- You didn’t believe that claim by David Beckham he was in search of one last soccer challenge after leaving the Galaxy did you? Let’s face it, if he goes to China as rumored until the end of the season his biggest challenge will be selling enough replica jerseys regardless of what he does on the field.
- In more modest transfer news, another former Galaxy midfielder has rejoined a former club.
- Meanwhile, a slice of U.S. soccer history plays out on live on television this weekend, when for the first time ever Fox (the main network, not the soccer channel) airs a 9 a.m. Saturday third round FA Cup tie between Manchester United and West Ham United. From Fox: Over the last two seasons, FOX Sports has aired a combination of nine live and encore world-class matches from the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League in the U.S, averaging 1.5 million viewers each. The match on Jan. 5 marks the sixth time Manchester United and its star-studded offense, anchored by Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, have played on FOX in the last two years. Throughout the 2012-13 season, FOX Soccer and its premium network, FOX Soccer Plus, are home to more than 50 FA Cup matches as the exclusive U.S. rights holders.
While we switch over to WordPress, which could take 48 hours or so when the process begins Tuesday morning.
We are switching almost 200 blogs on various Los Angeles News Group properties, so bear with us.
I was whisked to Las Vegas over the weekend for a surprise celebration (so no column Tuesday) leaving the Galaxy to disappoint yet again in the Bay Area in the overlooked of late California Clasico that some supporters won’t soon forget.
Blah, although it could be worse.
One of the more eloquent local soccer blogs is Jennifer Doyle’s “From A Left Wing,” who approaches the sport from a seldom seen perspective.
Well, Jennifer, a fellow panelist for KPFK during the 2010 World Cup, has organized a soccer salon, an all-day celebration of soccer-related literature, film and art in Los Angeles.
The above video, for instance, featuring the incomparable commentary of former MLS coach Ray Hudson, is among the topics up for discussion and represents your homework should you choose to attend (the video is less than two minutes long).
The full event program is here.
Since the popularity of the EPL in Southern California keeps climbing, in no small part due to the efforts of Los Angeles-based Fox Soccer, I thought I’d begin posting these excellent weekly previews you can see below as well as listings of the games.
Let me know what you think.
A full preview and statistical analysis of this week’s EPL action provided by official sponsor Barclays is here.
The weekend TV listings:
4:45 a.m. Swansea City vs West Ham United ESPN Deportes, ESPN2, ESPN3.
7:00 a.m. Aston Villa vs Everton Fox Soccer 2Go.
7:00 a.m. Manchester United vs Fulham Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes.
7:00 a.m. Norwich City vs Queens Park Rangers Fox Soccer 2Go.
7:00 a.m. Southampton vs Wigan Athletic Fox Soccer 2Go.
7:00 a.m. Sunderland vs Reading Fox Soccer 2Go.
7:00 a.m. Tottenham Hotspur vs West Bromwich Albion Fox Soccer Plus.
9:30 a.m. Chelsea vs Newcastle United Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes
5:30 a.m. Stoke City vs Arsenal Fox Soccer Channel.
8:00 a.m. Liverpool vs Manchester City Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes.
Recently retired Grahame L. Jones, one of the pioneering and authoratative soccer voices in this country, was named the U.S. Soccer Colin Jose Media Award winner for 2012.
Here are the details:
CHICAGO: (AP) — Soccer writer Grahame L. Jones has won the Colin Jose Media Award from the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
The longtime Los Angeles Times reporter will be honored during the hall’s induction ceremonies before the United States plays Brazil in an exhibition Wednesday in Landover, Md.
In his 38 years on the soccer beat at the Times, Jones covered 12 men’s or women’s World Cups, the North American Soccer League, Major League Soccer, two European Championships, one Copa America and four Olympic tournaments.
The award has been given out since 2004 and is named for Colin Jose, Historian Emeritus of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
*Sister paper the San Jose Mercury News compiles the rankings, led this week by Chivas USA’s next opponent. Read more here.
*The Galaxy’s next opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes, are missing a couple of starters for Wednesday’s game in Carson in addition to top scorer Chris Wondolowski.
*U.S. military personnel and their families can get half off a $38 ticket for Wednesday’s Galaxy game., BTW.
*Finally, more U.S. TV channels showing soccer games is a good thing, right? Perhaps not always, as this Associated Press report observes:
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Al-Jazeera will launch two sports channels in the United States in August, a move that could cause league games in Spain and Italy to disappear from many cable systems.
The Qatar-based broadcaster said it has obtained rights to Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 as well as the Copa America and South American qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The launch could set the stage for an attempt to win the rights to the more popular Premier League when it comes on the market this year for the 2013-14 season.
The network will be called beIN Sports USA. Managing director Youssef Mohammad al-Obaidly said the channels will be “a new way of watching sports, a better way.”
The network is in “the last stages of negotiation with different providers, having secured two major deals so far that will bring the channel to subscribers’ homes on Aug. 1,” he said.
However, given the short time before the start of next season to strike deals with Multiple
System Operators, La Liga and Serie A may lose much of their U.S. distribution. That would lessen the American visibility of stars such Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Fox Soccer and its second channel, Fox Soccer Plus, had televised the Serie A since the 2007-08 season, when Fox took over rights following a splintered package that had GolTV owning the home games of most teams and Fox owning the rights to home games of Lazio, Lecce, Treviso and Cagliari. Fox’s channels televised Ligue 1 the past two seasons, obtaining the French telecasts without a rights fee.
GolTV has had La Liga rights since the 2004-05 season, when it took over from Fox. It
sublicensed some games to ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com.
The loss leaves the German Bundesliga as GolTV’s only major European league under a deal runs through the 2014-15 season. GolTV also has rights to league games in Brazil and Argentina.
Fox retains rights to the two most-watched European football properties. It will televise the UEFA Champions League through 2014-15 after taking over in August 2009 from ESPN, which had held U.S. rights since 1994-95.
Fox has televised the Premier League since 1998, sublicensing some rights to ESPN since August 2009. Fox’s Premier League deal runs through the 2012-13 season, and Al-Jazeera could bid for the next three-year package.
In addition, Fox takes over the second-tier Europa League next season from GolTV under a three-year deal through 2014-15.
Philadelphia and Colorado kickoff at 1 p.m. today in the second NBC Sports Network MLS telecast.
The theme music was composed by 32-year-old West LA resident Cody Westheimer.
Westheimer, who said he is an avid runner/cyclist and triathleye and composed the Tour de France theme for Verses (the former name of the rebranded NBC Sports Network) is also a newfound soccer fan.
“I do like soccer, and have just started to follow the LA Galaxy – the defending champs!” he said via email. “I played as a kid, but who knows….maybe it will become my next obsession.”
*The Galaxy play their second game of the Desert Diamond Cup Saturday in Arizona against Real Salt Lake, which will be streamed live here at 5 p.m. (but is apparently not available on iPads and other mobile devices).
Here’s an update on the club’s Arizona camp:
*Chivas USA, meanwhile, announced their television schedule on Friday.
*Lastly, if you watch one game this weekend …. I recommend little Norwich City taking on mighty Manchester United (but then I’m a biased Canaries fan) at 5:23 a.m. Sunday on Fox Soccer Plus, which has a free trial that ends Sunday. Arsenal-Tottenham is on at the same time Sunday over on Fox Soccer.
Disher Donovan: The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, seen here tackling Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov, led Everton to another victory with yet another assist today against the Mancunians in England (AP Photo).
You remember that old “Seinfeld” episode about the proctologist with the license plate that read “Assman”? Maybe Landon Donovan should consider getting that vanity plate after his stellar goal-creating performances in England with Everton, although, of course, that would stand for Assist, in this case.
Former Manchester United man Darron Gibson, who left Old Trafford in January, scored the game’s lone goal in the 60th minute off a short pass from the Galaxy playmaker. The MLS loanee has assisted on Everton’s last three goals and four in seven games. Don’t get too attached though Liverpudlians, the Galaxy want him back.
*Another Galaxy player making headlines in Europe is Edson Buddle, given his unconditional release by his second tier German club today in a money-saving move. The Galaxy still hold his MLS rights and if you follow my Twitter feed @LAsoccerblog you would have learned that former Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas tweeted earlier this afternooon: “I’m hearing Edson Buddle is coming back to @LAGalaxy.”
Well, the Galaxy could do with offensive cover what with Robbie Keane heading off for what he hopes is a long time at Euro 2012 next summer and David Beckham presumably playing in the Olympics. Buddle, incidentally, has failed to hook on with a couple of European clubs who took a look, including West Ham United.
No word from the Galaxy yet on Buddle.
BTW, A.J. DeLaGarza, Brian Perk and Michael Stephens have returned to camp from national team duty meaning only Donovan and Robbie Keane are missing. The club has 34 players in camp.
*Former Galaxy defender and now Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney and Los Angeles/Fontana native Ante Razov, who starred for Chivas USA before slouching moodily off into what turned out to be an unannounced retirement, are among a dozen former players eligible for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, it was announced today. Among the veterans on the ballot: late former LA Aztecs ball wizard George Best.
*The Galaxy announced their English-language and Spanish-language radio schedules today, which can be found here.
From the Galaxy press release:
KTLK 1150 AM, the sister station of Fox Sports Radio, AM 570 KLAC, will return for their fifth consecutive season of broadcasting Galaxy games in English. Joe Tutino and Ralph Perez will once again call the games for KTLK, who will broadcast 24 of the club’s 34 regular season games. In addition to being able to hear all games on KTLK across the Southland, the Galaxy will also make those games available to stream online at lagalaxy.com. Through their website, the club will also stream the 10 games that KTLK are not slated to cover this season, meaning that fans can listen to every Galaxy MLS game all season long in English either on the radio or online.
*Chivas USA announced today that they will will unveil their 2012 jersey on Feb. 12 – at 30,000 feet while flying between Guadalajara and LA on a flight by Mexican airline Volaris.
*San Jose announced Monday that former defender Chris Leitch, who retired rather than join the Galaxy, which took him in the Re-Entry Draft, has been named technical director of the Earthquakes’ youth development academy.
*UCLA product Sydney LeRoux and Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach were named by U.S. Soccer as the Young Female Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year respectively. Brek Shea and Clint Dempsey won the corresponding awards for male players.
Here’s more from the Associated Press:
CHICAGO (AP) — Abby Wambach has been voted the U.S. Soccer Federation’s female athlete of the year for the fifth time, matching Mia Hamm’s record. Clint Dempsey has been voted top male athlete for the first time since 2007.
The USSF also said Friday that Brek Shea and Sydney Leroux were the top young athletes.
Wambach won previously in 2003, 2004, 2007 and last year. Hamm won from 1994 to 1998. Wambach scored four goals at the Women’s World Cup, including one in the 122nd minute in the semifinals that forced penalty kicks and enabled the Americans to reach the final, where they lost to Germany.
Dempsey scored three goals at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Playing for Fulham, he passed Brian McBride to become the highest-scoring American in the Premier League.
Online votes counted for half the total, with the rest from media and USSF representatives.
*Toronto FC announced this morning that 35,000 tickets have been sold for the March 7 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against the Galaxy, who will make their only appearance in Toronto for the game this year. The indoor Rogers Centre holds 45,000, but ticket sales so far mean Toronto have already set a new home attendance record.
*The Galaxy open preseason training Monday, with all players undergoing physicals this weekend. Here’s who is – and is not – in camp, according to a club press release:
A total of 16 players from last year’s MLS Cup winning squad are expected to be on hand for the club’s first day of training on Monday, while five players – A.J. DeLaGarza, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Brian Perk and Michael Stephens – are currently away on international duty or on loan.
In addition to the 16 returning players that will be in attendance, new acquisitions Andrew Boyens, Nick Noble, Pat Noonan, Marcelo Sarvas and Jose Villarreal will all train with the club for the first time.
Additionally, all seven of the club’s recent draft picks, as well as trialists, Bill Gaudette, a goalkeeper who played for the Columbus Crew, Puerto Rico Islanders and Montreal Impact, as well as defender J.T. Murray, a second round pick by Sporting Kansas City in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of Louisville, will be with the club for Monday’s training session.
I’ll have more in Tuesday’s column.
*Chelsea’s Frank Lampard will not be there even though AEG head honcho Tim Leiweke is a huge fan. Who isn’t? (current Chelsea management aside, apparently). But no one should hold their breath Lampard is coming to LA anytime soon.
*If you only watch one game this weekend: Make it Norwich City-Chelsea at 4:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2. Those of you not biased City fans (ahem) may want to see the U.S. play Chivas USA veteran Alejandro Moreno and Venezuela at 6 p.m. Saturday on Galavision. Thank heaven for soccer-loving Spanish-language channels.