Wednesday Galaxy Frequent Flyer Update & More

The Galaxy, apparently failing to learn from last year’s grueling schedule designed to wring every dollar possible from the presence of you-know-who (no, not Canadian defender Ante Jazic), are at it again.

Today the club announced a May 13 (that’s a Tuesday) rematch against the USL Vancouver Whitecaps in Edmonton, Alberta sandwiched between a home date against New York the preceding Saturday and a road game in Dallas the following Sunday.

Assuming the Galaxy return to LA before heading to Texas, that’s three games in nine days covering 5,222 as-the-crow-flies miles in two states and two nations.

Almost as curious is the Galaxy press release. There’s no mention of the main reason for the Canada game (and no, it’s not so fans can see Jazic):

We have a tremendous relationship with the Vancouver Whitecaps and share their view of growing the sport throughout North America, said Galaxy Assistant General Manager Tom Payne. The first time that we played the Whitecaps the game ended in a draw, this time we are looking to score goals, entertain the fans of Edmonton and come away with a victory.

This will be the Galaxys second friendly against the Whitecaps in a six month span, with the two sides having played to a 0-0 draw in Vancouver on November 7. A crowd of 48,172 was in attendance at BC Place Stadium for that match, making it one of the biggest crowds ever to see a soccer game in Canada.

We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play the Galaxy in Edmonton, said Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi. One of our clubs mandates is to grow the game of soccer and this match will allow us to showcase two of North Americas most storied soccer franchises. Alberta has successfully hosted some of the biggest soccer events in Canada and I am positive that this match will be no different.

The Whitecaps play in the 11-team United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) and boast a formidable roster, which includes a mix of youth and experience. Long-time veterans include Canadian international Martin Nash, Jeff Clarke and Steve Kindel. Nash, the 2007 Whitecaps team MVP, has won three USL-1 titles and earned 38 international caps. All three members were key contributors to the Whitecaps 2006 USL-1 championship season.

And let’s hope the snow is off the ground in Edmonton by then. It usually is, but late season blizzards are not unheard of. (There’s a reason the city’s CFL team is called the Eskimos).

In other Galaxy news, the club announced today they had unearthed a goalkeeper from the just-ended open tryouts: former Gonzaga goalkeeper Vito Higgins.

From the (edited) Galaxy press release:

Higgins, who played four years at Gonzaga University, will begin training under the tutelage of goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer on Wednesday.

Vito had an outstanding career at Gonzaga and was somebody whose talents we were well aware of in advance of this weeks open tryouts, Galaxy Director of Soccer Paul Bravo said. He came into the tryouts and impressed us with his play and has without a doubt earned his chance to train with the Galaxy.

The 22-year old Hawaii native appeared in 69 games during his four years with the Bulldogs, including 38 in his last two seasons when he played every minute of every game for the school. As a senior in 2007, Higgins compiled a 9-6-4 record along with a 0.70 goals against average, which is the second best single season mark in club history. Higgins helped the Bulldogs reach the NCAA Tournament last year and recorded a career-high 14 saves in the Bulldogs 1-0 loss to SMU, with the games lone goal coming via a late penalty kick.

Higgins will train with the Galaxy for the rest of the week in the hopes of earning a spot on the clubs trip to Honolulu as part of the inaugural Pan Pacific Championship, which begins a week from today.

How cool would it be for a long shot to make a pro roster in that fashion and then possibly end up playing a tournament with the team in your home state? Good luck, Vito.

Finally, the Galaxy announced today that half season and six-game mini-plans are now on sale. One of the games included in the mini-plan is the Red Bull game, incidentally, presumably so fans can see the team before everyone is exhausted (again).

From the (edited) press release:

These plans are currently the only way for fans to purchase tickets to multiple Galaxy games this season without buying a season ticket and offer a significant discount over single game ticket prices.

Fans who order the Big Six plan, which range in price from $75-$420, will receive tickets to the Galaxys home opener against San Jose on April 3, the first installment of the SuperClasico against inter-city rival Chivas USA on April 26, the May 10 visit of the New York Red Bulls, the Galaxys annual July 4th fireworks match against New England, an MLS Primetime Thursday meeting with the Chicago Fire on August 21 and the 2008 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, November 23.

Fans who select the half season plan, which range in price from $125-650, will receive tickets to all of the games in the Big Six plan, including the 2008 MLS Cup, as well as the Galaxys game against the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo on April 19 and three other matches.

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Galaxy on TV & Camp Update

ESPN Classic and will air next week’s inaugural Pan-Pacific Championship live from Hawaii, the Galaxy announced today.

Adrian Healy and Allen Hopkins will be in the commentary booth.

The schedule:
Feb. 20
8 p.m. Galaxy vs Gamba Osaka.
10:30pm Houston Dynamo vs Sydney FC .

Feb. 23
8 p.m. PPC Third Place Match – Live on
10:30 p.m. PPC Championship Final.

I just got back from training camp where Galaxy officials said trialist Gabriel Aikhena, who last played in Singapore, was cut from the roster today.

In addition, draft picks Ely Allen, a forward out of Washington, and Julian Valentin, a defender out of Wake Forest, have signed contracts, team officials announced.

I’ll have more from the Galaxy camp Tuesday including a closer look at new Coach Ruud Gullit.

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Galaxy To Participate in Another Irrelevant Tournament

In the wake of the World Series of Football and SuperLiga comes the latest meaningless tournament with a grandiose name: the Pan-Pacific Championship.

Essentially a MLS pre-season tournament scheduled for February, the four-team event in Hawaii unveiled today will involve trophy-winning teams from Japan and Australia, MLS champs the Houston Dynamo, as well as the Galaxy, which will participate because they have David Beckham and MLS Cup runner-up the New England Revolution doesn’t.

“This tournament will unite four terrific clubs from across the region to crown a true Pan-Pacific champion,” said Doug Quinn, president of Soccer United Marketing (apparently with a straight face), which is organizing of the event.

Well, no, it won’t Dougie. If it did we’d have teams from Korea, Mexico, (insert other countries here) all playing as well.

Just call it what it is: a way to make more money off Becks and expose another American market to the MLS product. Or another excuse for a Hawaiian vacation. Nothing wrong with doing that is there?

MLS’ credibility (or lack thereof) is called into question (yet again) when self-important and inaccurate press releases are issued containing such pronouncements as the tournament “will crown the top club from the Asian and North American soccer confederations.

Let’s hope Becks doesn’t twist his ankle again.

Full details are here.

The official Web site is here.

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