Weekly Column: Galaxy Face Long Road to Repeat as MLS Champions

Read the column here.

And yes, the link to the column that runs Tuesdays is late.

The blog has been on hiatus, while we switch to new software, something that also let me take a little break from the blogging grind. Hopefully normal programming will now resume, but please bear with us while we update the behind the scenes blog infrastucture.

Incidentally, the Galaxy announced today that they are so far restricting ticket sales to the lower bowl of Home Depot Center, which holds about 20,000, despite the lack of a “hard cap” on attendance.

The Galaxy often restricts the capacity of midweek games while school is in session as part of an agreement with Cal State Dominguez Hills.

In another effort to reduce disruption to the neighborhood around the stadium, the club will provide fans with free shuttles and parking at the South Bay Pavilion mall, 2700 Avalon Blvd.

Buses will run from 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Tickets to the game, by the way, start at $30.

Complete gameday information is here.







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100 Percent Soccer blog on temporary hiatus

While we switch over to WordPress, which could take 48 hours or so when the process begins Tuesday morning.

We are switching almost 200 blogs on various Los Angeles News Group properties, so bear with us.

I was whisked to Las Vegas over the weekend for a surprise celebration (so no column Tuesday) leaving the Galaxy to disappoint yet again in the Bay Area in the overlooked of late California Clasico that some supporters won’t soon forget.

Blah, although it could be worse.

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Seattle-Real Salt Lake Result Tonight Gives LA Galaxy MLS Playoff Hope


I’m terrible at math, but here’s what tonight’s scoreless draw between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders means for the Galaxy in the MLS standings by my calculation: if the fourth-place Galaxy win their final two games they will finish no lower than third in the Western Conference with 56 points (they hold the tiebreaker over Seattle, which is goals scored). Third-place Seattle has just one regular season game left.

However, if Real Salt Lake loses in their final game of the season Oct. 27 against the fifth-place Vancouver Whitecaps at home (unlikely, I know) the Galaxy could overhaul them for second because of goals scored (currently 56-46 Galaxy).

But, the Galaxy have to beat the MLS-leading Earthquakes in San Jose Sunday (hmmm) and the Sounders in the final game of the season at Home Depot Center.

Can they do it?

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Did U.S. Make Statement in Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying Win?


Mission accomplished: Back from the wilderness striker Eddie Johnson and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann congratulate each other on a job well done after the win over Guatemala (AP Photo).

And no, I don’t think the statement was “we have a crap defense.”

Associated Press Sports Writer Dave Skretta has more:

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The primary objective for the United States against Guatemala was a win or at worst a draw, and squeaking through to the next round of World Cup qualifying.

It wasn’t the only goal.

Jurgen Klinsmann revealed a much more ruthless motive in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory that allowed the U.S. to win Group A and advance to the six-team finals in North and Central America and the Caribbean: The second-year manager wanted to send a message to the rest of the world.

“With every game you try to earn respect. It’s what you do,” Klinsmann said. “Quite frankly, every qualifying game and every competition you try always to earn respect.

“You know in soccer that everybody is watching you,” Klinsmann continued, his words picking up speed. “In South America, they’re watching you. Russia will watch us, what we’re doing here, so you always want to make statements. You want to send statements
out and say, ‘We’re ready for you.’ We want to go to Mexico and say, ‘We want to beat you there.’ Every game.”

It hasn’t always been pretty so far, but the pugnacious attitude of Klinsmann finally appears to have seeped into the psyche of a U.S. team drilled in defense by former coach Bob Bradley.

Even when Guatemala charged to a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes on a defensive breakdown by the American back line, it only seemed to stoke their passion. They answered a few minutes later when Graham Zusi’s corner kick was redirected by Clint Dempsey and to the waiting foot of Carlos Bocanegra, who tapped it in for the equalizer.

The U.S. quickly increased the pressure from there.

Eddie Johnson corralled a pass on the wing and sent a low cross to Dempsey, who put the ball in the back of the net over the outstretched hand of the sliding Guatemalan goalkeeper. And later in the half, Michael Bradley’s deft pass set up Dempsey for
his second goal of the game.

The U.S., facing elimination for only the second time in the last five World Cup cycles, never let up in the second half. Dempsey just missed with a header that would have given him a hat trick, and a couple other shots were saved by Ricardo Jerez
Jr. to keep the game reasonably close.

Not close enough for Guatemala, though. Jamaica’s 4-1 victory of Antigua and Barbuda allowed it to squeeze into the final round on goal differential along with the Americans. They’ll be joined by heavily favored Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.

“We know that there is still a lot of work to be done. We know that we can be better and sharpen up in order to qualify for the World Cup,” Dempsey said. “We know the next round is going to be tough. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that
we’re ready for it.”

Klinsmann called the next round a “grind,” 10 matches beginning in late March that will set the field for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil interspersed throughout a busy year.

The American team will have several friendlies scheduled to tune up for their international matches, and also have to balance a roster for the Gold Cup, which runs from July 7-28.

The U.S. advanced through the group stage of the regional championship last year with a 2-1-0 record, and defeated Jamaica 2-0 and Panama 1-0 to reach the final against Mexico, which it lost 4-2 to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena — a defeat that in part led to Bradley’s ouster.

“We don’t know yet how we’re going to manage that,” Klinsmann said of his rosters for the two tournaments. “It boils down to how their own schedule looks like, what league do they play in, what do those schedules look like. You know, we have to put that
puzzle together.”

Klinsmann acknowledged it’s not an easy puzzle to solve, but it’s a welcome one.

He’s been trying to build depth since taking over 15 months ago, pulling in young and untested players such as Zusi and giving guys such as Johnson a second chance. The moves have finally begun to pay off after a couple of ragged games, including a loss
at Jamaica and a narrow win last Friday in Antigua that kept the Americans off the brink of failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Now, it’s a matter of finding out which guys in Klinsmann’s pool best fit together, and making sure the confidence gained Friday night only builds heading into a busy 2013 schedule.

“Something you have to repeat to the players all the time is every game starts nil-nil,” he said, “and you have to have the right attitude, the right spirit for it, the right approach, and match the opponent right away with that fighting spirit, otherwise you’re going to look bad.”

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U.S. Heads to Final Round of World Cup Qualifying With Win in Kansas City

United States 3 Guatemala 1

62675-rsz_dempseyguat (2).jpg

Clint Dempsey watches his second goal enter the Guatemala net tonight in Kansas City, clinching a U.S. spot in the final round of World Cup qualifying (AP Photo).

What us, worry?

BTW, Dempsey now has 30 international goals, tying him with Brian McBride for third on the all-time U.S. goalscoring list.

The game wasn’t without an early scare for the Americans, however, thanks to some atrocious defending that is sadly becoming something of a hallmark of this U.S. team under Jurgen Klinsmann.

Game story.


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Los Angeles Galaxy Playmaker Landon Donovan Questionable for Sunday’s Game in San Jose

Which likely means he will play.

Donovan officially has a bone bruise on his left knee.

On the bright side, defender Todd Dunivant, who missed the last Galaxy game with a hip pointer, is not on the injury list released today by Major League Soccer.

The Galaxy play at 4 p.m. against the Earthquakes in San Jose on Galavision and the new Time Warner Cable Sports channel.

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And the top-rated World Cup qualifier on TV in Los Angeles Friday was…

Telemundo’s game between Guyana and Mexico, which was the highest-rated game that evening in the market among men 18-49 in any language, according to the Nielsen Company.

The game was watched by 2.1 million viewers nationwide. A total of 51 percent of all Spanish-language viewers in Los Angeles watched the game.

In contrast, the U.S.-Antigua & Barbuda game was on the new beIN Sports channel, which is only available on DirecTV (much to the annoyance of LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, incidentally, who told me Monday how frustrated he was by that game’s limited distribution).

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Weekly Column: Four more reasons to worry about tonight’s U.S. World Cup Qualifying game


EJ Returns: Eddie Johnson, once so prolific in a U.S. jersey returned against Antigua & Barbuda Friday– and promptly scored two goals (AP Photo).

Worried about the chances of the U.S. joining Mexico and four other teams in the Hexagonal tonight?

We give you four more areas of concern — and more reason to worry — in today’s column. Read it here.

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Monday Kicks: No Timetable for LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan to Resume Full Training & More

*That’s mainly because Galaxy coach and GM Bruce Arena is being typically cagey about Landon Donovan’s unspecified injury that kept him out of the final two U.S. World Cup qualifying games — at least until the MLS injury report is released Tuesday — and declined to say anything speciifc about it Monday.

“He’s inside working in the gym,” is all Arena would offer today, adding that the Galaxy don’t play in San Jose until Sunday against the Earthquakes (thanks for the schedule reminder, Bruce).

Defender Todd Dunivant was back out on the training field today after a hip pointer kept him out of the last Galaxy game.

I’ll have more on the injury to Donovan — from a U.S. national team perspective — in Tuesday’s column.

*Incidentally, Arena couldn’t have been thrilled to hear that designated player Robbie Keane will need a pain-killing injection Tuesday to suit up for Ireland in their crucial World Cup qualifier.

*Also, it sounds like Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic is enjoying the break from MLS to play for Canada Tuesday.

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