Tuesday’s Column: Chivas USA’s gringo

First off, hands up out there all those who thought David Beckham would don a Galaxy jersey this MLS season. No, me neither.

The more pertinent question: Will Becks be back for the fifth and final year of his contract? And does anyone still care? Moving on.

i-848aa6f3bc2efc08c7513cd448d7c560-padillamug0001.jpgBack home Chivas USA’s Jesus Padilla is nick-named Jesse or Gordo. On the soccer field he goes by a different name as I explain in today’s column.

As you might expect, Padilla comes from a futbol crazy family. His father is a massive CD Guadalajara fan and naturally now supports Chivas USA, too. He has two sisters who have played for the Mexican national team and as many as 10 to 15 family members and friends routinely drive down from the Bay Area for Chivas USA games.

That’s sometimes a mixed blessing:

“My friends in Guadalajara see the games so if I do mess up or something they right away call me and tell me: you did this wrong and this wrong. Even my sisters still do it. Before a game I get a talk from my dad about this and this. … I heard this when I was young and I still hear it.”

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Beckham, Canucks & the South Bay

i-80bc1f3b6ce9e9e52987c169114ddf77-teams.jpgFoothills Soccer Club and the PVSC Exiles after their Sunday game at Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes Estates. (Photo by Lloyd Hamilton).

The youth soccer community in Southern California remains relatively close-knit, self-reliant and always eager to embrace the international nature of the game.

So it shouldn’t surprise when a story about the disappointment of a young Canadian soccer team due to train at the David Beckham Academy in Carson this month (who read about its closure via an earlier article I wrote) received an outpouring of offers of games, practices and the like from throughout the area.

A team from as far away as Orange County called eager to help, as did the likes of Mike Riley, AYSO 34 commissioner in Redondo Beach and Robbie Mills and Brian Boswell of Rolling Hills Estates-based FRAM and Ajax America Women..

Tournaments and scrimmages against local clubs and coaching clinics were all offered.

(“We may not have the Beckham name, but the coach/coaches who would conduct the clinics are better qualified than the Beckham Academy coaches,” opined Boswell.)

Eventually, the folks from Calgary’s Foothills Soccer Club accepted the kind invitation of the PVSC Exiles and in particular Coach Joe Flanagan and his wife, Julie.

The couple gave up a long weekend to hang out with folks they’d never met, Joe (also coach of the national championship winning program at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson) provided coaching sessions at the former David Beckham Academy field at Home Depot Center on campus and in Palos Verdes Estates at Malaga Cove.

Chivas USA came through with more than 20 free tickets to a game at Home Depot Center, the Galaxy came up with some free hats and T-shirts for the boys and the Flanagan’s also hosted a practice and pizza party contributed by the folks at the South Coast Soccer City futsal facility in Torrance.

“It’s been awesome really,” said Lloyd Hamilton, the Calgary team’s coach. “There was a great response from folks here to help us out – Joe Flanagan has really taken care of the lads with some top notch training and some games.”

Lloyd’s wife, Natasha, the team manager, who made the trip despite giving birth to the couple’s newest addition to the family five weeks earlier, said the turn of events made the trip even better than originally envisioned, as the team made friends and sampled the local soccer culture.

“It has been more than we could have asked for,” she added. “These people have been really gracious.”

Classy move by PVSC and the Flanagan’s and the local soccer community in general to turn a negative situation into a positive.

“We had 3 great days with them and are sad to see them leave,” said Julie Flanagan. “This is a story where people came together to turn an unfortunate situation into life-long memories for young footballers.”

i-200f4b54be7121cca9ead2bd0555d5d5-hdcfoothills0001.jpgThe Foothills lads pose at the HDC with Chivas USA play by play man Christian Miles.

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Chivas USA-San Jose Earthquakes wrap

Chivas USA 3 San Jose Earthquakes 2

Phil Collin filed the game story.

“You got to win to get love,” someone named RB had scrawled on the Chivas USA locker room chalkboard.

The quote from “Talledega Nights” by Ricky Bobby was actually written by SK – Sacha Kljestan.

And the love was flowing in the locker room in a game that saw a resilient, confident Chivas USA bounce back from the nightmare in Houston to beat San Jose.

Sure, the Earthquakes are no Dynamo, but Chivas USA used swift, precise counter attacks, intelligent raids by the likes of Mariano Trujillo, creativity and imagination by Jesus Padilla and Kljestan and a cohesive midfield that included two rookies out of Akron as well as a dependable backstop in veteran Zach Thornton to pry apart San Jose. Thornton had four crucial second half saves.

It was the sort of quick, attacking soccer Coach Martin Vasquez had promised – but not delivered – until Saturday night.

“Finally, we put together 90 minutes of the way we want to play. We earned the win,” he said.

“Tonight everything finally clicked,” said striker Justin Braun who rose to score a well-taken 54th minute goal, glancing the ball with his head into the corner of the net. “It’s the style of soccer you’re going to see from us more.”

It was attractive soccer in a compelling game that was a pleasure to watch and deserved a larger crowd than the 14,389 on hand.

Notable: When Michael Umana came off in the second half with a mild ankle sprain he was replaced by Carlos Borja who made his MLS debut.


“We went out and pressured them a lot from the beginning,” said Kljestan. “We made them cough up a bunch of balls down the field. And when we had the ball we were pretty happy – we played with joy as Martin likes to say. We moved the ball around the field a lot and it felt good.”

Vasquez was pleased with Kljestan’s performance:

“He’s starting to respond to the responsibility that he has on the field and off the field as our captain, as our leader, as our playmaker, as the guy whose going to make things happen for us. He was able to dictate the pace (of the game).”

Here’s Vasquez on the performance of Mariano Trujillo:

“He got the most touches out of everybody and he was our playmaker on the right side. (I was) very happy with his performance.”

Jonathan Bornstein addressed the difference from last week:

“We kept telling everyone that all we need to do is compete. But guys weren’t even showing up to run hard, to battle for each other, so if we do that first of all the soccer will take over.”

Here’s Bornstein on the zippy pair of Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin:

“I’ve always liked them in the middle (together). In preseason I saw them play together and I just think they know how to play together … coming from Akron. They were doing really well there together. It’s good to see the two young guys can play like that. I was even thinking during the game, ‘man, these two young guys are going to be pretty good players.’ It kind of lifted my game a little bit.”

And yeah, Braun was well aware this was the first time since October 2008 the team had scored three goals: “I know,” he said. “We hear about it all the time.”

Not anymore.

Braun Twittered:

Huge win for us tonight, team played with lots of heart. Things finally came together!!

Time for a new slogan?

How about – “Chivas USA: We piss excellence in the morning.”

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Final: Earthquakes at Chivas USA

Chivas USA 3 San Jose Earthquakes 2

Chivas USA has just scored three goals in a game for the first time since October 2008.

“Chucky” Chijindu sealed the victory in the 87th minute when he latched onto a long Michael Lahoud pass from deep into his own half, outrunning Omah Jasseh and calmly slotting the ball home beneath a diving Joe Cannon. It doesn’t get more direct than that.

‘Quakes defender Steven Beitashour added a second goal for the road team just before the final whistle, shooting through a crowded penalty area to score after an Earthquakes corner kick.

This was certainly Chivas USA’s most assured performance of the season. Where have these guys been?

Goalkeeper Zach Thornton had a fine game in the Chivas USA goal in particular denying a Ryan Johnson header with a diving one-handed save in the 72nd minute that would have tied the game up. Three minutes later Johnson headed off the bar from a corner kick to give Chivas USA another scare.

Chivas USA improves to 2-3.

More later.

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Final: Galaxy at Kansas City Wizards

Wizards 0 Galaxy 0

I guess when Edson Buddle (he was restricted to one shot) doesn’t score, neither does the Galaxy.

The Galaxy were lucky to escape with a point on the road.

A bizarre sequence of events you could blame on the soggy pitch ended with Lawndale’s Kei Kamara putting the ball in the net with his hand after he whiffed on the shot and fell over in the 16th minute. One of the weirdest non-goals you’ll ever see.

Tweeted Kamara:

Gr8 team performance tonite, it was a ruff game. Shocker performance by me, worst miss of my career. Sorry Boys. On To The Next One.

Game story here.

Lineups, talking points and more from the official Galaxy blog.


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Updated: Earthquakes at Chivas USA

Chivas USA 1 Earthquakes 1

Chris Wondolowski scored from the penalty spot in the 41 st minute after Jonathan Bornstein had tripped him in the box. The referee was in superb position to see the foul, which didn’t look like much initially, but proved to be the correct call on the replay.

It’s a shame because Chivas USA was playing probably their best half of the season.

The half ends all square.

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San Jose Earthquakes (2-1) at Chivas USA (1-3) at Home Depot Center

Chivas USA Coach has rung the changes yet again as he seeks a second successive home win after last week’s loss at Houston, the club’s third defeat in four games to start the season.

The four changes to the starting lineup include a revamped strike force of Justin Braun and Jesus Padilla, who moves up from midfield; “Chucky” Chijindu and Maicon Santos both drop to the bench.

Rookie Ben Zemanski gets the first start of his MLS career in midfield, while Michael Lahoud also starts; Marcelo Saragosa is missing with a calf strain.

Chivas USA XI: Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Dario Delgado, Michael Umana, Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Lahoud, Ben Zemanski, Sacha Kljestan, Blair Gavin, Justin Braun, Jesus Padilla.

Osael Romero starts on the bench.

Earthquakes Coach Frank Yallop has his team above .500 for the first time since San Jose rejoined MLS and is seeking a third win in a row.

Brazilian striker Eduardo is out with a calf strain.

Former Galaxy midfielder Brandon McDonald starts for San Jose as does former Chivas USA defender Jason Hernandez.

The game is live on Fox Soccer Channel.

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Galaxy and Chivas USA Saturday gameday

Galaxy (4-0) at Kansas City (2-1) 5:30 p.m. Prime

*The Wizards’ focus tonight: Edson Buddle

And with good reason, notes Phil Collin:

*Buddle has 22 of the Galaxy’s 49 shots this season.

*Buddle has nine of the Galaxy’s 14 shots that have hit the target.

*Buddle has committed a team-high 10 fouls and suffered a team-high seven.

*Buddle is the only Galaxy player with two yellow cards.

Should Buddle (and former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez) get a call-up to Bob Bradley’s May national team camp ahead of picking the U.S. World Cup roster? 100 Percent Soccer readers say yes (resoundingly). (Thanks to all who voted).

Galaxy-related posts earlier this week included:

*My Tuesday column on Edson Buddle (and Gomez).

*Words from Galaxy rookie Michael Stephens and Lawndale’s Kei Kamara of the Wizards here.

San Jose Earthquakes (2-1) at Chivas USA (1-3) 7:30 p.m. FSC

*Ever heard of Earthquakes attacking midfielder Joey Gjertsen? Chivas USA fans will tonight.

*San Jose hasn’t won at Home Depot Center since 2005.

I’ll blog from the game tonight.

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