(This article appeared in the Daily Breeze health section today).
Photos by Scott Varley
The U.S. opens the Olympic tournament against Norway at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday live on MSNBC.
It’s also Brad Guzan the back-up, according to this article today in the Birmingham Post.
Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Guzan, of course, is in China where the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team opens the tournament Thursday (1:45 a.m. live on MSNBC) against Japan.
What’s a Brummie? Glad you asked. (Although the accent is probably not the only reason Ozzy Osbourne is pretty much incomprehensible).
* The latest Galaxy trialist
*The Revolution announced Thursday that more than 25,000 tickets have been sold for the Aug. 30 game against the Galaxy.
*Former Galaxy defender Nate Sturgis pulled a hamstring and is out of the Olympic squad. Dax McCarty of FC Dallas replaces him,.
Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach spoke to reporters today for the first time since breaking her leg in the final U.S. game before the Olympics July 16 against Brazil.
Here’s what she said she thought about when the injury occurred:
“I realized in that moment and accepted in that moment that my Olympic dreams were not going to be what I had planned. I accepted the reality of this situation. This was a deep down acceptance of my reality. A lot of the times when you freak out about stuff is when you are more unsure of reality. It was an all encompassing moment. I wasn’t freaked out.”
Quotes from the whole interview are here.
Ante Razov’s deciding goal.
Photo by Scott Varley
Before we get started, take a deep breathe and read this fine piece of journalism on Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan and his father.
But then we figured Kljestan would be going to the Olympics, didn’t we? The squad will officially be announced at 10 a.m. today (Thursday).
*Midfielder Paulo Nagamura, who suffered a mild concussion during the match, and defender Jonathan Bornstein will be suspended for Sunday’s game against New England because of yellow-card accumulation (2 apiece).
*We were discussing in the press box about the tie-breakers in SuperLiga given the possibility Chivas USA, the Revolution and Pachuca could end up tied on six points at the end of the games Sunday.
Colleague Phil Collin kindly researched the issue (based on last year’s rules):
3. point differential
4. goals scored
5. drawing of lots
Now here’s the catch: if after the first four criteria, a team qualifies, that team advances. Then the process is repeated. For instance, if Pachuca wins 2-0 and Chivas USA wins 1-0, Pachuca advances on goal differential. Then you go back to the top and play the string out with the two remaining teams.
Curiously though, Sunday’s pair of games aren’t played at the same time: the Revs and Chivas USA game is later than Pachuca-Santos Laguna. Not that I’m suggesting anything.
The game story is here.
And (for those of you who read until the end of the game story) it looks like yet another foreign veteran (Wicky) is a total bust in MLS, doesn’t it?
On to the quotes:
*Preki on the economy of shots for Chivas USA:
“We got one shot on goal tonight – we scored. We’re going to take that. We’re not going to complain about that. Sometimes things don’t go your way, you lose. Tonight, I thought the ball bounced our way. Sometimes in this game you have to be lucky. You’ve got to get a bounce.”
*Ante Razov on the ball Kljestan served him that led to the goal:
“It was good work out on the wing with Sacha and we’ve developed pretty good chemistry as of late, especially. I just wanted to try to set my guy up and get to the near post, and fortunately I was able to get a piece of it, I also think the defender got a piece of it too. Great ball.”
*Did Santos Laguna Coach Daniel Guzman think the 90th minute goal his team scored was offside?
“It was a goal. There was no-one offside on that play. That’s when we started the whole debate with the referee, but it’s over now.”
On the loss:
“They had a goal-scoring opportunity. They put it in. Sometimes soccer is that way. You play well. You don’t win. You play badly, you win.”
*Preki on how the team came out:
“I didn’t feel like we got a grip of the game in the first 10-15 minutes. I thought they were the better team, I thought they were moving the ball a bit better than us, I thought we were nervous, but I was expecting that given the fact that we’ve changed quite a few players from the other night to tonight.”
Finally, here’s the first half sitter Christian Benitez of Santos Laguna missed in the first half with Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and the net at his mercy.
Photo by Scott Varley
Abby Wambach, the top scorer for the U.S. Women’s National Team broke her leg in the final game before the Olympics against Brazil Wednesday in San Diego, and will miss the games in China.
“Obviously, it’s devastating, but above everything else, I’m only one player, and you can never win a championship with just one player,” said Wambach, a resident of Hermosa Beach. “I have the utmost confidence in this team bringing home the gold.”
Laudable comments from Wambach, but this is nothing short of a disaster for the U.S.
As the U.S. Soccer press release points out:
Wambach is the USA’s leading scorer this year with 13 goals and 10 assists. She has led the team in scoring in the last three world championships and is one of the top scorers in U.S. history with 99 goals in 127 games.
In other words, Wambach is quite simply irreplaceable and the American gold medal hopes have been dealt a crushing, and potentially fatal, blow.
It’s almost irrelevant, but the U.S. won the game 1-0.
Here are more details on what sounds like a particularly nasty injury and the game from the Associated Press.
Just in case any reminder was needed regarding the peripheral role MLS plays in the sports mainstream in this country, a trip to Las Vegas on the opening weekend of the season provided it.
Avoiding news about MLS (so I could watch TiVo’d Galaxy and Chivas USA games Monday night and this morning respectively) was disconcertingly easy.
No mention of MLS on the ESPN bottom of the screen crawl during March madness on the ubiquitous televisions in casinos (and this is the league’s alleged broadcast partner?).
Most sports books don’t take bets on MLS games (the Station Casino chain is an exception).
And Fox Soccer Channel and others that carry the game simply aren’t one of the options at the gazillions of television choices at sports books.
So it wasn’t until Monday night I learned the Galaxy’s new look team looked a lot like their old ones in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Rapids. That was L.A.’s worst loss since the waning days of the Steve Sampson era (May 6, 2006 to be precise). Exactly a month later, Sampson was fired.
Are you listening Ruud Gullit?
Perhaps even more drastic action needs to be taken in the case of increasingly embarrassing
cart horse defender Abel Xavier, who is slowing down almost visibly with every game and was to blame on several of the goals. And I wasn’t thinking he needs to be put out to pasture.
Let’s see David Beckham laugh that one off at 11:35 p.m. this evening with Leno on “The Tonight Show.”
Meanwhile, the Galaxy announced today they will host a U.S. Open Cup qualifying game Tuesday May 27 against those same Rapids. Let’s hope Colorado doesn’t play another (ahem) “weakened” line-up. Tickets are on sale now for the 7:30 p.m. game.
Good thing Maykel Galindo and Chivas USA are likely to be a lot more diverting than the Galaxy again this year, the Cuban saving the point against Dallas Sunday with a late equalizer.
Condolences to classy Mexican veteran defender Claudio Suarez, a resident of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, who missed the game due to the death of his father.
Congrats to Downey High junior Briant Reyes, 16, named the winner of the Los Angeles portion of “Sueo MLS 2008: The Dream Continues.” The Salvadorian-American joins the Under-16 Chivas USA team.
And farewell to reserve Chivas USA forward John Cunliffe who got shipped off to San Jose for Canadian defensive midfielder Chris Pozniak.
Lastly, Shannon Boxx of Torrance, USC’s Amy Rodriguez and UCLA’s Lauren Cheney were all named Monday to the U.S. Olympic qualifying squad.
Despite beating nine-man Haiti 5-1 Sunday night at Home Depot Center, Mexico crashed out of Olympic qualifying on goal difference.
The result means Canada, the second place finisher in Group B, plays the U.S. Thursday, while Guatemala faces Honduras.
In a game that featured wave after wave of Mexican attacks, El Tri could have scored several many more goals, but missed a penalty while Toluca’s Santiago Fernandez missed two point-blank chances within two minutes.
Cruz Azul’s Cesar Villaluz opened Mexico’s account with a diving header in the 18th minute before 12,824 mainly Mexican fans.
Edgar Andrade of Cruz Azul made it two in the 61st minute, while Haiti pulled a goal back two minutes later as Mexico got caught pressing forward.
Fernandez claimed Mexico’s third in the 70th minute and Club America’s Enrique Esqueda made it 4-1 seven minutes from the end of regulation.
Luis Angel Landin of Morelia scored Mexico’s fifth in the 90th minute, but despite five minutes of stoppage time, El Tri couldn’t score the sixth that would have propelled them to the semifinals.
Mexico finished with 24 attempts on goal to 14 for Haiti, with shots on target 14-4. Mexico was called offside 14 times.
Well, Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez didn’t resign after the game, though Mexican Football Federation officials held a press conference and said his contract would be discussed at a March 30 meeting. Still, they also observed Sanchez has a contract through the 2010 World Cup.
“Obviously, this is a failure,” Sanchez said. “I don’t like to use that word, but you guys are going to keep bringing it up until I do so I will.”
“We had hoped to make history,” he added. “Mexico has never won an Olympic gold medal (in soccer).”
Sanchez lamented the absence of his four European-based players their clubs wouldn’t release and then noted the U.S. and Canada had their European-based players for the competition, which isn’t quite true (the U.S. couldn’t secure the release of Michael Bradley from his Dutch club, for instance).
His counterpart, Haiti’s Wilner Etienne, was quite blunt about the performance of some of his team.
“There are some players who can play at a high level and there are some players you can’t count on,” he said.
Canadian Coach Nick Dasovsic, who had said he wouldn’t comment on the U.S. until after the Mexico game, was quite voluable when I bumped into him in the Stadium Club en route to the Mexico-Haiti press conference. It probably helped he was on his third beer.
“When (Haiti) went down to nine men, I thought we were done,” he said. “I think I died eight times. It was like something out of a movie. We’re through, though, we’re going to Tennessee.”
“It’s a one-game cup final and (if we win) we go to the Olympics,” he added. “The guys will be up for it.”
“They’ve got quality,” he said of the U.S. “It’s going to be huge for the guys.”
Canada beat Guatemala 5-0 Sunday afternoon in the penultimate group game of Olympic qualifying at Home Depot Center, meaning Mexico must beat Haiti in the second game of the doubleheader by at least five unanswered goals to retain any hope of reaching the semifinals Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.
Even then, Canada and Mexico would need a coin toss to send one team through since the two would be tied on goal difference and goals scored. The Mexicans must score at least six goals without reply to go through.
The Mexicans have scored just two goals in two games during the tournament and unlike Guatemala, who had already qualified, the Haitians are motivated; a win would send them through to the semifinals.
Guatemala didn’t look particularly enthusiastic about the game, raising more than a suspicion they would be perfectly happy to see Mexico exit the competition.
Canada, not exactly renowned for their goal-scoring prowess, got two goals from former Chicago Fire forward Will Johnson, back from a one-game suspension after being sent off in Canada’s opening game, a pair from Tosaint Ricketts and the fifth from substitute Kyle Hall deep into second half stoppage time.
Guatemalan fans celebrated after the game as if they had won.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could win 5-0,” said Coach Nick Dasovic, who paid tribute to his players. “They were extraordinary.”
Player of the game Will Johnson said he was seeking a measure of redemption in this game: “Any time you get a red card you feel you let your teammates down a bit,” he said. “I was fresh today, I was a lot fresher than the other guys, so I took it upon myself to make a difference.”
After the game with Canada two days ago Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez said he wasn’t worried because his team hadn’t lost.
He’s worried now.
Despite out-shooting its opponents 17-10, Mexico was upset by Guatamala 2-1 Friday night before 19,638 fans at the Home Depot Center.
“They’re just another team,” said Guatemalan Coach Rodrigo Kenyon.
The result means Mexico must win Sunday against Haiti and either hopes Canada doesn’t win or scores fewer goals (or allows more) in their game against Guatemala. Because if the two teams are even (as they are now) on goal difference and goals scored it will come down to a coin flip.
“We’re under fire, we have to show what this team is capable of and we have to attack,” Sanchez said.
The only Mexican goal came from American-born Edgar Castillo in the ninth minute after the Guatemalan defense failed to clear its box, leaving one to wonder what Sanchez is thinking now considering his criticism of his predecessor for using naturalized American citizens on the team.
But Guatemala doggedly stayed in the game five minutes before half time when a long ball from Jean Marquez caught the Mexican defense napping and Carlos Villa, one of a half dozen CSD Municipal players on the roster, raced through to score.
Guatemala sealed victory in the 67th minute on a Maynor Ignacio Lopez header from a corner kick.
“They were more effective in their finishing,” said Sanchez, calling his opponents “just conquerors.”
He also blamed the media for giving his players “bad vibes” for getting on them for not scoring goals.
“We’ve done good things, not everything has been bad,” he protested.
Just most things, Hugo.