Topps releases 2014 Major League Soccer cards

cobitoppsThe 240-card MLS set includes Mexican national team stars (yes, I don’t get the connection either other than it’s a World Cup year and they want to sell a lot of cards) and retired MLS greats like the Galaxy’s Cobi Jones, left.

A checklist of all the available cards is here (and wouldn’t you just know a certain former Galaxy player is No. 1).

Also, bad luck on now former Chivas USA defender Carlos Borja, waived last week while in his third stint with the club (his card is No. 9), while the Galaxy’s Jose Villarreal is also included although it’s unclear whether he will return from his year-long loan to Cruz Azul or not, since the Mexican club has an option to purchase him.

A review of the card set is here.

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English Premier League setting viewing records on NBCSN

EPLlogoLast Sunday’s Manchester-United clash was the fifth most-watched EPL game ever on cable, according to NBCSN.

The sports network announced that an average of 779,000 viewers watched Liverpool dismantle once-mighty United 3-0.

NBCSN has had four of the top five most-watched EPL games in cable history in the two years since it began broadcasting.

The game was part of a doubleheader with the north London Arsenal-Spurs derby and an average of 725,000 viewers watched both games, making it the top-viewed cable doubleheader in EPL history.

To put all these figures in perspective, consider that the 37 MLS games on NBCSN in 2013 averaged a puny 112,000 viewers, according to Wikipedia.

And, just to get you ready early for the upcoming slate of games this coming weekend in the EPL, which includes a match between first-place Chelsea and third-place-Arsenal Saturday, check out the comprehensive, stat-packed preview to all the games here.

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Tuesday Kicks: Mexico’s Jorge Campos and other retired greats to play in Los Angeles and more

*Exhibition games involving Latin American clubs and players have a spotty history of actually happening (to put it mildly) in Los Angeles, so buyer beware, but an April 26  indoor game featuring retired stars from Mexico and El Salvador was announced today at a press conference at the Coliseum.

Players will include former Galaxy greats Jorge Campos and Mauricio Cienfuegos, former Chivas USA stars Claudio Suarez and Ramon Ramirez and former D.C. United striker Raul Diaz Arce.

Tickets to ShowGoal Los Angeles, as it’s called, go on sale Thursday starting at $25.

*The Galaxy made their opponents look good this weekend on the field and off it. After Real Salt Lake left Southern California with a 1-0 Saturday, goalscorer Joao Plata earned the top spot in the Castrol Index and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was ranked third after saving Robbie Keane’s penalty kick.

Chivas USA defender Bobby Burling, who scored the winner over the Chicago Fire Sunday, checked in at No. 6. The Castrol Index is here.

*Finally, Galaxy President Chris Klein was named to the Sports Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list.

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UCLA Professor Slams LA Galaxy, AYSO sponsor Herbalife for Exploiting Latinos

RonaldoherbalifeIn an op-ed column that ran in the nine-newspaper Los Angeles News Group today, UCLA labor professor Victor Narro slammed Galaxy sponsors Herbalife for taking advantage of economically disadvantaged Latinos as part of its routine business practices and called for a state investigation into the issue.

messi-herbalifeLeft unsaid in the column is that the primary sponsor of the Anschutz Entertainment Group-owned LA Galaxy and the Harbor Gateway-based American Youth Soccer Organization is Herbalife.

These are natural sponsorships given the U.S. Latino population’s love for soccer, but clearly raises questions about the economic relationship between the company, the sport and a vulnerable demographic group.

Herbalife is no stranger to controversy and government investigations, but it appears AYSO, MLS and the Galaxy are much more interested in looking the other way given the millions the company contributes to soccer in this country (and around the world for that matter as the Herbalife ads illustrating this blog post demonstrate).

While we’re on the subject of questionable business practices, it should be noted that Galaxy rivals Chivas USA shouldn’t be gloating over this negative publicity either. That club’s owner, Jorge Vergara, has enriched himself with a Mexican version of Herbalife dubbed Omnilife that uses a pretty much identical marketing scheme.

And lest I forget, this kind of stuff seems endemic to soccer with Real Salt Lake recently exchanging one sponsor for another multilevel marketing company.

Incidentally, I invite a response from the Galaxy,  MLS, Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake or AYSO either in the comment section on this blog or in a separate post.

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Club America-Club Tijuana to meet in Carson

xoloslogoclubamericalogoTickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday for a December friendly between the two most recent Mexican league champions at StubHub Center in Carson that’s being billed as the Los Angeles Clasico.

The two Liga MX champions — the upstart Xolos of Tijuana, which won the Apertura, and Mexico City giants Club America, which took the Clausura — will meet for the first time in Southern California when they meet in a 5 p.m. Dec. 28 game, officials announced today.

The contest is a pre-season friendly so the usual restrictions apply when it comes to seeing regular starters for a full 90 minutes (it won’t happen), for instance, but the game is sure to be a hot ticket for local fans.

Southern California-based Mexican Americans will naturally quickly scoop up tickets, but U.S. internationals Herculez Gomez, Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona play regularly for the Xolos, broadening the appeal of the clash . Club America boasts 10 Mexican internationals on its squad.

Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles played the Galaxy earlier this year, while Club America played Atlas in Carson last year.

The Xolos have one title to their credit since their 2007 founding, Club America a league record 11.

Call 888-929-7849 for tickets.


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Soccer Saturday: Downtown Los Angeles seeks soccer stadium & more

  • It doesn’t sound like Chivas USA know a thing about it, but that didn’t stop LA city officials from dropping the club’s name in connection with a rather pie in the sky plan for a downtown soccer stadium.
  • The U.S. Women’s Team is back in action tonight with Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach closing in on a famous Mia Hamm mark.
  • The Galaxy’s Jose Villarreal was on target in the U-20′s final game before the World Cup gets underway.
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Weekly Soccer Column: Crooks, heroes and up and comers

Which pretty much covers the topics in this week’s column.

One omission from the list of locals called in to upcoming U-20 camps: Chivas USA’s Glendale-born forward Julio Morales was called into Mexico’s U-20 camp Monday (the information arrived from the club too late for inclusion in the column).

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Weekly Soccer Column: LA Galaxy’s Tim Leiweke Shaped Southern California Soccer

Anschutz Entertainment Group President and CEO Tim Leiweke was fired by the Galaxy’s parent company shortly after making this recent appearance in Carson (Photo by Staff Photographer Steve McCrank).

Much locally has been written about the sudden departure of AEG’s Tim Leiweke, but nothing substantive in the media from a soccer perspective until today’s column.

Love or revile Leiweke — and there’s little middle ground — there’s no doubt the hard-charging former Galaxy executive has made an indeliable mark on the local soccer landscape.

Galaxy players and management are clearly in the former camp as shown by this and this and this and this.

While we’re at it, here’s a fan perspective.

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