Guest Blogger Nereida Moreno: Why a former Club America fan will miss tonight’s game against the Galaxy at StubHub Center

Nereida Moreno / Daily Breeze

Nereida Moreno / Daily Breeze

Nereida Moreno is a Cal State Fullerton alumna and current news intern for the Los Angeles News Group. She did not watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. And she firmly believes that Guillermo Ochoa’s hair is directly related to his success as a goalkeeper. If you’re not going to tonight’s Club America-Galaxy friendly at StubHub Center, Moreno can relate:

I’m a reformed soccer fan.

From ages 11 to 17, I considered myself a walking stat machine, obsessing over Italy’s Serie A and Premiere League standings. I knew every player in Liga MX, and even some from the second division.

During my sophomore year of high school, I begged my sister to drive me from San Bernardino to Carson to watch Club America battle Morelia in the final match of the 2008 Interliga Tournament. The winner would earn one of two spots at the Copa Libertadores tournament in South America. While I was upset at missing the opening Atlas vs San Luis runner-up match in traffic, I’ll never forget the awe I felt at the hardcore fandom in the sold-out Home Depot Center.

Waving a medium-sized Club America flag, we all bled blue and yellow. The game kept us on the edge of our seats, as the tied match went into overtime. Sitting directly behind the goal-post, I watched as my team beat Morelia 3(5)- 3(3) in a penalty shoot out.

It was, and possibly still may be, the happiest I have ever felt in my short life.

But then came the heartache.

Once I graduated high school in 2010, everything began to change. I moved to Fullerton for college, lost touch with my high school friends and got a job. Suddenly, it became harder and harder to keep up with the sport. On one hazy night, while taking a break from writing a history paper, I tuned into Republica Deportiva, my favorite late-night sports recap show.

I watched as the newscaster went through the week’s game highlights. Why was Sergio Aguero leaving Atletico Madrid? When did Manchester City become a good club? How did Chepo de La Torre manage to keep his job? Stunned, I scrambled to figure out what else I had missed.

It’s difficult to enjoy the victories of my favorite teams when their rosters are constantly and rapidly changing. Club soccer just doesn’t fit into my world.

I’m now a sucker for national play. I love watching familiar faces play for their countries and watch new players rise as national heroes. No matter where they are in the world, it’s exhilarating to watch club players put their rivalries aside and join forces for their countries.

Or better, it’s fun to watch teammates like Neymar and Messi put their clubs aside and fiercely go head-to-head.

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Video Preview: Steven Gerrard debuts for the LA Galaxy against Club America live at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1

DNGerrard

I had the pleasure Friday to sit down and chat with an engaging, but self-effacing Steven Gerrard in an exclusive interview at SubHub Center.

He has a healthy, inquisitive attitude about MLS, the Galaxy and his family’s new life in Southern California that was refreshing.

While today’s front page is, shall we say, attention-grabbing, it does get the point of the profile across. Read more about Gerrard and his early impression of Southern California here in the Los Angeles Daily News.

A telling anecdote, I think, also sums up the kind of person Gerrard is.

As we chatted briefly before the interview, he learned I grew up in Norwich, England and was concerned about the survival prospects of newly-prompted Norwich City in an increasingly high-stakes EPL. As I walked to my car after the interview, a white Chevy Tahoe pulled up to me in the parking lot, the window rolled down and a smiling Gerrard said “Good luck to your Norwich City this season.”

A small gesture perhaps, but not one most players of his stature would have bothered with after a grueling day of training and no fewer than five sit down 1 on 1 interviews (more than he had done, he conceded, in quite a while in England where the media just does not get that level of access to players).

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Gold Cup Video: LA Galaxy rising star Gyasi Zardes creates Clint Dempsey goal in 1-0 U.S. win over Panama

zardesUSA star is born: The LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes, who seems to improve with every game, was the creator of the USA’s winning goal Friday against Haiti (Associated Press).

This is the U.S. benefiting from Hawthorne youngster Gyasi Zardes playing with the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane.

Marvelous to watch.

So what did Dempsey say to Zardes in the victory celebration do you think?

Game story:

By JIMMY GOLEN

The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —

Gyasi Zardes didn’t wait long to make an impact for the United States in its Gold Cup match against Haiti on Friday night.

The 23-year-old forward entered at the start of the second half for Jozy Altidore, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Less than two minutes later, the forward with the blond-streaked Mohawk turned a pass from Greg Garza into a perfect setup for Clint Dempsey’s goal, sending the Americans to a 1-0 win that clinched their group title.

“Gyasi has the special talent to take people on,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said, calling Zardes curious and eager to learn. “He has a lot of talent and a lot of potential. We just want to tell him every day, ‘One step at a time.’ … It’s a real joy to work with him.”

Dempsey scored in the 47th minute and Brad Guzan made a pair of point-blank saves in the second half for the defending champions, who improved to 2-0 in the opening round and clinched a spot in a July 18 quarterfinal in Baltimore.

The Americans have won six in a row, are 30-1-2 in Gold Cup group play and have reached the knockout stage of all 13 Gold Cup tournaments. They have one game remaining in the group stage, against Panama on Monday in Kansas City, Kansas.

“It’s a nice feeling, knowing that we are already in. But we are not slowing down,” Klinsmann said. “We know we have an influence on who’s going through. … So we will not take our foot off the pedal.”

Zardes started in the Gold Cup opener against Honduras, which the U.S. won 2-1. But Klinsmann shuffled his lineup liberally — including the whole back line — to keep his players fresh after the three-day turnaround.

On Friday, the coach came out of his office at halftime and told Zardes to warm up. “I just prepared myself to step on the field and try to make a difference,” said Zardes, who is in his third year with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The goal didn’t need so much as a word.

Zardes said he made eye contact with Garza, then gave the defender a head nod before he lofted the ball toward the penalty area. Zardas ran onto the ball and cut a pass backward, knowing that one of the forwards would be cutting toward the goal.

It turned out to be Dempsey, who scored with a right-footed shot from about 12 yards.

Dempsey has scored in the last four games he’s played for the U.S. national team, one shy of the record Altidore set two years ago. Dempsey’s 44 international goals are 13 shy of Landon Donovan’s American record.

“I love being with this group of guys; they’re top players,” Zardes said. “I’m just trying to pursue my career and hopefully be like them.”

Haiti, which is 0-1-1, will play Honduras on Monday, with the loser finishing last in the group. Klinsmann said he will try to balance the need to keep the team’s momentum going with his players’ need for rest.

Chief among those will be Altidore, who injured his hamstring on May 16 and is trying to get back into game shape.

“He will get stronger still. I’m not worried about it,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still in the process of becoming Jozy Altidore. We know he’s going to score some goals.”

The U.S. nearly went ahead in the 34th minute, when Aron Johannsson beat goalkeeper Johny Placide. Johannsson was ruled offside, but replays showed he was onside when Altidore passed the ball to him.

Copyright The Associated Press

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Watch the USA FIFA Women’s World Cup team New York ticker tape parade live at 8 a.m. on Fox Sports 1

ticker

The parade starts at 8 a.m. Pacific and can be seen on FOX Sports 1, ESPN3 and streamed on the the official YouTube page of the NYC Mayor’s Office.

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Gold Cup Video update: StubHub Center highlights and preview of Mexico-Cuba live at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1

GoldCup1Canny Canuck: Canada’s Marcus Haber fends El Salvador’s Alexander Mendoza Espinales in a 0-0 Gold Cup group game Wednesday at StubHub Center in Carson (Photo by Staff Photographer Will Lester).

Here’s a wrap of the Gold Cup doubleheader in Carson.

A complete Gold Cup schedule is here.

Meanwhile, Fox Soccer announced today that it’s Gold Cup coverage is setting TV ratings records:

“The U.S. squad’s opening match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup against Honduras on Tuesday, July 7, scored 986,000 viewers to become the most-watched non-FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match in FOX Sports 1 history.

The USMNT vs. Honduras match is the ninth-most watched soccer match overall on FOX Sports 1 and the most-watched Gold Cup Group Stage match on any FOX property, beating the 2013 USA vs. Cuba contest that aired on FOX broadcast network (821,000). The match was especially strong in Adults 18-49, pulling in 558,000 viewers in that demographic.”

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