Wednesday Kicks: MLS SuperDraft Thursday & more

*Chivas USA striker Justin Braun and former Galaxy defender Ugo Ihemelu have been released from the U.S. Men’s National Team in Carson because of injuries, officials announced today.

Braun sustained a laceration in the region of his left Achilles Tuesday during the morning training session. The injury required four stitches and will sideline the forward for seven days.

Ihemelu is bothered by hip and groin injuries he had rested following the 2010 MLS season.

U.S. Soccer doesn’t plan to add players to what is now a 23-player roster ahead of the Jan. 22 game against Chile at Home Depot Center.

*The over-hyped MLS not so SuperDraft is set for 9 a.m. Thursday. ESPN2 will air the first hour of the three-round, 54-pick event.

If past history is any guide fans shouldn’t expect teams to find players who will immediately have a huge impact in an ever-improving league like MLS, which, frankly, is how it should be.

*Rumored Galaxy target Ronaldinho was unveiled today as a new signing for Brazilian club Flamengo, as expected.

*The second stop on the Mexican National Team’s 2011 U.S. Tour will be in Oakland when it plays a March 26 game against Paraguay. Tickets go on sale to the general public Jan. 21.

*Josh Gatt, a former midfielder with the PDL Orange County Blue Star, has signed with Norway’s Molde, now coached by former Manchester United midfielder Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Michigan native and member of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team previously played for Austrian club Rheindorf Altach.

*Galaxy youth striker Jack McBean of Newport Beach is one of eight new players selected to join the famed U.S. Under-17 residential academy in Bradenton, Fla., this spring. A total of 40 players will attend the academy, where players receive daily top-class training, while attending a local high school.

Local holdovers in the group include goalkeepers Wade Hamilton (Arsenal FC; Murietta) and Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Chino); defender Luis Martir (Chivas Guadalajara; Los Angeles); midfielders Marco Delgado (Cosmo Academy West; Glendora), Esteban Rodriguez (Cosmos Academy West; Palmdale); forwards Kevin De La Torre (Chivas USA Academy; Winchester, CA).

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Help support “Gringos at the Gate”

Last summer I was a contributor to a KPFK show called “The People’s Game” that aired during the World Cup.

A co-contributor/host/guest on the show was Altadena filmmaker Pablo Miralles who is in the final stages of making a documentary called “Gringos at the Gate” along with two other graduates of UCLA’s film school. The subject is a familiar one to those of us in Southern California – it looks at the massive gulf between soccer cultures in the U.S. and Mexico, but also “the growing Mexican-American population’s divided, and often mixed, national and cultural allegiances.”

Well, Miralles needs a little financial help to finish the film and is seeking assistance from the local soccer community.

If you’re so inclined, check out the video above for more information and a trailer, then click here to make a pledge of as little $1.

There are also several more links at the site providing more details.

It’s a film that looks like it will be an invaluable addition to understanding soccer culture locally, nationally and south of the border.

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Tuesday’s column & Galaxy trade for United’s Cristman

i-0215da72d01e2bf2c07f10256ef10b5b-christman.jpgThe first domino for the Galaxy fell the day after Edson Buddle signed with a German club when LA announced early this morning they had signed 26-year-old D.C. United reserve forward Adam Cristman, right, in exchange for the Galaxy’s first round pick in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft.

Cristman has had three MLS clubs, including the New England Revolution and the late Kansas City Wizards, in four years and two serious injuries including a fractured metatarsal that required lengthy stays on the sideline.

The 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year finalist has scored 12 goals and six assists in 68 career regular season games; in 2008 he notched a career-best six goals in just 18 games when a toe injury limited his appearances.

The University of Virginia product had two goals in eight starts for D.C. United last year.

The three-round Supplemental Draft, reinstated by MLS this year, will be held a week from today, five days after the main MLS draft, also a three-round event this year, down from four.

Cristman doesn’t sound like the starting forward (or two) the Galaxy require, but the team needs bodies in that position at the moment so it’s a start.

The Galaxy’s striking needs in the wake of Buddle’s departure was the subject of today’s column along with the usual Beckham speculation we’ve seen season after season and the departure of Galaxy icon Cobi Jones.

Some critics have suggested Buddle’s MLS exit represents a black eye for league. I disagree and so did USMNT Coach Bob Bradley when I spoke to him Monday at camp in Carson:

“Players have to make decisions that fit what’s good for them and in this particular case he’s 30 years old (soon) and now the window for possibly going to Europe is small. And as much as MLS has shown that its paying some very, very big salaries, clubs still have to make decisions at a certain point of the season.

“MLS is continuing to play a major role in the development of soccer in this country and sometimes you’re going to have different players at different times who think it’s an option for them (to go to Europe). I don’t think it’s a knock on MLS at all.

Former U.S. international and Fox TV analyst Eric Wynalda agreed:

“Good business – don’t condemn them,” he said. “I’m really happy for (Buddle) to get the opportunity to go somewhere else.

“If Edson is comfortable and they really want him it’s a good place to be,” he added. “I would venture to say if he’s a success he won’t be there long.

“When these opportunities come for these players we need to recognize them for what they’re worth … and not always feel like were losing something. Sometimes we’re creating opportunity (for players).”

Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza was surprised to hear Buddle had left Monday:

“It’s crazy. I didn’t even know his contract was up. I’m excited for him. I hope he can perform well.

“We’re going to need some people to step up whether that’s Landon playing forward — maybe even signing Angel or grabbing some people from the draft.

“Angel brings pressure. Like Edson he can hold the ball up top and he’s one of those inside the 18 finishers — he can finish like no one else. So hopefully he could be a little bit of a replacement for Edson.”

i-793c448c5cd18d2130f4f3295eba19fc-beckstottrains.jpgHot Spur? The Galaxy’s David Beckham trained with EPL club Tottenham Hotspur today for the first time. Incidentally the caption supplied with this picture observed that “Beckham, left, (is seen) in action with teammate Wilson Palacios … at the Spurs Lodge in Chigwell, England.” Teammate? Hmm. (AP Photo).


In other trade news, midfielder Daniel Paladini of Northridge was signed today by the Chicago Fire along with Croatian Josip Mikulic.

The 26-year-old Paladini had been playing for the Division 2 Carolina Railhawks where he had seven goals and added five assists in 34 games and was named team MVP; Paladini was a 2006 MLS Supplemental Draft selection by the Galaxy and played for cross-town rival Chivas USA in 2008, seeing action in eight games, before joining the RailHawks.

Mikulic, a 24-year-old central defender, joins Chicago from Croatian side NK Zagreb.

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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

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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Galaxy’s Buddle signs with German club; Chivas USA declines Romero option

i-d42ff168710cea220c9d84dea45c1868-edsonmug.jpg*Word of Edson Buddle’s signing with German Budesliga 2 club FC Ingolstadt came down today as I was standing on a Home Depot Center practice field watching a U.S. Men’s National Team training session.

I’ll have thoughts on the move from the likes of Coach Bob Bradley, Buddle’s (now former) Galaxy teammate A.J. DeLaGarza and others in Tuesday’s column.

The Galaxy released a press release today (without a quote from Coach Bruce Arena, incidentally, who is down at the MLS Combine in Florida, but I’m told we could get his reaction later today) in response to Buddle’s move that included words from their 2010 team MVP who just came off the best MLS season of his career:

“While I have decided to leave the Galaxy, I do so with fond memories of my four years with the club,” Buddle said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Los Angeles and will miss my teammates, coaches, staff and everyone who works for the club as they helped make me the player that I am today. I also want to thanks all of the great Galaxy fans who have supported me ever since I arrived at the club and I am hopeful that one day I will be able to return to the Galaxy and help lead them to an MLS Cup championship.”

Given his new team’s position in their division I predict we could see him back in a matter of months.

Here’s the most important stat for Galaxy fans – the team lost just once last season going 13-1-1 when Buddle, scorer of 42 goals in 87 regular season games with LA including a career-high 17 last year, put the ball in the back of the net.

That’s going to be hard to replace.

However, negotiations are ongoing with veteran striker Juan Pablo Angel I was told this morning and here’s one way to look at it – the Galaxy now have even more room under the salary cap.

The Galaxy lost just once in 2010 when Buddle scored a goal, recording a 13-1-1 record in all competitions.

Buddle, who turns 30 in May, is the fourth highest scorer in Galaxy history and has 90 MLS goals in 231 regular season games with four clubs over the last decade.

i-d84c9ecb611f58820dcc3bad7f9c11d3-osaelmugg.jpg*Chivas USA announced Monday that it has declined the contract option on Osael Romero, 24, who was on loan from Vista Hermosa in El Salvador. The Salvadoran midfielder, left, joined Chivas USA just before last season began, making a mere five starts with the team and scoring one goal.

A much-hyped attacking midfielder touted as being in the mold of the Galaxy’s Mauricio Cienfuegos, the light-weight Romero was a major disappointment and played just 421 total MLS minutes for Chivas USA.

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Galaxy’s Buddle heading to Germany, Cobi Jones leaves club & more

*Neither the Galaxy nor MLS have responded to a report Sunday that had leading scorer Edson Buddle snubbing a new contract with MLS for a struggling second-tier German outfit.

It’s hard to blame Buddle, who turns 30 in May, for wanting to make some serious coin if reports of his likely paycheck are accurate. But it’s also another black eye for MLS who with non-moves like this will be perceived yet again as a minor-league operation even if it’s also clear that desperate European clubs are prepared to pay outlandish amounts for players.

i-e8703f5026c4371f3c9c3ba781db0f27-cobimug.jpg*The Galaxy, however, did acknowledge in a press release this morning that Assistant Coach Cobi Jones, right, is leaving the club after 15 years to become associate director of soccer with the New York Cosmos, while also serving as an ambassador for the club. The 40-year-old was, of course, a Galaxy original in 1996 and has been a coach at the club since his retirement three years ago.

“I am both honored and blessed to have had such a wonderful career with the LA Galaxy and I am thankful for everything the club, the fans and the community has done for me and my family,” Jones said. “While I am excited to begin this next chapter of my career, I am honored to have been part of the Galaxy organization for the last 15 years as a player, a coach and a member of the LA soccer community. I am thrilled that I was able to play professional soccer in my hometown and help lead the team to championships, hoisting the MLS Cup trophy and more. For that, I will forever be grateful to the Galaxy and the fans.”

From the club’s press release:

Originally allocated to the Galaxy on March 6, 1996, Jones scored the first goal in club history and is the only player in MLS history to have played each of the first 12 seasons of the league’s history with the same team. The club’s all-time leader in a number of statistical categories, Jones scored 70 goals and added 91 assists in 306 career regular season games. He is one of just five players in league history to record 70 goals and 90 assists during his MLS career and still ranks 10th in league history in games played.

His best season in MLS came in 1998 when he set career highs for goals (19) and assists (13), despite missing nearly two months of play while with the U.S. National Team in France at the World Cup. Jones tallied either a goal or an assist in 18 of the 24 games that he played that season and was named the Galaxy’s MVP and a finalist for MLS MVP as the Galaxy set a league record for goals scored that still stands today.

Jones won his first league championship when he captained the Galaxy to the club’s first-ever MLS Cup title in 2002.

*Lastly, the “will David Beckham play or just train with Tottenham” saga continues.

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Palos Verdes Estates’ Press named female college player of the year

i-d7341cf79f8bbf3fa1849c09ae4b7337-pressmug2.jpgIt’s a dream come true for the former two-time winner of the Daily Breeze player of the year award. Here’s more from the Associated Press:

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stanford’s Christen Press, a former Chadwick School standout, won the Hermann Trophy on Friday as the nation’s top women’s college soccer player.

Akron’s Darlington Nagbe won the men’s honor.

Press, a senior forward, scored 26 goals last season, the most in the nation and tying the Stanford record as the Cardinal reached the NCAA final, where it lost to Notre Dame. She will attend the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team camp that opens this weekend at Home Depot Center.

Nagbe, a junior forward and midfielder, helped the Zips win the NCAA title, the school’s first in NCAA competition in any sport. He had seven goals and 13 assists last season, and is among the top prospects in next week’s Major League Soccer draft.

For the first time in the history of the award, given by the Missouri Athletic Club, both winners were from the same schools as the previous year. Teal Bunbury, who went on to an excellent rookie season with the Kansas City Wizards, and Kelley O’Hara won last year.

The previous back-to-back winners of the men’s award from the same school were Duke’s Thomas Kain and John Kerr in 1985-86. The men’s award began in 1967 and the women’s award in 1988.

Notre Dame junior forward Melissa Henderson was second, followed by California senior forward Alex Morgan of Diamond Bar, whose goal in the first leg of a playoff gave the U.S. a 1-0 victory at Italy that helped the Americans qualify for his year’s Women’s World Cup.

Voting is done by NCAA Division I soccer coaches.

Press is the most prolific scorer in Stanford history, establishing the career record in goals (71), assists (41) and points (183), according to a press release from the college.

Stanford had an 67-0-1 record when Press had a goal or assist during her collegiate career.

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Friday Football: Camping with Beckham & more

*The EPL’s Tottenham Hotspur hopes/believes/is trying to convince themselves (take your pick, one is as good as another at this point since the Galaxy never confirm any deal until every “i” is dotted) that David Beckham could be on loan to them by Sunday. Details here. And don’t you just love those vague comments from Spurs boss Harry Rednapp. Personally I’d rather hear what Landon Donovan has to say about Beckham’s loan.

*Meanwhile, with Beckham possibly off to what amounts to a (high-profile) London training camp, the Home Depot Center fields are getting busier and busier as various U.S. national teams crank up their activity another notch.

*Zenit St. Petersburg striker Eugene Starikov arrived in the South Bay Thursday, bringing to 25 the number of mostly young players in the U.S. Men’s National Team camp in Carson. Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Starikov grew up in Florida and attended Stetson University.

*The U.S. women open a six-day camp in Carson Saturday with 26 players in attendance including UCLA’s Sydney Leroux, Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan, USC product Amy Rodriguez and Rolling Hills Estates’ Whitney Engen.

*A 24-player women’s U-23 contingent starts practicing at the HDC Sunday and includes the likes of striker Christen Press of Palos Verdes Estates and midfielder Megan Jesolva of La Mirada.

Incidentally, I’m often asked whether practices are open to the public, what time they are, where players are staying, etc. The short answers are no, it varies and U.S. Soccer officials don’t want fans knowing.

But the USMNT usually practices around 10 a.m. daily (although there are unannounced off days) and fans can peer over a fence, while the team itself usually stays in hotels in either Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach (in truth I don’t know exactly where for this camp). And you didn’t read that here.

Finally, those of us disinclined to take afternoon/early evenings strolls along The Strand or staking out hotel lobbies in order to get a glimpse of players have plenty of footie to choose from on TV this weekend.

The Mexican league starts up again with Monterrey hosting San Luis (3 p.m. Saturday on KVEA) and Tigres at Queretaro at the same time on KFTR (although now former Chivas USA defender Jonny Bornstein is out injured and won’t play for UANL).

My pick of the weekend? Liverpool visiting Manchester United at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel. Will the under-fire Roy Hodgson still be on Merseyside come Monday?

Click on the Live TV link at top right for a complete run-down of all games on TV and online and enjoy the weekend.

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Thursday Kicks: Ronaldinho, Beckham & more

i-0ebf7da4e409f582d503a8ba9f2c2eed-ronaldinhooutofhere.jpgThe boy from Brazil is out of Italy: Ronaldinho is heading home, he announced today at a news conference (AP Photo).

*Sounds like the Galaxy’s interest in Ronaldinho is pretty much done at least for the forseeable future:

SAO PAULO (AP) — Ronaldinho reached an agreement with AC Milan on Thursday to end his contract, clearing the way to return to Brazil soccer.

Three Brazilian clubs remain in contention to sign the 2004 and 2005 FIFA player of the year: Palmeiras, Flamengo and his former team, Gremio.

“We reached an agreement with Milan and now I’m free to continue my life here in Brazil,” Ronaldinho said.

The 30-year-old Ronaldinho wants to play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and hopes that a successful return to Brazilian soccer will help him reach that goal. After leaving Barcelona to join AC Milan in 2008, Ronaldinho struggled to establish himself at the Italian club.

Ronaldinho has been playing in Europe since he joined France’s Paris-Saint Germain in 2001, where he stayed for two years before making the move to Barcelona.

*Which brings us to the Galaxy’s David Beckham and his on off, maybe maybe not loan move back to England.

I was on the radio in England Monday insisting the Galaxy aren’t stupid enough to pull this little move yet again, insulting their own fans. But, frankly, I don’t really care that much anyway and this blog post perfectly sums up why.

*U.S. Soccer has appointed former U.S. Women’s National Team Coach April Heinrichs as technical director and UCLA women’s coach Jill Ellis as development director for the U.S. Women’s National Teams. It’s the first time U.S. Soccer has appointed full-time staffers to oversee the women’s youth national team program and the programs’ overall development.

Ellis has also coached the U.S. U-20 and U-21 women’s teams. She spent a dozen years at UCLA including leading the program to the NCAA Tournament final four on eight occasions.

From the U.S. Soccer press release:

Heinrichs will provide technical direction for women’s soccer in the United States as it relates to the U.S. Women’s National Teams with a focus on the Under-20s and younger, while overseeing the U.S. Under-20 and U.S. U-18 Women’s National Teams. Ellis will be taking the lead on interacting directly with key coaches within the youth club environment while also guiding and directing the U.S. U-17s, U-15s and U-14s.

Heinrichs and Ellis will work together to integrate all of the youth women’s and girls’ national teams, helping players and systems connect from one team to the next. They will also play major roles in leading the discussion on connecting the philosophies of the WNT head coach through all the youth national teams and especially to the massive amount of girls’ youth clubs in the United States. Ellis especially will focus on the grassroots within the youth club environment to convey the goals and philosophies of player development in order to help produce quality players for the national team level.

*UCLA responded to the appointment today by announcing assistant head coach B.J. Snow will replace Ellis in the top coaching job. Snow becomes the fourth head coach in program history, following Joy Fawcett (1993-97), Todd Saldana (1998) and Ellis (1999-2010).

Snow started at UCLA in 2006 as a volunteer assistant coach and won a paid position within a year.

*Lastly, The Blues Soccer Club, which includes the W-League Pali Blues and the recently launched Los Angeles Blues of USL Pro (which will play most of its games in the OC) will merge its youth club program with Corona United, the clubs announced today. The goal is to “establish a true pyramid structure for its teams from top to bottom across age groups.”

From the press release:

Corona United was established in 1992 and features anywhere from 21-25 teams each season and over 300 players from the Los Angeles area playing in the Coast Soccer League. The club is led by President & Director of Coaching Shayon Jalayer, who now has the title of Associate Head Coach & Director of Youth Operations, Blues Soccer Club. Jalayer is also an assistant with the Los Angeles Blues USL PRO team.

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The coaching philosophy of Chivas USA’s Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney (& more)

i-ab56bdaa42493df9270ba0a125860dab-COACH 2.jpg

Reasons to smile: Robin Fraser is back in Southern California and installed in his first head coaching job (Photo courtesy Chivas USA).

For an MLS team such as Chivas USA that saw in just one year the foundation carefully laid by former coaches Bob Bradley and Preki ripped asunder, stability is what’s needed more than anything else.

The club has made the first step in that direction by hiring former Galaxy defenders – and members of the Real Salt Lake coaching staff – Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney

The pair are long-time friends and colleagues – they coached a Southern California youth soccer team together – and are among the most measured and considered observers of the game around.

That was evident when Vanney retired from the Galaxy and gave a nuanced analysis of the league at his final press conference as a player.

And it was obvious Wednesday as the pair explained their relationship and thoughts on the game.

“I’m joining him (on the club’s coaching staff) because philosophically we’re right in line with each other in terms of player development, team development and philosophy and all those types of things,” Vanney said. “We’ve talked soccer and played soccer (for) many, many years.

“We’ve actually coached soccer together and done lots of things together so we kind of knew this opportunity would come – we just didn’t know when, we didn’t know where. So here we are with a huge opportunity in front of us. We will have to remold and reshape the team a little bit. I think there’s some good pieces, as Robin mentioned, to work with. It’s getting them in their right places and getting them to understand their opportunities and their roles.

“The foundation of every team has to be solid defending,” added Vanney when asked if a coaching staff of former defenders would emphasize defense over offense. “It’s much easier to prevent goals than it is to score goals, so you have to start by considering that, I think. And then it all kind of ties together. You want to defend with energy. You want to attack with a lot of mobility and transition quickly into defending and looking to win the ball back as quickly as possible.

Fraser displayed a similar capability to communicate his approach to the game:

“So many people don’t understand that the essence of creating a good team is creating a cohesive team – it’s to get everyone on the same page in terms of philosophy (and figuring out) what are we trying to do.

“The worse teams are when you have 11 different ideas going on, on the field. Because of that you’re porous. So the key is be cohesive in your thoughts, attacking and defending. … I’ve put into practice and seen that if you get a team on the same page, you get them thinking cohesively, you do all of these things right, results take care of themselves.”

Fraser, who leaves today for the annual MLS Combine in Florida, addressed how he will begin to rebuild the club:

“There are specific needs. When you get to be an elite team in this league you can be a little position specific, but when you’re rebuilding you are looking for great soccer players. You have ideas about positions you might like, but at the end of the day if there’s someone there who is a phenomenal player at (Chivas USA’s draft position number) four I think you take him regardless.

“At this point, honestly, everything is on the board, which is what I said to the coaching staff Monday. No scenario is ridiculous. Throw everything out, we’re going to look at everything. We want to explore every option. We want to be as thorough as possible in making decisions. So, is there a trade out there with a player better than we’re going to get (in the draft)? Possibly.”

One thing is for certain, Fraser sounded very happy to see his career come full circle and return to where it started in MLS – Southern California – with a former teammate with the inaugural Galaxy team back in 1996:

“It was funny. (Interim General Manager) Jose sat there and said I don’t know many faces in the crowd and I’m going, I sure do.

“It’s great. I’m excited. I really, really loved Park City, I had a great time there – I didn’t live in Salt Lake City – I lived in Park City. But as this opportunity started to unfold and the thought of coming back here – I have so many friends here – (former Galaxy defender) Dan Calichman came to the press conference today just as a sign of support and (former Galaxy forward) John Garvey called me this morning. I have a number of good friends and good relationships here and great memories.

“It’s interesting. I was part of the group that petitioned the community around here to allow this Home Depot Center to be built while I was still a Galaxy player and I was never able to play here – I was gone before Home Depot Center was built. So it’s interesting, life is funny and it’s a small world to find myself back here firmly being a part of the Home Depot Center.”

In other soccer news:

*U.S. Women’s National Team stalwart Kristine Lilly has finally retired.

*The annual U.S. Men’s national Team camp is under way in Carson

*The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan won Futbol de Primera’s Player of the Year award, making him the only seven time winner of the award given annually to the top U.S. national team player.

And yes, I was one of 200 participating journalists. And yes, I voted for Donovan. Michael Bradley finished second and Clint Dempsey third in the voting.

Personally, I voted for Tim Howard since he was one of the two main reasons (Donovan was the other) the U.S. advanced as far as it did in the World Cup.

*Long-time South bay resident and Seattle Sounders FC Coach Sigi Schmid will receive the Walt Chyzowych Memorial Fund Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011 on Jan. 15 in Baltimore at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention.

“From the early days of the US Soccer West Coast Coaching Schools, where I first met and worked with Walt Chyzowych, I was inspired by his leadership, love for the game and confidence in American coaches,” said Schmid, who has the most wins as a coach in MLS history. “I have endeavored to be a positive role model like Walter. Just as he gave freely of himself to this great sport, I have strived to do the same.”

“My hope is that the players and staff with whom I served will join me in sharing our knowledge, the stories, and the subtle nuances that help us all see the beauty of this game and what it can become in America,” he added. “I am most pleased, humbled and honored by this award.”

Chyzowych is a former U.S. national team coach.

Congratulations to Donovan and Schmid worthy winners and class acts.

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