MLS All-Star Game gameday

i-ba9098aaa8294f613677eb4750ff631c-giggs.jpgUnited in space? Veteran Ryan Giggs looks for signs of missing United striker Wayne Rooney at Mission Control in Houston Tuesday, the day before the MLS All-Star Game (AP Photo).

The game begins at 5:30 p.m. today on ESPN2.

*Wayne Rooney and other stars might be missing from a depleted Manchester United squad, but new signing Javier Hernandez, last of CD Guadalajara, is expected to make his debut for the Red Devils.

*United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson sees progress in MLS in comparison with United’s last visit.

*Perhaps the most important aspect of tonight’s game: the halftime coin flip.

*Finally, Brian Straus over at AOL Fanhouse explains MLS’ structure next season after expansion.

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CONCACAF Champions League postgame

I’ll keep this short:

* Game story.

Full disclosure: There’s nothing worse than a losing locker room after a bad loss. So I skipped it and headed out for a comforting beverage.

But this quote from Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena pretty much sums things up:

“We got beat soundly tonight. There is no question about it. There are no excuses. I thought for the night our effort was good, our execution was not. A couple of things: I think our experienced players didn’t have a good night for us tonight. Secondly, our finishing was poor and theirs was superb. That is the right way to describe their finishing. Their goalkeeping was excellent. Ours wasn’t…ours was not good enough. We didn’t get a save out of Josh [Saunders]. Their effort was outstanding.”

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CONCACAF Champions League final: Islanders at Galaxy

Galaxy 1 Puerto Rico Islanders 4

The Islanders may be called “the Grave Diggers,” but the Galaxy largely dug their own grave in this one.

I don’t mean to take anything away from the second division club team who played a fine game and scored some excellent goals, but the Galaxy’s deficiencies throughout the team tonight were readily apparent.

This is the first time the Galaxy has conceded four goals since the 6-3 home lashing by Dallas in September 2009.

How bad was it? In four MLS games in July the Galaxy allowed six goals representing 60 percent of their season total in goals conceded (as well as another pair in the U.S. Open Cup).

After tonight’s game the Galaxy has allowed a dozen goals this month alone after keeping nine clean sheets in their first 11 games of the season.


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CONCACAF Champions League Update

Galaxy 1 Puerto Rico Islanders 4

A complete effort by the Galaxy tonight – completely useless in attack, midfield and defense that is – ended with the D2 Pro League club scoring a richly deserved fourth of their own and then adding another for the Galaxy.

First, former D.C. United player Nicolas Addlery scored his second of the night, taking Leonardo to the cleaners down the right wing in the 81st minute and depositing the ball in the net from the top of the box, while goalkeeper Josh Saunders flailed at thin air.

Two minutes later Edson Buddle saw an effort from inside the penalty box deflected into the net by Islanders defender Richard Martinez, who didn’t know much about it.

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CONCACAF Champions League Update

Galaxy 0 Puerto Rico Islanders 3

This game and quite probably the Galaxy’s Champions League aspirations are all but over.

Former Galaxy developmental player Josh Hansen – who played college soccer at the University of San Francisco – scored a lovely goal from 28 yards that hit the right post and went in after 56 minutes. He latched onto a poor Galaxy clearance, but still it was an excellently taken strike to put the visitors up by three clear goals.

The boos rained down after that goal.

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Halftime: Islanders at Galaxy

Galaxy 0 Puerto Rico Islanders 2

The Galaxy fell further behind when former D.C. United striker Nicholas Addlery got in behind a static Gregg Berhalter and finished off a Scott Jones cross from about seven yards out right on 45 minutes.

The Galaxy will only have themselves to blame if they go to Puerto Rico next week facing a two-goal deficit.

A lack of midfield creativity saw Coach Bruce Arena yank defender A.J. DeLagarza off six minutes before the half ended in favor of rookie Michael Stephens.

But really the Galaxy have also squandered shots – an unmarked Sean Franklin wastefully failing to even hit the target with a blast over the bar, for instance, and Alan Gordon yet again showing he has all the finesse of a new-born calf by not getting a foot off a Landon Donovan cross that went right to him in front of the net.

Key stat: the Galaxy outshot the Islanders 11-6, but Puerto Rico had five shots on target to three for the Galaxy.

Poor stuff, frankly, and now the Islanders will undoubtedly pack the half for the final 45 minutes.

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CONCACAF Champions League Update

Galaxy 0 Puerto Rico Islanders 1

The giant killers strike again.

The Galaxy have fallen behind in the 26th minute, the goal coming from a Josh Hansen corner kick. David Horst met the cross with a header from 10 yards that A.J. DeLaGarza cleared off the goal line only to see David Foley follow up for the goal.

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CONCACAF Champions League: Puerto Rico Islanders At Galaxy

How big of a deal is the CONCACAF Champions League?

Fox Soccer Channel, which has its studios a few miles up the road, is apparently saving money on bus fare and will call the game from its studios rather than on site.

Now that’s a commitment to the sport.

Meanwhile, there’s an intimate crowd of what looks to be fewer than 1,000 people here (well, perhaps just over that figure).

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, with his team playing its third game in nine days, continues his policy of squad rotation at the centerback position, Leonardo and Gregg Berhalter getting the starts. Eddie Lewis also gets a rare start in midfield – his first since the MLS opener in March outside of a U.S. Open Cup game, in fact.

Here’s the Galaxy lineup: Josh Saunders, A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Lewis, Sean Franklin, Chis Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon.

Bench options include Omar Gonzalez and Tristan Bowen.

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Former Chivas USA midfielder Kljestan scores in UEFA Champions League debut

OK, so it was only against a Welsh Premier League outfit in a stadium that seats 1,000, but, hey, a goal is a goal:

(AP) American midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored in his European Champions League debut, helping Belgium’s Anderlecht win 3-1 at Wales’ The New Saints in the first leg of the third qualifying round on Tuesday night.

Kljestan, of Huntington Beach, scored the game’s first goal in the seventh minute, He was acquired in June from Major League Soccer and Chivas USA. The 24-year-old had 15 goals and 33 assists in 114 games for Chivas USA over 4 seasons and was the team’s most valuable player in 2008.

He was on the 30-man preliminary World Cup roster before getting cut when it was trimmed to 23.

Kljestan has 24 international appearances and played for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics. Kljestan also played in Anderlecht’s 1-0 win over Ghent in the Belgian Super Cup last Friday.

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Tuesday Kicks: Mexico, Brazil & more

*Mexico is moving cautiously on appointing a new national team coach:

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico soccer officials have named two veteran coaches to handle upcoming exhibition matches, giving the national federation time to find a full-time coach to replace Javier Aguirre.

Enrique Meza will handle the Aug. 11 match at Azteca stadium against World Cup champion Spain, and Efrain Flores will take over for games against Chile on Sept. 4 at Guadalajara, and Colombia on Sept. 7 at Monterrey.

Meza is the current coach of Mexican club Cruz Azul, and Flores is a former coach of Chivas Guadalajara. Neither is considered a candidate for the permanent job.

Aguirre resigned after Mexico was eliminated by Argentina in the second round at the World Cup.

*Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers of Rolling Hills Estates was named one of seven inactive MLS All-Stars for Wednesday’s game against Manchester United. Why? Apparently it’s part of the MLS Players Union contract. Also named: 33-year-old Seattle misfit Freddie Ljungberg – who has zero goals so far this season.

*Brazil has named a squad for its Aug. 10 friendly against the U.S. in New York that includes just four hold-overs from its World Cup roster:

goalkeepers – Jeferson (Botafogo), Renan (Avai), Victor (Gremio)

defenders – Andre Santos (Fenerbahce), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), David Luis (Benfica), Henrique (Racing Santander), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Man Utd), Rever (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (AC Milan)

midfielders – Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim), Ederson (Lyon), Hernanes (Sao Paulo), Jucilei (Corinthians), Lucas (Liverpool), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Ramires (Benfica), Sandro (Internacional)

forwards – Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Andre (Santos), Diego Tardelli (Atletico Mineiro), Neymar (Santos), Robinho (Santos)

*Ticket bump part 1: The New York Red Bulls announced today that their Aug. 14 game against the Galaxy has sold out. The game comes three days after Thierry Henry’s home MLS debut against Toronto.

Ticket bump part 2:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Wizards say they sold 700 season tickets after their exhibition win over Manchester United.

The Wizards beat the English power 2-1 Sunday on goals by Davy Arnaud and Kei Kamara before 52,342 at Arrowhead Stadium, the largest crowd to watch a soccer match in Kansas City.

Kansas City is scheduled to move next June to a $200 million, 18,500-seat stadium under construction at Village West.

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