Tuesday’s Column: A Sigi Schmid Fairytale & More

I had never written a fairytale before.

But the literary device seemed apt for today’s column.

Of course, Red Bull New York is a bit of a Cinderella story, too, so come Sunday we’ll see who lives happily ever after.

Columbus management gave Sigi the time and perhaps most importantly, didn’t interfere in the playing side of things, and are now reaping the reward. Are you listening, Galaxy front office?

“I’ve always felt if you hire somebody to do the job let them do the job and if you’re not going to let them do the job don’t hire them,” Schmid said. “It’s impossible for anyone to have too many fingers in (too many) pies.”

Updated:
UCLA beat San Diego 1-0 Monday on an own goal in a game delayed by the unhealthy air quality caused by the wildfires this weekend to advance to the last 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins play USC at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Drake Stadium.

Quotable:

“This is the NCAA Tournament and nothing is going to be easy and nothing is going to be handed to you,” said UCLA head coach Jillian Ellis. “To be able to win and not play as well as we can play – we have to take that as a positive. Good teams find a way to win. San Diego certainly didn’t make it easy for us.”

Notable:
*UCLA outshot San Diego 20-9 on the night.
*The Bruins have allowed goals in just four of their 22 games this season.
*It is the fourth season in a row that UCLA has reached the 20-win mark, and the Bruins’ 10th straight appearance in the round of 16.
*The Bruins defeated the Trojans 2-1 earlier this season.

U.S. Soccer has named its annual award finalists. Voting begins today here.

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy’s Franklin Named Rookie of the Year & More

MLS today named Cal State Northridge product and Galaxy defender Sean Franklin as its Rookie of the Year. Franklin is scheduled to talk to reporters later today from the U.S. Men’s National Team training camp in Colorado.

How big of an accomplishment is this?

Franklin played all year in the center of a bad Galaxy defense, yet according to Coach Bruce Arena he’s not a central defender.

In other MLS awards-related news, Rolling Hills Estates Robbie Rogers is one of the five finalists for Goal of the Year. Vote here. Roger already beat out Beckham to become one of the finalists; can he do the same to Blanco?

And in other Galaxy-related news, Bayern Munich’s Web site has more on Landon Donovan’s German adventure. Hmmm, is he going to be there 10 days or 10 weeks?

Oh, and even though this was reported a while back the Galaxy has officially announced that Tristan Bowen, 17, of Van Nuys has become the first player to come through its youth academy to sign a multiyear contract with the club.

“Tristan is an exciting and talented young player who has impressed me and all of our coaches during his time training with the club,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “He has many of the attributes which are required in order to become a good player in MLS and has shown the drive and desire to improve all areas of his game. We are excited to have him join the club and look forward to seeing him grow in a Galaxy uniform.”

In Wednesday night games, Mexico beat Ecuador 2-1 in Arizona and CD Guadalajara lost 2-0 in the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana semifinal.

At 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2 the Crew and Fire face off in the Eastern Conference final with the winner heading to MLS Cup on Nov. 23 at Home Depot Center.

Even though former Galaxy Coach Sigi Schmid is being circumspect about what it would mean to him to walk out on the home field of the club that fired him in the league’s title game, Crew forward Alejandro Moreno – who played for him in L.A. – isn’t as reticent:

“We know it’s special and we know he’s a California guy. I think what’s special is that I was in L.A. when Sigi got fired and probably at the time I thought it was wrong and even now I thought it was wrong and even with the Galaxy having won the MLS Cup after that I still think it was wrong.

“There was a lot of people who wrote him off and there was a lot of people who didn’t think he was the coach he was when he was back with the Galaxy and I’m here to tell you he’s still the coach (he was).”

Sigi talks here:

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Euro 2008 Preview: Sigi Schmid on Germany

Germany opens Euro 2008 play against rivals Poland Sunday and after last week’s Crew game at Home Depot Center I asked German native Sigi Schmid about the competition in general and Germany’s chances specifically.

Long time South Bay resident Schmid, a former coach with UCLA and the Galaxy and a scholar of the game, had this to say:

Q: Who’s your pick to win Euro 2008?
A: When you look at Greece having won it last time I think there’s a number of teams that can step up and win it.

For some dumb reason I think the Russians could be a surprise team just because of the fact (UEFA Cup Winner) Zenit (Saint Petersburg) had a good season.

They’ve got four, five players from that team that play a prominent role in their national team. The old thing of bloc building from a club into a national team? There’s a certain benefit in that. It seems like things go in cycles, so when a club team does well (and) you look back at past championships a lot of times when a Champions League winner, a UEFA Cup winner came from certain country, all of a sudden that country also won an international country competition. I’m not sure Russia is going to win it, but I think Russia is going to make a little more noise than they have the past few tournaments.

Italy always gets stronger as a tournament goes on and the same goes with Germany.

Portugal has perhaps the most dominant player in the world right now in in (Christiano) Ronaldo so maybe they can climb on his back and he can take them forward from there.

France has all kinds of options, maybe too many options and that could hurt them a little bit.

It should be exciting and there should be some good soccer.

Q:What about Germany?
A: They’re are a solid team and they’re good and they have a lot of different weapons, but I don’t think they were real stellar in their last two tune-up matches. They’re struggling at right back a little right now. (Bayern Munich’s Philip) Lahm hasn’t been convincing completely. They will go as far as their defense will allow them to go.

Q: How will (captain Michael) Ballack react after Chelsea’s disappointing end to the season?

A: Ballack can put Chelsea’s season behind him, I don’t think that’s a problem for him and offensively I think the Germans are going to be OK. … The question is can they keep people off the board in the back? Because I think that’s where the question marks are – (goalkeeper Jens) Lehmann, (Real Madrid’s Christophe) Metzfelder.

On long-shot co-hosts Austria: As (former Galaxy playmaker and now Austria’s Assistant Coach) Andy (Herzog) said, “We’re going to beat them all.” It’s an opportunity for them to shine even though they haven’t had the best run up to (the tournament).

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A Sigi Soccer Saturday

Former Galaxy Coach and South Bay boy Sigi Schmid continued his undefeated streak at the helm of the Columbus Crew today, drawing 0-0 against fast-improving Toronto FC

The league-leading Crew are now undefeated in six games, while Toronto’s five-game unbeaten stretch establishes a new club record.

Great atmosphere and competent commentators on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp feed added to the EPL Lite feel (almost half of Toronto’s lineup played in the U.K.).

Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers had a shot cleared off the line.

You can almost heart Sigi saying: “Goals change games.”

By the way, assuming Sigi answers my e-mail, I’ll have more on the Crew and Rogers in my Tuesday column.

Off to the Chivas USA game in a few minutes and you’ve got to wonder: are these two teams meant for each other?

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Chivas USA, crippled by injuries to its back line and next to last in the Western Conference with a 1-4-2 record, might be the perfect opponent for an equally stressed team.

“We are as bad as they are,” United midfielder-forward Santino Quaranta said. “They’re struggling, and so are we.”

Let’s hope it’s a half-decent game.

Lastly, a reminder the Galaxy PR folks sent out to me this morning: “I wanted to make sure that you know our game will also be on FSN Primeticket on Sunday with pregame show at 11:30am.”

Nope, didn’t. Thanks.

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Friday Night Football: Galaxy Draft Pick Jumps Ship & More

Light and late blogging today.

Briefly: Former Creighton goalkeeper Matt Allen, picked by the Galaxy in the third round of the MLS draft, has become the latest young American to spurn the generally low salaries on offer from the league in favor of trying his luck in Europe.

Former Galaxy Coach and longtime South Bay resident Sigi Schmid has acknowledged he is on the hotseat in Columbus after two lackluster seasons with the Crew.

The Crew, by the way, is one of two MLS teams to set up preseason exhibition games later this month with the minor league Ventura County Fusion.

Finally, UCLA product Tony Beltran is making an impact at Real Salt Lake’s training camp.

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Sigi Schmid, Season Ending Thoughts

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Sigi Schmid agreed to guest blog as MLS wraps up 2007:

MLS Cup is the culmination of a long season.

Some rambling thoughts come to mind:

1. The winner of MLS Cup is very rarely the best team in the league.

It is a Cup; not a league championship.

An old coaching friend of mine said to me long ago that during a season the cream rises to the top; in a cup competition it is like Fantasy Island – everyone’s dream can come true.

Although this year two of the more consistent teams made the finals, that is not always the case.

2. Are new rules coming?

Perhaps two designated players per team.

We have the Beckham rule; now we might have the Landon Donovan rule.

I see arguments on both sides; we will see what happens.

Trading for a second DP spot is possible, but it has a value that needs to be respected.

3. On the expansion Seattle franchise – New teams and marching bands. I love it.

Fans as members. I agree – let’s get involved.

Now we need a team name.

Are we going to get another FC team or team FC?

I hope not.

Maybe it will be an SC for soccer Club.

How about an SSC, Soccer and Social Club? I like that.

4. High profile coaches – I think it is great for our league.

Big salaries – great. I wish some of that would pass down to the current coaches.

MLS is different.

When you are used to going player shopping and not looking at price tags, it is hard to start hunting for bargains.

A bargain for a European team is $2 million or less.

In MLS that is called a DP.

Happy hunting, time to go to those big outlet stores for those quality specials.

5. Finally, MLS gets better every year.

The fans are better every year.

There is a better atmosphere every year in the stadiums.

Media coverage is getting better.

The teams are better.

Players are better.

Now if only the refereeing would do the same.

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