Kiwi joins Goats

Former Galaxy and Chivas USA midfielder Simon Elliott has returned to the Goats as technical director and head scout.

“Simon brings experience as an MLS player, he has always been a leader on and off the field,” said Chivas USA General Manager Jose Domene. “His leadership skills and his knowledge of MLS will help us scout better talent and achieve more for the team.”

Elliott, 37, played 24 games for Chivas USA last year.

The former New Zealand international was with the Galaxy from 1999 to 2003 and one of his teammates was Fraser, who played with the club from 1996 through 1999.

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Videos: The Fashion Sense of David Beckham

Check out his latest ad released today (also with a brief Lionel Messi appearance) for a new line of running shoes that adidas describes as “ultra-breathable and fashion-forward adidas ClimaCool Seduction (that) features 360-degree ventilation to keep feet cool and dry for maximum comfort during warmer spring and summer workouts. Available in ten bold color combos for $100 on, the ClimaCool design helps reduce foot temperature up to 20% and in-shoe moisture by 50%.”

Hey, at least he will look better in those shoes than this questionable athletic attire released last week if Beckham decides to play in the London Olympics:

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U.S. Olympic failure postmortem


The face of failure: Brek Shea appears to wish the turf could swallow him whole at the end of Monday’s crushing defeat to El Salvador in Olympic qualifying (AP Photos).

Associated Press Sports Writer Ronald Blum has the analysis, which includes points I’ve often written about in my weekly column or in blog posts: the lack of a soccer culture in the U.S. that means kids don’t play pick up games daily as most children do elsewhere, the fact most elite young foreign players receive better coaching than their American counterparts and thus are better equipped for the professional game at a younger age and the like. That makes the piece slightly familiar reading to some, but the points remain salient and are worth repeating. And change is slowly coming, as points at the end of the article make clear:

NEW YORK — For all the talk about the strides football has made in the United States, results of late have been stark and disappointing.

The Americans were eliminated by Ghana in the last two World Cups. The under-20 team’s streak of seven trips to the world championship ended last year. And now the under-23s have failed to make two of the last three Olympics after their elimination Monday night.

Yes, the U.S. plays the world’s game better than it did 25 years ago. The national team even notched its first win ever over powerhouse Italy last month. But the sputtering nature of the American program has even its most loyal supporters scratching their heads.

“Is it a disappointment? Yes. Is it a failure? Yes,” former national team defender Alexi Lalas said after Monday’s under-23 loss. “Is the sky falling? Absolutely not.”

It was a crushing loss, however. The under-23 team was eliminated from Olympic qualifying when it conceded a goal in the final seconds of stoppage time during a 3-3 tie against El Salvador in Nashville, Tenn.


Joyless Joe: Joe Gyau may well hide his head after the sorry display last night by the U.S. Under-23 team in that soccer hotbed of, um, Tennessee.

Despite having home advantage, the Americans didn’t even make it to the qualification round — the semifinals this weekend. It was only the second time since 1976 they failed to qualify. They also fell short in 2004.

“We need to have new leadership, a fresh way of doing things,” former national team and Olympic coach Bruce Arena said. “Usually it’s a new coach. But maybe it’s time for new leadership and new concepts as well. Who knows? But I think we’re making progress, regardless of this result.”

Still, at a time this summer when the football focus in the U.S. could have been on the
up-and-coming American players, it will now be on preseason tours of English teams Chelsea and Tottenham and the new managers likely to be in place at both clubs.

“Obviously last night is a huge disappointment on many levels and for everyone involved,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. “We’ve been very successful over the last 36 years in being at most of the Olympic games on the men’s side, so it’s a big setback.”

Gulati has been a driving force in U.S. football growth for more than a quarter of a century. The Americans had not qualified for the World Cup for 40 years before making it to the 1990 tournament, and they’ve now been to the last six.

Gulati became USSF president in 2006 and replaced Arena after the Americans crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage — embittering the coach who guided the U.S. to the quarterfinals in 2002 and now leads the Galaxy.

In men’s football, the Olympics are limited to players under 23 — with three overage players eligible for inclusion at the Summer Games. But clubs that pay the players’ wages are often reluctant to release their best players.

Still, even with Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams unavailable, the U.S. filled its squad with professionals from Major League Soccer and players from European and Mexico clubs it was able to secure. The Americans figured they would have a relatively easy time claiming one of the two Olympic berths from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

But after an opening 6-0 rout of Cuba last week, they were upset 2-0 by Canada and forced themselves into a must-win game against El Salvador, a country whose population of about 6 million is smaller than New York City’s.

“Having the Olympic experience would certainly be beneficial to these players. In a different way to look at it, this tournament helped weed out some of the quote-unquote talent that maybe isn’t what we thought,” said Lalas, now an ESPN analyst.

More troubling than the failure to qualify for the London Olympics may be the lack of players on the Under-23 squad who appear to be pushing for spots on the national team, a group whose regulars include Landon Donovan (30), Carlos Bocanegra (33 in May), Steve Cherundolo (33) and Oguchi Onyewu (30 in May).

Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil starts this June, and among the group in Nashville only Dallas midfielder Brek Shea has become a frequent national team contributor. The major influx of new players has been several German-Americans who play regularly in the Bundesliga.

And the goalkeeper position, long a strength of the Americans, is now a potential problem area. The 41-year-old Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel might be brought out of national team retirement in the event of an injury to U.S. starter Tim Howard.

But while focusing on the present, Gulati and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann also are putting more emphasis on the future.

MLS has expanded to 19 teams, creating more jobs for American players, and it relaunched its reserve league to create more competition. The USSF Development Academy for elite players 15-18 expanded its schedule from six to 10 months in an effort to establish better and lengthened training.

More Americans are with European clubs than ever before, but for every Clint Dempsey starring in the Premier League, there is a Ricardo Clark who can’t even make a game-day substitutes’ bench.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure we’re on track, but a lot of things that have been put in place over a period of time are long-term projects,” Gulati said. “Those things take time, and it’s very hard to judge those on short-term results.”

AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker and Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report.

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Weekly soccer column: Chivas USA and Galaxy can reboot seasons


It’s always tricky to write a column on the day of a major event such as an Olympic qualifying decider since there’s always the risk events could overtake what you have written.

And that was never more true than today’s column, written hours before the U.S. teams’ shock exit from Olympic qualifying (which I was unable to write about.

Still, it gives most American soccer fans locally another game to look forward to and wash the bad taste of one you’ve just seen out of your mouth.

Read about the two upcoming MLS games on tap for this weekend in the South Bay here.

And let’s hope the results are an improvement on what we saw last night.

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Saturday Soccer: Mexico strolls in Carson & more

*Much as the U.S. did in their 6-0 destruction of Cuba in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Mexico creamed Trinidad & Tobago 7-1 Friday night in Carson. Next up for the U.S. today: Canada.

*In MLS play the Galaxy are off this weekend while former assistant Real Salt Lake coach Robin Fraser returns to Utah today at the helm of winless and scoreless Chivas USA who could find (ulp) that RSL’s defense is even stronger.

*Chivas USA also kicks off its new season of Chivas at the Park today.

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Galaxy play Spurs in Carson this summer


The Galaxy will play Robbie Keane’s former club Tottenham Hotspur July 24 at Home Depot Center, part of Spurs’ U.S. summer tour that also includes a July 31 game against the New York Red Bulls.

Single tickets for the club’s first-ever visit to Southern California have yet to go on sale, with the MLS club hawking packages as usual initially.

The Galaxy-Spurs connections surely didn’t hurt setting up this game.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to open our U.S. tour against the current MLS Cup Champions, LA Galaxy,” said Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Daniel Levy. “With one of our former strikers Robbie Keane and David Beckham, who spent time training with us at Tottenham Hotspur, lining up for the Galaxy, there is a strong relationship between the two Clubs and we are looking forward to the chance to renew old friendships.”

Spurs currently sit fourth in the EPL, just out of the UEFA Champions League slots, although the club is winless its last four games.

From the Galaxy:

This will be the fourth consecutive season in which the Galaxy host a major international friendly at The Home Depot Center and the second straight season that the club will take on one of the Premier League’s top clubs. Last year, the Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw with Manchester City before falling on penalties as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge. In 2009, the Galaxy played to a 2-2 draw with AC Milan at The Home Depot Center while they beat Boca Juniors 1-0 there a year later.

Does this mean Spurs are the MLS All-Star game opponents, too, I wonder?

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Magnificent Messi mesmerizes (even) more

The Great One: Another hat trick, another record today for Lionel Messi. Ho hum (AP Photo).

This post has nothing to do with soccer in and around Los Angeles and everything to do about a player who is emerging as arguably the greatest ever to play the sport. If you’re a soccer fan (and if not why are you here?) read this piece by Associated Press Sports Writer Joseph Wilson — and wonder:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Step aside John Cruyff.

Move over Laszlo Kubala, Romario and Ronald Koeman. And, please, don’t even mention Ronaldinho.

If anyone doubted who is the best scorer to don Barcelona’s burgundy and blue, Lionel Messi ended the debate in emphatic fashion on Tuesday night with a hat trick to become the club’s career goals leader.

Messi broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year-old Barcelona record, getting his eighth hat trick of the season in a 5-3 Spanish league win over Granada that increased his goals total to 234.

“We are before the best player in absolutely every facet,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said. “He is capable of everything that a football player must do and he does it every three days. I am sorry for those who want to dethrone him, but he is simply different from all the rest. Messi has entered the history of the club at just 24 years of age. If he continues like this in the coming years, he will score so many goals that he will never be surpassed.”

Guardiola said that Messi was to soccer what Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan was to

“Jordan dominated his sport and Messi dominates this one,” the former Barcelona midfielder said. “The first thing about Messi to point out is his mentality. He has great quality, of course. But the important thing is his mental strength.”

While Cesar set the mark in 13 seasons from 1942-1955, Messi needed just under eight campaigns to pass his milestone.

“He is defining an era. He is the best,” Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez said.
Nicknamed “The Flea” for his headlong, goal-bound bursts, Messi made his Barcelona debut in 2004.

He tied Cesar’s record on a left-footed shot in the 17th minute for his 232nd goal, then chipped the goalkeeper for a 3-2 lead in the 67th. He added a goal from a tight angle in the 86th, increasing his season total to a career-best 54.

A three-time FIFA player of the year, Messi has 17 goals during a seven-game scoring streak and leads La Liga with 34 goals, two ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

The hat trick was Messi’s 18th for Barcelona and gave him 154 goals in his last 153 games over three seasons. His six hat tricks in La Liga this season tie the record set by Ronaldo last year.

Messi has scored 153 goals in the Spanish league, 49 in the Champions League, 19 in the Copa del Rey, eight in the Spanish Supercup, four in the Club World Cup and one in the European Supercup.

Late Monday, Barcelona announced Cesar’s total from 1942-55 was three fewer than the team previously said. A review by Barcelona’s Center of Documentation and Studies and the La Vanguardia newspaper determined Cesar did not score goals attributed to him during the 1947-48, 1948-49, 1949-50 and 1952-53 seasons and also credited him with an additional goal in 1945-46.

Barcelona’s sixth consecutive league win cut first-place Real Madrid’s lead to five points ahead of its game at Villarreal on Wednesday.

“Messi was calm as always after the game and thanked us all for our efforts,” said Cristian Tello, who also scored for Barcelona. “I have no doubt that he will end up as the best to have ever played this sport. Each game he shows that he is on another level. He doesn’t stop surprising us.”

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