South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
FC Santa Claus — a real club based in the capital of Lapland — has its jerseys and other gear sold this year through WorldSoccerShop.com for the first time ever.
Here’s more on the club from the website’s press release:
FC Santa Claus is located in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, has a population of 65,000, and is said to be the home of Santa Claus.
Rovaniemi is just six miles south of the Arctic Circle with an annual average temperature of 33F degrees; snow covers the ground 175 days a year, which means soccer cannot be played between the months October and April.
But, the midnight sun can be seen from June 6 to July 7, which means soccer could be played for 768 hours straight in the daylight; the lowest temperature ever recorded in Rovaniemi was minus 54F degrees; the mercury in thermometers freezes at temperatures below minus 40F degrees.
The team gained promotion to the Finnish second division in September. Each July, FC Santa Claus organizes a midnight sun tournament for youth teams called the Santa Claus Cup. In February 2015, they will play in the open snow tournament, the Santa Claus World Cup.
Other notables in the draft: former Galaxy striker Edson Buddle and MLS veteran Dwayne DeRosario.
Here’s more from MLS on the eligible players:
The Re-Entry process will consist of players at least 23 years of age with a minimum of three years of MLS experience whose options were not exercised. In addition, players out of contract who have not received a Bona Fide Offer and who are at least 25 years of age with a minimum of four years of MLS experience, and/or players at least 30-years-old with a minimum of eight years of MLS experience are included.
The Canadian made 10 appearances for the Galaxy after signing with the club last January.
Rob Friend played the bulk of his career in Europe.
From the Galaxy press release:
Friend, 33, was originally drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2003 MLS SuperDraft but instead signed with Moss FK in the Norwegian professional division. Friend scored 16 goals for Moss FK before transferring to Molde FK in Norway, where he went on to score 14 more goals from 2004-2006.
After a year in the Netherlands playing for SC Heerenveen, Friend signed with Borussia Monchengladbach for 2007 season, where he led the team in goals with 18 as his side finished first in Bundesliga 2 and was promoted to the first division. The forward spent two more years with Borussia, scoring 28 total goals during his time with the club. Friend remained in Germany until 2014, where he had stints with Hertha BSC, Eintracht Frankfurt and TSV 1860 Munchen.
Friend signed with the Galaxy this January ahead of the 2014 MLS Regular Season. He recorded the game-tying assist in the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw on the road in Vancouver on a goal from Robbie Keane in the 77th minute.
U.S. Soccer announced a schedule of seven USMNT games in the first half of 2015 including the Feb. 8 contest in Southern California and a home game against Mexico April 15 at a venue to be determined. Tickets for USA-Panama go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday. More details are here.
The Univision Deportes telecast of MLS Cup Sunday was watched by 678,000 viewers making it the channel’s top-rated finale to an MLS season ever. The Galaxy-New England game beat six live EPL games on NBCSN last week. When combined with the audience watching on UniMas, a combined 923,000 Spanish-language soccer fans watched the game. Another 964,000 viewers watched on ESPN, making it the third most watched MLS Cup final on the channel.
The Chicago Fire today signed Illinois native and former Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens, who had played for the last year in Norway.