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.


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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.

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Chivas USA Names Assistant Coaches

Chivas USA today announced the hiring of former San Diego Spirit coach Carlos Juarez, former Bayern Munich assistant coach Nick Theslof and goalkeeper coach Daniel Gonzalez to the club’s coaching staff.

The trio join Carlos Llamosa as assistant coaches to Head Coach Martn Vsquez on the team’s technical staff.

“These three coaches are talented, experienced, and perfectly suited to help this club move forward,” Vsquez said. “Adding Carlos, Nick and Daniel, and with Carlos Llamosa already here, will help all our players, from youth teamers to experienced professionals, learn and develop.”

In addition to formerly coaching the WUSA’s Spirit, Juarez is a former coach of a variety of U.S. international youth teams and also coached the men’s and women’s teams at Cal Poly Pomona. The L.A. native was most recently with the Claremont Stars club as the organization’s technical director.

Theslof, who takes on the new role of technical coach for Chivas USA, was on the staff at Bayern Munich with Vasquez.

He was also scout for the German National team at the 2006 World Cup and was the coach and GM for PDL club Orange County Blue Star from 2002-2007.

As technical coach, Theslof will work with players on various aspects of their performance, and will also help the club in both player and club scouting, Chivas USA officials said.

Gonzalez is an Argentine native who played with Rosario Central in a 16-year pro career and also was on the staff at the Colorado Rapids for three years.

BTW, Theslof is pretty close to Rolling Hills Estates’ Robbie Rogers, who played for him at Blue Star and had a big influence on him during his formative soccer years. Wonder if that could help Chivas USA lure the U.S. international winger from the Columbus Crew, where Rogers saw his playing time diminish toward the end of last season?

Chivas USA opens preseason training camp Tuesday.

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England’s Everton Pursue Loan Deal for Galaxy’s Donovan & More

The loan deal for Landon Donovan would be of the short-term variety, similar to what he did earlier this year with Bayern Munich.

It would be a good shop window for Donovan as he either seeks a foreign club or strengthen his bargaining position with MLS over an improved contract.

Everton have little money to spend so it’s unlikely to become permanent, but Everton manager David Moyes, who has worked with the likes of Brian McBride at the club level in the past, at least respects Americans more than your average English coach (or knows a good, relatively inexpensive deal when he sees one). Details here.

BTW, I should note Donovan (who is apparently on his way to Hawaii for a vacation as I write this) updated his Facebook page back on Dec. 1 thusly:

Just wanted to send a quick note regarding the Club America rumors. I certainly am interested but haven’t heard anything yet…we’ll see what happens.


*The alumni magazine of the University of Washington catches up with former Galaxy player Ty Harden to talk to him about his unusually selfless career move. The Galaxy’s 2007 Defender of the Year player returned to MLS with the Colorado Rapids this year, playing in seven games.

*Lastly, former Sol defender Martina Franko (she was traded to the expansion Philadelphia Independence in October) and Sol goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc are among nine nominees for the women’s Canadian Player of the Year Award. (The other nominees are forward Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman of FC Gold Pride, Sky Blue FC midfielder Kelly Parker, Washington Freedom goalkeeper Erin McLeod, Carmelina Moscato – who plays in Italy – and Rhian Wilkinson and Diana Matheson, who both play club soccer in Norway.

There’s also a men’s award with the usual suspects including Julian de Guzman and Dwayne De Rosario of Toronto FC.

Voting began today and runs through Dec. 20.

Vote here.

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No Column Today

I took Monday off to extend the holiday weekend.

The column returns next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, while I take my mother-in-law to the airport this morning (yes!), check out the latest report of someone who was working Monday on the possibility of the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan securing a new long-term MLS contract and potentially doubling his salary.

Again, no attribution given as to the source of the story. A plant by Donovan’s agent as he plays both sides of the fence to extract the best possible deal for his client?

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Saturday Galaxy Gameday (& More)

The Galaxy-Colorado Rapids game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. (delayed until 10 p.m. on Prime) and fans should get there early for a free T-shirt and $1 pregame beers and hot dogs. Cheapo tickets, too.

The basics from the Daily Breeze.

The statistical comparison of the two teams from The Denver Post.

Preview from the Rapids blog From the Couch.

The always detailed MLS breakdown.

The unsubstantiated trade rumor of the week has this guy allegedly joining the Galaxy on loan.

Lastly, the new coach of Mexico is an old coach of Mexico.

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Friday Football: Chivas USA Play in Santa Clarita Sunday & More

And with salary cap and roster size compliance day Monday, a highly-motivated bunch of young players should be on display against the Ventura County Fusion of the PDL (who will likely have former Chivas USA forward Anthony Hamilton in the side).

More on the charity game is here.

And fans will be tailgating.

Meanwhile, a player often mentioned in connection with Chivas USA is on his way home from Europe. And as if on cue, too, since club officials reiterated their desire earlier this week to sign a designated player if available this summer. I have no inside info. I’m just sayin’.

Over in Galaxyland, first round draft pick Omar Gonzalez scored his first goal in a Galaxy uniform in a closed door scrimmage against UCLA. Highlights here:

It appears Seattle and ex-Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid will be giving L.A. a run for its money leading MLS in attendance this season.

The pick of the televised games this weekend includes:
*Arsenal-Fulham 7 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel
*Real Madrid-Espanyol 1 p.m. Saturday on GOLTV
*CD Guadalajara-Pachuca 5 p.m.Saturday on KVEA

*Sampdoria-AC Milan 9 a.m. Sunday on FSC (delayed)
*Club America-San Luis 2 p.m. Sunday on KMEX

Finally, congrats to the sports staffers at the Daily News. The section was recently named one of the 10 best in the nation in its circulation category, despite a significant loss of staff in the last few years. My soccer column appears every Tuesday in its pages (as it does in several sister newspapers in Southern California including the Torrance-based Daily Breeze) so I’ll claim a small role in that success.

More here.

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Galaxy Break Silence on Beckham

Well, sort of.

Here’s the back story: By now, anyone who pays the slightest amount of attention to MLS knows David Beckham and Landon Donovan, the team’s biggest stars, both want to flee for Europe, where they are on loan with two of the continent’s biggest clubs.

Donovan has openly agitated for a move for months and appears to be closing in on a transfer to Bayern Munich, while Beckham said for the first time Wednesday he wants to play for AC Milan. That’s something he reiterated today, telling the Associated Press he has “rediscovered” himself as a footballer in Italy.

Beckham’s remarks are the culmination of weeks of speculation over AC Milan’s intentions, with club officials from the president down virtually to the janitor (well, O.K. it was the AC Milan lawyer, but you get the idea) saying over and over again they want Beckham to stay.

The Galaxy’s response? Almost total silence. The club has had nothing of any substance to say about either player.

In a sense, it’s understandable. The Galaxy won’t want to tip its hand publicly to anyone – rivals or the two clubs it must negotiate with – with so much at stake.

Moreover, the corporate culture of Galaxy owner Anschutz Entertainment Group has always been what one could charitably call “cagey” or realistically describe as fear-filled. And if your boss was the brash and outspoken Tim Leiweke, you’d be reticent to speak publicly, too.

But let’s not mistake the Galaxy’s silence as part of a calculated let’s play hard to get bargaining strategy.

In truth the lack of comment from the Galaxy borders on the ludicrous. At best it’s insulting to fans who deserve to know what’s going on before they plonk down money for season tickets .

At worst it just makes the Galaxy and MLS look amateurish.

A week or so ago I was one of a trio of journalists who spent a good 15-20 minutes with Bruce Arena as he dodged and weaved his way through an interview without truly saying anything.

It was amusing in passing, but largely a waste of time. Since then things have only deteriorated further as columnist Martin Rogers pointed out in a Yahoo! column:

As a money-making venture, the Galaxy must be viewed as a success, with a value far greater than any other MLS team, for now at least. But as a sports organization it is rotten, having cannibalized itself with the wrong decisions made for the wrong reasons.

The decision to close ranks on Wednesday and fail to offer comment on the Beckham situation, even after the 33-year-old had announced his desire to leave, was typical Galaxy.

Training was closed to the media, and no players were allowed to speak publicly. The acquisition of Todd Dunivant from Toronto FC was deemed to be the most newsworthy item on the team website.

Ignore the issue and it will go away? Barring a miracle, Beckham has gone away.

(You can read the whole thing here, BTW.

The Los Angeles Times has similarly weighed in:

His departure will focus attention on the shortcomings of MLS and of the Galaxy in particular. If the league wants to be taken seriously on a global level, it has to learn how to play the game off the field as well as on it.

It is no good putting up the shutters, as the Galaxy did this week, and saying “no comment” when stories began pouring out of Europe on an almost daily basis about Beckham’s desire to stay in Milan and Milan’s desire to keep Beckham.

(You can read the whole thing here).

It’s one of those occasions when the media is reduced to interviewing each other to provide context to the story.

Amusingly, the Galaxy moved into damage control Thursday, issuing this statement last night to the media:

“Just want to confirm with everyone that we do in fact have media availability after training tomorrow. Training begins at 10 a.m. and should finish right around 11:30, with players and coaches available after.

I know that we have not had much out there from the club over the last two days, but we have been open every day and will be once again on Friday.”

And, as if to prove their intention of actually communicating, the Galaxy issued this statement from Arena Thursday regarding Beckham’s remarks about staying in Milan:

“I really didn’t have the opportunity to see the full context of his comments. However, we’ve been evaluating the situation. We’re going to do in the end what’s best for the Galaxy.”

Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Bruce. Nice to know you’re looking out for the team first (I bet you are opposed to crime and cruelty to puppies and kittens, too).

Llong-winded comments that are essentially the equivalent of “no comment” only confirm the lack of candor from the club. That’s something that has not gone unnoticed in Europe as this excerpt of an interview on the Bayern Munich Web site with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge shows, who was asked whether the Galaxy would allow both Donovan and Beckham to leave:

“I don’t know. AC Milan rang up yesterday with the same question. They’re obviously doubtful whether Galaxy would let both go. But if I know my Americans, it probably comes down to the price.”

So we are left to scour the back alleys of MLS to find out what’s going on with an anonymous source this morning telling The Washington Post’s Steve Goff that the Galaxy are chasing Ghanian midfielder Stephen Appiah who has left his Turkish club.

Care to comment, Bruce?

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Arena Rubbishes Owen to Galaxy Report & Other Camp Updates.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena scoffed Monday at a report by England’s Sunday Mirror – one of that nation’s trashiest tabloids and not exactly regarded as a paragon of journalistic credibility – that the club was after Newcastle United’s Michael Owen as a replacement for Landon Donovan, should he move to Bayern Munich for good.

“I can promise you we have had zero contact with him so there’s probably zero percent accuracy in that report, which is kind of standard,” Arena said, observing wryly that the likes of Owen and another alleged Galaxy target, Italian defender Alessandro Del Piero, would end up “fitting beautifully under our salary cap.”

Arena would also not be drawn by recent comments attributed to Donovan in Germany that included the statement, “I want to make it here. It is my dream. I want to stay here a few years.”

Arena observed Donovan has been making similar statements since last November:

“We’re very generous and supportive of Landon – we agreed to allow him to go on loan for free and we’re going to hold ourselves to that loan agreement … I don’t believe management should be commenting on a player who is ours and if either club has an interest in the player they should go through formal channels and do that properly.”

That last statement was made partly in regard to the latest pronouncement by an AC Milan official – this time the club’s lawyer, of all people – that the Italian team would like David Beckham to stay beyond March:

“I’m not sure its appropriate for club officials at the biggest clubs in the world to be making comments without having contact with us, but having said that we don’t know if anything is accurate at the other end either, so I’ll leave it at that.”

So that’s settled then.

In other training camp news, top draft pick Omar Gonzalez participated in his first practice today. I spoke with him – as well as Van Nuys youngster Tristan Bowen – and will post items on those two later in the day, once I’ve finished Tuesday’s column.

Finally, Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has received his visa and is set to join the Galaxy camp for the first time Wednesday.

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