Wednesday Galaxy Gameday & more

The 6-2-5 Galaxy, who have played more games than any other team in MLS, continue their break-neck pace with their third Wednesday game – but first at home – of the season tonight against the Houston Dynamo (3-3-5) at Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m. live on Prime).

The Dynamo are winless in their last four games and have yet to win on their travels so far this season, while the David Beckham-less Galaxy have not lost in their last four games.

Here’s more from a Houston perspective.

*In other soccer news:

*Chivas USA will apparently play Colombia June 15 in Tijuana, according to one media report.

*The FIFA ethics inquiry involving CONCACAF chief Jack Warner is about to get under way.

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Is this the right time for a Galaxy happy hour?

That’s what the team is hosting Wednesday before the game against the Houston Dynamo at Home Depot Center.

There’s $2 beer, $2 wine and $1 peanuts and popcorn at SoccerFest and there are also $5 beers at the Pollo Campero stand inside the stadium, too, for those who want to keep the cheap booze flowing.

MLS is happily largely devoid of the inebriated hooligan element seen elsewhere around the world (and at other sports in the U.S., too), but given recent tragic events locally tied in part to excessive alcohol consumption you can’t help but wonder whether this is the right time for this sort of promotion.

Here’s more on the issue from Associated Press National Writer Eddie Pells:

It was “College Night” at the Brewers game and season ticket holder Aaron Gross knew what that meant.

Cheap tickets for sale. Cheap beer at the tailgate parties. Plenty of booze-fueled trash talk inside the stadium. And, eventually, some alcohol-induced insults leading to suds-soaked fisticuffs.

“I have no problem with heckling people, that’s part of the game. But they were crossing
lines,” said Gross, who found himself — along with his wife — caught near a brawl on a night when college students got in for half price. “It got unpleasant to the point where we left the game. The whole section was completely drunk and obnoxious. We left in the fourth inning, just said, ‘That’s enough.’”

At eight stadiums across the country — Miller Park in Milwaukee, Coors Field in Denver, Busch Stadium in St. Louis among them — fans told The Associated Press similar stories in recent weeks, reinforcing a fact of life at American stadiums: Alcohol is as big a part of going to a baseball game as peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

And while much of the boorish, and even criminal, behavior at the ballpark involves alcohol, expect the suds to keep on flowing. The business partnership between beer and baseball is as intertwined as the bond between pitcher and catcher.

From the 1970s-era debacles of 10-cent Beer Night in Cleveland and Disco Demolition Night in Chicago to this season’s most disturbing moment — the coma-inducing attack on a Giants fan at Dodgers Stadium — there’s an alcohol-related slant to many incidents involving unruly fans at baseball parks.

Last weekend, authorities arrested 31-year-old Giovanni Ramirez, the man they say was the main aggressor in the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow in the parking lot at Dodgers Stadium following the season opener. In the days after the beating, Los Angeles canceled six half-price beer nights scheduled for 2011. Witnesses said the people who attacked Stow were apparently drunk.

“When at least a certain portion of folks go to venues, they’re there to have a good time and part of the good time is they’re going to have a few cocktails before they go and a few more when they’re in the stadium,” said Robert Pandina, the director of the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University. “What’s alarming is the increased risk, because you have so many people in the stadium who are becoming intoxicated. A lot of them are young men. It becomes kind of a tinderbox for aggression.”

At the University of Minnesota, researchers became interested in the topic of drunkenness at games after seeing a steady stream of small news items involving assaults, car accidents and rowdy behavior by drunken fans. Among the findings from the school’s studies since 2005:

*Alcohol laws and guidelines at stadiums are poorly enforced: Researchers said 74
percent of people pretending to be drunk were served and they were three times more likely to buy it from a vendor working the stands than a concession booth.

*Thousands of fans leaving games and getting into their cars are drunk: Researchers
took breathalyzer tests of 362 fans at 13 baseball and three NFL games and found 8 percent of them — 1 in 12 — were legally drunk, while 40 percent of them had at least something to drink. That 8 percent, when multiplied by the thosands of people attending games nationwide, leads to a staggering number.

“I hear from people who’d been going to games their entire life, they say, ‘I don’t go to
games anymore,’” said Darin Erickson, who worked on the University of Minnesota studies. “They tell stories about people swearing blatantly, throwing things and fights. It’s not always actual assaults, but some of the people I talk to just aren’t comfortable with the environment. And it seems that they’re often saying it’s attributable to general
drunkenness.”

Coors Field usher Travis Wilson saw a lot of that sort of behavior play out last season from his perch above centerfield, looking up into the rowdy Rockpile, where the tickets cost only $4 and there’s plenty of extra cash for fans to spend on the ballpark’s namesake beer.

“Pretty common,” said Wilson, who works the Colorado Rockies games in Denver, when asked how often fights broke out in the cheap seats. “Sometimes, it depends on the rivalry in town, if it’s a team we have a history with. It doesn’t always have to do with alcohol, but a lot of times, it’s a contributing factor.”

Wilson said he never kept count of how many people got dragged off by police, some of them to the holding cells at the stadium. But, he said, it was hardly a rare event.

AP reporters asked eight teams, including Colorado, for arrest statistics at their ballparks
and none of the teams provided answers. All, however, said they were working aggressively to curb alcohol-related problems in the stands.

At Busch Stadium, the Cardinals led all Major League teams in fan participation in the
Budweiser Good Sport designated-driver program, with about 600 fans per game volunteering to be a designated driver, according to a team spokesman.

Like ushers at most ballparks, Wilson had a clear set of rules and protocols for how to handle rowdy behavior. Among the tools at his disposal: A notecard-sized cheat sheet called “House Rules for Guests” that is provided to fans who look like they’re reaching their limits.

Almost all stadiums have a number fans can text if they see problems. In most cases, fans reported that security was good about responding to the texts within minutes.

“The biggest thing is training the staff to be proactive,” Rockies senior director of guest
services Steve Burke said. “To do something about (an incident) before it’s an issue. We react to any complaint or concern.”

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of labor relations, said
baseball won’t release the arrest numbers from the stadiums but it monitors the situation on “an ongoing basis.”

“We do give advice in that area,” Manfred said. “It is a club-by-club” decision on how to
handle alcohol policies.

All 30 teams are listed as coalition members of a group called Techniques for Effective
Alcohol Management, a nonprofit that provides guidelines for serving alcohol at sporting
venues.

Despite participation in that program, along with MLB’s constant monitoring, plenty of people slip through the cracks.

Another study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that 80 percent of the 49 local law-enforcement agencies that participated in a survey received either occasional or frequent complaints about fights either inside or outside stadiums and arenas they policed (for hockey, football, basketball and baseball). The study found that, in general, “alcohol enforcement practices (at stadiums and arenas) are somewhat limited and alcohol-related complaints are fairly common.”

Yet despite the message that drinking leads to problems, there’s no push to stop serving fans. Turning off the tap could hurt key sponsors.

Coors paid $15 million for naming rights to the Denver stadium. Miller’s deal in Milwaukee
averages about $2.1 million a year. One of the earliest examples of naming stadiums after companies came in the 1960s in St. Louis when Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals. Meanwhile, alcohol companies spend millions more on American sports in dozens of different ways. Anheuser-Busch is the official beer sponsor of Major League Baseball. Captain Morgan is an official sponsor of MLB.com. There’s a huge ad in centerfield at Coors Field for Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. The list goes on.

“Bottom line, there’s far too much sponsorship of teams by alcohol companies,” said Bruce Livingston of the Marin Institute, a nonprofit group that keeps watch on the industry. “Alcohol doesn’t mesh at these places. But they get sponsorships and money from the alcohol companies and once you take the money, you have to be very friendly toward serving the product. The cause is money. It’s not about a need for people to be inebriated.”

While Livingston acknowledges that U.S. sports, with their deep connections to the alcohol industry, haven’t been plagued with the hooliganism that has been a problem in soccer abroad, he still finds the pervasiveness of alcohol at games disturbing (Chivas USA signed a jersey sponsorship deal with Mexican beer Corona this year).

“In America, we far too easily think that going to the sports game means you have to get
drunk,” he said.

Coors Field and Miller Park are among the parks that offer a way to steer clear of the
alcohol, with “family friendly,” non-drinking sections. Busch Stadium and Wrigley Field are
among those that don’t.

“We bring our kids to a lot of games,” said Cardinals fan Corey Dickerson. “I’ve had to
complain a few times for people using foul language and being obnoxious and rude and spilling beer and just being generally boorish.”

But a fan in a different section of the same stadium, Mike Quinton, had a different take.

“You get the loud obnoxious guy every once in a while, but nobody really threatening or
anything like that,” he said.

One trend among the fans interviewed for this story: Football games are even worse than
baseball games.

“I would not take my children to a Bengals game but I bring them here about 15 times a year,” Reds fan Tony Meyer said.

In places like Milwaukee, however, tailgating is part of going to the game, regardless of the sport. All you have to do is look at the name of the team — the Brewers.

“You see the parking lot filled with tailgaters, cans and cans of Natural light,” said Gross,
the Brewers season-ticket holder. “They’re lit up before the even get into the stadium.
Wisconsin has a pretty big drinking culture. We do like to drink. I don’t think anyone here
would accept a dry stadium.”

AP Sports Writers Ron Blum in New York, Pat Graham in Denver, Colin Fly in Milwaukee, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Rick Gano in Chicago, R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis, Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis, Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

What do you think? Will you attend the Galaxy’s “happy hour” before the game Wednesday?

And if Galaxy or Anschutz Entertainment Group officials are reading this feel free to leave a comment or shoot off an e-mail to me so I can include management’s perspective, too.

I’m especially curious to learn what security precautions are in place for the event in the wake of the incident at Dodger Stadium.

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Galaxy’s Beckham “rests” by going full 90 for United today

i-8a248197413ba57928eb9eb5b68a5138-beckhamjuventus.jpgSeeing red: Beckham was back in a Manchester United shirt today at Old Trafford (AP Photo).

But don’t worry, Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena is no doubt confident David Beckham will be all rested up for the game Saturday against the New England Revolution in Boston.

United biggest stars played a lot fewer minutes, but then they have a real game Saturday against Barcelona, not one of them MLS thingies few take seriously (including, apparently, the Galaxy).

And after all this wasn’t a meaningless game, right? At least not for Becks and his best buddy Gary Neville:

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — To chants of “Fergie sign him up,” David Beckham made a one-off return to the Manchester United team on Tuesday to mark the end of best friend Gary Neville’s career.

The Galaxy gave their star midfielder permission to miss the Major League Soccer match against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday to return to Old Trafford.

The former England captain reprised his partnership on the right flank with defender Neville that worked so well for club and country, although United lost 2-1 to Juventus.

They both received the loudest cheers at Old Trafford, where in one late moment of drama Beckham helped to restrain a fan who invaded the pitch.

Manuel Giandonato and Simone Pepe scored for the Serie A side after Wayne Rooney’s opener for the Premier League champions, who didn’t lose at home all season.

Beckham left Alex Ferguson’s United in 2003 to join Real Madrid, having graduated with Neville into the first team after winning the 1992 FA Youth Cup.

Against a Juventus XI, Beckham was also reunited with other members of the so-called “Fergie’s Fledglings,” including Ryan Giggs.

Giggs, like striker Wayne Rooney, played 30 minutes despite being set to start in the
Champions League final against Barcelona on Saturday.

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Tuesday’s column: Bradley’s standard certainly not Gold

i-5b63224cc5fcfe6cd1cbc64e09c51f84-adureturns.jpgIs Freddy ready this time? One-time prodigy Freddy Adu returns to the national team for the Gold Cup ((AFP/Getty Images).

The pool of international class American players is small.

The nation’s best players often get lost in the mix at foreign clubs and their skills stagnate to the detriment of the national team.

Bob Bradley’s job at the helm of the national team is a constant and delicate compromise.

And yet, there’s a nagging doubt that Bradley does himself no favors.

If his best quality is persevering with talented players who have yet to consistently demonstrate them, his worst is persisting with players of limited skills who consistently play their part in giving up early goals, make elementary errors or are just not good enough.

Now there’s a suspicion that some players may be turning down the opportunity to play for Bradley, sensing perhaps a lack of vision and leadership both on the field and off it.

And it appears Bradley is running out of ideas on how to maximize his limited resources.

My take on the Gold Cup roster and the state of the national team under Bradley is here.

What say you?

Noted: Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was called into Jamaica’s Gold Cup squad.

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Rogers, Donovan, Edu, Kljestan, Bornstein head U.S. roster for Spain game, Gold Cup

Finally and just minutes before a similarly delayed Bob Bradley conference call.

Here’s the Southern California-laden squad.

Looks like Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers has played his way back into Bradley’s plans.

And where’s defender Timmy Chandler after his impressive USMNT debut?

Awaiting start of conference call.

*Bradley on the absence of goalkeeper Brad Guzan:

“Brad (Guzan) made a personal decision and his schedule didn’t allow him to be available for this Gold Cup.”

*Bradley on the absence of defender Timmy Chandler:

“We felt it didn’t make sense at this time for him. He’s carried a few little injuries of late. He’s told us that physically and mentally this (first real season playing at this level) has been a hard one. When you added everything up the time wasn’t right (for him) for this Gold Cup.”

*Bradley on the inclusion of Rogers:

“We all know Robbie has a lot of talent,” he said citing his “energy and mobility” after missing the January USMNT camp because of knee surgery. “Now we think this is a good time to see if we can push it a little further.”

*Bradley agreed with a reporter who contended the inclusion of Freddy Adu was the biggest surprise of the players selected:

“Freddy had fallen out of the scene a little bit and typically playing in the second division in Turkey doesn’t bring you back in … He’s a player we all know that at different times has shown some soccer abilities that are special. He hasn’t always been able to make them count at different situations, at different levels.”

*Another player Bradley said begged off participating in the tournament for one reason or another: defender Zak Whitbread (Norwich City).

I’ll have more on the Gold Cup and Bradley in Tuesday’s column.

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Weekend rewind: Ridiculous Ruiz goal & more

While we await the delayed U.S. Gold Cup squad announcement there’s time to note that;

*MLS now has serious competition in this part of the world – on Saturday Tijuana made history. Can you say road trip?

*Former Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz may have forced the cancellation of not only the MLS Goal of the Week award, but the MLS Goal of the Season award, too. Even though he scored 50-plus Galaxy goals this may be his best ever:

What’s more, the Union now lead the Eastern Conference.

*And check out how the Galaxy’s next opponent – the Houston Dynamo, which meets LA at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Home Depot Center – performed on the weekend:

*Finally, your early reminder: Machester United and Barcelona play at 11 a.m. Saturday in the UEFA European Champions League final from Wembley on Fox.

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Chivas USA-Galaxy SuperClasico Post-game

Chivas USA 0 Galaxy 1

i-26eb717a31b53aa6e8c94d42880c21c1-elliottfallshard.jpgFall guy: Simon Elliott and Chivas USA fell hard to David Beckham and the Galaxy Saturday in Carson (AP Photo).

Game story

The loss wasn’t the end of the world for Chivas USA, but Coach Robin Fraser appeared to take the home defeat to their closest rivals to heart.

This wasn’t a game that told him how far his team had come; this was a game his team told him how far they have to go.

Quotable:

“There’s really not much to say,” Fraser said. “We didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked to.

“We need to possess the ball better and not turn it over as much. A fair amount of their opportunities in the first half came off our turnovers. … Our lack of ability to possess was our undoing.”

Still, Chivas is getting closer to the Galaxy. Encouragement came from an unlikely source:

“This is as good a game as they’ve given us over the past three years,” said Landon Donovan.

Yet, neither team was at its best, as both coaches acknowledged.

Notable: In the second half Chivas had one shot on goal, the Galaxy none.

Meanwhile, David Beckham is off to England to play for his best friend in a meaningless game. He goes with Arena’s blessing. But not columnist Jill Painter’s.

“I know it looks like he’s going off to do his own thing, but nobody in this locker room has any issue with it,” Donovan said.

Even if plenty outside of it do.

Highlights:

Next for the Galaxy: at home to Houston Wednesday.

Next for Chivas USA: at the Columbus Crew Saturday.

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Live SuperClasico: Galaxy (5-2-5) at Chivas USA (3-3-3) from Home Depot Center

Final: Chivas USA 0 Galaxy 1

Here’s the way to look at this game – the other three late MLS games looked to be heading to 0-0 ties.

So in comparison, while this was no Clasico, let alone a SuperClasico, we did have goal. That gives the Galaxy a 6-2-6 record and a four-game undefeated streak and allows them to retain their Western Conference lead.

A workmanlike if relatively unspectacular showing from both teams.

Chivas USA have improved under Robin Fraser, they just haven’t improved enough – yet.

More later.

Updated

Chivas USA are pressing forward in search of an equalizer with 10 minutes left in regulation time before an announced capacity crowd of 27,000 as the Galaxy cede ground to fall back and preserve the one-goal lead on the “road.”

Updated

Miguel Lopez has replaced a mostly disappointing Chad Barrett up front for the Galaxy in the 71st minute.

Updated

A Sean Franklin headed clearance in the 65th minute only went so far as Ben Zemanski on the 18-yard line and his shot hit the post. That’s the closest Chivas USA has come to a goal.

Seconds after the shot Chris Cortez replaced Justin Braun up front for Chivas USA.

Updated

Midfielder Chris Birchall is on for Mike Magee for the Galaxy in the 64th minute.

Updated

Panchito Mendoza has come on for Jorge Flores in the 58th minute. Let’s see if his dribbling style offers Chivas USA a little more in the way of penetration. Again, Chivas USA are finding it difficult to pierce the Galaxy’s midfield let alone get behind their back four.

Juninho shot wide for the Galaxy in the 59th minute.

Updated

Chad Barrett set up on a breakaway by Juan Pablo Angel shot wide in the 49th minute with only the goalkeeper to beat. He knows he should have done better.

Updated

Not a bad game.

The Galaxy are firmly in control of this one, however, with Chivas USA not managing to make much headway against the opposing midfield and finding scoring chances few and far between.

Chivas USA co-owner Jorge Vergara was in the press box at half time to talk to the media. The big news: Chivas USA are staying in LA. Beyond that, not much was said.

Updated

Chad Barrett has put the Galaxy ahead in the 26th minute, his glancing header from seven yards out connecting with a David Beckham free kick from just outside the box. There was no Chivas USA defender within three yards of him. That’s the sixth assist of the season for Beckham; he’s now tied for the MLS lead in assists.

Updated

Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno beat Omar Gonzalez to a long cross in the 23rd minute, but the former Galaxy striker’s shot from six yards out to the far post was cut out by Donovan Ricketts.

Updated

The best Galaxy chance of the night so far ended with Chad Barrett setting up a rather timid Juan Pablo Angel shot in the 18th minute. Few clear cut chances for either team so far.

Updated

Ten minutes gone and the Galaxy are stroking the ball around the field, maintaining possession well in the early stages of the game.

***********************************
SuperClassico weather here in Carson, so let’s hope for a game to match.

Fans are filtering into the grass berm; perhaps a larger crowd is in store than the fewer than 20,000 that took in the corresponding fixture last season.

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts returns from illness for the Galaxy this evening, while Juan Pablo Angel replaces Miguel Lopez (who is on the bench) up front in the only two changes for Coach Bruce Arena from the team that destroyed Sporting Kansas City 4-1 last weekend.

Galaxy XI: Donovan Ricketts-Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant,-Landon Donovan, Mike Magee, Juninho, David Beckham-Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett.

There’s just one change for Chivas USA from the team that beat New York on the road last weekend, defender Andrew Boyens returning from suspension to replace Michael Lahoud, who like Jimmy Conrad is absent because of concussion.

Chivas USA XI: Dan Kennedy-Zarek Valentin, Andrew Boyens, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic-Ben Zemanski, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca,Jorge Flores,-Justin Braun, Alejandro Moreno.

The game is live on ESPN2.

Refresh this page for updates.

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SuperClasico Saturday Gameday: Chivas USA-Galaxy

7 p.m. Home Depot Center (live ESPN2)

To get you primed for this year’s game, relive past derby games between the two teams:

*Reporter Phil Collin has the game preview on this year’s version of the rivalry between the league’s hottest team and the “visitor” that has had the home teams’ number in recent years.

*Here’s the Chivas USA perspective on the game:

*I would post the Galaxy video preview too, but it stops about 35 seconds in. Galaxy fans hope the same isn’t true of their team tonight, I’m sure.

*Want more? Check out the SuperClasico coverage from earlier this week including:

*A new Galaxy signing in time for the game.

*A SuperClasico flashback.

*My column sizing up the game from earlier in the week.

*We’ll let ESPN have the last word and feed the hype for tonight’s game:

If you can’t be in Carson tonight, check back here for regular updates throughout the game.

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