Galaxy-Wizards, VC Fusion-Hollywood Hitmen Saturday Gameday

First off, if you only click one link in this blog post make it this one, a 16-picture gallery by readers of English newspaper The Guardian illustrating the Landon Donovan-David Beckham soap opera. Some hilarious stuff in there.

Donovan was still addressing the issue Friday in Kansas City before today’s nationally televised game (live at 6 p.m. on ESPN2).

Three points separate the Galaxy and the chasing Kansas City Wizards in the Western Conference standings.

Here’s more on the game from a local perspective and here’s even more from Donovan including the apparently increasing likelihood he will head to Europe to play. (BTW, shouldn’t he be updating that pic on his Web site?)

Those who like their soccer live should know that Premier Development League teams the Hollywood United Hitmen and Ventura County Fusion clash at 3 p.m. today at Pacific Palisades High School’s Stadium by the Sea in the Southwest Divisional Final.

Here’s a game preview.

Time constraints prevented much blogging this year about the PDL. but the Hitmen are in their first season in the league, having replaced the San Fernando Valley Quakes just weeks before the season started.

Their roster includes San Pedro’s Peter Hazdovac (last seen playing professional football in the lower divisions in Croatia) and the San Fernando Valley’s Willie Simms. The Fusion have former Chivas USA forward Anthony Hamilton on their squad.

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The Week Ahead

Mark your calendar. Set your TiVo. Here’s your soccer week in Southern California.

*Real So Cal Boys Under-16 Team lost 2-0 to Dallas Texans Red at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.

*Also, the Galaxy Reserves drew 2-2 with Dallas through goals by Alan Gordon and Bryan Jordan.

*Chivas USA midfielder Jorge “Sueno” Flores played 90 minutes in the U.S. Under-20 National Team loss to hosts Northern Ireland in the Milk Cup. Next on Wednesday: Wales.

*SuperLiga resumes tonight with the Houston Dynamo and Pachuca clashing at 7 on Telefutura in the first semifinal; Wednesday it’s Atlante-New England.

No LA teams involved now that Chivas USA is out so why am I mentioning this? See Tuesday’s column.

*Brad Guzan, Sacha Kljestan and the rest of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team plays at 2:30 a.m. our time against the Ivory Coast in the ING Cup, a warm-up for the Olympics.

*The W-League Pali Blues play at the Washington Freedom in the semifinals; in the other game the FC Indiana Lionesses play the Seattle Sounders. The final is Saturday.

*Chivas USA (6-6-4) visits Chicago (7-5-5) and Cuauhtmoc Blanco. Chivas USA is two points behind Real Salt Lake for the Western Conference lead.

*Rolling Hills Estates-based Ajax America Women play in the Women’s Premier League Final Four as the Pacific champion against Arizona (Big Sky), New England (East) and the winner today of the match between Midwest champion MYSC Lady Blues and Sunshine Conference champion Brevard County Cocoa Expos for the final berth.

Ajax beat West Coast FC 2-0 Sunday to qualify.

The Galaxy plays at San Jose at noon on Telefutura.

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SuperLiga Sunday

Chivas USA moves into a new era this evening without star goalkeeper Brad Guzan in their SuperLiga opener at 7 against Pachuca (live on TeleFutura).

Said Coach Preki of the culmination (hopefully) of the drawn out trade:

“I won’t say it’s a relief because now we’ve got to see what we have with the other young goalkeepers we have. It’s going to be a challenge.”

I’ll blog from the game as usual.

Of course, Guzan still has to get a work permit and if you believe The People, an English tabloid, there could be other complications, as well. By the way, the copy editor who came up with that headline has way too much time on his hands.

Speaking of American goalkeepers in England, Guzan said he has employed the consulting services of Everton’s Tim Howard:

“Timmy’s been awesome about the entire process going back to January when things didn’t work out. We’ve had some little discussions here and there, nothing too serious, but he’s helped me in maturing into a good professional and hopefully I’ll be able to continue the success of American goalkeepers.”

Santos Laguna and the New England Revolution kick off their SuperLiga encounter at 5 p.m. on TeleFutura today, while CD Guadalajara turned out the D.C. United lights ( and Jaime Moreno actually missed a penalty kick) Saturday. The Houston Dynamo pounded Atlante, 4-0, in the other game.

In MLS games Saturday, Palos Verdes’ John Thorrington scored a late winner for the Fire to break Chicago’s five-game losing streak and Real Salt Lake answered the question: How bad is the Western Conference? Salt Lake sits in first place after beating Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew, 2-0.

The U.S. women will seek revenge against Brazil today for their World Cup loss in the first of two games between the nations before the Olympics. Kick off is at 1 p.m. on ESPN.

Hermosa Beach resident Abby Wambach is one goal shy of her 100th international strike going into the game.

How significant is that?

As U.S. Soccer points out:

At 99 career goals in 125 games, Wambach’s prolific scoring rate – the best goals-to-game ratio in U.S. history in fact – puts her just one away from joining four other U.S. players in the 100 Goal Club. Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (129), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100) are four of eight players in the history of women’s soccer to score 100 or more international goals. Wambach scored her first-ever goal in 2002 against Finland and since then has averaged a goal every 90 minutes she has played for the WNT.

Wambach sounds, well, amazed by the feat, too:

“I’ve been thinking about it, because I knew everyone would be asking me about it. I think it’s amazing the impact that it’s had on myself and maybe my team. I’ve seen a lot of countries and met a lot of people and I think about the amount of joy every single goal has brought not only to my life but also my teammates lives. I also just think about the company I’m in. I’m getting compared to Michelle Akers. I sort of don’t want to even be compared to her because it’s a bit surreal. She’s just up there in my book in terms of how dominant she was.”

In the PDL Saturday it was:
Los Angeles Legends 0 San Francisco Seals 2
San Fernando Valley Quakes 4 Fresno Fuego 1
Bakersfield Brigade 1 Orange County Blue Star 3
San Jose Frogs 1 Southern California Seahorses 3

Today there’s a doubleheader at Buena High in Ventura for the last home game of the Fusion season, with the W-League Ventura County Fusion kicking off at 4 p.m against the Real Colorado Cougars, while their male counterparts in the PDL play at 6 p.m. against Orange County Blue Star.

In WPSL games today:
Claremont Stars v Ajax America Women at 5:30 p.m. at Claremont High
SD United v Los Angeles Rampage at 4 p.m. at Valhalla High

In the WPSL Saturday:
San Diego WFC SeaLions 1 Claremont Stars 0
West Coast FC 2 SD United 1

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Friday Football: Weekend Preview

Hot soccer, hot weather.

Two of the best teams in MLS, the Galaxy – who sit in first in the West – and second place Columbus in the East clash Saturday at Home Depot Center. I’ll have a complete preview of the game Saturday.

Things are heating up for local PDL teams, too, as the season hits the halfway mark, while in a case of bad timing the Ventura County Fusion leave the cool air of coastal Ventura for the steamier Conejo Valley for their game tonight against the San Jose Frogs.

In other PDL games in the Los Angeles area this weekend:
On Friday – Orange County Blue Star at Lancaster Rattlers at 7 p.m. at Pete Knight High.
San Francisco Seals at Los Angeles Legends at 7:30 p.m. at A.P.U. Cougar Stadium.

Saturday – San Francisco Seals at Southern California Seahorses at 7 p.m. at La Mirada High.

Sunday – Orange County Blue Star at San Fernando Valley Quakes at 7:05 p.m. at Calabasas High.

In the WPSL Saturday – Ajax America Women v West Coast FC at noon at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates.
Claremont Stars v Los Angeles Rampage 5: 30 p.m. at Claremont High.

Sunday – Los Angeles Rampage v Ajax America Women at 5:30 p.m. at Granada Hills.

Finally, former U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team coach John Ellinger has resurfaced at Dallas after leaving Real Salt Lake.

Stay cool.

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Friday Football: Weekend Preview

Very quickly this morning:
*With the Galaxy on the road against intrastate rivals the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday (7 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel), Chivas USA takes center stage locally with a game against Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center.

A preview from the official Chivas USA blog is here.

Chivas USA, still seeking to draw fans, has a ticket deal for the game.

*Meanwhile, CONCACAF begins World Cup qualifying this weekend and in addition to the U.S.-Barbados game at Home Depot Center Sunday (plenty of tickets are still available) there’s a full slate of action.

Mexico’s game against Belize airs at 1:30 p.m. on KVEA.

*In the WPSL there are four local games this weekend with Ajax America Women meeting the San Diego WFC SeaLions at noon Saturday at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates and the Claremont Stars at home at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Los Angeles Rampage also host a pair of games: West Coast FC at 7. p.m. Saturday in Granada Hills and SD United at 6 p.m. Sunday.

*In the W-League former U.S. Women’s National Team star Tiffeny Milbrett and the Vancouver Whitecaps visit the Ventura County Fusion tonight.

The Whitecaps also play the Pali Blues 1 p.m. Sunday at Palisades High School.

*Lastly, in the PDL Saturday, the Fresno Fuego visit Orange County Blue Star at 5 p.m. at Concordia University.

Have a great weekend and if you can’t make it out to a game, I’ll be blogging from both the Chivas USA and U.S. games so check back for more details.

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Friday Football: Weekend Preview & More

First off, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley today named a 24-player roster for next week’s game against Spain that’s pretty much the same as the squad for the England game with the addition of recalled Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni.

The Galaxy jetted off to Toronto today for Saturday’s game in Canada (12:30 p.m. Direct Kick).

Chivas USA plays at Home Depot Center Saturday against Rolling Hills’ Estates’ Robbie Rogers and the Columbus Crew.

More on both games Saturday.

In PDL games locally tonight it’s:
San Francisco Seals at Orange County Blue Star 5 p.m. Concordia University.
Fresno Fuego at Ventura County Fusion 7:30 p.m. Buena High.

Los Angeles Legends at Southern California Seahorses 7:30 p.m. La Mirada High.

W-League Saturday
Ventura County Fusion at Pali Blues 7 p.m. Palisades High.

Women’s Premier Soccer League Friday
Los Angeles Rampage v Claremont Stars 8 p.m. Granada Hills.
West Coast FC v Ajax America Women 8 p.m. JSerra Catholic High School.

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Friday Football

*The U.S. Under-23 National Team plays the Ivory Coast at 9 a.m. today on Fox Soccer Channel from France.

*Fontana’s Maurice Edu of Toronto FC has been called into the senior national team for next week’s game against England, presumably as a replacement for the injured Benny Feilhaber.

*The Galaxy’s Ante Jazic has only just returned from injury, but the defender has been recalled by Canada’s National Team for its May 31 game against Brazil in Seattle.

*In other MLS news, former Galaxy midfielders Jovan Kirovski and Kelly Gray have joined the San Jose Earthquakes from the Colorado Rapids, with former Chivas USA reserve goalkeeper Preston Burpo moving in the opposite direction.

*ESPN has announced that Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea – the first-ever between two English teams – was ESPN2’s highest-rated and most-watched UEFA telecast in history.

From the ESPN press release:

The telecast was seen in an average of 798,000 homes (and by 1,097,000 viewers), and received an 0.8 rating. The network’s previous UEFA record was the 2006 final, seen in 613,000 homes (and by 770,000 viewers), based on a 0.7 rating.

On ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language telecast earned a 4.5 Hispanic coverage rating, representing 153,000 Hispanic homes, the highest rating the network has ever received.

ESPN Classic will re-air the telecast as an instant classic at 5 p.m. Saturday.

*Meanwhile, Electronic Arts’ UEFA Euro 2008 video game has gone on sale, featuring 52 teams.

From their press release:

A new game mode called Captain Your Country will enable gamers to put themselves on the pitch, earn the captaincy of their team, and truly inspire their country to glory. Gamers will be able to celebrate their success on-field through user-controlled celebrations that will add to the pageantry and atmosphere of the event.

*Cal State Northridge women’ soccer has announced the signing of eight high school seniors to letters of intent: sweeper Nicole Cruz and defender Emily Geckle (both Thousand Oaks High); goalkeeper Christina Herrera (Pasadena High); defender Marie Hirsch (Notre Dame High); midfielder Marissa Miller (Righetti High); defender Katie Russ (Canyon High); midfielder Brielle Slepicoff (Saugus High); and midfielder Sinead Vaughan (Royal High).

*Only two local PDL games scheduled this weekend.

At 7:30 tonight the San Fernando Valley Quakes play at Los Angeles Legends.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, it’s the Bakersfield Brigade at Southern California Seahorses at La Mirada High.

*The Women’s Premier Soccer League begins play locally this weekend.

Games scheduled locally:
Saturday- Ajax America Women Los Angeles Rampage at noon at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates.
San Diego WFC SeaLions- West Coast FC at 7 p.m. at Cathedral Catholic High in San Juan Capistrano.
Claremont Stars- SD United at 5:30 p.m. at Claremont High School.

*Finally, if you thought MLS officiating was bad, check this out.

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday Quick Hits: Chivas USA and the LA Rampage gives us this update on Anaheim’s reality television show winner Jorge Flores, who is making an unlikely name of himself with Chivas USA and the U.S. Under-20 National Team.

The SI article coincides with the beginning Friday of the second version of the show.

From the (edited) Chivas USA press release:

Sueo MLS, The Dream Continues returns to Los Angeles Friday in the first stage of a six-week quest to find the best undiscovered soccer player in the nation.

The 2,000 hopefuls come from around the world and more than 40 U.S. states.

Four days of open tryouts will be held locally at the Bell Gardens Sport Center, home to Chivas USAs academy and youth teams.

Sueo MLS returns to Republica Deportiva every Sunday at noon on Univision in a reality show within a show format. The winner will be announced March 30, just hours before the start of the MLS season.

Finally, the new Women’s Premier Soccer League franchise in the Valley has announced its first player signings, including a contingent from Cal State Northidge. Details here.

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