Soccer Saturday: Chivas USA, Galaxy – and Vikings

*Reporter Phil Collin has a preview of the Galaxy and Chivas USA games this weekend.

*At tonight’s game at Home Depot Center against the New England Revolution, Chivas USA fans will have the opportunity to run the rule over the player the club took a pass on: Southern Californian Benny Feilhaber.

*The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan and Todd Dunivant and Mike Magee planted the seeds of literacy at a Carson school Friday.

*Operating from a home field at Carson’s Cal State Dominguez Hills, the Viking Soccer Club has formed the Los Al Vikings and entered the team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, which begins play later this month.

It’s the second South Bay-based WPSL team; Ajax America have long played at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates.

Los Al’s roster includes forwards Nadia Link and Marysol Rosas (Cal State Long Beach) and Evelyn Vasquez (Cal State Northridge); midfielder Karina Jahn (Cal State Dominguez Hills); and defender Jenny Soza (Cal State Long Beach) and former South Torrance High goalkeeper Alyssa Congdon (Cal State Dominguez Hills)

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Thursday Kicks: Beckham is back & more

i-476081f25c0781fff852c6f8abcc4045-becksthursday.jpgBack on the ball: David Beckham rejoined his Galaxy teammates for preseason training today in chilly Carson for the first time this year (AP photo).

*Do Galaxy fans care that Beckham is back? Does Landon Donovan?

“We’re used to having him here and also used to not having him here,” Donovan told Soccer America.

So, “whatever” is the essence of Donovan’s response then. Hmmm.

More details here.

*Argentine midfielder Walter Gaitn has signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Blues of the new USL Pro division, the club announced today. The 33-year-old scored 76 goals in 197 games for Tigres UANL and Necaxa.

*Former Ajax America Head Coach Brian Boswell, a five-time WPSL Coach Of The Year, has joined the new OC Wave of the Women’s Premier Soccer League as an assistant coach to Abner Rogers, the former LA Sol coach.

“I have known and respected Abner for almost 20 years and really enjoyed working with him at the Los Angeles Sol,” said Boswell. “I couldn’t say no to a new challenge working with Abner … especially as I knew they had a support staff behind the teams. I wish Ajax all the best in the future. They will always be a part of me.”

The Wave and Northern California sister club the Bay Area Breeze have considerably deeper pockets than Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax and will field professional teams in what is usually a semi-pro (and that’s being generous) league.

Rogers will scout for players at the Algarve Cup in Portugal and the Wave will host open tryouts late next month in Mission Viejo.

South Bay youth coach Kenyon Lohn, who has coached at FRAM, which shares Nansen Field with Ajax, has taken over for Boswell.

*And that’s all from me for a few days. I’m off to celebrate my mother’s 83rd birthday this weekend and there will be no column from me Tuesday.

Have a great weekend. And happy birthday, mum!

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Sunday Galaxy Gameday & more

The Galaxy play the Chicago Fire at 4:30 p.m. at Home Depot Center (live on Fox Soccer Channel).

Game basics are here and here.

In other soccer news:

*The season for the PDL defending champion Ventura County Fusion and the Hollywood Hitmen is over. The Kitsap Pumas play the Portland Timbers today in the PDL Western Conference championship.

*Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America Women play for another Women’s Premier Soccer League title today in Texas.

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A Few Words With two Ajax America veterans on the eve of the WPSL championship weekend

Ajax America Women of the Women’s Premier Soccer League team play the Oklahoma Alliance in the final four Saturday in Dallas. On Sunday, the victor faces the winner of the Boston Aztec Breakers Reserves-F.C. Milwaukee Nationals semifinal.

On Friday defender Dani Bosio of Ajax America (and midfielder Ann Marie Tangorra of LAFC Chelsea) were named Pacific Co-Player of the Year. Bosio and 2009 Pacific Conference Co-Player Of The Year Shannon Cross spoke about the veteran core of Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax that has propelled the team to a record fifth consecutive final four this year.

Question: Ajax stumbled into the Pacific playoffs this year with a 1-2-1 record in the last four matches. Then, the playoffs start and Ajax beats two top teams to make the final four. What happened? Did the proverbial “light” turn on?
Bosio answers: The second half of the season was a little rough – (I’m) not going to lie. We definitely made the road to the playoffs quite difficult with our performance in the latter half of the season. I think the problem was that we weren’t playing as a cohesive unit. We were focusing on our individual games instead of collectively working together as a team.

Finally, the week before playoffs, the “old timers” (Ajax veterans) came together and decided that we would not let this year pass us by. Our team this year is quite young and a lot of the younger players needed to be taught the Ajax mentality: “Work hard for each other on the field and have fun doing it!” I think we’ve got everyone on the same page now and it’s definitely evident on the field.

Cross answers: This year we had a lot of changes to the roster and while the level of talent was never the issue, the veteran players did need to get everyone on the same page. Ajax has a lot of history that goes beyond what any of us current players have been a part of. We needed to remember and honor that and I could not have been more proud of the way our team stepped up this past weekend versus California (in a 3-0 win in the Pacific Final).

Q: Ajax is making their fifth consecutive Final Four appearance – a WPSL record. How has the team been able to string together such an impressive run of play?
Bosio answers: Since the moment I joined Ajax in 2006, I was indoctrinated with the Ajax mentality that I referenced above. I play soccer because I love it and I love spending time with my teammates. It’s easy to lose touch with that notion when you get caught up in the intense demands of coaches, playing time and pressure of performing at the highest levels in the game. We’ve been able to string such an impressive run of play because we all share the same mindset. … I get to take a little vacation each weekend from my chaotic work week schedule to play soccer with a group of my best friends and we have a blast together both on and off the field. This camaraderie is the essence of our success! Sure we’re all fantastic soccer players, but I don’t think we’d be as successful as we are without our communal passion for soccer and our friendships.

Cross answers: It is tough keeping a team together and successful that isn’t bound by school or professionalism. Ajax has been able to do that for years. … It is the love of the game that keeps us together and keeps us successful. The large majority of us have graduated college, have jobs, some have families and as a result – soccer can’t be our No. 1 priority all of the time, but we share the same passion and love for the game. So for at least two days a week, we can forget everything else, just play and play with and for our teammates that have become friends and family. Some players come and go. Some have been playing for this string of five consecutive Final Fours, but it is the leadership of the veterans and mentality we all share that keeps the winning tradition alive.

Q: Ajax Coach Brian Boswell may be one of the best women’s soccer coaches in the world. What influence has he had on your career?
Cross answers: I have known Brian since I was 11 or 12 years old, and he has always been a calm and steady influence. He trusts his players, their experience and ability. If things aren’t working or players make a mistake, it doesn’t turn to panic. It isn’t a matter of if – but when – things will turn around. As a result, everyone is able to be more relaxed and confident. Brian is thus able to get the most out of every player.

With Ajax he knows we can’t dedicate as much time or energy as we all would like. Therefore, when we are out there the reasons we are there – fun and love for the game and team – are never allowed to be forgotten. It is amazing how much better people play when they are truly enjoying what they do.

Lastly, here’s the All-Pacific Conference First Team announced Friday:

goalkeeper Cori Alexander (California Storm); defenders Dani Bosio (Ajax America), Haley Abbott (North Bay Wave FC), Elise Britt (LAFC Chelsea); midfielders Ann Marie Tangorra (LAFC Chelsea), Keri Sanchez (Ajax), Marissa Mykines (Spokane Black Widows), Nina Watkins (North Bay Wave FC); forwards Anessa Patton (Clovis Sidekicks),
Fiona O’Sullivan (Storm), Nicole Wilcox (BSC Portland Rain)

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Friday Football: Waiting for the weekend

There’s a full slate of weekend games while we await U.S. Coach Bob Bradley – who is either a lame duck or the man for the next four years – to reveal his roster Monday or Tuesday for the Brazil game next month.

Both local MLS clubs are at home this weekend. Chivas USA (4-9-3) hosts the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew (10-3-4) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center (live on Prime), while the MLS-leading Galaxy (12-2-4) seek to right the ship after their dreadful midweek CONCACAF Champions League performance against the struggling Chicago Fire (4-5-5) at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Carson (live on Fox Soccer Channel).

Meanwhile, Women’s Premier Soccer League team Ajax America Women (8-3-1, Pacific Champion) face the Oklahoma Alliance F.C. (8-1-0, South Champion) in the final four Saturday in Dallas. The victor faces the winner of the other semifinal, which features the Boston Aztec Breakers Reserves (10-1-1, East Champion) verses the F.C. Milwaukee Nationals (10-1-0, Midwest Champion), in the title game Sunday.

The other national women’s soccer league that occupies the rung just below WPS, the W-League, has its championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday in Santa Clarita at Harry Welch Stadium at Canyon High. Admission is $10 and the game is also live on Fox Soccer Channel.

The Vancouver Whitecaps, which beat the Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues 3-1 Thursday, will take on the Buffalo Flash, which downed the Atlanta Silverbacks by the same score on the same evening.

In the Premier Development League playoffs Saturday, the defending champion Ventura County Fusion are at the Kitsap Pumas while the Hollywood Hitmen take on the Portland Timbers Under-23 squad. Both games are in Bremerton, Wash.

For those of you who don’t want to budge from the TV at home click at top right for a full roundup of what’s on TV where, but the pick of the bunch IMHO is Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres of Pachuca visiting defending league champion Toluca at 10 a.m. Sunday on KVEA.

Have a great weekend.

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Sunday Kicks: Fusion, Ajax & more

*Six wins in their last seven games secured the defending PDL champion Ventura County Fusion the Southwest Division title Saturday.

*There will be no third consecutive W-League title for the Pali Blues, 2-1 losers to the Whitecaps Saturday in Vancouver.

*Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America Women will face Brandi Chastain’s California Storm in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Pacific Conference final 5 p.m. Sunday in Pasadena at Muir High. Ajax beat North Bay F.C. Wave 2-0 Saturday, while the Storm triumphed 3-1 over LAFC Chelsea.


Former USC star Shannon Cross scored one goal and created two others as Ajax beat the Storm 3-0 Sunday to qualify for a record fifth straight Final Four appearance.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the weekend (late edition)

The Galaxy are off this weekend, Chivas USA are out of town (they’re at Real Salt Lake at 7 p.m. Saturday on Prime), but that doesn’t mean there’s no live footie in Southern California this weekend and with international friendlies galore and the Mexican league cranking up again there’s no shortage of games on TV either (click at top right for a complete listing).

Local PDL clubs play their final games of the regular season this weekend (scroll down), while the Hollywood Hitmen also take a cue from their MLS brethren and play an international friendly against a Salvadoran team Sunday in downtown LA.

If it’s women’s soccer you want, the W-League Pali Blues are up in Vancouver taking on the Whitecaps in the first round of the playoffs, but the Women’s Premier Soccer League Pacific Conference final four play in Pasadena this weekend.

Here’s the semifinals schedule:

*LAFC Chelsea (6-3-1, #2 South) vs. California Storm (11-1-0, #1 North) 4 p.m. Saturday Maranatha High School, Pasadena, 169 S. Saint John Ave.

*North Bay F.C. Wave (9-3-0, #2 North) vs. Ajax America (6-3-1, #1 South)
6 p.m. Saturday also at Maranatha High School.

The final is at 5 p.m. Sunday at Muir High School, 1905 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena.

Enjoy the weekend.

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Friday (World Cup) football: The weekend starts now

i-7cf1e4cf557afaf8a8b1e0d681042588-notfab.jpgNot exactly Fab(iano): No matter how much Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano prayed today, Brazil could not get a goal against Portugal in a 0-0 tie (AP Photo).

Portugal and Brazil played this morning to a utilitarian 0-0 draw that suited both nations advancing out of Group G at the expense of Ivory Coast and North Korea.

The final games of the Group stage kick off at 11:30 a.m. today with Spain fighting for its World Cup life against Chile on ESPN and Switzerland and Honduras meeting on ESPN2 (and both with hopes still of advancing).

Then the round of 16 bracket will be set.

With the second round almost upon us, if you haven’t yet signed up for the Daily Breeze World Soccer challenge now is your chance. And for those of you already registered, don’t forget to make your picks for the next round (memo to self).

Of course, the World Cup games on most Americans’ minds begins at 11 a.m. Saturday on ABC when the U.S. meets Ghana.

And if we get any more last-minute drama you’ve got to wonder how many more World Cup babies we’ll see.

It looks like Jonathan Bornstein’s family in Los Alamitos is getting revved up for this one.

Where are you going to watch?

As hard as it is to believe, there is other soccer going on this weekend. MLS cranks up again after a two-week break with Chivas USA at home taking on FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center (Prime) while the Galaxy are at Toronto at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel).

The most fascinating MLS game this weekend, however, may well be in Philadelphia where the Seattle Sounders may get a taste of what their home atmosphere is like for visiting teams against the Union at 2 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2). It’s the venue’s debut.

If it’s live local soccer you want, the PDL Ventura County Fusion (5-3-1) visit the Los Angeles Legends (4-4-2) at 7 o’clock tonight, while the WPSL Ajax America Women (5-0) host the Claremont Stars (2-3-1) at noon Saturday.

Finally, for those of you who like to plan ahead the Galaxy has announced that there will be free parking and $10 admission (which includes entrance to the usually exclusive Stadium Club after the game) for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup contest against AC St. Louis at Home Depot Center.

An excellent deal (and one, frankly, that should be the norm for all U.S. Open Cup games in Carson). Full details here.


Spain and Chile both advance after Honduras and the Swiss play to a goalless draw.

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Tuesday Kicks: Chivas USA Win & More

A couple of things to pass along this evening:

*Chivas USA scored twice in each half Tuesday at a cold and rainy UC Irvine to beat the hosts 4-0 in a preseason scrimmage. Artur Aghasyan, who was with the PDL Ventura County Fusion last season, scored both first half goals. Gerson Mayn and draft pick Chris Ross added two more in the second 45 minutes.

Chivas USA (first half)- Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Carey Talley, Michael Umaa, Ante Jazic, Michael Lahoud, Blair Gavin, Ben Zemanski, Jorge Flores, Jess Padilla, Artur Aghasyan.

Chivas USA (second half) – Dan Kennedy, Miguel Sanchez, Carlos Borja, Emilio Viades, Kevin Tangney, Chris Ross (Cesar Zamora 72), Marcelo Saragosa, Alfonso Motagalvan, Gerson Mayn, Justin Braun, Maykel Galindo

Chivas USA departs for Guadalajara Thursday for two games during a week-long stint in Mexico.

*New Zealand has named a 17-player squad that will face Mexico March 3 for a World Cup warmup against Mexico at the Rose Bowl. Only two players are missing from the lineup that beat Bahrain 1-0 in September to qualify for the World Cup: Goalkeeper Mark Paston is injured and defender Ivan Vicelich is suspended.

The roster:
goalkeepers: James Bannatyne (Team Wellington), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory)

defenders: Andrew Boyens (New York Red Bulls), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix),
Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Brentford

midfielders: Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Simon Elliott (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael McGlinchey
(Mortherwell, Scotland), Craig Henderson (Mjallby)

forwards: Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough), Shane
Smeltz (Gold Coast United), Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion)

*The U.S. Women’s National Team open its 2010 domestic schedule next month
with a pair of matches against Mexico, the first at 2 p.m. March 28 at Torero Stadium in San Diego (live on Fox Soccer Channel), the second at 6 p.m. March 31 in Salt Lake City (live on ESPN2). Tickets for the game in San Diego go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Call (1-800) 745-3000.

*Los Angeles F.C. Chelsea has joined the Women’s Premier Soccer League in the wake of their merger with the Los Angeles Rampage and will play their home games at La Canada High School. Former rampage Coach Emamuel “Manny” Martins will head up LAFC Chelsea.

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Wednesday Kicks: Sounders, Fusion, Blues & More

Midweek seems an apt time to touch on a few things I’ve overlooked:

*The Sounders play Barcelona at 7:30 tonight in Seattle on ESPN2. It will be interesting to see who that usually delirious crowd will predominantly be rooting for – the home team or the European champions. More here.

Here’s Barcelona’s Lionel Messi doing a little ball juggling atop the 605-foot-high Space Needle ahead of the game.i-41973b05b9d2aa52f1ac63528d23ab98-messispace0002.jpgPhoto courtesy FC Barcelona/Sounders FC/SUM

*Earlier this evening the Chicago Fire meets Tigres in the SuperLiga final that begins at 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

*Speaking of the Fire, their PDL team will contest the title at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Ventura County Fusion at Ventura High on Main Street. With the Galaxy and Chivas USA out of town this weekend I plan to attend the game (as a fan). More details and a special ticket deal here.

*Meanwhile, a night earlier the Pali Blues plays in the W-League championship against the Freedom in Washington. That game can be seen live at 4:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

*Belated condolences BTW to Coach Brian Boswell and his Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America who fell 1-0 to the Long Island Fury last weekend in New York in the Women’s Premier Soccer League final after posting an excellent 15-2-1 record on the season.

*In other women’s soccer news, Long Beach State, winners of the last three Big West title have been picked to finish second this year in a preseason coache’s poll. Cal State Northridge were picked to finish fifth.

*Former UCLA and Galaxy player Zak Ibsen (who played 50 games for the Galaxy over two seasons ending in 2000) detailed his descent into crystal meth addiction for the New York Times’ Goal blog.

*Finally, fellow blogger Steve Davis explains why he doesn’t hate Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers of Rolling Hills Estates.

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