And the blog is on indefinite hiatus, too, while I deal with some difficult family issues.
Thank you for your patience.
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan shows the pressure Saturday against San Jose (AP Photo).
In this week’s column I took a look at the cooling off of the previously red hot Galaxy.
A couple of things I didn’t have the space to touch on in the column:
*The Galaxy have a relatively easy regular season run-in. Seven of their last nine games are at Home Depot Center including a home game against Eastern Conference bottom dwellers D.C. United and an “away” game at Chivas USA, similarly scraping along the bottom of the Western Conference.
*Supposedly David Beckham will return from injury to provide the team some sort of boost, although I’m not sure what, which is why I didn’t bother to mention him in the column. Beckham seems so 2007 and it remains to be seen whether he is any sort of force in 2010.
Also, the U.S. Women’s National Team has announced two games against China Oct. 2 and 6 on the East Coast, the final two games before CONCACAF World Cup qualifying begins.
For the first time in club history the Galaxy play a legitimate Champions League game.
Well, a preliminary round game anyway. And it’s against the “minor league” Puerto Rico Islanders not a big name club. Oh, and it’s the CONCACAF version not the famous UEFA edition.
Still, for Galaxy fans tonight’s 7 o’clock game at Home Depot Center (live on Fox Soccer Channel) is bigger than the MLS All-Star game featuring Manchester United a day later, said Coach Bruce Arena in my weekly column.
He’s right even if most soccer fans would disagree.
Of course, the Galaxy actually won this competition back in 2001 beating CD Olimpia 3-2 at the Coliseum when the tournament was known as the Champions Cup.
The goalscorers? Ezra Hedrickson had two and Cobi Jones the other.
Just for fun, here’s the Galaxy lineup: Kevin Hartman, Paul Caligiuri, Greg Vanney, Alexi Lalas, Ezra Hendrickson, Zak Ibsen, Simon Elliott, Pete Vagenas, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Adam Frye, Cobi Jones.
Adam Frye? Takes you back, doesn’t it?
The Galaxy also lost in the final of the Champions Cup to Cruz Azul in 1997.
Here’s more on the structure of the tournament courtesy of the Galaxy, which underlines the ultimate prize involved, even though it’s a long way off:
In 2008, CONCACAF changed the tournament’s format, adopting the current structure, which sees the eight teams which advance past the Preliminary Round join eight other teams that have been directly seeded into the Group Stage. Those 16 teams are divided into four groups of four that will play round robin style, giving each team a total of six games. After those games are played, the top two teams in each group will advance to the Champions League Quarterfinals, which will begin in March 2011. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are all two-leg, aggregate goal series, with the finals being held in April 2011.
The winner of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League will then advance to the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in Japan in December of that year.
If the Galaxy advance past Puerto Rico, who qualified for the tournament by winning the 2010 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship, they will be placed into Group D along with Mexican champion Toluca, Honduran side CD Olimpia and the winner of the series between FAS of El Salvador and Xelaju of Guatemala.
I plan to blog from the game, so join me then for updates.
The sight of Glasgow Celtic fans clapping Sunday in Seattle: should we continue to applaud the rash of money-spinning friendlies MLS clubs are increasingly addicted to it seems? (AP Photo).
This is the sort of column that results when the brain wanders during a mind-numbing international friendly on a weekend afternoon. Read it here.
This witty blog post pretty much sums up the way a lot of Galaxy fans feel about Beckham. Unfortunately, the writer wasn’t coming from that perspective. Still, the points are valid. And I loved the part about Beckham looking “a bit like a sprightly Victorian cartoon badger who works at the Bank of England.” Read it here.
No more baby steps: the final group games began today in South Africa (AP Photo).
Read my summary of the tournament so far that sets the stage for the games ahead here.
Incidentally, great piece on the Koreatown atmosphere here by press box colleague Scott French. Korea, of course, play at 11:30 a.m. today against Nigeria with a place in the final 16 on the line. Should be wild.
This morning I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column deliberately provocative and dripping with sarcasm that essentially poked fun at Americans who don’t watch the World Cup.
(And that is most folks out there; sadly only 18 percent of Americans say they will watch the tournament, according to one survey I saw today).
I wanted to point out that all those Americans who don’t watch because soccer isn’t an American game or don’t watch because the U.S. likely won’t win the World Cup are missing a lot.
Those parochial folks are missing an event of enduring multiethnic, multinational and multicultural appeal. And I tried to go to pains to point out that upsets do occur and that can happen in the favor of the lightly-regarded U.S. no matter what the so-called experts (including this one) say.
I figured I might get a few angry e-mails from fans of pointyball-football or soccer-haters, which was, after all, my intent in part. If I have to goad people into watching the beautiful game, so be it.
Instead I got a half dozen e-mails from futbol fans who completely missed the point.
Some (unedited) excerpts:
*Good afternoon ignorant, I felt very sad reading your article about futbol, it’s not soccer. This sport is know worldwide and play by almost everyone except those fatty people who play, football and baseball, every time that I go to parks I see those fatty people trying to kick a ball with a bat meanwhile other players standing, that is boring and sad. I hope that some day American people discover how wonderful is futbol no soccer. – Diego (I’ve removed the last names).
*I just would like to say I read your article today in the daily bulletin title “it’s ok to think the worst for U.S.” and your article was by far the worst piece in today’s paper. It is obvious that you have no understanding of the game of soccer as well as no respect for the people who represent our nation or anyone who plays the sport. You are an ignorant columnist who has no understanding of the most popular sport in the world and one that is growing rapidly in the united states. – Oliver
*The whole time I was reading the article I was hoping that all the negativity against the World Cup was going to turn around towards the end of the article. But obviously, it never did. I am not a huge fan of soccer but I can appreciate the prepartion and training an athlete goes through in order to prepare for a large event like this. Some people strive their whole lives to reach that mark of just playing in a World Cup match regardless if they win or not. You proceeded to defocate all over that dream. – Chris
*I’m only 17 but and I don’t know much about writing of articles, but I do know enough that the article you wrote is shit. That is the worst article I have ever read. You obviously don’t know much about the underestimated talent of the us soccer team. We are very capable of upsets but I agree we may no win. But its pieces of shit that you why soccer doesn’t catch on in america. The team deserves support even if there not the best. So ill be there along with other thousands of americans to rub it in your face when england chokes and us pulls an upset like the 2-0 victory against 1 spain last summer. – Nikki
*I hope you enjoy living in your cave of ignorance, filled your amazing sports and athletes. There’s not many who can compare to a Manny Ramirez or C.C. Sabbathia, I mean, talk about top notch athletes. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean you have to hate it. Soccer has the biggest following of any sport, in the world. Have baseball or basketball games ever stopped a war? We don’t need people like you watching the world cup anyway. You can stay in your corner and face the wall and watch your silly idea of what sports are. The other 90% of the world is going to watch the biggest sporting event of the world. – Warren
I e-mailed every respondent urging them to re-read the article and go in search of their sense of humor. Most got the point on the second reading.
But dammit not a single non-soccer fan responded. They just ignored the article, turned the page and awaited tonight’s Lakers game.
Better, um, defocate (as a reader put it above) better than that, I guess.
Good to see at least one reader understood the point of the column.
And he’s Brazilian – where they love the game more than any nation on earth:
My name is Luciano.
I am a 33 year-old Brazilian.
I am writing to let you know that I got tears in my eyes after reding your article: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_15248759
I feel lucky that I found your aticle on the web.
Thanks, Luciano, I needed that.
Sign of the (World Cup) times: Clint Dempsey towers over the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Amie Avenue in Torrance (Photo by staff photographer Sean Hiller)
Every four years, non-soccer beat writers generally roll out two types of columns.
One version sneers at the game, the other embraces it with a “I had no idea how good soccer was” cluelessness like we should all be thrilled with the writer’s discovery. By now, both are annoying.
So I decided a more subversive approach was needed.
The end result: a soccer column for non-soccer fans, although hopefully you folks who love the game will be entertained, too. Even those of us who are fans of the U.S. team and are realistic (pessimistic?) about it’s World Cup hopes need a little perspective, too.
Sadly, the sign above is a rare sight in a Lakers-obsessed town and nothing compared to the support, for instance, the English are showing their team. But it’s a start.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what the sign of the times (part 1) is click here.
In other World Cup related news:
*Here’s an update on Mexico (and other nations) ahead of Friday’s World Cup opener.
*Here’s more on the return of DaMarcus Beasley.
*Here’s a link to an excellent calendar passed along to me by a reader: it’s pretty cool showing games by nation, day, World Cup group and location. Very helpful stuff, concisely presented.
*If we’ve had photos of soccer players in their undies on the cover of Vanity Fair, what’s wrong with a Wine Spectator article on not only their South African wine recommendations, but players like Landon Donovan talking about their appreciation for a good red.
Finally, Chivas USA has put tickets on sale to their upcoming SuperLiga games.