Monday Kicks: Temple City’s Bryan Jordan Rocks Like a Hurricane in Joining Scorpions & More

  • No, not the German rock band, the NASL club. Former LA Galaxy midfielder-defender Bryan Jordan, 27, joins the NASL San Antonio Scorpions after being released by the Galaxy at the end of last year.
  • The Galaxy have officially signed rookie defender Kofi Opare, a second round draft via Michigan out of Ghana. This was a formality; the Galaxy were awaiting paperwork.
  • Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan was on target today for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
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Friday Kicks: AYSO Rose Bowl Float, Liga MX on ESPN & More

  • AYSO, founded in Torrance, is raising money for a soccer-themed city of Torrance Rose Float entry. Read more here.
  • Both starting American goalkeepers for the men’s and women’s national teams have gone down with injuries within 24 hours of each other. Hope Solo will be sidelined up to four months following surgery to repair torn cartilage in her left wrist, U.S. Soccer said Thursday, while today Everton’s Tim Howard went down with a back injury that’s expected to rule him out of the World Cup qualifiers later this month against Costa Rica and Mexico. Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan is Howard’s usual backup.
  • ESPN kicks off its English-language coverage of Liga MX at 5:25 p.m. today on ESPNews when Morelia plays Club America. Also, Cruz Azul faces Jaguares at 2:55 p.m. Saturday on ESPNews, while Puebla and Pumas clash at the same time on the same channel Sunday.
  • MLS embarks on its second slate of weekend games, although the Galaxy, between midweek CONCACAF Champions League games, are among three teams with the weekend off. Chivas USA is at home at 2 p.m. Sunday against FC Dallas (live on UniMas).
  • Finally, the Manchester United-Real Madrid UEFA Champions League game earlier this week was the third most watched game ever on Los Angeles-based Fox Soccer. An estimated 520,000 viewers watched the Red Devils get dumped out of the competition in controversial circumstances. The most watched games on Fox Soccer are the 2011 Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico (1.1 million) and the Chelsea-Liverpool clash in 2011 (579,000).
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Wednesday Kicks: Chivas USA Acquire Two More Players & more

*Chivas USA has added another Mexican and another Southern Californian to their squad. More here.

*The LA Galaxy are in Costa Rica gearing up for their 5 p.m. Thursday quarterfinal CONCACAF Champions League clash against Herediano. More here.

*MLS has released its reserve league schedule. The Galaxy schedule is here and the Chivas USA schedule is here.

*Torrance’s Shannon Boxx scored her 27th U.S. Women’s National Team goal today as the U.S. defeated Iceland 3-0 in Portugal.

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Thursday Kicks: Donovan, Ruiz, Gold Cup & more

A few quick kicks:

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Thursday Kicks: Canaries Eye Lawndale’s Kei Kamara & more

Lawndale’s Kei Kamara could be on his way to England (AP Photo).

  • EPL club Norwich City have admitted interest in Sporting Kansas City striker Kei Kamara, who emigrated from Africa to the South Bay and played at Cal State Dominguez Hills before turning pro. Full disclosure: I’m hopelessly biased as a Norwich fan, but seeing him partner Grant Holt up front would no doubt give the goal shy City attack much more substance.
  • Here’s an update from the U.S. Men’s National Team in Carson where coach Jurgen Klinsmann is talking beer and um, balls, in revealing it was his choice — not Landon Donovan’s — to keep the Galaxy playmaker out of the U.S. camp while he mulls his future.
  • Designated player Shalrie Joseph, who arrived at Chivas last year in mid-season only to see the club promptly collapse defensively, is reportedly on his way out of the club.
  • Finally, here’s one I missed: a Hawthorne resident, former South Bay Force player and Galaxy Academy player has joined what is generally regarded as the top team in Guatemala.
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Thursday Kicks: LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo in Battle of MLS Dynasties Saturday

  • And the victor at MLS Cup in Carson Saturday can stake a legitimate claim to the “D” word, argues Staff Writer Phil Collin.
  • Southern California’s most popular Mexican owned club — no, not Chivas USA — continues its remarkable and implausible rise to the heights of Mexican soccer beginning tonight in the two-leg Liga MX final against Toluca. Series preview.
  • Next stop for the Galaxy’s David Beckham — Monaco?
  • Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan continued to stake her claim as the U.S. Women’s National Team’s biggest sensation, claiming her second hat trick of the year Wednesday in a 5-0 pounding of Ireland. UCLA coach Jill Ellis was the stand-in coach and former Bruin striker Sydney LeRoux came on for Morgan and promptly added two more goals. Game story. 

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The Next U.S. Women’s National Team Coach?

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Tom Sermanni has been mentioned as a possible successor to the departing Pia Sundhage as U.S. Women’s National team coach.

So naturally, I asked him whether he would like the job in the tunnel mixed zone after Sunday’s U.S.-Australia game at Home Depot Center:

“At the moment I’ve got a job – a good job. It’s one of those awkward questions,” he said. “Who wouldn’t be interested? … Of course I would be interested, but I’ve got a very good job at the moment.”

I’ll have more on the U.S. Women’s National Team – and women’s pro soccer – in Tuesday’s column.

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Thursday Kicks: USWNT going for Olympic gold & more*

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*Updated:

The U.S. Women’s National Team has won, 2-1, against Japan in the Olympic gold medal game on two goals from Carli Lloyd. Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan provided the assist on the 8th minute opener. More to come.

*A photo gallery of the game is here.

*Incidentally, Torrance’s Shannon Boxx was back in the starting XI today for the first time since a hamstring issue cropped up in the opening game of the Olympic tournament.

Boxx has overcome worse health issues to become an Olympian, however. Her story is here:

*The USWNT has scheduled a Sept. 16 game at Home Depot Center against Australia as part of its post-Olympic tour. Will this be Boxxy’s final South Bay appearance as a member of the USWNT? Ticket information is yet to be announced.

*In other women’s soccer news, Rolling Hills Estates’ Whitney Engen will play in the inaugural 2012 Viking Cup, an invitational soccer tournament for women’s national teams set for Nov. 21st through Dec. 2nd at Cal State Fullerton. Engen, who missed out on a spot on the Olympic team, was a regular last year for the Chicago Red Stars of the now-defunct WPS.

*And in other news involving South Bay pros, Robbie Rogers, who grew up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, was placed on the transfer list by Leeds United.

*Finally, Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant says he’s fit to play in Sunday’s SuperClasico.

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Abby Wambach’s Olympic countdown the difference in controversial U.S. win over Canada?

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Oh Canada! Canada’s Sophie Schmidt, left, and teammate Christine Sinclair, react after the U.S. won 4-3 on a last-gasp goal at the Olympics in Manchester (AP Photo).

FIFA is reportedly now taking a look at the post-game accusations made by the Canadians, incidentally. Associated Press Sports Writer Joseph White takes a look at the furor surrounding Monday’s game:

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Abby Wambach was counting. Out loud. Within earshot of the referee.

That’s how medals are won, with moments such as those. A wily veteran using a subtle tactic to get the ref to make a call no one ever makes, one that turns the match around.

When the game for the gold is all there’s left to play, it’s usually fitting to immediately
sweep away the underbrush that preceded it. Not this time. The United States’ semifinal win over Canada in the Olympic women’s soccer tournament was so dramatic — and produced such fiery accusations of bias against the referee from the Canadians — that it’s taking some extra time to digest it all.

“It’s definitely draining,” U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said Tuesday before boarding the bus to London, where the Americans will play Japan in the Olympic final on Thursday. “We played 123 minutes. And, on top of that, all the emotion.”

The basic facts and bitter words were evident after the 4-3 result at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan scored the winning goal in the final minute of extra time, but it was Wambach’s out-loud timekeeping that led to the game’s pivotal moment: Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen’s decision to whistle the Canadian goalkeeper for holding the ball too long, a call that led to the tying goal for the U.S. in the 80th minute.

It’s a rarely enforced rule, akin to an umpire in baseball deciding the batter hit by the pitch didn’t make a sufficient attempt to get out of the way of the ball. It gave the U.S. an indirect kick, which turned into a hand ball, which turned into a penalty kick.

The Canadians were furious. And they made their feelings known after the game.

Coach John Herdman: “The ref, she will have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replay. She’s gonna have to live with that. We will move on from this. I wonder if she will be able to.”

Forward Christine Sinclair: “We feel like it was taken away from us. It’s a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod: “I think the referee was very one-sided.”

Soccer governing FIFA is weighing disciplinary action against Canada for those remarks.
Regardless, when such serious allegations are made, it’s imperative to look closely at what happened.

The goalkeeper is supposed to control the ball with her hands, including bouncing it to herself, for no more than six seconds. In many ways, it’s a laughable rule: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo is one of the quickest in the game at getting rid of the ball, but it’s not unusual to see her go over that limit.

But McLeod pushed the rule to the extreme. The first time she caught the ball Monday night — off a deflected header — she held it for 17 seconds before punting it away. A couple of minutes later, she controlled it for 16 seconds. There was another 16-second possession later in the half as she cradled the ball, gave it a bounce, walked forward and directed traffic.

“Their plan is to slow down the game,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “If I put myself in (their coach’s) shoes, it’s about game management, slow down the game and you feel like you have a chance to win against the States.”

It’s customary for the referee to give a warning when she thinks the goalkeeper is taking too much time. Wambach said she saw Pedersen give McLeod a warning. McLeod said she was told by a linesman at the start of the second half not to slow down play, but didn’t consider that a proper warning.

Wambach felt McLeod’s time-wasting got worse once the Canadians took the lead. That’s when the American started counting out loud whenever McLeod had the ball.

“It was obviously clear that Canada was trying to bide their time,” Wambach said. “They’re up a goal, and they’re taking as much time as they need. Throughout the game, I was speaking with the ref. She warned Erin throughout the game that she was taking too long. Erin responded with an ‘I understand.’”

With Canada leading at 76:36, McLeod fell to the ground making a
two-handed catch of a corner kick by Rapinoe. McLeod took three to four seconds to get up, still cradling the ball. She started to run forward, then slowed to a walk. At 76:44, she started to direct her players forward. She bounced the ball once, then started to punt it at 76:47.

Wambach was keeping track.

“I had gotten to 10 seconds counting out loud next to the referee,” Wambach said. “And at 10 seconds she blew the whistle, and I think it was a good call. Yes, it’s uncharacteristic for that call to be made in a soccer game, but the rules are the rules.”

“Here’s the thing — we needed a goal,” Wambach added. “They’re trying to waste time, and I’m trying to speed it up. You can say it’s gamesmanship, you can say it’s smart, but I’m a competitor and I want to get the ball back at our feet.”

At 78:03, Rapinoe takes the resulting indirect free kick about 16 yards from the goal. She rams it right into Marie-Eve Nault, who instinctively raised her right arm, with the elbow bent. If she had kept her arms at her side, it’s probably not a hand ball. It’s like an offensive lineman in football who can get away with holding until he extends his arms to make it blatantly visible to the officials.

The Americans were awarded a penalty. At 79:33, Wambach converted the kick to tie it at 3.

The U.S. is now in the gold-medal match against Japan. The Canadians will play France for bronze, having failed to beat the Americans now in 27 straight games.

The U.S. players have no second thoughts about how they won. They do, however, understand why the Canadians said what they said.

“The Canadians are obviously going to be frustrated,” Morgan said. “If I was in their position, I would be frustrated as well and not really want to sugarcoat my interviews. I’d just let it all out — like they did.”

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Hermosa Beach’s Wambach Newcastle “Nightmare” for New Zealand in U.S. Olympics win

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Gymnast tribute: In a nod to Olympic gymnasts, U.S. striker Abby Wambach included a cartwheel in her goal celebration today against New Zealand (AP Photo).

Players with Southern California ties led the U.S. Women’s National Team to the Olympic semifinals today. Asociated Press Sports Writer Joseph White has the game story:

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — These were perhaps going to be the Hope Solo Olympics for the U.S. women’s soccer team. Or maybe the Alex Morgan Games. Instead, they belong so far to the old reliable, Abby Wambach, who has scored in every match to lead the Americans into the semifinals.

The 32-year-old striker slid onto the ball in the 27th minute Friday to knock home her fourth goal of the tournament and then led a celebration of cartwheels — a tribute to the gymnastics team — in the United States’ 2-0 win over New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament.

“Everything she does on and off the field, she leads this team,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “She’s in a good place, that’s for sure.”

UCLA product Sydney Leroux added an insurance goal in the 87th minute for the two-time defending Olympic champions, who will play the winner of the Britain-Canada match in Manchester on Monday.

Wambach extended her U.S. record with her eighth career Olympic goal — a mark she holds despite missing the Beijing Games with a broken leg — and pushed her international tally to 142, only 16 behind Mia Hamm’s world record. For most of the year, she has yielded much of the scoring load to youngster Morgan while using both holistic and traditional treatments to treat the nagging Achilles tendinitis that has bothered her for some three years.

“I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline, I’m not quite sure exactly what the reason is, but I’m not
going to ask questions at this point,” Wambach said. “I’m just playing pain-free for the first time in a long time.”

New Zealand coach Tony Readings called Wambach “a nightmare,” and the sight of the 5-foot-11 veteran battling multiple defenders and picking herself up off the ground has become so commonplace that her teammates hardly notice.

“Oh, we turn a blind eye to all of her bumps and bruises,” goalkeeper Solo said. “She hits the floor, she hits the ground, it doesn’t even faze us any more because she’s tough. She might be hurting, but she’s mentally tough. She has more of a lion and a passion inside that nothing will stop her, and she’ll find a way to win. It rubs off on everybody.

“But maybe we should probably go up to her and say, ‘Abby, you OK?’” Solo added with a laugh. “But we just ignore it.”

Wambach’s scoring spurt is remarkable given all the attention she draws from the opposition. Even though her speed isn’t what it used to be, she’s still one of the strongest players in the game and is unmatched in the air — yet three of her four goals at the Olympics have come with her feet.

On Friday, she supplied the finishing touch to some hard work from Morgan, who took a long ball from Rachel Buehler, juked one defender and threaded the ball through two others toward the net. Morgan said it was a shot, but it turned into her third assist of the tournament — finding Wambach’s sliding right foot at the far post.

Wambach and the U.S. players, always looking for novel ways to display their happiness, then ran to the corner of the field and started doing cartwheels before the crowd of 10,441 at venerable St. James’ Park, home of Newcastle United. They tried to stick their landings — something akin to what they saw on television from Gabby Douglas when they watched the American gymnast win the all-around title on Thursday.

“We obviously don’t do it quite as well,” Wambach said. “But we wanted to send a shout out to all the gymnasts.”

No one has publicly criticized such celebrations by the Americans at these Olympics, but the New Zealand coach said it’s something he wouldn’t want to see from his players.

“I wouldn’t like it if our team did that,” Readings said, “when teams concede and they’re
disappointed and they want to get on with the game. But it’s obviously something the Americans do. … It’s something I guess they work on in training. I hope we try to work on scoring goals and stopping Wambach and Morgan. We haven’t got time to work on celebrations. If it makes them happy and they win games, then good on them.”
Sundhage said she’s been fine with her players’ antics.

“I’m not a psychologist,” the U.S. coach said. “We score goals, and you’re happy. What the players want to do, whatever they do, it has to be fun. If they come up with ideas, that’s perfectly fine.”

Solo recorded her third consecutive shutout, although once again she was rarely challenged. The Americans haven’t allowed a goal since France scored twice early in the first half of the Olympic opener. “We haven’t been really tested,” Solo said. “I’m waiting to still get tested, but that’s what happens when you’re ranked No. 1.”

New Zealand, ranked 23rd in the world, was making its first appearance in the knockout phase of a major tournament. The Football Ferns have lost nine straight to the U.S., with their only win in the series coming in 1987.

Even though they’re on a winning streak, the Americans had trouble turning control-of-play dominance into goals for the third straight game. They led Colombia 1-0 before getting two goals late in the second half and beat North Korea 1-0, albeit after slowing the game down in the second half to save their legs for the quarterfinals.

Morgan was just wide with a pair of solid scoring chances, and Morgan and Wambach both had scary collisions with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. Wambach kicked Bindon in the head in the first half, and Morgan did the same in the second half.

Morgan’s collision left her with a charley horse and she soon left for Leroux, the youngest
player on the team and the only one who wasn’t on last year’s World Cup squad. It didn’t take long for Leroux to score her first Olympic goal, outpacing the New Zealand defenders with a run down the left side and beating Bindon with a strong left-footed finish.

There were no cartwheels from the 21-year-old forward after the ball went in. Just unbridled joy.

“I didn’t plan anything because I went crazy,” Leroux said. “I was unaware that I scored, I
think. I blacked out, I’m pretty sure. I was just, like, going crazy. … I think I almost
starting crying and the game wasn’t even over.”

Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Updated:

The U.S. will face this country in the semis.

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