Weekly Column: Soccer Spotlight Shines Uncomfortably on Donovan and Rogers

The Galaxy face Club Tijuana tonight under chilly, wet skies in Carson (tickets are just $10, while parking is free) without star Landon Donovan, who could miss up to a third of the Galaxy’s season before he rejoins the team as he struggles with burnout and motivation issues.

That’s a subject I explore in today’s column after this weekend saw two high profile local soccer stars — the other was the South Bay’s Robbie Rogers –  deal with personal issues while in the public spotlight.

Two Brazilian trialists remain with the Galaxy and presumably could see action in a game that’s all about moving toward match fitness with players likely to see about 45 minutes of action apiece, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Monday.

Another player missing is Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal, who along with UCLA’s Javan Torre, got the start for the U.S. Monday in the CONCACAF U-20 championships in Mexico.

It could be worse — the Mexican champions will be missing all their starters, who are playing a Copa Libatadores game on the same evening.

*Updated: Time Warner Cable Deportes announced this morning they would carry the 7:30 p.m. game live with a one-hour pregame show.

Meanwhile, the Frank Lampard to the Galaxy saga — or not — winds on, but despite tabloid claims to the contrary it’s looking increasingly unlikely to me that the Chelsea star will be playing in LA anytime soon. Ah well, at least Frank will be happy goal line technology is finally here.

Finally, while we’re talking about missing players, MLSSoccer.com takes an early (premature?) stab at assessing Chivas USA’s chances this year despite a depth chart as thin as their win column last year.

 

 

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Friday Kicks: Fall in France & more

*You know what they say about Paris in the spring, but what about fall in France?:

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. soccer team will play an exhibition at France on Nov. 11, the first meeting between the nations in 32 years.

The game was announced today and will be played at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, the site of the 1998 World Cup final. The U.S., 1-3-1 under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, also plans to play in Europe on Nov. 15, the last FIFA fixture date of the year.

The nations played twice in 1979, with France winning 6-0 at East Rutherford, N.J., on May 2 and 3-0 in Paris on Oct. 10.

France is preparing for next year’s European Championship, and the U.S. is getting ready for the start of World Cup qualifying in June.

*Continuing the French theme, it looks like David Beckham’s French pursuers are serious.

*Injury-plagued midfielder John Thorrington of the Palos Verdes Peninsula) is crediting the cold waters of British Columbia for helping him come back and immediately lead the Vancouver Whitecaps to two consecutive wins.

*In terms of crowd size this will be the biggest MLS game of the weekend and coincidentally a game some think is the biggest club game in the world is set for 4:30 a.m. Saturday (live on ESPN2).

Other games I won’t miss this weekend include: Colorado-Real Salt Lake at 7:30 tonight on ESPN2, Red Bull New York at Sporting Kansas City (1 p.m. Saturday Telemundo) and the local Galaxy-Chivas USA derby on Sunday (live at 6 p.m. on ESPN).

I’ll have more on the SuperClasico this weekend.

*If college soccer is your thing the pick of the local games may well be women’s match-up between No. 5 Pepperdine, in the top five nationally for the first time since 2003, and Loyola Marymount in Westchester at noon Sunday. The undefeated Waves are 10-0-4 and sit atop the West Coast Conference standings at 2-0. Loyola Marymount is 6-5-2 overall and 0-1-1 in conference play.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Third English club – and former coach – try to lure Beckham home

i-aaac545efce9572add9362e8ca8cccff-buffbecksinny.jpgOf course, nothing will be decided until the end of the MLS season, so this may not be the last rumors we’ll hear surrounding Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

Personally, I’d be less surprised to see beckham end up as a part-owner of the Cosmos than a coach at a second tier club in England. And by the way, French media are reporting Paris Saint-Germain will offer Beckham an 18-month contract at a meeting tonight.

Still, here’s the latest gossip:

LEICESTER, England (AP) — Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson says he has offered David Beckham a chance to join English Championship club Leicester.

Beckham’s MLS contract with the Galaxy is set to expire in November and Eriksson, now in charge at Leicester, says he has discussed a possible linkup with the 36-year-old midfielder.

Eriksson says he has “already had that discussion with him. I spoke to him about Leicester” adding “Beckham, he will never say no to me — he says, ‘Sven, we’ll see. We’ll see.’”

Beckham has also been linked with Premier League clubs Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers, as well as French side Paris Saint-Germain.

Eriksson said the former England captain could combine playing for Leicester with a coaching role.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Trade rumors: Ze Roberto a Goat?

i-f94161f6fdf782cb9df13025bf5bc511-ze-roberto-2009-7-1-6-51-6.jpgGoat meat? Could former Bayern Munich midfielder Ze Roberto be headed to Chivas USA? (AP Photo).

We’ve heard these Ze Roberto to MLS rumors before of course and just because a player’s agent expresses interest is often meaningless.

Especially in French (ahem) so here is the Google translation:

Out of contract with Hamburg (D1 Germany) in June, Z Roberto could slip in Major League Soccer, and more specifically to Chivas USA. A designated player contract of three years with an additional year was submitted to his agent, Jerome Meary. “He also offers in Qatar in Dubai and Germany. But he is hot to live in the United States and the challenge MLS pleases him enormously, ” he told us exclusively. Brazilian international midfielder of 36 years should meet its leaders by the weekend, and huge severance offers, except-cons, they could mean to his departure in June.

Well, at least he’s allegedly “hot” to be in the U.S.

Would Chivas USA loosen the purse strings and make Ze Roberto a DP, however?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Wednesday Kicks: New Blues, Galaxy trade talk & more

*The new LA Blues USL Pro club (equivalent to the third tier of American soccer) unveiled its first three players this morning including Mexican league veteran goalkeeper Oscar Dautt and former Galaxy midfielder Josh Tudela. The team will play most of its games in the OC.

*The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan is allegedly attracting attention from Newcastle United and Fulham, although you’ll notice the stories contain no attribution and no sources. In my book that equates to no journalism either, but maybe that’s just me.

*Meanwhile, could Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena be serious about skipping finding another striker to play alongside Edson Buddle next season and instead stick with LD up front? Let’s hope not since we’ve tried that before with mixed results. Or maybe he’s just sending a message to Ronaldinho’s agent.

*And will Jovan Kirovski play another season with the Galaxy if he agrees to take a pay cut? Maybe.

*Finally, Los Angeles-based Fox Soccer Channel and its related networks announced today a three-year extension to their rights deal to show the UEFA Champions League through 2014-2015.

From the Fox press release:

FOX is currently in the second of a three-season partnership with UEFA through 2011/12, delivering for the first time ever all 146 UEFA Champions League matches from the Play-off Round onward to U.S. viewers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Wednesday Kicks: Ball drive lacks bounce & more

As you can tell from the above graphic, the Torrance-based Daily Breeze is more than a few balls short ahead of the Friday deadline.

So c’mon all you local soccer clubs, donate a few soccer balls and challenge your peers to match your contribution.

In other soccer news today:

*It appears the Galaxy reportedly have an English rival for the signature of Brazilian Ronaldinho.

*The Galaxy announced Tuesday that Assistant Coach Trevor James is leaving to join the expansion Portland Timbers in a similar capacity. From the Galaxy press release:

The longest tenured member of the coaching staff having joined the club in 2006, James served as an assistant coach for the club for the last four-and-a-half years, while also taking on the role of Director of Player Development since the start of the Galaxy Academy in 2007.

As the club’s Director of Player Development, James oversaw all aspects of the creation and growth of the Galaxy Academy, including developing the club’s first home-grown signing, forward Tristan Bowen of Van Nuys.

*The expansion Vancouver Whitecaps and new signing John Thorrington of the Palos Verdes Peninsula are wrapping up a camp in Ventura.

*The first phase of the Re-Entry Draft ended uneventfully today with just two players picked including former Galaxy striker Joseph Ngwenya, plucked by D.C. United from Houston.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy reach end of long season road in Oz loss

Newcastle Jets 2 Galaxy 1

i-8a62b537c831f2e4a6157a09fbe34aa3-becks.jpgBending but not broken: An uncomfortable looking David Beckham grimaced, smiled and mostly walked his way through the game but still thrilled the crowd, especially a buxom blond in the stands brave enough to flaunt a “Bend Me Beckham” sign (AP Photo).

A newly-shorn and clearly tired Galaxy ended the season in Australia early Saturday with a mildly entertaining middle of the night loss for all concerned Down Under.

Familiar defensive frailties were on show yet again (Sean Franklin allowing an attacker to get behind him, A.J. DeLaGarza failing to man up in the middle) on the goals, but this was more occasion than competitive game.

And a terrible mix-up between the Jets’ goalkeeper and a defender was largely the cause of Landon Donovan’s chested in effort on an open goal that gave them an early seventh minute lead.

Juninho should have had a second for the Galaxy when he ripped a ninth minute shot that went pinging off the bar with the whole of the ball clearly coming down over the whole of the line in the Jets net on the TV replay, but came out and was not given.

The Jets also cleared a Galaxy second half effort off the goal line.

But the Galaxy flagged visibly as the game wore on (after an out of the blocks start) and Coach Bruce Arena substituted liberally giving retirees Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein final run outs and a lively looking Bryan Jordan of Temple City some significant minutes.

Game story here.

Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts (Josh Saunders 46′); Sean Franklin (Chris Klein 63′), A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez (Gregg Berhalter 46′), Todd Dunivant (Eddie Lewis 46′); Chris Birchall (Dema Kovalenko 68′), David Beckham, Juninho (Mike Magee 72′), Michael Stephens (Alex Cazumba 57′); Landon Donovan (Bryan Jordan 46′), Edson Buddle (Jovan Kirovski 46′).

*Here’s how the game played in Australia.

*Is Everton in Beckham’s future? Everton could use Landon Donovan, too, after losing 4-1 today to West Bromwich Albion.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Thursday Kicks: USMNT roster announced & more

i-6df75b6983eff96913e5e023d4ae6dde-Agudelo.jpgTeen seen: Looks like MLS fans weren’t the only ones impressed with the performance of Red Bulls youngster Juan Agudelo, called up by U.S. Coach Bob Bradley for next week’s game in South Africa (AP Photo).

*Former Chivas USA players Brad Guzan and Jonathan Bornstein (who technically remains a Goats player until year’s end when he will then join Tigres) and Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers lead an 18-player U.S. squad to South Africa Wednesday for a friendly (11 a.m. ESPN2).

Among the more intriguing players selected: New York’s 17-year-old striker Juan Agudelo, who impressed in the playoffs for the Red Bulls, his teammate Tim Ream, an MLS Rookie of the Year nominee, and midfielder Mikkel Diskerud, who plays in Norway and like Agudelo and Ream is getting his first national team summons.

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley practiced his undistinguished fill in the blank style of quotes in press releases:

“This game is a good opportunity to look at some different players and assess their place in the pool as we continue to build for the next cycle,” said Bradley. “With our immediate focus on the Gold Cup next summer, this game in many ways is just as much the start of 2011 as it is the end of a great year.”

So that’s why you called in Robbie Findley and Jonathan Spector yet again, then Bob?

Complete roster:

goalkeepers – Dominic Cervi (Celtic), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
defenders – Gale Agbossoumonde (Estoril Praia), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

midfielders – Alejandro Bedoya (rebro), Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

forwards – Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City Wizards), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

*FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman, who will lead the club Sunday in the Western Conference final against the Galaxy at Home Depot Center, was voted the 2010 MLS Coach of the Year, the league announced today.

Dallas boasted a 19-game unbeaten streak in MLS play at one point this season en route to the club’s first playoff appearance since 2007.

*MLS has announced the timing and procedure for the combine set for Jan. 8-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two days before the SuperDraft in Baltimore.

The list of participating players will be announced in December.

From the MLS press release:

“The 2011 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will include four rounds and 72 overall selections. Vancouver Whitecaps FC will have the first overall selection in the 2011 SuperDraft while the Portland Timbers will select second. The next eight selections are from teams that did not qualify for the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs beginning with the team with fewest 2010 regular season points (3 points per win, one point per tie). The remaining eight positions are ranked by fewest regular season points among the teams that were eliminated in the same round of the MLS Cup playoffs.”

Finally, your transfer rumor of the day (stop me if you’ve heard this one before). Yawn.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday Kicks: The latest Donovan transfer rumor & more

*Those Landon Donovan to Everton rumors just won’t go away.

Donovan had this reponse last week when asked about another European loan in the MLS offseason, BTW:

“If you ask me today, I’m going to say unequivocally no. I’m tired. My body needs a break. But once I’m off for a few weeks it might be a different answer.”

Glad we got that cleared up then.

*Meanwhile, if you’re an MLS fan you’d better set aside even more time for games next season. The league released this brief statement today:

In 2011, each of the 18 MLS clubs will play 34 regular season games, beginning the weekend of March 19. The League will not take any breaks for the CONCACAF Gold Cup or other competitions. The 32-week regular season will conclude on October 22. The format of the regular season and MLS Cup Playoffs are still being reviewed, and the date of MLS Cup will be announced later. MLS clubs will announce their 2011 home openers in the near future.

*In case you were wondering I’ve heard nothing (yet) about any roster moves at either the Galaxy or Chivas USA today ahead of the roster freeze deadline at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Here’s what that means, via MLS:

No changes may be made to a team’s roster from the Roster Freeze Deadline until the day after MLS Cup, including changes to the Disabled List.

All players listed on the Disabled List after 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday will remain unavailable through MLS Cup. If a team believes its player will recover after Wednesday and would like him to be available to play in any remaining MLS Regular Season and Playoff games, he must be removed from the Disabled List prior to the deadline and any necessary moves to maintain roster compliance must be made by the deadline as well.

In the case of incoming players, if a contract has been signed by the deadline and the League is waiting for his Visa or ITC, the player must still be added to the club’s roster and any related roster moves to accommodate that player must take place before the deadline. The player will be listed as unavailable until the necessary documents are received.

Teams may still add short term replacements after the deadline in cases of extreme hardship, as determined by the League. If a team calls up a player during the MLS Playoffs and he plays in a game, he will be tied to that team for the remainder of Playoffs and MLS Cup. If a player was called up but did not play, then he is not tied to that team.

I

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sunday Soccer: Galaxy MLS & Chivas USA SuperLiga Gameday

While it is clear Ronaldinho is not leaving Inter AC Milan immediately it is equally clear Galaxy fans should not rule anything out (as club officials have said all along), although a LA arrival in 2011 seems more plausible than 2010, assuming he does not extend his contract in Europe.

Meanwhile, much the same could be said of Landon Donovan (in terms of ruling nothing out) as the Galaxy prepares to meet beleaguered D.C. United at 4:30 p.m. today (live on Fox Soccer Channel). An official viewing party is here that apparently includes a $7.00 “Buddle” Burger w/fries. It’s surprisingly lightweight at just 4 oz, but also includes a “Toasted Bun, Saffron Goat cheese Aioli, Arugala, Pickled onions, and Tomatoes.” Why the need to capitalize the burger toppings is unclear to me as is the connection between Buddle and saffron goat cheese, but I guess it could be worse – how about a $6.5 million Beckham burger, which, I suppose, would come with no meat at all).

Bet we see this notable Mexican striker in LA before Ronaldinho (or for that matter Lucio Emilio).

Chivas USA puts in a televised SuperLiga appearance a half hour later against the Dynamo in Houston (5 p.m. KFTR), part of what tournament organizers undoubtedly hope is an attendance-boosting doubleheader that also features the past and present teams of Herculez Gomez – Puebla and Pachuca – at 7:30 p.m. on the same channel.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email