Keane Galaxy Saturday Gameday: San Jose Earthquakes at Galaxy Preview*

i-4507d1a019a58d221ec67fcfdba76308-hdckeane.jpgGalaxy guy: Robbie Keane joins the Galaxy (AP Photo).

*Post updated

The sports editor here – a Mr. Bailey – is not a man easily impressed by MLS or AEG.

But he conceded Friday his Irish blood was rushing through the veins just a little quicker now in anticipation of Robbie Keane’s debut tonight at Home Depot Center in Carson for the Galaxy against their regional rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes.

Keane is not an over the hill, slowing striker. At 31, he’s still in his prime. And while Tottenham boss Harry Rednapp apparently rates David Beckham higher than Keane these days, the feeling is not shared by most Galaxy fans and reporters I know.

Not to get too giddy here, but this could be a transformational moment for what is already statistically the best team in MLS. And it just got, way better.

You overwhelmingly agree, too.

It’s hard not to believe that a Galaxy team that had been missing something in the final third of the field, as Bruce Arena said at Friday’s news conference, had potentially – finally – found the missing article.

For those critics – like me – who have wanted to see more flair, more verve, a more attacking joie de vivre, shall we say, this move couldn’t be better.

Juan Pablo Angel was the consummate all-business, low-key forward. Keane exudes personality and yes, a certain raw edge Angel lacked.

Everyone hit the right notes at Friday’s press conference to introduce Keane.

The only thing missing was the WAG coverage. Oh, wait that’s covered.

*Here’s how Friday’s events played back in Ireland.

*Staff Writer Phil Collin has more on Keane and the game preview.

*Here’s the San Jose perspective from our sister paper the San Jose Mercury News.

*Almost unnoticed, the game is also a homecoming for a former Loyola Marymount player and Lawndale resident.

*Earlier this year it was 0-0 in San Jose between the two sides with unlikely goalkeeper Mike Magee getting the shutout. Watch the highlights here.

I plan to live blog the game tonight.

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Irish star Keane introduced to new Galaxy

i-76ee000edbc518e321ce045d41b03841-110305804c.jpgTriumphant trio? The three players the Galaxy expect to lead them to this year’s MLS Cup speak Friday afternoon at a press conference introducing new striker Robbie Keane at Home Depot Center, who was joined by Landon Donovan and David Beckham (AP Photo).

The Irish flag fluttered at one end of Home Depot Center framed by orange, white and green balloons.

Corned beef, cabbage and Guinness was served inside the Stadium Club for lunch.

And even Irish Consul General Finbar Hill was on hand to say a few words in Gaelic welcoming the 31-year-old striker to Southern California “100,000 times.”

“I’m not here just to be on holiday,” Keane said as the California sun beat down on the open air press conference. “I’m here to score goals and win things.

“Everything else is irrelevant to me,” he added when asked about living in LA, a city he has never visited before. “It’s about playing football. It always has been.”

Imported soccer players always say that; some mean it, some don’t.

Those that don’t, don’t last long in MLS or with the club they signed for – just ask Juan Pablo Angel, now with Chivas USA after scoring just three times this season for the Galaxy after moving over from New York in the offseason.

Time – and goals – will tell the story when it comes to Keane, but Anschutz Entertainment Group President Tim Leiweke, not a man known for his patience, believes Keane will produce in MLS.

“The first thing he said to me when I got on the phone with him was ‘I’m not coming there to retire,’” Leiweke said, adding later that, “Robbie never once came to us and said … it’s not a good enough league.”

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said Keane would play some “extended minutes” for the Galaxy Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes without getting into specifics.

And while some critics back in Ireland have harshly criticized Keane for shirking a challenge by taking MLS money rather than dropping down a level in England (since when is the Championship superior to MLS?), you can be sure the level of expectation here is a helluva lot higher than the likes of, say, Leicester.

“The coach has to coach better, the players have to play better and we have to deliver a championship to our fans,” Arena said.

Got that, Robbie?

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Torrance to host U.S. National Futsal Team

i-f3f648e2100a1760bf1ac0d840620205-soccercityfile.jpgU.S. Soccer and the U.S. Futsal National Team will stage a player identification camp from Sept. 12-15 at Torrance’s South Coast Soccer City (Daily Breeze file photo).

In a coup for Torrance’s South Coast Soccer City, the state-of-the-art 73,000-square-foot futsal facility that includes an international size field will host the U.S. Futsal National Team from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 in the team’s first official training camp of 2011.

An earlier invitation-only ID camp from Sept. 12-15 is intended to identify the top futsal players in the country, with an eye toward strengthening the U.S. squad that will attempt to qualify for the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand.

“We are very excited about our first ever National ID Camp for our U.S. Futsal National Team,” said longtime U.S. head coach Keith Tozer. “This ID camp is extremely important in identifying the upcoming Futsal talent in the United States as we prepare for our CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup. We are also very proud to be able to utilize such an amazing facility for Futsal in Soccer City in Torrance. It’s a great place to call home not only for the ID camp, but for our upcoming full national team training camp as well.”

Local invitees to the ID camp include Torrance residents Spencer Shortland, Ryan Oster, and Caio Gesualdi.

Following the two camps, Tozer will select a roster for an annual invitational tournament in Brazil in October.

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Two South Bay players win WPS awards

i-9b903fab84ab4a5363af217d14f87fe6-20080117_wps_medium.jpgPalos Verdes Estates’ Christen Press (magicJack) was named Rookie of the Year, while Rolling Hills Estates’ Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash) received the Defender of the Year honor in Women’s Professional Soccer.

Engen, 24, led the regular season champions to a 13-2-2 record and missed just one game (while on national team duty) all season; Press, the reigning 2010 MAC Hermann trophy winner out of Stanford, scored eight goals for magicJack – almost one-third of the team’s total – and just two behind former LA Sol striker Marta, who took the Golden Boot Award despite playing in just 14 games.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized amongst such phenomenal players,” said Engen. “One of the main reasons I was even able to be nominated was because of the support and play of everyone around me.”

The Flash, the regular season champion, will play the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between the Philadelphia Independence and magicjack (live at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net) on Aug. 27 in Rochester (live at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net).

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Jokester Jimmy Conrad of Chivas USA nails one-liners throughout farewell news conference

i-835d30872590127d0af00ce83074b538-conradfarewll.jpgChivas USA Coach Robin Fraser, Jimmy Conrad and Chivas USA General manager Jose Domene yuck it up during the loosest retirement press conference in MLS history (Photo courtesy Chivas USA).

Like fans, journalists like to watch great players; players capable of fantastic quotes, we love even more.

They are far, far more rare.

Here’s Chivas USA central defender Jimmy Conrad’s farewell address

Athletes don’t like to talk about concussions; Conrad was no exception:

“The biggest relief (now that I’m retiring) is that now I can tell everyone what happened and I can get on with my modeling career.”

Jimmy, thanks for a great 13 years. Reporters everywhere will miss you.

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Galaxy’s Keane arrives at LAX

i-4106c4dc959ae5d4cabde37a9bedbcc4-636213060c.jpg

Model Claudine Keane arrives at LAX today with some Irish bloke who will play for a local soccer team or something (AP Photo).

Angel City Brigade members and other Galaxy fans greeted Claudine Robbie Keane and his Irish model wife, Claudine, at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday afternoon.

Keane will practice with the team for the first time Friday and then be introduced to the press.

Want to win a ticket to the 12:30 p.m. Friday press conference AND two tickets to Saturday’s game at Home Depot Center against the San Jose Earthquakes where Keane is expected to make his MLS debut?

Here’s how (from the Galaxy’s Facebook page):

Tweet a photo or video showing how you would welcome Robbie Keane to LA to @LAGalaxy using the hashtag #KeenonKeane or post it on the LA Galaxy Facebook wall at www.facebook.com/lagalaxy with the text “Keen on Keane” All eligible tweets received and posts on Facebook will be entered in a random drawing to win the prize. Fans may only enter once on either Twitter or Facebook. Only first photo will be eligible. Must be at least 21 years of age at time of entry to be eligible.

The deadline is 11:59 p.m.

i-70d34b156ae1e09f0fad6bc6bb8b3ff7-angelcitybrigade.jpgAngel City Brigade members managed to put down their beer glasses long enough to welcome Robbie Keane at LAX today (AP Photo).

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Thursday Kicks: Torrance AYSO pioneer honored and more

i-ed51eda13663c669ae8ed07aded1f862-smisek.jpgAYSO pioneer: Dick Smisek was honored at Tuesday’s Torrance City Council meeting for his contributions to the development of AYSO, which began in Torrance. He’s pictured here with Mayor Frank Scotto, left, and Carl Kaemerle, right, president of the Rotary Club of Del Amo, which also recognized Smisek earlier in the day at the new AYSO headquarters in Harbor Gateway. (Photo courtesy city of Torrance).

Long-time Torrance resident Dick Smisek has received a proclamation from the city of Torrance for his role in growing the American Youth Soccer Organization during its humble beginnings in Torrance.

The document reads:

WHEREAS, the City of Torrance recognizes with great pride, Dick Smisek, who from 1969-1970 volunteered to be the Chief Referee in the South Bay in an effort to help build the American Youth Soccer Organization (A.Y.S.O.): and

WHEREAS, in 1964, AYSO began operations with nine teams, four teams in Torrance and five teams in Culver City. Under the guidance and vision of Dick Smisek as the Boys (ages 6-9) Commissioner from 1970 -1971; and

WHEREAS, in 1971 Dick was responsible for helping to establish AYSO Region 14, the West Torrance Area and was the Region 14 Commissioner from 1971-1973: and

WHEREAS, Dick expanded Region 14 as the Commissioner from 25 teams to 69 teams in one year, and assisted in getting at least one soccer field in every public school in West Torrance: and

WHEREAS,1975-1977 Dick was Vice President of Organization in AYSO where Dick went to cities through out California making presentations to encourage soccer through AYSO and

WHEREAS, Dick was an AYSO referee in the South Bay from 1970-1990; and

WHEREAS, thanks to its pioneers like Dick, AYSO has more than 50,000 teams, more than 650,000 players and is supported by more than 250,000 parents across the nation, who passionately dedicate their time and talents as coaches, referees, team parents, administrators and sponsors.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FRANK SCOTTO, as Mayor of the City of Torrance, California, do hereby honor, commend and express sincere appreciation to Dick Smisek for his outstanding contributions and dedicated service to the youth of the community. Dick Smisek has made a positive and lasting impact on many lives and serves as an inspiration for all citizens.

In other soccer news this morning:

*Staff Writer Phil Collin wraps up the comings and goings at the Galaxy and Chivas USA in the dead tree edition for those of you who missed the posts at this blog yesterday.

*Loyola Marymount senior Roger Downes, last year’s WCC defender of the year, was one of 42 players named to the 2011 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List watch list, the second time in three years an LMU men’s soccer player has been named to the short list honoring the nation’s best male college player. UCLA sophomore midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who has had trials recently with European clubs and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year was also named to the list.

*UCLA’s Sydney Leroux, the program’s leading scorer the past two years, was named as one of 42 players named to the corresponding list for the women’s award.

*The USC women kick off their season at 3 p.m. Friday at McAlister Field against Long Beach State, then hosts San Diego at 1 p.m. Sunday. The 49ers host Sacramento State in their 1 p.m. Sunday home opener.

*The Cal State Northridge men kick off the 2011 season with an exhibition against Cal State Dominguez Hills at 7 p.m. Saturday at Matador Soccer Field. Admission is free.

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Galaxy striker Robbie Keane receives visa, arrives in LA Thursday

Robbie Keane received his visa today and flies into LAX Thursday.

On Friday he will train with the team for the first time and be introduced to the media at a Home Depot Center press conference.

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker agreed terms with the Galaxy Monday. Keane, who will wear jersey number 14 and replaces Juan Pablo Angel as the focal point of the Galaxy attack, will likely make his debut Saturday in Carson against the San Jose Earthquakes.

From the Galaxy press release:

The Galaxy’s third Designated Player joining David Beckham and Landon Donovan, Keane is tied for 10th all-time in goals scored in the Premier League, scoring 123 goals in the league while playing for Coventry City, Leeds United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham.

A member of Ireland’s squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Keane also spent time playing in Italy with Inter Milan and in Scotland, on loan to Celtic in 2010, scoring 16 goals in 19 games in all competitions for the club. The 31-year-old has scored more then 250 career goals for both club and country during a near 15-year professional career that began with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1997 at the age of 17.

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Chivas USA’s Conrad to retire from soccer

i-8baa6feebc18dbeaf6c7c1d16ab8feef-conradconcussion.jpgJimmy Conrad retires: The Chivas USA defender, seen here in 2009 when he sustained a concussion playing for the U.S., is calling it quits after suffering another concussion earlier this season. (AP Photo).

Jimmy Conrad was supposed to be a recognizable and prominent face of Chivas USA after the veteran central defender joined the club as captain on a two-year deal from Kansas City in the offseason.

Instead he made just two starts for the club before suffering a concussion and hasn’t played since.

On Thursday Conrad will officially announce his retirement at a Home Depot Center press conference after 13 MLS seasons and 290 games presumably because his concussion symptoms are still lingering.

Conrad, who originally played with the San Jose Earthquakes before moving to Kansas City, was a five-time MLS All-Star and made 28 appearances for the USMNT.

Conrad was on one of the most likable and press-friendly players in a league woefully short of genuinely engaging characters.

Check out his web site here.

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