(Late) Friday Football: Waiting for the weekend

And it’s almost pretty much here.

I was slammed today at work so I’m running behind, but here’s the weekend soccer agenda:


*4:30 a.m. ESPN2 Manchester United-Tottenham Hotspur

*9:30 a.m. Fox Soccer Channel Arsenal-Manchester City

*1 p.m. Telefutura Philadelphia Union-New York Red Bulls

*3 p.m. KAZA Cruz Azul-CD Guadalajara

*5:30 p.m. FSN Kansas City Wizards-Galaxy

*7:30 p.m. FSC Chivas USA-San Jose Earthquakes


*6:55 a.m. ESPN2 Everton-Fulham

*8 a.m. FSC Chelsea-Stoke City

*2 p.m. KMEX Club America-Santos

Check back Saturday for Galaxy and Chivas USA previews.

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Big bucks Becks redux

i-ff5f6ba9711a1ea63e4c9800885cc2d3-BeckhamNo1.jpgHis prayers are answered: Beckham is still the world’s top earning soccer player (AP Photo)

I’m guessing, given David Beckham’s injuries and lack of playing time in MLS, that $250 million in potential earnings mentioned when he signed for the Galaxy over the life of his five-year contract is no longer a valid estimate (if it ever was), although what’s $10 million or so off when you’re talking money like this. Nevertheless, his bank account is doing quite well, thank you:

LONDON (AP) — Forbes magazine says David Beckham still reigns supreme as soccer’s top-earning player.

The 35-year-old midfielder earns $40 million annually, with much of that coming from sponsors such as Adidas, Giorgio Armani and Motorola. But Beckham is expected to lose major sponsorship money this year because he will miss the World Cup in South Africa after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in March while on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy to AC Milan.

Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo is second on the Forbes list, earning $30 million a year. Ronaldo’s major sponsors include Nike, Coca-Cola and, like Beckham, Giorgio Armani.

Ronaldo, the 2008 FIFA Player of the Year, became the highest paid soccer player in the world in June when Real Madrid bought the 25-year-old winger from Manchester United for $130 million. He signed a six-year contract that pays an estimated $15.5 million in the first year, then increases 25 percent each season.

Brazilian playmaker Kaka, Ronaldo’s teammate at Madrid, is third on the list, earning $25 million annually.

The 28-year-old, who won the 2007 FIFA Player of the Year, was bought from AC Milan for $91 million — the second-highest known transfer fee. Kaka’s sponsors include Adidas and Giorgio Armani.

Ronaldinho is fourth on Forbes’ list, also earning $25 million a year. The 30-year-old
Brazilian forward, who plays for AC Milan, was FIFA Player of the Year in 2004 and ’05.

Rounding out the top five is French forward Thierry Henry, who makes $24 million a year. The 32-year-old plays for Barcelona and has sponsorships with Reebok, Gillette and Pepsi. There has been talk he could transfer this summer to Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.

Lionel Messi, the reigning FIFA Player of the Year, is sixth on the list with earnings of $20 million annually. Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is seventh, earning $17 million, with teammate John Terry in eighth at $16 million.

Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ninth, also at $16 million, followed by Liverpool
midfielder Steven Gerrard at $15 million.

On Wednesday, Forbes ranked Manchester United as soccer’s most valuable team. Real Madrid was second and Arsenal was third — the same top three as last year.

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Thursday Kicks: Stephens, Kamara & More

i-585dd5a070aeee2ab8f8c162569ab5e7-michaelstephensdebut.jpgUCLA product Michael Stephens, seen here fending off Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran (another former Bruin) Saturday, had a solid MLS debut (AP Photo).

*Reporter Phil Collin spoke to Galaxy rookie Michael Stephens (and also learned more about the severity of the injury midfielder Sean Franklin sustained in the game).

*If you haven’t voted in Tuesday’s poll regarding strikers Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez and their World Cup chances go here.

The Galaxy face the Wizards Saturday in Kansas City and striker Kei Kamara of Lawndale. In this YouTube video interview, Kamara explains why he chose to sign a new contract with the club:

In other news:

*As expected, the U.S. will hold its pre-World Cup camp on the East Coast. The eight-day camp begins May 15 at Coach Bob Bradley’s alma mater, Princeton University. The U.S. meets the Czech Republic May 25 in East Hartford, Conn., and Turkey May 29 in Philadelphia.

*The Los Angeles Unified School District, Chivas USA, the LA84 Foundation and the Los Angeles Dodgers will announce today a major fund-raising effort for competitive athletic activities in the district. The goal is to off-set the 25 percent budget cut the budget-strapped district was recently forced to announce by raising $1.3 million to support the more than 35,000 student athletes in 72 schools across the city.

*The second largest beach soccer event in the world returns to Oceanside May 15-16. More than 20,000 people will hit the beach at Oceanside Harbor for the Beach Soccer Championships. Register/more info here.

*Also next month, the fourth annual Croatian Small Goals tournament is back May 20 as the Croatian Hall of San Pedro hosts its 20th annual Independence Day Street Party.

The registration fee is $300 for six-sided teams in two divisions, competitive and recreational.

Games will consist of 5 field players and one goalie per team. More information at 310-548-1446 Ext: 107.

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World Cup Countdown: 50 days

i-c71f5ea7f55e02351fdeb8db3a0af579-captownstadium.jpg The stadium in Cape Town, seen here Wednesday, – as well as others in South Africa – are ready to host the games, organizers insisted today (AP Photo).

I’m guessing though they didn’t need this sort of publicity today.

Now, if they can just sell the rest of those unsold tickets:

KIMBERLEY, South Africa (AP) — Chief local organizer Danny Jordaan marked the 50-day countdown to the World Cup on Wednesday, saying the tournament was one of South Africa’s “most important defining moments.”

Jordaan said hosting soccer’s showcase tournament was one of a series of “significant moments that have shaped the country we live in today,” comparing it to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Jordaan was in Kimberley, in the country’s Northern Cape province, with South African
President Jacob Zuma to mark the 50-day countdown to Africa’s first World Cup.

A series of celebrations are planned at the Galeshewe Stadium on Wednesday, 50 days before the host nation kicks off the 2010 tournament against Mexico on June 11 at Soweto’s Soccer City Stadium.

Jordaan said South Africa will defy the skeptics who thought the country was incapable of hosting the tournament because of its high rate of violent crime and erratic transport

“The world has heard so many stories about us (since 1994), sometimes more negative than positive,” Jordaan said. “But this World Cup gives all South Africans the opportunity the show the world who we really are 16 years into our democracy.”

Zuma has said the country was “more than ready” to host soccer’s biggest event.
Jordaan said the 10 World Cup stadiums were ready, and the needed infrastructure was in place.

He also said tickets “were selling fast” despite worries over empty stadiums when organizers put 500,000 unsold tickets on sale on April 15.

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Late Tuesday Kicks: Ball juggling, pupasas & more

The Inter Milan win over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League wasn’t the only thing going on in the world of soccer today (although it felt like it):

*El Segundo-based DirecTV announced today it will soon air 30 more HD channels including GolTV. But not Fox Soccer Channel HD. My frustration (and others) summed up here. EPL on ESPN HD is making FSC virtually unwatchable by comparison.

*A report last week that had former Galaxy midfielder Simon Elliott training with the club speculated that “could lead to a roster spot” for the World Cup-bound New Zealander. No sources were cited though and apparently for good reason; club officials told me Saturday that Elliott was merely training with the team after being released from the San Jose Earthquakes before leaving in a few weeks for the Kiwi World Cup camp. Besides, do the Galaxy need another aging midfielder? Don’t answer that.

*Galaxy midfielder Sean Franklin’s injury Saturday that Coach Bruce Arena had fretted could be a fracture or other “long-term” issue? A sprained right ankle. He’s listed as questionable on Tuesday’s injury list. As is Gregg Berhalter (left knee soreness), Dema Kovalenko (right hamstring strain), Eddie Lewis (left foot contusion) and Clint Mathis (left knee surgery).

*Notable: With their win Saturday, the Galaxy became the first team in MLS history to win 200 games. The Galaxy look for their fifth consecutive win Saturday against the Wizards in Kansas City, a feat they last accomplished in late 2007.

*Chivas USA beat the PDL Ventura County Fusion 2-0 today at Home Depot Center on goals from Osael Romero and youth team product Carlos Martinez. The starting XI: Dan Kennedy, Cesar Zamora, Yamith Cuesta, Carlos Borja, Gerson Mayn, Artur Aghasyan, Michael Lahoud, Ben Zemanski, Jorge Flores, Romero and Justin Braun.

It’s “Salvadoran Night” Saturday at Home Depot Center as Chivas USA and Osael Romero take on the San Jose Earthquakes and Ramn Sanchez and Arturo Alvarez. One word: pupusas.

*The semipro Pali Blues, back to back W-League champions, will make another stab at the world record for the most people juggling soccer balls at the same time at halftime of a May 22 preseason game against Santa Clarita. Two soccer nonprofit groups benefit. Bring a ball and sign up.

*AYSO sources tell me clashes with board president Mike Wade and the need for a scapegoat for the drop in registration the group experienced during the recession led to the departure of former U.S. international Rick Davis as executive director of the Hawthorne-based nonprofit. He officially steps down next month.

*Finally, here’s the useless fact of the week from MLS (but one that could give Sounders fans a complex): “At 1,815 feet, Toronto’s CN Tower is three times as tall as Seattle’s Space Needle (605 feet).”

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Tuesday’s Column: The Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez World Cup question

i-df9be8f44045f42219f8cf364bc40374-edsonheaderrevs.jpgEdson Buddle: heading to the World Cup? (AP Photo).

Should in form Galaxy striker Edson Buddle be given a chance to make Bob Bradley’s World Cup squad?

What about former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez, who is tied for the scoring lead in Mexico?

i-92f08227a813d1c4d0126afec974160d-gomez.jpgHercules Gomez, left, made his Puebla debut in Carson during InterLiga against Monterrey in January. (AP Photo)

Read the column.

Then take the poll:

For the May national team camp ahead of selecting his World Cup roster U.S. Coach Bob Bradley should call in:
Edson Buddle
Herculez Gomez
Both players
Neither player
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Feel free to explain the reasoning behind your vote.

More from Gomez here.

And let’s do a little video review:

Buddle 2 Real Salt Lake 1 Saturday in Carson:

And here’s a recap of the goals of Herculez Gomez in Mexico:


True Locker Room Reaction #1 (and a correction)

Funny thing. When I asked Landon Donovan after last weekend’s game about how an in form (or recently discovered) player coming from out of the blue to claim a World Cup spot can affect the national team I mentioned the experience of David Regis in 1998. Donovan corrected me, saying that occurred in 2002 (I just listened to the recording again).

I was pretty sure Donovan was wrong, but thought it prudent to check. So I did. He was wrong. It was 1998 when Coach Steve Sampson discovered Regis and drafted him in at the expense of Jeff Agoos. (Regis also made the 2002 squad, but didn’t play). So then I wrote the column and inexplicably wrote 2002 instead of 1998. Go figure.

Thanks to alert reader Taylor Canel for pointing out the error/typo.

True Locker Room Reaction #2

Which reminded me that I asked Buddle after his two-goal performance what the first thing was Bruce Arena said to him after the game, expecting it to be some recognition of his scoring streak. Buddle replied that Arena told him he was fined $100 for missing the post-game meeting in the locker room. Buddle was signing autographs for the crowd. That will keep you grounded.

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Galaxy-Real Salt Lake wrap

Galaxy 2 Real Salt Lake 1

i-d50f9eb7f2a9111b29b5fb7922c97ea5-ldrussellrobbie.jpgLandon Donovan and the Galaxy were flying Saturday over Robbie Russell and RSL at some points (AP Photo).

Phil Collin filed this game story.

Notable: Buddle has scored multiple goals in each of the Galaxy’s last three games, the first player to do so since Landon Donovan, who scored seven goals in three games in April 2008.

Quotable: Bruce Arena joked at the outset of the post-game news conference that he was surprised the first question wasn’t something along the lines of “is he worried only one player is scoring?” So I asked that.

“We have problems what can I say, we’ll try to work through it,” he said.

i-7e0028f14b12e8cf751d840eec5ee874-rickettsbeckermangoal.jpgGalaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who looked uncharacteristically off tonight on several occasions, failed to smother Kyle Beckerman’s shot for the sole RSL goal just before halftime (AP Photo).

Galaxy lineup: Donovan Ricketts; Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin (Bryan Jordan 43′); Chris Birchall, Mike Magee (Alex Cazumba 69′), Juninho (Alan Gordon 81′), Michael Stephens; Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle.

Attendance: 20,334

The Utah perspective.

Is it too early for a league table? Nah.

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Final: Real Salt Lake at Galaxy

Galaxy 2 Real Salt Lake 1

The best start to a Galaxy season since 1998 (when the team opened 9-0) sees the club run their record to 4-0 and retain their grip alone atop the MLS table.

Two-goal Edson Buddle capped another excellent individual performance by passing Toronto Coach Preki for 10th place in all-time MLS scoring.

This was a win the Galaxy thoroughly deserved – and wanted – after tying RSL 1-1 in regulation last year at MLS Cup before losing on penalty kicks.

The game sprung to life as it approached the hour mark, Juninho connecting with a stinging shot that was well saved by Nick Rimando in in the 58th minute and Buddle following up with another opportunity before his 76th minute goal.

RSL didn’t go quietly, Kyle Beckerman hiting the post in the 66th minute and Robbie Russell Alvaro Saborio following up moments later with an effort that hit the crossbar.

But the Galaxy got their revenge – and the result they wanted – before playing five of their next seven games away from home, starting next weekend at Kansas City.

More later.

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Update: RSL at Galaxy

Edson Buddle 2 RSL 1

Edson Buddle has just set a club and MLS record with seven straight goals to start a season.

Buddle controlled this one beautifully, accepting a pass from Juninho inside the box, as defenders drifted away from him, and then belting home the potential 76th minute winner with a second assured touch.

Buddle for the U.S. World Cup team?

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Update: RSL at Galaxy

Galaxy 1 RSL 1

Real Salt Lake replied to the Galaxy’s opening goal from a corner kick – with a 41st minute equalizer from a corner kick.

Kyle Beckerman got on the end of a Michael Stephens clearance from about 27 yards, his shot bounced off the turf and over Donovan Rickets, who should have got down faster to that one. It’s the first goal the Galaxy has conceded this season.

Sean Franklin has just come out injured and was replaced by Bryan Jordan.

And it ends all square at halftime.

Key stat: each team had one shot on target – and scored.

Update: Franklin has a left heel sprain – and no, I don’t know, how you sprain a heel.

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