Golden Kicks: Gold Cup, Golden State Kickabout & more

saccanaryFanboy: Why the 100 Percent Soccer blog was on hiatus.

Before I was a journalist, I was a soccer fan.

Still am as this photograph taken last Thursday in front of the Capitol Building in Sacramento indicates.

I grew up supporting modest EPL team Norwich City and despite moving multiple times to different states and countries, I’ve remained loyal.

Last season was difficult to watch, as City struggled to remain in the EPL, with a long run of discouraging results not helping matters (Chivas USA fans, I know how you feel, in a sense).

Still, I hadn’t seen City play live since the club visited Seattle back in the mid-1980s, so I jumped at the chance for a little soccer and craft brewery road trip, mixing in a Thursday game in front of a capacity crowd at Sacramento’s Raley Field against Mexican second tier opposition and one the following Saturday in San Jose against the Earthquakes at one of my favorite venues, Buckshaw Stadium.

In truth, the experience was much better than the actual quality of play on the field with City slow and out of shape, while clearly coming to grips with an influx of new players.

It’s precisely why preseason games are strictly for hardcore fans.

While I was roving the state, the Galaxy got back on the winning track (conceding an early goal is always better than conceding a late one), Chivas USA actually won a game against a team even worse than they are and Landon Donovan was drawing rave reviews for his play with the the U.S. at the Gold Cup.

Oh, and the Galaxy signed a 30-something French player from Chivas USA, which smacks of grasping at straws to me to deal with on-going midfield issues Robbie Rogers has yet to solve, but coach Bruce Arena likes known, veteran quantities he hopes to squeeze a little more out of.

Gold Cup action resumes tonight in Texas with both the U.S. and Mexico in action.

Me? I’ll be watching my Canaries take on the Timbers in Portland in the final game of their U.S. tour.

 

 

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Weekly Soccer Column: Galaxy and Gold Cup

MLS parity is forgiving.

While the inconsistent Galaxy currently occupy the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot, they are also only three points out of second spot.

Still, given their current form, explored in today’s column, who knows what their chances are of seeing those heights again.

Read more in today’s column, which also includes a brief preview of today’s U.S. Gold Cup game.

Our sister newspaper The Denver Post has more on Mexico’s Gold Cup campaign.

Also: will this former Chivas USA import catch on with the Galaxy?

One clarification to the column about who the U.S. will face in the quarterfinals, according to U.S. Soccer:

The United States needs only a draw to secure a first-place finish in the group, which would mean a match against the third-place team from either Group A or Group B in the quarterfinal.
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Thursday Kicks: Mexico’s Gold Cup crunch clash & more

*To say there’s a bit of pressure on Mexico this evening in Seattle is a bit of an understatement give the team’s poor recent run of results. You can watch how this plays out at 7:30 tonight on Fox Soccer.

*Will Chivas USA provide a cure Friday for the wall Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth is worried about?

*Caleb Calvert made history earlier this week when he became the youngest pro in Chivas USA franchise history. Well, today the Wrightwood resident was named the Western Conference U-15/16 National Player of the Year:

“Personally it means I have achieved something I thought I wouldn’t have accomplished in quite a while and I’m just shocked and amazed by it,” Calvert said. “Now I want to use this as stepping stone, move forward and get better.”.

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Wednesday Kicks: Galaxy’s Donovan hits U.S. national team milestone and more

*The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan had a goal and two assists in the U.S. Gold Cup opener Tuesday, but wasn’t the biggest star for the Americans on the night.

*The inaugural Steve Nash Foundation Showdown LA is set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Salvation Army Red Shield Community Center, 1532 West 11th St. Participating past and present Southern California soccer stars in the pick-up style charity soccer game include Robbie Keane, Carlo Cudicini, Robbie Rogers, John O’Brien and Kyle Martino. General admission is free.

*Casting director Lyle Dohl, who has worked on several TV reality shows in recent years. is seeking a local “underdog” soccer team for a new show:

“I’m working on a project right now for an immensely talented commercial director named Randy Krallman,” Dohl said in an email. “He has me looking for a charismatic coach of an underdog boys soccer team possibly best described as a “turn-around team” or a “worst-to-first place team”.  Or, if you like movie references, maybe a team like The Bad News Bears or in the 2012 Oscar Award-wining documentary Undefeated.  Essentially, a team that wasn’t picked to do anything but surprised everyone at the end of the season or tournament due to great coaching and hard work.  We’re mainly looking in the tri-county (LA, OC, Ventura) area but will definitely go farther for the right story.”

More info is here.

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Fourth of July holiday weekend kicks: Galaxy, USMNT & more

HDC_FireworksIt’s an incredibly busy long holiday weekend of soccer action in the area, but I will take the Fourth of July and beyond off for what I believe is the first time since the former Home Depot Center opened in 2003, which means no column Tuesday either.

While I will add links to this blog post when I’m not clutching a cold beverage, posting will be even more spotty than usual on a holiday weekend.

Before I go there’s time to note that:

*Four goals in four MLS games since joining the Chicago Fire has earned former Galaxy cult figure Mike Magee the MLS Player of the Month award. The MLS leading scorer led the Fire to an unbeaten 3-0-1 record in June since joining the club May 25. In contrast the Galaxy lost four games last month and only managed to beat lowly Chivas USA.

*The Galaxy have a chance to improve on that record with their annual Independence day game that features opponents the Columbus Crew, the former club of Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers, who replaced Magee on the LA roster.

*If you’ll be in San Diego for the holiday, check out the free U.S. national team training session open to the public ahead of Friday’s 8 p.m. friendly against Guatemala. Gate H at Qualcomm Stadium opens at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for the public.

*Heading to Pasadena Sunday for the Gold Cup opening doubleheader that includes Mexico? Don’t forget to wave:

 

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Weekly Soccer Column: Summer of soccer schedule, Carlos Bocanegra comes home to Southern California with Chivas USA

dodgerstadium

Dodger Stadium will host two soccer games this summer for the first time in the venue’s 51-year-old history (Daily Breeze file photo).

Read the column here.

For the complete Galaxy CONCACAF Champions League schedule mentioned in the column, click here.

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy’s Donovan named to Gold Cup roster & more

*As expected, Galaxy playmaker Landon Donovan was named to the 23-player U.S. Gold Cup roster today and will link up with the squad Monday ahead of the July 5 game in San Diego against Guatemala. That means Donovan will miss at least three Galaxy games while he tries to impress with the U.S. “B” squad in an effort to win back his spot on the U.S. starting XI:

“When Landon came back in the end of March after the long break, he needed time to get back in a rhythm, get back in shape and work on his game again,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. I think now the process is on a good roll. He’s getting sharper every game and every week. We’ve watched his games and believe now is a good time to get him back into the National Team and give him the opportunity to prove his point. He knows that the group that played the World Cup Qualifiers is ahead of the curve and have a very strong position right now, and that he’s been observed by us and has to rebuild his case. We have all respect for what he has done in the past, but sports are about the present and about the future, and that’s what we are building on. We are really happy to have him back in the group, and he has the opportunity now to show where he’s at.”

*One player not on the roster who probably should be is former Galaxy striker Mike Magee, the leading MLS goalscorer who can’t stop popping balls in the back of the net now he’s with the Chicago Fire. He now has seven goals in seven Fire games.

*Galaxy midfielder Robbie Riogers, who grew up in Rolling Hills Estates, had this reaction to two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings Wednesday regarding marriage equality.

*Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal and the U.S. Under-20 team were bounced out of the Under-20 World Cup today, losing 4-1 to previously winless Ghana.

*Meanwhile, Chivas USA is also facing the loss of a key player for an extended period of time.

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Former Galaxy striker Herculez Gomez joining Club Tijuana & more

xoloslogoThe Mexican club are expected to formally announce the latest addition to their growing American contingent later today.

If you plan to head to TJ to watch the LA native with the thousands of other Americans who regularly cross the border for games, however, read the last paragraph of the story.

At least Gomez, who like the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan was recently named to the pool of potential players for the Gold Cup, won’t have to travel far for the recently announced July 5 U.S.-Guatemala in San Diego ahead of the tournament.

Gomez, of course, is currently with the U.S. team in Jamaica ahead of Friday’s now even more critical World Cup qualifier for the hosts after last night’s loss to Mexico left them already dangerously adrift in the standings.

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Thursday Kicks: Donovan, Ruiz, Gold Cup & more

A few quick kicks:

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Rose Bowl sold out for Saturday’s Gold Cup final

The first of the two semifinals has not yet ended – U.S.-Panama is still on-going as I write this, – but CONCACAF officials have just announced that all 90,000 tickets have been sold at the Pasadena venue.

I’m guessing most of those buyers are not expecting a Panama-Honduras final, although the U.S. is currently tied 0-0 with about 25 minutes to go in the second half with the Central American nation it lost to earlier in the tournament. Mexico plays Honduras in the second game of today’s doubleheader.

There will be no ticket sales period at the Gold Cup final Saturday and CONCACAF officials are urging fans to arrive “very early” – before 4 p.m. – to ensure they see the opening kickoff. Even picking up previously ordered tickets on game day can be a challenge.

From the CONCACAF press release:

Fans arriving after 4 p.m. can expect a long walk to the stadium and may even possibly be late for the start of the match.

Fans are also encouraged to arrive early to enjoy Futbol Fiesta, a 120,000 sq. ft. interactive fan area featuring live music, interactive elements, giveaways and a beer garden. Futbol Fiesta will open at 2 p.m. in Area H on the South end of the Rose Bowl.

Finally, fans are encouraged to carpool or utilize alternative means of transportation like the Metro Gold Line or the Old Pasadena Shuttle Bus, which is free and begins service at 3 p.m. and runs until 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game.

Parking at the stadium is $20, but unless you’re planning to barbecue on the golf course I’d recommend the free shuttle, which is fast and convenient.

Oh, and temperatures are expected to hit 80 degrees in Pasadena Saturday.

The 6 p.m. game is live on Fox Soccer Channel and Univision.

Updated

The U.S. beat Panama 1-0 from a Clint Dempsey goal off a Landon Donovan cross (the Panamanian defender marking Dempsey really should have prevented that ball from reaching Dempsey on the far post).

The U.S. now awaits the winner of the Mexico-Honduras semifinal.

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