Weekly Soccer Column: Meaningless LA Galaxy-Barcelona showcase overshadows MLS games

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At the same time the Galaxy were drawing a meager 13,391 and 20,195 for their last two home MLS games against Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo respectively, they were selling out the vast Rose Bowl for an exhibition game against Barcelona.

Coincidence?

I think not. Read more in this week’s soccer column.

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Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to miss Saturday’s game against Vancouver Whitecaps

GalaxyFirst-choice Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo will miss Saturday’s MLS contest at StubHub Center against the Vancouver Whitecaps after he was called up to Panama’s squad for two friendlies set for Wednesday and Saturday against Ecuador.

The 33-year-old stopper has made more than 100 appearances for Panama.

Oft-injured striker Robbie Keane, meanwhile, will leave immediately after the game for a Ireland friendly against England scheduled for Sunday that precedes a June 13 Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland in Dublin. He will miss the Galaxy game that day against the Columbus Crew.

The Ireland captain and all-time leading scorer has made just six MLS appearances for the Galaxy this year.

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Galaxy finally sign Superdraft pick and goalkeeper Troy Wolverton

wolvertonIt took more than four months, but the Galaxy announced today they have finally signed goalkeeper Troy Wolverton, a fourth-round draft pick out of Penn State.

“Andrew is a talented young player,” said coach Bruce Arena. “He will give our team depth at the goalkeeper position going forward.”

An injury kept Wolverton out of the club’s preseason camp, which is perhaps just as well; third round draft pick Daniel Keller was released by the club in February. Wolverton becomes the second 2015 draft pick to make the club’s roster, joining midfielder Ignacio Maganto

Here’s the skinny on Wolverton’s college career, per the Galaxy:

The 21-year old goalkeeper spent four years in net at Penn State University, compiling a 38-23-8 record as a starter while recording 225 saves and 32 shutouts and a .53 goals against average. During his senior season, he earned honors on the 2014 All Big-Ten Second Team, recording 64 saves and nine shutouts in 19 matches.

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MLS Monday Video Rewind: Makeshift LA Galaxy extend road winless streak in soggy New England

Missing plenty of first-choice players as has become the norm this season, the LA Galaxy (5-4-6) squandered a lead in difficult windy and wet conditions on the fake turf so many players hate (Robbie Keane, who despises artificial turf sat this one out) in New England Sunday to draw 2-2 with the New England Revolution in a rematch of last year’s MLS Cup.

The result saw the Galaxy extend their road winless streak to 14 games in what was their record seventh MLS game in a month.

The highlight of the game was a cheeky back heel from the steadily improving Jose Villarreal in the 27th minute to set up the second Galaxy goal for Hawthorne’s Gyasi Zardes, who retained his place on the USMNT roster for the upcoming games against the Netherlands Friday and Germany on June 10 in Europe.

Game story

Quotable:

“Jose is a phenomenal player,” Zardes said. “He’s so classy and cheeky. Just to play a through ball like that is nice.”

Notable:

The Galaxy have not started the same XI in consecutive weeks this season and on Sunday were without Robbie Rogers, Todd Dunivant, Robbie Keane, A.J. DeLaGarza and Brian Perk due to injury.

Next for the Galaxy: Against the Vancouver Whitecaps 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Carson.

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MLS TV Weekend Video Preview: Faltering LA Galaxy (3-4-5) host hot Houston Dynamo (4-4-4) at 7:30 tonight on Univision Deportes

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The Galaxy, winless in five games, meet a Dynamo team seeking their third straight win on a channel many English-speaking MLS fans don’t subscribe to.

And it will likely be a lightly attended game, too, given that LA traditionally clears out for the holiday weekend (maybe they should have held the game in Vegas since that’s where a good many Angelenos will) and tickets were being offered for 50 percent off this week.

Robbie Keane, who should return up front for the Galaxy tonight, has warned the incoming Steven Gerrard that he should not expect to come to Southern California with the attitude he is on summer vacation.

A game preview is here.

Finally, despite the Galaxy’s recent form there will be fireworks — literally — in the form of a post-gme fireworks display.

As for me I’m heading out of the office for a week, so expect light blogging here until I return.

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Weekly Soccer Column: LAFC hopes to create not just a club, but community through urban renewal

lafcfan2Football fan: LAFC owner Henry Nguyen spoke passionately earlier this week about using the expansion MLS club to help improve the community surrounding Exposition Park.

LAFC’s ambitious plans for its proposed $250 million stadium that will open in 2018 at Exposition Park extend off the site and into the surrounding economically depressed neighborhoods.

“Its a natural next step in the evolution and development and revitalization of the downntown corridor here,” said co-owner Henry Nguyen. “The Figueroa corridor is something that’s been talked about for decades and now we have an opportunity to be one of the southern gateways or landmarks of this corridor.

“No single entity including us can transform a neighborhood,” he added. “It takes a really collaborative effort. I feel like all the elements are here. You can’t avoid an area just because there’s problems. You really have to address it head on. … As many challenges there are to a site like this we can bring some solutions.”

Combined with a proposed soccer museum as part of 100,000-square-feet of redevelopment that will includes retail and offices, Nguyen hopes the stadium will become a tourist attraction. Go see the Space Shuttle next door at the California Science Center, then check out the soccer facility will become the message it seems.

“We have over seven million visitors to this great city every year and we hope this is one of the great landmarks they are going to want to see,” Nguyen said. “This is going to be an intimidating, tight, urban soundbox stadium.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber hopes that LAFC will do for south Los Angeles what the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers did for their neighborhoods.

“We’ve seen what Seattle has been able to do to drive development in and around that building,” he said. “As the commissioner of a major sports league I believe stadiums drive development, drive opportunity and drive hope.”

And drive catchphrases apparently.

It all sounds good, but I suggest in this week’s column that a huge challenge lies ahead for LAFC in part because of the relatively insular campus they sit on that makes the area different from downtown Seattle or Portland (in part because it is not in a downtown, for instance).

For more, read this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

LAFCoutLAFC Fans: Will the LAFC crowd mirror the demographics of the neighborhood it calls home?

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Three things you didn’t know about the new LAFC franchise and its MLS stadium proposal

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You may not find these little nuggets in most news stories today about LAFC unveiling its stadium plans, but it’s offhand comments that often provide the most interesting factoids you might never have considered:

*The stadium site already has a nickname, according to owner Henry Nguyen, who, incidentally knows which English stadiums contain the Kop and Stretford End (do you?).

“The property is shaped like a boot and we’re probably going to end up calling it the boot,” he said. Sounds better than the cleat to me.

*For really big games, expect LAFC to use the next door LA Memorial Coliseum.

“I do expect our Classicos (with the Galaxy) to one day draw 80,000-90,000 people and we can go right next door,” he said.

*LAFC is not yet the club’s official name and is kind of sounding a tad repetitive in MLS these days, but given that this is Tinseltown don’t be surprised if that does indeed become the official club brand.

“Working titles tend to stick,” Nguyen said.

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MLS Video Rewind: LA Galaxy release “highlight” reel of crushing 4-0 loss to Orlando FC (the kickoff looked good)

Quotable:

“We were awful on the day, said coach Bruce Arena. “I had 14 players that played and I thought about three of them played in an acceptable manner. We were outplayed all over the field. Really, there’s not much you can say.

“Starting two young players in the attack probably didn’t help, but our passing was so poor,” he added. “For us to connect on anything it was dangerous and next to impossible because of the quality of our passing. We had a majority of players that didn’t play well.”

Notable:

“We basically helped create every one of their goals with our poor passing and dispossessing the last half of the field,” Arena said.

I think we’ll leave it at that.

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