Saturday, June 30, 2007
However, I pointed out that though Freddy has one cap (late minutes in a friendly versus Canada, back in the Bruce Arena era), it's Michael Bradley that has by far the most USMNT experience on this team.
"I'm looking for Michael to step up," I told Jen. "He has to. It strains credibility that he can play with the big guns and then not bring it to the youth teams."
The only issue would be his lack of familiarity with the U20 players. Yet Michael actually has quite a bit of experience with more than a few of them, going back to residency days. He also played with Robbie Rogers while both were in Holland.
Bradley scored in the U20 team's final warm-up match versus New Zealand, a 4-0 romp than unfortunately cost the team my top striker pick, Johan Smith, who suffered a bad ankle sprain.
Preston Zimmerman is a pretty good replacement, and indicates to me that Thomas Rongen has decided on a plan and a system. Replacing Johan with Quavas Kirk would have added a different element of surprise and versatility to the field, but I think Rongen feels what the team has been doing is working. Adding a two-way player like Kirk would change the set-up slightly, and other players have probably looked comfortable enough in their current roles that Rongen probably doesn't want to reconfigure or shake things up so close to the tournament.
Plus, tournament play, especially on the FieldTurf, could aggravate Kirk's foot injury.
Anyway, besides those other tidbits, my point was that I'm looking for Michael Bradley to be one of the central leaders of the U20 team today. The fact that he scored (closed door match, so no telling the quality of the strike, but let's assume it was decent) indicates the confidence to do so. Michael may not be the captain, but as the most-capped player in the group, he is definitely setting an example.
Houston 1, FC Dallas 1
New York 3, Columbus 2
New England 2, Chivas USA 1
Chicago 1, Colorado 1
Kansas City 3, Toronto 0
Houston 2, FC Dallas 0
New York 1, Columbus 1
New England 1, Chivas USA 1
Chicago 0, Colorado 1
Kansas City 2, Toronto 1
Current standings (win totals only)
Friday, June 29, 2007
I can't say I'm surprised by the move because Chivas USA had an excess of forwards, and someone had to go. Still, though, I have to admit I'm a little sad by this move.
Sad in that Matt had been there since the beginning and put up with all the first-year bullshit, between the losing and the forcing second-division players on the field and all that "Adios soccer" garbage. Matt was a trooper and fought hard.
It's that work-hard mentality that kept him on the club for so long. He essentially had one good game for the club: the 5-1 win over Real Salt Lake in July 2005 where he had a hand in all five goals. But after that he had groin surgery and didn't really recover that year. Last year he was lost in the shuffle behind Ante Razov and Paco Palencia. I was surprised that he made it through the year and that he was here this year.
Preki rewarded his hard work in training with playing time as he had played in every game this year.
This move is one that will clear salary space and, more importantly, a senior roster spot for either Freddy Thompson or Dennis Alas or both. I don't think Preki wanted to get rid of a player who had appeared in every game this season.
The three reference up top is the number of original Chivas USA members on the team: Francisco Mendoza, Orlando Perez nad Brad Guzan.
With that, the club's got some holes to fill but players are confident that the replacements will step in and do fine.
Sports is an expensive venture, especially trying to change the sporting habits of people and their support. When the organization is relatively new, the folding of a professional league is a fate that is never far away. Consider that NFL Europe, through its various incarnations, is actually older than MLS.
That didn't save the league, however.
For all those who disparage MLS, and granted, there are many, many deficiencies - it's hard to encapsulate how much the league has assisted young Americans and their development and visibility in the game.
Yet I've never been of the mind that fans should support MLS out of some obligation. Go to games because you love the sport and the team. If you don't feel that way, don't go. No one can be entertained while doing something out of guilt.
He wanted to warn me, however.
"I don't know if you know Steve Cohen," he said, with the slight nervousness of someone announcing something potentially unpleasant. "But I've also invited him and he's going to be there."
Steve Cohen is the host of Fox Football Friday. He was born in London, and his many years in the States haven't diminished his love for English soccer, which he declares on his show all the time, especially when comparing MLS unfavorably to it. He also has a particular distaste for Landon Donovan, and he is not shy about expressing that, either.
In other words, Steve is like many, many expats and Americans that I know.
Anyway, I ended up sitting between Steve and Ivan, a former soccer buddy of Brad's who greeted me with, "Canales? I sent you an email once - I completely disagreed with you about Klinsmann."
No one fought, not really. Here's a sampling.
Steve: I like soccernet - it's my default page on my computer. Not the U.S. one (the one I, Andrea, write for) but the main world page. That's run out of England, isn't it?"
Me: I think so. It's definitely English-centered, that main page. We're just on a little tab there, labeled U.S. soccer. What's funny is how many English friends I have that will mention that they read soccernet all the time.
Steve: Why is that funny?
Me: Well, because so many of them throw a fit over the U.S. calling the game "soccer", and yet they go religiously to a site that uses that as part of the title. It's a weird contrast, or maybe they've forgotten the word comes from England. Over there, there's shops called Soccerscene and Soccer Store where the English shop, but then they reprimand Americans for calling it by the "wrong" name.
Steve: I'm like that. We were changing some format things about the show, and I said, 'I don't care what else you do, just don't change the title to anything "soccer". We're a football show.' So we stayed Fox Football Friday. Well, ok, we're a show on the Fox Soccer Channel, but it was important to me.
Later on. . .
Steve: Why wasn't Donovan at Copa America?
Me: I thought you just said the reason that you enjoyed the game so much was because Donovan wasn't anywhere near it.
Steve: He's a gutless wonder. Why didn't he want to go?
Me: Why didn't Dempsey go? Bocanegra? Howard isn't going to lose his place at Everton if he plays in the Copa America. Where was Claudio Reyna for one last hurrah? Beasley? Why didn't Mastroeni go?
Steve: Donovan doesn't want to cede his celebrity to David Beckham.
Me: I think he's been dusted on that count already.
Steve: You're a Donovan fan.
Me: I hate those extremes - you're either a Donovan hater or a fan? I can see that he's a good player in many respects and yet I understand that a lot of people feel that he lacks something.
Steve: He's gutless. And the worst part about it is that he's good. He could have been amazing in Europe. If he had stayed, he could have been great.
Me: You're a bigger Donovan fan then I am, then. I never saw him as amazing in Europe. I saw him as a fair to decent player. That's what most of the best Americans are over there. The US is still a team built on pieces working together, not stars. Donovan is a valuable piece, but he's still a cog in the machine, and that's why Copa America is valuable, to get more pieces of the machine running without him.
Steve also mentioned that he'd talked about my articles before on his show, and might say something again about my viewpoints (probably that he disagrees with most of them), but heck, that's what different perspectives are all about.
We settled on the Fox and Hounds pub in Studio City. Brad was stuck in traffic when I got there and found a table in the back. He called to give me an update of how far away he was just as the match started.
He asked if there were any U.S. fans there. I told him that I had spotted one guy in a Beasley "Don't Tread" T-shirt, but the rest of them looked like the usual crowd of expats and hipsters that lounge at the FnH regularly. No one one was wearing a U.S. jersey, for example, and the guys at the table next to me were discussing stock options.
Well, I was wrong, or I just am not good at spotting the underground U.S. fan. Brad was still on the road when Johnson earned the penalty and a cheer went up in the pub. A couple of people jumped off their seats in excitement.
On the other hand, maybe the English expats were thrilled to think arch-enemy Argentina could actually lose to the Yanks.
By the time Brad showed up, Argentina had equalized. There were plenty of nice moments for the U.S., and a few quality plays, but I kept warning Brad that I was worried the U.S. would tire.
"Speed and good teamwork is saving them right now," I pointed out. "The question is, can they hang on long enough to make Argentina nervous? Teams that are anxious make mistakes and that would give Bradley's boys a sliver of a chance."
Just when I was thinking it would only take a bit longer to get to nervous time - Argentina scored.
Frankly, watching in a pub instead of a press box, I understood more completely the undeniable link between alcohol and sports. If the team you're pulling for does well, you want to celebrate, and a soft drink doesn't really cut it. People clinked glasses and ordered rounds for their tables after Johnson scored the penalty.
Of course, when Argentina pulled ahead, a host of long faces looked down at their beer pints and decided they weren't full enough. They ordered more.
"Keep 'em coming," one guy said to the waitress after Argentina tucked away the third goal. "They're not letting up - why should we?"
But then there is drivel like this that comes into my mailbox. I've actually stopped reading ones that come across without a return e-mail. It shows up in my mailbox as an e-mail address as the sender and "mailbag" in the subject line. So when the sender is "(unknown)" I don't bother because usually those are just viscous personal attacks.
This one, though, was sort of like that because I doubt this guy's name or e-mail address is legit. I don't know if he's 12 or was on something when he wrote it and before I zap it altogether I figured I'd share it here (and no I didn't change the spelling or grammar or anything)
Yeah..I have a few coments...
Arg-4 US-1...Huh? Did Donovan and the other so called stars now this was going to happen? Donovan and the rest of the "stars" wld have faced the same outcome...So they beat Mexico..big freaking deal...that call turned the game around, anyone cld see that..but they did make one goal it was nice, but the pk that had citizenship written all over it$$$.. that goal Won the Game for the US.
Come on are the rest of the US "stars" that scared to face the rest of the wrld? There are more teams out there other than mexico you know..How about argentina..Oh! wait they just lost againts them...brazil, Italy, Portugal, France, England, Spain ect.. How are they going to get better? by playing mexico?
So, should your article say the Ref wins the game again..or US falls to another Soccer giant again..efforts not good enouh...not enough pks given...I usto cheer on the US until I started to see all the web sites talking about how they are the next big thing in concaf.. you make socccer look ugly man..just let the players play the game..don't bash anyone until your team can prove themselves..World Cup 06 was not a good showing for the US. They have not proven anything to me that says they are better than anyone..A pk gold cup wow..I like that..how many pks did US get during the cup? Hmmm one to many I think.
I end with this..keep an eye for the future..the mexicans have a great crop of stars coming up..not a lot for US...Fredie Adu or what ever his name is...and Donovans game is only going to last as lond a s his hair line man..so just remember that the players around the wrld do read the crap you write and it only fires them up and when they do play and humiliate your team then what crap will you have to say then.
Later Bueno...wait are you not bashing the wrong team? hmm I cld swear that your name sounds...Oh but let me guess your were born in the states..riiight..hmm and that gives you the right to bash Latinos...pretty sad man...Just remember that good things never last..just ask the red sox...
On opponents' strength alone, the U.S. might find it hard getting results no matter who lines up and plays. A year ago, the U.S. faced the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana at the World Cup. Colombia looks weak right now but Argentina and Paraguay are extremely tough. This group, though, might be just as strong as the World Cup group.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on the matter? Is the World Cup '06 group stronger than the Copa America '07 one? Does the U.S. have a tougher challenge this time around than at the World Cup last year?
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Then the roof caved in. Hernan Crespo scored his second goal of the night in the 62nd minute. Pablo Aimar scored in the 78th and just for kicks Carlos Tevez bagged a goal in the 85th minute and Argentina won 4-1.
Leonel Messi didn't score but he created the match-winning strike when he knifed through the Americans' defense and fed Crespo, who did well to slip it past Kasey Keller. After that, the U.S. had no choice but to look for offense and left gaping holes in the back which Argentina was more than happy to exploit.
What could have been historic instead was a clear reminder that the U.S. needs to play near-perfect games to get results in Copa America. This tournament will be an immense challenge, if that wasn't clear already.
Some of these players will have to mature in a hurry. Others will have to find their form. And everyone will have to play on the same page, with the same effort and the same mentality for 90 minutes if the U.S. will have a chance against Paraguay on Monday.
I may be way off. I might receive a lot of responses calling me crazy... but then again, I can't write one SI column without that happening anyway.
I asked Landon Donovan what he had to say about Bob Bradley and he spoke highly of him:
The mentality of how are we better as a team defensively and how are we on the same page, being connected with someone, helping someone out, that mentality has to get across and now that we have kind of stability, now it doesn’t matter hopefully who you bring in and who you put in. You’re going to maybe lose a little talent-wise here or there, speed-wise here or there but at least we have that mentality and hopefully that makes us successful.
Bob's put his stamp on the team. The top players are not there, but there is quality nonetheless. This isn't the U-17 AYSO Section 27 All-Stars.
US 1, Argentina 1.
USA: Kasey Keller, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa (Mike Burns 16'), Paul Caligiuri, Cobi Jones, Ernie Stewart, Thomas Dooley, John Harkes, Frank Klopas (Tab Ramos 46'), Joe-Max Moore, Eric Wynalda
ARG: Carlos Bossio, Ricardo Altamirano, Robert Ayala, Nestor Fabbri, Marcelo Espina (Ariel Ortega 46'), Gabriel Schurrer, Marcelo Escudero (Diego Simeone 46'), Hugo Pérez, Marcelo Gallardo, Alberto Acosta (Adel Balbo 65'), Gabriel Batistuta
It's funny because I spent a lot of time writing about how Mexico's own best players weren't there but somehow that didn't seem to matter to any of those particular readers.
Criticize Dunga's player selection all you want, I had some of those sorts of responses as well. But to say that Brazil can only win if their best players are on the field is preposterous. If any team has depth to spare, it's Brazil.
Thanks to Paul Cochrane for these pictures of the Galaxy players participating in the Supermarket Sweep to End Hunger - a local charity competition.
What's funny about these pics is that in almost any other country around the world, the tabloids these players are looking at in a couple of these pictures would have at least some stories about players in their sport.
But the U.S.? Well, perhaps the Galaxy guys are just practicing looking at the pages that will probably show a lot of their new teammate, David Beckham.
Club sporting director Predrag Mijatovic said it was a difficult but unanimous decision and that the club felt that Capello was not the right person "to lead Real Madrid into the future given what we want this club to achieve."
Am I the only person who finds this completely strange? I understand the pressure cooker Real Madrid and any European giant is under but to fire a coach under these circumstances is still strange, to me at least. Real Madrid failed in the Champions League and that must have played a role as well, and winning the league title apparently did not offset that.
Can anyone try and justify this firing?
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
No Carlos Salcido. No Ricardo Osorio. No Pavel Pardo. No Andres Guardado. No Jared Borgetti. No Cuauhtemoc Blanco. No Oswaldo Sanchez. No Bofo Bautista.
And what happened?
Mexico played one of its finest games in years. Guardado is obviously still a big part of Mexico's future, as are Salcido and Osorio, but Hugo Sanchez could never call up the rest of those players and the team wouldn't feel their collective absences.
Fausto Pinto, Jaime Correa and Juan Carlos Cacho started and none of them had played any meaningful minutes for Mexico. Israel Castro started. The beleaguered Jonny Magallon started too. But all those players did well.
It's not about the "A team" or "B team" or whatever team. That's implying that there are 11 players worth a damn and anyone else who plays for the team is not good and the team will struggle.
That's why I think the US will do well against Argentina. No Landon Donovan. No Clint Dempsey. No... well, you get the point. The U.S. has some quality depth.
There are more than 11 good American soccer players, and there are more than 11 good Mexican soccer players. The latter thus far has played out as much.
What I didn't know is that Luis was apparently on sometime during the same show as well, at least according to the program notes where the show is streamed and broadcast.
So it's Sideline Views radio, kind of.
Luis: I'm thinking Mexico is falling apart a little. Guardado's one of their best players, and now he's injured, and Borgetti is out. If Hugo Sanchez can't advance the team from group play in the Copa America, his job could be on the line.
Andrea: They'll bounce back. That's how Mexico does things. They get pumped up for big games against big teams when there's no pressure on them. They love to go out there and surprise everybody. It's when they're expected to win that they sometimes break down. Remember the last Confederations' Cup? I swear, that's their modus operandi. They torture their fans with lackluster play for a while, then they have a stunner.
Here's the entire bracket as it stands. It seems that potential quarterfinal matchups are already set, and I hadn't seen that before. As far as the third round goes, there very well could be some upsets. Of the eight games, only two will be hosted by MLS teams as FC Dallas hosts Atlanta and Colorado hosts California.
Other matchups: Chivas USA at Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy at Richmond Kickers, Houston Dynamo at Charleston Battery, New England Revolution at Rochester Rhinos, Chicago Fire at Carolina Railhawks and DC United at Harrisburg City Islanders.
The DC-Harrisburg City match will be at a high school! The others will be played at soccer stadiums or in college stadiums.
As far as potential upsets, I'll have to rely on El Guero's USL-1 power rankings for advice but it looks like New England will have a tough go at it in Rochester. New England traditionally hasn't fared well in the USOC. For the record, Richmond and Harrisburg City are USL-2 teams; the rest are USL-1.
Hopefully there will be upsets. It will make for a more interesting tournament that way.
He was very high on Altidore, and though I partly agreed with him, I pointed out that Jozy hasn't really delivered the goods with the U20 team yet.
But it's hard to argue with his points that Freddy Adu has fallen short of the hype that ensued when he played (and did well) in his first U20 competition back in 2003.
In many ways, we're guessing when we look at young players, and so many different factors go into the equation of success.
Here's a look back at the U17 players I thought would be making an impact for the current u20 cycle. I basically missed on all but one, Ofori Sarkodie, and he's not even expected to start. Granted, Quavas Kirk would have probably been on the squad if not for injury circumstances, but though they're still in the game, David Arvizu (now with Chivas USA), Nick Besagno (still with RSL), and Kyle Nakazawa (still in college, UCLA) haven't seen much time with the U20's at all.
In my defense, I did mention Jozy a little, at the end of the article.
It isn't easy moving, and I'm sure you must be stressed at times. I've had a couple of stressful days lately myself.
Anyway, that's actually when it's the perfect time to hit up the next joint on the list of 99.
Don't worry about the neighborhood around Langer's, (unless Vicki perhaps has a need for an extra identity card - Victoria Bardeles? - that can be bought on the cheap) just jump from the limo right into the time warp that is the actual restaurant.
There's something soothing about the clean, yet utterly un-hip interior of the place, a monotony of brown on brown. It's too staid to even be campy retro, and there's something really honest about that.
No one comes to Langer's to be "seen".
What they do come for is the pastrami. It's divine pastrami; it's pastrami that makes vegans give up their religion and take up Atkins instead. It's pastrami that redefines what pastrami is and renders other versions so inferior you'll wonder how you ever ingested that stuff before. It's tender, flavorful, served up on thick slices of hearty rye bread that is the perfect consistency to handle the weight of an ample pastrami serving without falling apart.
The menu is devoted to different versions of the pastrami sandwich, and some are named after movie stars of the Golden age. At Langer's one can easily believe that those versions were really the favorite combinations of those actual stars.
Langer's is a Los Angeles institution. With the recent passing of beloved founder Al Langer, who always refused to move his restaurant to someplace trendier, one can only hope it remains so.
My favorite combination isn't actually on the menu, but it's easily ordered. I get pastrami on rye with Swiss cheese, and I ask for them to grill the sandwich. They make it perfectly every time.
I love the pastrami, but other touches are nice: the Coke refills in the old-style glasses, and the potato pancakes (it's a Jewish deli, and they know their latkes) are my preferred side order, though the thick, crispy fries are excellent.
Final recommendation: Go. If you're ever feeling blue, Langer's is like chicken soup for the tummy.
The short of it: a Chivas USA assistant, well, he's the team administrator, tried to physically remove a reporter from La Opinion out of the training session. Here's a story from La Opinion on it with a picture to boot!
From my, ahem, Sideline View, I saw pretty much everything that transpired from, well, the sideline. I got to training after a few Spanish-speaking reporters had, guys I'm not familiar with so I figured they were there to talk to Dennis Alas of El Salvador and Freddy Thompson of Guatemala, who are training with the team. Ivan Orozco of the LA Daily News and Jaime Cardenas who is now interning with the LA Times showed up and we were watching the team train and try to figure out how they'll fill the holes in the starting lineup for this weekend's game. Then Cristian Echeverria of La Opinion showed up. He had a small digital camera with him. I guess he had been out on Monday but Freddy Thompson hadn't so he was there again on Tuesday.
Midway through the training session, Freddy was hurt. He sat on a cart on the side of the field, right next to a fence that divides that field and the adjacent one, as team trainers tended to him. I wasn't paying too much attention to it and was talking to Ivan and Jaime when all of the sudden the Chivas USA team administrator starts yelling at someone. He was standing behind one of the goals the team was using and ran off the other side of the fence. At first, I thought a fan had walked back there or something. There were several fans out there but they were behind the parking lot fence. The Chivas official, Kevin Esparza, seemed extremely agitated and was cussing, lots. "Get the F_ out of here" and things like that.
It took me a second to realize that it was Cristian he was yelling at. Apparently, Cristian had gone behind the fence. The story said he was trying to take some pictures of Freddy. As Kevin raced toward Cristian, Cristian started yelling back at him too and telling him he was a reporter and Kevin said something like 'I don't give a F_." Kevin tried to close the gate in Cristian's face but Cristian walked through it and they kept going at it. They started pushing each other and at this point Chivas' goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel intervened and that's the picture that ran with the story.
So it got very quiet, well, except for the Kevin and Cristian. I looked over at the team and they had stopped and were all looking. It was kind of strange and funny at the same time.
Cooler heads finally prevailed. Kevin walked away from Cristian and eventually some other Spanish-speaking assistants went over to Cristian, including Martin Vasquez who is the nicest guy incidentally. But I cringed a little when Cristian yelled over to Kevin about three minutes or so after the two had separated. Apparently, Cristian hadn't gotten it all out his system.
Soon after some Chivas officials came out and apparently took care of the matter.
It caught me off guard because I've not had these kinds of problems with the team before, and I've covered them literally from Day One. It's unusual to see that sort of hostility.
Then, he said heard the same from a lot of people and told us about one particular situation he encountered:
"I left the hotel right after to go get some pizza and I heard some guy, some guy who you knew was definitely not a soccer fan and I heard him on the phone saying ‘Dude, that was one of the coolest sporting events I’ve ever been to.’ It’s just kind of cool to see that. I’m sure there quite a few random people who have never been to a big soccer game before so it’s good to put on a good show and win, obviously."
Regarding Sunday's Gold Cup final win over Mexico, Donovan said the manner in which it came was significant.
“Knowing that we came from behind to beat them was important,” Donovan said. “I know they feel and they’ve said a lot that if they scored the first goal it would be a different game because we always scored first against them. It must have been even more disheartening for them, which is even better.”
I give Marcos props for his honesty. I don't agree with what he did, even given the rationale of modesty and I take issue with the story spinning it as him being completely ignored (I didn't, I told him why I was there, and then tried to get back to my job. Also, he was wearing a towel, a perhaps minor, but important detail.) But I appreciate him admitting the basics of the situation.
Also, I'd add that while Marcos may be very soft-spoken normally, he wasn't while he was addressing me.
Thanks also to Eric at the Off-Wing, who fixed a slight discrepancy in his post on the story (he had it as happening in the Galaxy locker room but if there's any locker room that's used to me being around, it's that one).
Eric also asked if the league had responded and here's what I told him:
Yes, they have, actually. The funny thing is that MLS is really a very media friendly league. There are hardly any primadona players who refuse interviews, for example. I've been contacted by league officials and even the commissioner now knows about the situation.
The Crew press people were very apologetic and at the same time, perplexed when they called me, because they said Marcos is a really nice guy, and that there have been women reporters in the Crew locker room before - at least once, they said, and he didn't seem to have a problem.
But they weren't trying to excuse it, and they said they'd talk to him and the entire team as well.
Really, I'm less concerned about an apology, or any disciplinary measures, than I am about it just not happening again.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
It seemed like he'd fallen off the national team picture completely. Two years ago, he was a star on the Under-20s and was primed for a move to Europe but his development had tailed off and he was eventually traded to Columbus.
Gaven, though, has been around for a long time. He's in his fourth season, so in many ways he seems older than he is. At 20 years of age, Gaven still has a future.
Said Sigi Schmid about Gaven's call-up: "It’s a tribute to Eddie. It’s a tribute to Eddie’s attitude and his ability to handle what he’s gone through and come back. I’m really proud of him."
Luis found out today at Chivas USA training that they have both been offered a trial there.
We'll keep you updated on developments.
They're all hard. Every game you have, you have to play well. They're all a bit different, but all the games are all hard.
I think the pressure will be on Venezuela, because they're the home team. We need to play calmly and with confidence.
Yes, I think the level that I'm at with my team has helped me return to the national team. That's important for any player that plays outside the country. Now we've all come back together to help the team.
"The only thing convincing about that win was that 2 is more than 1."
I think I called it a convincing victory for the U.S., which I think it was. And if you want to argue that the win wasn't convincing, perhaps you could also argue how the 8-0-1 isn't convincing either.
But not all fans think like that. I got an excellent response from a Mexican supporter who summed it up eloquently that I'll save for my SI mailbag for tomorrow night's column.
It's interesting to note that speculation over the European trio of Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio and Pavel Pardo stems from their supposed admiration for Ricardo Lavolpe and that that somehow affected their decisions to skip the tourney and go on vacation. I tend to think that it has to do more because they want to have some rest before they have to report to their clubs next month but there is probably some truth to their respect for Lavolpe.
Pardo pre-dates Lavolpe but Osorio and Salcido were brought in by Lavolpe. So was Kikin. So was Omar Bravo and Andres Guardado and Guillermo Ochoa. That has to count for something, so maybe those players are still in some ways loyal to Lavolpe.
As far as having an affect on the game Wednesday or the whole tournament in general, probably what will hurt Mexico most is fatigue. Because Mexico chose to take essentially the same team to Copa America, Mexico will have a difficult time facing Brazil. I originally thought that six games would be great preparation for Mexico but now it seems to me that Mexico will be playing Brazil on tired legs, and that's dangerous.
Factor in some injuries - Jared Borgetti, Andres Guardado and Alberto Medina are out according to Mediotiempo.com - and the task becomes even harder.
I think Mexico's going to struggle to get out of the first round.
G Brad Guzan
D Eddie Robinson
D Michael Parkhurst
D Jonathan Bornstein
M Guillermo Barros Schelotto
M Carlos Marinelli
M Juan Toja
M Steve Ralston
M Herculez Gomez
F Eddie Johnson
F Juan Pablo Angel
Monday, June 25, 2007
This part was interesting:
Second-half goals by Donovan and Benny Feilhaber gave the Americans a 2-1 win and improved their record against Mexico on U.S. soil to an astonishing 8-0-1 since 2000 – astonishing since you could take all the U.S. fans who attended those nine matches and fit them into a high school gymnasium.
That's because people look at his byline a lot (especially before we had headshots with our articles) and assume he is female. He'd get emails about "Women like you don't understand soccer."
The funniest thing was that he said once some of them found out that he wasn't female - they'd actually change their minds about his points and agree with him.
And a little sad.
Anyway, I appreciated that, and I also want to let blog readers know that I have heard back from league officials affirming the media policy and their commitment to equal access for MLS. They're going to work with the staff of all the league teams to share protocol guidelines.
Hopefully, it won't be an issue for anyone in the future.
Thanks to all those who took the time to share honest opinions.
Thanks to KT for providing some interesting historical context on the situation.
Thanks to DL for his always unique perspective.
Thanks to MZ for the phone call and advice and all the jokes.
Thanks to all the players and coaches who have treated me as just another professional, inside or outside of the locker room, and taken the time to give me the quotes that I needed to try to write good stories. I value that in a whole new way now.
It was kinda funny, though. See, I was meeting up with a friend and his family at Chuck E Cheese today. I woke up early and wrote my Press-Enterprise column early to make sure that I'd have enough time to take my daughters to Chuck E Cheese. It was about 9 or so when I got a call about the radio show and I figured I could squeeze it in so I jumped at the chance.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, I was supposed to go on at either 11:25 or 11:45 a.m. PT but the show producer said he'd call me at about 11 to check in. It was 11:15 and I'm headed to Chuck E Cheese and I hadn't heard from him. I figured he'd slotted me in the 11:45 time slot and that would give me enough time to have my friend watch my girls while I went outside to do the radio interview.
Yeah, well, it's 11:23 or something and I'm pulling up at Chuck E Cheese and the producer calls.
"Hey Luis, can you go on right now?"
"Uh, like in how long?"
"About a minute."
Crap. I was driving around in the parking lot. In order to find parking, get the girls and go inside, look for my friend, ask him to watch the girls and go back outside, I'd need about five minutes. So I had to decide right then and there what to do.
"Are you alright, man?"
"Yeah, I'm just looking for a parking spot." (I wasn't about to tell him where!)
"Okay, we'll put you on hold."
I parked and told my daughters that they had to sit in the car for a little bit while I made a phone call. They complied. I left the truck and the AC running, opened the driver's side door and prayed that there would be no loud noises. The last thing I needed was some gangsta crusing by with loud music blaring from his car. I was right by the 91 freeway so there was some background noise but nothing too bad.
I was patched through to Dave Smith, the show host, and we talked about the US and Mexico. I don't recall what we first talked about because I was a bit worried about my daughters so that part is sort of blurry. But once we got going it went by pretty smoothly.
He asked me about how much it must hurt Mexicans to continue to lose to the U.S. in soccer and then he brought up some of the bad parts of the rivalry - the sometimes-hostile environments and the Osama chants. I tried my best to make him understand that the Osama chants, while inexcusable, were really an isolated incident and as far as I've heard don't happen here. We had a little back-and-forth about that and why fans act the way they act (tossing drinks, fights, etc.). I told him that I thought it just happened when you get 60,000-80,000 fans together who are passionate about soccer and few/many/most of them drink beer and with the nationalistic pride that sort of unwanted behavior comes out. I said it was sort of a mob mentality gone bad. I told him how Landon Donovan has told me before that when he encounters Mexicans in restaurants, stores or anywhere outside of soccer, they all tend to be pretty nice and friendly to him.
He asked me about Copa America and I was a but surprised he did. I thought he wouldn't really care too much about it but it seemed like he did so I told him a bit about the makeup of both rosters (US and Mexico) and that the US was using this tournament to build depth and there were some talented players there and such. We ended the interview and I immediately turned off the truck and got my girls out. They had spent the time playing in their car seats and grabbing stuff from each other and having a good old time.
I enjoyed it. I just hope next time I'm able to talk on the radio from a much more quieter location.
Galaxy exes who have moved on to happy partnerships abound in the league.
If you go to SI.com right now, you'll see me there. Well, you'll see a bold BUENO there, and that's good enough for me. Soccer doesn't get front-page treatment a whole lot but with the Gold Cup final and the US-Mexico rivalry, that's apparently enough to get something on the main page there.
Anyway, that may have led to me being contacted by a national radio show. I'll be on the Dave Smith Show on Sporting News Radio sometime in the 11 am (PT) hour, either :25 or :45. If I recall correctly, Dave Smith used to do a show out here in LA on 1540 and/or 570. Not sure, but his name rings a bell. Then again, it's a common name so maybe I'm confusing him with someone else.
Still, it's pretty cool. I have no idea what they're going to ask me other than it'll be about the Gold Cup final.
Landon Donovan talks in this article about how he gets support from Mexican fans in Los Angeles.
It's true, I've seen green national team jerseys wait for him both at Galaxy practice and USMNT practice.
Just after the draw versus Guatemala this year, when every morning I was clearing my email of messages where the subject line read stuff like "DoNoHeart doesn't want to go to Venezuela? Good riddance!" I was interviewing Landon after a Galaxy practice. We were walking as we talked, and passed in front of the receiving dock for the HDC stadium. A Latino guy stuck his head out of the window of his big truck. "Are you Landon Donovan?" He seemed incredulous. "Yeah," Landon answered. The guy hesitated, as if torn, then he gave Landon a thumbs up and said, "Good job, man!". "Thanks," Landon responded. "Does that happen a lot?" I asked him. He shrugged. "It happens."
I remember once telling Luis that Mexican fans seemed to have more respect for Landon than most U.S. fans. I still think that's pretty valid, although impossible to really measure.
Steve's got good logic working in a lot of his arguments, and I'm guessing that the rationale he puts together for why Ugo Ihemelu was excluded could apply to Jose Burciaga as well.
It still sucks a bit for them, though.
1. New York (6-3-3). And an Angel shall lead them.
2. New England (6-2-4). Pieced together strong, resilient and much-needed performance at home.
3. Houston (7-5-1). Two strong wins against playoff contenders in four days.
4. FC Dallas (8-6-1). While the rest of the league plays 30 games, FC Dallas will play 40 regular season games... somehow... or not, just seems like it.
5. Kansas City (6-4-2). The anti-Dynamo, at least for this week; two bad losses in five-day span.
6. D.C. United (5-4-2). Of all teams, RSL exposed DC United's weakness: shoddy defending.
7. Chivas USA (5-4-2). An angry Preki cracked the whip on 'em; players went from airport to training field or gym.
8. Toronto FC (4-7-1). Suddenly, the next month away from Beemo seems very long.
9. Columbus (3-4-6). I have seen him in person now and I'll say this: Barros Schelotto is a god.
10. Colorado (4-6-3). Is time running out on Fernando Clavijo?
11. Real Salt Lake (1-5-6). Robbie Findley will make people forget about Jeff Cunningham.
12. Chicago (4-6-2). Sara-canned; despite what players felt, firing was just. Results dictated it.
13. Galaxy (2-6-3). Uh, did someone say firing? The question is, will Frank Yallop actually get to coach David Beckham?
Here's the post-game audio of a bunch of us talking to Sigi about the game and the season.
3) FC Dallas: Toja and Co. finding their mojo again to prove West lead is no fluke.
7) DC United: DC didn’t wake up against
12) LA Galaxy: Every team in the league knows a set piece versus LA is a golden chance.
He sent me an email (I got his permission to print it here), with a tale that crystallized for me why I wanted to tell my story of the Marcos Gonzalez incident. I don't think a young Steve Davis meant to be insensitive to his fellow reporter - I think he just wasn't expecting what happened. If you have time to think about what you would do in such a given instance because you've heard of such things happening, you're more likely to respond with exactly that.
Just read on Sideline Views what happened. Got even
more PO'ed about it when you said you felt "lousy."
I guess I can understand that, but ... man, it sucks
to feel lousy when you certainly didn't do anything
I'm increasingly upset about the MLS locker room
policies as it is. Some teams just kind of make up
their own rules. I'll go by whatever MLS wants... I
just want them to spell out a league policy and stick
What happened yesterday just says once again that lots
of people don't understand the locker room policy (or
basic code of conduct, it seems) of their own league.
When I was about 27 or 28, I was inside a football
locker room when a revered coach said something sexist
and just plain stupid to a female reporter. I really
didn't know her, so I just said to her "Oh, forget
him," or something like that and went on with my
business. In retrospect, what I did was reprehensible
as a reporter. I should have written about what he
said, got it out in the public, and then accepted the
consequences if any of my male reporter friends wanted
to get all uppity about it. I promised to never again
let somebody get away with something like that.
So, I'm also a little ashamed that nobody around
stepped up. I know you can take care of yourself, but
in that situation, a little support goes a long way,
making you feel less out-manned, you know.
Anyway, sorry, I just wanted to type a short note
of support. Got steamed and a little carried away.
If there's anything I can do in an effort to get MLS
toeing the line again on locker room access/conduct,
please let me know.
But Sanchez isn't the only one under fire. So too are the players who have begged off from the Copa America. One article put together a comparative list of European-based players who are participating in the tournament.
Argentina: Abbondanzieri (Getafe), Roberto Ayala (Valencia), Zanetti (Ínter), Gabriel Milito (Zaragoza), Heinze (Manchester United), Burdisso (Ínter), Luis González (Porto), Mascherano (Liverpool), Cambiasso (Ínter), Gago (Real Madrid), Aimar (Zaragoza), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Crespo (Ínter), Diego Milito (Zaragoza) Carlos Tévez (West Ham).
Bolivia: Juan Manuel Peña (Villarreal), Ronald García (Aris de Grecia) Gualberto Mojica (Pacos Ferreira de Portugal).
Brasil: Helton (Porto), Doni (Roma), Maicon (Ínter), Daniel Alves (Sevilla), Gilberto (Hertha Berlin), Juan (Bayer Leverkusen), Naldo (Werder Bremen), Alex (PSV Eindhoven), Gilberto Silva (Arsenal), Mineiro (Hertha Berlin), Fernando (Bordeaux), Diego (Werder Bremen), Anderson (Manchester United), Fred (Lyon), Robinho (Real Madrid), Vágner Love (CSKA Moscow) Afonso (Heerenveen).
Chile: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Pablo Contreras (Celta de Vigo), Rodrigo Tello (Sporting de Lisboa), Jorge Vargas (Salzburgo, Austria), Matías Fernández (Villarreal) Mark González (Liverpool).
Colombia: Iván Córdoba (Ínter), Amaranto Perea (Atlético de Madrid), Mario Yépes (París Saint Germain), John Viafara (Real Sociedad) Edixon Perea (Bordeaux).
United States: Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg) Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven), Jay DeMerit (Watford).
Kyle was angry at himself for not taking advantage of the opportunity, but it's interesting that his response indicated that there is no clear penalty hierarchy on the Galaxy if Landon isn't present.
"I looked around and no one really seemed like they were stepping up to the ball. I switched sides at the last second, which is a cardinal sin when you’re taking PK’s and let my team down. If I’m going to step up and grab that ball, I need to make sure I execute and capitalize for our team. I apologized to the guys after the game. I take that very seriously. I’m not going to forget this one. I hope there are plenty of opportunities in the next game to make up for that mistake."
"It really comes down to whoever is feeling it at the moment. That lack of someone stepping up after Landon really showed in the lag after the PK was given – seeing who was going to take it. When someone steps up, they need to put it away. It happens. I need to move on and make sure it doesn’t happen again."
Kyle also confirmed that the loss to Columbus, his former team, stung worse than the norm.
Kyle also confirmed that the loss to Columbus, his former team, stung worse than the norm.
"Of course it hurts a little extra to lose to those guys. Anytime I lose, I feel terrible. This is terrible times two."
I mentioned to Luis some of what Jazic had said.
He asked, "Did you tell Jazic you thought the offsides call was actually valid?"
Well, no. But even before the tournament started, I called Canada as the team to threaten the U.S. and Mexico for the title. I agree with Jazic on that point absolutely.
“That’s what Cannon always does. I’ve told the league referees about that, and they’ve never done anything about it. They don’t watch, and they’re never going to call it."
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I had left it on SportsCenter to see if they showed anything on the game but I can only stand so much college baseball so I gave up on it.
So I'm left with a heavily-weighted-toward-Mexico coverage or heavily-weighted-toward-games-I-don't-care-about coverage.
I should have just gone to sleep.
Rico's increased effectiveness is due partly to his continued maturity on the field. He's been a talented player for a while, but he's also gotten smarter about how he plays and he's kept his temper under control without putting out his competitive fire. All those elements are crucial to his improved game.
"La base del éxito es el respeto y la humildad, junto con el trabajo,"
"The base for success is respect and humility, combined with work."
I hadn't considered the eerie similarity between Maxi Rodriguez's goal that knocked Mexico out of the World Cup last year and Benny Feilhaber's strike that knocked Mexico out of the Gold Cup on Sunday.
Okay, I'll put it up for debate. Who scored the better goal: Maxi Rodriguez or Benny Feilhaber? State your case.
In case you need to compare them...
and now Benny's
The game completely surpassed expectations I had for it. Dramatic saves, clutch goals and a world-class strike. Mexico gave it their all but it wasn't enough. At the same time, the U.S. showed why they are the best team in this region.
Bob Bradley's decision to sub in Ricardo Clark was fantastic. I guess Andrea spotted something in Clark that many of us hadn't. Clark and Feilhaber in Copa America suddenly doesn't seem too shabby for the U.S.
I wrote this up after the match for SI.com. I tried to do the game justice but I don't know that that was possible.
It reminds me that reporters for some Spanish language outlets will root for teams openly in the pressbox, and the English ones will glance over in amazement, because that's not done in the U.S. game. So there are definite differences.
In 1999, she covered a game between Dallas and the Galaxy. I went, but watched the game from the stands.
She wasn't allowed into the Burn locker room. She ended up talking to one player outside the locker room, I believe it was Matt Jordan, but that was it. She also was in the Galaxy locker room and several players made an issue of it.
That was the fourth year and the league was still trying to find its footing. I hope that now, in the 12th year of the league's existence that this is an isolated incident.
Does he have the right to feel uncomfortable? Yes. Does Andrea have the right to be in there? As long as the locker rooms are open to reporters, yes.
If a player is uncomfortable for whatever reason, he has recourse he can take. He can go to a coach or another person of authority or he can go to a team PR person, which is probably the best recourse, since their job is to deal with the media.
What he should not do is confront the reporter and put his hands on said reporter. Marcos Gonzalez did, and that's wrong.
None of the Crew players I spoke to, (Grabavoy, Moreno, Hendrickson), acted inappropriately, but what surprised me in addition to what Marcos Gonzalez did, and I'm not sure it was related, was the way others on the team reacted, especially when I called out to EZ for an interview. They acted like I'd propositioned him, or something. Now, I'm willing to figure that was teasing EZ more than me, but it was still strange, and completely unnecessary. "Settle down, boys," said Ezra, ever the gentleman.
The two incidents added up badly and left me feeling lousy. Luis tried to cheer me up by taking me for a post-deadline Denny's dinner. Damian Calhoun of the OC Register joined us and apologized (he was there when Gonzalez was getting upset at me) for not comprehending what was happening.
Today, Rob Ziegler, my TopDrawerSoccer editor, called to make sure I was fine and to clarify the events, since he was one of the outlets I was on duty for at the time. He blogged about the whole thing as well.
Reporting is usually you and the computer, not so much in the way of coworkers. I have editors I work with who I've never met. But it's nice to know that colleagues care and wish you well.
(Minor aside, I think Rob misunderstood when I told him that I knew Hendrickson as always being good for a quote when he was here in LA. I didn't actually mean with the Galaxy - I didn't cover the Galaxy back then - but with Chivas USA. Hendrickson was with the Red'nWhite their first year in the league, and even when they lost badly, Hendrickson was willing to talk to reporters about the situation. EZ is class.)
I'm not sure what someone means by saying it doesn't pass a journalism litmus test - is there such a thing?
Suffice it to say, after games, I have multiple stories to write, and I need to get comments quickly. Per MLS policy, the locker rooms are open after the official press conference. Since the Crew had beaten the Galaxy shorthanded, player reaction was extremely important, so when the official word was given that the Crew locker room was open, I only stayed outside their door for a few comments from Sigi Schmid before following a couple of other reporters inside.
Once inside, I recognized Chilean defender Marcos Gonzalez. He looked startled to see me, but that's not unusual, especially among Hispanic athletes, who don't see a lot of women covering sports. He had a towel wrapped around him, and that followed the mostly covered up rule, so I started to approach him, thinking it would be good to ask him about Guillermo's addition to the team - from a South American perspective. However, he had the weirdest look on his face as I got closer, so I changed my mind and decided to interview instead. Ned was across the room, so I turned my back on Gonzalez and walked away from him, to where a couple of other reporters were stationed in front of Ned's locker. Incidently, Ned had a towel, too. I placed my recorder in front of Ned and waited my turn to ask a question.
Suddenly I heard Gonzalez calling out, "Miss, miss," in Spanish. Next thing I know is not only had he crossed the room to where I was, but he had taken a hold of my elbow and was trying to steer me out the door. He told me, in Spanish, that he didn't feel comfortable with a woman in the locker room and that I needed to leave right away. None of the other reporters knew Spanish, so they didn't know what he was talking about, because I was trying to ignore him. He raised his voice and pushed my shoulder to get my attention. In Spanish, I told Gonzales that I needed locker room access and that I was there to do my job. It didn't faze him - he countered with an offer for me to interview players outside or to come back in after everyone was dressed.
I shook my head and he began to rant about how unreasonable I was being, how he couldn't get dressed with me in the room, etc. I pulled free and tried to get back to my interview. Gonzales kept yelling at me. No one did anything. In hindsight, I was so shaken up, I didn't process that he was speaking Spanish most of the time, and they could have not realized what was going on. He actually switched to English at one point, saying "Not here, you must go outside, now."
I was extremely uncomfortable, and yet I was only trying to do my job. Finally he went away.
Here's the thing where the "God wants modesty" argument falls flat. Players can easily be modest. In the locker room towels are abundant. Players will often come out of the showers with a towel wrapped around their torso, and just pull both their underwear and their pants on before pulling the towel off. It's not that hard, and no one sees anything that one wouldn't see on a public beach. Some players who might worry that a towel could drop off at this maneuver just come out with the towel wrapped around themselves, grab their pants and underwear and go back around the corner towards the shower (no such thing as shower access to the media) to put that on quickly before returning to the locker room. The visitors locker room has a coaches room off to the side that a player could duck into if he's extremely shy.
But even if all that fails, if the wrong moment absolutely happens and a towel drops just as I'm looking around for someone to interview, I think it's crap to pull out the "I've sinned in the eyes of God excuse" and that justifies trying to force someone from doing their job. Come on, if a friend is visiting and walks into the wrong bathroom at the wrong time, is that anything like cheating? What if all the male reporters in the locker room are gay? Do they get a pass on the assumption that that isn't true?
Think about it. You're at work, trying to do your job and someone comes up to you and starts yelling at you to get out, to go away. You'd be completely calm? You'd think that was fine, acceptable behavior because they don't want God mad at them?
I had a hard time focusing after that, and had trouble even remembering what questions I was going to ask. I left quickly after my last interview, since I still had to get quotes from the Galaxy. I forgot completely that I'd been hoping to talk to Guille about joining MLS and helping the Crew.
"Hola senorita," said a quiet voice as I stalked out of the locker room. I didn't turn around, or respond, because I just wanted to get out of there. Only when I was already out in the hallway did I think, "Hey, that might have been Guille, and I was just kind of rude because I'm so upset. Damn it."
In the U.S., locker room access is granted to all credentialed media, usually ten to fifteen minutes after a game concludes. Frankly, I wouldn't mind a mixed zone, which is how international matches function, but that's not the way it works in American sports.
A press credential specifies basic rules (no autograph requests in the locker room), but there are powerful unspoken ones as well. Generally, the media will approach players who are covered up somewhat. Usually this means they have their pants on, or a towel draped and tucked in around their waist.
Sometimes, players will refuse to speak to the press. That's understandable, and it's not hard to move on to another player for quotes. Other times, a player will ask for a minute to get ready, especially when a TV crew is hovering nearby.
Without going into a blow-by-blow of the incident, Marcos Gonzalez yelled at me to get out of the Columbus Crew locker room last night. I didn't leave when he asked, but it made for an extremely tense outing. I've only had that happen once before, when Dema Kovalenko ordered me out. I didn't go, and Dema only had that one comment, but nothing else comes close.