Tuesday Kicks: Bored by Beckham & more

i-285808acc2349a2d950fad401565fa99-poshpants.jpgSeattle fans aren’t the only ones tired of David Beckham (AP Photo).

*Press box colleague Joseph D’Hippolito talks to members of Galaxy supporters groups about the Galaxy midfielder in this piece for The New York Times here. Not much of a surprise. What would more casual fans of the Galaxy say, I wonder?

*Speaking of karma, take that former Galaxy coach (I use the term loosely) Ruud Gullit. Loser here, loser there. And the quote in the story sounded familiar, too, to those of us who covered the Galaxy during the Dutchman’s ill-fated tenure.

*Among the items up for bid as MLS seeks to raise money for Japanese earthquake relief is a ball autographed by the 2010 Chivas USA squad. Bid here.

*Good riddance FIFA President Sepp Blatter?

PARIS (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter says his next term will be his last if he is re-elected in June.

The 75-year-old Blatter is seeking a fourth term, running against Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam. Blatter has led soccer’s governing body since 1998 and faces his first challenge since 2002 by Issa Hayatou.

“Those will be the last four years I aspire to,” Blatter said Tuesday at the UEFA Congress at the Grand Palais.

Of course, that depends on whether Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl doesn’t oust Blatter in his previously announced tongue in cheek campaign for the FIFA presidency.

*The Cal State Northridge men’s soccer program will host a free youth clinic at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Matador Soccer Field following a free 11 a.m. exhibition game with Loyola Marymount University. Full details here.

*Lastly, President Obama wisely engaged in a little soccer diplomacy while in Brazil. He needs to work on that first touch, though:

Related: The U.S. Export-Import Bank, the U.S. government’s lending agency, has announced it will establish a $1 billion line of credit for infrastructure work in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday’s column: Opening weekend suggests MLS finally coming of age

i-316bc183af6a49ab460e088db12b0ee7-vancouvermountains.jpgVancouver’s North Shore Mountains provide the apt backdrop for the Whitecaps’ MLS opener against Toronto last weekend (AP Photo).

Was that the most story-line filled opening weekend in MLS history? Have crowds ever been bigger or more enthusiastic? Does that tell us something more about MLS in general?

I argue that it does in today’s column.

Still, MLS is by no means perfect.

For instance, MLS officials have yet to be convinced holding MLS Cup at the home stadium of the regular season champion would work economically in every market: Were getting there.

We’re really getting focused in many ways on some of the traditions in the sport,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Sunday in Carson. “I can imagine it’s pretty soon where we’ll be moving away from a neutral site, but we’re not there yet: A. We’ve got some markets that we’d like to bring the cup to; and B. I’m not sure every market could handle it.”

Garber did confirm Sunday the league in in negotiations to have MLS Cup in Carson this year, however.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Monday Kicks: Chivas USA, Galaxy updates & more

*How many players will 0-1 Chivas USA be without for Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids at Home Depot Center and the following Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup game against the Timbers in Portland because of the full slate of internationals? Four.

Starting striker Alejandro Moreno is with Venezuela for its game against Jamaica; starting defender Zarek Valentin is with the U.S. Under-20 team; defender Michael Umaa will be with Costa Rica for matches against China, Argentina and Mexico; and Andrew Boyens will join New Zealand for its match against China.

Incidentally, this has to be frustrating for the likes of Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser who is trying to build a foundation and that’s never easy when pieces temporarily go missing.

Here’s what MLS Commish Don Garber said on the subject Sunday in Carson when asked about so many of the league’s best players being absent in just the league’s second week of play:

“I’d like to get to the point where we take off for evey FIFA date,” he said. “We just can’t do it and continue to have the number of games teams want to play.

“It’s frustrating, particularly when we had such a great opening weekend, that you might be missing some players. (But) we’re going to take off more this year than any non-World Cup year.”

Also on international duty: Chivas USA U-18 goalkeeper Diego Chacon who is at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship with Guatemala.

*Early and undefeated MLS leaders the Galaxy are on the road Saturday taking on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in a stadium that will be televised delayed at 10:30 p.m. on Prime. Their absentee: Landon Donovan, who will play for the U.S. against Argentina at 4 p.m. Saturday in New York. More than 59,000 tickets have been sold for the game, U.S. Soccer announced today.

Also missing will be newly-signed striker Adam Cristman who was placed on the disabled list Thursday the club belatedly disclosed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He isn’t eligible to return until April 17.

*Juninho’s cracker against Seattle is up for MLS Goal of the Week.

*Lastly, ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast live all 32 matches at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the network announced today.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

USMNT update

i-d45db0b73f0ee149446cdc88c12d761e-charlieceleb.jpgChampagne Charlie: Charlie Davies scored two goals for D.C. United against the Columbus Crew on the weekend to mark a successful and heart-warming return to top flight soccer (AP Photo).

*U.S. Soccer has announced that three players have withdrawn from the squad that will face Argentina and Paraguay.

That includes, most seriously, Bolton Wanders midfielder Stuart Holden who needed a dozen stitches to close a nasty gash in a leg after a violent challenge from Manchester United’s Jonny Evans He’s out for six months, yet another injury setback to a career that never seems to build up a head of steam before being temporarily derailed.

Also out: Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread a first time USMNT call-up who has nursed a back injury much of the season and will use the international break to rest; the same goes for defender Steve Cherundolo (back).

*That prompted Coach Bob Bradley to add Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj to what is now a 22-player roster for the two upcoming friendlies.

*If you missed USMNT striker Charlie Davies’ two goals for D.C. United on the weekend and his emotional reaction check out the YouTube video from ESPN.

I’ll have more on the opening weekend of MLS action in Tuesday’s column.

*Finally, the USMNT is seeking a new motto to be worn on its shirts in the game against Argentina and is soliciting ideas from fans via Twitter. Details here.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy-New England Revolution postgame

Galaxy 1 New England Revolution 1

i-11126395b24bad7579a6c76d685f6c02-juninhosgoal.jpgA shot too far: Grasping New England goalkeeper Matt Reis is unable to stop Juninho’s 39th minute blast that tied the game as Galaxy forward Chad Barrett looks on(AP Photos).

*Reporter Phil Collin has the game story.

*Bottom line for the Galaxy: Two valuable home points lost.

*Bottom line for New England: A valuable away point gained for a team with limited expectations given that three regulars were missing and the revamped team saw only three players begin this game who started last year’s corresponding fixture.

“We didn’t really give them a lot of places to go, particularly in the second half.” said Revs Coach Steve Nicol. “We obviously wanted to do a little more attacking than we did. But that will come. We got a bit of confidence from today.”

*Notable: Joseph’s goal was the second-fastest to open a season in New England history.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena wasn’t impressed with the quality of the defending on the play:

“We did a poor job. The ball came back to Perovic. I don’t think we put him under any kind of pressure. He plays the ball back in and we should have been pushing out of the goal. We are well aware of the player that is going to get at the end of crosses. It’s Joseph. There is no secret there. We just did a poor job on the entire play, a poor job giving the ball away maybe 30 seconds before that that resulted in a corner kick. We didn’t do well in the opening minutes of the game and it cost us three points.”

Highlights:

*Same old problems: Leonardo (critical mistakes), Mike Magee (ineffectual at forward), Chad Barrett (simply must learn how to finish).

*Showed promise: Paulo Cardozo, who came on as a 63rd minute sub. And Arena’s thought were pretty much along the same lines as mine:

“He still has a way to go. He is a good little player. I think that tactically he has to have a little bit better understanding of how to play with us, but certainly he is a player with a very good first touch. He is a good passer of the ball. We have to get him to expand his dimensions in terms of his passing and movement off the ball.”

*Notable: David Beckham had 27 crosses for the Galaxy tonight, 51% of the total crosses in the match.

Landon Donovan had this to say after the game:

Galaxy XI: Josh Saunders, Todd Dunivant, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Chris Birchall, David Beckham, Mike Magee (Paolo Cardozo 63), Chad Barrett (Juan Pablo Angel 63)

Revs XI: Matt Reis, Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Franco Coria, Darrius Barnes, Zak Boggs, Pat Phelan, Shalrie Joseph, Stephen McCarthy, Marko Perovic (Kenny Mansally 22), Zack Schilawski (Sainey Nyassi 74)

New England was missing Kevin Alston (L hamstring strain), Ousmane Dabo (R quad strain) and Didier Domi (R knee swelling).

i-9d1c8c11843a38b99c620af43b1de5e5-Angelmeasures.jpgNo Angel: I was this much onside Juan Pablo Angel was insisting after his goal in the second minute of stoppage time got called back. He was wrong.

Next for the Galaxy: at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. Saturday

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Live: New England Revolution at Galaxy from a soggy Home Depot Center

Final: Galaxy 1 New England Revolution 1

i-ba15a6c0f65e4d8a7acaa7cdde50db54-fullblooded.jpgFull-blooded: New England Revolution forward Zack Schilawski, middle, battles Los Angeles Galaxy defender Leonardo, left, and midfielder Chris Birchall for the ball during the first half (AP Photo).

It was pretty much all Galaxy for the last 20-25 minutes of the game, but with New England content on packing their half of the field and obviously happy with a point on the road, the increasingly waterlogged field made it difficult for the Galaxy to get any clear-cut chances.

The Galaxy thought they had the winner in the second minute of stoppage time. But replays showed Juan Pablo Angel was clearly offside as Beckham crossed the ball and despite the vocal disagreement from the ACB and Riot Squad it was a good decision even if three disallowed goals in one game is difficult to stomach.

More later (and the rain is now coming down in sheets as the game ends).

Updated

Juan Pablo Angel and Paolo Cardozo have come on in the 63rd minute to make their Galaxy debuts in place of Chad Barrett and Mike Magee. Angel got a huge roar from this larger than expected crowd; full credit to them for hanging around because the rain is still coming down and it’s getting colder.

Updated

The second spectacular Juninho goal in as many games has brought the Galaxy level in the 39th minute. A period of sustained Galaxy pressure should have resulted a routine clearance by Revs’ defender A.J. Soares, but he gave it straight to a lurking Juninho on the outside of the 18-yard box who had plenty of time to absolutely smash it into the net, giving Reis no chance. It’s the third straight regular season game that Juninho has scored.

Updated

The Galaxy just had a second goal disallowed within seven minutes. Offside was the call after Mike McGee put the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute from close range.

Updated

The Galaxy just had a 16th minute goal by Juninho called back because of an alleged foul on goalkeeper Matt Reis by Mike Magee. The referee is saying that’s why Reis dropped the Beckham cross before it fell in front of Juninho from just five yards out, I guess.

But a colleague who just caught the replay, says McGee didn’t touch him.

Updated

Two early goals in two days here in Carson.

An unmarked Joseph just opened the scoring after just 2:32 off a Marko Perovic corner. Leonardo was closest observed a colleague.

At least the Galaxy held out longer than Chivas USA did last night, which let in a goal at the 1:42 mark,

************************

If you are here in Carson wearing a free blue poncho, sitting in the torrential rain that’s coming down sideways, I salute you.

Because it’s blustery and chilly even in the covered press box, a steaming cup of coffee by my side.

I can’t remember worse weather on a Galaxy opening day although other old-timers say the rain was worse at MLS Cup in 1996 in Boston.

It looks like Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts have all volunteered to make the halftime pot of tea and will stay warm in the locker room. Juan Pablo Angel is on the bench.

It is in fact the exact same starting lineup for the Galaxy that won 1-0 in Seattle Tuesday; the only change on the bench is Angel for Migel Lopez.

Here’s Arena’s lineup: Saunders; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Leonardo, Dunivant; Birchall, Beckham, Juninho, Donovan; Barrett, Magee

Subs: Perk, Hejduk, Stephens, Kirovski, Cardozo, Angel, Jordan.

The Revolution have former Galaxy goalkeeper Matt Reis in between the posts; Shalrie Joseph is in midfield after missing the corresponding fixture last year.

Here’s the Revs’ XI:Matt Reis-Darrius Barnes, Franco Coria, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney-Zak Boggs, Shalrie Joseph, Stephen McCarthy, Pat Phelen-Marko Perovic, Zach Schilawski.

Just for fun, here’s the starting Galaxy lineup against the Revolution in last year’s Galaxy home opener: Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee, Dema Kovalenko, Juninho, Eddie Lewis, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan.

There are only three players on the field for New England who played in last year’s game against the Galaxy in Carson just so you get an idea of the changes the Revs have seen: Preston Burpo, Kevin Alston, Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Seth Sinovic, Sainey Naissi, Pat Phelan, Joseph Niouky, Chris Tierney, Kheli Dube, Zack Schilawski.

The game is live on Galavision.

Hit refresh for updates throughout the game.

“It’s 57 (degrees),” the reporter next to me just said, “Blank this blank.”

We’re not used to this weather in Southern California.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy to hand out 20,000 free rain ponchos for tonight’s game

i-213e6df3f9d4e20643b9c7a58b9cfd68-ponchos,jpg.jpg

So come on down for what should be a wild season opener against the New England Revolution at 5 p.m. at Home Depot Center in the South Bay.

Full disclosure: the rain has been absolutely torrential all day here in Torrance and I see no let up in sight.

And no, I don’t know where the Galaxy came up with thousands of ponchos in Southern California on short notice.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy video Sunday gameday: Revamped Revolution visit soggy Carson

Galaxy-New England Revolution, 5 p.m. at Home Depot Center on Prime and Galavision

And it will be cold and wet tonight in Carson with heavy rains and strong wind gusts. Bundle up.

*Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is expected to miss a second consecutive game through illness (through either flu or a sinus infection, I heard), reserve striker Adam Cristman is out ( left knee inflammation) as is central defender Gregg Berhalter (left knee sprain).

Striker Juan Pablo Angel and defender Omar Gonzalez may well miss their second games of the season, too, but we’ll see.

*Goalkeeper Josh Saunders, David Beckham and other Galaxy players preview the game here:

*Reporter Phil Collin has more here.

*Here’s more from a Boston perspective on the Revs’ season opener.

*Stats and game basics are here.

*New England players have their say here:

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Chivas USA-Sporting Kansas City Postgame

Chivas USA 2 Sporting Kansas City 3

Highlights:

Reporter Phil Collin has the game story.

It was a very different Chivas USA XI to the team that opened the season last year.

Here’s the 2010 lineup on opening day (a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids): Dan Kennedy, Mariano Trujillo, Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Umaa, Ante Jazic, Michael Lahoud (Jesus Padilla 64), Marcelo Saragosa, Sacha Kljestan, Jorge Flores (Justin Braun 46), Osael Romero, Maykel Galindo (Chukwudi Chijindu 75).

And here was this year’s lineup: Zach Thornton, Jimmy Conrad, Ante Jazic (Victor Estupian 86), Heath Pearce, Zarek Valentin, Nick LaBrocca, Francisco Mendoza (Blair Gavin 62), Ben Zemanski, Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Tristan Bowen 70), Alejandro Moreno

“The old guy survived,” said Jazic, 35, when told he was the only player in the starting XI for Chivas USA on opening day this year and last season. “I actually did not know that.”

Given the wholesale nature of the team’s transformation, no wonder Chivas USA Coach Robin Fraser had this comment:

“The mistakes you saw are very typical of a team that’s still jelling.

“We’re still in the process of finding our identity, finding out who we are,” he had said a little earlier. “To give up a goal in the first two minutes and the last two minutes (of the first half) was extremely disappointing because that points more to (a lack of) concentration than anything else and I think the players were extremely disappointed they were down two zero at the half to a team they felt like they had outplayed for a majority of the half.”

Notable: KC had 17 shots in the game, although only five were on target; Chivas USA had only nine shots, but four were on target.

Goal scoring looks to be a problem for Chivas USA, (a defender and a midfielder scored Saturday) however Fraser was adept at putting the best face on the obvious shortcoming:

“If you look at the way our team is, I don’t see us having a 20-goal scorer. I see us having a few seven, eight, nine goal goalscorers. …There is no clear-cut one person. There is no Taylor Twellman or Didier Drogba or anyone like that. I don’t think we have that player. It’s going to be goals by committee.”

I thought that Argentine forward Marcos Modaini was Chivas USA’s best attacking player, especially in the first half when he was a consistent attacking threat on the wing. Fraser was similarly impressed:

“He’s been getting better from the first day that he got here to be honest. He’s an intelligent, crafty, quick player who has been in a number of big games and I thought for his first MLS game he was completely unfazed.”

Sporting Kansas City Coach Peter Vermes had this to say about former CD Guadalajara striker Omar Bravo’s brace:

“I think the first 25 minutes he struggled and why I think he struggled was that he was so anxious being a DP, playing against Chivas USA. There were so many things he wanted to prove. And then he calmed down. And once he calmed down then all of a sudden he started playing his game.”

In sum, this was a game to build on for Chivas USA, despite the result.

We'll give the final word to the victor.

Tweeted Lawndale's Kei Kamara after the game:

“Now time for my Curry Goat like I promised. Ummm it taste GOOOD”

Next for Chivas USA: Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at Home Depot Center

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Live: Sporting Kansas City at Chivas USA at Home Depot Center

Final: Chivas USA 2 Sporting Kansas City 3

Updated

A frenetic end to the game will have encouraged Coach Robin Fraser who saw his team get better as the 90 minutes wore on.

Kansas City is now 10-4-2 all-time in season openers, the best record of any MLS team.

Tonight’s attendance: 18,122.

More later.

Updated

Chivas USA scored a second goal from a corner kick tonight in the 84th minute to give them a glimmer of hope.Davy Arnoud could only clear the corner as far as Nick LaBrocca on the 18-yard line, who volleyed it back into the box. Ben Zemanski beat the offside trap to score from five yards out.

Zach Thornton saved from point blank range in the 87th minute.

Updated

Omar Bravo has a second in the 74th minute after toe-poking a shot around Zach Thornton. He applied the finishing touch after goalkeeper Jimmy Nielson had hoofed the ball upfield and three headers later the ball made its way to Bravo. Lawndale’s Kei Kamara supplied the final header and got the assist.

Updated

It’s the 70th minute now and Jimmy Conrad, who has been a great leader in the middle of defense tonight, looks to be sucking air to me.

Tristan Bowen has come on for Marcos Mondaini.

Updated

Chivas USA pulled one back in the 56th minute from a Heath Pearce corner. The kick came off what appeared to be C.J. Sapong’s back and fell to Jimmy Conrad who scored from close range.

Updated

Chivas USA co-owner Jorge Vergara made a visit to the press box at halftime – I think that could be his first visit since the first Chivas USA season in 2005 – and said it was “possible” more players from CD Guadalajara could come to Chivas USA on loan in the summer.

He also called Fraser a ‘bright guy” and said Interim General Manager Jose Domene – someone who understands both U.S. and Mexican culture, which the front office lacked before – was doing a “good job.”

Chivas USA had just one shot on target in the first half, BTW.

Updated: Halftime

KC scored at either end of the first half, Omar Bravo opening his MLS account with a goal in the third minute of stoppage time after Zarek Valentin completely missed the ball and the former CD Guadalajara striker easily chipped Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton with his first shot on target.

The short story: two defensive errors, two goals conceded.

By the way, not only was the first KC goal the quickest the team has ever scored, it’s the fastest goal by a starter IN MLS history. Three other players scored in the second minute of their MLS career, but they all came on as subs.

Updated

We’re a half hour into the game, the “Super Moon” has put in an appearance to the east and Jimmy Conrad made the referee’s notebook after taking down Sapong on the outside of the box with a WWE-like move.

Chivas USA has settled down since the opening whistle, but haven’t made that much headway with a three-man front line.

On the other hand, we haven’t seen much of former CD Guadalajara striker Omar Bravo for KC either.

Marcos Mondaini has been Chivas USA’s best attacking threat so far and is posing problems for KC down the left wing.

Updated

That didn’t take long.

Chivas USA fell behind after just 1:45, Luke Sassano taking a free kick, Ben Zemanski utterly failing to clear the danger and rookie C.J. Sapong scoring for KC on his MLS debut.

Not a good sign for Goats fans.

**********************

The MLS season is up and running with a vengeance.

Former Chivas USA players exchanged goals as Maicon Santos scored for Toronto and Atiba Harris replied for Vancouver as the Whitecaps won the all-Canuck clash 4-2 in their MLS debut.

Thierry Henry missed a penalty for the Red Bulls, but Juan Aguedelo didn’t from the run of play as New York downed former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid and his Sounders 1-0 who start the season 0-2.

And Charlie Davies scored twice on his MLS debut as last season’s worst team beat one of last year’s best and D.C. United downed the Columbus Crew, 3-1.

So now we turn out attention to a rebranded Kansas City playing a revamped Chivas USA in Carson in the first of two games at the HDC on the opening weekend of MLS play.

Coach Robin Fraser has sent out what is on paper at least a 4-3-3 formation in his MLS coaching debut.

The only player in the starting lineup who started last year’s corresponding fixture: defender Ante Jazic.

Here’s Fraser’s starting XI: Zach Thornton-Heath Pearce, Jimmy Conrad, Zarek Valentin, Ante Jazic-Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, “Panchito” Mendoza-Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini, Alejandro Moreno.

Bench options include Mariano Trujillo, Blair Gavin, Michael Lahoud, Tristan Bowen and Victor Estupinan.

KC has Lawndale’s Kei kamara listed as a midfielder, incidentally. Teal Bunbury is on the bench.

I’ll up date this post as the game progresses.

The game is live on Prime.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email