Sunday Super Kicks: New soccer fields in Torrance & more

*New as in new and improved rather than newly-created, but given that players from throughout Southern California come to play at North Torrance’s Columbia Park the five figure donation from two soccer organizations will benefit thousands of people. Full details here.

*The Galaxy scored seven goals in a scrimmage Friday afternoon.

*A contrite sounding MLS will finally get around to releasing the schedule for the season on Thursday.

“We recognize that the timing of [the schedule's] release has caused some inconvenience and we appreciate our fans’ continued patience,” the league said in a statement Friday.

The season opener – set for Tuesday, March 15, when the Galaxy visit Seattle – is just over a month away.

*The UCLA women’s program has unveiled a “monumental” recruiting class of 11 players including 10 with appearances for various U.S. national teams.

The stand-out: midfielder Samantha Mewis of Hanson, Mass., the national high school player of the year.

Locals include defender Ally Courtnall of Westlake Village (Oaks Christian High), defender Torey Markowitz of Mission Viejo (Tesoro High), forward Kylie McCarthy of Rancho Santa Fe (Torrey Pines High) and forward Courtney Proctor of Santa Clarita who was home schooled and plays for Slammers FC.

Complete details here.

*Finally, the Chelsea-Liverpool game is tied 0-0 at the half as I write this. How Liverpool managed to avoid taking the lead is um, super amazing. The game is on Fox Soccer Channel.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the Super Bowl weekend

*Need to see live MLS soccer after the long offseason?

You can (of a sort) when the expansion sorry, new, Portland Timbers play their first-ever scrimmage against the PDL Ventura County Fusion tonight in Ventura.

More from a Portland perspective is here.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Rd. Tickets are $12 adults, $6 youth at the gate.

The Fusion also plays D.C. United Feb. 19 at Oxnard College, a game that could take on more import if Charlie Davies is still with the club by then.

*In other big football games this weekend, I’m told there’s a huge one Sunday – Liverpool-Chelsea on Fox Soccer Channel (I’m also told there’s some sort of big pointyball football game on, too, on a different channel).

Anyway, in an effort to give Americans even more time sitting on their butts Sunday, FSC is expanding its coverage of the EPL game to four hours beginning at 7 a.m.

Hosted by Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, Warren Barton, Keith Costigan and Christian Miles in the NFL on Fox set, coverage includes an exclusive interview with new Liverpool owner John Henry (who also owns an American rounders team called the Boston Red Sox), while Wynalda will take part in a field goal / penalty kick contest with USC athletes.

There’s also a segment “comparing tailgating in the U.S. and England, and some of the traditional gameday food served in England.” That should be hilarious considering the little problem England has these days. (We Brits usually don’t mess around with the likes of Bud Lite).

Still, what will be more fun? Watching smug Mark Rogondino freeze his butt off in Texas or wondering whether $80 million man Fernando Torres will score against his old club at Stamford Bridge?

A bunch of other great games this weekend with the pick of the bunch from my perspective being – Burnley-Norwich at 2 p.m. 11 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Plus (delayed). Finally, it’s a good time to support the Canaries.

Incidentally, a little team named Manchester United who are playing reasonably well in the EPL this season are playing against lowly Wolves at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on FSC. Do you smell an upset brewing? Well, no, me neither, but you never know, I suppose.

Click at top right for all the rest of the games and enjoy the weekend.

Update

I stand corrected.

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Beckham to return to our Galaxy Wednesday*

*Post updated

i-d18b1e5150922278c0496bd99285a2f2-capellobecks.jpgThe joke’s on us: David Beckham and England manager Fabio Capello laugh it up last month at a game between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United (AP Photo).

That’s according to this report.

Nice of him to grace us with his presence.

Always interesting we hear the exact date from a source other than the Galaxy.

Prediction: Beckham returns to play for Tottenham next season once his Galaxy contract expires at the end of this year.

Updated Friday

Less than 24 hours after I made the above prediction, the Associated Press wrote this story:

LONDON (AP) — Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp still wants to sign David Beckham and is prepared to wait until the former England captain’s contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy expires in November.

Beckham trained with the north London club after Redknapp’s attempt to sign him on loan last month faltered, but the Spurs manager said he could try again — even though Beckham will be 36 by then.

“I could do, yeah,” Redknapp said. “I love him. I love the way he plays.”

Having failed in his attempt to play on loan in Europe for a third straight year, Beckham is set to return to the United States next week ahead of the Major League Soccer season.

Redknapp said the midfielder showed enough in training to suggest he could still compete in the Premier League, which he left in 2003 when he left Manchester United for Real Madrid.

“David has been fantastic,” Redknapp said. “He is a top-class bloke. He has been great around the place. You would love to have him at your club.

“He is so slim and so fit. He is a fanatical trainer. He works in the morning and the
afternoon in the gym. He just loves playing football.”

Tottenham is fifth in the Premier League after beating Blackburn 1-0 on Wednesday through Peter Crouch’s third-minute header from Rafael van der Vaart’s long pass.

Redknapp thinks his team could be scoring a lot more like that if he had Beckham in his squad to deliver his trademark crosses and free kicks.

“That ball that Van der Vaart hit for Crouchy, David hit about seven of them the other morning in training,” Redknapp said. “It was like he had radar and Crouchy kept heading them in the goal.

“I kept saying, ‘that’s what I have been asking you to do lads.’”

Beckham had been hoping that playing in the Premier League would boost his chances of being recalled to the England squad to add to his 115 appearances.

The Galaxy, however, was reluctant to allow Beckham to go to Europe for a third consecutive MLS offseason after he damaged his Achilles’ tendon at AC Milan last year and was sidelined for six months.

“He’s still keen to keep playing, that’s for sure,” Redknapp said. “I’m sure he’s got a decent enough place in Los Angeles but he’s over here wanting to keep playing.

“Most footballers would rather be in Los Angeles.”

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Galaxy camp notebook

Reporter Phil Collin filed this update for today’s newspaper.

Phil also offered up these bonus quotes

Here’s LD on the quality of this year’s new pickups:

“The benefit of having guys like Chad (Barrett) and Adam (Cristman) and Juan Pablo (Angel) and now Miguel (Lopez) is you have guys who can pull off plays on their own so you don’t have to depend on David (Beckham) making a killer pass or me pulling off a play. We have guys who can score goals on their own and that’s going to help us a lot.”

Here’s Coach Bruce Arena on the role of now player-coach Gregg Berhalter:

“It doesn’t change (him) as a player. The coaching end of it we’re going to wean him into it a little bit.

“He’s very eager, he wants to do everything. I think he wants to build a new stadium as well. He’s doing it all, he’s cleaning the bathrooms, he wants to do everything, he thinks he can do everything.

“We’re going to ask him to primarily be a player but obviously he’s contributing on the field in a coaching capacity as well. We want to position him post-playing career. He’s a guy that wants to coach and he’s getting a taste of it and it’s something that suits him well.”

Lastly, here’s Arena continuing to rationalize David Beckham’s absence in camp and presence in England:

“One thing he needed, he needed a break. He worked real hard just to get back on the field last year coming off the Achilles’ injury and I think he needed some time away from the game. He also needed a slow build-up into the season and I think he’s getting that.”

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Galaxy Camp update: JPA speaks & more

I headed out to the first media availability of the preseason for new Galaxy signing Pablo Angel today in Carson.

Reporter Phil Collin will have more in Wednesday’s newspaper, by the way.

JPA had the usual predictable things to say (happy to be here, blah, blah), but it’s clear that Coach Bruce Arena is the main reason he’s with the Galaxy:

“He was the reason I am in MLS and I’m happy to be reunited with him,” Angel said, adding that the franchise is considered the best in the league. “So, I’m happy to be here with a coach I know.”

Landon Donovan sounded similarly happy to have a soccer savvy player join the club:

“You can always tell early on if a player understands the game or not – and he does.”

Incidentally, Donovan said that while this Galaxy team arguably has the potential to be the best ever, it could also be the strongest, deepest team in the history of MLS.

Quite a statement from someone not given to hyperbole.

And LD had the quote of the day, too, referring to perhaps the longest offseason of his pro career with no loan deals in England or USMNT camps:

“It almost feels like you’re starting from scratch – like you’ve never kicked a ball before.”

And let’s hope that was a little hyperbole.

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Chivas USA Camp Update: Goats beat Fuego in first scrimmage of preseason

i-ae90da4a8c70292561d161cdbd8660cd-chivasfuegosmall.jpgTractor boys: Chivas USA go all agricultural today in the first preseason scrimmage in rural Central California – note the piece of farm equipment in the background (Photo courtesy Gabe Dahl / Chivas USA).

Chivas USA won 2-0 on goals from Alan Gordon and draft pick Victor Estupian over PDL team Fresno Fuego today in a game played just outside Paso Robles.

Gordon scored in the 31st minute from a header off a cross supplied by his former Galaxy teammate Tristan Bowen. Estupian’s second similarly resulted from a header off a cross from defender Carlos Borja in the 80th minute.

Chivas USA fielded different teams in each half.

The lineups:

Chivas USA (First Half) – Sergio Arias, Mariano Trujillo, Zarek Valentin, Jimmy Conrad, Ante Jazic, Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski, Gerson Mayen (Jess Padilla 31), Francisco Mendoza, Alan Gordon, Tristan Bowen

Chivas USA (Second Half) – Kevin Guppy, Carlos Borja, Michael Umaa, Yamith Cuesta, Jorge Flores (Bryan de la Fuente 70), Sal Zizzo, Michael Lahoud, Ernesto Carranza, Cesar Zamora, Jess Padilla (Victor Estupian 63), Alejandro Moreno

Chivas USA plays the San Jose Earthquakes in a 2 p.m. scrimmage Monday at Home Depot Center.

Updated

Incidentally, former Chivas USA striker Maykel Galindo turned up Monday at the FC Dallas preseason training camp.

Sounds like he wishes he was still in Southern California – “I’m in Dallas in preseason…with much snow and very cold,” he wrote on Facebook.

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Tuesday’s Column: The Arena philosophy rebuilds the Galaxy

i-10472e6277291d7a9ed5631ae3caef0c-arena1stday.jpgFirst day of school: Newcomer Dustin McCarty practices Monday under the watchful eye of Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena as the team hit the fields for the first time this preseason (Photo by Brad Graverson, staff photographer).

Coach Bruce Arena has capitalized fully on his years of experience in MLS and with the U.S. Men’s National Team to rebuild the Galaxy.

For more, read the column here.

He reminds me of Tony Waddington (how many of you get that reference?)

Another interesting thing about the Galaxy squad Arena has built is its large representation from UCLA (and from markedly different eras): Brian Perk, Michael Stephens, Chad Barrett, and Frankie Hejduk are all from UCLA (as was the just retired Eddie Lewis, of course).

“It’s never bad to have local kids,” Arena said. “It’s a real plus. We want to be the team every aspiring player growing up in Southern California wants to play for. It’s always good to see local kids having success with the Galaxy.”

Arena also deflected criticism away from David Beckham when I asked why it was better for him (apparently) – to be training in England with Tottenham Hotspur rather than with the Galaxy:

“I wanted to give him the opportunity to be in England in case there was any possibility of him being part of their national team in their next friendly,” he said. “It’s my decision – any criticism is on me, not David.”

Hmmm.

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Tuesday Kicks: MLS to hold All-Star Game in NY & more

*But MLS failed to announce the expected opponent on July 27 – Barcelona. Observers are noting the Italian (doh!) Spanish club has room in its schedule.

Not quite the “major” news promised this morning.

Tweeted Alexi Lalas:

2011 MLS All-Star game at Red Bull Arena…and the word “major” feels it has been taken advantage of yet again.

Still, in my book the lame announcement perfectly matches the lame MLS All-Star game that clogs up the calendar and means absolutely nothing.

Details here.

MLS holds a conference call later today where Commish Don Garber, the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and New York’s Thierry Henry will talk gush about, um, I’m not sure what.

Updated (via AP)

Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry said on the conference call he hopes the All-Star game opponent is either Barcelona or Arsenal, his two previous clubs.

Barcelona last month announced a preseason U.S. tour that includes games against
Manchester United at Landover, Maryland. (July 30), AC Milan in Miami (Aug. 3) and Mexico’s America at Arlington, Texas (Aug. 6).

“If it’s Arsenal or Barcelona, it’s going to be pretty special if I’m involved,” Henry said.
“Arsenal and Barcelona, not only I played there, but I think they are the two teams that play the best football right now in the world.”

*ESPN announced today it has acquired the rights to the 2012 and 2016 European Championships. Details here.

*USWNT Coach Pia Sundhage has announced a large squad of 32 players for a camp in Florida starting Thursday.

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