Tuesday’s Column: Bubble bursting for Buddle, others?

i-d0c002953e5ce51ecbf3161afbc51fb6-gomezmug.jpgIt’s fair to say tonight’s U.S. game will be the biggest in the lives of the likes of Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez, right, with a long-shot spot on the World Cup roster on the line.

Read my take in today’s column.

And before anyone comments or e-mails, yeah, I’m aware I inadvertently inserted an extra “P” in Petr Cech’s first name in the column.

Apologies Petr, but then as his Website shows, he’s no stranger to mangled English: “I would like to welcome you most sincerely on my personal web pages. The main reason of their existence is my wish to be closer to my fans. I am glad they originated and I believe that it will be great for you.”

Hmmm, thanks Petr, hope it was great for you, too.

And while we’re having a laugh, here’s a a cute Landon Donovan story from the USMNT blog

LD having a romantic evening at the team hotel or just mellowing out?

Finally, here’s LD being interviewed on ESPN. Not much new here for U.S. and/or Galaxy fans, but he’s clearly aware of being in the shop window in South Africa and that motivation can’t hurt:

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Galaxy host UEFA Champions League winners Inter Milan in August

i-741619117228f1a1b64c7b74081b7a72-diegocarson.jpgTwo-goal Diego Milito & Co.: coming to Carson (AP Photo).

Saturday, Aug. 7, to be precise, at Home Depot Center.

Tickets are $50 and “will go on sale to the general public at a future date.”

“We have always said that it is our ambition to give our fans exciting games that further enhance the experience of being an LA Galaxy fan and bringing the champions of Europe to The Home Depot Center certainly fits that vision,” Galaxy President of Business Operations Tom Payne said. “This is the second consecutive season in which we have brought the (UEFA) Champions League winners to Southern California and just like last year, we are anticipating another unbelievable evening for our team and our fans.”

The Galaxy lost to Barcelona last August at the Rose Bowl before a crowd of 93,137.

The five-time Serie A champions beat Bayern Munich 2-0 Saturday to claim the treble.

From the Galaxy press release:

Inter Milan will travel to Los Angeles with their complete squad of stars, which currently includes many World Cup-bound superstars such as Argentina’s Diego Milito, who scored both Inter goals in Saturday’s Champions League Final, and Walter Samuel, Brazil’s Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ghana’s Sulley Muntari, Holland’s Wesley Sneijder, David Suazo of Honduras and Serbia’s Dejan Stankovic. They also feature 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Marco Materazzi, former Italian international goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, Argentina internationals Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, the current Inter captain, as well as a host of additional international stars.

But not Jose Mourinho, I suppose, who conventional wisdom says is Real Madrid-bound.

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England downs Mexico

England 3 Mexico 1

i-9eaa2398257e5cadf52a0b12c03c1561-becksclaps.jpgThe Galaxy’s David Beckham liked what he saw today in London (AP Photo).

This was a game that went according to the script for the Americans’ first opponents in the World Cup – and their biggest rival – today at Wembley

As usual England didn’t play their best, but still won, while brittle Mexico started brightly, but faded when their first half efforts were not justly rewarded. In the end the scoreline could have been even greater, with England seeing a potential fourth goal cleared off the line.

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley will no doubt have nightmares about Wayne Rooney’s pace (if he hasn’t already), will wring his hands he doesn’t have an explosive midfielder to match Theo Walcott and wish the U.S. possessed a defender with the shooting prowess of Glen Johnson.

Check out the goals (until the YouTube copyright types take notice):

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Monday Catch-up: Galaxy, England, Mexico & more

* Van Nuys’ Tristan Bowen, 19, scored his first-ever Galaxy goal as a depleted LA beat a depleted Boca Juniors Sunday at Home Depot Center. Game story here.

Galaxy lineup: Josh Saunders, Alex Cazumba, Gregg Berhalter (A.J. DeLaGarza 64′), Omar Gonzalez (Yohance Marshall 46′), Sean Franklin; Chris Birchall (Bryan Jordan 64′), Eddie Lewis (Todd Dunivant 72′), Michael Stephens, Chris Klein; Tristan Bowen, Clint Mathis (Mike Magee 80′).

Updated: Yeah, Michael Stephens sort of nudged the ball on into the path of Tristan Bowen for the goal, he didn’t whiff on it (although I can see where someone viewing it in person might think that). Incidentally, anyone else encouraged by Bowen’s performances? In limited minutes this year he has an assist and a goal and let’s face it the Galaxy need all the offensive help they can get with Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan in the U.S. camp.


*England and Mexico meet at noon on Fox Soccer Channel. Preview here.

*The U.S. faces the Czech Republic at 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN and Galavision. I’ll have more on the U.S. World Cup preparations in Tuesday’s column.

*Former LA Sol defender Christie Shaner, perhaps best known for suffering a broken leg last year in her WPS debut, scored a 90th-minute winner from a corner kick as Ajax America beat the San Diego WFC SeaLions 2-1 at Nansen Field on the Palos Verdes Peninsula Sunday in the WPSL opener for both teams.

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Special One Sunday Soccer, Chivas USA & more

Considering I spent Saturday watching no fewer than four soccer games, it feels odd to say I was taking a break from the game, but that’s what it felt like.

i-fc4665b829c3cf0444f3789188e20103-specialvictory.jpg Saturday’s UEFA Champions League title was a special one for Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho (AP Photos).

After watching another exceptional coaching job by Inter Milan’s Jose Mourinho in the UEFA Champions League final with a Bayern Munich-dominant set of fans at Alpine Village near Torrance (there’s nothing like a middle-aged frauline handing you a beer while saying in heavily-accented German “Arrogant Bastard” – I think she was referring to the microbrew I was drinking – as she does so), and watching the U.S. women score their biggest win over the Germans in 14 years I thought I’d play hooky from the Home Depot Center.

I’m glad I did after Chivas USA (3-6-1) went down to a third consecutive loss in a mostly forgettable game against defending MLS champion Real Salt Lake with the main highlight for the home team being Justin Braun’s well-taken third goal of the season.

i-6c9584056ee55c006f057b49d67205da-brauntackled.jpgReal Salt Lake successfully tackled Justin Braun and Chivas USA Saturday in Carson.

Quotable: Chivas USA Coach Martin Vasquez succinctly summed up the game –

“We came back in the second half and we were able to get a nice goal and play better, but we lost our focus in the 89th minute – and we lost the game.”

Notable: Chivas USA defender and Anaheim native Carlos Borja made the first start of his MLS career.


Chivas USA lineup: Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Daro Delgado, Michael Umaa, Carlos Borja, Jess Padilla (Chukwudi Chijindu 77), Ben Zemanski, Marcelo Saragosa, Michael Lahoud (Jos Macotelo 54), Blair Gavin, Maicon Santos (Justin Braun 63).

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

There’s more soccer locally today, in what is likely to be a collection of Galaxy reserve players taking on Argentina’s Boca Juniors (missing their two biggest stars) at 5 p.m. in an exhibition at Home Depot Center.

The game is also on FSN – and that’s where I’ll be watching it.

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Saturday Kicks: Gomez, Chivas USA & more

i-e429995754754b4c6dd5554d4fa98ac6-coolherc.jpgCool Herc: Gomez, pictured Thursday in Princeton, is Pachuca-bound (AP Photo).

Former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez, a Los Angeles native, has joined Mexico’s Pachuca, according to AP:

The club said on its website Friday that it had added the 28-year-old from Las Vegas, who scored 10 goals this year for Puebla to become the first American to win or share the Mexican league’s regular-season scoring title.

Javier Hernandez of Chivas, who is transferring to Manchester United, and Johan Fano of Atlante also had 10 goals apiece.

Gomez is on the United States’ 30-man preliminary World Cup roster and is with the American team at training camp in Princeton, N.J. He becomes a teammate of American midfielder Jose Torres on the CONCACAF Champions League winner.

Before joining Puebla, he was with the Galaxy, Colorado and Kansas City in Major League Soccer.


*The U. S. Women’s National Team faces Germany at 3 p.m. today on ESPN2.

*Chivas USA plays at 7:30 p.m. today against Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center. Phil Collin has the preview from the Chivas USA perspective

More from Real Salt Lake here.

*Long Beach is gearing up for beach soccer over the Memorial Day weekend.

Because I like these commercials:

And posts here you may have missed this week include:

*SoCal style UEFA Champions League final preview here.

*The Women’s Premier Soccer League season opens this weekend locally.

*The Eric Cantona movie “Looking For Eric” opened Friday in Southern California.

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SoCal style UEFA Champions League final preview

The soccer high point of the weekend is the UEFA Champions League final between Germany’s Bayern Munich and Italy’s Inter Milan.

And the best place to watch it in Southern California might well be German-themed Alpine Village near Torrance.

Not only is it conveniently located smack dab next to the Torrance Boulevard off-ramp from the Harbor (110) Freeway, but the new management there is trying to reclaim its long-lost crown as the preeminent spot to watch soccer in the South Bay.

How? In part, by emphasizing the only thing soccer fans universally love more than the game itself – beer.

Alpine Village (which, by the way, is adding comfortable booths and generally trying to update its dingy, out-dated appearance) now has 15 German-style beers on taps – considerably more than it previously boasted – most of them imports, but others from such Southern California’s microbreweries as Stone and Redlands’ Hanger 24.

And the price is right, too; beer specials will run $2 for a 12 oz glass (regularly $4.25), $4 for a 22 oz glass (regularly $7.50), while 32 oz pitchers are $6 (regularly $10).

Kickoff, by the way, is at 11:30 a.m. on Fox, the first time the game has ever been played on a Saturday AND on network TV in the U.S. Oh, and Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena is an analyst on the broadcast; I’m told he’ll return from Madrid in time for Sunday’s Boca Juniors friendly in Carson.


Here’s a preview to, um, wet your appetite:

MADRID (AP) — The Champions League final is so evenly matched that the title could come down to a coaching decision by Bayern Munich’s Louis van Gaal or his one-time assistant, Inter Milan’s Jose Mourhino.

Two of the most successful coaches of recent years, they both were at Barcelona more than a decade ago when van Gaal was the head coach and Mourinho part of his backup team. Each team won its domestic league and cup titles and is striving to end the season with triple successes.

i-b2e3006f665df9fc3bf0680123760e65-Bayern's Louis van Gaal.jpg“We worked together for three years,” van Gaal, right, said Friday. “He was an excellent coach and trainer and carried out all analyses for Barcelona and studied our opponents and did an excellent job.

“Little did I know that he would turn out such a great coach. He’s one of the best in the

The cool, more-experienced van Gaal has won 15 major titles to 13 for the feisty Mourinho, the self-proclaimed “Special One.” Van Gaal will aim to show why he’s still the master on Saturday in the first Champions League final broadcast by a U.S. over-the-air network.

Mourinho has refused to say he will remain at Inter for next season, leading to speculation the former Porto and Chelsea manager will move on to Real Madrid.

While Mourinho, below, has a hugely experienced defense at Inter with the likes of Argentines Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel, and Brazilians Maicon and Lucio, van Gaal looks to Arjen Robben to attack them with his bursts of speed and powerful, long-range shooting with his left foot.

i-28378ebac9a8ad92bf494e7125503f30-joseuefa.jpgAlthough Franck Ribery is suspended, Bayern has the talent to unlock Inter’s defense with Croatian striker Ivica Olic aiming to follow up his hat-trick against Lyon, which put the team into its eighth final.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has switched from a right-sided attacking midfielder and is supporting the forwards from behind and, with 20-year-old Thomas Mueller playing just behind Olic, van Gaal has the luxury of putting German national team forwards Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez on the bench.

“My philosophy is always to attack an opponent on the pitch,” van Gaal said. “Mourinho is more defensive, that’s his tactic, but he has good players who can decide the match.”

Diego Milito will be Inter’s main attacking force, with Samuel Eto’o close by and Wesley
Sneijder supporting as the playmaker.

But Inter’s real strength is how it copes when the other team has possession. With Thiago Motta suspended, a lot will depend on Esteban Cambiaso to protect his defenders in the same way he helped to keep Barcelona’s Lionel Messi so quiet in the semifinal.

Trying to become the first coach since Helenio Herrera in 1965 to take the title back to Inter Milan, Mourinho may well move Zanetti out of defense and alongside Cambiasso to nullify the threat of Robben. But such negative thinking might well be his undoing.

If Inter concentrates too much on the Dutch star, Schweinsteiger may well get more room to attack through the center and support the two front men, opening up space for Olic and Mueller to score.

Van Gaal, who won the title in charge of Ajax in 1995, believes his Bayern team is catching up with the very best in Europe.

“Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona are the best teams in Europe. Nevertheless we can win the title. Of course, we have had a little bit of luck but I think it was deserved,” he said in reference to a controversial goal against Fiorentina and the harsh red card given to Manchester United defender Rafael in the quarterfinal.

“It’s also possible that a lower level club wins,” he said. “That’s sport.”

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Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan as you’ve never seen him before

No, really.

This is American Soccer is one of the most literate blogs covering the sport. Unlike those of us who whip off a couple of snarky comments while linking to a grab bag of different stories, (ahem) blogger Adam Spangler takes a different approach.

He takes the time to delve into issues in depth, providing much-needed context and shedding light on little-known facets of familiar subjects.

This is true of Spangler’s profile of Kljestan, the Huntington Beach product who is a Chivas USA midfield fixture.

I know Kljestan reasonably well, but chatting with him on a regular basis after training or in the locker room after games is no substitute for hanging out with him, his family and friends at length.

The first part of what is apparently a multi-part profile of Kljestan went up on Spangler’s blog today.

And it’s well worth a read; for more, click here.

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Beckham in Afghanistan

And before anyone asks, no, I don’t know why we’re getting advance word of a supposedly “surprise visit,” but the part-time Galaxy player never passes up the opportunity for some good publicity:

LONDON (AP) — David Beckham is flying to Afghanistan for a surprise visit to boost morale for the thousands of British troops stationed there.

The British Forces’ news service says the soccer star is accompanying troops on a flight from Oxfordshire to the British military base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

The former England captain will meet hundreds of British and American troops, as well as medical staff and patients.

The 35-year-old Beckham is also expected to drum up support for England and its bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Beckham said Friday he has wanted to visit Afghanistan for a long time. He says he admires the troops and their work makes him “very proud to be British.”

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