Weekly soccer column: MLS expansion, new TV rights deal and new DP’s herald 20th season

Assuming there is no player strike, MLS will kick off its 20th season in Southern California Friday at StubHub Center when the Galaxy plays the Chicago Fire.

Read more on the new MLS season in this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column, which you can read online now and in print across the Los Angeles Newspaper Group on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays from now on.

And just to get you in an MLS mood, check out the videos below.

While I don’t yet see a Chicago Fire MLS season preview, check out the higlights of the Fire’s pre-season friendly last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps:

Notable: The Fire finished pre-season unbeaten at 1-0-4, including a scoreless draw against Norwich City and a 1-0 win against Queens Park Rangers during a tour of England.

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Weekly Soccer Column: Plenty of LAFC MLS stadium renderings out there, actual venue sites not so much

LAFCpool

Of all the artist's conceptions for possible LAFC stadium concepts, the one above is my favorite: Southern Californians frolicking at a pool complete with fake beach oblivious to the on-going game that seems to inadvertently sum up just how important the sport itself is to the whole lifestyle/entertainment experience of the event(note that renderings like this have since been removed from the firms' website).

Given that the decision of where in the region to locate the proposed stadium, may just be the most crucial one its cadre of two dozen owners or so will make.

Read more in this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

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Weekly Soccer Column: Reeling from criticism after string of poor results, U.S. seeks to rebound Sunday in Carson against Panama

clintstubhub Striker Clint Dempsey, above, and his USMNT teammates, training Monday in Carson, are seeking a new start to the new year Sunday at StubHub Center after a string of poor results culminated in a road loss last weekend to Chile to begin a pivotal 2015 (Photos by Staff Photographer Robert Casillas).

USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann, despite being taken to task by MLS Commissioner Don Garber for his criticism of the league and how it dovetails with the aspirations of U.S. Soccer, continued Monday to point out the shortcomings of American soccer culture ahead of Sunday’s clash with Panama in Carson.

“The (foreign) teams that have peer pressure in their environment allow themselves to drop 10 or 20 percent not 30 or 40 percent; that is the difference with what we deal with in the aftermath of the World Cup,” he said. “Their club environment puts them back on their toes. … Our players are not there yet educationally or mentally to understand the dynamic so they lose their spots on their European teams or they drop 30 or 40 percent in MLS.”

For more on Sunday’s U.S.-Chile game Sunday in Carson, read this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

BradleyStubHub USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley wasn’t interested in talking to all of three reporters Monday at the USMNT training camp in Carson. Will he do his talking on the field?

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Weekly Soccer Column: Gold Cup, Olympic qualifying, Women’s World Cup cram 2015 international calendar

Need a cheat sheet to keep up? Check out this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column

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Weekly Soccer Column: U.S. Men’s National team opens annual camp in Carson ahead of hectic 2015

The U.S. Men’s National Team, already facing a busy year, opened their annual camp in Carson Monday with two young Galaxy players on the roster for the first time, defender Oscar Sorto and striker Gyasi Zardes from Hawthorne.

I was just in awe,” Zardes told reporters Monday after his first training session of the email he received from national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann inviting him to camp. “When I was in Hawthhorne this was a dream. It’s what you dream about.”

Sorto had a similar reaction to his U.S. call-up.

Klinsmann has spoken of the importance of players like Zardes’ attacking partner on the Galaxy, Robbie Keane, and recently-signed EPL veteran Steven Gerrard and their role in grooming up and coming youngsters:

“Theyre doing a tremendous amount of work getting our players to another level. These are the guys we need in the United States to help our guys grow even faster.”

Zardes agreed:

“Robbie Keane is a phenomenal player and I’m a student of the game and I just try to learn as much as I can from the veterans like these guys who are on the national team,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to seeing Keane, who had brief spell at Liverpool, and Gerrard reunited with the Galaxy.

For more, read this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column.

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Weekly Soccer Column: LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers speaks out against FIFA World Cup bigotry and homophobia

South Bay native Robbie Rogers was once so in denial about his sexuality he could not admit to himself that he was gay.

That’s changed and now the LA Galaxy defender has found the courage to speak out against the kind of FIFA stupidity illustrated above by the clueless Sepp Blatter. For more, read this week’s 100 Percent Soccer column on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

And happy holidays.

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Weekly Soccer Column: New England Revolution face uphill battle against history, destiny and LA Galaxy in MLS Cup Sunday in Carson

MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper – Bill Hamid (D.C. United)

Defender – Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC)

Defender – Bobby Boswell (D.C. United)

Defender – Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)

Midfielder – Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

Midfielder – Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

Midfielder – Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Midfielder – Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)

Forward – Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)

Forward – Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)

Forward – Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders FC)

The stage is set for the LA Galaxy-New England Revolution MLS Cup Sunday in the South Bay in this week’s column.

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