Galaxy, Sanneh help heal Haitian hearts through soccer

i-1ef9762938e2630307473a212fae6849-haitisoccer.jpgHaitian soccer players and their American counterparts shake hands at the end of a game during the recent USA Cup soccer tournament in Blaine, Minn. The Haitian team of 14 and 15-year-old players was brought to Minnesota from Haiti with money raised by foundations operated by the Galaxy and former player Tony Sanneh to play in the largest youth tournament in the country (AP Photo).

AP Sports Writer

BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Josue Alexi has been on the losing end nearly all of his 14-year-old life.

He’s been beaten by poverty. By hunger. And, most recently, by the magnitude-7 earthquake that leveled much of Haiti, his country, in January. Little Josue’s joy was buried underneath the rubble, right next to homes, vehicles and as many as 300,000 people who died.

“Nobody smiled,” said former Galaxy defender Tony Sanneh, who traveled to Haiti in March. “The people were just sad. They were just trying to get by.”

Josue found his smile on the lush, green soccer fields of suburban Minneapolis, thanks to the Galaxy and the Tony Sanneh Foundation, which brought the boy and 14 teammates here to participate in the largest youth soccer tournament in the country.

It only got better for the Haitians as the tournament progressed, culminating with a victory on Saturday for the Schwan’s USA Cup weekend championship in the Gold Flight, which is just one step below the elite level at a tournament that features more than 900 teams.

The 15 boys, all under the age of 15, were winners for the first time in their lives. They
danced on the podium as gold medals were draped around their necks and sang songs as they were presented the trophy.

One thing stood out more than any to Stephanie Pereira, a manager for L’Athletique d’Haiti — they all had smiles on their faces.

“To say it was happiness, it goes beyond that,” Pereira said. “For these kids to smile, it
takes a lot.”

Josue and his teammates were able to just be kids for a few weeks and forget about the
devastation at home.

They arrived in the Twin Cities on July 9 and will start heading home next week to Port-au-Prince. Families here opened their homes, swimming pools and refrigerators to a group of kids who, even before the earthquake, had spent their lives struggling.

“It’s only been four days and we’re already crying tears that they have to leave soon,” said Karen Anderson, a host mother.

Josue and his teammates do not speak English, but smiles are smiles in any language. Speaking of his time in Minnesota, he spoke through a huge, toothy grin.

“They treat me very well and make me very happy,” he said through a translator.

An estimated 1.6 million Port-au-Prince residents remain homeless or living in tarps and
tents. Most have no electricity or running water and the rebuilding effort has barely
started. In Minnesota, these kids got a taste of middle class living, PlayStation, air conditioning and Josue’s new favorite food.

“Hot dogs!” he said.

They were honored during an Olympic-style opening ceremony that included fireworks and sky divers, cheered wildly by more than 1,000 people.

“Here people were rooting for them and they were like, ‘What’s wrong with them?'” Pereira said. “I told them, ‘They’re happy for you! You have to smile too.’

It didn’t take them long to get the message.

“They are very loving,” Anderson said. “They put their arms around you and we walk together and say je t’aime. I love you. Every day I try to have them teach me some new words. Explain what we’re eating.”

After the earthquake, the boys recalled eating maybe once a day, rice and beans at
L’Athletique d’Haiti, a sports program based in Port-au-Prince aimed at getting children from the poorest areas of town off the streets. Here, they got pizza, spaghetti, hot dogs and Pop Tarts, major food groups for most American teenage boys.

“It’s unbelievable how much they eat and what they eat,” said John Schinnick, a local youth soccer coach and host. “They’ll grab eight slices of bread and pile it up. Pizza, bread on that and rice on that and ketchup over everything.”

Eventually, Schinnick said, “they laid off piling it so high because they realized it was
going to keep coming. They could eat four or five times a day if they wanted.”

Remarkably, or perhaps frighteningly, life in Haiti seems back to “normal” for many of the 14-year-olds who have grown up in one of the world’s poorest nations.

“It wasn’t too hard,” goalkeeper Anel Pierre Jr. said of putting the earthquake behind him. “I tried to find a way to take the stress out and soccer was one of the ways to do that.”

i-bacd062af4afb47ebe23cc764291f11a-haitihalftime.jpgHaitians at the half: The kids listen to a halftime pep talk during the tournament.

L’Athletique d’Haiti has received help from the Galaxy, the Sanneh Foundation and other organizations to outfit more than 600 kids with soccer equipment and give them something to fill their day, and a meal to fill their stomachs.

“That’s one of the things we wanted, to start playing again right away,” Pereira said. “When you’re playing, you concentrate on the game, you don’t concentrate on the problems necessarily. “It helped the kids refocus again. It was their routine. It helped them go back to what they were used to, which is an important thing.”

Now that the tournament is over, the kids will spend the rest of their time here at lake
beaches and an amusement park. Pereira said very few are ready to go home even though they have been away from their families for more than two weeks.

In her eyes, that’s not a bad thing.

“Socially, it’s a very good experience,” she said. “They’ve never traveled. They’ve never seen what else is around them. It helps them open their vision, their minds, to seeing other things and how life can be different.”

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Chivas USA wins MLS lottery for UCLA product Zizzo

i-042479404b309d2257934c31cfd50450-zizzo.jpgMidfielder Sal Zizzo, seen here being tackled while playing for the U.S. Under-20 team in 2007, will play for Chivas USA (AP Photo).

Chivas USA won the lottery today that gave them the MLS rights today to former UCLA midfielder Sal Zizzo, who had been playing in Germany.

The 23-year-old, who has also made one appearance for the U.S. National Team, begins training with Chivas USA Thursday and is expected to be eligible to make his debut July 31 against the Columbus Crew in Carson.

“Zizzo is a player that our coaching staff knows well, and we’re very happy to have him join the club,” said Chivas USA Coach Martn Vsquez. “He’s a young, exciting attacking player with both international experience and a great deal of potential, and we look forward to seeing him in action.”

Zizzo played two years at UCLA before heading to Germany in 2007 where he made eight appearances for Hannover 96. Before heading to Europe he also played in the summer for Orange County Blue Star, where he was coached by current Chivas USA Technical Coach Nick Theslof.

Tweeted recently departed Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan:

Congrats to my boy @SalZizzo signing with Chivas USA… I think he will do well. Maybe he will wear 16 in honor of his idol (Me)……………..


UCLA’s Sydney Leroux scored her fifth goal at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup today to lead the U.S. past Korea 1-0 in its final Group D game.

Next for the U.S.: Against Nigeria at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU in the quarterfinals.

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Man City’s Mancini confirms Donovan interest

As of today this has now has gone beyond the tabloid Daily Mirror rumor stage we first saw last month:

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he may be interested in acquiring Landon Donovan from Major League Soccer and the Galaxy.

The 28-year-old midfielder had a successful 10-week loan to Everton last season and was the top American player at the World Cup with three goals.

“Donovan is a good player. Could be possible,” Mancini said Wednesday ahead of his club’s exhibition games against Sporting Lisbon and Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said last week he doesn’t intend to sell Donovan.

Everton captain Phil Neville has said Donovan wants to return to the Toffees.

It seems an unlikely move, but never underestimate the power of money – and City have gobs of it. Donovan would be made for life even if he barely got off the bench.

He’d get more playing time in a return to Everton – but not more cash.


Yahoo! is reporting Donovan could earn “$7 million per season if a move is completed.”

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Chivas USA Wednesday SuperLiga gameday

i-6f62ee0d9c4e436aee635d0165771464-Gomezpachsuperliga.jpgU.S. fans who want a post-World Cup look at American internationals Herculez Gomez, seen above playing against Houston, and Jose Torres, who both play for Pachuca, may have the best reason tonight for heading to Home Depot Center (AP Photo).

That’s because winless Chivas USA are a long-shot to progress in SuperLiga in the third and final group game. The home team must hope Puebla beats the Dynamo at 5 p.m. on KFTR and then defeat already eliminated Pachuca by two clear goals in the 7:30 p.m. contest in Carson (also live on Galavision). The problem: Puebla have already qualified for the next round, so may not be particularly motivated and a tie guarantees the Dynamo advance, too.

Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein is doubtful for the game with a right knee strain, striker Justin Braun is questionable with a right knee contusion and goalkeeper Zach Thornton remains out with a left ankle sprain.

A game preview is here.

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Rose Bowl gets Gold Cup final, goal-line refs to be used in UEFA Champions League, Mexico after World Cup blunders

*Pasadena’s Rose Bowl will host the 2011 Gold Cup final June 25 for the first time since 2002, CONCACAF announced Wednesday.

The 12-nation tournament opens June 5. Mexico beat the U.S. 5-0 in the 2009 final and is the defending champion.

*FIFA is going with extra bodies on the field to halt officiating howlers rather than use cameras:

LONDON (AP) — The group that determines soccer rules has expanded the experimental use of two extra assistant referees into this season’s European Champions League, a move made following a series of mistakes during the World Cup.

Use of officials behind the goals was tested in last season’s Europa League, and the
International Football Association Board says it will decide in 2012 whether to permanently adopt the change.

The introduction of officials alongside the traditional referee and two linesmen is designed to help determine whether balls cross the goal line.

i-062acbc75d7a488dbb267b211ece0ba8-Lampard reacts.jpgContinued experimentation means discussion of goal-line video technology may be postponed at the next meeting in October, when the IFAB sets its March agenda.

Debate on goal-line technology intensified at the World Cup after England was denied a goal against Germany because officials failed to detect that a shot by Frank Lampard, seen at right reacting to the call, had crossed the line after bouncing down off the crossbar.

This week at the Women’s Under-20 World Cup in Germany, a shot from France’s Lea Rubio struck the crossbar, bounced over the line and spun back into play, but English referee Alexandra Ihringova waved away claims for a goal and ordered play to continue.

IFAB’s technical subcommittee, which met in Cardiff, Wales, ruled national associations,
confederations or competitions must cover the cost of the experiment.

It has been approved for a total nine competitions including France’s League Cup, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Championship and Asia’s President’s Cup club tournament.

Three other events could take place if their ruling bodies agree.

CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer said Mexico applied to be involved after Argentina was credited with a goal from an offside position against the Mexicans at the World Cup.

Both Mexico’s Apertura and Clausura tournaments will feature the trial.

“They said, ‘It would be really great if our league could be involved.’ They were very
receptive,” Blazer said. “It’s not a light undertaking.”

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Tuesday Kicks: Trade rumors, retirements & more

Well, it is that time of year:

*Steven Goff of the Washington Post’s Soccer Insider blog has put a price tag on the contract the Galaxy are supposedly dangling in front of Brazilian star Ronaldinho: $24 million for four seasons. Of course, he’s still under contract for now at AC Milan. Maybe the Galaxy could swap him for – Landon Donovan. I’m sure Mr. Beckham would put in a good word for him there.

*Also, Goff tells us Galaxy veteran Clint Mathis could retire soon because of his bum knees.

*Chivas USA confirmed today what everyone knew anyway: veteran forward Eduardo Lillingston, 32, will not be returning to the club after his Mexican loan spell. He’s joined recently-relegated Indios on loan, played most recently for Tijuana and contributed eight goals for Chivas USA in 25 games last year.

*Former UCLA standout Sal Zizzo has signed with MLS and will be assigned a club after a weighted lottery is conducted Wednesday afternoon. Zizzo, 23, played for Hannover 96 in Germany’s Bundesliga before being loaned to Fortuna Dusseldorf last year. He suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery seven months ago. Chivas USA is reportedly weighted third highest in the draw.

*The U.S. Under-20 Women’s Team plays its final World Cup group game at 9 a.m. Wednesday against Korea on ESPN2. The U.S. advances with a win or tie and could even lose and go through depending on goal difference. After scoring six and conceding just one goal in its first two games, it’s hard to imagine the team won’t play in the quarterfinals.

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Tuesday’s column: Is MLS too friendly?

i-392f8adb9311c48a5256b8dd8bea8fd9-celticfans.jpgThe sight of Glasgow Celtic fans clapping Sunday in Seattle: should we continue to applaud the rash of money-spinning friendlies MLS clubs are increasingly addicted to it seems? (AP Photo).

This is the sort of column that results when the brain wanders during a mind-numbing international friendly on a weekend afternoon. Read it here.

Bonus criticism:

This witty blog post pretty much sums up the way a lot of Galaxy fans feel about Beckham. Unfortunately, the writer wasn’t coming from that perspective. Still, the points are valid. And I loved the part about Beckham looking “a bit like a sprightly Victorian cartoon badger who works at the Bank of England.” Read it here.

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Chivas USA’s Bornstein to join Mexico’s Tigres in January

i-98173e51f8de83ef7871893b52439071-jbld.jpg“Whaddya mean you got a transfer out of MLS before me?” Landon Donovan appears to be saying to South of the Border-bound U.S. teammate Jonny Bornstein during a game at the World Cup. Or not (AP Photo).

Club captain Jonathan Bornstein, a Los Alamitos resident who has a Mexican mother so won’t be considered a foreign player under Mexican league rules, will join UANL Tigres after his contract expires at year’s end. He was named to the MLS All-Star Team today for a fourth consecutive year.

“Jonathan has been a wonderful member of the Chivas USA family since coming to the team in 2006, helping the club both on and off the field,” said Chivas USA President and CEO Shawn Hunter. “We know he will continue to bring his passion to every match for the rest of 2010, and while we will be very disappointed not to have his presence at the club next season, we’re thrilled for the opportunities that he has ahead of him. We are pleased to have helped shape his career, and also proud of the important role he has played in the history of Chivas USA.”

The UCLA product appeared twice for the U.S. at the World Cup.

“First and foremost, I remain focused on finishing this season with Chivas USA,” Bornstein said. “There is a lot we can accomplish, from SuperLiga this week to the Open Cup semifinals in September, getting into the playoffs and making a run at MLS Cup. When the season ends, I’m excited to join Tigres and ready for all the changes that will come with the move. It will be a big moment for me and I’m looking forward to it.”

From the Chivas USA press release:

Torrance-born Jonathan Rey Bornstein joined Chivas USA as the team’s fourth round pick (37th overall) in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, and earned Rookie of the Year honors in his first season, leading all rookies in scoring with six goals and four assists. An MLS All-Star from 2007-2010, Bornstein has played a total of 112 regular-season games (110 starts) in his MLS career, with nine goals and nine assists. With the U.S. National Team, the Los Alamitos native scored a goal in his debut match against Denmark on January 20, 2007, and has played a total of 34 games with the squad, scoring twice.

Bornstein will face U.S. teammates Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres of Pachuca in a SuperLiga game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Home Depot Center.

Having missed out on Mexicans like Nery Castillo and Guadalajara striker Omar Bravo (both coming to MLS, but not with Chivas USA) and seeing star midfielder Sacha Kljestan move to Anderlecht in recent weeks, Goats fans are no doubt wondering whether the money-conscious club is perhaps better at seeing relatively big-name players leave Southern California than come.

MLS All-Star roster

goalkeepers – Donovan Ricketts (Galaxy), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

defenders – Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Wilman Conde (Chicago Fire), Kevin Alston (New England Revolution)

midfielders – Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC), Marco Pappa (Chicago Fire), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew), Sebastian LeToux (Philadelphia Union), David Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids)

forwards – Edson Buddle (Galaxy), Landon Donovan (Galaxy), Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)

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Galaxy World Cup stars strike, Chivas USA still has chance to advance in SuperLiga

*Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan were the difference for the Galaxy in a 2-1 win over D.C. United.

Notable: Buddle now has an MLS-best 11 goals.

The Galaxy are now 12-2-3, 12 points ahead of second place Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference.

Galaxy lineup: Donovan Ricketts; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant; Sean Franklin, Chris Birchall, Juninho (Michael Stephens 62′), Landon Donovan; Edson Buddle (Eddie Lewis 77′), Alan Gordon (Jovan Kirovski 90′).

DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Donovan and Gordon replaced Tristan Bowen, Leonardo, Alex Cazumba and Michael Stephens in the starting XI.

Next for the Galaxy: San Jose Earthquakes Thursday at Home Depot Center.

i-e4e50dbec2ab21815d85fdf59771657a-saragosalove.jpgSaragosa Love: Chivas USA’s Marcelo Saragosa looks for a little bite of the Dynamo’s Lovel Palmer in Houston Sunday (AP Photo).

*Chivas USA needs to beat Pachuca Wednesday and Puebla needs to beat Houston for the Goats to advance in SuperLiga after their 1-1 tie Sunday against the Dynamo.

Notable: Newly-signed midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza has two assists in his first two games for Chivas USA.


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Sunday Soccer: Galaxy MLS & Chivas USA SuperLiga Gameday

While it is clear Ronaldinho is not leaving Inter AC Milan immediately it is equally clear Galaxy fans should not rule anything out (as club officials have said all along), although a LA arrival in 2011 seems more plausible than 2010, assuming he does not extend his contract in Europe.

Meanwhile, much the same could be said of Landon Donovan (in terms of ruling nothing out) as the Galaxy prepares to meet beleaguered D.C. United at 4:30 p.m. today (live on Fox Soccer Channel). An official viewing party is here that apparently includes a $7.00 “Buddle” Burger w/fries. It’s surprisingly lightweight at just 4 oz, but also includes a “Toasted Bun, Saffron Goat cheese Aioli, Arugala, Pickled onions, and Tomatoes.” Why the need to capitalize the burger toppings is unclear to me as is the connection between Buddle and saffron goat cheese, but I guess it could be worse – how about a $6.5 million Beckham burger, which, I suppose, would come with no meat at all).

Bet we see this notable Mexican striker in LA before Ronaldinho (or for that matter Lucio Emilio).

Chivas USA puts in a televised SuperLiga appearance a half hour later against the Dynamo in Houston (5 p.m. KFTR), part of what tournament organizers undoubtedly hope is an attendance-boosting doubleheader that also features the past and present teams of Herculez Gomez – Puebla and Pachuca – at 7:30 p.m. on the same channel.

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