A Few Words With New Galaxy Signing Mike Magee

I’d never really spoken to Mike Magee before when he was with New York, but after he converted two penalty kicks Saturday in the Pan-Pacific alleged Championship and appears likely to make the roster I figured I should get acquainted:

Question: What did you think of the team’s performance tonight compared to Wednesday?
Answer: I thought it was a little more inconsistent today. Last game we were pretty solid across the board and I think today our legs kind of showed a little bit. Some guys were a little bit heavy. They started maybe five or six new guys and I think we only started three, so that kind of showed. I thought we were a little bit inconsistent and that has a lot to do with Wednesday’s game. I thought in the second half we picked it up a little bit and we gave ourselves the chance to win the game.

I thought Wednesday we were a little bit better. I think maybe in the final third today and Wednesday we were a little bit off. Our crossing, our finishing, our through balls were a little bit off.

Q: How is your comfort level?
A: It’s getting there. Fitness has been a little bit of a problem for me the last couple of years, but I’m finally getting fit, y’know. … The guys are great. Bruce is an incredible coach. I’ve been welcomed with open arms. I couldn’t think of a better place to be.

Q: Was Arena a big reason for you coming here?
A: Bruce is great. I’m not sure why New York didn’t work out for him. But he’s a great manager, a great coach. He’s a great man and he’s definitely righting the ship here in L.A., I believe.

My contract had expired in New York and things weren’t going as well as I would have liked there. And I needed a fresh change and Bruce expressed some interest in me and I told him if he could get me here I’d love to be here.

Q: How does Bruce seeing you contributing to the team?
A: He saw me as a kind of versatile player. He knows I like being by the goal – I’m not too defensive-minded. Obviously, I’ll put in the work like anybody else, but he said he was going to try me at forward, or play me in midfield, wherever the team needs me at the time or wherever he feels I am at the time. Last year I was healthy on and off and he didn’t really have too much to judge from last year. He was, more or less, taking it from the couple of weeks we had in New York.

Q: How did you guys view the Galaxy last year?
A: Whenever you guys came to us there were about 65,000 people in the stands cheering for you guys so, we didn’t like you guys too much.

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Friday Football: Leiweke Spouts Off on Beckham & More

OK, I know we all have serious David Beckham fatigure, but Anschutz Entertainment Group head honcho Tim Lieweke has finally erupted, telling an Italian newspaper no talks between AC Milan and the Galaxy are scheduled and that the club wants between $10 and $15 million for Becks and not the “ridiculous” offer of $3 million received so far.

“With that figure, Galaxy don’t even cover the damages deriving from the shortfalls of not selling his shirts,” Leiweke is (tellingly) quoted as saying.

Which, of course, is what Beckham is all about, rather than what he does on the field. (Hey, Tim, why don’t you just do a swap for Ronaldinho?).

More here.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy-less Beckham play for the Pan-Pacific Championship trophy Saturday at 8 p.m. against Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings. China’s Shandong Luneng Taishan FC faces Japan’s Oita Trinita in the first game at 5:30 p.m. Tickets to the Home Depot Center doubleheader start at $15 (that’s the same price it was Wednesday to park your car – and it doesn’t get to see the game). A cheaper alternative: watch for free on Fox Soccer Channel or drop by and read this blog.

In non-Beckham related news:
*Chivas USA returned home from its Mexican trip to practice Thursday at the HDC with two new trialists: Mexican midfielder Rafael Rodrguez, whose prior clubs include Chivas and Tecos, and 38-year-old Argentine defender Leonel Gancedo, who has played for the likes of Spain’s Osasuna and Argentina’s River Plate.

*Chivas USA has put its single game tickets on sale for the season (see schedule at top right of the blog) starting at $15 a seat. It also has a five-game pack that works out to just $10 a game. Call 1-877-CHIVAS-1 for more info.

*Chivas USA plays two scrimmages Saturday at the HDC on university field No. 2 against Sweden’s Hammerby (11 a.m.) and UCLA (1 p.m.).

*Also this weekend is the annual Cal South Soccer Expo at the convention center in downtown L.A. Lots of exhibitors, giveaways and Chivas USA, Galaxy, Sol and other players on hand. Best of all – admission is free.

*For those not wanting to leave the comfort of their living room, games on TV this weekend include Bayern Munich-Cologne (8:30 a.m. Saturday GOLTV); Manchester United-Blackburn Rovers (9:30 a.m. Saturday Fox Soccer Channel); Monarcas-CD Guadalajara (5 p.m. Saturday KAZA); Tigres-Club America (5 p.m. Saturday KVEA); Manchester City-Liverpool (7 a.m. Sunday FSC); and AC Milan-Cagliari (9 a.m. FSC).

*L.A. WPS entry the Sol has announced the club will open training camp March 2 and has scheduled preseason games against USC March 10, FC Gold Pride March 14 and 17 and an opponent to be determined March 21. The Sol opens its season March 29 at the HDC. The club also announced Thursday the signing of French midfielder Camile Abily (46 caps/eight goals), Chinese forward Han Duan and Swedish defender Johanna Frisk.

*Oh, and tickets for next year’s World Cup went on sale today. It will be interesting to see how sales go with a crummy economy and the event in far-off South Africa.

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Galaxy Post-Game Quotes (and Highlights)

Reaction to tonight’s 2-0 Pan-Pacific Championship victory – yes, victory, even if it is only preseason – over Japan’s Oita Trinita AKA the “Terrible Turtles,” comes from Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, veteran midfielder Chris Klein and top draft pick Omar Gonzalez.

Here’s Arena on tonight’s performance compared to last season:

“I saw more of a team tonight than I saw in a number of games last year. … We have a lot of new faces and there’s always a lot of unknowns at this time of year. To have a start like this in February with a positive result is good.”

On Edson Buddle’s first half goal:

“Really an alert play to strip the defender; the finish was incredible.”

On Gonzalez’ professional debut:

“Omar did well for his first game. A couple of mistakes he made on the ball and his positioning could have been better on a couple of plays, but overall I was very pleased with his performance. I think he’s a good young player with a lot of potential so hopefully he can continue to move forward. .. Omar’s a talented kid, he’s going to have his ups and downs, but he’s a player whose certainly going to contribute to make our back line a little bit better than it was last year.”

On not dressing the likes of Ely Allen, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, etc., for the game:

“Most of the players I introduced tonight were new faces. … We’ve seen those other players in the past and have a pretty good feel for them, not that we know them completely. We wanted to look at some new faces at a time you can do that. Tonight was the occasion and we took advantage of it.”

On goalkeeper Josh Wicks:

“He was solid tonight and the group in front of him did a real good job. I liked the fact that Josh was pretty steady tonight. At times last year we saw an inexperienced guy out of the goal, (who) at times ran himself out of position or his decision-making wasn’t good. Tonight I thought he was pretty solid in the goal.”

On what the team will look like Saturday:

“I don’t know yet. … This is the first time any of our players played over 60 minutes so we know they’re going to be feeling it come Friday. We’ll have to make some smart decisions to have a fresh team on the field come Saturday.”

Here’s Klein on the game:

“I’ll tell you one thing – it’s good to win. It’s good to walk off the field and win. No matter who we’re playing or where we are or what group of guys we have in the locker room, we have to create a winning mentality here in this locker room and it’s a decent start.”

On the feeling in the locker room:

“It feels like a group now and a lot of that comes from the themes Bruce is trying to instill within our locker room. He’s demanding (of) the older guys (that) not only are they inclusive of the younger guys, but (they) take responsibility for the locker room and if something is not right it’s up to us to fix it.

Here’s Gonzalez’ assessment of his performance:

“In the very beginning of both halves I gave two bad balls away, but I got over that hump and I thought I did well after that.”

On the difference between the college and pro games:

“It’s a lot harder, the players close down the space a lot faster and it’s harder to get the ball at your feet and I think I’ve just got to get used to the overall speed of the game. I think if I do that I can come into my own.”

On the foul on him that led to the penalty kick decision:

“I just had to sell it y’know.”

On playing with a former national team player like Tony Sanneh in the center of defense:

It was just amazing. He’s just so calm back there and I obviously have a lot to learn from him. I think he’s going to teach me a lot and I hope to be one day as good as he is and go to the places he’s been.”

Not a terribly (ahem) compelling game:

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Tuesday’s Column: What Does a Galaxy Without Beckham or Donovan Look Like?

We’ll soon find out.

A correction to the column: there is television coverage. It’s on Fox Soccer Channel. But the fact I wasn’t immediately aware of it (even if I have just returned from a week off) is yet another indication of how little promotion the tournament is receiving from organizers.

Also, Scott Wolf has the latest on Milan’s machinations.

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Preseason Result: Gamba Osaka 1 Galaxy 0

The Galaxy crashed out of the semifinals of the Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii Wednesday losing 1-0 to Japanese team Gamba Osaka.

Only 15,128 were reportedly at the 50,000 Aloha Stadium.

The Galaxy plays a rematch Saturday against last year’s opponents Sydney FC, which lost 3-0 in the nightcap to the Houston Dynamo.

There were only three players in the starting line-up for the Galaxy who played in the final home game against the New York Red Bulls last year – Chris Klein, Troy Roberts and Josh Tudela.

Roberts – or was that Michael Gavin? – was caught out on the early fourth minute goal that sealed the victory.

The result could have been worse – the new-look Galaxy line-up looked unsure and hesitant, especially the defenders and the team was comprehensively out-shot (14-2 in the 70th minute).

No sign of defender Abel Xavier, while Carlos Ruiz and Landon Donovan, as expected, didn’t play.

David Beckham’s contribution was negligible, too, although he did go the full 90 minutes (and looked winded).

Still, Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit, quoted on the MLS Web site, sounded satisfied: “I think we played an excellent game,” he said. “It took us a bit of time to adjust but after 20 minutes we started to play well. We made some mistakes but it is valuable to spend this kind of time with the players.”

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Galaxy (Finally) Release Roster For Pan-Pacific Championship

It took long enough, but here are the 27 players in Hawaii for the preseason tournament that starts Wednesday night:

Goalkeepers Charles Alamo, Steve Cronin, Josh Wicks; defenders Celestine Babayaro, Sean Franklin, Michael Gavin, Ante Jazic, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, Troy Roberts, Julian Valentin, Greg Vanney, Abel Xavier; midfielders Ely Allen, Alvaro, David Beckham, Kelly Gray, Kevin Harmse, Chris Klein, Josh Tudela, Pete Vaganas; forwards Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan, Carlos Ruiz, Israel Sesay.

The missing: Galaxy draft picks Daniel DeGeer and Matt Hatzke, open tryout selection Vito Higgins (who is from Hawaii) and midfielder Kyle Martino.

Martino told me last weekend that’s he’s healthy and recovered from offseason surgery, so the question arises: Is the relatively high-paid veteran trade bait as the Galaxy look both to reduce their wage bill and log-jam in midfield?

I have no idea whether Ruiz is healthy enough to play; he didn’t feature in either of the Galaxy’s two closed-door scrimmages last week. Similarly, it’s unclear whether Babayara has yet secured a work permit.

And I bet Higgins is crushed.

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Galaxy in Paradise

The Galaxy have landed in Hawaii for the Pan-Pacific Championship amid the requisite scenes of Beckham hysteria and the typically bland press conference.

Best line at the press event went to Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear, who quipped:

“I am surprised the tickets only cost $10. I had a Pina Colada last night and that was $10. So if people just hold off on one Pina Colada then they can come down and see some great soccer.”

i-afdf16ea37f23ff4bd49c88e3b053f09-PPC08_Press_Conference_08.jpg18 February 2008: Brian Ching of the Houston Dynamo and David Beckham of the LA Galaxy pose with the Pan-Pacific Championship trophy during a press conference for the inaugural event at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, HI.

Still no travel roster from the increasingly secretive Galaxy.

Perhaps this new set of squad photos provides a clue and signifies who is likely to win a spot on Coach Rudd (sic) Gullit’s team.

Check out the uncomfortable looking Alexi Lalas and defender Abel Xavier, who appears to be striving to look like one of those little plastic trolls that were a fad in the ’70s.

Finally, Galaxy beat writer Billy Witz has more on who will return from the Galaxy’s trip to Hawaii and Asia still on the team.

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Pan-Pacific Championship Press Conference Begins at 4:45 p.m.

To listen, go here. or here.

Participants:Will Wilson, SUM Executive Vice President
Dynamo Head Coach Dominic Kinnear
Dynamo forward Brian Ching
Sydney FC Head Coach John Kosmina
Sydney FC defender Tony Popovic
Galaxy Head Coach Ruud Gullit
Galaxy midfielder David Beckham
Gamba Osaka Head Coach Akira Nishino
Gamba Osaka defender Satoshi Yamaguchi

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Galaxy Training Camp Update

Some 22 Galaxy players trained Saturday morning (Greg Vanney was not there) at Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy played two games against college opponents this week beating Loyola Marymount 6-0 or 7-0 Tuesday (no-one could quite remember the exact score by Saturday) and UCLA 4-1 Friday with the Bruins’ moms and dads allowed in the stands, but warned not to bring any cameras in.

The games were divided into thirds and goalkeeper Steve Cronin played the first 30 minutes of each game.

He only faced one shot (against LMU).

“We were just trying to figure some things out,” said Galaxy Coach Ruud Gullit, saying he couldn’t remember who scored. “It’s not about the score.”

Midfielder Pete Vagenas sounded like he was looking forward to Hawaii, comparing this camp to the early Sigi Schmid years: “I’m exhausted,” he said, adding that coaches usually slack off the double days – but Ruud and Cobi Jones haven’t. “Its been unique. … We’re licking our wounds so to speak.”

On the Greg Vanney trade: “I thought I’d stepped into a time machine or something.”

For those playing catch-up, here’s the report from today’s dead tree edition (to steal a phrase).

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