Speculation swirls around Chilean coach ahead of game Saturday in Carson against U.S.

So far no media availability for Coach Marcelo Bielsa has been announced ahead of the 7 p.m. Saturday game at Home Depot Center, incidentally:

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile President Sebastian Pinera wants Marcelo Bielsa to remain as the national team coach, a job the Argentine said two months ago he would leave when Jorge Segovia was elected head of the national soccer association.

Segovia’s election has since been annulled, and Pinera said in an interview that Bielsa should reconsider and not leave “an unfinished project.”

Chile plays the United States on Saturday night in an exhibition game and Bielsa has not made his plans clear. Sergio Jadue, the new president of the national governing body, has said he would try to persuade the coach to stay.

“One should never leave an unfinished project,” Pinera said in a television interview. “All of Chile wants the project to have a happy ending.”

Pinera urged Bielsa to continue coaching through this year’s Copa America — the continental championship in Argentina — and the 2014 World Cup.

“I hope Bielsa stays, and if he wants to stay I am sure practically every Chilean will thank
him,” Pinera said. Bielsa, Argentina’s former national team coach, is popular in Chile after guiding the team in South Africa to its best finish at a World Cup since 1962.

While we’re on the subject, here is the Chilean roster for Saturday’s game.

GOALKEEPERS: Paulo Garcs (Universidad Catlica), Ral Olivares (Colo Colo)

DEFENDERS: Eugenio Mena (Universidad de Chile), Sebastin Toro (Colo Colo), Paulo Magalhaes (Colo Colo), Carlos Labrn (Huachipato), Fernando Meneses (Universidad Catlica)

MIDFIELDERS: Felipe Seymour (Universidad de Chile), Francisco Silva (Universidad Catlica), Luis Pedro Figueroa (Unin Espaola), Felipe Gutirrez (Universidad Catlica), Lucas Domnguez (Audax Italiano)

FORWARDS Edson Puch (Universidad de Chile), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Daud Gazale (Colo Colo)

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USWNT loses first game of 2011

And it’s the team’s second loss in the last five games:

CHONGQING, China (AP) — The U.S. women’s team began World Cup preparations by losing a match in which it led for the first time in more than eight years.

Carli Lloyd’s goal off an 11th-minute corner kick was offset when Stina Segerstrom scored in the 16th and Kosovare Asllani in the 60th to give Sweden a 2-1 victory over the Americans on Friday in the opening game of the Four Nations Tournament.

The Americans had not taken a lead and then lost since March 5, 2002, a 3-2 defeat to Norway at the Algarve Cup.

“Very, very disappointed,” said midfielder Shannon Boxx of Torrance’s South High. “We don’t have the excuse of a long season. We had good rest, and coming back into our first tournament we need to step it up. I think everyone knows what we need to do. It’s mainly coming together as a team and the attitude that we present every game needs to be better.”

In this World Cup warmup tournament, the U.S. plays Canada on Sunday and China on Tuesday.

The Americans will play Sweden at the World Cup in Germany on July 6 in their last
opening-round match, after games against North Korea on June 28 and Colombia on July 2.

“Obviously, it’s a pretty disappointing first game on the road to the World Cup,” defender Christine Rampone said. “At the same time, we have to take the positives away from it. The team has a lot of work to do and we really need to start coming together, clicking and becoming one unit. We have to start that defensively. I think we are doing well individually, but we have to work as a team.”

The Americans, who needed to win a pair of playoffs to qualify for the World Cup, were missing star forward Abby Wambach of Hermosa Beach because of a heel injury and top goalkeeper Hope Solo, still recovering from shoulder surgery in September.

Forward Sydney Leroux of UCLA entered in the 86th minute, her first match for the senior women’s team.

“Our speed of play wasn’t good enough,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “One thing as a team that we need to get much better at is moving without the ball. This game today tells us many things that we need to work on, but I am confident that we have enough time and enough games to prepare for the World Cup. This was just the first one.”

NOTES: In the second game, Canada beat China 3-2 on goals by Candace Chapman, Melissa Tancredi and Christine Sinclair. You Jia scored twice for China.

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Former Galaxy striker Buddle scores on German debut

It seems Edson Buddle can’t stop scoring, no matter which country he’s playing in:

BERLIN (AP) — Edson Buddle scored in his debut today for Ingolstadt, a 1-1 tie with Duisburg in Germany’s second division.

The American forward scored with 15 minutes remaining in the game when he was first to react to a corner kick. Stefan Maierhofer failed to clear the ball and Buddle made no mistake with his right foot from five yards.

Duisburg’s Olcay Sahan tied the score 10 minutes later.

Buddle signed with Ingolstadt this month after his MLS contract with the Galaxy expired. Buddle ended the regular MLS season as the second-highest scorer with 17 goals in 25 matches.

Promoted Ingolstadt remains second from bottom in Germany’s 18-team second division, with 13 points from 19 matches.

Incidentally, the Galaxy announced this morning they will open their 2011 preseason camp on Monday at Home Depot Center.

Contracted players and trialists will begin reporting for physicals, testing and a week of fitness training on that day before heading out onto the field for the first time the following Monday.

The Galaxy are scheduled to remain in Southern California for the majority of preseason.

The team’s home opener is set for 5 p.m. Sunday, March 20 against the the New England Revolution; the Galaxy open the season in Seattle against the Sounders on Tuesday, March 15.

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Thursday Kicks (Part Deux): Former defender Suarez joins Chivas USA as advisor & more

i-8c8ef20b65748fee4d5da6b6aa512972-suarez0002.jpgAs I continue to catch up during my enforced break:

*Chivas USA announced Thursday afternoon that former defender and captain Claudio Suarez, one of the most respected figures in Mexican soccer, has rejoined the club he retired from in 2009 in an advisory capacity.

“Claudio is a true legend in the soccer world, and we’re thrilled that he’ll be working with us again at Chivas USA,” said Interim General Manager Jose Domene. “His experience as a player, understanding of the game in both Mexico and the United States, and eye for talent will help us both in the short and long term.”

To get his new role under way, Surez visits Chivas de Guadalajara’s facilities Friday where he will conduct clinics on defensive skills to first team and youth team players.

Suarez, the most capped Mexican National Team player of all-time, made 64 appearances for Chivas USA between 2006 and 2009, following long careers with CD Guadalajara and Tigres.

“This is an exciting new opportunity with a club that I know and love,” said Surez. “It will give me the chance to work both in Los Angeles and Mexico, helping strengthen the club in a number of different areas, especially scouting.”

Chivas USA opens pre-season training Friday in Carson. I’ll have more on that in a subsequent post.

*The likelihood of David Beckham getting on an EPL field for an actual game this season is looking slimmer and slimmer.

*New USL Pro team the LA Blues have signed a couple of MLS castoffs and a couple of other players the club announced Thursday: Striker/midfielder Dane Saintus of SMU, a 2010 Dallas draft pick; Alta Loma’s Cameron Dunn, 26, a defender out of UC Irvine drafted by Chivas USA in the 2007 MLS draft who later played with the Portland Timbers; 25-year-old forward Seyed Hosseini from Iran who played for Saba Battery, the 2007 league champions; and 23-year-old Jaime Chavez from the City of Industry, who was the leading scorer for PDL club Hollywood United last year.

*Speaking of the PDL, the Ventura County Fusion have announced they will play a couple of MLS teams in Ventura County next month.

Expansion team the Portland Timbers are up first with a 7 p.m. Feb. 4 game at Ventura College during a week-long preseason training stint that begins Feb. 1.

Then, D.C. United takes on the Fusion at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Oxnard College, while the MLS club conducts 10 days of preseason training in Southern California.

Tickets to the games are $8 for adults and $5 for youths in advance, increasing to $12 and $6 respectively the day of the game. Order here.

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy get their scoring Angel & more

Back from an enforced vacation and a voluntary trip to a (very) soggy Seattle it’s time to play a little catch-up and note that:

*On Wednesday the Galaxy announced the signing of their third designated player, former Aston Villa and New York Red Bull striker Juan Pablo Angel, with the presence of the man who brought the Colombian to MLS – Coach Bruce Arena – proving pivotal to LA getting their replacement for the now departed Edson Buddle. Reporter Phil Collin has the full details with a story in today’s newspaper.

The Galaxy observe that no MLS player scored more goals than Angel during his four-year New York tenure. And scoring at a clip of more than a goal every other game over that length of time – 58 goals in 102 regular season games – is no mean feat no matter what league we’re talking about.

Regular readers of this blog should be happy considering the overwhelming result of this poll.

*Meanwhile, the Galaxy picked up four players and Chivas USA two in Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft.

The Galaxy got New Zealand Olympian and Dartmouth midfielder Daniel Keat with the third overall pick; Stanford defender Ryan Thomas of Claremont; North Carolina midfielder Dustin McCarty, brother of D. C. United midfielder Dax McCarty; and goalkeeper Zach Johnson out of West Virginia.

Chivas USA picked up midfielder/forward Ernesto Carranza from Sacramento State and Canadian defender Curtis Ushedo out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

*Former Chivas USA defender Carey Talley has retired after 13 MLS seasons and 315 appearances with five different clubs, the New York Red Bulls announced Wednesday. I for one will miss Talley, a class act, a great quote and a tenacious defender who as fun to talk to as he was to watch.

*LA Blues, the new local team that will play in the USL’s Pro league, announced their 2011 schedule. The club’s first home game at Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton is on May 1 against Antigua Barracuda FC.

If you’d rather be on the field than in the stands for the opener, here’s your chance: the club will host open tryout this weekend in Norco. Full details are here.

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Friday Kicks: MLS draft wrap & more

*Reporter Phil Collin sums up the Galaxy and Chivas USA MLS drafts wherein we also learn who will return (via Coach Bruce Arena) from last year’s Brazilian “draft.” Two out of three ain’t bad.

*It looks like someone at Tottenham has been reading “The Beckham Experiment.”

*Speaking of, we can all watch Beckham chewing on his nails live when Spurs plays Manchester United at 8 a.m. Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel. Those wanting to see the worst Liverpool team in 50 years or so can catch Kenny Dalglish & co., play in the Merseyside derby against Everton at 6 a.m. on the same channel. Click on the Live Soccer TV link at top right for all the upcoming games this weekend.

*Meanwhile, I’m under orders to burn off more vacation time so blogging will be limited the next few days and there will be no column Tuesday.

Updated 2 p.m. Friday

Three Southern Californians were taken in the first round of the Women’s Professional Soccer draft today: Cal’s Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar) was taken with the first pick by the Western New York Flash, Stanford striker Christen Press (Palos Verdes Estates) was selected with the fourth pick by the Washington Freedom, where she will presumably for a formidable front line with Abby Wambach, while UCLA midfielder Kylie Wright (Rancho Santa Margarita) was taken with the ninth overall pick by the Atlanta Beat.

Also drafted:

*UCLA defender Lauren Barnes (Upland) was a third round pick (No. 15 overall) by the Philadelphia Independence. There are now eight former Bruins in the league.

*UC Irvine forward Tanya Taylor (Buena Park) was taken with the very last pick of the four-round draft by the Boston Breakers.

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Cosmos Cobi speaks


Three days after Galaxy icon Cobi Jones announced he was leaving the club where he had spent virtually his entire career, the new employee of the New York Cosmos spoke with journalists today about his role with the club.

For now he plans to remain in Los Angeles, albeit doing plenty of traveling between the youth academies the Cosmos, who have ambitions of entering MLS as early as 2013, have established on each coast.

He said the opportunity to join a nascent organization was what attracted him most:

“It was a storied franchise in the past and plans to be a storied franchise in the future and it’s something I wanted to be a part of.

“It was about being part of something starting out that’s doing something in the right ways,” he added. “It allows me to advance my position in the soccer world and the soccer community.

“I would (eventually) love to be involved in the general manager type of role where you’re helping to make the decisions for an entire club.”

No Cobi the coach then, apparently

Incidentally, Terry Byrne, the Cosmos director of soccer and the former personal manager of Galaxy star David Beckham, with whom he has a close friendship, reiterated he has not spoken to his former client about buying an ownership interest in any Cosmos MLS franchise and perhaps playing for the club after his contract with the Galaxy expires this year:

“There has genuinely been no conversations with David about the Cosmos,” he said. “I totally respect (AEG President) Tim Leiweke’s position – I would not undermine that. (David) is obviously aware of what we’re doing because we speak all the time, but there are no conversations in regard to David joining the Cosmos.”

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LMU defender Kucera dies of natural causes

More on the Cupertino native from the school’s web site is here.

Friday Update

The Westchester school has issued this notification:

A memorial service honoring the life of men’s soccer player David Kucera will be held at Loyola Marymount’s Sacred Heart Chapel at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18. The service is open to the public.

David was due to begin the spring semester of his sophomore year at LMU when he passed away on Sunday, January 9 at his off-campus apartment in Marina del Rey. At this time, the cause of death is believed to be due to natural causes.

Kucera had recently completed his sophomore season as a member of LMU’s WCC-champion men’s soccer team. Named the team’s co-Most Improved Player in 2010, Kucera made eight appearances in the Lion uniform and was integral in LMU’s championship run by scoring his first career goal as the Lions rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Gonzaga 3-2 on November 7.

A native of Cupertino, California, Kucera was a four-year letterwinner at Monta Vista High School. He was born on April 2, 1991 and was a Dean’s List student majoring in Entrepreneurship. He is survived by his parents, Jan Kucera and Tara Jolley.

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U.S. men schedule March tilts against World Cup winners Argentina, Paraguay

i-e7d96348f4cc0f2a4e2d9257a8288448-messigoldenball.jpgArgentina, and likely Lionel Messi, almost universally acclaimed as the best player in the world at the moment is returning to the U.S. to play (AP Photo).

Not on the West Coast, unfortunately.

The U.S. plays Argentina at 4 p.m. March 26 in East Rutherford, N.J. live on ESPN2 and Univision.

Three days later, Nashville will be the location of the game against Paraguay.

From the U.S. Soccer press release:

The matches fall on international fixture dates which allows the teams the ability to select a full complement of players. The meeting against fifth-ranked Argentina marks the ninth match in the last four years for the United States against a team ranked in the top five in the world.

Coach Bob Bradley sounds like he’s anticipating a re-run of the 0-0 draw in New York in 2008 between the U.S. and Argentina, whose lineup that day included one Lionel Messi:

“Argentina continues to be one of the most talented teams in the world, and we are excited to have the opportunity to compete against them. When you talk about the best players around the globe, the Argentines certainly contribute a lot of names to that list.”

“Paraguay showed during the World Cup that they are a creative and organized team capable of being very dangerous in the attack. Both of these matches give us a chance to continue to raise the bar for our team, and it will also be a great part of our preparation for the Gold Cup.”

Here’s the confirmed USMNT schedule in 2011 (so far):

Saturday, Jan. 22 — vs. Chile at Carson
Wednesday, Feb. 9 — vs. Egypt at Cairo
Saturday, March 26 vs. Argentina at East Rutherford, N.J.
Tuesday, March 29 vs. Paraguay at Nashville, Tenn.
June 5-25 — CONCACAF Gold Cup

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MLS SuperDraft Live

i-c872cefa977ac068d789959676a27c57-superdraftlogosmall.JPGIf you’re not near a TV this morning to watch the MLS SuperDraft that begins at 9 a.m. on ESPN2 you can follow along at this link.

Reporter Phil Collin has a preview from the Chivas USA and Galaxy perspective here.

I’ll update this post as warranted throughout the day.


i-18b6588f4cdc89030f51a326e9c58b08-mlssalgado.jpgNo. 1 MLS draft pick Omar Salgado poses with MLS Commish Don Garber at today’s SuperDraft in Baltimore (Photo courtesy MLS).

BALTMORE (AP) — Omar Salgado, a 17-year-old forward on the U.S. Under-20 team, was selected by the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday with the first pick in the Major League Soccer draft.

Salgado, who is from El Paso, Texas, spent 1 years with Chivas Guadalajara, then signed with MLS and was loaned to Vancouver for three months last summer when the team competed in the U.S. Soccer Federation Division 2.

Darlington Nagbe, a junior forward and midfielder who helped Akron win its first NCAA title, went to the expansion Portland Timbers with the No. 2 pick. Nagbe won the Hermann Trophy last week as the top men’s college soccer player.

Perry Kitchen, a freshman defensive midfielder on the Zips, was taken by D.C. United with the third pick.


i-85a8cc12bace3024c9e3c81a17012096-chadbarret.jpgFormer UCLA forward Chad Barrett, 25, is heading back to Southern California with the Galaxy after Toronto deemed he was surplus to requirements today.

“We made this move to give us more flexibility in building our squad for the new season,” said Toronto FC Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter. “This creates more cap space which will help us create a team capable of playing the style of soccer we are looking for.”

Barrett made $212,000 last year, but was reportedly due a pay raise into the $300,000 range.

The six-year MLS veteran had 34 career regular season goals in 147 games with the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC.

A third round pick in the 2005 MLS draft, the Galaxy traded for him in exchange for “future considerations.”

Barrett played in college on the same forward line as former Chivas USA striker Matt Taylor.

The Galaxy are in dire need of attacking punch after losing top scorer Edson Buddle to a German club on Monday. They also picked up journeyman forward Adam Cristman from D.C. United earlier in the week.


i-10d689e535a33c4c22a2609f3a899bec-zarekval.JPGChivas USA has selected Akron’s Zarek Valentin, the younger brother of former Galaxy midfielder Julian Valentin, with the fourth pick in the first round of the draft.

The 5-11, 19-year-old defender is a U.S. youth international. He made more than 20 appearances for the U-20 U.S. team.

Valentin, who is fluent in Spanish, was ever-present last season for the national championship-winning Zips, making 25 appearances.

He joins fellow Akron products Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin at Chivas USA.

Chivas USA sorely needed defensive reinforcements after finishing in the basement of the Western Conference last season.


Both Chivas USA and the Galaxy looked to South America for their 14th and 16th picks overall respectively in the first round of the draft.

Chivas USA took Victor Estupinan of Ecuador with a pick they received from Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy selected 21-year-old Uruguayan midfielder Paolo Cardozo who plays in Argentina with Quilmes.


The Galaxy have picked up Bell Gardens High product Hector Jimenez out of Cal with their second round pick.


Chivas USA selected Brown University midfielder Jon Okafor with their third round pick (40th overall). The club’s draft is now done.

Okafar helped the Bears to three NCAA Tournament appearances in his four-year career, scoring 14 goals and adding 23 assists. He ranked second on the team in scoring last year with five goals and scored Brown’s first goal in its 2-1 first-round NCAA victory over Boston College.

Brown finished the year 12-4-4 overall.

The Galaxy have one pick – the 50th overall – remaining.

The Galaxy have just traded that pick to D.C. United for United’s two first-round picks in the Supplemental Draft.

Updated: Chivas USA draft reaction

Here’s reaction to the Chivas USA draft picks from new Coach Robin Fraser:

“I’m really, really excited about [Valentin and Estupian]. Zarek is a proven winner, he’s a leader, he’s very vocal, has a very good understanding of the game, so I feel like he’s an important part of what we’re trying to do.

“Zarek was our number one choice. He’s a player that we identified that we wanted so badly. We talked so much about team, and building a team and the right characters – he’s got all that. … He’s got a really bright (future) and he’s a good part of this building process for us.”

“With Victor, he’s a little different than some of the other forwards we’ve seen. He does a lot of things that make us think that he has a lot of promise and a bright future ahead of him.”

Here’s what Valentin had to say about getting drafted by Chivas USA:

“That was probably the team I wanted to go to the most. I’ve actually seen Chivas play in Mexico a couple times, and seeing the atmosphere there with the whole team, and then actually seeing them play in L.A. a couple times, it’s just been amazing.

“My buddies Blair [Gavin] and Ben [Zemanski] play on the team, so it’s good to have them help me with everything, and I’ve only heard amazing things. I’m just very, very excited.”

Finally, here’s Chivas USA Interim GM Jose Domene on Estupian:

“We saw Victor Estupian back at the Combine. We thought he was very explosive. He could become a very strong, explosive player very quick. He’s good with his head, and I think we’re going to have patience with him to develop him to be a great soccer player for this team.

“How it happened was Salt Lake called us to see if we wanted to trade for the pick, we saw that Estupian was still there, and we decided to pull the trigger.”

Updated: Galaxy draft reaction

Here’s Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena on drafting Hector Jimenez from Bell Gardens:

“We actually rated him as the best right-sided player in the draft. He’s a local kid, went to the University of California and obviously we love to have those types at the Galaxy. We think he’s a very good player and being a local player is a plus.”

By the way, here’s the Galaxy’s Supplemental Draft positions after the trades the team made today: The Galaxy now have the 3rd and 16th picks in the first round, one second round selection (34th overall) and one third round selection (52nd overall).

That draft is set for Tuesday.

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