Video Weekend Rewind: David Beckham, Kei Kamara & More

*David Beckham’s first game since leaving the Galaxy was an eventful one this weekend.

Watch here.

*Chivas USA closed out their preseason Saturday with an emphatic win over the LA Blues. Watch here.

*Galaxy striker Jose Villarreal of Inglewood had the winner for the U.S. U-20 team over Costa Rica, scoring the lone goal of Friday’s game. Watch here.

*Did you see Lawndale’s Kei Kamara score his first EPL goal Saturday? Watch here.

*And if you missed how the Galaxy concluded their pre-season Friday in Santa Barbara, watch the highlights here.

MLS starts Saturday. I’ll have more in Tuesday’s column.

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Weekend Preview: Galaxy in Santa Barbara Tonight & more

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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.

 

 

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Monday Catch-Up: Donovan, Rogers & more

Back from a 10-day vacation ahead of the start of the MLS season, I’m off to Galaxy training in a moment to hear more from coach Bruce Arena about Sunday’s announcement regarding Landon Donovan’s immediate MLS future.

That announcement followed in the wake of the bombshell of an unexpected retirement announcement by Rolling Hills Estates‘ Robbie Rogers, whose considerable promise as a player now looks like it’s going to be unfulfilled. I’ll have more on Donovan and Rogers in Tuesday’s column.

In other news while I’ve been taking a break:

*Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal is expected to lead the U-20 U.S. team today against Haiti in the opener of the regional championship with a place in the World Cup later this year in a game that will be shown live at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer.

*The Galaxy played Korea’s Gangwon FC in a recent scrimmage and announced they will play Friday in Santa Barbara against the Colorado Rapids.

*Chivas USA also beat the Colorado Rapids Friday in Las Vegas, while the Goats continue to remake their roster trading midfielder Ben Zemanski to Portland last week in a move that could pave the way for the return of defender Jonathan Bornstein from Mexico.

That departure was followed the next day by that of defender James Riley, who voiced displeasure at the way the trade occurred, and the arrivals of two other players including one familiar name.

More later.

 

 

 

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Friday Name Dropping: Galaxy’s Noonan, Inglewood’s Villarreal & More

  • Seldom-used Galaxy veteran Pat Noonan (10 appearances last year) has officially retired after 10 MLS seasons and was named assistant coach. He won two MLS Cups with the Galaxy and Columbus and made 14 U.S. appearances, all but one coming under then U.S. coach Bruce Arena. He scored 42 goals in 183 regular season games, finishing as the joint top MLS goal scorer in 2004 with 11 goals.
  • That follows on the heels of former midfielder Jovan Kirovski moving from an assistant coach role to become the club’s first-ever technical director, although it sounds a lot like Paul Bravo’s former director of soccer position to me. The Escondido native will also scout for and evaluate Academy players and coaches.
  • A second White House visit is always better with Kings.
  • Homegrown Galaxy youngsters Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto as well as Academy player Javan Torre were named to the U.S. Under-20 squad again for two games against Panama in Puebla, Mexico, site of next month’s CONCACAF U-20 Championships. Inglewood’s Villarreal appeared 14 times for the Galaxy last seasopn quickly earning a reputation as an inventive and tricky striker, while Sorto signed professional terms last month.
  • The new National Women’s Soccer League allocated 55 players to its eight clubs including Torrance’s Shannon Boxx to the Chicago Red Stars along with Mexico’s Maribel Dominguez. Diamond Bar’s Alex Morgan will play for the Portland Thorns, while I’m guessing Hope Solo will choose to live in Seattle after all since she will play for the aptly named Reign. Rochester native Abby Wambach will play for her hometown Western New York Flash. Pepperdine’s Mexican international Anisa Guajardo will join the Boston Breakers.
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Friday Kicks: LA Galaxy Poised for Pick in Today’s MLS Re-Entry Draft & More

That’s after a trade with Chivas USA, who continue to accumulate international roster spots in advance of their expected influx of Mexicans.

From the Galaxy: The Galaxy announced today that the club has completed a trade with Chivas USA ahead of the start of today’s Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Process. The Galaxy now hold the No. 2 position in the Re-Entry Process, moving up from their natural No. 19 position in the selection order. In exchange for the No. 2 position, the Galaxy have sent their natural first round pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft, an international roster slot for the 2013 season and the No. 19 position in today’s Re-Entry Process to Chivas USA.

*A trio of Galaxy homegrown players — Jack McBean of Newport Beach, newly-signed Oscar Sorto of Los Angeles and Inglewood’s Jose Villarreal — were all named to the U.S. Under-20 National Team roster for a week-long training camp that begins Saturday in Florida.

In addition, Galaxy Academy defender Javan Torre, who plays at UCLA, was also named to the 19-man roster by head coach Tab Ramos.

From the South Bay Force, the club team Torre (and Villarreal and Sorto) played for: Torre, a native of Santa Monica, Calif., played in 12 matches for the Bruins in 2012, making five starts and helping the team earn six shutouts.

*Finally, beIN SPORT, the new soccer network that carries La Liga, Serie A and U.S. away games during World Cup qualifying was added Thursday to Time Warner Cable’s HD lineup.

 

 

 

 

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Thursday Kicks: Galaxy’s Keane under fire for shooting blanks for Ireland & more

*Let’s welcome the Irish to the world of Galaxy fans. Striker Robbie Keane, part of a misfiring Galaxy attack, is now being criticised by Irish fans for a lack of goal production ahead of today’s crucial, daunting second group game against Spain (live at 11:45 a.m. on ESPN2). Ireland are on the brink of elimination after losing to Croatia, who are down 1-0 to Italy as I write this on ESPN2.

*It’s worth noting that the train wreck that was Peter Nowak’s tenure with the Philadelphia Union has come to a close, but not before gutting a promising team sending ther likes of popular defender Danny Califf to Chivas USA and allowing former UCLA midfielder Kyle Nakazawa of Palos Verdes Estates to return to Southern California with the Galaxy.

*Meanwhile, a struggling Galaxy meet a struggling Portland Timbers club Sunday at Home Depot Center in what could be an ugly Father’s Day clash. What are the odds dad will get a tie (and a scoreless one at that) after all on his special day?

*Three Southern Californians were named to the U.S. Under-15 team that will begin play Monday against Spain in the Copa Mexico de Naciones tournament in Mexico City.

They are goalkeeper Abraham Romero (Galaxy Academy; Altadena); defender Malcolm Jones (Chivas USA Academy; Chino Hills); and Alejandro Vergara (Galaxy Academy; Long Beach).

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Tuesday Kicks: Chivas USA sign local 16-year-old to pro contract & more

A quick round-up of local soccer news:

*Chivas USA has signed Glendora resident Marco Antonio “Marky” Delgado, 16, as a homegrown player, the club announced today.

“I am really excited to have Marky Delgado become part of our first team. He is a player who has done so well for our youth team since he has been with us,” said Chivas USA Coach, Robin Fraser. “He is a player who immediately stood out as a very solid player and we’ve had him training with us for quite a while now and you can even see over the last couple of months how much he has developed. He has great ideas on the ball, a very soft first touch, and he has really picked up the pace at this level quickly. He is definitely one that we expect a bright future from.”

The midfielder has apparently always been ahead of his peers: At age 13 he was a member of the U.S. Under-15 team. He was also a member of the Under-17 residency program in Bradenton., Fla.

*The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan is listed as questionable for Saturday’s visit to league leaders Sporting Kansas City with left quad tightness, as is Mike Magee, who has a tight right adductor.

*The UCLA women play China’s Under-20 Women’s National Team at 6 p.m. Thursday on Field No. 3 at Home Depot Center in Carson. Admission is free and fans who attend will receive a free voucher for an upcoming future UCLA women’s game.

*China is in the U. S. preparing for this summer’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan and will play matches Monday and April 15 at the HDC against their U.S. counterparts that are also open to the public. The games are at either noon or 3 p.m. (a Monday U.S. Soccer press release gave both times) and I’ll confirm the start times as soon as can.

The U.S. roster includes defenders Caprice Dydasco (UCLA; Honolulu) and Lauren Lindstrom (Fresno State; Newbury Park) and midfielder Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.)

*Tab Ramos, the U.S. Under-20 coach on the men’s side, has called 24 players into a camp that begins Monday in Oregon. Locals involved include goalkeeper Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Pomona); defenders Juan Pablo Ocegueda (UANL Tigres; Riverside), Jeffrey Payeras (Galaxy Academy; Hawthorne) and Derek Vogel (Pateadores; Long Beach); and striker Jack McBean (Galaxy; Newport Beach)

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U.S. Olympic failure postmortem

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The face of failure: Brek Shea appears to wish the turf could swallow him whole at the end of Monday’s crushing defeat to El Salvador in Olympic qualifying (AP Photos).

Associated Press Sports Writer Ronald Blum has the analysis, which includes points I’ve often written about in my weekly column or in blog posts: the lack of a soccer culture in the U.S. that means kids don’t play pick up games daily as most children do elsewhere, the fact most elite young foreign players receive better coaching than their American counterparts and thus are better equipped for the professional game at a younger age and the like. That makes the piece slightly familiar reading to some, but the points remain salient and are worth repeating. And change is slowly coming, as points at the end of the article make clear:

NEW YORK — For all the talk about the strides football has made in the United States, results of late have been stark and disappointing.

The Americans were eliminated by Ghana in the last two World Cups. The under-20 team’s streak of seven trips to the world championship ended last year. And now the under-23s have failed to make two of the last three Olympics after their elimination Monday night.

Yes, the U.S. plays the world’s game better than it did 25 years ago. The national team even notched its first win ever over powerhouse Italy last month. But the sputtering nature of the American program has even its most loyal supporters scratching their heads.

“Is it a disappointment? Yes. Is it a failure? Yes,” former national team defender Alexi Lalas said after Monday’s under-23 loss. “Is the sky falling? Absolutely not.”

It was a crushing loss, however. The under-23 team was eliminated from Olympic qualifying when it conceded a goal in the final seconds of stoppage time during a 3-3 tie against El Salvador in Nashville, Tenn.

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Joyless Joe: Joe Gyau may well hide his head after the sorry display last night by the U.S. Under-23 team in that soccer hotbed of, um, Tennessee.

Despite having home advantage, the Americans didn’t even make it to the qualification round — the semifinals this weekend. It was only the second time since 1976 they failed to qualify. They also fell short in 2004.

“We need to have new leadership, a fresh way of doing things,” former national team and Olympic coach Bruce Arena said. “Usually it’s a new coach. But maybe it’s time for new leadership and new concepts as well. Who knows? But I think we’re making progress, regardless of this result.”

Still, at a time this summer when the football focus in the U.S. could have been on the
up-and-coming American players, it will now be on preseason tours of English teams Chelsea and Tottenham and the new managers likely to be in place at both clubs.

“Obviously last night is a huge disappointment on many levels and for everyone involved,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said. “We’ve been very successful over the last 36 years in being at most of the Olympic games on the men’s side, so it’s a big setback.”

Gulati has been a driving force in U.S. football growth for more than a quarter of a century. The Americans had not qualified for the World Cup for 40 years before making it to the 1990 tournament, and they’ve now been to the last six.

Gulati became USSF president in 2006 and replaced Arena after the Americans crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage — embittering the coach who guided the U.S. to the quarterfinals in 2002 and now leads the Galaxy.

In men’s football, the Olympics are limited to players under 23 — with three overage players eligible for inclusion at the Summer Games. But clubs that pay the players’ wages are often reluctant to release their best players.

Still, even with Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler and Danny Williams unavailable, the U.S. filled its squad with professionals from Major League Soccer and players from European and Mexico clubs it was able to secure. The Americans figured they would have a relatively easy time claiming one of the two Olympic berths from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

But after an opening 6-0 rout of Cuba last week, they were upset 2-0 by Canada and forced themselves into a must-win game against El Salvador, a country whose population of about 6 million is smaller than New York City’s.

“Having the Olympic experience would certainly be beneficial to these players. In a different way to look at it, this tournament helped weed out some of the quote-unquote talent that maybe isn’t what we thought,” said Lalas, now an ESPN analyst.

More troubling than the failure to qualify for the London Olympics may be the lack of players on the Under-23 squad who appear to be pushing for spots on the national team, a group whose regulars include Landon Donovan (30), Carlos Bocanegra (33 in May), Steve Cherundolo (33) and Oguchi Onyewu (30 in May).

Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil starts this June, and among the group in Nashville only Dallas midfielder Brek Shea has become a frequent national team contributor. The major influx of new players has been several German-Americans who play regularly in the Bundesliga.

And the goalkeeper position, long a strength of the Americans, is now a potential problem area. The 41-year-old Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel might be brought out of national team retirement in the event of an injury to U.S. starter Tim Howard.

But while focusing on the present, Gulati and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann also are putting more emphasis on the future.

MLS has expanded to 19 teams, creating more jobs for American players, and it relaunched its reserve league to create more competition. The USSF Development Academy for elite players 15-18 expanded its schedule from six to 10 months in an effort to establish better and lengthened training.

More Americans are with European clubs than ever before, but for every Clint Dempsey starring in the Premier League, there is a Ricardo Clark who can’t even make a game-day substitutes’ bench.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure we’re on track, but a lot of things that have been put in place over a period of time are long-term projects,” Gulati said. “Those things take time, and it’s very hard to judge those on short-term results.”

AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker and Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this report.

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Monday Kicks: Galaxy injury list grows & more

*Add Chris Birchall (left hamstring strain) to the growing Galaxy injury list released today. The midfielder, who has made 21 appearances for the Galaxy this season, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against Morelia, along with the same players who remain in that category from Friday’s update: David Beckham (back spasms), Robbie Keane (right gluteus tightness) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (right quad tightness).

All the latter three skipped the Galaxy’s 1-0 last-gasp win in Columbus last weekend; Beckham is suspended for Wednesday’s must-win CONCACAF Champions league game against Morelia.

Sean Franklin remains out with an inflamed knee.

The strain of this stretch of the season, with a game every three or four days – the Galaxy have played nine games in the last month – is showing.

The end is in sight, but it’s another busy and crucial week for the Galaxy with three games in the next eight days inluding next Tuesday’s weather-rearranged game in New York, which Keane will miss to play for Ireland; the Galaxy could clinch their second consecutive Supporters’ Shield with a win over Salt Lake in Utah Carson and a Seattle loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

*Things that make you go hmmm: Juan Pablo Angel now has nine MLS goals so far this season, the Galaxy’s second highest scorers, Mike Magee and Chad Barrett, have five apiece (and six apiece total in all competitions). Landon Donovan is the Galaxy’s top scorer with 12.

I’ll have more on Chivas USA in Tuesday’s column.

*The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team will host a “unique” camp in Carson at Home Depot Center beginning Sunday. Notable locals participating include WPS Rookie of the year Christen Press of Palos Verdes Estates (she can see The Hill, as the Palos Verdes Peninsula is known locally, from the HDC) and Sidney Leroux (UCLA).

Perhaps dangling in front of some players: an opportunity to play for the full USWNT against Sweden Nov. 19 in Arizona in an Olympic qualifying tune-up.

*But that’s not the only national team camp in the South Bay; the U.S. Futsal team have begun a week-long camp at Torrance’s Soccer City.

No fewer than four players who play at Soccer City are on the U.S. Roster: goalkeeper Ryan Oster (North Torrance High); midfielder Alex Robles (Lynwood); and strikers Caio Gesualdi (North Torrance High) and Irvine resident Casey Macias (Pateadores).

You didn’t read this here, but the team trains most days at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. While down there, you can sign up to play yourself, BTW. If you have’t checked the facility out, it’s worth a look.

I plan on writing a story later this week about this first-ever camp in Torrance.

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