Chivas USA reacquires Gordon, trades for former Galaxy midfielder Moreno

i-150141ce4f3ab5af0200277484cdc7cd-morenocrew.jpgFormer Galaxy man Alejandro Moreno, seen here playing for the Columbus Crew, will return to Southern California – with Chivas USA (AP Photo).

Chivas USA Vice President of Soccer Operations Stephen Hamilton either knows something the vast majority of Galaxy fans and press box scribes don’t when it comes to Alan Gordon or he’s a complete idiot who has no business evaluating talent for an MLS club.

Given his less than brilliant track record so far in the job I suspect it’s the latter rather the former, but then I’m one of the aforementioned scribes in the press box where Gordon is usually the butt of jokes for his speed (ahem) and shooting accuracy (ahem, ahem). And I’ve never quite understood clubs who leave a player unprotected in the Expansion Draft then rapidly trade to get him back as Chivas USA did today.

Gordon, who had one goal and three assists in nine games for Chivas USA after the Galaxy dumped him traded him away in August, was selected by Vancouver in today’s draft. He has 17 goals and 15 assists in 108 MLS games.

Veteran Aly Moreno, however, is a tireless worker in midfield (or up front for that matter) and was a favorite of former Coach Sigi Schmid when he played his heart out for the Galaxy between 2002 and 2004.

Vancouver picked him up today from the Philadelphia Union, which in turn picked him up in last year’s Expansion Draft from the Columbus Crew, one of his five previous MLS clubs. He has 45 goals and 35 assists in 222 regular season games.

A very “Preki-like” signing one might say.

“We had the opportunity to add a pair of experienced and proven forwards, who will provide us with strength and depth up front,” Hamilton said.

In exchange for the players, Chivas USA sent allocation money and an international player spot for 2011 to the Whitecaps

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Wednesday Kicks: Boxx, Donovan, Press, Leroux lead U.S. Soccer player award nominees & more

First, the & more: follow the MLS expansion draft here. The Whitecaps just took former Galaxy striker Alan Gordon, now late of Chivas USA. They like big, bruising English style center forwards up north.

Vancouver also took the Palos Verdes Peninsula’s John Thorrington off the hands of the Chicago Fire with their tenth and final pick.

Award season is heating up with U.S. Soccer announcing their nominees today for male, female and young male and female athletes of the year.

Local nominees include Stanford’s Christen Press of Palos Verdes Estates and UCLA’s Sydney Leroux for the Young Female Athlete of the Year, Torrance’s Shannon Boxx for the, um, senior female award and the usual suspects for the male version.

Here’s the list:

U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Finalists
Shannon Boxx, Midfielder
Rachel Buehler, Defender
Amy LePeilbet, Defender
Amy Rodriguez, Forward
Abby Wambach, Forward

U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Finalists
Carlos Bocanegra, Defender
Michael Bradley, Midfielder
Steve Cherundolo, Defender
Clint Dempsey, Midfielder
Landon Donovan, Midfielder

U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Finalists
Morgan Brian, Midfielder
Crystal Dunn, Defender
Bianca Henninger, Goalkeeper
Sydney Leroux, Forward
Christen Press, Forward

U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Finalists
Gale Agbossoumonde, Defender
Zac MacMath, Goalkeeper
Alessandro Mion, Defender
Dillon Powers, Midfielder
Andrew Souders, Defender

Cast your vote here. You can vote daily through Dec. 10.

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New USL Pro team to play in Fullerton in 2011

The yet to be named team will play “most” of its games at Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton in Orange County, sources affiliated with the team told 100 Percent Soccer.

USL Pro is the new designation for what is essentially the third level of soccer in the U.S. The North American Soccer League, which expects to be an eight-team league in 2011, has applied for Division 2 status.

USL Pro has so far announced 13 of an expected 16 teams with the Orange County club expected to be formally announced next month.

It’s an offshoot of the W-League’s Pali Blues and the President of Operations/coach of that club, Charlie Naimo, will serve as the coach of the new USL Pro club he announced in a blog post last month:

The addition to the Blues organization and my personal career is the arrival of the USL PRO men’s team. Our ownership has had the dream of rolling out a professional men’s team for a while, and now is the time. I was asked to take on the challenge of building the team on and off the field and so far, so good. We identified and hired a GM, Director of Operations and a VP of Sales and Marketing, and we have already begun working. Also in place is our coaching staff. Yours truly will be Manager (Head Coach) while Shayon Jalayer will serve as first team coach and director of youth development. We have already begun the process of fielding two academy sides with very aggressive plans attached. We have also brought on a very successful player personnel liaison. There are a few roles yet to fill, but we are in a great place.

Naimo was also GM of the WPS LA Sol, which won the inaugural league title before going belly up.

The general manager is David Adams who played collegiately in the LA area and spent some time on MLS reserve squads

More details on the USL PRO league including what’s expected to be a 24-game schedule and conference alignment are also expected in December.

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Tuesday’s column: MLS Cup, playoff revamp needed (again)

To avoid a repeat of the overly empty stadium and less than passionate atmosphere we saw at MLS Cup Sunday night on ESPN.

Read the column here.

Note: I did not write the headline on the column; I would not use the adjective “troubled” to describe MLS.

Oh, and I forgot to mention in the column: let’s get rid of those two pointless geographic conferences that just make figuring out who is in the playoffs more difficult at a glance. When the league’s own website publishes special “playoff standings” for clarity, you know something is wrong.


Need further proof MLS has an issue with its structuring of MLS Cup (and the playoffs in general)?

Sunday’s MLS Cup was the lowest-rated – ever.

Meanwhile, “NBC scored (Sunday) with the most-watched November NFL prime-time game since 1996, City News Service observed:

“NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game between (Michael) Vick’s Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants … averaged 23.2 million viewers to be the week’s most-watched program.”

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MLS teams announce protected lists ahead of Wednesday’s expansion draft

Here’s who the Galaxy decided to protect (Coach Bruce Arena apparently not wanting to take the chance of losing Todd Dunivant again) in the draft that will help Vancouver and Portland stock their respective rosters:

David Beckham – Midfielder (International Player)
Chris Birchall – Midfielder (International Player)
Edson Buddle – Forward
A.J. DeLaGarza – Defender
Landon Donovan – Forward
Todd Dunivant – Defender
Sean Franklin – Defender
Omar Gonzalez – Defender
Juninho – Midfielder (International Player)
Donovan Ricketts – Goalkeeper (International Player)
Michael Stephens – Midfielder

Note: Forward Tristan Bowen of Van Nuys was automatically protected as a member of the Generation adidas program.

So, by extension, here’s who the Galaxy left exposed for Portland and Vancouver to run the rule over (no real losses here if they were to get picked and Lewis and Klein have already announced their retirements, of course):

Gregg Berhalter – Defender
Alex Cazumba – Midfielder (International Player)
Bryan Jordan – Forward
Jovan Kirovski – Midfielder
Chris Klein – Midfielder
Dema Kovalenko – Midfielder
Leonardo – Defender (International Player)
Eddie Lewis – Midfielder
Mike Magee – Forward
Yohance Marshall – Defender (International Player)
Brian Perk – Goalkeeper
Josh Saunders – Goalkeeper

In addition, the Galaxy today acquired allocation money from the expansion Portland Timbers today in exchange for an international player roster slot adding more fuel to the fire they will make a big-name signing (Ronaldinho?) in the off-season. It was reported today that the Brazilian remains interested in MLS.

The Timbers receive one of the Galaxy’s eight international player slots for the 2011 and 2012 MLS seasons. After the 2012 season, the roster spot reverts back to the Galaxy.

Also, Seattle traded former Galaxy midfielder Pete Vagenas to the Colorado Rockies Rapids (oops).

Here’s who Chivas USA elected to protect: Justin Braun, Yamith Cuesta, Daro Delgado, Jorge Flores, Ante Jazic, Michael Lahoud, Paulo Nagamura, Zach Thornton, Michael Umaa, Ben Zemanski, Sal Zizzo.

Thornton over Dan Kennedy? Really?

Ineligible to be taken in the Expansion Draft are: Bryan de la Fuente (Home Grown Player), Blair Gavin (Generation adidas) and Cesar Zamora (Home Grown Player).

Here then is who Chivas USA left unprotected: Carlos Borja, Jonathan Bornstein, Chukwudi Chijindu, Rodolfo Espinoza, Maykel Galindo, Alan Gordon, Dan Kennedy, Eduardo Lillingston, Giancarlo Maldonado, Gerson Mayen, Jesus Padilla, Osael Romero,
Marcelo Saragosa, Mariano Trujillo, Alex Zotinca.

Bornstein joins Tigres in the new year, of course.

Incidentally, the Chicago Fire left the likes of Nery Castillo, Freddie Ljungberg and the Palos Verdes Peninsula’s John Thorrington unprotected.

The Red Bulls left exposed former Chivas USA defender Carey Talley and, as expected, Juan Pablo Angel.

Other notables available in the draft: Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew); Robbie Findlay (Real Salt Lake); Geovanni (Earthquakes); Blaise Nkufo (Sounders); and Julian de Guzman (Toronto).

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Sunday kicks: MLS Cup & more

i-797cc49800f05d712c9262f91b4454f3-rapidschamps.jpgPablo’s cup: Colorado captain Pablo Mastroeni hoists the MLS Cup after the Rapids beat Dallas (AP Photo).

*The Colorado Rapids are the luckiest champions in MLS Cup history, winning 2-1 in OT over FC Dallas Sunday on a freak deflected own goal in frigid Toronto. I’m sure the Rapids’ Macoumba Kandji, whose hustle helped create the goal, and Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who made a victory-preserving save in the closing seconds, would disagree.

This should be the last MLS Cup played at a neutral site. There looked way more empty seats than Dallas and Colorado fans combined.

*Ten teams in the playoffs (an increase of two) in what will become an 18-team MLS next year, said Commish Don Garber today. Also, MLS is looking to give the Supporters Shield champion more (of something) for finishing first and investigating a fall to spring schedule that would align the league with Europe.

*The UCLA men are through to third round of the NCAA Tournament after beating Sacramento State 4-1 today. Next: Dartmouth 5 p.m. Sunday at Drake Stadium.


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MLS Cup preview: Former Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman leads FC Dallas


I’ll admit that I’m biased when it comes to Kevin Hartman, one of those MLS players I root for no matter what team he’s on.

i-b3b1b429fb1aec0688f5a964ee9c0fed-khartmanmlscup.jpgEl Gato: Kevin Hartman trains with Dallas this week in Toronto ahead of today’s MLS championship game (AP Photo).

Hartman is from the South Bay – he moved to the Palos Verdes Peninsula while in high school – and went on to play for Cal State Dominguez Hills and UCLA. (The Hill, as it’s called locally, was my initial beat when I joined the Daily Breeze as a reporter more than a decade ago and if I recall correctly I actually interviewed Kevin’s father, then an official at a local school, for a story before I ever spoke with his son).

Hartman played 10 years for the Galaxy (winning two MLS Cups) and was part of the squad back when I swapped a spot in the stands at the Rose Bowl for one in the press box at the turn of the century. (That team, which also included the chatty likes of Chris Albright, Pete Vagenas and Ezra Hendrickson and was coached by long-time South Bay resident Sigi Schmid, was among the friendliest, most approachable – and most quotable – MLS squads I’ve covered as a reporter).

And when Hartman was unceremoniously punted by Kansas City before the season began I felt for a player – a person – I’d known for a long time ( I still remember interviewing Hartman in the sun splashed stands at Home Depot Center shortly before it opened as he savored his good fortune at getting the opportunity to play professionally in his adopted “home town.”)

So I’ll be cheering for Hartman and FC Dallas over the Colorado Rapids today at MLS Cup in chilly, soggy Toronto (5:30 p.m. ESPN) in what will likely be especially challenging conditions for goalkeepers (as long-time Galaxy fans will recall – and Hartman will undoubtedly never forget – from MLS cups past).

It would be a great story from a journalistic point of view if Hartman were to lead Dallas to victory after being such an unexpectedly key player for them this season.

And a personal triumph for a classy player on – and off – the fieId, too.

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Morgan’s run nips U.S. win in WCQ


i-619923560a6594bf409d397571ec972f-morgan's moment.jpgMorgan’s moment: Alex Morgan, center, celebrates her well-taken goal that gave the U.S. a narrow win Saturday over Italy (AP Photos).

Aided by an overly generous dollop of second half stoppage time Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan scored minutes after her entry into the game as a late 85th minute sub as the sub-par Americans eked out a slim 1-0 victory over Italy Saturday in the first leg of the two nations’ World Cup qualifying playoff series

The second leg is set for next Saturday in Chicago.

Coach Pia Sundhage will have to feel extremely fortunate to escape with a one-goal advantage after yet another less than convincing display.

Having said that it was a well-taken chance by the 21-year-old striker who chose an opportune moment to score the biggest goal of her nascent career from a well-timed run the tiring Italians could not repel.

Game story.

i-6402f4df2ec92519190f52d1ba5bdd0c-wambachitaly.jpgMarta Carissimi and Italy brought Abby Wambach and the U.S. down to earth Saturday.

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World Cup spot on the line Saturday for U.S. women

Just to emphasize the importance (or lack thereof) of the two-game series against Italy on the sporting landscape, there is no television coverage of the opening 7:30 a.m. Saturday game.

And no, I have no idea why ESPN shows meaningless USWNT friendlies on TV, but not a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Viewers will have to be content with watching on

Incidentally, FIFA released its women’s rankings today and while the U.S. remains No. 1 it lost more than 40 points after its shocking loss to Mexico in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Here are the rankings.

And here’s a game preview from Associated Press Writer Nancy Armour:

As Europe’s fifth-place team, Italy knew it would have to face a squad from the Caribbean or North or Central America for the final spot in next summer’s women’s World Cup. Mexico, perhaps. Or Costa Rica. Maybe even Canada.

Sorry, Azzurre, no such luck.

Thanks to a stunning upset in CONCACAF qualifying, it’s the top-ranked and two-time world champion United States that Italy gets in the two-leg playoff, which begins Saturday in Padova, Italy.

“We’ve got a 10 percent chance of advancing,” Italy coach Pietro Ghedin said.

It’s not that Ghedin doesn’t have confidence in his team. But the Americans are, and have been for two decades now, in a class above most of the rest of the world. The loss to Mexico in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament was only their second since the 2007 World Cup and first since the opening game of the Beijing Olympic tournament, where they rebounded to win the gold medal.

i-08bb68609fea79852e75b7a0bade7b31-piasundhage.jpgThe U.S. has allowed only 26 goals in 60 games since coach Pia Sundhage, left, took over in November 2007 and, before its loss to Mexico, hammered Haiti, Guatemala and Costa Rica by a combined score of 18-0. That’s one less goal than the U.S. men’s team has scored — all year.

“You have to admit that it was a bad game, but also you shouldn’t look into it too much,”
Sundhage said of the Mexico loss. “It’s only one game. We lost, and that will be good for us because we’ll win the next game.”

The playoff is a home-and-home series, with the second leg Nov. 27 at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire, in Bridgeview, Ill. The winner is determined by total goals,
with away goals counting double if the teams finish tied on aggregate.

The U.S. has won eight of its last 10 games against Italy. Under Sundhage, the Americans are 20-1-2 against European teams.

“This is a World Cup game for us,” Abby Wambach said. “This isn’t the Algarve Cup where we’re training through a tournament. We’re here to win this game, and not just by one goal.”

The U.S. loss to Mexico has been called one of the biggest upsets in the women’s game. If Mexico and other less-successful teams can build on it, it might someday be seen as a
game-changer, the day when the competitive balance in women’s soccer shifted.

The U.S. (1991, ’99), Norway (1995) and two-time defending champion Germany are the only teams that have won the World Cup. The U.S. has won all but one gold medal since the sport made its debut at the 1996 Olympics, with Norway winning in 2000.

In the meantime, knowing the Americans were beaten by a team they’d been 24-0-1 against might at least make them seem a little less invincible.

“I don’t think that helps the Italians’ confidence,” U.S. captain Christie Rampone said. “I
don’t think they were expecting the USA to come onto their turf and have to play us twice to get to the World Cup. If it gives them momentum, great, it gives us even more. It’s one loss, but we’ve grown stronger.

“I think that’s even more intimidating, facing a team that just lost after we’ve been so
successful,” she added. “For us, we’re going in with confidence and it doesn’t really matter what they’re thinking.”

Italy, ranked 11th in the world, was undefeated in winning its qualifying group. But it lost
to France in the playoffs to determine Europe’s first four qualifiers (Germany automatically qualified as host). It then beat Ukraine and Switzerland for the right to play CONCACAF’s third-place team for the last of the 16 spots in the World Cup, which will be played June 26 through July 17.

“We didn’t expect to meet the United States, and we’re well aware that they present a tough obstacle,” Ghedin said. “But we’re not starting off defeated. We’re going to give everything we have on the pitch, all the energy that brought us to this point. This is our last shot.”

As it is for the Americans.

“The one thing we’ve been focusing a lot of attention on is this is an opportunity for us,”
Wambach said. “In a World Cup, when you lose you don’t get another opportunity or a chance. We’re very thankful and grateful for our second chance, and we don’t want to throw the opportunity away.”

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