Thursday Kicks: Chivas USA coaching changes & more

*In what is largely a cosmetic move from a title standpoint, Chivas USA has named Nick Theslof technical director.

Theslof joined the Chivas USA coaching staff when Martin Vasquez became head coach last year after both had served on Jrgen Klinsmann’s staff at Bayern Munich.

From the Chivas USA press release:

In his first season at Chivas USA, Theslof worked with the first team in scouting and performance evaluation, as well as coaching skills and technique, and will continue those roles in 2011 while also adding oversight and evaluation of player development, especially at the youth level. A scout for the German National Team in the 2006 World Cup, Theslof served as the coach and general manager for the Orange County Blue Star of the Premier Development League from 2002-2007.

Theslof has long been influential at the youth coaching level in Southern California, Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers of the Columbus Crew crediting him, for example, with playing a crucial role in his development as a player.

In addition, Jim Liston, founder of the Competitive Athlete Training Zone Sports Performance Center, which has worked with the likes of the Galaxy and Columbus Crew (as well as new Chivas USA signing Jimmy Conrad), was named strength and conditioning coach.

*U.S. Women’s National Team coach Pia Sundhage has named a 24-player preliminary roster for the 2011 Algarve Cup in Portugal. Details here.

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Major League Soccer releases 2011 schedule (finally) & more

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*Here’s the Galaxy schedule.

ESPN2 will broadcast six Galaxy games: against the Sounders March 15 in the MLS opener as previously announced; against the Red Bulls May 7; against Chivas USA May 21; against the Sounders July 4; against New York again Aug. 28; and Chivas USA once more Oct. 16.

Sweet July: Galaxy has three straight homes games (out of four) that month.

Can you say road trip? How about the Saturday, July 30 game in Vancouver against the Whitecaps followed by the Wednesday, Aug. 3 game against the Timbers in Portland?

Notable: The Galaxy has two of its last three games at home.

*Here’s the Chivas USA schedule.

Tough stretch: Chivas USA plays five straight road games between July 31 and Aug. 24.

Notable: Chivas USA finishes off the season with four straight games at Home Depot Center.

*Here’s the complete MLS schedule.

Lastly, Mexico won its first game Wednesday under Jose Manuel del la Torre.

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Wednesday Kicks: Beckham Tottenham move Spurs Galaxy alliance

I’m home feeling like hell warmed over (what is this weird grunge thing going around anyway?) but before I crawl into bed I wanted to note that:

*In a teleconference call AEG head cheese Tim Leiwieke apparently gave only to wire services, David Beckham’s Tottenham training stint foreshadows a closer relationship between the two clubs.

Frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it (remember the alleged partnership with Brazilian club Sao Paulo, if memory serves, that died with late GM Doug Hamilton?).

Nevertheless, I’m betting these guys would be happy to see their lads at the HDC. Better yet, Spurs can keep Becks and we’ll take Gareth Bale.

BTW, here’s an MLS schedule update from the Galaxy ahead of Thursday’s belated announcement of the entire league schedule via the club’s facebook page:

EXCLUSIVE INFO! The full 2011 schedule comes out tomorrow, but here’s a bit of exclusive info for our social media followers… the Galaxy will play on Saturday, May 7 vs New York at 8pm and on Monday, July 4 vs Seattle at 7:30pm, both nationally televised on ESPN2! Get a jump on the rest of the Galaxy fans and pick up a 3 Game Pack today, starting at only $69.

I’m assuming those are home games.

i-1173dba0128714f5e1789213f7dc2fdf-pospech.jpgSan Pedran Croats happy: Czech Republic’s Zdenek Pospech, left, is challenged by Croatia’s Niko Kranjcar during their international friendly soccer match in Pula, Croatia, Wednesday. Croatia won 4-2 (AP Photo).

More details from the San Pedro-based Croatian Soccer Report here.

In other televised international friendlies of note today, Brazil is kicking off the second half against France right now on ESPN2 (it’s scoreless), while Mexico faces Bosnia-Herzegovina at 4:30 p.m. on KFTR. Click on the Live TV Soccer link for all the games available online.

*Incidentally, D.C. United will play a noon Feb. 25 game against Chivas USA at the HDC, which could be a chance to see former U.S. international Charlie Davies in action in the South Bay, depending on how his MLS trial goes. A reminder that United will also play a 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 game against PDL team the Ventura County Fusion at Oxnard College.and has added a game against UCSB 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at Harder Stadium. D.C. are training at Oxnard College for 10 days beginning Feb. 16.

*Fox Soccer Channel’s much-hyped expanded coverage of Super Bowl Sunday Chelsea-Liverpool game was its most-watched EPL telecast ever.

The game attracted 418,000 average viewers and 285,000 households, both network-records.

From the FSC press release:

The game posted a .74 household coverage-area rating, second-best mark ever for the channel and just shy of the network record set 7/26/09 for the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final between USA-Mexico (.77). The network’s previous audience mark (403,000) came on Super Bowl Sunday last year (Chelsea vs. Arsenal), and prior household mark (267,000) was recorded during the ’09 Gold Cup Final.

G’night.

Updated

Chivas USA announced this afternoon they had signed the veteran likes of New Zealanders Simon Elliott and Andrew Boyens, both of whom had been on trial with the club.

“These signings give us depth and experience in the middle of the field,” said Coach Robin Fraser. “I have known Simon for a long time; he’ll be able to help us both on and off the field, and we saw in the World Cup last summer what he’s capable of. Andrew is a solid central defender with international experience who will be a good addition to our backline.”

Midfielder Elliott, 36, has played about 200 MLS games since 1999 when he was a teammate of Fraser with the Galaxy.

Defender Boyens, 27, has played with Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls.

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Tuesday Kicks: Galaxy tie Portland in scrimmage and more

*The score was 1-1 with newcomer Paulo Cardozo getting the 48th minute opening goal off his left foot and Temple City’s Bryan Jordan supplying the assist in the Galaxy’s first (official) scrimmage of the preseason.

The Timbers equalized three minutes later.

“Me & Paolo have been talking all week about 1-2′s,” Jordan Tweeted. “He was in a great position where I could slice it back & scored a great goal.”

Cardoza replaced the ejected Miguel Lopez (the team continued the game at full strength).

More importantly, Coach Bruce Arena was happy with the goal by the first round draft pick:

“He brings a lot of energy to the game. We’re pleased with him, he’s a good little player,” he said.

Arena sees plenty of room for improvement though:

“I think we learned, in this preseason, we have a long way to go,” he said.

The Galaxy played two different lineups in each half.

First half: Ricketts, DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Gonzalez, Hejduk, Lopez, Juninho, Stephens, Donovan, Angel, Barrett

Galaxy lineup (second half): Saunders, Thomas, Berhalter, Franklin, McCarty, Cardozo, Birchall, Kirovski, Jordan, Cristman, Magee

The Galaxy leave Sunday for a 10-day training camp in Arizona where the club will play three games against MLS opposition.

Incidentally, new Timbers signing Kenny Cooper was absent from today’s game; he will join Portland later in the week.

*In related Galaxy news, Donovan Ricketts and Omar Gonzalez will be at the Galaxy booth (from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.), while Landon Donovan will be at the Nike booth at the Soccer Nation Expo (at 1:00 p.m.) Saturday in Long Beach signing autographs.

Admission is free to the event, which has relocated from downtown LA this year. Details here.

*UCLA has signed four players to letters of intent: forward Reed McKenna (San Diego); goalkeeper Alex Padilla (Compton, California Academy of Mathematics & Science); midfielder/defender Nati Schnitman (Calabasas, Calabasas High) and goalkeeper Jake Tenzer (Pacific Palisades, Crossroads).

Schnitman and Padilla play with the Galaxy’s youth teams.

The program has every starter from the 2010 season returning.

“Our 2011 class is a relatively small class because of the fact that we only lose two players from our 2010 team,” said UCLA Coach Jorge Salcedo. “This, coupled with every starter from last year’s team returning for the upcoming season, made our needs very specific for the class we just signed.

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Beckham delays Galaxy return by two weeks

i-243fef787fb6543c93d025c085f8d32c-beckhamwaves.jpgLooks like the Beckham tail is wagging the Galaxy dog again:

LONDON (AP) — David Beckham, seen at right leaving Tottenham’s practice ground last month, has extended his training stint with the EPL club for another two weeks.

The former England captain was set to return to the United States this week but the Premier League side says he will stick around until Feb. 22.

The 35-year-old midfielder will begin preseason training with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Feb. 24 in preparation for the Major League Soccer season.

Tottenham’s attempt to sign Beckham on loan last month faltered. But manager Harry Redknapp said he could try again when his contract with the Galaxy expires in November.

The Galaxy open their season March 15 in Seattle meaning Beckham will have been with the club less than a month before their season begins.

Ah well, at least you can’t question his commitment (to England).

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Tuesday’s column: Ch-ch-ch-changes – Reconstructing Chivas USA

i-26366cbacafe2b0e07b156058fa6451e-conraddirects.jpgMan in the middle: Veteran central defender Jimmy Conrad was busy directing traffic for new club Chivas USA Monday at Home Depot Center in a scrimmage against the San Jose Earthquakes; he expects to do a lot of that this season as the club rebuilds its porous defense around the Temple City High product (Photographs by Staff Photographer Robert Casillas).

So much work, so little time. Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser must get the club ready for the MLS season that begins next month. Read more here.

It’s easier to stop goals than score them so perhaps it’s not surprising the former Galaxy defender is starting there, new signing Jimmy Conrad said. But is Chivas USA capable of being an attacking threat, too?

“We’re doing pretty good at playing team defense, because that’s what we’ve been focusing on. It’s just in transition – can we go the other way? Can we make that one pass (to start an attack)? We’re making the OK pass, but there’s always a better one. Can can we find that one? I don’t know if were finding that quick enough right now. “

Fraser had this to say about his squad’s biggest strength – and biggest weakness – as of today:

“I’d say their biggest strength right now is their commitment,” he said. “Their biggest weakness is probably tactical awareness based on what we’re asking them to do. That’s normal given the entirely new approach.”

i-d005dad1ddeecb445bc2fd61c09c9839-alymoreno.jpgRunning man: Alejandro Moreno’s vaunted work ethic will be put to the test with Chivas USA this season.

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Chivas USA beats Earthquakes in HDC scrimmage

Chivas USA 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0

i-859ea234ddaf159924937761f570ad60-bowenaction,jpg.jpgVan Nuys’ Tristan Bowen looked lively this afternoon playing out wide against the ‘Quakes, producing a couple of chances for Chivas USA that included a shot he hit just shot wide of the post. (Photo by Staff Photographer Robert Casillas).

It was the second preseason win for Chivas USA, who started haltingly, but looked more comfortable as the game wore on.

Former Galaxy forward Alan Gordon produced the game’s only goal, converting a Victor Estupian chip in the 55th minute from 13 yards with the Earthquakes defense generously giving him plenty of room. Newcomer Estupian, who has brashly predicted he will score 20-plus goals this year, also had a goal in Chivas USA’s first preseason game against the Fresno Fuego.

Notable: Veteran holding midfielder Simon Elliott, formerly of the Galaxy, was among the busiest – and impressive – players on the field early on, showing he’s still able to bottle up a midfield at age 36. Elliott is on trial with Chivas USA after playing back home in his native New Zealand post-World Cup.

Continuing the Kiwi theme, former New York Red Bull Andrew Boyens has joined Chivas USA’s camp and replaced Michael Umana in central defense during the scrimmage.

Paulo Nagamura showed he hasn’t lost his knack for finding the goal from outside the box, sending a stinging 25-yard half volley just wide.

Midfielder Blair Gavin played his first game since returning from a serious hamstring injury last year.

The game consisted of three 35-minute periods, incidentally.

Interested spectators at the game included USMNT Coach Bob Bradley and assistant Jesse Marsch as well as Galaxy coaches Bruce Arena and Curt Onalfo.

Chivas USA lineup: Zach Thornton (Sergio Arias 53), Zarek Valentin (Mariano Trujillo 53), Jimmy Conrad (Carlos Borja 53), Michael Umaa (Andrew Boyens 53), Ante Jazic (Jorge Flores 36) (Bryan De La Fuente 71), Paulo Nagamura (Gerson Mayn 53), Blair Gavin (Mike Lahoud 53), Simon Elliott (Ben Zemanski 36), Francisco Mendoza (Sal Zizzo 53) (Chris Cortez 85), Tristan Bowen (Alan Gordon 53), Alejandro Moreno (Victor Estupian 36) (Jess Padilla 71)

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Monday Kicks: Mourinho & more

*The Special One says he eventually wants to coach in MLS – and the Galaxy are one of his top two choices. Good luck with that commute from Malibu to the South Bay though, Jose.

*Former Chivas USA defender Jonny Bornstein got his first assist with Tigres, supplying the cross that led to their opening goal in a 2-0 win Sunday over Santos Laguna.

*Youth club LAFC, formerly associated with England’s Chelsea, cut ties over the weekend with the New York Cosmos. More details here.

Updated

The USWNT will play its first-ever game in England on April 2.

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Chivas USA camp update: Cuesta out; Elliott in?

Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser is taking a look at his former Galaxy teammate Simon Elliott, last seen playing (briefly) in his native New Zealand after being released in preseason last year by the San Jose Earthquakes.

He practiced with the team Sunday. Elliott, 36, the Galaxy MVP in 2000 (Fraser’s last season with the club) made more than 120 appearances with the Galaxy.

Elliott has looked like his pace has vanished the last few times I’ve seen him though.

Still, sounds a bit like Fraser is taking a leaf out of Bruce Arena’s book and surrounding himself with veteran, known quantities, doesn’t it?

Fraser also said Sunday that the club has released 21-year-old Colombian defender Yamith Cuesta, who played a marginal role in a bad defense last year.

“We decided to part ways with Yamith Cuesta,” Fraser said. “He was a wonderful young man. He worked so hard, but I just don’t think he was the right fit for what we were looking for.”

Also gone: supplemental draft pick Ernesto Carranza, a midfielder out of Sacramento State.

Fraser told me the club continues to scour the globe in search of some international help.

He expects needing the full six weeks left before the team’s first game to continue to shape the squad – and the starting XI opening day. Fraser said Sunday he’s still looking for quite a few starters.

I chatted with Alejandro Moreno and Jimmy Conrad after training and will have more from them a little later.

Tuesday’s column will take an in-depth look at how Chivas USA is taking shape.

Chivas USA plays a scrimmage 2 p.m. Monday at Home Depot Center and if Elliott plays he will see a lot of familiar faces. The opposition: the Earthquakes.

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