There’s no column today since I took advantage of the long weekend to take a few days off, but here are few links to get us caught up:
It’s fair to say longtime South Bay resident Sigi Schmid could well be sleepless in Seattle for a few nights at least until his job prospects with the Sounders and their demanding fan base are resolved one way or another.
The injured Landon Donovan wasn’t called up for the pair of upcoming U.S. games, but the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez got the call, while Robbie Keane will feature for Ireland despite a longstanding Achilles issue and A.J. DeLaGarza is likely to make his Guam debut despite making two previous appearances for the U.S. in exhibition games.
Mexico finally won in San Diego Wednesday night before an unusually small crowd that illustrates the depth of the skepticism over the quality of this Mexican team, while the U.S. women drew New Zealand.
Tickets 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.
Not a single ticket had been sold for the charity tournament scheduled to start Wednesday at Citrus College and continue this weekend at the LA Memorial Coliseum with four games involving Mexico’s Queretero among other teams.
The official reason for the postponement is that it was “due to a combination of logistical and scheduling matters.”
From a Chivas USA press release:
In their attempt to reorganize this event, the organizers will seek to bring the mentioned teams together again in an international tournament at a date and venue yet to be arranged
Reinvigorated U.S. stars Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson grabbed the goals and the glory, with only striker Clint Dempsey faltering slightly under the spotlight’s glare, missing a second half stoppage time penalty that would have made the scoreline even more emphatic.
“We’ve always said that Landon is an important part of our team,” Klinsmann said of the Galaxy playmaker. “The things that he went through were his decision. We were totally fine with that, but he also had to understand that he wasn’t getting anything for granted. He had to work his way back, to fight his way back, and that’s what he did. In the Gold Cup to start with, and now coming here, he understands the message that nobody has a spot guaranteed.
The stricken faces of the Mexicans Tuesday said it all, out of ideas tactically and wilting mentally under the pressure and expectations of a rabid nation, while the Americans added grit and determination to bright endeavor and execution. This isn’t a team, it’s a system, with squad members fulfilling role coach Jurgen Klinsmann demands despite the absence of such regulars as Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
“They were understandably under a lot of pressure,” Donovan said of El Tri. “We knew that if we kept the game at zero or we were ahead, it was going to play into our favor. Once we got the goal, we could see in their eyes it was going to end in a victory for us.”
It was a magnificent evening watched by more viewers in the U.S. on ESPN than any other World Cup qualifying game in history that represented another major step forward for the sport domestically and internationally. And Carlos Bocanegra et al were happy in Upland, too.
Had Mexico staged the game, 110,000 crazed El Tri fans would have crammed into daunting Azteca. Instead the U.S. opponents got a taste of their own medicine, delirious U.S. fans standing the entire game in much modest 25,000-capacity (or so) Columbus Crew Stadium.
It was an environment that at once exemplified the game’s gulf in popularity in the two nations, but also the spirit and emerging skill of the upstart, underdog Americans who once again proved it has Mexico’s number in games that really count.
Notable: The U.S. is 12-5-4 against Mexico since 2000.
“Step-by-step, we’re getting closer to taking the game to the opponents,” Klinsmann said. “We’re not sitting back and reacting to what happens. We want to take it into their half. Every game is different. We know that, too, but I think we’ve made big progress in terms of tactical variation and in terms of commitment both ways of the game offensively and defensively.
“The players know what we expect tactically. The players know there’s another guy behind them in every position, that if he doesn’t give everything he has the next one comes in and steals his spot. Therefore, there’s more competition and I think if you look at the entire picture they can be really proud of themselves.”
Landon Donovan has three goals and six assists in 13 appearances for the Galaxy in 2013.
But for the U.S. Donovan has seven Gold Cup assists and a team-leading seven goals in six games since rejoining the national team set-up after scoring twice and creating the opener in a 3-1 win over Honduras Wednesday to send the U.S. through to a 1 p.m. Sunday Gold Cup final (live on Fox and Univision) against Panama, who upset Mexico for a second time in the tournament in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Donovan’s seven assists increased his national team record total to 55 career assists in 150 games, while his record-setting U.S. goal total jumped to 56 career goals.
The likely upshot of Wednesday’s results: Donovan will rejoin the U.S. World Cup qualifying campaign, while El Tri will seek a new coach.
Notable: The Gold Cup winner qualifies for a playoff against the winner of the 2015 tournament to determine the CONCACAF entrant in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
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.
*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.”.