with the result.”

“We could feel the love from the crowd,” Neymar said through a translator.

The field needs a little work — sand kept kicking up.

“We’ve always talked about getting away from the turf at Giants Stadium and how bad it was,” Petke said. “What I played in tonight, you could put concrete down, to be honest with you and I would have been, you know, thrilled.”


While PATH commuter trains go directly to the stadium, allowing fans to travel in the same manner as most European supporters do, those who took shuttle buses from Newark’s Penn Station were caught in a 45-minute bottleneck to the nearby stadium, which looks like a silver spaceship on the shore of the Passaic River.

“We would have been better off walking,” said Suzanne Becker of Bethlehem, Pa.

Now that there won’t be a strike, up ahead is the first official match, New York’s MLS opener against Chicago next Saturday. The Red Bulls were 5-19-6 in the league last year and 6-21-7 overall.

“Even friendly games are important games,” new coach Hans Backe said.

Now that they have a top ground, they need to build an equal team.

“There really is no excuses,” Petke said.

It was almost exactly 10 years ago – and I know because I wrote the story – that the Daily Breeze became the first newspaper to break the news AEG were looking to the South Bay to build a new stadium for the Galaxy.

Just for fun, here’s that story as it ran on Feb. 28, 2000:

The campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills, has emerged as one of “three leading contenders” the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer is considering as the site for a new 30,000- to 35,000-seat soccer stadium, the Daily Breeze has learned.

“They actually brought an architect out here last week, so I know we are one of the three,” said George Pardon, the university’s vice president for business and administration. “They’re going to do some renderings and sketches to know whether we have enough buildable room.”

The other two sites being looked at are a vacant parcel in Carson near the Kmart store off Torrance Boulevard between Figueroa and Main streets and an unidentified tract in Los Angeles, said Sergio del Prado, the Galaxy’s general manager.

But the campus near Carson may be the preferred site for what del Prado describes as a $50 million to $70 million soccer complex that would include a stadium, soccer academy and practice fields suitable for the Galaxy and U.S. national teams.

“That’s the one that gives us the easiest ability to do all those things,” he said Friday of the Cal State Dominguez Hills site. “We’d like the one that gives us the most opportunity to really succeed.”

In other signs the campus may have the inside track, del Prado said architects are looking at the design of the 70-acre tract at the university before other potential stadium sites. And the weekly magazine Soccer America reported last month that billionaire Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz particularly liked the campus parcel after taking a Jan. 14 helicopter tour of possible locations.

The Galaxy plays at the 92,000-capacity Rose Bowl in Pasadena but is seeking to construct a smaller venue more suitable for the average crowd of 18,000 it attracts to its 16 home dates annually.

At Cal State Dominguez Hills, the soccer facilities would be built at the site of the cycling velodrome constructed for the 1984 Olympics. The cycling facility, although considered a world-class venue, has little connection to the university and in the past has been a money-losing endeavor.

On the other hand, a soccer stadium would be an ideal fit, Pardon said.

The university needs a stadium large enough to accommodate the 16,000 people who attend graduation ceremonies; last year the university spent $70,000 to rent chairs and erect temporary bleachers for commencement, he said.

The Galaxy would lease rather than buy the land needed for the stadium so the university would retain control in what Pardon called a good example of a public-private partnership.

Moreover, becoming a major center for soccer with its widespread and growing appeal, rather than a niche sport like cycling, is attractive to an institution redoubling efforts to reach out to the community.

“One of the main thrusts of our new president is for this campus to be more widely known as a `communiversity,’ ” Pardon said. “We have a really strong soccer program and it really fit with what we are doing educationally.”

Area has broad appeal

For the Galaxy, the South Bay and the campus have several appealing characteristics, said del Prado, a former Parks and Recreation commissioner in Hawthorne who lives in El Segundo.

For one thing, Cal State Dominguez Hills is accessible for spectators with its proximity to the Harbor (110), San Diego (405) and 91 freeways, he said. And the area has the right demographic mix, ranging from the Latino communities in cities like Carson and Hawthorne that the Galaxy has traditionally relied upon for the bulk of its support to the middle-class soccer hotbeds of the South Bay and Orange County.

“We’re looking for a site that attracts both the youth soccer suburban crowd as well as our Hispanic hard-core soccer fans,” del Prado said. “Sometimes that’s a challenge, but I think to maximize the potential for the MLS in Los Angeles you need to appeal to both fan segments.”

Cal State Dominguez Hills has become a serious contender for the stadium with surprising speed.

The Galaxy has long sought a soccer-specific stadium of its own — the Rose Bowl doesn’t even have adequate practice fields.

But the project has received renewed attention following the completion of the Staples Center that Anschutz’s corporation owns in addition to such properties as two other MLS teams, the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey league and the Forum in Inglewood.

In recent weeks more than a dozen potential sites in the Los Angeles area have been winnowed to three.

It was the university that extended feelers to the Galaxy initially, Pardon said, adding that the school was not interested in being a site for an NFL stadium and the hassle of having 100,000 people flood the campus and surrounding neighborhoods. But officials did make preliminary overtures about locating a possible training facility for the franchise on campus, he said.

Soccer a better fit

When the idea collapsed along with the NFL proposal, it was resurrected when officials heard the Galaxy was searching for a new home.

The idea quickly evolved into a serious proposal after Anschutz’s January helicopter tour when several high-ranking executives with the corporation visited the site and asked for a copy of the university’s master plan, its blueprint for growth, Pardon said.

On Friday del Prado called the campus location one of the three leading candidates. The team needs to move quickly because the team’s lease at the Rose Bowl expires at the end of this season. Ideally, the team wants a new home by the start of the 2002 season, del Prado said.

“Mr. Anschutz is committed to doing whatever he can to make soccer work here in Southern California,” del Prado said, adding that no commitments have been made. “Hopefully within the next two to three months we’ll find out one way or another.”

A soccer stadium that would provide an appropriately exciting atmosphere — something often lost in huge stadiums designed for football — is seen by most observers as essential if the game is to progress.

Galaxy officials consider it no coincidence that the team finished second in league attendance last season to the Columbus Crew, which opened the nation’s first large stadium — capacity 22,500 — designed specifically for soccer.

Positive influence

Carson officials have responded positively so far, noting as they did with the NFL proposal that the soccer stadium would help put the city on the map.

“I don’t know of any problems associated with the site itself,” said City Manager Jerry Groomes. “The concern would be to try to minimize traffic impacts on the surrounding residential area.”

University officials believe that can be done, since the proposed site in the center of campus would help shield surrounding neighborhoods that contain some of the city’s most expensive homes from what would be relatively modest crowds compared to the NFL.

But an environmental report that would include a traffic analysis would have to be performed, Pardon said. And adverse community reaction would quickly kill the idea.

“If the city doesn’t want it here we’re not going to push it,” Pardon said. “That would run right in the face of our whole communiversity objectives.”

But for now, officials with the Galaxy, city and university believe the idea of a professional soccer team in Carson is worth investigating further.

“It’s an opportunity for (Carson) to get a lot of recognition not only in the city, but around the country and even internationally if we do build a new stadium and it does become the West Coast home of U.S. soccer,” del Prado said.

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Saturday Kicks: MLS strike averted & Chivas USA lose to the Dynamo

i-4b8c14ed61e2ec74a8978fa7a670d7b3-landongarber.jpgThe Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and MLS Commish Don Garber shake hands after the league and the players reached agreement Saturday on a new labor agreement (AP Photo)

Said Donovan:

“We have a deep appreciation for the commitment shown by the owners both historically and through this process to make MLS one of the top leagues in the world.”

It appears the players got rid of some of those rules that, frankly, resembled feudalism.

The first game is Thursday, when the Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia Union open the season; Chivas USA opens at home Friday against the Colorado Rapids and the Galaxy play Saturday at Home Depot Center.

Details here.

And the new agreement means Galaxy player reps Donovan, Chris Klein and Todd Dunivant are expected to play Sunday in the friendly against El Salvador’s CD Aguila at 5 p.m. at Home Depot Center, the Galaxy announced today.

Chivas USA lost 3-1 to the Houston Dynamo this evening in Santa Barbara. Center back Yamith Cuesta, one of four subs Chivas USA sent on in the 64th minute, got the lone Goats goal, heading home a Gerson Mayen corner in the 83rd minute.

Attendance: 1,657.

Chivas USA lineup: Jose Miranda, Ante Jazic, Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Umaa, Mariano Trujillo (Yamith Cuesta ’59), Jorge Flores (Gerson Mayn ’76), Marcelo Saragosa (Chukwudi Chijindu ’67), Sacha Kljestan, Michael Lahoud (Blair Gavin ’59), Osael Romero (Jesus Padilla ’59), Maykel Galindo (Justin Braun ’59).

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