MLS in Vegas & more

*For most Southern Californians, Las Vegas is the road trip so local soccer fans would undoubtedly welcome an MLS team there. Turns out, so would MLS Commish Don Garber. Party on.

*United Soccer Leagues released a revised schedule for the LA Blues and USL pro in the wake of the early-season demise of three Puerto Rican clubs.

*Did anyone take note that the U.S. women beat Japan over the weekend?

*It’s the Galaxy-Chivas USA derby this weekend (7 p.m. Saturday ESPN2), a game set up perfectly by the two clubs’ excellent results this weekend (scroll down for video highlights and details). I’ll have more on the game in Tuesday’s column.

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Friday football: Galaxy wedding royalty & more

i-a71abc7e206e8e815421150f49b50b68-preggersbecks.jpg Not amused: A pregnant Mrs. Beckham does her best Queen Victoria impression as Galaxy midfielder and hubby David Beckham pats her tummy today before the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton at London’s Westminster Abbey (AP Photo).

*Before you ask, yes, David Beckham will be in uniform when the Western Conference-leading Galaxy (4-1-3) plays at seventh-place Dallas (2-3-1) Sunday (live 4 p.m. FSN).

*Injury-plagued Chivas USA, (1-2-3) meanwhile, faces a rapidly-evolving New England Revolution (2-2-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Carson.

Goats fans will have a chance to see the player the club decided to take a pass on: Benny Feilhaber.

*The new USL Pro LA Blues (3-0-1) return from a season-opening four-game road trip to the Caribbean to face Antigua Barracuda FC at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium. The first 300 fans in attendance at their first-ever game will receive a free 2011 Los Angeles Blues schedule poster.

The game can also be seen live here.

*Finally, my don’t miss game of the weekend – Arsenal-Manchester United, 6 a.m. Fox Soccer Channel.

For a complete listing of all the games, click the Live Soccer TV link at top right.

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Waiting for the weekend: Canaries, Galaxies, Goats & more

A weekend of soccer beckons:

Thank you Timbers fans and welcome to MLS.

Quotable:

“Even during the warm-up, I thought it was electrifying,” said Timbers coach John Spencer. “Myself and the staff were talking and saying, ‘This doesn’t feel like the U.S.’ No disrespect to anybody, but it felt like you were playing in the [European] Champions League.”

Southern Californians get to take in all the action on television this weekend. For the first time this MLS season both the Galaxy and Chivas USA are on the road:

*MLS announced today that Jovan Kirovskl will receive an additional one game ban for his “verbal abuse” of an official after the game against D.C. United. That tirade initially earned him a red after the final whistle and an automatic one game suspension he served against Toronto Wednesday. He’s also $750 lighter in the wallet, paying a total of $1,000 in fines.

Kirovski joins a growing list of Galaxy (2-1-3) players unavailable for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game in Chicago against the Fire (1-2-1) on Telefutura that potentially includes Landon Donovan.

David Beckham and Juninho are also missing the game for disciplinary reasons.

*The Galaxy Foundation has announced a special “Mother’s Day VIP experience” before the May 7 game against New York.

*Chivas USA (0-2-2) will face some of the most passionate fans in MLS in Vancouver when they pay their first-ever visit to the picturesque home of the Whitecaps (1-2-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday on Prime.

Here’s a video preview from the Vancouver perspective:

It’s already been a great start to the weekend for those of us lucky enough to have had Friday off (and support the Canaries) to watch them go second in the Championship live on Fox Soccer Plus.

Click at top right for a complete run-down of all the soccer action available online and on TV this weekend, but here’s the other games I’ll make sure not to miss:

*Manchester City-Manchester United, FA Cup semifinal, 9 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel.

*Barcelona-Real Madrid, 1 p.m. Saturday on GolTV.

*Toronto-D.C. United, 4 p.m. Saturday on FSC.

*Arsenal-Liverpool, 8 a.m. Sunday on FSC.

In other news today:

*The Mexican National team will play a Gold Cup warm-up game June 1 in Denver.

*The Los Angeles Blues announced the signing today of Akeem Priestley, a 2009 Kansas City Wizards draft pick. The Jamaican native played with Azerbaijan Premier League outfit FC Mughan for a season and then almost joined Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers, but couldn’t get a work permit.

Former U-Conn teammate Chucky Chijindu, who is with the Blues on loan from Chivas USA, put him in touch with the new USL Pro team.

“At the time I had a few options in the USL, but he really made me want to come here,” Priestley said. “Chuck told me a lot about the team and got me in touch with the coach, who seemed very nice. Most importantly, the way he wants to play really suits my style. He believes in moving the ball around and keeping possession, which I love. So I jumped at the opportunity.”

In the weirdest start to a season ever by a Southern California soccer team, the Blues travel to the Caribbean (yep, every other team in their division is from the part of the world for reasons that make sense only to the USL) and play four games in a span of nine days so as not to rack up those travel expenses.

First up: Puerto Rico’s Sevilla tonight.

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Friday Kicks: Galaxy update & more

*The Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant can do without frequent flyer miles.

*USL Pro team the LA Blues (of Orange County) have entered a U-23 team in the Premier Development League replacing and assuming the schedule of the Hollywood Hitmen who joined the National Premier Soccer League.

*Meanwhile, the Blues’ senior team have signed a well-known San Fernando Valley player.

*Chivas USA has a special event at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach tonight that features players Tristan Bowen and Sergio Arias.

*Click on the Live Soccer TV link at top right for a run-down of all the televised soccer action, which includes foul-mouthed Wayne Rooney taking on Clint Dempsey and Fulham at 7 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Channel.

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Friday Kicks: U.S. announces June game against Spain & more

i-49cec0c284ea8695fc077addedd995ec-xavi.jpg

Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez is set to win his 100th cap for Spain today and hopefully U.S. fans will see the midfield maestro up close and personal later this year (AP Photo).

*Spain plays the Czech Republic at 1:55 p.m. today on ESPN2 in a Euro 2012 qualifier and U.S. fans will see the World Cup holders live in on the East Coast in June:

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. men’s soccer team will play World Cup champion Spain in a June 4 exhibition, their first meeting since the Americans upset the world’s No. 1 team in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

The game will be in Foxborough, Mass., and takes place just three days before the U.S. starts play in the Gold Cup, soccer’s championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

It will be just the fifth meeting between the teams, and first in the United States, with Spain winning all but one of their previous games.

The lone U.S. victory came in the semifinals of the 2009 Confederations Cup, when goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey gave the Americans a 2-0 win and ended the European champion’s streaks of 15 wins and 35 unbeaten games.

And for those of you who like to mark their calendars, here’s the full U.S. schedule of games this year announced so far:

Saturday, Jan. 22 — United States 1, Chile 1
Saturday, March 26 vs. Argentina at East Rutherford, N.J., 4:11 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29 vs. Paraguay at Nashville, Tenn., 5:11 p.m.
Saturday, June 4 — vs. Spain at Foxborough, Mass., 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 7 — vs. Canada at Detroit, 5 p.m. (Gold Cup)
Saturday, June 11 — vs. Panama at Tampa, Fla., 5 p.m. (Gold Cup)
Tuesday, June 14 — vs. Guadeloupe at Kansas City, Kan., 6 p.m. (Gold Cup)
Aug. 10 — possible exhibition
Sept. 2 — World Cup qualifier
Sept. 6 — World Cup qualifier
Oct. 7 — World Cup qualifier
Oct. 11 — World Cup qualifier
Nov. 11 — World Cup qualifier
Nov. 15 — World Cup qualifier

*And in another sign of his unwavering commitment to the Galaxy (ahem), David Beckham will wear the captain’s armband for the Galaxy this weekend for the first time in three years:

CARSON (AP) – Coach Bruce Arena decided Beckham will be captain for Saturday’s MLS game at Real Salt Lake, with Landon Donovan away on international duty.

The former England captain took over as L.A. skipper when he joined the team in 2007, but last captained the Galaxy on Oct. 26, 2008. The armband was given to Donovan the following year.

“Bruce has asked me to wear it, and I’ll be proud to wear it,” Beckham said. “It doesn’t change the way I play. It’s something you’re very proud to wear, but you need more that that one leader on the field.”

Donovan will miss the game to be with the U.S. national team for its friendly Saturday against Argentina in East Rutherford, N.J.

*Speaking of scheduling, the PDL, which includes five Southern California teams, has announced its schedule.

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Davies signs for D.C., will play two preseason games in So. Cal.

i-86782ee3b4aaaeced9348d5776ef92ab-daviesdc.jpgCharlie Davies talks with reporters earlier this month in Florida; D.C. United announced today that the former U.S. international will join the club on loan (AP Photo).

The striker will be formally introduced by the team at an 11 a.m. news conference today before flying to D.C. United’s training camp at Oxnard College.

As previously reported here, United is scheduled to play a preseason friendly at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the PDL Ventura County Fusion and another at noon Feb. 25 against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center.

Tickets are $8 adults and $5 for youths for the Oxnard game. You can purchase them in advance here.

I’m guessing tickets for that game suddenly got a lot more popular.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the Super Bowl weekend

*Need to see live MLS soccer after the long offseason?

You can (of a sort) when the expansion sorry, new, Portland Timbers play their first-ever scrimmage against the PDL Ventura County Fusion tonight in Ventura.

More from a Portland perspective is here.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Rd. Tickets are $12 adults, $6 youth at the gate.

The Fusion also plays D.C. United Feb. 19 at Oxnard College, a game that could take on more import if Charlie Davies is still with the club by then.

*In other big football games this weekend, I’m told there’s a huge one Sunday – Liverpool-Chelsea on Fox Soccer Channel (I’m also told there’s some sort of big pointyball football game on, too, on a different channel).

Anyway, in an effort to give Americans even more time sitting on their butts Sunday, FSC is expanding its coverage of the EPL game to four hours beginning at 7 a.m.

Hosted by Eric Wynalda, Kyle Martino, Warren Barton, Keith Costigan and Christian Miles in the NFL on Fox set, coverage includes an exclusive interview with new Liverpool owner John Henry (who also owns an American rounders team called the Boston Red Sox), while Wynalda will take part in a field goal / penalty kick contest with USC athletes.

There’s also a segment “comparing tailgating in the U.S. and England, and some of the traditional gameday food served in England.” That should be hilarious considering the little problem England has these days. (We Brits usually don’t mess around with the likes of Bud Lite).

Still, what will be more fun? Watching smug Mark Rogondino freeze his butt off in Texas or wondering whether $80 million man Fernando Torres will score against his old club at Stamford Bridge?

A bunch of other great games this weekend with the pick of the bunch from my perspective being – Burnley-Norwich at 2 p.m. 11 a.m. Saturday on Fox Soccer Plus (delayed). Finally, it’s a good time to support the Canaries.

Incidentally, a little team named Manchester United who are playing reasonably well in the EPL this season are playing against lowly Wolves at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on FSC. Do you smell an upset brewing? Well, no, me neither, but you never know, I suppose.

Click at top right for all the rest of the games and enjoy the weekend.

Update

I stand corrected.

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Thursday Kicks (Part Deux): Former defender Suarez joins Chivas USA as advisor & more

i-8c8ef20b65748fee4d5da6b6aa512972-suarez0002.jpgAs I continue to catch up during my enforced break:

*Chivas USA announced Thursday afternoon that former defender and captain Claudio Suarez, one of the most respected figures in Mexican soccer, has rejoined the club he retired from in 2009 in an advisory capacity.

“Claudio is a true legend in the soccer world, and we’re thrilled that he’ll be working with us again at Chivas USA,” said Interim General Manager Jose Domene. “His experience as a player, understanding of the game in both Mexico and the United States, and eye for talent will help us both in the short and long term.”

To get his new role under way, Surez visits Chivas de Guadalajara’s facilities Friday where he will conduct clinics on defensive skills to first team and youth team players.

Suarez, the most capped Mexican National Team player of all-time, made 64 appearances for Chivas USA between 2006 and 2009, following long careers with CD Guadalajara and Tigres.

“This is an exciting new opportunity with a club that I know and love,” said Surez. “It will give me the chance to work both in Los Angeles and Mexico, helping strengthen the club in a number of different areas, especially scouting.”

Chivas USA opens pre-season training Friday in Carson. I’ll have more on that in a subsequent post.

*The likelihood of David Beckham getting on an EPL field for an actual game this season is looking slimmer and slimmer.

*New USL Pro team the LA Blues have signed a couple of MLS castoffs and a couple of other players the club announced Thursday: Striker/midfielder Dane Saintus of SMU, a 2010 Dallas draft pick; Alta Loma’s Cameron Dunn, 26, a defender out of UC Irvine drafted by Chivas USA in the 2007 MLS draft who later played with the Portland Timbers; 25-year-old forward Seyed Hosseini from Iran who played for Saba Battery, the 2007 league champions; and 23-year-old Jaime Chavez from the City of Industry, who was the leading scorer for PDL club Hollywood United last year.

*Speaking of the PDL, the Ventura County Fusion have announced they will play a couple of MLS teams in Ventura County next month.

Expansion team the Portland Timbers are up first with a 7 p.m. Feb. 4 game at Ventura College during a week-long preseason training stint that begins Feb. 1.

Then, D.C. United takes on the Fusion at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Oxnard College, while the MLS club conducts 10 days of preseason training in Southern California.

Tickets to the games are $8 for adults and $5 for youths in advance, increasing to $12 and $6 respectively the day of the game. Order here.

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy get their scoring Angel & more

Back from an enforced vacation and a voluntary trip to a (very) soggy Seattle it’s time to play a little catch-up and note that:

*On Wednesday the Galaxy announced the signing of their third designated player, former Aston Villa and New York Red Bull striker Juan Pablo Angel, with the presence of the man who brought the Colombian to MLS – Coach Bruce Arena – proving pivotal to LA getting their replacement for the now departed Edson Buddle. Reporter Phil Collin has the full details with a story in today’s newspaper.

The Galaxy observe that no MLS player scored more goals than Angel during his four-year New York tenure. And scoring at a clip of more than a goal every other game over that length of time – 58 goals in 102 regular season games – is no mean feat no matter what league we’re talking about.

Regular readers of this blog should be happy considering the overwhelming result of this poll.

*Meanwhile, the Galaxy picked up four players and Chivas USA two in Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft.

The Galaxy got New Zealand Olympian and Dartmouth midfielder Daniel Keat with the third overall pick; Stanford defender Ryan Thomas of Claremont; North Carolina midfielder Dustin McCarty, brother of D. C. United midfielder Dax McCarty; and goalkeeper Zach Johnson out of West Virginia.

Chivas USA picked up midfielder/forward Ernesto Carranza from Sacramento State and Canadian defender Curtis Ushedo out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

*Former Chivas USA defender Carey Talley has retired after 13 MLS seasons and 315 appearances with five different clubs, the New York Red Bulls announced Wednesday. I for one will miss Talley, a class act, a great quote and a tenacious defender who as fun to talk to as he was to watch.

*LA Blues, the new local team that will play in the USL’s Pro league, announced their 2011 schedule. The club’s first home game at Titan Stadium on the campus of Cal State Fullerton is on May 1 against Antigua Barracuda FC.

If you’d rather be on the field than in the stands for the opener, here’s your chance: the club will host open tryout this weekend in Norco. Full details are here.

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