Olympic Qualifying Final From Carson: Haiti 2 Canada 1

Haiti scored two goal in 12 minutes to seal a shock come from behind 2-1 victory Friday night in the first game of a doubleheader at Home Depot Center.

The Canadians, on the defensive for much of the second half after opening the scoring through Tyler Rosenlund (who doesn’t have a club, but might after tonight) in the 17th minute, only had themselves to blame.

The first Haitian goal came after Canadian Nikolas Ledgerwood went down injured in the 72nd minute and a teammate put the ball out of play. The Canadians expected Haiti to give the ball back to them as is customarily done in soccer, but instead Leonel Saint-Preux passed to wide-open substitute Alain Gustave who volleyed home a first-time shot from 17 yards.

Canadian Coach Nick Dasovic was not amused.

“For our fair play we got it in the backside you might say,” he said. “It was atrocious.”

Haiti sealed the win in the 84th minute with a beautifully taken long-range shot from at least 35 yards out that soared into the top corner and caught Canadian goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, on trial with Toronto FC, off-guard and out of position.

The Canadians had seen a chance for a second goal evaporate in the 54th minute when Andrazes Ornoch hit the bar from 17 yards out, but Dasovic blamed a lack of fitness and inexperience for the loss that sent his team spiraling to the bottom of Group B.

“We knew the Haitian team has a strong team physically and they were obviously emotionally driven,” he said. “I think our boys were a little bit naive. … I kept yelling to them a draw is good, we didn’t need to win today.”

But Canada needed to avoid losing – and didn’t.

Next up tonight: Mexico-Guatemala.

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Olympic Qualifying: Soccer Shocker in Carson & Defecting Cubans

i-9176c76a66b35687bcb0cfe2e0229737-newcanada2.jpgCanada’s Dejan Jakovic slide tackles Mexico’s Cesar Villaluz during the second half.

In what is becoming an Olympic qualifying full of surprises, Canada held supposedly mighty Mexico to a 1-1 draw at Home Depot Center Wednesday night in a game that also saw both goal scorers sent off.

Canada struck first after just three minutes, temporarily silencing the overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, after former Chicago Fire striker Will Johnson stabbed home a close range shot when Mexico failed to clear.

Morelia striker Luis Angel Landin equalized for Mexico in the 22nd minute from the spot after what appeared to be a dubious penalty call.

Mexico gradually asserted control, but saw Landin ejected midway through the second half. Canada was unable to score on the resultant power play and Johnson followed him down the tunnel about 10 minutes later.

Mexico dominated with Canada hanging grimly on – the Canucks didn’t have a shot in the second half – but El Tri couldn’t break down the stubborn defense.

Chants of “Lavolpe” – a reference to former Mexico Coach Ricardo Lavolpe – could be heard emanating from the crowd of 9,949 toward game’s end.

Guatemala beat Haiti 1-0 in the opening game of the night to take an unexpected lead in Group B.

Updated: Canadian Coach Nick Dasovic observed after the game that considering the nation had played precisely zero Under-23 games in four years, his back four was playing together for the first time ever and he had his full roster together just 24 hours before the start of the game, this was a “baptism of fire.”

“I wish we could play Mexico every week,” he said jokingly. “After three minutes I thought ‘sheesh, we pissed off the Mexicans.’”

He added: “This was a confidence builder.”

While, Dasovic was happy with the result, Mexican Coach Hugo Sanchez was not pleased.

“We showed we were superior on the field,” he said.

Sanchez was asked if he was worried by the result.

“No, I would have been worried if we would have lost,” he said.

Meanwhile, the latest on the defecting Cubans confident of getting a job in MLS after seeing the state of the American team is here.

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Olympic Qualifying Preview: Canada-Mexico & Word on the MLS All-Star Game

The crowds are already waiting for the gates to open at Home Depot Center for the first of two Olympic qualifiers there tonight, Guatemala against Haiti.

Top billing though goes to the 8 p.m. game between Mexico and Canada.

The San Diego Union-Tribune caught up with Mexico while the team trained in that city while The Toronto Star provides the Canadian perspective.

The Star is also reporting on the opponent for the MLS All-Star Game in Toronto – England’s West Ham United.

I’ll have more tonight from Carson.

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Monday Night Football

Light and late blogging, let’s play catch-up:

All three games – another against a Hong Kong team was added today – on the Galaxy’s Asian tour are televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

From the Galaxy’s press release:

The LA Galaxy announced today that they will play a preseason friendly 11 p.m. March 9 against the Hong Kong Union in Hong Kong in the third and final match of the clubs Asia Tour 2008.

Fox Soccer Channel begins coverage 11:30 p.m. Saturday with the Galaxy-FC Seoul match, followed four days later by an 8 p.m. tape delayed broadcast of the game against Shanghai-Hong Kong United.

Also, former Galaxy flop Santino Quaranta has resurfaced in D.C.

Fontana’s Maurice Edu is profiled.

The Women’s Olympic Qualifying groups are set, although you don’t really need to pay attention (read the last graf). From the U.S. Soccer press release:

The U.S. has been drawn into Group A along with Jamaica and Mexico for 2008 CONCACAF Womens Olympic Qualifying from April 2-12 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The U.S. will open the tournament April 4 against Jamaica before facing Mexico April 6. Both games will be played in the Estadio Olmpico Benito Juarez, which will host all 10 games during the qualifying tournament.

The top two teams from Group A will advance to the semifinals, where they will cross over to face the top two teams from Group B, which includes Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. The winners of the April 9 semifinals will qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

The U.S. has only faced Jamaica once previously, a 10-0 victory 14 years ago in a FIFA Womens World Cup qualifying match in Montreal, Canada. Mexico is a more familiar opponent for the U.S., with the teams having faced each other 22 times previously. The U.S. has dominated the rivalry with the qualifying hosts, winning the first 21 meetings before Mexico earned a 1-1 tie on Oct. 20, 2007.

Finally, (and this is sorta old, but so is the rest of this post) from this link you’ve gotta wonder who is getting traded next.

Tuesday’s column: Chivas USA Cuban defector Maykel Galindo and the departure of Castro.

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Sunday Soccer: Sueo MLS 2008, Guzan Update & More

Sueo MLS 2008

Should American soccer fans rejoice that last year’s winner of Spanish-language reality television show Sueo MLS, Anaheim’s Jorge Flores, latched on with Chivas USA or worry that the domestic scouting system can’t unearth players like that (especially Latinos) in more conventional ways?

In any event the show returns at noon today on Univision for a second season.

More details in this (edited) press release:

Sueo MLS, the nationally-televised search for Americas best undiscovered young soccer player, attracted in its inaugural year of 2007 an overwhelming 2,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. and several foreign countries to Chivas USAs open tryout. After six weeks of intense competition, forward Jorge Flores, a 17-year old high-school senior from Anaheim, CA, was crowned the winner. Flores not only earned a spot on Chivas USAs roster, but he was later called up to the United States Under-20 National Team.

Today, the dream continues for thousands of aspiring players around the nation as Major League Soccer unveils plans for Sueo MLS 2008. The program returns to Los Angeles as Chivas USA searches for the next Jorge Flores. Simultaneously, Sueo MLS will also take place in Dallas, providing an opportunity for another set of aspiring young soccer players to showcase their talent in an effort to earn their way onto the FC Dallas roster.

Celtic or Aston Villa for Guzan?

Chivas USA and U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan has reportedly been offered a contract with Scottish powerhouse Glasgow Celtic by Manager Gordan Strachan and is mulling the offer, although there is at least one report claiming Guzan is headed to England’s Aston Villa. Keep in mind though, the source is the breathless News of the World, among the worst examples of the English gutter press.

For what it’s worth, here’s what the newspaper reported:

The Celtic gaffer will miss out on American goalie Brad Guzan after Aston Villa’s last-ditch 2million swoop.

(Snip)

Yank Guzan’s apparent snub comes as a huge blow though. Celtic had identified him as a successor to Artur Boruc.

Last week we revealed the USA international was jetting in to join up with the Hoops at their Lennoxtown base.

The 23-year-old, voted the best goalie in the MLS last season, took just one session to convince Strachan and his coaching staff he was the real deal and well worth the 1.5m the MLS wanted.

At his weekly press conference, Strachan confirmed chief executive Peter Lawwell had offered Guzan a contract and the player was heading home “to think about things”.

But it’s understood he headed instead for hush-hush talks with Villa representatives, and is on the verge of signing a pre-contract.

Galaxy Head (Far) East

Details are emerging about the Galaxy’s preseason trip to Korea and China. More here.

Argentina-Guatemala at Coliseum Feb. 6

Tickets start at $25 to see what is apparently Argentina’s Under-23 or Olympic team play the senior Guatemala team at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

Among the over-age players Argentina is bringing are Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano and former Barcelona midfielder Juan Romn Riquelme. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is recovering from injury, in case you were wondering.

Full squad is here.

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Tuesday’s Column & More

i-050e581a0ebc178e26557ebc88e1f9a7-SPT-GALAXY-SH099.jpg

We’ll never see Frank Yallop looking pensive in Galaxy gear again.

Galaxy beat writer Billy Witz has the news from Monday’s Galaxy conference call.

Here’s my take on Yallop’s exit.

And Beckhammania hits Vancouver ahead of Wednesday’s game between the Galaxy and Whitecaps.

Updated 9:25 a.m.
U.S. Soccer announced today that qualifying for the Olympics will be held at three U.S. venues in March including Home Depot Center.

Details are here.

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