Tuesday’s Column: Galaxy make all the right moves

i-1111ffe08347695a7915649df692f3a2-Supporters_Shield.jpg

It’s a good thing the Galaxy have wrapped up the Supporters’ Shield, right, with two MLS games remaining before the playoffs start in the first week of October because the word out of Europe this morning is that striker Robbie Keane could be out four weeks, which would have him returning for the Galaxy right around the time they open their playoff campaign.

Still, this year’s version of the Galaxy are so dominant, not only do they have the chance to set the MLS record for points in a season, they are one shutout away from a record 17 on the year, too.

Oh, and if they avoid defeat against Chivas USA Sunday they will also become only the third MLS team to go through a season undefeated at home.

How good are they at Home Depot Center?

From the Galaxy:

In 16 MLS regular season home games this year, the Galaxy are 11-0-5 for 38 of their league-best 64 points. They have won each of their last seven home games in the league and have outscored opponents 27-8 at Home Depot Center this season, keeping nine clean sheets while allowing more than one goal just once.

The Galaxy, who are 29-9-13 at home in the regular season under Bruce Arena, are now unbeaten in their last 17 home regular season games, equaling a club record.

So you’ll excuse the gushing in today’s column.

Given that record is it any sort of omen that the Chivas USA reserves beat their Galaxy counterparts Monday 2-1 at the HDC with Victor Estupinan and Marcos Mondaini netting two goals in three minutes for the Goats to overcome the Galaxy opener via Hector Jimenez?

Nah, didn’t think so.

The 1-6-2 Galaxy reserves play their final game of the season Oct. 25 against the San Jose Earthquakes at Home Depot Center.

Also, there’s plenty of soccer on TV today including:

Germany-Belgium (10 a.m. ESPN2)
U.S.-Ecuador 4 p.m. ESPN2 and Univisin).
Mexico-Brazil (6 p.m ESPN2 and Univisin)

Finally, wondering what Robbie Keane did to console himself with his injury after the Andorra game?

Watch:

Updated

One correction to the column today: the Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant will turn a youthful 31 on Boxing Day (if you don’t know what day of the year that is I sentence you to a remedial lesson in English holidays) rather than the aged 32 I incorrectly wrote.

Apologies.

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Columbus Day weekend rewind: Galaxy win MLS regular season title & more

*Staggering Seattle fell short of the MLS finish line Saturday, missing their three leading scorers, falling 2-0 to the Philadelphia Union and handing the Galaxy their second straight Supporters’ Shield.

The title capture was all but inevitable anyway for the Galaxy, who may have finished the season tired and depleted, but they outlasted the rest of MLS to make Sunday’s penultimate game of the season against Chivas USA in Carson a coronation rather than confirmation of the rightful MLS champions.

What do they get for their efforts? Home field advantage throughout the playoffs and an automatic berth in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

The 18-4-10 Galaxy are the third successive club to win back to back regular season titles and are now just four points shy of setting an MLS record for most points in a season.

*At a minimum the U.S. had to finally win its first game under Jugen Klinsmann Saturday against CONCACAF rival Honduras.

Done:

*Galaxy striker Robbie Keane is still struggling with the injury he had picked up before even going on international duty with Ireland.

*Here are all the results from around the world this weekend – and the upcoming games this week.

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U.S.-Honduras Preview

i-8ebb08d4f175b6a5f4cd37c48796453a-jurgencarlos.jpgDo you think U.S. Captain Carlos Bocanegra has heard this German philosopher before? (AP Photo).

The friendly kicks off at 3 p.m. on Fox Soccer and Univision.

AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds has the preview:

MIAMI (AP) – Jurgen Klinsmann made his mark in soccer by being one of the most prolific goal scorers the game has ever seen.

The U.S. could use his scoring knack right about now.

Since Klinsmann took over as coach of the U.S. national team this summer, the Americans have one goal in three matches – and no wins yet, either, settling for two losses
and a tie. They get a chance to change all of that in Miami on Saturday night against
Honduras, a team that reached the 2010 World Cup and may very well be an opponent for the U.S. on the way through qualifying for the 2014 tournament.

“The players at the end of the day, they make the calls,” Klinsmann said. “They decide on the field if they want to shoot it, if they want to dribble it, if they want to pass. They will
make the difference. And we want to just guide them to a situation where they take their own careers in their own hands and be comfortable about it and confident.”

Such is the process Klinsmann has talked about almost nonstop since taking over for Bob
Bradley and getting tasked with finding a way for the Americans to reach that proverbial next level.

He’ll have most of the best American options available to play in this two-game stretch of
friendlies, first in Miami, then on Tuesday at Harrison, N.J. against Ecuador. The one glaring exception to that is Landon Donovan, who will miss the matches with a strained right quadriceps.

Still, there will be plenty of veterans ready to go, including captain Carlos Bocanegra (who
enters the weekend four shy of 100 international appearances for his career), and even
one-time national-team regular DaMarcus Beasley – who hasn’t appeared for the national team since June 23, 2010 against Algeria, the World Cup match best remembered for
Donovan’s spectacular late-game winner off a rebound in front of the net.

“Looking to hopefully get my feet wet with the national team again,” Beasley said. “It’s been a while since I put on a jersey. Hopefully I get a chance this weekend.”

He’s earned his chance by reinventing himself, happily going to Mexico and competing for a team where almost no one speaks any English. Beasley isn’t exactly fluent in Spanish, though he’s trying to learn.

“It shows you his character, his willingness to fight through different environments and
through difficult moments,” Klinsmann said. “I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus
Beasley now than you probably saw a couple years ago, which is natural.”

Beasley’s presence in camp this week is one way to illustrate Klinsmann’s plan. In short, he’s looking at everyone and everything, older guys and younger upstarts, established players and ones with very few caps. Klinsmann is getting a first look at two-time World
Cup player Oguchi Onyewu this week, the highly touted Brek Shea is getting plenty of attention and German-born Danny Williams is getting a feel of how a U.S. national team camp works for the first time.

Out of that mix, eventually the core of a new team will emerge, the one he’ ll take into World Cup qualifying.

“It’s a group that kind of develops its own character over the next 2 years,” Klinsmann said. “It will be challenged in different ways, especially in the World Cup qualifiers. Every cycle of the national team, no matter what national team you’re talking about, is always going through this path of redefining its leaders, redefining it’s chemistry, and this is now the process we’re going through the next months.”

His players are going through a process as well – the one where they’re still trying to come
to grips with the fact that one of the game’s absolute giants is now their coach.

Klinsmann scored 47 goals for Germany in his career, and well over 200 goals for professional clubs like Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Tottenham. On the field in training sessions, even at 47 years old and wearing a baseball cap pulled low to shield his face
from the sun, Klinsmann still looks like he could play.

U.S. goalie Tim Howard acknowledged that it’s still a bit strange to see Klinsmann in charge.

“A little bit,” Howard said, nodding. “The one thing that we get that some don’t have is the
opportunity to realize how down-to-earth he is. For sure, we look at pictures of him winning
the World Cup, pictures of him on the sideline in 2006, all those crazy, crazy soccer moments that he was involved in, all these massive clubs. But once you get to speak to him, he’s just so cool, so regular.”

And with a win on Saturday, the Americans would get to see yet another side of Klinsmann – the celebratory one.

“It’s a group of players that has a tremendous working attitude and a willingness to learn and a willingness to improve,” Klinsmann said. “And so we’re step-by-step trying to build
something that really prepares us well.

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MLS’ hottest team set their sights on Galaxy

i-bb54b3f76d267429614d150307501714-mlslogo0000.jpgLong-time South Bay resident and former Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid is taking aim at the Galaxy, despite the slim chance the Seattle Sounders have of catching the MLS leaders in the race for the Supporters’ Shield reports Associated Press Sports Writer Tim Booth:

SEATTLE (AP) — After raising their third straight U.S. Open Cup title this week, the Seattle Sounders FC were quick to note another result that fell in their favor that night.

It happened thousands of miles away when the Red Bulls beat the Galaxy 2-0 in New York. That result Wednesday night left open the slimmest possibility that the Sounders could catch the Galaxy in the race for Major League Soccer’s best regular-season record.

It’s unlikely the Sounders will catch the Galaxy, but if Seattle can make up seven points over the final three games it would cap an impressive late-season run in which the Sounders have been the hottest team in the league.

“What we want to do is put ourselves in a position where if they do slip we’re there to take
advantage of it,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “If they don’t slip, then we’ve maintained
our rhythm of play and maintained a consistency of play.”

That challenge for Seattle begins on Saturday night when they host Philadelphia, currently one-point behind Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference. Then comes the emotional send-off for Kasey Keller at home against San Jose on Oct. 15, when the team will honor Keller’s long career in the final regular-season home match of his career. Team officials said this week that more than 55,000 tickets already have been sold for the game.

Seattle then closes the regular season Oct. 22 against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. Even if the Sounders collect all nine points available in the three games, they’ll still need help from Chivas and Houston if they’re going to catch the Galaxy.

“I think the most important thing is that we’re all in this together, regardless. At some
point, everybody has played a part in this tournament or this season,” Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said after winning the Open Cup. “We’ve got a deep team, and like I said, everybody’s played part. It’s a testament to our team and these guys.”

The victory over Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup final capped a wild stretch during which Seattle competed in three different competitions and found success in all three. They clinched advancement through the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League with a game to spare after picking up a last-second draw in Guatemala. Before that, the Sounders had wrapped up the first MLS version of the Cascadia Cup — the regional rivalry between Vancouver, Portland and Seattle — with a victory over the Whitecaps.

The success in multiple competitions over such a short time has highlighted the cohesion the Sounders have developed in their three seasons.

“I think our depth and being able to balance so many competitions is a tribute to what the
club has been able to build up over three years and the improvement of players in that
three-year period of time,” Schmid said.

Seattle has just one loss in its last eight MLS matches and going back further, is 12-2-4
since the end of May. The summer success made up for a slow start and left open the
possibility of catching Los Angeles late, even if it remains a remote possibility, and making the road to the MLS Cup go through Seattle instead.

“The goal this year was different. We’ve been up there all year. We knew we were going to make the playoffs,” Keller said. “We’re ready this year to go as far as we possibly can, and that’s a cool mentality that we’ve had.”

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FIFA whistle-blower Blazer to resign from CONCACAF

i-e5a5fc727ab9202744b5204743873dc3-blazer.jpgHow many bribery allegations can a Chuck Blazer chuck? The American soccer bureaucrat has announced his resignation from the region’s governing body of soccer (AP Photo).

Of course, since Chuck Blazer, the second in command at CONCACAF made the bribery allegations he, too, has come under scrutiny for his offshore bank accounts (which are not mentioned in this story by Associated Press Sports Writer Ronald Blum):

NEW YORK (AP) — Chuck Blazer is resigning as the No. 2 official of CONCACAF in December, a half-year after going public with bribery accusations against his then-boss.

The 66-year-old American has been secretary general of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football since 1990. He said in May that CONCACAF president Jack Warner and Asian confederation head Mohamed bin Hammam attempted to bribe Caribbean delegates $40,000 each to vote for Bin Hammam in the FIFA presidential election. Warner’s acting successor then tried to fire Blazer, setting off more disciplinary proceedings.

“I’ve been running a governing body long enough. We’ve been through a little bit of a
stagnation period,” Blazer said Friday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I want to do something entrepreneurial. It was the right time. I wanted to give them notice to let them start to look for somebody.”

After Blazer made the bribery charges, Bin Hammam withdrew from the election, leaving Sepp Blatter to run unopposed for a fourth term. Warner resigned all his football posts in June, and FIFA imposed a lifetime ban on Bin Hammam, who was head of the Asian confederation and is contesting the penalty.

In the fallout, acting CONCACAF president Lisle Austin attempted to fire Blazer but the
group’s executive committee said Austin lacked the authority. FIFA then suspended Austin, who went to court in his native Bahamas and called FIFA a “corrupt cabal of arrogance and cronyism.”

Blazer said he will retain his post on the FIFA executive committee. He was elected to
football’s most powerful body in 1997, and his current term runs through mid-2013. He said it was too early to determine whether he will run for re-election to the FIFA post.

As for the future, Blazer said he would consider taking a club post. He would not comment on the possibility that he could join one of the groups bidding for Major League Soccer’s 20th team, which MLS would like to place in the New York area as a rival to the Red Bulls.

A group that includes Terry Byrne, a friend of Galaxy star David Beckham, bought
the rights to the name of the old North American Soccer League Cosmos team and hired Eric Cantona and Cobi Jones.

During two decades with CONCACAF, Blazer moved its headquarters from Guatemala City to New York; started the Gold Cup tournament, which has been played every two years since 1991; and launched the CONCACAF Champions League.

Blazer’s successor at CONCACAF will be chosen by CONCACAF’s executive committee, which includes U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, Justino Compean of Mexico, Horace Burrell of Jamaica and Ariel Alvarado of Panama.

CONCACAF is to meet Friday in Miami to fill Warner’s spot on the FIFA executive committee.

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Becks bucks rise by almost a third

Nice work if you can get it, but then you can’t because you’re not David Beckham. Given these figures wonder if he ever got close to that $250 million in total income over the five years of his contract with MLS:

LONDON (AP) — David Beckham’s income from personal sponsorship deals rose by 30 percent last year, signaling the enduring strength of the Galaxy player’s brand appeal.

According to figures released by Britain’s Companies House, revenue for the company which handles Beckham’s endorsements was 14.9 million pounds (then $23.9 million) in 2010.

In 2009, Footwork Productions received 11.4 million pounds ($18.3 million) from companies
including sportswear manufacturer Adidas.

The accounts also showed that Beckham received 11.6 million pounds ($18.6) from the company compared with 9 million pounds (then $14.6 million) the previous year.

The 36-year-old Beckham’s $6.5 million a year MLS contract expires in November.

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Third English club – and former coach – try to lure Beckham home

i-aaac545efce9572add9362e8ca8cccff-buffbecksinny.jpgOf course, nothing will be decided until the end of the MLS season, so this may not be the last rumors we’ll hear surrounding Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

Personally, I’d be less surprised to see beckham end up as a part-owner of the Cosmos than a coach at a second tier club in England. And by the way, French media are reporting Paris Saint-Germain will offer Beckham an 18-month contract at a meeting tonight.

Still, here’s the latest gossip:

LEICESTER, England (AP) — Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson says he has offered David Beckham a chance to join English Championship club Leicester.

Beckham’s MLS contract with the Galaxy is set to expire in November and Eriksson, now in charge at Leicester, says he has discussed a possible linkup with the 36-year-old midfielder.

Eriksson says he has “already had that discussion with him. I spoke to him about Leicester” adding “Beckham, he will never say no to me — he says, ‘Sven, we’ll see. We’ll see.’”

Beckham has also been linked with Premier League clubs Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers, as well as French side Paris Saint-Germain.

Eriksson said the former England captain could combine playing for Leicester with a coaching role.

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Running of the (Red) Bulls: NY gores weakened Galaxy

New York Red Bulls 2 Galaxy 0

i-5a3903aba41b4f4075f9bdf5a4ec5591-redbullfans.jpgNew York fans celebrate Thierry Henry’s second half goal Tuesday, the MLS playoffs in sight for the club (AP Photo).

And it could have been worse – the charging Red Bulls hit the woodwork twice.

The result eliminates Chivas USA from the playoff chase, but keeps Seattle alive in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield.

You get the feeling Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena wasn’t too worried, however; his team could seal the regular season title at home against struggling Chivas USA on Oct. 16.

Does it get any better than that for the Galaxy?

More later.

Read the game story here.

Watch:

Tweeted Landon Donovan tonight:

“Tough night for the Galaxy but nice to still be top of the league. Our guys need some rest. And congrats to @hopesolo …still alive!!!

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Tuesday’s column: Galaxy’s Juninho combines style and substance

i-6612a0951672d639855f01eee66ae958-juninhorogers.jpgGalaxy mifielder Juninho fends off the Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers; the Brazilian has become a fixture in the starting lineup this season combining flair with sheer hard work (AP Photo).

The Galaxy are fielding nominations from the media for the team MVP and defender of the Year awards that will be handed out at the final home game of the season.

And while there isn’t a category for it, if they were Juninho would get my vote as the most improved Galaxy player this season. Read more here.

Despite the absence tonight of some big name players,in the wake of Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake the Galaxy can wrap up the regular season title against the Red Bulls tonight (5 o’clock ESPN2) who are struggling to make the playoffs.

Also, a familiar name for Galaxy fans is replacing Landon Donovan on the USMNT roster for its two upcoming friendlies.

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Galaxy’s Donovan to miss Tuesday’s game in New York

Club captain Landon Donovan, the Galaxy’s leading goalscorer, did not make the trip with the team Sunday from LAX to New York to rehab a right quad strain he suffered late in Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy play the 8-7-16 Red Bulls at 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.

Also missing that game:

*Striker Robbie Keane, on duty for Ireland in their Euro 2012 qualifiers against Andorra Friday and Armenia next Tuesday in Dublin. Ireland are two points behind first-place Russia; Keane has five of Ireland’s 11 goals so far during the Euro 2012 campaign.

*Midfielder Chris Birchall, who has a left hamstring strain that will cause him to also miss Trinidad & Tobago’s World Cup qualifier against Bermuda Friday; he’s battling to get fit for the T&T qualifier against Barbados next Tuesday.

In addition, Mike Magee, who missed Saturday’s win over RSL with a right hamstring strain and has a club-best three goals in the last eight games, remains listed as questionable as does David Beckham (back spasms) and Donovan Ricketts (right quad tightness).

This is the time to start resting players after the Galaxy’s grueling stretch of games every three or four days ends Tuesday. The Galaxy won’t play again after facing the Red Bulls until the Oct. 16 derby against Chivas USA.

The Galaxy need just two ties (or two Seattle ties) or one win (or one Seattle loss) in the respective clubs’ last three games to claim their second successive Supporters’ Shield.

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