Bradley selects Euro-centric U.S. roster for games against Poland and Colombia

i-6453b38dfef727a56891561ee5591960-edurangers.jpgFontana’s Maurice Edu, right, seen here playing for Glasgow Rangers in the UEFA Champions League Wednesday against Bursaspor, is among the mostly European based players selected for the two upcoming exhibitions the U.S. plays next month.

MLS clubs are in the middle of crucial playoff races when the U.S. plays friendles against Poland Oct. 9 in Chicago and Colombia Oct. 12 in Philadelphia.

“We understand this is a critical point in the season for teams in MLS,” said U.S. Coach Bob Bradley. “Given the circumstances, we felt it was important that the MLS players be given as much opportunity as possible to remain with their clubs and continue to make important contributions as the playoffs approach.”

Notable: Thirteen players on the roster also were on the World Cup roster.

Most interesting name on the roster: Jermaine Jones.

Most deserving up and coming player: Brek Shea

Here’s the roster:

goalkeepers – Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)

defenders – Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-tienne), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

midfielders – Alejandro Bedoya (rebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke), Brek Shea (FC Dallas)

forwards – Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Eddie Johnson (Fulham)

Note: The FC Dallas duo of Heath Pearce and Brek Shea will join the U.S. team in Philadelphia on Oct. 10 following their weekend league match.

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Win four tickets to the Galaxy-Chivas USA SuperClasico

Now I don’t note every contest out there here (I’d do little else it seems), but this competition via the local NBC affiliate seemed worth mentioning after I received this message last night from a Facebook friend who is also a Galaxy fan:

My buddy works at KNBc and says the guy running this promo came to him in a panic today begging to understand why NO ONE had entered this yet… True story!

The contest ends at midnight. I’d say your odds are good.

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Chivas USA-Galaxy SuperClasico update

Reporter Phil Collin chatted with Chivas USA players ahead of Sunday’s game (5 p.m. ESPN2) that for them is the biggest of their forgettable season.

Incidentally, there’s more than one derby taking place this weekend at Home Depot Center.

From the Chivas USA press release:

As fans of both Chivas and the Galaxy prepare to cheer on their teams on Sunday, a pair of supporters groups will take the rivalry to the next level as the Union Ultras (Chivas USA fans) take on the Angel City Brigade (Galaxy fans) in a friendly match on Saturday night. The game, which is designed as match to show the mutual respect between the two supporters groups while building the friendly rivalry, will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Field 5 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday.

Also, Galaxy striker Edson Buddle talks about the game and more here:


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The return of Pando Ramirez

Well, not exactly, but Galaxy fans who watched Wednesday night’s Municipal-Columbus Crew CONCACAF Champions League game could have been forgiven for not believing what they were seeing.

Not only did the swamp-like conditions and torrential rain make the surreal game a 90-minute-long soccer equivalent of a wreck on the 405 – it was difficult to tear your eyes away while you awaited the next player to take a dunk into the massive ponds dotting the sodden sod – but Ramirez scored two goals. And good ones, too, although Galaxy fans know he only scores spectacular goals.

Yeah, that’s right, the former Galaxy midfielder best known for – well, let’s yield to the author of his Wikipedia entry to provide context:

He played the 2005 season on loan for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer. He struggled, scoring a lone goal during the regular season, but in the playoffs, in his only appearance, as a substitute in the MLS Cup Final, he scored the game-winner in extra time to give Galaxy its second MLS title. He also holds the worst record for shooting percentage in the MLS, with 62 shots and 1 goal, which incidentally came from a penalty.

And he almost missed that PK – the shot bounced off a post and luckily went in – Galaxy fans will recall.

Anyway, bask in the brilliance that is Pando here:

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Will Women’s Professional Soccer survive?

Well, OK, perhaps the bigger question is does anyone care?

But for what it’s worth, here’s the story that comes from one of our sister papers in Northern California, the San Jose Mercury News, written by Staff Writers Elliott Almond and Matt Schwab:

SAN JOSE — A year of financial hardship ended optimistically for Women’s Professional Soccer, a league trying to survive a marketplace often unkind to female athletes.

i-9b903fab84ab4a5363af217d14f87fe6-20080117_wps_medium.jpgThe fledging enterprise received a boost last weekend with a near-sellout crowd of 5,228 for its title match won by FC Gold Pride at Pioneer Stadium in Hayward.

Now comes the heavy lifting.

Launched in 2009 during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, WPS saw attendance plummet by 18 percent this year, teams in Los Angeles and St. Louis fold and the departure of league founder Tonya Antonucci as commissioner.

“The second year is traditionally the sophomore slump for all sports leagues — we’ve experienced ours,” said Antonucci, who attributed the attendance decline to the World Cup in South Africa and midseason schedule changes because of St. Louis folding.

WPS limps into its third season with cost-cutting initiatives and a new chief executive determined to outlast a terrible economy and build stability.

It’s a confounding undertaking 38 years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation that opened the door for women’s participation in sports. In an era when thousands of girls across the country are playing sports, the question of equity has given way to market forces.

“It is going to take a few years for us to be established as a household name and to get loyal fans, but we might not have enough time,” said Gold Pride’s Ali Riley, the league’s rookie of the year from Stanford.

Sky Blue FC president and CEO Thomas Hofstetter said his team lost $2.9 million last year and expects to lose $2 million more this year. The Gold Pride lost close to $3 million in 2009 but expects losses to be less this year.

Owners hope to break even next year because of recent cost-cutting measures–more than $2 million of which came from the San Francisco-based league office alone. The league’s seven owners are shifting emphasis away from a central hierarchy to focus locally. They hope to attract small investors to form community-run teams by borrowing the successful model of the Green Bay Packers. Officials also are talking to the U.S. Soccer Federation, the national governing body for the sport, about getting subsidized.

“We’re doing this because we believe in it,” said Nancy NeSmith of Los Altos, who owns the Gold Pride with husband Brian. “Everybody is basically making sacrifices, taking pay cuts and just readjusting what we thought (would) be successful.”

The Gold Pride cut its goal for average attendance from 5,000 fans a game to 3,000 this year after moving from Buck Shaw Stadium to the East Bay. The Pride averaged 3,056 a game–a drop of about 20 percent from last year–playing at Castro Valley High and 5,400-seat Pioneer Stadium. (The overall league average was 3,628 per game.)

Despite running away with the title a year after finishing last, the Pride drew more than 3,000 only three times in eight matches at its new home at Cal State East Bay, including a record 4,003 at its regular-season finale this month.

Antonucci, a former Stanford soccer player, remains optimistic her baby will make it without her. She said it was the right time to leave as the league office downsized. In any case, Antonucci departs with three main sponsors signed: Citi, the Coast Guard and MedImmune, a Maryland biotechnology firm. WPS also expects to have an expansion team in Buffalo next season.

The players, whose salaries average $32,000, also are forming a union, It is a development welcomed by Anne-Marie Eileraas, the league’s new chief executive.

“It’s a sign the league is maturing,” she said.

But at a time the sport needs an infusion of support, not even women who have grown up playing soccer seem devoted to it. When Boston Breakers coach Tony DiCicco asks elite players if they’d like to play in WPS, “they raise their hand,” he said. “… How many of you have been to a (WPS) game’? And not many raise their hands.”

The scenario doesn’t surprise Andrea Canales, executive editor of Goal.com.

“Mia Hamm inspired a whole generation to come out and play soccer; not watch soccer,” she said.

Hamm, once America’s top player, became a familiar name with Nike commercials and the wildly successful 1999 Women’s World Cup.

Many believed women’s soccer would explode after the ’99 Cup final at the Rose Bowl drew 90,185. The success led to the 2001 launch of the Women’s United Soccer Association, which disbanded after three seasons and losses of about $100 million.

While the public gets excited for special events such as the Women’s World Cup, it hasn’t translated to long-term commitments.

Riley and Pride teammate Kelley O’Hara enjoyed overflow crowds at Stanford last year when the Cardinal advanced to the College Cup final. The Portland women’s soccer team is one of the most popular on campus, male or female. Connecticut and Tennessee women’s basketball programs have rabid followings.

But the passion hasn’t carried over to pro sports where the WNBA and LPGA haven’t gained traction beyond a niche following. In 14 seasons the WNBA has averaged about 8,000 fans and survives with considerable backing of the NBA.

Now women’s soccer hopes to prove convention wrong. The coming years could prove crucial with an opportunity to showcase the league’s stars at the Women’s World Cup in Germany next summer and the 2012 Olympics in London.

“The product stands alone in terms of its quality,” Antonucci said of the world’s premier women’s league.

But as she leaves the startup, the former Yahoo! executive understands the reality: Sustaining a women’s pro league remains a struggle under the best of circumstances

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SuperClasico conversations with Buddle, Bornstein & Gonzalez

Got questions for players ahead of Sunday’s nationally televised Chivas USA-Galaxy derby in Carson (5 p.m. ESPN2)?

*Pose them to Edson Buddle at 1:15 p.m. today on the Galaxy’s midweek “Cup of Joe” with Joe Tutino online here. Or e-mail Buddle ahead of time at socialmedia@lagalaxy.com.

*Talk to Los Alamitos’ own Jonathan Bornstein during a live “ChivaChat” scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday here. Chivas USA’s all-time leader in games played leaves the club for Mexico’s Tigres at the end of the season.

*Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez will sign autographs and take photos with fans from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Best Buy in Downey. Hats, jerseys, scarves and tickets to the game this weekend as well as other prizes will be handed out. And Gonzalez will play FIFA 2011, which was released Tuesday, against Bornstein.

Hmmm, wonder what teams the two will choose to play with?

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World Cup workers

i-77313b937054c05f86742d7cc24df7c8-aqlp[inevillagewide.jpegShouldn’t these people be watching the World Cup at work? (This is Alpine Village near Torrance).

I’m sure ESPN would salute those of us – almost 20 percent of the viewing audience – that watched the World Cup at work, according to a just released detailed break-down of viewing habits during the tournament.

That’s more than listened in cars (16%) and bars and restaurants (15%).

That’s a figure that would surprise few bloggers. Traffic spikes Monday and continues through Thursday at many sites (like this one) then decreases over the weekend.

Conclusion: People like to get paid to goof off. (Or read this site). Otherwise, they have better things to do.

More on this topic is here.

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Tuesday’s Column: Galaxy, Chivas USA head separate ways

Going into Sunday’s SuperClasico (5 p.m. ESPN2) the Galaxy have twice as many points as Chivas USA, a stat which sums up the premise of today’s column.

And Chivas USA haven’t beaten the Galaxy in seven games.

Read the column here.

Also: the Cal State Northridge women (5-5) defeated San Diego 1-0 Monday night from a fourth minute penalty kick, the program’s first-ever victory over the Toreros. Next: Big West conference play opens at 7 p.m. Friday against UC Davis at Matador Field.

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Monday Kicks: Beckham, Marta & more

Before I head out to Galaxy practice in Carson this morning (despite this insane heat) ahead of next Sunday’s SuperClasico I have time to note that:

i-f32f47ed03d37b14071f96134ab548fd-beckhamwarner.jpgChums: Beckham describes how much bigger the fortune of CONCACAF President Jack Warner could get as they chat Sunday during a coaching clinic in Macoya, Trinidad and Tobago (AP Photo).

*David Beckham was pushing England’s World Cup bid.

*Real Salt Lake missed an opportunity over the weekend to capitalize on the Galaxy’s stumble, while Houston actually overhauled Chivas USA in the standings.

*Former Sol star Marta had a goal and two assists as FC Gold Pride routed Philadelphia 4-0 Sunday in the WPS championship in the Bay Area.

*The No. 10- ranked UCLA women (7-2-1) beat No. 11-ranked Santa Clara 1-0 Sunday at Drake Stadium.

*The Cal State Northridge men (1-6-1) got their first win of the season in style, routing Air Force 4-0 Sunday at Matador Field.

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Final: Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union

Union 3 Chivas USA 0

i-365a99de79f35476564b32525a2ce5fe-moreno.jpgAly Moreno, left, and Fred, right, both scored first half goals for the Union Saturday against Chivas USA; here the pair celebrate after the former Galaxy striker’s conversion. (AP Photo).

At least Chivas USA and Galaxy fans have one thing in common heading into next Sunday’s SuperClasico: they both support teams who appear to be deteriorating rather than improving as the season wears on.

Faltering Chivas USA never had the look of a team that believed they had a rare opportunity for a road win in this one. The Union, in contrast, seem to believe their worst is behind them and looked far more confident going forward.

The attitude paid off with three set piece goals for the Union today. Le Toux’s third summed things up for Chivas USA as the ball squirted through a woefully inadequate wall and into the net.

This is basic, basic stuff.

But Chivas USA seem to take their level of ineptitude almost in shrugging stride judging by the rueful reaction to Alan Gordon’s stunningly badly taken second half shot that ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal.

Quotable:

“We gave up three goals on set pieces and that’s not acceptable, especially at this stage of the season where we have defended hundreds of set pieces,” said Coach Martin Vasquez. “We were soft, and I mean no disrespect to the Union, but I’m upset because I thought we could have done better.”

Chivas USA’s shambles of a season slides deeper into the mire.

Chivas USA lineup: Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Michael Umana, Dario Delgado (Yamith Cuesta 46), Ante Jazic, Michael Lahoud, Paulo Nagamura, Sal Zizzo (Jesus Padilla 54), Rodolfo Espinoza (Jonathan Bornstein 49), Justin Braun, Alan Gordon.

Game story.

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