David Beckham to play final game for LA Galaxy at MLS Cup in Carson

What started in Carson in 2007 will end there.

Galaxy midfielder David Beckham announced today that MLS Cup 2012 on Dec. 1 at Home Depot Center will be his final competitive game with the club after six seasons.

“I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the LA Galaxy , however, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career,” Beckham said. “I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.

 

“In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year. I’ve been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I’ve had from fans in L.A. and across the States. Soccer’s potential has no limits in this wonderful country and I want to always be part of growing it.”

From the Galaxy press release:

“The arrival of Beckham in Southern California and Major League Soccer has coincided with a period of unrivaled growth for both the Galaxy and the league, which is approaching the conclusion of its 17th season.

Seven expansion teams – Montreal, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Jose and Toronto FC – have debuted since 2007 while 15 of the league’s 19 teams now play in soccer specific stadiums, up from five prior to 2007.

Attendance at those stadiums are at unprecedented highs with an average of 18,807 fans attending games during the 2012 MLS regular season and nearly 22,000 fans turning out per game in the postseason. Additionally, exposure and recognition of the Galaxy and MLS are at all-time highs with the league maintaining national television broadcast deals with ESPN, NBC Sports and Univision while the Galaxy reached a 10-year broadcast deal with Time Warner Cable Sports in November 2011 that is the most lucrative in MLS history.”

“Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport and David not only took our franchise to another level but he took our sport to another level,” said Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan star played 98 regular season games for the Galaxy scoring 18 goals and 40 assists, fourth most in club history.

Beckham is also a veteran of three World Cups and played 115 times for England.

Notice, incidentally, there was no use of the “r” word — retirement — in the press release, but given his comments above we can safely assume that this is the end of his competitive days of playing football.


 

 

 

 

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LA Galaxy Takes Long Way Home Back to Carson

LA Galaxy 4 Seattle Sounders 2

Western Conference Quicky: If you blinked you missed Robbie Keane holding what I presume is the Western Conference trophy aloft (that’s AEG headf honcho Tim Leiweike to his left) after the Galaxy’s “win” in cold, rainy and hostile Seattle. That’s because it was the world’s quickest victory celebration with a trophy that means little with MLS Cup looming at home in Carson Dec. 1 (AP Photo).

Last year’s MLS Cup win at Home Depot Center seemed almost inevitable for the Galaxy, Supporters Shield winners.

This year it is improbable in the extreme, a lucky penalty call Sunday in Seattle helping ease the wild card berth-winning Galaxy home to the final against an improved Houston Dynamo side for the second successive year.

Yet MLS Cup 2011 will replay Dec. 1 in Carson in the 2012 edition.

Staunch Seattle fans made this a night to remember in atrocious conditions even if the home side fell short, but for the Galaxy it was a disciplined mission accomplished given the head start ahead of the real task at hand.

Quotable:

“Well we didn’t play particularly well tonight; there’s no question about that,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “We did what we came here to do, to advance into the MLS Cup finals, so that was achieved. Obviously the conditions were difficult, with the surface and the rain and Seattle played quite well, no question about that. Having said all that, we won this competition 4-2 and deserve to move forward. We’ve got a couple weeks to get ready for a real good team. Houston’s in terrific form right now, so it’s going to be a heck of a challenging final.”

 

Oh, and here’s why ref Marc Geiger called the Galaxy PK (not often you see this kind of explanation): “The hand was in an unnatural playing position, and he was making himself bigger by taking space,” Geiger said. “His arms were outside of his body. [Jhon Kennedy] Hurtado’s arm was next to his body, he was not making himself bigger, and this was a case of “ball-to-hand.”

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History beckons LA Galaxy, Seattle in MLS Crunch game

Seattle Sounders 0 Galaxy 3

Second leg kickoff live at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

On what will be a cold, rainy night in the Pacific Northwest — with conditions deteriorating throughout the game — more than 40,000 fans will watch to see if the Sounders can pull off an historic comeback or the Galaxy reach a second consecutive MLS Cup final.

Seattle understands the enormity of their task – as do the wary Galaxy.

Check out coverage leading up to the game earlier in the week here and here.

More on the Eastern Conference final is here (kickoff is at 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Network).

 

 

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Thursday Kicks: When You Need Goals, how do you beat the MLS’ Best Counterattacking Team & more?

  • That’s the quandry facing Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid against the Galaxy Sunday in the second leg of the Western Conference final.
  • No Galaxy players were included among the finalists announced today for the MLS season awards. Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy is a Goalkeeper of the Year finalist. In addition, veteran Chivas USA defender Ante Jazic (fair play award) and Lawndale’s Kei Kamara (humanitarian) were also named. Former Galaxy and Chivas USA striker Alan Gordon is one of three Comeback Player of the Year finalists.
  • Toronto has released former Galaxy defender Ty Harden, 28, one of a half dozen players released by the worst club in MLS. He was a 2007 Galaxy draft pick, but retired after one season to perform philanthropic work before returning to the game.
  • Three local players was named to a week-long U.S. Under-18 camp at Home Depot Center that opens Saturday ahead of two games next week against their Canadian counterparts: Galaxy players Paul Arriola (Chula Vista) and Justin Dhillon (Rancho Santa Margarita) and Chivas USA midfielder Marco “Marky” Delgado, 17, (Glendora)
  • For the second consecutive year, the UCLA men’s soccer team took home Pac-12 Player and Coach of the Year honors. Senior Ryan Hollingshead was named  Conference Player of the Year and Jorge Salcedo was named Coach of the Year.
  • Big West Conference champions Cal State Northridge (15-6-0) hosts San Diego (11-8-0), champions of the West Coast Conference, at 7 o’clock tonight in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner plays UCLA 5 p.m. Sunday at Drake Stadium. The Matadors are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.
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Video Highlights: U.S. V. Russia

Usual defensive frailties. Spectacular Michael Bradley strike. Lucky draw.

From the Associated Press: Mix Diskerud gave the U.S. soccer a team a thrilling end to 2012.

Playing just his third game for the Americans, the 22-year-old midfielder scored his first international goal on a 20-yard shot deep into four minutes of injury time, giving the United States a 2-2 tie against Russia on Wednesday in an exhibition game at Krasnodar.
Michael Bradley, who scored in the 76th minute, sent a long ball into the penalty area toward Terrence Boyd. Defender Sergei Ignashevich tied to clear the ball but his header went on one hop to Diskerud. His right-footed shot took a bounce and spin in off the left hand of goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.

“It was a long ball and I was hoping with all my heart that it would come back to me and it did,” Diskerud said. “I got a nice strike.”

Diskerud, whose mother is from Arizona and whose father is from Norway, was a member of the American under-23 team that failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

“We can compete with very good teams in the world,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “The way our team fought back twice after being down a goal was great. It showed a lot of personality. It showed a lot of character. This is a young team, and a team that is growing.”

Fedor Smolov, making his Russian national team debut, gave the hosts the lead in the ninth minute following a giveaway by Danny Williams, who mis-hit the ball badly trying for a quick free kick in his own half.

Bradley tied it on a stunning 19-yard volley, his 11th international goal. Maurice Edu passed to Juan Agudelo in the penalty area, and Agudelo headed the ball back to an open Bradley for a right-footed shot that clanked in off the post to Gabulov’s right.

“I caught it perfect,” Bradley said.

Roman Shirokov put Russia back ahead 2-1 when he converted a penalty kick in the 84th minute after a foul by Clarence Goodson, who pushed over Artem Dzyuba in front of goalkeeper Tim Howard following a free kick.

“I think we came in at halftime frustrated with ourselves,” Bradley said. “We were too casual from the start and good teams make you pay. Maybe we were a little lucky after the first 15 minutes that it was only 1-0.”

The 27th-ranked United States, missing regulars Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Steve Cherundolo, are preparing for the final round of qualifying next year for the 2014 World Cup. They finished the year at 9-2-3 with a .750 winning percentage that tied
their best in the modern era, set in 2005. The U.S. had two big firsts, beating Italy and winning at Mexico City, and its only defeats came in an exhibition against Brazil and a World Cup qualifier at Jamaica.

“We only had two losses, a bunch of wins, some really tough-fought draws and we topped the group,” Howard said of the Americans’ finish in the semifinals of World Cup qualifying. “It was a really fantastic year. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a really good, positive year for this group.”

The ninth-ranked Russians are 4-0-2 since former England coach Fabio Capello took over last summer.

Howard had six saves, including two nifty stops in succession in the 66th when he batted away an open shot by Renat Yanbaev and then parried Vasily Berezutskiy’s shot over the crossbar.

Jozy Altidore started at forward for the U.S. after he was dropped from the roster for last month’s qualifiers following poor performances against Jamaica in September.

“Jozy Altidore today was a handful,” Klinsmann said. “He gets a big, big compliment for his performance.”

Timmy Chandler started at right back. He had not played for the Americans since last November, uncertain whether he wanted to commit to the U.S. program, and would not be tied to the program until he plays in a competitive match such a qualifier.

“I think the team has grown a lot in a lot of ways,” Altidore said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I think we’re finding our identity again and that’s important going into the nature of the final qualifying round. It’s going to be tough, but we’ve grown a lot.”

NOTES: U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra left in the 18th minute with a strained left hamstring. He was replaced by Clarence Goodson, who paired with Geoff Cameron in central defense. Bocanegra’s 110th career game moved him into a sixth-place tie on the
U.S. list with Paul Caligiuri, who had 110 appearances from 1984-98. … The starting lineup marked the first time since June 19, 2011, the U.S. team had no starters from MLS clubs. The previous game was a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold
Cup. … Josh Gatt, a speedy 21-year-old midfielder, started in his national team debut and was replaced by Agudelo in the 63rd minute.

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Back to the future for Chivas USA

When Chivas USA first entered MLS in 2005, their presumptuous slogan was Futbol es Aqui.

They employed a core of youth and reserve CD Guadalajara players, while also importing a bunch of fading stars who made no lasting impact (remember Martin “one game” Zuniga or veteran Ramon Ramirez?).

The team promptly became the joke of MLS, marched to a four-win inaugural season and frankly never recovered.

Belatedly realizing management had absolutely no clue about MLS, Chivas USA rebooted and saw gringos Bob Bradley and Preki achieve a modicum of success before lapsing back into ineptitude.

And now Chivas USA has come full circle, promising to emphasize once more its Mexican roots in a Southern California market where even most of its tiny cadre of loyal fans want this to be an American club that emphasizes its Latino heritage rather than a Chivas Guadalajara offshoot plopped down in the U.S. that means nothing to virtually anyone.

Of course, MLS Commish Don Garber, observing Tuesday that Chivas USA was the first MLS expansion club on his watch, isn’t about to admit failure and still clings to the completely unproven notion that a red and white clad Chivas USA can appeal, for instance, to Club America fans despite seven years of evidence to the contrary.

“I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced of that,” Garber said of the idea that Chivas USA can’t appeal to Latino fans of rival clubs and countries. “I think the idea of having a club that is connected to the Hispanic audience that’s not just connected to the Mexican audience is still right. Just because the Chivas name is on it doesn’t mean somebody who is either a fan of another Mexican club or a fan of a club from Colombia or from Argentina or Brazil or from other parts of central America (won’t support them). I believe it could still work.”

Really?

Staff Writer Phil Collin filed this story.

But it does still seem as if Chivas USA is a self-serving extension of its owners rather than a club trying legitimately to recconnect with its fans base.

How big of an ego do you have to have to issue three separate press releases about Tuesday’s happenings including one that praises Vergara’s wife and business partner for her financial role.

From Chivas USA’s press release:

Since her arrival to the institution in 2007, Angelica Fuentes Tellez has consolidated into a strategist and leader in the financial and administrative branch of Grupo Omnilife – Chivas, and currently stands as executive president, with a standout performance and a principal drive for Jorge Vergara within the organization.

;

With different strategies, which will be similar to those applied to Chivas and Omnilife, Chivas USA will be lead (sic) into the perfect functionality in soccer operations, finance and economic areas, which will lead the Goats forward to a promising future in its new era under the direction of Vergara and Fuentes, who are the main protagonists behind the success of Grupo Omnilife – Chivas.

;

“Angelica has done an extraordinary job, transforming the financial aspects in the Group. From red numbers, she converted them into black numbers,” affirmed Vergara.

Astoundingly, the apparently delusionary Vergaras believes Chivas USA can move into a new stadium, presumably where the LA Sports Arena now stands, in a “couple of years” even though negotiations with USC over the site are non-existant.

“This is the return of the prodigal son,” added Vergara. “From its inauguration, the plan was to make Chivas USA the son of Chivas de Guadalajara. Along the way it got away from that and the clubs suffered a divorce in philosophy and structure.”

Good luck with that.

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