Tuesday’s Column: Stupid Soccer Tricks


Silly Mario: Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli, seen here laying down on the job in a Boxing Day game, provided Southern California soccer fans with one of the year’s funnier moments (Photo Ian Kington/AFP Photo/Getty Images).

The year’s final column riffs on those endless end of year lists sports writers with nothing better to do (ahem) quickly write to keep the boss happy.

I’m no different. But let’s at least have a little fun, huh?

How about three stupid soccer tricks CoCal style: Worst message to send an American soccer player, Worst trade/player acquisition of the year and Dumbest play of the year.

Read the column here.

Thanks for reading and join me again next year.

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Friday Kicks: Galaxy re-sign three players including CSUN’s Franklin & more

*The Galaxy announced this morning that the club has re-signed starting defender/midfielder Sean Franklin as well as Bryan Jordan of Temple City and reserve striker Adam Cristman for the 2012 season.

The Galaxy also announced they have signed MLS veteran Pat Noonan and goalkeeper Nick Noble.

Here’s more on the new acquisitions from the Galaxy press release:

Noble, who was originally drafted in 2007 by Galaxy Associate Head Coach Dave Sarachan, who was then the head coach of the Chicago Fire, has spent the last two seasons with Ljungskile SK of the Swedish Second Division.

Noonan, 31, joins the Galaxy after being selected by the club in the third round of Stage Two of the MLS Re-Entry Process earlier this month.

A nine-year MLS veteran, Noonan has scored 41 goals and added 33 assists in 173 career regular season games with the New England Revolution, Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders FC, who he played nine games for in the 2011 MLS season.

In his two years with LJungskile, Noble appeared in 59 league games, keeping 21 clean sheets; the former Big East Goalkeeper of the Year didn’t play for the Fire.

Of the three returning players, Franklin, 27, a Palmdale native and 2008 first round pick, is the most important; he made a career-high 28 appearances for the club last year scoring four goals and notching another three assists.

An attacking right back or right half, Franklin played a big role in the almost impenetrable Galaxy defense that equaled an MLS record with 17 shutouts.

Jordan made five starts for the Galaxy last year, while Cristman made 20 apperances in all competitions.

*I neglected to note earlier this week that while there will be no January national team game in Carson in 2012, Home Depot Center will host the first ever “Doble Clsico Centroamericano” at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 featuring games between Guatemala’s Comunicaciones and Municipal and El Salvador’s FAS vs. Club Deportivo guila. Tickets start at $25.

*Lastly, Cal State Northridge has set up a scholarship in the name of San Pedro’s Ryan Rossi and re-named their annual Soccer invitational after him.

Rossi, 27, who died Dec. 11 of cancer, was a forward for the Matadors between 2002 and 2006 and later played in Spain, according to his father, Leo Rossi.

“Ryan was one of my favorite players and he had a way of making everyone feel special,” said head coach Terry Davila. “His gift was how he affected people in a positive way through his soccer, music and love of people. He was a tremendous competitor and teammate and we will greatly miss him.”

Rossi had 21 goals and had 10 assists for Cal State Northridge in 74 games, 21 of those starts. His high school, Mary Star of the Sea, also retired his number, his father said.

Rossi outlined his philosophy about life here.

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Inglewood’s Villarreal turns pro with hometown Galaxy


Christmas wish granted: The Galaxy announced today that Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal has signed a pro contract with the team (Photos courtesy Los Angeles Galaxy).

The South Bay has always churned out its share of top class pros – John O’Brien, David Vanole and Robbie Rogers spring to mind immediately – and now MLS is giving those players another option: signing with their hometown club.

Today that dream came true for Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal, 18, a Galaxy Academy midfielder who has also appeared for the South Bay Force.

“It’s been my dream ever since I was little to be a professional soccer player, so to be able to do that and stay close to home so that I can play in front of my family and friends is a dream come true,” Villarreal said. “Growing up here in the area I’ve always watched the Galaxy and been a fan of the team so this will be a great experience for me.”

100 Percent Soccer reported exclusively earlier this month that Villareal was pondering the Galaxy’s offer, weighing it against interest from European clubs.

“Jose is a player that we have known and watched for a long time and it’s been great to have him in our Academy this past year,” Galaxy Academy Senior Director Chris Klein said. “He has a tremendous amount of promise and potential and we’re excited that he’ll be able to continue his development with the first team.”

He is the third homegrown player to sign with the Galaxy, following in the footsteps of Van Nuys’ Tristan Bowen (subsequently traded to Chivas USA, who in turn loaned him to a Belgian club for a year) in 2008 and Newport Beach’s Jack McBean, who turned pro at age 16 earlier this year.

Here’s more on Villarreal, who attended Lawndale’s Leuzinger High, from the Galaxy press release:

Villarreal is in his first season with the Galaxy Academy after joining the club from local club team Pateadores after helping them win the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-18 championship in July, scoring 20 goals in 31 games for the club, including two in the U-18 Development Academy Final. This season, the skillful midfielder who began his club career with the South Bay Force, has scored three times in the six games that he has played in a Galaxy uniform as the team, which has a 7-0-2 record so this season.

In addition to his time on the field with the Galaxy, Villarreal has also represented his country, joining the U.S. Under-23 National Team for a camp in Germany last month and playing in a scrimmage against Azerbaijan. In addition to his time with the U-23’s, Villarreal, who is eligible to play for the U.S. U-20’s, has played for the U-18’s in July 2011 at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, starting all three games that his team played in the competition, tallying one assist.

57379-Klein Villarreal.JPG

Home sweet Home Depot Center: New Galaxy signing Jose Villareal and the Galaxy’s Senior Academy Director Chris Klein pose at the Carson home of his first pro team.

Incidentally, it’s conceivable that the Villarreal family could soon find another pro in the family: Jose’s 16-year-old brother Jaime plays for the Galaxy Academy U-16’s and is their leading scorer with 12 goals in eight games.


Also, I was just reminded by South Bay Force Coach Todd Saldana about the pros that have played with the club in the past: Robbie Rogers, Kei Kamara, John Thorrington
and John O’Brien. Now, that’s great company for Villarreal to be in.

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Galaxy to play CONCACAF Champions League game in Canada indoors


Which I’m sure is a massive relief to the players from Southern California, not to mention the fans.

The 8 p.m. March 7 quarterfinal will be played at the Rogers Centre, which has a retractable roof.

The bad news: the game will be played on artificial turf, but at least the roof will be closed.

“A lot of thought went into selecting the home site for this very important match,” said Toronto FC Senior Director of Business Operations, Paul Beirne. “While we would have loved to host our quarterfinal match at our home, BMO Field, ultimately the decision came down to our ability to deliver a safe and enjoyable event in a venue that could withstand the unpredictability of March’s weather conditions.

“We felt that BMO Field’s infrastructure in its present state combined with the exposure to the winter conditions would not deliver on this experience.”

The average high in Toronto in March is just 37 degrees, while the average low is 23 degrees, by the way. Brrrr.

The return leg will be played a week later at Home Depot Center.

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Galaxy’s Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Chivas USA’s Pearce called into U.S. January camp

More than half the 20-players on the roster have two caps or less for the full national team, and five will be seeking their first appearance including A.J. DeLaGarza, whose fine 2011 season with the MLS Cup-winning Galaxy was fully deserving of a call-up.

The central defender was also part of last year’s January camp, but didn’t see action in a game.

Only two players on the roster feature for foreign clubs.

The camp opens Jan. 3 in Phoenix, switches to Home Depot Center for a week from Jan. 13-20, then heads back to Arizona for the Jan. 21st game against Venezuela before the team heads to Panama for a Jan. 25 encounter with that nation.

“This is a very important opportunity for these players,” said Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “They are the next in line behind the established players, and this is a chance to prove themselves. We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the national team. Ultimately, it will create more depth for us, which you need at this level. I’m very curious and excited to see this group.”

The roster:
goalkeepers: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

defenders: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)

midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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Chivas USA confirm signing of Ecuadorian midfielder Minda

After weeks of speculation, Chivas USA this afternoon confirmed the signing of Oswaldo Minda, a 28-year-old midfielder with 13 caps for Ecuador.

Minda has played with newly-crowned Ecuadorian champions Deportivo Quito since 2008, scoring 11 goals in 85 games.

Chivas fans can check out this YouTube video to see the sort of player they’re getting:

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Reports: Beckham and Juninho quit Galaxy*


Bouncing Brazilian: The Galaxy will have two holes to fill in midfield next season if the dual reports of both David Beckham and Juninho, seen here playing in Indonesia in one of his last times in a LA jersey, moving on are accurate. Which begs the question, which is the bigger loss? (AP Photo).

And this time both reports seem to have a degree of finality to them and a distinct lack of rumors (*see update at bottom of post).

Here’s the David Beckham piece from the Associated Press:

PARIS (AP) — David Beckham is set to sign an 18-month deal with French club Paris Saint-Germain, according to the local news media.

After months of negotiations, Beckham will sign his contract with PSG in the beginning of
January according to French daily L’Equipe.

The 36-year-old former England captain would earn 800,000 euros ($1.05 million) per month, French daily Le Parisien claimed.

If agreed, the deal would end Beckham’s time in Major League Soccer, having led the
Galaxy to the title in the season just past. He still has ambitions of playing for Britain in
the Olympics in London next year.

Backed by wealthy Qatari investors, PSG has spent more than 85 million euros ($111 million) this summer to sign nine players.

*Juninho, according to Brazilian reports, has agreed a three-year contract extension with Sao Paulo, who had loaned him to the Galaxy.

Here’s the Google translation from Globo Esporte’s original piece in Portuguese:

At just 22 years, the steering wheel worked two seasons in the United States, and in 2011, was one of the main parts of the team of David Beckham to win the Major League Soccer, the main soccer tournament in the country. He served as a starter 33 times and scored four goals.

This is not the first time the board of St. Paul lends a young athlete to gain experience at another club and then reuses the main cast. With Hernanes, now in Lazio-ITA, the policy adopted was the same.

Despite the new opportunity, Juninho will not have it easy in 2012. Currently, the Sao Paulo against with Carlinhos Paraiba, Denilson, Jean Casimir, Wellington and Caio Rodrigo in the position of the wheel. Not to mention the former Cruzeiro Fabricio, who hit with the club in 2012.

*Finally, former Galaxy midfielder Andreas Herzog has joined Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team training staff.


Can’t we get this over with already?

By the way, I thought this was a good piece by Soccer America that puts in context exactly why PSG is prepared to give Beckham so much money. Hint: it ain’t for playing soccer.

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Tuesday Kicks: Hermosa Beach’s Wambach named AP Athlete of Year & more


Winner Wambach: The South Bay resident, seen here posing today at Home Depot Center where the U.S. Women’s National Team is currently training, becomes the first soccer player – male or female – to win a national AP award. See the full story below (AP Photo).

*There was no column today; my editors opted to keep a end of year column I wrote for next Tuesday. And to answer a reader’s question, blogging will indeed be light during the holidays. I’ll Tweet when necessary at twitter.com@lasoccerblog.

*Chivas USA will play in a preseason tournament in Portland in late February and early March. Full details here.

*Thanks to all who participated in another successful Daily Breeze ball drive.

*Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach was named today by the Associated Press as its U.S. Female Athlete of the year.

AP National Writer Nancy Armour has the full story:

CHICAGO (AP) — With the final seconds ticking down and the Americans on the verge of their earliest exit ever from the Women’s World Cup, Abby Wambach kept waving her index finger at her teammates.

One chance, she screamed, all they needed was one chance.

When it came in the form of a left-footed cross from Megan Rapinoe, Wambach pounced. With one vicious whip of her head, she changed the course of this year’s World Cup and sparked a frenzy rarely seen for women’s sports in the United States.

Wambach’s performance at the World Cup made her the clear choice for the 2011 Female Athlete of the Year in the United States, selected by members of The Associated Press. The U.S. forward received 65 of the 214 votes cast, while teammate Hope Solo (38) was a distant second and basketball player Maya Moore (35) was third.

Wambach is the first individual football player — man or woman — to win one of the AP’s annual sports awards, which began in 1931. The U.S. women’s team won in 1999, when their World Cup triumph at the Rose Bowl transfixed the nation.

“We, as a team, did something that no team since Mia Hamm was able to do,” Wambach told the AP. “Even the team that won the (Olympic) gold medal in 2008 wasn’t able to inspire and get people excited about women’s soccer. It goes to show you the impact drama can bring.”

Wambach’s four goals in Germany give her 13 in three World Cup appearances. That’s the most by an American, topping Michelle Akers by one, and puts her third on the all-time World Cup scoring list behind Brazil forward Marta and Germany striker Birgit Prinz. The 31-year-old American ranks third on the U.S. career scoring list with 125 goals, trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).

“When she’s on top of her game,” United States coach Pia Sundhage said, “she’s one of the best in the world.”

Wambach was certainly at her best at the World Cup, leading the Americans to the final, where they lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

“I’m not a person who cares much about (individual) awards, but I really appreciate you guys recognizing this team,” Wambach said. “It helps keep this sport alive, and it’s really

The Americans are the defending Olympic champions, and Wambach and her teammates are currently training in Carson for next month’s regional qualifying tournament.

“I have to say, of all people, I think she is one of the best role models: interacting with
fans, saying good things about the game, saying good things about this country, saying good things about her teammates,” Sundhage said. “I’m very proud of the fact I’ve had the chance to coach her for so many years. It will be a highlight of my career.”

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Galaxy’s Donovan to return to Everton on loan


Liverpool bound: The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan celebrates returning to Everton – well, OK winning the MLS Cup – but it sounds like he’s happy to return to the cash-strapped club for a couple of months. Are you Galaxy fans? (AP Photo).

Landon Donovan missed several games through injury at the tail end of last season because he needed the rest after he was hobbled by injuries and missed several U.S. games for similar reasons as well, but that hasn’t stopped him accepting a two-month loan back to England’s Everton, the Galaxy announced today.

It’s the second time in three years he will have played for the club after passing up the opportunity in the 2010-2011 MLS offseason to rest following the World Cup.

“The opportunity to return to Everton and play for such a well-respected club and a manager that I hold in such high regard was something that was simply too good to pass up. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Everton in 2010 and I’m hopeful that we can experience similar success this time around,” Donovan said. “I want to thank David Moyes and Bruce Arena, as well as executives from both clubs and Major League Soccer for allowing me this unique and special opportunity.”

Donovan will be eligible to make his season debut for Everton on Jan. 4 when the club hosts Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park. He will remain with the club through the Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield on Feb. 25. Here’s the club’s schedule.

“This is a great opportunity for Landon,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena was quoted by the club as saying. “During the final months of the 2011 season he was limited because of an ongoing injury and he just started to get his legs back during the playoffs. Therefore, I think that this opportunity with Everton comes at a perfect time as he is rested and ready to go.”

Everton are scheduled to lose this weekend against resurgent Norwich City (says the biased City fan).

What do you think? Shouldn’t he be resting given the early Galaxy start to the season? Or should he just stay match fit at this stage of his career so he is ready to go right away in the early CONCACAF Champions League games.

Take the poll:

Should Landon Donovan go on loan to Everton?
Yes, it will keep him fresh for the early Galaxy start to the 2012 season.
No, he needs to rest.
I don’t care. I’m a bigger Chivas USA fan than I am of Landycakes.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

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