USMNT camp update: A few words with Huntington Beach’s Eugene Starikov and the Galaxy’s A.J. DeLaGarza

U.S. Soccer announced today there is no English-language TV coverage of the U.S.-Chile game scheduled for 6 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at Home Depot Center in Carson, although you’ll notice the time change apparently made at the behest of Telemundo and ESPN3.com.

About 8,000 tickets have now been sold for the game. Tickets start at $18.

Only one remains missing from the expected 25 players scheduled to arrive for the camp that began Jan. 5: Alejandro Bedoya is training with club team rebro in warmer Turkey during the winter break and will arrive Saturday.

Notable campers include Justin Braun of Chivas USA, highly-rated defender Tim Ream of the Red Bulls and last year’s breakout MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Then there’s the less well-known likes of Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, defender Ryan Miller of Halmstads BK and midfielder Sam Cronin of the San Jose Earthquakes. Could you pick them out on the street?

I spoke briefly today with youngster Eugene Starikove Starikov of Zenit St. Petersburg, added to the roster after U.S. Soccer discovered he was still in this country awaiting a Russian visa. (He was originally invited, but then his club wanted him back in Russia, then the paperwork issue arose). The 22-year-old Starikov was born in the Ukraine, but lived in Huntington Beach (he’s a surfer) between the ages of 11 and 17.

He watched soccer at Home Depot Center, played for Irvine Strikers and attended Edison High before graduating high school in Florida. He lasted one year at Stetson University in Florida before getting an offer from Zenit to turn pro. After a year on their reserve squad he was loaned out to the wonderfully named Tom Tomsk where in the last year he scored one goal in nine appearances.

Bradley rates him very highly, incidentally, although he preferred to leave specifics off the record:

“Technically he’s a solid player,” he did say, however. “He works hard in training. He’s trying to pick up some of the little things that we emphasize.”

Starikov seemed more than a little overawed to be in a national team camp:

“Excited, of course,” he said. “It was pretty late when I got the invitation, it’s awesome. It’s great for me.”

Yeah, he was excited.

*I briefly spoke with Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza, fresh from getting married Dec. 4 to a girl he first met in high school and working to move the mass he picked up honeymooning in St. Lucia. It’s his first USMNT camp, joining Galaxy teammates Omar Gonzalez and Sean Franklin.

He’s looking to be a starter on defense for the Galaxy this coming season with Gregg Berhalter likely easing out of a regular spot on the back four:

“Last year, maybe the last two years, I was that fifth guy who would step in if someone got injured. Obviously I want to be in a starting role. Last year I played every single back four spot.

“And to have one definite spot, to focus on that would be big for me. But you know I’m open to anything – I just want to win.

(I tell him I think his best position is full back, not central defense. I think he was disappointed to hear that) “Really? I’ve been in the center for a while. If I play full back consistently I think I can get better. Kind of get that mindset of attacking a little more. But right now I’m being moved around. It’s a little tough, you’ve got to play different spots and be ready for whatever.”

For exhaustive camp updates, check out the official USMNT blog.

I’ll have more Tuesday on Edson Buddle’s move to Germany including comments from Bradley, DeLagarza and (for good measure) Eric Wynalda.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group columnist and blogger Nick Green writes about soccer at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Studs Up

    Thanks for the camp update. Do more please.

    Starikove or Starikov? Didn’t know of his SoCal roots.

    PS – did you see any on-looking fans around the field?

    – I understand there will be an open practice for US Soccer supporters club members this Saturday. I didn’t renew so I’ll miss it.

  • UCLABZ

    The game has been moved to 7 PM. It looks like a typo since you noted a time change from the originally scheduled 6 PM.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/soccer Nick Green

    You’re right, thanks for catching that.

    And in reply to Studs Up, there were very few fans – I saw three, a mom and a couple of kids waiting for autographs as the players left the field.