Weekly Soccer Column: Champions League Primer*

For both sides of the Atlantic.

Read the column here.

More on the task ahead for Lionel Messi and Barcelona is here.

Going to Wednesday’s Galaxy game? Essential gameday info is here.


Two historic comebacks in Champions League action Tuesday, one in Barcelona, the other in Seattle.

Count the Galaxy impressed.

I plan to Tweet this evening from the Galaxy CONCACAF Champions League game @lasoccerblog, while MLS beat writer Phil Collin will have a full game wrap here tonight.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

European soccer outdraws NHL, horse racing on U.S. network TV in key demographic groups


And by that read younger viewers, those most prized by advertisers since they represent the future.

It’s always interesting to put TV ratings for soccer in a broader context with other more established American sports.

So why don’t American newspaper editors and producers of sports television shows devote more attention to soccer in line with its ratings than they do?

Beats me. And yet they wonder why newspaper readership and the number of eyeballs glued to TV are steadily eroding.

Here are the details via the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — Chelsea’s penalty-kicks win over Bayern Munich in last weekend’s Champions League final had a 1.1 rating and 3 share, according to final ratings from Nielsen Media Research, down from 2011 but up over 2010.

Chelsea’s 4-3 shootout victory following a 1-1 tie was seen by 2 million viewers, Nielsen said Thursday, with the audience rising to 2.4 million from 5-5:30 p.m. EDT.

Among men 18-34, the Champions League final averaged a 1.6, between the 0.8 for the New York Rangers’ 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in the NHL playoffs on NBC and the 1.8 for San Antonio’s 96-86 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA playoffs on ABC. The Preakness on NBC had a 0.6 among men 18-34.

Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Manchester United last year, a game involving teams with bigger U.S. followings, had a 1.4 rating and 4 share, and was watched by 2.6 million.

Inter Milan’s 2-0 win over Bayern in 2010, involving teams more comparable to this year’s
finalists, received a 1.0 rating and 3 share, and was seen by 1.6 million viewers. That was the first Champions League final televised by a U.S. over-the-air network.

The Los Angeles-based Fox Soccer cable channel said it averaged 185,000 viewers for its 118 live Premier League telecasts this season, about the same as 184,000 for 112 matches in 2010-11.

Fox averaged 54,000 for its 96 live Serie A broadcasts this year from Italy and 53,000 for its four Ligue 1 showings from France. Its one live Scottish Premier League match, between Glasgow Celtic and Rangers, had 86,000 viewers.

Among individual English clubs, Manchester United averaged 266,000 viewers for 20 live games, Manchester City 218,000 for 22, Arsenal 215,000 for 16, Liverpool 208,000 for 11, Chelsea 194,000 for 21 and Tottenham 185,000 for 18.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Who knew the last two days would answer the question…

What do Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kaka and Sergio Ramos have in common? (Answer below)


Ronaldo Rubbish: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after missing a penalty against Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League (AP Photo).

All of these undoubtedly brilliant players capable of changing a game did just that in the last two days — by missing a penalty apiece. Ramos in particular deserves a special mention for his stupendously abysmal attempt (kids, please do not try that at home).

And now neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid will play for the UEFA Champions League title next month.


So does this kill Jose Mourinho’s chances of managing Chelsea again then, huh?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Weekly Column: UEFA Champions League Preview


Two days, two of the biggest club games this year: Bayern Munich-Real Madrid today, Chelsea-Barcelona Wednesday on Fox Soccer and FX respectively.

Wherever you’re going to watch — and a list of soccer friendly Los Angeles-area bars, pubs and restauarants origtinally compiled for the World Cup are at top right on this blog — enjoy the games.

And before you go get primed for all the action in today’s column.

Who do you like? Is an all-Spanish final likely? Or will Bayern Munich or Chelsea (or both) crash the Messi-Ronaldo party?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday’s column: To see Messi play is to see greatness

i-6ed99765b417bfe7dfbfa4465e192983-magicmessi.jpgAll that jazz: Lionel Messi blows past Real Madrid’s Marcelo last month in the Spanish Cup final (AP Photo).

Well, OK this was as much a homage to Lionel Messi as it is a column, but, well, I make no apologies for it: He’s that good.

It might seem incredible to soccer fans, but there are plenty of Americans who don’t know who Messi is or why they should care.

The newsroom’s resident Lakers fanatic was heading out the door to get home in plenty of time for their playoff game last night when I asked him if he knew who Lionel Messi was.

“Jazz singer?” he said only half-joking.

I wrote today’s column for the likes of him.


* Barcelona are through to the UEFA Champions League final.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday Kicks: Today’s column & more

i-869a73a9d50999011215c7a2e54d9d6b-rooneybicycle.jpgBiker boy: Wayne Rooney scored Saturday what he described as the best goal of his career. Let’s hope the highlight reels shift into OT when the round of 16 begins today in the UEFA Champions League (AP Photo).

*Dema Kovalenko, who finished a 13-year career with just over 20 appearances for the Galaxy in the last couple of seasons, has confirmed what most of us had already assumed – his retirement.

One of those polarizing players who always had a reckless – some might say downright dangerous – streak, Kovalenko was also a genuine, down to earth locker room presence who was always quick with a joke and a smile with reporters he knew.

*David Beckham’s libel lawsuit against a tabloid gossip sheet who alleged he scored with a $10,000 a night hooker was thrown out by a Los Angeles judge.

*Finally, I think you can make a case that the best soccer tournament on the face of the planet is not the World Cup, but the UEFA Champions League. I certainly remember more great moments and great games from that tournament in recent years than the World Cup.

So will you be planted in front of a TV set at 11:30 a.m. today when Tottenham and AC Milan open the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League on Fox Soccer Channel? Me too. Read more here.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Tuesday’s Column: American TV viewers’ choice for soccer is overseas

Read the column here.

UEFA Champions League games this week include:


BSC Young Boys (SUI) vs. Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG) FSN
FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) vs. AFC Ajax (NED) Fox Soccer Channel
Rosenborg BK (NOR) vs. FC Kbenhavn (DEN) Fox Soccer Plus


Werder Bremen (GER) vs. Sampdoria (ITA) Fox Soccer Channel
FK Partizan (SRB) vs. RSC Anderlecht (BE Fox Soccer Plus

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Galaxy host UEFA Champions League winners Inter Milan in August

i-741619117228f1a1b64c7b74081b7a72-diegocarson.jpgTwo-goal Diego Milito & Co.: coming to Carson (AP Photo).

Saturday, Aug. 7, to be precise, at Home Depot Center.

Tickets are $50 and “will go on sale to the general public at a future date.”

“We have always said that it is our ambition to give our fans exciting games that further enhance the experience of being an LA Galaxy fan and bringing the champions of Europe to The Home Depot Center certainly fits that vision,” Galaxy President of Business Operations Tom Payne said. “This is the second consecutive season in which we have brought the (UEFA) Champions League winners to Southern California and just like last year, we are anticipating another unbelievable evening for our team and our fans.”

The Galaxy lost to Barcelona last August at the Rose Bowl before a crowd of 93,137.

The five-time Serie A champions beat Bayern Munich 2-0 Saturday to claim the treble.

From the Galaxy press release:

Inter Milan will travel to Los Angeles with their complete squad of stars, which currently includes many World Cup-bound superstars such as Argentina’s Diego Milito, who scored both Inter goals in Saturday’s Champions League Final, and Walter Samuel, Brazil’s Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ghana’s Sulley Muntari, Holland’s Wesley Sneijder, David Suazo of Honduras and Serbia’s Dejan Stankovic. They also feature 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Marco Materazzi, former Italian international goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, Argentina internationals Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, the current Inter captain, as well as a host of additional international stars.

But not Jose Mourinho, I suppose, who conventional wisdom says is Real Madrid-bound.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Special One Sunday Soccer, Chivas USA & more

Considering I spent Saturday watching no fewer than four soccer games, it feels odd to say I was taking a break from the game, but that’s what it felt like.

i-fc4665b829c3cf0444f3789188e20103-specialvictory.jpg Saturday’s UEFA Champions League title was a special one for Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho (AP Photos).

After watching another exceptional coaching job by Inter Milan’s Jose Mourinho in the UEFA Champions League final with a Bayern Munich-dominant set of fans at Alpine Village near Torrance (there’s nothing like a middle-aged frauline handing you a beer while saying in heavily-accented German “Arrogant Bastard” – I think she was referring to the microbrew I was drinking – as she does so), and watching the U.S. women score their biggest win over the Germans in 14 years I thought I’d play hooky from the Home Depot Center.

I’m glad I did after Chivas USA (3-6-1) went down to a third consecutive loss in a mostly forgettable game against defending MLS champion Real Salt Lake with the main highlight for the home team being Justin Braun’s well-taken third goal of the season.

i-6c9584056ee55c006f057b49d67205da-brauntackled.jpgReal Salt Lake successfully tackled Justin Braun and Chivas USA Saturday in Carson.

Quotable: Chivas USA Coach Martin Vasquez succinctly summed up the game –

“We came back in the second half and we were able to get a nice goal and play better, but we lost our focus in the 89th minute – and we lost the game.”

Notable: Chivas USA defender and Anaheim native Carlos Borja made the first start of his MLS career.


Chivas USA lineup: Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Daro Delgado, Michael Umaa, Carlos Borja, Jess Padilla (Chukwudi Chijindu 77), Ben Zemanski, Marcelo Saragosa, Michael Lahoud (Jos Macotelo 54), Blair Gavin, Maicon Santos (Justin Braun 63).

Next for Chivas USA: at D.C. United Saturday.

There’s more soccer locally today, in what is likely to be a collection of Galaxy reserve players taking on Argentina’s Boca Juniors (missing their two biggest stars) at 5 p.m. in an exhibition at Home Depot Center.

The game is also on FSN – and that’s where I’ll be watching it.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email