Sunday, December 31, 2006

Posh and Becks, eat your heart out.

Or in Posh's case, just eat something.

But whether or not Beckham arrives to the Galaxy, I'd like to toast Bianca and Landon on what is scheduled to be their wedding date.

Not only am I convinced Bianca is a superior actress to Posh, but I'd also take Landon going at players on the dribble over Beckham doing the same.

Although I do know Posh's career is based more on singing, and Becks hits a wicked cross.

People have asked me how Landon might feel about sharing the spotlight with Beckham and my best guess would be that he'd be glad to do it. In L.A. there's a lot of opportunities to participate in a glam lifestyle and seek out that celebrity spotlight. Landon doesn't really do much of that.

Becks and Landon didn't have great World Cups this year, but Landon's still young enough that he can hope to turn around from that and make a major contribution. Landon has said he wants to do that and considering he's apparently cutting his honeymoon short to be at Bob Bradley's national team camp on January 4, I'm guessing he means it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Going, Going, Go --

So far, the designated player rule for MLS has been a bust.
No club has used it on anyone
noteworthy yet.

Luis Figo, a rumored target, has signed with a team in Saudi Arabia.

Paulo Wanchope has signed with a team in Japan.

Bruno Marioni has signed with a team in Argentina.

Jared Borgetti has signed with Cruz Azul in Mexico.

Though it came from a source who wouldn't go on the record, reporter Miguel Melendez told us that the Galaxy did make an offer for Borgetti. So at least someone tried to get a big-name player.

But whether they're trying or just not bothering, MLS clubs are not landing anyone. Beckham would still be a big catch, of course, and that's still a possibility, but it's not looking good as so far, more players are leaving MLS (Palencia, Dempsey, etc) than are coming in.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Now that's Crazy

Juan Pablo Garcia came into MLS with high hopes of reaching Europe and the Mexican national team. He accomplished the latter while a member of Chivas USA, though that lone Gold Cup appearance in July of 2005 came on the strength of his play with Atlas. His move to Chivas USA earned him no further call-ups to El Tri and apparently did not catch the interest of any European clubs either.

Garcia gambled and it didn't pay off. He moved back to Mexico when he joined Tigres recently. Reportedly, Feyenoord and PSV were interested after former boss Hans Westerhof had allegedly recommended "Loquito" to several of his Dutch cronies.

Now I can't say I feel bad for Garcia since he will most likely receive hefty compensation with Tigres. On the soccer side, I might have more sympathy for him if my last impressions of him weren't his self-serving tantrum following the first leg of Chivas' playoff series against Houston and his cheap shot at the end of the second leg.

He's a talented player no doubt. Talented for MLS standards? For sure. Talented enough to go to Europe? The jury's still out on that. Talented for Mexico? That's where his talents are likely best suited.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

OK, I may have written too soon.

 Can Ronaldinho see the incoming arrival of David Beckham?

Although I think this is a crazy move for him, as he's actually less likely to get on the field with this team, a newspaper in Spain is reporting that Beckham is going to Barcelona.

To sell shirts, apparently - as the author says Beckham will probably not start for the team.

He will, however, be important to capturing the Asian market.

MLS might be one of the few places that would like Beckham to actually play for them.

I exagerrate, of course. There are many other teams who would love to have him - not just the Galaxy. 

It's just hard for me to believe Barca is one of them.  

****My Americanization is showing - I'd completely overlooked that the date is the Latin American equivalent of April Fools. So I doubt this article refers to anything else, but yeah, I was suckered for a bit there. ****

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Yes, I'll admit, I think Beckham is coming to the Galaxy. Let
me remind everybody, though, that the signs
looked good for Klinsmann coaching the U.S team as well. So I'm not saying it's any done deal.

I'm also not over the moon about it. Yes, I see distinct positives to Beckham's arrival, but to tell the truth, he didn't exactly do anything incredibly amazing on the field when he was here in 2005, playing against the Galaxy then.

Michael Owen looked far more impressive, and Real Madrid didn't try
that hard to hold on to him, either.

Beckham, though, was great with the media on his visit with Real Madrid. He spoke to everyone, even in Spanish to a few outlets. Owen, Zidane and others couldn't be bothered. Ronaldo said a few words.

So while I think talk of Beckham dominating MLS is overblown, I do think he's an asset to the league, partly due to his willingness to take part in the interaction with the media that will raise the profile of the sport in the U.S.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Traffic Jam on the I-5

Chivas USA's Francisco Palencia and Juan Pablo Garcia may have crashed into each other while getting out of Los Angeles to return south of the border to Mexico.

Negotiations with Palencia to go to Tigres, a team that plays in Monterrey, were rumored almost as soon as the MLS season ended.

The rumblings of a Garcia move started even before that - as it was apparent that the midfielder wished to to to Europe.

Suddenly, Tigres nabs Garcia instead - dropping out of the Palencia deal entirely. It might have been that Garcia wasn't having any luck drawing an offer in Europe, and then let it be known he was interested in going to Mexico. He may have effectively nudged Palencia aside, and stolen the interest originally going to Paco.

Paco has landed on his feet, though, and is on the move to Pumas, a Mexico-City-based team.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sometimes, You Can't Go Home Again

Alecko Eskandarian was traded away from DC United to Toronto FC today. It certainly didn't seem like Esky was going to leave DC back when the team took him as the first pick in the 2003 MLS draft, or when he was voted MVP of the 2004 MLS Cup.

Things change, however. In light of that, it might be haunting Eskandarian that he celebrated a goal scored against Red Bull New York in the 2006 season by having his teammates toss him a can of the drink from the bench, taking a sip, then spitting it out.

At the time, goalkeeper Tony Meola, like Eskandarian a New Jersey native, delivered a lecture on the importance of avoiding burnt bridges.

“I think he probably regrets it a little bit,” said Meola. “I’m sure it’s hard for him to look five or six years down the road to when he perhaps wants to come home and play in New Jersey”.

Andranik, Esky's father, lives and owns a soccer shop in that area. Bruce Arena, another Jersey product, now coaches the Bulls. The organization is also building one of the best soccer stadiums in the league there. New York could have welcomed Esky with open arms, but it's unlikely that he will ever play there as anything but a visitor now.

“Those are the things you’ve got to learn along the way,” noted Meola “You always have to pay for all your actions. I’m sure that one won’t be forgotten – especially by the newer people at Red Bull, that have just come in the last few weeks.”

Perhaps Arena has enough pull to override any objections of Red Bull administration and to bring in Esky, but I highly doubt it. Esky's shortsighted stunt has likely closed the door to New York for as long as that company owns the team.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ADD & Ritalin & Soccer

Devin Barclay never played in LA, but he did play in MLS, and there is an LA Times article featuring him, among others, talking about his struggles with ADD. Barclay maintains that the commonly prescribed drug Ritalin hindered his soccer development, even as it helped him focus in school.

Barclay is now out of the game at a professional level and back in school, going to college.

Another hyperactive kid is now playing for the Galaxy, after a concerned psychiatrist recommended soccer. Wonder what might have happened if he'd suggested Ritalin instead?

Is nothing sacred to the flock?

I have an Oswaldo Sanchez bobblehead doll.

The iconic Mexican national team goalkeeper is such a hero to Chivas fans that his likeness was one of the ones included in Chivas USA's bobblehead giveaway at the Home Depot Center stadium this year. After the death of his father just before the World Cup in June, Sanchez became even more dear to the fans because of his courage and focus for his team.

The "San Guzan" banner that the Legion 1908 fans hung for Brad Guzan earlier this year is modeled after the "San Oswaldo" banner that is displayed in Guadalajara.

The popularity of Sanchez is so great, it's still hard to grasp that Guadalajara let him get away from the team (known as "the sacred flock"). Even the bobblehead is shaking his head in disbelief.

Oswaldo is gone

Interesting stuff coming out of Mexico. Oswaldo Sanchez has left Chivas. He is now Santos property.

Honestly, I thought Oswaldo would be part of Chivas forever. He's probably the most popular Chivas player at least in the past decade. He's the classiest goalkeeper Mexico has to offer, and that includes Memo Ochoa.

I had a few dealings with him in the past. The last time I interviewed him was at the Rose Bowl, the day before Mexico played Venezuela. I only got to ask him a few questions but you could tell he was larger than life just by the way he carried himself.

It's distressing that a player such as Oswaldo Sanchez can leave Chivas but it all came down to pesos. He wanted more than the club was willing to offer. Santos is in a desperate situation and will probably be relegated, Oswaldo or no Oswaldo. Santos probably figures to cash in while they are still in the first division. Oswaldo can walk during the summer anyway, and he probably will.

It's a good thing Oswaldo's final act with Chivas was leading them to the Apertura 2006 championship, his first-ever league title.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Barcelona pays a price

Not only did Barcelona lose the World Club Championship final versus Brazil's Internacional, but they also lost a key player, defender Gianluca Zambrotta, for at least a month due to a torn thigh muscle. The ramification of this event could be that Barcelona struggles to retain the La Liga crown they won last year.

How does this relate to LA? Well, the Galaxy were similarly caught between two competitions last year, the Open Cup and their run for the MLS playoffs. Honestly, I believe if the Galaxy had dropped out of the Open Cup early, they could have focused more on making the playoffs, where they could have been a legitimate threat to defend their title. Instead, they tried to salvage the season by defending the Open Cup as well, but fell just short, then fell just short again of making the playoffs.

Stand-up Guy

I'll post more thoughts about the Galaxy's trade of Kevin Hartman later, but I'll say now that it's sad to see Hartman go. I have dealt very little with Joe Cannon. He might be a saint. He might not. I do know, however, that Kevin is a better person than he is a player, and he's an outstanding player.

Kevin is about as classy of a person as I've ever dealt with.

Anyway, I'll save more of my thoughts for my column but I wanted to share this picture Kevin recently posed for. Kevin Hartman poses with Yvie Bueno.

Guess not

Al Ahly beat America 2-1.

Does this prove Egyptian soccer is better than Mexican soccer? Absolutely not.

See you in InterLiga, America. Hopefully, the outcome will be better for your fans' sake.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Goodbye, Hello

A classy farewell from a longtime Galaxy great.

The arrival of another great may be getting ever closer.

Third place, at least?

Getting ready to watch the America-Al Ahly game. I am pretty sure that Mexican soccer isn't as good as Spanish soccer, especially after that 4-0 scoreline Barcelona dropped on America the other night.

But now America is matched up against Egypt's best and I've got to believe that America is better than Egypt's best. I've got to. But I'll have to wait until 11 p.m. to find that out.

Just have to hope I don't drink too many Tecates from now 'til then.

The Chosen Soehn

Only two years have passed and already Chivas USA is getting its fourth coach. That can't feel good for administration or the players. As pleased and proud as the team might have been to have its guide picked for the U.S. national team, having Bob Bradley leave couldn't have been easy.

Since Bradley has always coveted the USMNT job, he might have tried to soften the blow to Chivas by having an able replacement always in mind.

Eyebrows were raised when DC United assistant coach Tom Soehn pulled out of consideration for the coaching job at FC Dallas. The timing just followed after Bradley accepted the U.S. job. Now that Soehn is in talks with Chivas USA, it might be that Soehn was tipped off that he could have the inside track to Chivas if he gave up on FC Dallas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

America the Horrible

No, not that America.

Club America was thoroughly demolished by Barcelona. Supposedly one of Mexico's great teams, America was utterly thrashed by a club that just might be the best in the world.

So does this mean that Mexican clubs can't hang with Spanish clubs?

I wouldn't necessarily jump to that conclusion just yet. This result simply means that America cannot hang with Barcelona when it matters. Yes, America had that pulsating game against Barca in Houston on Aug. 9, when America had Barca on the ropes until Saviola, Ronaldinho and Eto'o scored in the last five minutes to tie 4-4. This time, Barcelona came out focused and hungry and determined, and a 4-0 scoreline is just.

America... there is much work to be done. Yes, America has a great tradition. One of the best Mexico has to offer in fact. But right now, America is behind Pachuca, Chivas and Toluca, who are clearly the upper class in Mexican soccer.

Boyish Bradley?

Impressions count for a lot. For example, in this recent piece in Newsweek, the author bemoans the state of U.S. soccer, including among other complaints that the national team has settled for Bob Bradley as coach. Besides the dubious premise of using Freddy Adu as a metaphor for the U.S. team, there's a rather odd comparison of Jurgen Klinsmann and Bradley, in which Bradley is referred to as the "bright, young American". The implied contrast casts Klinsmann as the sage, experienced foreign coach.

Except that Bradley was born March 3, 1958, while Klinsmann's birthdate is July 30, 1964.

Bradley started coaching at 22, before Klinsmann even began his pro career (he signed with Stutgart Kickers at 17). Bradley has worked with American players in the college ranks, on the Olympic team, and led three different MLS teams. He has years of practice as a coach, while Klinsmann has had exactly one job in that capacity.

Yet Bradley is the one viewed by some as young and inexperienced. It's baffling.

Pachuca a la gloria

Way back in May, I felt there was some thievery. Pachuca had just won Mexico's Clausura 2006 championship. As they paraded around their stadium with the Cup, I couldn't help but feel a bit irritated.

See, Pachuca had beaten Chivas in the semifinals. Pachuca had lost zero players to Mexico's World Cup team. Chivas had lost six: its starting keeper, two defenders, two midfielders and a forward.

Though I'd still like to see how Pachuca would have fared without six of its starters against a full-strength Chivas side, I can now say I was wrong about Pachuca. On Wednesday, all the Tuzos did was come back from a 1-0, second-half deficit against Colo Colo in Santiago, Chile to win the Copa Sudamericana.

In so doing, they became the first Mexican club to win a South American championship.

It's quite a historic event, actually. No other team, not Chivas, not America, not Cruz Azul has ever accomplished the feat. And they've all had their chances too.

Pachuca, though, is in a class of its own. Maybe this victory can get Enrique Meza on the good side of Mexican fans. Meza will always be known as the guy who nearly cost Mexico a World Cup with his admittedly terrible job at the helm of El Tri. Now, he did something that has never been done and maybe he can shed that bad image.

Tuzos, I apologize for being a non-believer.

Chelsea scouting Sturgis?

Nathan Sturgis didn't start off 2006 looking like a possible target for teams from overseas. Though the Galaxy defender/midfielder had been projected to go as early as a top five pick in the SuperDraft, team after team passed him by, until Los Angeles gratefully snapped him up with the last first round choice, number 12.

Sturgis quietly impressed in the preseason, and started the first game of the season with the Galaxy. He moved along the backline
for the squad, covering at left
back and at centerback.

New coach Frank Yallop saw Sturgis as something else, slotting him in as a defensive midfielder. Sturgis did well there, as his ball control and cool head under pressure emerged as winning attributes.

After the Generation Adidas tour to England, Sturgis was reportedly the player who impressed Chelsea observers the most. MLSnet has the story.

Given that Chelsea has a partnership relationship with the Galaxy, it's very likely that the Blues will continue to monitor the progress of Sturgis.