An independently-produced documentary called “Next Goal Wins” opens Friday in Los Angeles.
Ostensibly, it is about a ragtag team of lovable losers seeking to attain their collective dream of actually winning a game after a decade of losses including a world record 31-0 World Cup qualifying loss four years earlier.
But there is a larger story in play here in this sweet modest movie as I write in this week’s column.
Also, local soccer clubs and other groups can organize fundraising screenings of the movie. For more information, click here.
The Galaxy will face England’s most storied club, Manchester United, at 7:30 p.m. July 23 at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl for the first time ever in the club’s inaugural game of its U.S. tour, the club’s announced today.
“The club has been visiting Los Angeles since 1950 and this match provides a great opportunity for us to engage with our fans in this region,” said Manchester United Group Managing Director Richard Arnold. “The popularity of soccer in the US continues to strengthen and Major League Soccer and LA Galaxy have been fundamental to this.”
Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. April 22.
United last visited the LA area in 2003 (was it really that long ago?) when two goals by Uruguayan forward Diego Forlan and another by Ruud van Nistelrooy was enough to see off Club America 3-1 at the Coliseum.
The club will also play Roma July 26 in Denver, Inter Milan July 29 in Washington D.C. and Real Madrid Aug. 2 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Galaxy haven’t played at their old home since 2010 when they played Real Madrid.
The Galaxy’s failure to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League Wednesday in Tijuana was magnified by the manner of the 4-2 aggregate loss: LA conceded two goals inside nine minutes and a third inside the opening half hour.
That quick 3-1 turnaround from a 1-0 lead going into the game meant the Galaxy were never likely to overcome such a deadly opening salvo against class opposition even if on paper the away goals rule meant progression in the tournament was as tantalizingly close as just one more goal.
In practice however that was never likely with Club Tijuana clearly superior to the Galaxy on their familiar fake field before zealous fans even if Galaxy coach Bruce Arena sounded unwilling to publicly proclaim how much better the hosts were than the MLS outfit.
“It wasn’t our intention to make this game entertaining but it certainly became an entertaining game — our first half play was awful right from the start,” Arena said. “We didn’t win a tackle, our backline was very poor. Let’s be fair, we weren’t good. How good they were I don’t know. They were certainly better than we were.”
Landon Donovan was far more honest about just how shocked the Galaxy were at the opening turn of events that blew their game plan out of the water right away:
“It’s hard to explain,” he said of what occurred. “I don’t know what happened to be honest. We seemed ready, we seemed prepared and we spoke about how we wanted to approach the game, but then one ball bounce around in the box and we weren’t alert, then the next thing you know, we were down a goal. Then we didn’t pay well and we’re okay for a minutes, but they got the second goal and it became more and more difficult. It took us till halftime to recuperate and get ourselves going again. We gave it a good effort, but it wasn’t enough.”
Perhaps Robbie Keane summed it up best: the Galaxy were simply DOA, quickly letting down the sizable contingent of traveling fans:
“The game was over in the first 10 minutes,” keane said. “It’s as simple as that. We started off slow and when you concede a goal in the space of 57 seconds, you can’t start away from home like that especially in a game like this and go on and expect that everything is going to be okay.”
No, you can’t.
Next up for the Galaxy: Real Salt Lake Saturday in Utah.
So it was a soft goal for Tijuana to concede and a lucky one for the Galaxy to score, but the Galaxy have a slim one-goal cushion after last week’s first leg win in Carson as American clubs look to best their Mexican counterparts this weekend in the oft-overlooked CONCACAF Champions League.
I take a look at the U.S. chances in this week’s column.
Former Galaxy striker Alan Gordon of Long Beach rose for a late, trademark header Tuesday as the San Jose Earthquakes tied Mexico’s Toluca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
That was San Jose’s first competitive game of 2014 and now the Galaxy will face Mexican opposition — Club Tijuana — in just their second game of the season.
Can you imagine if major European clubs such as Barcelona and Manchester City — who meet at 12:30 p.m. today in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash on Fox Sports 1 — were asked to do the same thing?
For more, read this week’s column and see what passes for trash talking in CONCACAF here.
*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.
If you’re a young American striker looking to make his mark on the game, there are few better clubs to score against even in a losing effort in a exhibition game. Check out his goal above and his fearless attitude below that speaks volumes for his potential.
Unless the Galaxy beat the Spanish giants for the first time in five attempts tonight they are likely to play Juventus in the nightcap Saturday at Dodger Stadium based on the result of last night’s game in the Bay Area, while Real Madrid and Everton face off in the earlier game that Fox will air live. Incidentally, a certain Real Madrid player was on hand at Dodger Stadium last night (and no, it wasn’t Gareth Bale just yet) where preparations for Saturday’s game are well under way.
Was at beloved Ebberts Field in Brooklyn in July 1959 at the former home stadium of the Dodgers (who had fled to LA two years earlier), according to the Society for American Baseball Research (scroll to the bottom of the article for a list of the soccer games played at the venue).
In 1959 Di Stefano, Puskas and Gento led a history-making squad that had won four consecutive European Cups. They would win their fifth that same season, but the team returned to the United States first. President Santiago Bernabeu’s Real Madrid made history again by playing on the baseball field of the former Brooklyn Dodgers (now the Los Angeles Dodgers). The Whites thrashed Austrian team Graker 2-6, following the win with a match against a squad of Austrian-Hungarian exiles living in America. The Whites picked up another win (0-8) in front of 26,000 spectators.
And yes, it appears that Real Madrid got the name of their Austrian opponent incorrect in the article, which was likely Sturm Graz.