Galaxy’s Stephens and Chivas USA’s Villafaa go camping & more

If its winter, it must be time for soccer camps.

Here’s a run-down:

*The Galaxy’s Michael Stephens and Chivas USA’s Jorge FloresVillafaa was called into the week-long U.S. Under-23 camp scheduled to begin a week from today in Florida. The 2010 first round draft pick is one of 28 players participating. The full roster is here (and look at all those German-based players again).

An update on Jorge’s name change courtesy of Chivas USA:

“He has legally changed his last name to Villafaa. The Anaheim native made the decision to change his last name in honor of his mother who raised him as a single parent. This camp will mark the debut of Villafaa with the U-23′s as well as his new last name on his jersey.”

Which is a sweet gift at this time of year: Feliz Navidad to Senor Flores‘ Villafaa’s madre. (Thanks to a reader for the correction).

*Looking for a little vacation in February? You could head to Arizona where the Galaxy will play in the four-team FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup that begins in late February against the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.

A press conference announcing the tournament details was held this morning. Details will be found here (once the website is updated).

Updated 1:20 p.m.: The Galaxy provided a few details via a news release -

The Galaxy will take on the Revolution in the opening game of Desert Diamond Cup on February 22 at 5 p.m. (PT). Three days later, the club will return to action against Real Salt Lake on February 25, again at 5 p.m. (PT) before facing the New York Red Bulls on February 29 at 7 p.m. (PT). A championship match and a third place match will be held on March 3 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (PT), respectively.

All games will be played at the Kino Sports Complex, a 155-acre multipurpose venue that includes the 11,000 seat main stadium, as well as 12 additional fields, clubhouses, and other amenities.

“The LA Galaxy are excited to participate in the 2nd annual FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup,” LA Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena said. “Tucson is an outstanding venue for our preseason as we prepare for the CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS regular season. We look forward to the outstanding weather, facilities and hospitality that Tucson has to offer and look forward a challenging competition.”

*Lastly, Torrance’s Shannon Boxx and Rolling Hills Estates’ Whitney Engen are among the locals participating in the U.S. Women’s National Team camp now under way at Home Depot Center. The complete roster and full details are here.

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Reports: FIFA ready to introduce goal-line technology

About time, in my book, but then I’m an embittered Englishman (you’ll recall the robbery that happened to the nation at the last World Cup):

BERLIN (MCT) — World soccer chief Sepp Blatter expects goal-line technology to be introduced next season, and it also should be featured at the next World Cup in 2014, along with professional referees.

Speaking in various newspaper interviews published on Tuesday, Blatter said that FIFA is finally ready to make use of goal-line technology, pending approval next year.

“You must allow at least one of those aids, and that is goal-line technology. There are systems that combine accuracy, speed and are straightforward. We are ready to use this technique,” Blatter told Germany’s Bild.

Blatter, 75, reiterated that the International Football Association Board is to reach a decision on the technology in March and that it can be used from the 2012-13 season onward if approved.

FIFA long opposed modern technology gaining entry into the game, but enhanced technology and high-profile incidents — such as Frank Lampard’s shot at the 2010 World Cup against Germany, which went over the line off the bar but went unseen by the referee — have led to a new approach.

“FIFA cannot accept again what happened in South Africa: a ball that was 70 centimeters in goal was called out,” Blatter told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

If approved and successful, the technology will also be used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, for which Blatter also announced professional referees.

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Wednesday Kicks: Olympics, College Cup & more

Still in catch-up mode as the blog returns:

*Mexico will play their Olympic qualifiers in March in Carson at Home Depot Center. I bet they will draw better than the U.S. would have done. Full details here.

*Four UCLA players – Eder Arreola, Andy Rose, Brian Rowe and Shawn Singh – were invited today to the MLS Combine set to begin Jan. 6 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Also among the 52 invited players (so far): Cal State Northridge midfielder Rafael Garcia.

*Thirteenth-seeded UCLA (18-4-1), the Pac-12 champions, will make a 13th NCAA College Cup appearance at 5:30 p.m. Friday live on ESPNU in Birmingham, Ala., against top-seeded North Carolina (20-2-2). The other semifinal between Creighton-Charlotte will precede the game at 3 p.m.

*Former Galaxy midfielder Santino Quaranta has announced his retirement at the tender age of just 29 27 after D.C. United declined to pick up his option. Quaranta, who was the youngest player ever to sign with MLS in 2001 at age 16, played 18 times and scored three goals with the Galaxy in 2006, a period of his life that he later admitted was consumed with an addiction to prescription drugs.

The former U.S. international – he collected 15 caps and played for the USMNT as recently as 2009 – said he intends to help recovering addicts in retirement and coach youth soccer. It must be a bittersweet ending to a career that never quite lived up to its youthful potential.

*Palos Verdes Peninsula’s John Thorrington (Chadwick School) has re-signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps, extending what has largely been an injury-prone MLS career.

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Tuesday’s column: The shortest offseason in MLS history

Will keep the Galaxy and Chivas USA very busy. Read the column here.

As if to confirm that, Chivas USA announced this afternoon that last season’s MVP, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, has signed a new contract with the club. For my money Kennedy is easily one of the best goalkeepers in the league.

“His consistency and leadership both on and off the field were exemplary last season, and now moving towards the club’s objectives for 2012 of building a championship caliber team, securing Kennedy to a new contract was one of our priorities this offseason,” said Jose Domene, Chivas USA General Manager.

Kennedy managed seven shutouts last season for Chivas USA, a remarkable achievement given the defense he was playing behind.

BTW: Chivas USA learned its opponent in its home opener today; it will be the Houston Dynamo in a game shown nationally on Galavision at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 11 from Carson.

Also, the Galaxy played its final game of the season in the wee hours of this morning.

Watch:

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The return of the 100 Percent Soccer blog

We’re back!

Regular readers will have noticed this blog has essentially been on hiatus since Nov. 29.

But it was more than that.

Due to a technical issue (I’ll leave it at that) I was unable to post updates and readers were unable to leave comments. Those issues have now been resolved.

The blog is not yet completely whole.

Readers will notice we are missing any posts published since March 2010 (that’s right, almost the last two years worth of posts).

I’m told the entries are still on our server and can still be found via search (assuming that’s working, which wasn’t always the case even before this recent issue) and direct links. They’re just not in the blog index pages, but the 100 Percent Soccer minions (OK, so it’s one overworked online editor) is/are working to manually restore them and will gradually do so. (The good news about that is my very last post before the blog went down contained a major factual error, which I was unable to correct and that has disappeared, for now).

Apologies to those of you who missed their regular Southern California soccer fix and thank you for your patience.

Regular blogging will now resume.

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