Bob Bradley speaks (sotospeak)

i-c1efa0d5096c7bbbbfe0c5054a788adc-bobgestures.jpgSoccer reporters will forgive a lot of things if you’re a good quote.

Quotes are our versions of the spectacular goals that punctuate games all too infrequently. They give life, context and hold the reader’s attention.

So while I’ve previously articulated why Bob Bradley, seen here actually getting a little excited during the U.S.-England World Cup game, should not remain coach of the USMNT for the next four years for soccer reasons, there’s another reason, too.

He’s just dull, dull, dull as this AP story illustrates that was written after a conference call he and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gultai held this morning. And judging by the one incomplete quote in this admittedly early story (that will be updated) I’m so glad I didn’t waste my time listening to the call.

This is going to be (another) long four years:

CHICAGO (AP) — Bob Bradley’s experience and success as the U.S. soccer coach outweighed any concerns about the team going “stale” over the next four years.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said Tuesday that he and Bradley are aware of the mixed record of coaches who stick around for a second World Cup cycle. But Gulati says keeping Bradley was the best way to maintain the Americans’ progress from the last four years.

Bradley had been linked to jobs in Europe. He says he is “very, very excited” to coach through 2014.

Bradley is 38-20-8 over four years, including a win over World Cup champion Spain at last year’s Confederations Cup. The Americans won their World Cup group in South Africa before losing to Ghana in overtime in the second round.


For more, click here.

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Tuesday’s Column: “Pelada” strips game down to its roots

i-4cfdc5446fa6788ee29593693a995f0e-villa31slum0022.jpgPick-up soccer in the Villa 31 slum, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Poverty can create great soccer players.

It’s why we see more Brazilians or Africans who can do magical things with a ball than Americans.

Once you learn how to control a tennis ball or small rock, deftly kicking a regulation ball is not much of a challenge.

And it’s free-flowing pick-up soccer in those countries, where no one tells a kid to stop dribbling or endlessly playing keepie up, that creates great players more than the regimented, over-coached youth soccer system we have here. And, of course, those players not only have the hunger to escape poverty, but spend hour after hour day after day honing their skills on dirt lots rather than play a couple of hours here or there when mom piles the kids into the car for weekly practice.

You rarely see kids or adults for that matter playing casual pick-up games on a patch of ground here.

But that doesn’t mean Americans don’t have an appreciation for it. And “Pelada” is a celebration of that sub-culture around the world.

I highly recommend the movie. Read more about it here in this week’s column.

And here’s the trailer for the film:

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Monday Kicks: Bradley is back & more

*In a move that smacks of conservatism and a lack of imagination, Manhattan Beach resident Bob Bradley has signed a new four-year year deal to coach the USMNT. Bradley’s record: 38-20-8. Looks better than the reality, doesn’t it?

Here’s the spin from U.S. Soccer:

After winning the 2007 Gold Cup, the regional championship of CONCACAF, he led the United States to their first final of a major FIFA tournament, reaching the championship match of the 2009 Confederations Cup after a 2-0 victory against No.-1 ranked and current World Cup champions Spain in the semifinal.

No mention of his timid teams’ lack of invention, his questionable personnel decisions and tactics and overall underwhelming performances, admittedly with a lack of raw talent at his disposal.

Apparently, most soccer fans are similarly underwhelmed, according to this poll.

*The U.S. Men’s National Team will play Colombia at 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at the home of the Philadelphia Union in Chester , Penn., live on ESPN2 and Galavision.

*A six-person FIFA delegation arrives Labor Day for a four-day visit to five U.S. cities representing 18 host city candidates for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup – New York/New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Miami, Dallas and Houston. Thank gawd they don’t see the Rose Bowl, although one wonders what they will think of RFK.

*The Galaxy, which usually don’t practice Mondays, was out on the field today as they should be after the “performance” against the Wizards putting in some extra work. Heart-warming to see his Beckhamness sharing a laugh with a teammate, isn’t it?

*Chivas USA midfielder Osael Romero will miss Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids because he has been called up to play for the Salvadoran National Team against Honduras Saturday at the Coliseum and against Guatemala three days later in Washington D.C.

in college games Sunday:

*The LMU women beat Cal State Bakersfield 3-1 to move to 2-1-0.

*Pepperdine (2-1-0) scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the game to win 4-2 over Arizona at the USD Tournament.

*The Cal State Northridge women (1-2) scored four goals in a 20 minute second half span to beat Saint Joseph 4-0 at Matador Field.

*The No. 3 UCLA women (2-1) lost 1-0 to Northwestern at the University of Wisconsin’s McClimon Soccer Complex. It was their first loss to an unranked team in four years.

*Long Beach State (3-1-0) beat No. 16 Virginia Tech, 2-1, in College Station, Tex.

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Chivas USA post-game

Chivas USA 1 D.C. United 0

An excellent Justin Braun goal, not much else particularly to recommend this game between the two worst teams in the league.

Game story.

Jonathan Bornstein can’t wait to leave for Tigres:

Notable: Zach Thornton’s fifth shutout of the season means he has 74 in his career. That’s good for tied second on the all-time MLS list.

Next for Chivas USA: at Seattle Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup.

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Chivas USA Sunday gameday

Chivas USA (5-11-4) enter the final third of the season today at 7 p.m. at Home Depot Center against the only MLS team with an even worse record then them – 4-14-3 D.C. United, who have one eye on a U.S. Open Cup game later in the week (as do Chivas USA, of course).

So this is Chivas USA’s big chance to snag a home win on national television (ESPN2). After all, United have won just one of their last nine games, while Chivas have won, um, twice in their last six outings in all competitions.

But United won 3-2 earlier in the season against Chivas USA – on an 89th minute goal by former Chivas USA defender Carey Talley – who they had discarded and promptly returned to the club he’d started his career with before coming to Southern California.

With midweek games looming, lineup changes are expected for both teams tonight. Chivas USA midfielder Blair Gavin is questionable with a left hamstring strain.

More on the game from a fan perspective – giveways, ticket offers and activities – is here.

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Post-game: Kansas City Wizards at Galaxy

Galaxy 0 Wizards 2

i-a0ee7d52c145552d34106aa0079557b9-keileonardo.jpgLawndale’s Kei Kamara and the rest of the Kansas City Wizards were head and shoulders above Leonardo and the Galaxy Saturday night at Home Depot Center (AP Photos).

Game story.

Yes, the Galaxy still lead MLS.

But you can’t help but wonder if we’re about to see the biggest Galaxy swoon since blowing a 4-0 lead to lose to the Earthquakes 5-4 on aggregate back in the 2003 playoffs.

“They made plays tonight and we did not,” said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, sounding like a broken record. “There were two many guys who did not win their battles tonight and that makes a difference in the game.”

But it was, in truth, more than that.

Lots of errant long-range passes that made you want to set this lot in front of a few videos of Spain from the World Cup so they could see how effective short, sharp passing can be.

Too many bad first touches – I’ve picked on Mike Magee earlier – but tonight it wasn’t just him.

And just plain bad decision-making and ball watching (especially from defenders) with some players trying to do too much and others clearly not doing enough.

i-c4d07b086ec1686c61b8f67335382e13-davyscores.jpgPsst, Omar Gonzalez: Davey Arnaud is behind you and scoring the opening goal.

Notable: The Galaxy have lost successive home games in MLS for the first time in two years, but have now lost four straight games in all competitions at Home Depot Center. I’m not sure that has happened before.

Next for the Galaxy: at Chicago on Saturday.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering it’s unclear whether Juninho will return next week (he apparently has visa issues) and David Beckham is “week to week,” Arena said. It’s unclear when he will return to the field.

Meanwhile, as the Galaxy make missteps, their rivals are beginning to peak:

“I would say this is probably our best 90 minute performance that we’ve had all season long,” Wizards Coach Peter Vermes said. “In the end it yielded the correct result for us so I commend the guys for their work ethic tonight.”

Lawndale’s Kei Kamara created the first goal, his third assist of the season and, of course, he’s also the Wizards leading scorer.

I asked Wizards Coach Peter Vermes to talk about the contribution Kamara has made to the team:

“We have some pretty decent speed on the outsides, especially with (Kei) Kamara and Ryan Smith. “There’s a lot of mismatches on the outside with Kamara, because he’s such a big guy. It’s very rare you have such a big guy that plays on the outside like he does and I think it’s difficult for players to handle him. You saw that on the first goal when he spun (Todd) Dunivant … that kind of created that opportunity.

“Last year when I made a trade for Kei it’s like any player you come across there’s always something said, there’s a reason why he’s being traded and Kei has been a great professional. He has a burning desire to be successful in the game. He listens. There are times, like any athlete (when) he can be a little bit stubborn because he knows he wants to be successful and he thinks ‘this is what I’ve got to do.” But you can always sit down and talk with him and I think every day we train, play a game, he’s getting better and better and better. He has a great career ahead of him for sure.”

And Kamara always wants to put on a show at the HDC:

“I love it. I’ve come home. I played here in my college years (with Division II Cal State Dominguez Hills on whose campus Home Depot Center sits on, of course) the whole team, was watching, my family, my friends, it’s good – (and) the weather is perfect.”

And undoubtedly a helluva lot better than the 25-hour airplane ride to Egypt Kamara embarks upon Monday to play for Sierra Leone next weekend.

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Kansas City Wizards (6-9-5) at Galaxy (13-4-4) at Home Depot Center

A lovely night for football here in the cool South Bay.

Left back Todd Dunivant has returned to the Galaxy starting XI after two games out with neck and back spasms in place of A.J. DeLaGarza, while Chris Klein gets a rare start in midfield in place of Brazilian Juninho who returned home to attend to a personal matter. It’s uncertain when he will return to Southern California. Leonardo starts again in central defense with Gregg Berhalter missing again (virus).

The Galaxy starting XI (4-4-2): Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant, Chris Klein, Chris Birchall, Landon Donovan, Michael Stephens, Edson Buddle, Mike Magee.

Options off the bench include Tristan Bowen and Jovan Kirovski.

Kansas City (4-5-1) starts top scorer Kei Kamara of Lawndale in midfield, with Birahim Diop the lone front-runner. Veteran forward Josh Wolff is out (illness). The Wizards attacking options off the bench include Teal Bunbury.


The Wizards draw first blood and as noted this morning that means they should win if history this season is any guide.

Davy Arnaud scored at the near post in the 12th minute, Kei Kamara crossing with a plodding Leonardo all at sea and two Galaxy defenders ball watching on the goal.

We’ve see this before of late, huh?

Halftime: Galaxy 0 Wizards 1

Let’s see, the Wizards’ Birahim Diop was dispossessed by Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts in a one on one in the 36th minute and the Galaxy’s Mike Magee displayed his usual poor first touch in front of the net by sending a cross wide of the goal two minutes before the break.

Apart from those isolated incidents there’s been limited goalmouth excitement with the two teams combining for just one – yes, one – shot on target. And, of course, that’s why the Wizards lead by one.

Updated: Galaxy 0 Wizards 2

Things went from bad to worse for the Galaxy in the 70th minute as the Wizards’ Jimmy Conrad squeezed one in by the left post from a Davy Arnaud free kick with an effort that left the Galaxy’s Donovan Ricketts flailing helplessly.

The Galaxy’s defense isn’t stepping up at all and is meekly surrendering the first step (and the initiative) to the Wizards.

A third loss in the last four games looms for LA.

Final: Galaxy 0 Wizards 2

Now, that was painful.

The Galaxy’s season continues what appears an inexorable decline into not just mediocrity, but abysmal ineptitude.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but I’ve got to sit in the press box and watch Chivas USA and D.C. United bumble around the HDC field Sunday and I was hoping for one half-decent game this weekend.

The extent of the Galaxy’s offense in the second half amounted to a couple of Chris Birchall shots – and after picking up a yellow card he misses the next game at Chicago.

The Galaxy now have just one win in their last five MLS games.

The boos are raining down as the final whistle is blown.

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Saturday Galaxy gameday & more

Lawndale’s Kei Kamara, who has a career high eight MLS goals this season. returns to the South Bay tonight to lead the resurgent Kansas City Wizards (6-9-5) against the suddenly stuttering Galaxy (13-4-4) at 7:30 p.m. at Home Depot Center (live on Prime).

The Wizards’ ascendancy (3-1-2 in their last six games) has coincided with a Galaxy downturn (3-4-2 in their last nine games) and that has Kansas sniffing upset.

But there’s really only one thing to keep in mind in this game – the first team to score wins. Kansas are unbeaten in eight games when scoring first, the Galaxy unbeaten in 13 games when doing the same thing.

The teams played to a 0-0 tie in their previous meeting this season on April 24, a scoreline that seems as unlikely tonight as Kamara seeing another point-blank miss go viral on YouTube (as occurred earlier this season).

In college games Friday:

*USC beat TCU 1-0 in Fort Worth to even its record at 1-1, redshirt junior Ashli Sandoval playing in her first game after almost a year out because of injury and scoring the winner in the 40th minute.

*Freshman Jenna Richmond scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute and the third-ranked UCLA women beat No. 20 Wisconsin 1-0 and improve to 2-0 on the year.

*Freshman Tawni Martino scored the first two goals of her collegiate career, including the 86th minute game-winner, to lift the LMU women to a 2-1 victory over Denver University in their home opener at Sullivan Field in Westchester. The Lions are 1-1-0.

*The Pepperdine women (1-1) lost 1-0 to Michigan at the USD Tournament in San Diego.

*Junior Jazz Strozier scored with seven minutes left in regulation to give the Long Beach State women (2-1) a 2-1 upset victory over 21st-ranked Washington State on the first day of the Aggieland Invitational Tournament in College Station, Tex.

*The scores of South Bay JC games are here.

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Former Chivas USA youth team player gunned down

Ruben Galvan was just 16.

He didn’t sound like a perfect kid if you believe the anonymous commenters on this news story (and you have to take those with a very large grain of salt, usually), but obviously no one, especially a teenager still finding his way in life, deserves being murdered on a city street.

Making matters even worse is that it sounds like his family is having trouble simply finding the money for his funeral expenses according to this story published today on the Chivas USA website.

I’m a little surprised the club isn’t passing a metaphorical hat at the game against D.C. United Sunday night.

Chivas USA is, however, accepting donations for the family that can be sent to: Chivas USA, Attn: Annette Padilla, The Home Depot Center, 18400 Avalon Blvd. Suite 500 Carson, CA 90746.

Checks should be made payable to his father, Ruben Galvan.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the Weekend

*After missing the last two games with back spasms, Galaxy right back Todd Dunivant has returned to full training and is available for the 7:30 p.m. Saturday game against the Kansas City Wizards at Home Depot Center (live on Prime).

*Chivas USA are also at home this weekend, taking on the similarly bottom dwelling D.C. United at 7 p.m. Sunday in Carson (live on ESPN2). More on United’s traveling roster is here.

*No word yet on the status of U.S. Coach Bob Bradley, who supposedly was having talks Thursday with his bosses at U.S. Soccer. Fed up with the dithering? You’re not the only one.

*Click at top right for a full run-down of all the televised games this weekend. I’ll make sure not to miss free-scoring Chelsea who have another opportunity to score a sack full of goals against modest Stoke City (7 a.m. Saturday Fox Soccer Plus), while Manchester United play West Ham (9:30 a.m. Saturday Fox Soccer Channel).

*Finally, most of the local college teams are out of town this weekend at various tournaments, but the Cal State Northridge women (0-2) host Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m. Sunday at Matador Field.

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