Galaxy players Oscar Sorto of Los Angeles and Jose Villarreal of Inglewood are among the Southern California contingent on the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster that opens today (Photo courtesy LA Galaxy/German Alegria).
More on the opening match against World Cup favorites Spain (who have taken an early 1-0 lead) currently under way on ESPN 2 is here.
South Bay soccer player Robbie Rogers, who recently came out as gay, appeared on ABC’s “Nightline” last night to discuss NBA player Jason Collins’ admission that he is homosexual and what it was like to return to his family after making his public admission.
I hesitated blogging about this yet again, but it’s a subject and discussion some still need to hear judging by the response to Collins’ announcement.
Let’s hope we see Rogers back on a soccer field in a competitive game sooner rather than later, although he did make it out to Galaxy training today:
Had a great first day back w/ @lagalaxy. Very appreciative that Bruce is allowing me to train w/ the team to get back in shape. #legsinbits
I’ve drawn parallels between Rogers and Donovan before and do so again here in part because Rogers said in the interview he might seek to train with the Galaxy. Hopefully coach Bruce Arena and the supportive likes of Donovan will make that happen because if Rogers has any hopes of re-starting his soccer career his home here in Southern California may well be the place to do it.
Rogers has received criticism in some quarters for retiring from the game — although it’s unclear whether he has stepped away for good — but Donovan’s cry for more acceptance of mental health issues Wednesday resonates even more this morning in light of Rogers’ interview.
Back from a 10-day vacation ahead of the start of the MLS season, I’m off to Galaxy training in a moment to hear more from coach Bruce Arena about Sunday’s announcement regarding Landon Donovan’s immediate MLS future.
*Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal is expected to lead the U-20 U.S. team today against Haiti in the opener of the regional championship with a place in the World Cup later this year in a game that will be shown live at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer.
Kei’s House: Carrow Road, home of EPL club Norwich City and now Lawndale’s Kei Kamara (and yes, that’sme on the right being given a personal tour of the stadium by a very kind Norwich City employee back in 2006).
Lawndale’s Kei Kamara has completed his journey from refugee in war-torn Sierra Leone, which forced him to flee to Lawndale, to the EPL with Norwich City (full disclosure: I grew up in Norwich and continue to support my hometown team) completing a move from Sporting Kansas City first publicly broached last week:
This is Surreal. I said it at draft day and saying it again Dreams do come True. Allah is Great. #heartshapedhands
Lawndale’s Kei Kamara could be on his way to England (AP Photo).
EPL club Norwich City have admitted interest in Sporting Kansas City striker Kei Kamara, who emigrated from Africa to the South Bay and played at Cal State Dominguez Hills before turning pro. Full disclosure: I’m hopelessly biased as a Norwich fan, but seeing him partner Grant Holt up front would no doubt give the goal shy City attack much more substance.
Here’s an update from the U.S. Men’s National Team in Carson where coach Jurgen Klinsmann is talking beer and um, balls, in revealing it was his choice — not Landon Donovan’s — to keep the Galaxy playmaker out of the U.S. camp while he mulls his future.
GENEVA (AP) — Lionel Messi can break another soccer record on Monday by being selected the world’s best player for an unprecedented fourth time.
The Barcelona and Argentina forward, who scored 91 goals in 2012, is the favorite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or prize ahead of club teammate Andres Iniesta and rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
A fourth straight title would lift Messi above FIFA World Player of the Year three-time winners Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo of Brazil.
Since the original Ballon d’Or was launched in 1956 as a European award, Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten also earned a hat trick of titles.
The U.S. gold medal-winning team at the London Olympics could dominate the women’s awards at FIFA’s annual gala ceremony.
Forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are competing with five-time winner Marta of Brazil for best player, and former coach Pia Sundhage is favored to be selected best coach of a women’s team ahead of two male rivals: Norio Sasaki of silver-medalist Japan and Bruno Bini of France.
Wambach, who finished third in the FIFA voting last year, and Morgan seek to become the first American winner since Mia Hamm got the 2002 award. Wambach scored five goals at the Olympics and Morgan got three as the U.S. took its third straight gold medal. Marta’s Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Japan.
Sundhage, who has since returned home to coach Sweden’s women’s national team, is favored after losing out on the award last year to Sasaki after Japan won the World Cup.
Victory for Messi would fuel renewed debate over how his talent compares with Pele and Diego Maradona, whose careers were over or peaked before FIFA started its award in 1991. The South American greats were never eligible for the old Ballon d’Or run by France Football magazine. The awards merged in 2010.
“(Michael) Jordan dominated his sport and Messi dominates this one,” former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said last year, in comparing his protege to the basketball icon.
Iniesta starred at the European Championship last summer as Spain’s relentless passing game won a third straight major tournament title.
Ronaldo, the 2008 FIFA award winner and twice runner-up to Messi, impressed with prolific scoring to help Madrid take away Barcelona’s Spanish league title, then carried Portugal to the Euro 2012 semifinals.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is a candidate for the men’s coaching award, along with the Madrid-Barcelona duo of Jose Mourinho and Guardiola, who left the Catalan club in May.
The four main awards were voted on by coaches and captains of national teams worldwide, plus invited journalists. The votes were filed in November before Messi gained yet more praise in his successful pursuit of Gerd Mueller’s milestone of 85 goals in a calendar year.
Messi’s total included 79 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina, to overtake Mueller’s tally for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972.
“I’m delighted for him,” Mueller said. “He is an incredible player, gigantic. He’s such a nice and modest professional.”
Messi also answered criticism that he underachieves for Argentina with five goals in five World Cup qualifiers and impressive hat-tricks in exhibitions against Brazil and Switzerland.
Ronaldo scored 46 goals in Madrid’s title march and would have boosted his Ballon d’Or claim by leading Portugal to win Euro 2012, where opposing fans often taunted him by chanting Messi’s name.
Iniesta excelled in the final as Spain silenced critics of its possession play to beat Italy 4-0 in the most lop-sided result of any World Cup or European Championship final.
All three Ballon d’Or nominees will likely be named in a World XI lineup chosen by the FIFPro group of players’ unions comprising around 50,000 members worldwide.
Brazil star Neymar seeks a repeat victory in the Puskas Award given to the best goal of the year, offering consolation for again missing out on the Ballon d’Or shortlist. FIFA President Sepp Blatter acknowledged that it is difficult for players based outside Europe to attract voters’ attention.
Neymar is nominated on a three-goal shortlist for a spectacular solo effort for Santos, dribbling past several Internacional opponents in March.
Radamel Falcao scored an acrobatic volley for Atletico Madrid against America de Cali in an exhibition in May, and Miroslav Stoch of Fenerbahce struck with a volley in a Turkish league game against Genclerbirligi in March. Fans voted online from 10 candidates proposed by FIFA.