Hawthorne Goal Machine Scores with Pro Contract with hometown LA Galaxy

South Bay star Gyasi Zardes has signed a pro contract as a college junior with the his hometown Galaxy. Photo courtesy Mark Nessia Photography).

Leuzinger High School star Gyasi Zardes, 21, of Hawthorne,  one of the nation’s most prolific college scorers over the last two years, has signed a professional contract with his hometown MLS club, the Galaxy announced today.

A proud Zardes, who scored 33 goals in 37 games for Cal State Bakersfield over the last three years, grew up 10 minutes from Home Depot Center and watched games there frequently, he told reporters on a teleconference call this morning.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the Galaxy family,” he said. “It’s the number one club in my eyes. I’ve always wanted to play in front of my family members.”

Zardes played for the Galaxy at U-18 and U-20 levels and spent last summer with the PDL Ventura County Fusion  where he played against the likes of Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion.

“Gyasi has been one of the most exciting prospects in our Academy for a number of years and was one of the best players in college soccer over the past few years so we are excited to finally be able to sign him as a Homegrown Player,” Galaxy Vice President Chris Klein said. “He has grown and improved immeasurably as a result of his experiences with our Academy and at Bakersfield and we look forward to having him make his Galaxy debut in 2013.”

He is the second South Bay player after Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal to sign with the Galaxy. He is the fifth local product to sign as a homegrown player with the Galaxy; the first was Van Nuys’ Tristan Bowen, now with Chivas USA. And he is the third South Bay Force player, following in the wake of Villarreal and, most recently, Oscar Sorto, to turn pro with the club.

“South Bay Force has been building for many years here locally in youth club soccer to realize this moment,” said Technical Director Todd Saldana. “It is our golden era of player development having the three players signed by the LA Galaxy in recent times.”

Born to Brazilian parents, Zardes grew up watching, admiring and emulating the likes of Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robinho, “cut throat” strikers he said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of. And now his pro future is secured after three years in college, where he is just two classes away from a degree in criminal justice.

“I definitely feel more comfortable signing before the (MLS) draft because I know where I’m going to be based,” he said. “I’m 100 times more comfortable knowing I’m going to be based in Southern California and playing for the LA Galaxy.”

 

From the Galaxy: Zardes burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2011, scoring 18 times in 20 games while helping lead Bakersfield to a berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in school history. His 18 goals that season were the fourth most in Division I college soccer that year and he was selected the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top player in college soccer.

 

 In 2012, Zardes followed up his breakout season by scoring 15 goals and adding nine assists, each of which were team-highs, in 17 games, while helping the Roadrunners record a winning record for the fourth consecutive season. He had two or more goals in four of his 17 games, including seven goals in a two-game stretch in mid-October.

 

 

 

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San Pedro honors Torrance’s Shannon Boxx, Steve Garvey

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Torrance’s Shannon Boxx was inducted into the San Pedro Sportswalk Hall of Fame Monday along with seven other new members including baseball great Steve Garvey. Also inducted are: USC and UCI baseball coach Mike Gillespie, Pat Tillman Award winner Joe Bleymaier, football player Jerry Rodich, golfer Gerald Zar, coach Jim O’Brien and the San Pedro Boys and Girls Club. (Photo by Staff Photographer Steve McCrank).

Is Shannon the first soccer player on the boardwalk?

A complete photo gallery is here.

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Game-winner Gordon reacts to scoring against former club Galaxy

The goal that gave the San Jose Earthquakes a road win Wednesday night in Carson against California rivals the Galaxy came deep into second half stoppage time and was Alan “Supersub” Gordon’s third consecutive late goal for the team to salvage at least a point and, in this case, a road win.

Considering Gordon played the better part of a half dozen seasons or so for the Galaxy before being traded to Chivas USA, you could be forgiven for thinking the goal held some special significance.

Not so, said the Long Beach native after the game:

“It feels amazing. I don’t have any grudge against LA or anything. It doesn’t feel anymore better here than somewhere else. We want points, we got points, we feel good right now.

Was it a lucky bounce?

“Of course. Forwards get lucky. I got lucky. I don’t care. I put it in. End of story. Period.

I was just following up the play,” he said earlier in the interview. “There was a little bit of hesitation on their part. … The ball bounced. They hesitated. I didn’t. I finished it.

Read more about Wednesday’s MLS action in the previous post

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Torrance to host AYSO National Games in 2014, honors MLS coach Sigi Schmid & father

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Soccertown USA honors hometown soccer heroes Fritz Schmid and son, Sigi Schmid: From left, Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto; long-time AYSO referee Fritz Schmid; Valerie Schmid, wife of Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, an original AYSO player in the inaugural season in 1964; and Roland Schmid, of Seattle, Sigi’s brother, are honored Tuesday evening by the Torrance City Council for their contributions to soccer in the South Bay.

On the same evening AYSO announced Torrance would co-host the 2014 National Games in the community where the nonprofit was founded 50 years ago, the city honored long-time Torrance residents Fritz Schmid and his son, Sigi, former coach of UCLA, the Galaxy, Columbus Crew and currently, the Seattle Sounders.

Sigi Schmid moved to the city from Germany with his parents as a child and didn’t move away until he took the jobs in Columbus and Seattle.

“There’s a lot of East Coast guys who are discovering what we knew all along,” Sigi Schmid told the City Council, “that Torrance is basically where soccer was born as an American sport and truly became engrained in the American culture. It was always part of the United States, but it was part of the immigrant (experience).

“Torrance is the birthplace of that. It’s something Torrance will always be proud of and I’m proud to have been associated with it and to be associated with AYSO all these years.”

Here are the pair of proclamations honoring father and son:

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Inglewood’s Villarreal living South Bay soccer dream with the Galaxy

Inglewood resident Jose Villarreal, 18, who still lives at home with his parents, has become the first South Bay native to join the South Bay-based Galaxy from the club’s youth academy.

He spent his first day on the job Monday, not so much overawed by training on the same field as the likes of David Beckham as shivering because of the torrential rain players endured.

“It was OK, but I couldn’t focus it was so cold out there,” he said. “It was raining. It was freezing. I couldn’t feel my hands.”

Welcome to the daily life of a soccer pro. With a locker right next to the absent Robbie Keane’s, it’s an existence Villarreal is still getting accustomed to.

He grew up cheering for his dad’s Mexican team, Cruz Azul, but started paying attention to the Galaxy and MLS when David Beckham signed five years ago.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of friends who are asking: ‘When is your jersey coming out?’ (he was assigned No. 33, incidentally.

“I get a lot of texts, a lot of Facebook messages, (asking) ‘how does it feel to be with Beckham?’”

His answer: Don’t know yet (Beckham introduced himself and that’s about it so far).

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Diamond Bar’s Morgan raises the bar

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American girl: Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan is emerging as the new face of U.S. women’s soccer (AP Photo).

Staff Writer Larry Morgan headed out to the USMNT camp at Home Depot Center to chat with former WPS top draft pick Alex Morgan, expected to become an ever-more influential figure on a national team that, frankly, needs exciting and photogenic stars. Read the story here.

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Wednesday Kicks: South Bay soccer players abroad & more

*Where are you going to watch the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and his U.S. international teammate Tim Howard face Spurs and U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel? Kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. on Fox Soccer. A preview is here.

Tweeted LD: “Getting excited for the Tottenham game Wednesday! Won’t be easy…3rd game in 7 days. Time to dig deep and #WinFromWithin”

*The Euro dreams of Robbie Rogers, who grew up in Rolling Hills Estates, could come true. Rogers, who previously played in Holland as a teen before returning home a bit homesick, has signed for second tier Leeds United – providing he gets a work permit.

Tweeted Rogers: “Excited to be joining Leeds United! Really hoping my work permit gets sorted!”

*Yesterday we took a look at the Galaxy’s MLS SuperDraft prospects (which are really straightforward — wait to see what other teams do).

Chivas USA has an even simpler task: Pick fifth. That’s it.

Guess who the club plucked from the fifth spot back in 2006? Rogers’ good friend, with whom he played in Huntington Beach, Sacha Kljestan, now of Anderlecht.

Chivas USA also has four picks in Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft.

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Weekend rewind: Highlight reel goal from Lawndale’s Kamara & more

Catching up on the weekend highlights:

*Lawndale’s Kei Kamara is now just three goals away from last year’s career high of 10 when he scored a cooly taken winner for Kansas City Saturday in the 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Watch:

*And while I didn’t see a Daily Mail reporter in the press box Saturday in Carson watching the action on the field between the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes highlighted by the perfectly written script of one Robert Kean, the English tabloid was moved to check out what was going on off the field in today’s edition.

*College programs have begun play and the Loyola Marymount women got off to a promising start in Texas, beating Texas State 1-0 Sunday, following up on Friday’s 3-1 defeat of No. 19-ranked Texas.

*In contrast, No. 25-ranked USC dropped two home games on the same weekend for the first time ever, a 3-1 Sunday loss to San Diego coming on the heels of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Long Beach State.

*Long Beach State is 2-0 after a 3-0 victory over Sacramento State in the 49ers’ home opener Sunday afternoon at George Allen Field and the win over USC.

*Pepperdine is similarly 2-0, defeating Arizona 2-0 at Tari Frahm Rokus Field Sunday and beating Cal 2-1 in Berkeley Friday.

*The Cal State Northridge men walloped Cal State Dominguez Hills 5-0 Saturday; the CSUN women lost 2-0 to No. 9 UCLA Friday night at Matador Field.

Lastly, ESPN2 features the Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester United game at noon today.

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Two South Bay players win WPS awards

i-9b903fab84ab4a5363af217d14f87fe6-20080117_wps_medium.jpgPalos Verdes Estates’ Christen Press (magicJack) was named Rookie of the Year, while Rolling Hills Estates’ Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash) received the Defender of the Year honor in Women’s Professional Soccer.

Engen, 24, led the regular season champions to a 13-2-2 record and missed just one game (while on national team duty) all season; Press, the reigning 2010 MAC Hermann trophy winner out of Stanford, scored eight goals for magicJack – almost one-third of the team’s total – and just two behind former LA Sol striker Marta, who took the Golden Boot Award despite playing in just 14 games.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized amongst such phenomenal players,” said Engen. “One of the main reasons I was even able to be nominated was because of the support and play of everyone around me.”

The Flash, the regular season champion, will play the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between the Philadelphia Independence and magicjack (live at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net) on Aug. 27 in Rochester (live at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net).

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Jokester Jimmy Conrad of Chivas USA nails one-liners throughout farewell news conference

i-835d30872590127d0af00ce83074b538-conradfarewll.jpgChivas USA Coach Robin Fraser, Jimmy Conrad and Chivas USA General manager Jose Domene yuck it up during the loosest retirement press conference in MLS history (Photo courtesy Chivas USA).

Like fans, journalists like to watch great players; players capable of fantastic quotes, we love even more.

They are far, far more rare.

Here’s Chivas USA central defender Jimmy Conrad’s farewell address

Athletes don’t like to talk about concussions; Conrad was no exception:

“The biggest relief (now that I’m retiring) is that now I can tell everyone what happened and I can get on with my modeling career.”

Jimmy, thanks for a great 13 years. Reporters everywhere will miss you.

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