Thursday, May 31, 2007


I was going to hold off on posting this audio clip of an interview I had with DaMarcus Beasley from today but he said too many interesting things to keep in from you guys.

I knew beforehand he was not answering any questions about his club status so I didn't bother to waste my time asking about that. Instead, we talked about Bob Bradley, playing in MLS versus playing in Europe, his own expectations for himself this year and Landon Donovan.

Delightful DeMerit

Jay DeMerit could be bitter about the opportunities denied him in the U.S., but instead, he became proactive and things worked out in his favor.

It does make one wonder about other players slipping through the cracks.

HDC is a palace

The entire Home Depot Center facility, from the main field to the training grounds, the locker rooms to the gym, is great. But what makes it stand out from the rest of the country is who uses the facility.

I showed up at about 10:30 today for USMNT training. I interviewed several US players, including DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra. Then, I walked to another training field with Andrea as well as Bob Holtzman of the LA Newspaper group or whatever they're called to another training ground. We talked to Preki and then walked over to Galaxy training where we caught up with Frank Yallop and Landon Donovan.

We pulled off the treble! Three teams in one day, hell, in 90 minutes.

Where else can you do that here in this country?

Of course, the US will leave us behind soon enough so we have to take full advantage while we can.

Two for the show

Bob Bradley said last week that he was figuring on 8-12 players for both Gold Cup and Copa America.

Go ahead and fill two of those slots in.

I asked Preki about Brad Guzan and Jonathan Bornstein and their participation in both tournaments and Preki said that both would be on the United States' Copa America roster.

Benny back in Bruin country

It's probably especially nice for the California boys to make a national team camp, train at the top level and perhaps catch up with their peeps in the off-hours.

Who knows, though, the Midwest guys probably enjoy the sunshine just as much and might even appreciate it more.

Anyway, here's a shot of two Bruin boys on the move - Benny and Bornstein.

Donovan can't win

If Landon Donovan plays well for the national team, like he did against Ecuador, it's "Why isn't he in Europe?"

If he fails to score, it's, "Why is he in MLS, where his game is getting dragged down?"

It's not enough to score the most goals for the Galaxy in 2006, it's "Why didn't Donovan save them from missing the playoffs?"

If he wants to stay with the Galaxy to help them make the postseason in a year in which the team is under more scrutiny than ever before, it's "Why is Donovan too wimpy to play in the Copa America?"

My view is that the national team will only get stronger if it learns to play games and even tournaments without Donovan. It's not that I don't think he's talented, but it doesn't make sense to me that so many rail on Donovan's inconsistency and then insist on relying on him at the same time.

Why not develop other options, take some pressure off Donovan and yet push him to keep up at the same time?


Aside from the first week of preparation for the Gold Cup, the current USMNT camp is sort of a reunion of the old Chicago Fire.

Bob Bradley, Peter Nowak, Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra have been present at camp all week. The Fire enjoyed three seasons with this particular bunch intact, the best of which was the first season they were all together - in 2000, when the Fire reached MLS Cup.

Here's what Jesse Marsch had to say about the former Fire players, all of whom have moved on from Chicago.

"That’s cool. It’s good to catch up with all these old guys. We certainly had some great times and some great games back in the day. Peter said to me today ‘You wish I was still playing’ and I said ‘Yeah, I do.’ It’s good. We all had a lot of respect for each other so when we get together again, it feels nice to see people, catch up and then get back on the field and get after it a little bit."

The next signing

The Galaxy was quick to sign Abel Xavier despite the international transfer window still weeks away.

For whatever reason, the Galaxy's next target is not quite as straightforward as Xavier's own deal. But the club hopes that someone will arrive sometime after June 15 to add punch to a struggling forward line.


Under Steve Sampson in 2006: the Galaxy whimpered out of the gate. If Landon Donovan wasn't scoring goals or setting them up, it seemed like nobody would. The Galaxy had a paltry seven points before he left for U.S. national team duty. When he returned, he found a new coach waiting with open arms.

Under Frank Yallop in 2007: the Galaxy whimpered out of the gate. If Landon Donovan isn't scoring goals or setting them up, nobody is. The Galaxy has a paltry five points with one game remaining before he leaves for U.S. national team duty. When he returns, will he find a new coach waiting with open arms?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The first time

I interviewed DaMarcus Beasley, though he's still not talking about Europe. I asked about his debut instead.

"I’ll never forget it. It was against China. We tied, no, we won that game (it was a 2-1 result). That was my first cap. It was in Oakland. Hopefully we can have an even better result this weekend."

Guevara lands

at Motagua.

Please note that midfielder Amado Guevara has been loaned by Major League Soccer to Club Deportivo Motagua of the Honduran First Division for the remainder of 2007, effective May 15, 2007. Guevara was officially removed from Chivas USA's roster on May 11, although the club continues to maintain the player's rights.

Moyes on vacay

Everton coach David Moyes stopped by the USMNT practice to check out his player, Tim Howard. I'm assuming that's his son next to him. Moyes is discussing something with USMNT manager Pam Perkins, who was brash enough to confess to Moyes that she's actually a Chelsea fan. Pam is also from England - I forgot where specifically, though.

Head honcho

Jim Moorhouse, director of communications at US Soccer, mentioned a blog item to me today while I was waiting to interview players. So now people inside the federation are reading us, at least on occasion.

Also, look who gets a mention in the minute-by-minute account of a U.S. team practice. Here's a hint - it's not me, as I'm hardly ever early to anything.

Blue versus yellow

The USMNT scrimmage was a nailbiter today. I didn't get there in time for the whole thing, but when I did arrive, I was struck by the fact that Bob Bradley was observing while camped out inside the goal of Tim Howard.

Maybe that intimidated the yellow team a little bit, as they fell behind early. Clint Dempsey scored at least one goal for the Blues, who were firing against Kasey Keller, who is a lot more vocal than Howard is in organizing the defense.

But the yellows pulled back to tie, thanks to goals by Chivas USA teammates Jonny Bornstein and Ante Razov. Razov's goal was a beaut - pinging in off the inside of the post.

Bradley decreed that the next goal would win, and the intensity of the match ratcheted up.

"Come on!" Oguchi Onyewu exhorted his Blues teammates. "We don't lose."

Lee Nguyen, on the opposing squad, said something right then to Gooch, but I couldn't catch it. Whatever it was, it provoked Gooch to reach over and give a good-natured tousle of Lee's hair.

A couple of chances were shut down, for both sides, one with a vintage Keller save on a shot by Dempsey. Carlos Bocanegra held off a Blues breakaway and then became the hero for the Yellows when he buried a low shot to the corner of the goal.

Gooch wants, Gooch gets

I had a rather abbreviated interview with Benny Feilhaber today, partly because of Oguchi Onyewu. I had to wait until the team finished a lifting session, but then Jim Moorhouse, USSF communications director, helped me flag down Benny.

Since the players were leaving in vans to the hotel, it was a walk-and-talk sort of interview, where the reporter has to be sure to roll tape and watch for curbs. Going by the distance to the vans, I was trying to make sure all the important questions were asked by the time we reached the parking lot.

But then brakes squealed nearby as a driver swerved into a sharp u-turn. Gooch pulled a rental van beside Benny and me. "Benny, you're being summoned," Gooch said.

"I'm doing an interview," Benny protested.

"Benny, get in," Gooch insisted. "We need the numbers - we're short."

I assumed that each van had to pull out with a certain amount of players, to ensure that the last van wasn't stuck with 15 players needing a ride. I didn't want to be the reason for Benny getting on Gooch's bad side, so I told him to go ahead and he hopped into the van.

As it pulled away, I had the odd feeling I'd seen something similar take place before, in a movie about a kidnapping.

The boy wonder

Ok, he's not that young any more, but Lee Nguyen is nearly the youngest player in the USMNT camp right now.

The soccer prodigy from Texas was used to that situation.

"Growing up, in high school and national teams, I’ve always been with older players. All my friends – I pretty much grew up with older players. I’m friends with everyone here. Even back home, I’ll hang out with players older than me. It’s different (hanging out with his peers). Even at PSV, all the players are older, too. It’s just something I’m used to."

Pekerman in Mexico

Former Argentina national team coach Jose Pekerman was at one point believed to be in the mix for the USMNT job. He had - and still has - all the credentials necessary for success.

But the US instead chose Bob Bradley and Pekerman was left out. Now, Pekerman has found a team: los Diablos Rojos del Toluca.

I still think that Pekerman could have done a great job with the US and it would have been very interesting to see him with the U.S. There is quite a bit of excitement right now because a new coach has the team just before his first tournament but I think that excitement would have been multiplied had Pekerman been in charge.

Aging Ante

When I talked to Ante Razov about the U.S. national team call-up on Tuesday, I figured he'd be happy but that it would be a tempered happiness. It was, not surprisingly, the exact theme of our conversation. He was happy to be part of the team, would be willing to help out the squad and Bob Bradley in whatever way possible but recognized that he was not part of the future and was okay with all that.

From my story:

"Most national teams around the world don't have many 33-year-olds playing on their team," Razov said. "If the national team in the future is relying on a lot of guys 33, 34 or 35 years old, then we might be in some trouble."

You Tube and MLS

Just got this press release on a partnership formed between MLS and YouTube.

Some of the highlights:

-- Major League Soccer (MLS), the premier professional soccer league in the United States, and YouTube, the leader in online video, today announced a strategic content and advertising partnership that will see MLS game and featured highlights uploaded on a dedicated channel,

The agreement will enable users to access video highlights of MLS regular season and playoff games, which will be available within 24 hours after the end of the original broadcast, in addition to other on and off the field footage and features.

“The worldwide exposure provided by YouTube provides a tremendous opportunity for Major League Soccer to extend our footprint in the new media landscape,” said Mark Abbott, president of Major League Soccer. “This is a platform that our fans requested, and we are excited to join forces with such an innovative company.”

“Soccer has one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases in the world and we are excited to work with MLS to provide fans on YouTube with compelling new content,” said Jordan Hoffner, head of premium content partnerships. "Today’s agreement is yet another example of how major sports leagues are embracing YouTube as a means for distribution.” --

I just hope this doesn't mean they'll put an end to regular fan videos such as those great ones from climbingtheladder.


Brad Guzan will probably be with club - not country - on Saturday. Chivas USA does not have a league game but they will play a friendly at the Seattle Sounders, former home of both Maykel Galindo and Preston "Stone" Burpo.

But since both Tim Howard and Kasey Keller will be available and will likely split time the first two games of the Gold Cup, that leaves Brad Guzan the odd man out.

Strong in the middle

One thing Bob Bradley harped on last year with Chivas was strength in the middle of the field. Now that he's the US coach, he still has the same philosophy and has a pair of strong central defenders that will serve as anchors in the middle of the field.

Carlos Bocanegra, a former Bradley player in Chicago, and Oguchi Onyewu are strong and experienced and one of the reasons why the US should do well in the Gold Cup.

Bocanegra is more polished and more experienced internationally than Onyewu but both players are capable of performing at the highest level. I expect to see other players in central defense throughout the tournament but Bocanegra and Onyewu will play together when it matters the most.

Chivas USA trio

Okay, well, there were actually five Chivas USA players out at training on Tuesday. But two of them are on the Gold Cup squad - Jonathan Bornstein and Brad Guzan. The other three - Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch and Sacha Kljestan, were called in to help the squad prepare for China and begin the initial preparations for the Gold Cup.

And they weren't the only members of Chivas USA out there.

Jesse's Resurrection

Maybe Jesse really is Jesús, a little, or at least a bit of a rising phoenix, as I believe the gap he may manage between caps, if he plays, is six years.

That's a pretty impressive comeback, even given the unique situation of the China game.

Basically, Beckham's comeback has nothing on Jesse's.

Kasey likes it!

Kasey Keller may not be Bradley's starter for the Gold Cup opener, but he still seems to be enjoying himself in camp.

He had never been to the Home Depot Center stadium and complex before this camp. He seemed to like everything about the facility in Carson, though he did point out that it is slightly isolated from a major top-choice hotel where the team can stay nearby.

"You’re not playing at El Camino Community College and just saying that you’re a professional franchise. You now have a facility that matches the term “professional”. As MLS continues to grow and move in that direction with their stadiums, it’s going to add a lot to the league in perception and what people can associate with going to watch professional sports. That’s why people go to professional sports. It’s because it’s something that’s above anything they could achieve. If they think, “My little Johnny plays in the same stadium as these guys,” it doesn’t have the same effect. Now that you can come here and maybe play tennis or watch practice and see what you can aspire to – that’s what professional sports is all about. It’s about that dream and this shows that the dream makes sense."

"I would like a Ritz-Carlton right about there (motioning across the street) and then I’d be a lot happier. As long as we don’t hit too much traffic, staying where we’re at in Manhattan Beach is pretty cool. The only thing is that you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you have to travel so much to get back and forth to get to your training site. As long as you can keep that travel time down, then it’s great. Obviously, it's great knowing you can come to Southern California any time of the year and not worry about the weather and just do what you need to do – and that’s training as hard as you can."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kasey a Keeper

The past, present and future of US goalkeepers as Kasey Keller, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan run through drills on Tuesday.

Kasey Keller has made it no secret that he would like to play in Major League Soccer. But he's also made it clear that he won't take just any offer. In fact, he told Andrea that he received an offer from a Romanian club that was twice as much as an offer he received from MLS.

Down but not out

Clint Dempsey takes a knock during training but stands up, no worse for the wear.

Gooch shots

Oguchi Onyewu is every bit as imposing in person as he is on television.

More dissent

Now, I couldn't tell what they were saying but I think it went something like this:

Shaggy-haired dude: 'Yeah, he put Colorado at number one.'
Bob Bradley: 'Is this accurate? Did he really put the Rapids first overall?'
Computer guy: 'I'm afraid that's what it says right here: Memorial Day rankings and it's got Colorado number one.'
Mike Sorber: 'The Colorado Rapids? At number one? What's this guy on?'
Peter Nowak: '
What a joke. Where this guy at? I kick his ass.'


The customary post-training sprints.

That's how the teams were divided today for their short-sided games.

After all these years

Kasey Keller is still making dramatic saves.

Quick pic

I've got to run off, but I wanted to post one pic of Jesse Marsch, back in camp with the national team for the first time in six years. Jesse has one cap all-time and one of the guys he was tangling with in the scrimmage he's known since the kid was three and first kicking a ball.

Startling Real-ization

Real Madrid and David Beckham seemed to be on the outs with each other in January and February. But Real's rise to the top coincided with Beckham's inclusion in the starting lineup and subsequent stellar play.

It's no surprise then that some are wondering if he can stick around.

SI's Grant Wahl was in Madrid for Saturday's match and provides his always stellar commentary. He also brings up some dates that could conflict with England's schedule, including Nov. 18. The way the Galaxy is playing leads you to believe that the Galaxy stand no more of a chance than Tampa Bay to play in MLS Cup but with Beckham on the field the Galaxy's odds figure to rise.

The other games, though, will include the Galaxy. Home games against Colorado, Chivas USA, Toronto and New York could be played with Beckham in Europe somewhere. That would suck for the fans who bought those tickets with Becks in mind but it's a risk you take in soccer that is unique to soccer.


I had some things to post about Ramon Ramirez's retirement and pictures and such that I took on Saturday. I was all set to write up the story early Sunday morning for MLSnet when I saw they'd translated the Spanish version instead, so that took the wind out of my sails. Sunday and Monday were both busy days for me outside of work; I had my girls with me both days. So I chose to spend the time with them and with some extended family on both days and wasn't around the computer very much at all.

At this point, the US has arrived and the well-informed Andrea was quick to check up on the USMNT for our benefit. I'll probably be out at training on Tuesday bright and early (I'm hoping to squeeze in a morning workout, hopefully the usual 20-minute stairmaster, 20-minute precor routine) so there will be plenty to post tomorrow.

Anyway, I'll be doing a better job of keeping all of you informed about the goings-on with the USMNT, so keep an eye out for that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

El Equipo de Mexico

I spent part of my Memorial Day morning writing and the other part keeping Yvie and Kennedy from crawling all over me and my computer. Sometimes, dealing with that pair can be quite a challenge. Okay, well, most of the times it is challenging but I'm working on it...

Anyway, the writing part is not as difficult I must say. On Monday morning, I figured I may as well write something on the Mexican league for The Press-Enterprise since I doubt many other newspapers around the U.S. would have picked up on the incredible soccer story that unfolded south of the border on the weekend.

Actually, at first, I was meaning to write about Cuauhtemoc Blanco and how Sunday was his last game for America before 'Temo joins the Chicago Fire. But after pondering on the relevance of his move versus the importance of Pachuca's championship, I instead chose to follow the Tuzo angle.

Pachuca is easily the class in Mexico right now. There is no debate. Every other team is so far behind, there shouldn't be a number two. Pachuca's glory takes up spots Nos. 1 and 2 as far as I'm concerned.

I'd go into the arguments but I'll just post the link to my PE story on Pachuca so you can read for yourself.

In short, however, Pachuca is strong regardless of who is in charge. The club has won five titles since the Invierno 99 season, and five different coaches have been in charge. Pachuca is hardly the base of the Mexican national team and, in fact, have only role players on El Tri (though Juan Carlos Cacho could change that).

Chivas, America, Pumas and Cruz Azul may take all the glory but Pachuca will gladly take the hardware. The four most popular teams in Mexico have combined for six titles since Mexico went to the current short-season format in 1996. Pachuca has five on their own since then. Toluca also has five but Pachuca gets the nod over los Diablos Rojos because it is Pachuca who became the first and only Mexican club to win a South American tournament.

I don't know about anyone else but to me July 24 (Galaxy-Pachuca at HDC) can't get here fast enough.

Much Ado - not Adu-related

In a way that's reminiscent of how Beckham's contract, instead of being reported as simply 5 million plus incentives, was listed everywhere as $250 million (the upper limit if all incentives and sponsorships maxed out), Alexi Lalas' recent words about David Beckham were mischaracterized all over the world.

Lalas never said Beckham couldn't play a friendly on a FIFA-approved date. He went out of his way to say Beckham getting called up was a wonderful thing. He said that the Galaxy would be willing to release Beckham for competitive matches, but not for every friendly that came along, because his club needs him.

Of course Lalas was aware that clubs need to be FIFA-compliant on official dates set aside for friendlies, (notice there are only two listed for all of 2007) but he also knows that many friendlies aren't on those days. For example, the U.S./Denmark match that kicked off the Bob Bradley era.

How, "We don't want Beckham to play in every friendly" becomes "We will defy FIFA and keep Beckham from playing" well, just ask Pete Vagenas how easily press can spin quotes a certain way.

But FIFA couldn't resist the impulse to flex authoritative muscle, stating that all clubs must release players on FIFA international friendly dates.

Duh. Talk about making a story of a non-story.


The arrival of Blanco looms ever closer.

The latest issue of Futbol Mundial has an article I wrote about his coming.

Old moves versus current moves

Some more food for thought regarding Frank Yallop's tenure with the Galaxy:

In many ways, Frank Yallop was given a free pass by fans and the media. So tremendous was the lack of support for Steve Sampson that the Galaxy could have brought in anyone with a pulse to take over and it would have seemed like an upgrade. However, look at the first offseason Sampson had with the team to the first offseason Yallop has had with the team and judge for yourself.

The following played for the Galaxy at MLS Cup 2005 or were on the team then that were not on the club when Steve Sampson took over in August 2004: Ugo Ihemelu, Todd Dunivant, Paulo Nagamura, Naldo, Pando Ramirez, Pablo Chinchilla, Troy Roberts, Landon Donovan, Herculez Gomez (he actually got a ring in 2002 but he was well off the radar before training camp in 2005), Alan Gordon (though he was drafted by Sigi Schmid, Sampson was high on Gordon from the start).

The following played against Colorado or are on the roster in some shape as I type that did not play under Steve Sampson: Joe Cannon, Ty Harden, Ante Jazic, Santino Quaranta, Kevin Harmse, Nate Jaqua, Robbie Findley, Ian Russell, Abel Xavier, David Beckham.

Now, Sampson gets no more credit for the Galaxy acquiring Landon Donovan than Frank does for the Galaxy landing David Beckham. Those moves were made at the highest levels.

Ihemelu, Dunivant, Nagamura and Gomez were key parts of the 2005 double-winning team and are all key contributors with Colorado, New York and Chivas USA right now. In their place, the Galaxy has Harden, Jazic, Harmse and Jaqua. The jury is still out on the Harmse-Nagamura comparison but I'll take Ugo, Dunny and Herc over the other three players any day. Jazic is a solid player but I don't see how you can consider him an upgrade over Dunny.

Quaranta is Memo Gonzalez reincarnated, except he actually plays. I can't believe Ian Russell can be much of a factor one way or the other this season. Findley is young and we'll see how he pans out. In many ways, Findley and Harden could be this year's Ugo and Herc so only time will tell how those moves pan out, but Ugo's absence has thus far created a void in central defense that has not been filled.

Chris Albright too was a key part of the 2005 team and Yallop reportedly tried to deal him. If it wasn't for a Lawson Vaughn cross early on the May 20 game against Chivas, Albright might be sending crosses to Mehdi Ballouchy and Freddy Adu right now. Albright is a big loss now would have been a big loss had he been traded regardless of who they would have gotten back in return.

Another tidbit: Frank Yallop's overall record with the Galaxy is 10-10-7. Steve Sampson's record after 27 games: 10-10-7.

Frank talk

Before the season I had picked the Galaxy to finish in second place in the Western Conference. I know there is a lot of games left to be played but that is looking like terrible pick right now. Seven goals and one win from six games is not the start the Galaxy had hoped for.

I had faith in Frank Yallop. I questioned the Joe Cannon trade but figured that Frank Yallop knew what he was doing. I felt that the Galaxy's issues had little to do with Herculez Gomez, Ugo Ihemelu and/or Kevin Hartman, but if Yallop saw fit to send that trio out of town, I guess he knew something we all didn't.

Still, it's hard to see the success those three players have had and not question Frank Yallop and Alexi Lalas. Colorado has 15 points and is in second place in the Western Conference. Kansas City has 16 points and is in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Galaxy have one more point than Real Salt Lake.

Ihemelu and Gomez give Colorado athletic ability and eagerness to learn and succeed. Hartman gives the Wizards value that goes beyond his on-the-field success; his years of experience and leadership are an asset to Kansas City.

Although I think the moves have thus far not gone in the Galaxy's favor, there is still a lot left to the season and perhaps Joe Cannon will be the reason why the Galaxy succeeds this year. Still, those moves are killing the Galaxy right now. It's not so much Joe Cannon's fault the Galaxy is in it this year but he has hardly been a difference-maker save for the first Chivas game. And when I hear how the club desperately wants for Alan Gordon and Gavin Glinton to get healthy, I think of the seemingly always healthy Herc and I cringe.

And for those who think it's too early to start talking about firing Frank Yallop (not that I'm a part of the Fire Yallop campaign, if one exists) I will say this: for a team that fired a coach in first place and two years later fired a coach that led the Galaxy to a double, it's never early to talk about firing coaches around here.

Memorial Day rankings (May 28)

1. Colorado (4-2-3). Will challenge for Western crown all season.
2. New York (5-1-2). Juan Pablo Angel is easily the Red Bulls' best offseason acquisition.
3. Kansas City (5-2-1). How scary will this team be if Eddie Johnson can keep his play at this level all season?
4. New England (5-2-2). What was that?
5. FC Dallas (5-4-1). All losses have been by shutout.
6. D.c. United (3-3-1). Did what they needed to: beat a crappy opponent at home.
7. Chivas USA (3-3-2). This team ain't half bad. Now, they just need a few more pieces to vault to the list of contenders.
8. Chicago (3-4-2). Blanco can't get here soon enough.
9. Columbus (1-2-5). Five ties in eight games won't get you to the playoffs.
10. Galaxy (1-3-2). Why did the Galaxy trade Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu again?
11. Toronto FC (2-5-1). The first tie in club history! Uh, okay, so that's not too momentous of an occasion, but a road point is nice for them.
12. Houston (2-5-1). Imagine what this team will look like when they lose some players for the Gold Cup.
13. Real Salt Lake (0-3-5). A shame such fervent support is wasted on such a bad team.

Amazing Gracie

I've already told my story about playing on a boys' team. I don't want to make it seem that dramatic, though, because honestly, it happened partly because I went to a very small school.

Though I never had huge aspirations to play at a high level, I quit soccer varsity during my sophomore year of high school. I was out of all sports for a good while because I'd suffered a back injury. It didn't happen while playing soccer, but for a long time, it would swell up if I tried to play again.

Anyway, the story of Gracie is actually based on Elizabeth Shue's own experience. According to an LA Times feature on Shue, though, her story didn't have such a happy ending. She quit the game partly due to the pressure and lack of support for a girl competing side-by-side alongside boys.

Thanks to the magic of the movies, however, Gracie gets the happy ending.

For Galaxy fans, alum Andrew Shue also has a role in the film.

Some coaches, even ones for the national team system, question the dedication of females to the game.

"Most of them don't play after 22," said one. "They haven't cultivated a real love for the sport."

While I agree that some players get pushed so hard that they burn out, I don't think it's coincidental that there's really no place for good female players to go at 22, except for rec soccer.

A little credit

The LA Times' Grahame Jones was asking reporters in the press box on Saturday night if we were going to the U.S. training today. He said he'd be there, and a few other reporters indicated they'd go.

I wasn't too jazzed about messing with my Memorial Day plans, but I finally ventured out. I did miss most of the training, though (you can probably tell by the pics, no?), so please don't ask me who looked good during practice.

Turned out that Scott French was the only other journalist there. Both of us wondered, "Where the heck is Grahame?"

Hey, at least I was there for a little while. Luis was probably busy watching the Mexican League final.

More camp pics

In the top pic, Jay DeMerit and Frank Simek look closely related, somehow.

The second pic shows the players kicking it up into another gear.

The final pic has all the six-footers lined up.

Off on the right foot

I'm not sure why the Chivas USA player contingent (minus Brad Guzan) was jogging seperately with Peter Nowak. I'm also not sure why they were running barefoot. Nowak always does that, but it's the first time I've seen other players join in.

New blood

Kamani Hill and Lee Nguyen are two youngsters Bradley has called into the national team camp. Both made the Euro jump straight from college, with no stop in Major League Soccer on the way.

For those who can't spot them in the pic, Nguyen is wearing a yellow mesh over his jersey, and he's jogging next to DaMarcus Beasley. Hill is the player jogging between Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra.

If you don't know who Dempsey and Bocanegra are, you're probably on the wrong blog.

There's another blog -

On the U.S. national team camp. This one is all official, seeing as how it's run by U.S. Soccer itself. They're being coy about new players Bradley has added to the squad, but I'm going to spill the beans on at least a couple of them. That's as soon I finish a short article I'm writing about that.

Not sure if my stealing a little thunder will bother anyone at U.S. soccer - but they'd have to admit they read our blog first.

Hi Neil!

Bease mum on Europe

DaMarcus Beasley wasn't taking any questions about his playing situation in Europe.

He talked to Scott French about another topic, but I'll let Scott's piece cover that.

It won't be out for another month, though, because it's going into the new MLS magazine Scott edits.

An interesting piece of info that DaMarcus mentioned, however, was that Chivas USA had made his brother Jamar an offer before the MLS season started.

Bob's in charge

Bob Bradley opens camp for the first time as the USMNT's head coach. Bye, bye interim tag!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Family ties

In the Chivas USA locker room after their win over FC Dallas, I spotted Bob Bradley. That wasn't too unusual, though I didn't try to interview him. The local reporters know Bradley won't do interviews when he's visiting Chivas. He probably doesn't want to distract from the team. It's not as if Bradley won't talk to anyone who says hello, but if a recorder is turned on, he'll smile and shake his head.

The locker room visitor who surprised me was Michael Bradley. I didn't get to find out if he's willing to do interviews, because he was basically passing through. By the time I confirmed from the other side of the room that it was definitely him, he was headed out the door.

I know he's probably just hanging out with his dad while waiting for the national team camp to start, but I think that's enough to officially start a "Michael Bradley to Chivas USA" rumor, perhaps.

But when I asked Preki what players the team was looking to add, he didn't exactly name defensive midfield, where Bradley plays. For that matter, Preki stopped in the middle of the interview to give a fist bump and backslap to Paulo Nagamura for his work on the night, so he seems pretty happy with him.

"Most likely offensively – we’re looking for someone who can create," said Preki of Chivas USA's new add-on.

Oh, and to get the rumor mill pumping again in a different direction, Preki specifically said that he'd like to sign Zinedine Zidane.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tense moments

So here I am at the Chivas USA-FC Dallas match. It's about a quarter-hour until kickoff and I'm a little anxious about tonight.

It really has nothing to do with the outcome. I'm not expecting an attractive match.

No, my anxiety derives from my car. See, I don't have season parking passes for Chivas USA games. The Galaxy got us all parking passes the week before the season opener but here we are in the fifth home game and I still haven't gotten Chivas parking passes. So, without a parking pass, I was forced to park on Victoria Street. I hope that when I go out to my car after the match that it is still there.

I have a bit of a history with stolen cars and MLS games. I covered a Galaxy-Dallas playoff game in October 1998 at the Rose Bowl and my car was stolen right out of the Rose Bowl parking lot. That was a terrible ordeal. Really, to have your car stolen anywhere is terrible but to have it happen while I was covering a game was something else. I've had about four of my cars broken into but only the one that was completely stolen.

I had a friend who used to go with me to a lot of the Galaxy games I covered. I converted him into a soccer fan. Anyway, it was just the two of us for that game (it was on a Thursday night I think) so after I was done with interviews and filing my story (I think the Galaxy won 6-1) I walked out to the parking lot and my buddy Caesar was there. He looked at me and said "It ain't there." I answered "What ain't there?" and he said "The car. It ain't there."

Sure enough, the car was not there. I don't know what anyone would have wanted with my '84 Toyota but whatever it was they decided to help themselves. I lived in Riverside at the time as I do now so I had to get from Pasadena to Riverside at 11 p.m. with no car. I was lucky that Caesar's aunt was nice enough to drive from Riverside to Pasadena to come get us.

I was a mess. I liked that car, even though it was old as crap. I learned to drive stick in that car and I went everywhere in it. It was my first official car, the first car that my parents hadn't driven before me. It turned up about five days later, completely stripped. Assholes took the steering wheel even. Everything was gone: engine, seats, tires.

I recovered from that loss eventually. I had a string of crappy cars afterward but I made it work. But I worry about that happening again. I try not to leave valuables in my cars and try and park it in relatively safe areas.

So tonight, while I watch Chivas-Dallas, while I interview players and file stories, I hope that my car is still there when I finish.

Impossible is Nothing

David Beckham has returned to the England squad. In honor of his accomplishment, since it's no small feat to change the mind of a man like Steve MacLaren, here's video of David's Adidas ad, where he discusses overcoming difficulties.

Week 8 picks

Another week is upon us. As the season grows older, it is still somewhat difficult to gauge some teams. Houston is bound to wake up, but they're at DC who is also bound to wake up; well, I guess they are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes while Dynamo is still battling some sort of hangover or something.

With that, here are our picks.

New England 2, Kansas City 0
Columbus 1, Toronto 0
DC United 2, Houston 1
Colorado 2, Galaxy 1
Chivas USA 1, FC Dallas 1
Chicago 0, Real Salt Lake 0


New England 1, Kansas City 2
Columbus 1, Toronto 1
DC United 1, Houston 1
Colorado 2, Galaxy 0
Chivas USA 2, FC Dallas 1
Chicago 0, Real Salt Lake 1

Current standings (win totals only)
LB - 16
AC - 8


The first leg of the Mexican league final went to Pachuca, 2-1. But the outcome could have been different if Guillermo Ochoa hadn't botched what should have been an easy save attempt.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Landon on Copa

I interviewed Landon Donovan on March 14th. I had been at the Chivas-Red Bulls friendly that afternoon and had my daughter Yvie with me. I was all set to go home when Andrea showed up and so I decided to go to Galaxy training. Had Andrea not gotten there, I probably would have just gone home because the prospect of spending too much time out there with Yvie is not fun. She's 3 and liable for meltdowns.

Anyway, I talked to Landon Donovan about the summer. Actually, we talked a little bit about the friendlies they were set for (Ecuador and Guatemala) and then moved on to the summer schedule. This is the audio link of the interview where he told me he would consider passing up on Copa America.

The noise in the background is some sort of construction and Yvie is also there making noise.

Sigi the skeptic

In addition to the injury report on Chris Albright, it also looks like Gaven Glinton will be out of commission for a while as well. Glinton got the famed Ulrike Muschaweck procedure, apparently.

Most people are pretty impressed with the German hernia doctor, but I recall that compatriot Sigi Schmid was less so when the subject was brought up.

"It doesn't seem like they really fix it sometimes," he said. "I think it's mostly bunk."

I don't know if anything in particular soured Sigi on the popular technique.

Si se puede

Ok, Spanish-speakers and wanna-be's, who can figure out what Tyrone Marshall thinks is the best approach to shutting down Herculez Gomez this weekend in Colorado?

Albright on injury

Well, the worst fears were confirmed today. Chris Albright is out 4-6 months. What a bummer. His US hopes are gone, at least for the rest of the year I would think. Best-case scenario seems a comeback in October but by then the season will be close to completion, and that's best-case.

Here's audio of the interview a group of us had with him at training on Tuesday.

Serbia and Montenegro

Someone reading the blog checked in from Serbia and Montenegro. They were a big story at the 2006 World Cup, although they didn't advance past the group stage. That's because the two regions had agreed to become independent countries, but since the team had qualified for the World Cup as a combined team, they would play out one final competition under the same flag.

That's like a couple who decides to break up, but after they both take part in a good friend's wedding or something. It's a little weird and uncomfortable.

Since I don't know whether our visitor checked in from Serbia or Montenegro (I'm guessing Serbia, because Montenegro is really tiny), I'm adding both to the roll call.

Girls push for New Zealand

The inaugural U17 World Cup for girls is coming up, and the U15 camp recently showcased some of the younger players pushing to make the squad. In their last scrimmage match, they took on the Camarillo Eagles U17 team.

'Gers story

I was so tired when I filed my Galaxy/Rangers story that I forgot to link it.

After I turned off my recorder, I asked Tyrone Marshall if he'd gotten a chance to hang out with any of the Rangers players. Ty admitted they'd invited him out that night and had asked him all about which clubs to go to. He'd given suggestions, but said that he couldn't go out because he had a game coming up (Colorado).

Landon talks about summer schedule

Here's audio of my interview with Landon Donovan. I don't normally watch Fox Soccer Report so I don't know if they used any of it on that show.

This is from Tuesday, May 22. I asked him first about Rangers. He starts talking about the Gold Cup and stuff about a minute and a half into it or so.

Easily the fake

Last week, I was listening to the Howard Stern show - my favorite radio program - and they played their weekly Gossip Game with National Enquirer's Mike Walker. It's simple, really. Mike Walker gives four celebrity stories, usually juicy stories, but only three of them are true. Howard, Robin Quivers, Fred Norris and Artie Lange then try to guess which one is the fake.

Last week's was the easiest one that I've heard to date. The items were:

- David Beckham was in Las Vegas for the one-year anniversary of Red Rock Casino, won a large amount of money at a poker or blackjack table (I forget which one) and left the dealer a $25,000 tip.

- Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson were not afraid anymore to be photographed together publicly.

- Yoko Ono was on a private plane recently and disliked the food so much that she called a stewardess over and spit the food into the stewardess' hand.

- Paris Hilton broke a $5,000 vase at a hotel owned by the Maloof brothers (owners of the Sacramento Kings) but did not pay for it because she said it was an accident.

I didn't care what the other three were; there was no way possible that David Beckham could have been in Las Vegas recently. None. Maybe this summer but not now.

Artie and Fred guessed correctly that the Beckham story was the fake but they used their own reasoning. Artie said that Englishmen were horrible tippers so that Beckham couldn't have possibly left such a large tip and Fred agreed. They talked briefly about Beckham's salary (Mike Walker said "I believe it was three years, $250 million") but otherwise they didn't go into Becks too much.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Back in the show?

My editor Jonah Freedman reported today that the San Jose Earthquakes might return to Major League Soccer as early as 2008. It seems that Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff is anxious to get the team up and running, which is a good thing.

I don't want to get my hopes up because MLS has been close to several venues in the past (Cleveland, Rowan, etc.) and nothing has come of it but this seems legit. The passion for soccer in Northern California exists. I've had a taste of it first-hand.

In 2005, I decided to take a trip to the Galaxy-San Jose game in late June, the first game that Landon Donovan played in San Jose as a member of the Galaxy. It was cool. My wife and I made a weekend out of it and stayed in Cambria the night before as we drove up the coast. Now, driving up the coast of California seems cool but it's actually a very winding drive through some pretty narrow roads. Had I known better, I would have turned back around from Cambria to take the 101 back up instead of taking State Route 1 but you live and learn, I guess. I must admit the scenery was nice, though.

Anyway, I was severely underwhelmed by Spartan Stadium. It was a dump. The field was way too narrow, even more so in person. The facility was outdated and didn't seem Major League in any way. The "locker rooms" were portables back behind the stadium and were a long walk from the field. Then, you pretty much had to do interviews in plain view of fans and security and everything else so that made it feel more like a college or high school event than anything.

The game was a letdown on the field and pretty much lacked drama. San Jose won 3-0; two of the goals were own goals. The atmosphere was great, however. Before the game, fans burned effigies of Landon and some kid walked away with Landon's head, well, off some sort of Landon piñata or something. I had been talking to some 'Quake fans over the phone the week leading up to the game but I forget the supporters group name. I got some contact info from Soccer Silicon Valley; I remember that much. They were nice and very well informed. Each and every fan I talked to knew pretty much all there was to know about the history of the Clash/Quakes.

I hope San Jose returns to MLS. We'd welcome back some much-maligned but well-deserving fans and it would be an excuse to make a few road trips for Galaxy and Chivas USA road games, except I'd take the 101 up north next time.

Veris back in backline

Kyle Veris hadn't seen the field for the Galaxy in a while, but he got the start versus Rangers.

"When I got the call, I was really excited," said Veris. "I tried to do my job and make a good impression."

On the goal that got by him.

"A lot of things went wrong on that play. I should have been a little tighter on that play. It was a good finish - the type of play that they like to run. I should have done better, for sure. In close games like that, those mistakes can't happen, and that's what's been happening to us. I didn't do the job I really wanted.

Lesson learned.

"You've got to find you man quicker. Get your hand on somebody and man up. "

Goalkeeper Steve Cronin, though, was hoping Veris would remember that when he calls for a ball, he means it. Early in the match, we in the pressbox were puzzled to see Veris head a ball away that Cronin had come out for.

Cronin didn't understand that, either.

"I called him off of it. The ball was coming right to me. Kyle, I guess, because it was a low service, stepped in and headed it out for a corner kick. First and foremost, if I call the ball, I should get it and he should leave it alone. But he did what he felt comfortable with, which I don't really have a problem with - I just wish he would have put it out for a throw-in instead of a corner kick, as well."

Naldo is back in town

Ednaldo da Conceicao, that is, the ill-fated Brazilian striker for the Galaxy that Steve Sampson brought in. He didn't last long under Yallop. I guess he liked LA, because he's still around. He was out on the practice fields of the U15 girls national team game I covered, as the guest of some youth club he's working for.

Here's a picture from back in the day.

Live-blog - Bradley conference

You can no doubt listen to the entire podcast later on the U.S. Soccer site, but here's a quick update until then.

Gardner gets the last question, wanting to know under what circumstances Bradley would deviate from his preferred 4-4-2.

"Going forward, we will look to have some flexibility in terms of taking advantage of our better attacking players," says Bradley.

Ives Galarcep asks about Jonathan Spector.

Bradley mentions that he's known about Spector since his Chicago Sockers day.

I'm on! I ask if Bradley has a best case scenario for the two tournaments this summer.

"We're setting out to defend the Gold Cup championship, " says Bradley.

Then he moves on to address Copa.

"Whenever you go into those situations, the starting point is to advance. After you get out of the group stage, anything can happen."

Glen Davis asks about the pressure of the coaching job.

"We understand the importance of getting results on the day," says Bradley.

Rob asked about Michael Bradley.

"He's shown in camps this year that he's one of the young midfielders that we want to continue to work with. He posseses a good understanding of the game," says Bradley of his son.

Billy Witz wants to know if the Galaxy have been involved in player discussions with Bradley.

Bradley says he's talked to Yallop and Donovan.

Gardner asked about players in both tournaments - he wants names.

Long, long pause from Bradley.

"I'll mention . . ." then he says, "No, it's best not give specific names, but it's more than a handful of players and it's both MLS and European players."

Gardner presses, Bob finally coughs up specifics on "8-12 players are involved."

Gardener can't hear him and Bob ends up repeating the number twice, practically yelling it the last time.

Bob Holtzman of the Daily Breeze just asked about Landon Donovan playing in both tournaments.

"There's a group of players that are on both rosters. We all understand it's our responsibility to put together a good roster for both tournaments. We understand that it makes for a difficult calender, but the discussions that have gone on across the board."

"I'm always hopeful to have Landon as part of our team. He's very important to what our team is doing."

Someone just asked about Michael Bradley.

Papa Bradley said the plan is for Bradley to play with the u20's not in the Copa America.

The USMNT bullet

The Gold Cup roster was both anticipated and dreaded by some MLS teams. Losing players at this stage can really affect results.

The Galaxy dodge too much damage, Chivas USA get a glancing blow, the Revs take it on the chin.

GOALKEEPERS (3) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach)
DEFENDERS (8) –Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (8) – DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (4) – Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

Milan campione

In honor of the Champions' League title, Rachel shows her loyalty to the colors of Milan.

She's as surprised as anyone about that first goal from Inzaghi.

I think that goal was the heartbreaker for Liverpool, though there was still plenty of time left in the match.

Actually, I wore this same shirt once to the Home Depot Center.

I was standing outside the main
gate, waiting to interview a member of the U.S.women's national team, when

Galaxy players passed by as they finished training.

Landon Donovan had an odd look on his face.

"Is that a Bayer Leverkusen

"No. AC
Milan," I told him.

"Bayer Leverkusen - does that bring back bad memories?"

He just smiled.

Thursday pick

Fire-Bulls. An Eastern Conference duel is on tap for Thursday.


New York 2, Chicago 0


New York 1, Chicago 0

Dave 'fesses up

Turns out Dave Denholm did write out Landon's intro to his podcast show. Dave was at the Rangers match and stopped to tell me that he'd read my blog post about it.

The funny thing was that Dave said, when he was writing out the intro, was that it was a bit of an insider joke to himself to reference Bruce Arena, because he has criticized Bruce.

Dave said he thought, "No one is going to get this as funny, except for maybe Andrea Canales."

So he got a kick of me getting the irony.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Galaxy-Rangers running blog (2nd half)


Sorry didnt have a chance to update the blog. Had to actually write and do some work.

79 - Rangers counter; Gow to Ferguson but shot went wide

78 - Adam hit a 50-yard shot that nearly caught Cronin napping; Cronin had to push the ball out of bounds while backpeddaling

76 - Gow nice through ball to Kris Boyd but Boyd put a miserable shot on goal as it went well wide

70 - Burke shot, Cronin stood firm and knocked it clear

68 - Another dangerous possession for Galaxy but no one can make the final pass and Rangers clears ball

68 - Galaxy corner, Quarante takes it, Sturgis shot from 15 yards, McGregor dives and parries ball away

66 - Andy Webster nearly turns ball over inside his own area

62 - Cobi had space to shoot from 22 yards out but fired a shot well wide of the goal

57 - Game's opening up a bit, Galaxy corner kick after Cobi raced down right flank and won a corner

55 - Alan Hutton sent the cross in, Boyd hit it, not the cleanest shot but it went into the back of the net nonetheless

55 - RANGERS GOAL: Kris Boyd scored, knocked it in from 12 yards out

53 - Rangers booking; Ian Murray for kicking the ball at Kevin Harmse on a dead ball

52 - Randolph nice move on Hutton, got free down left flank, cross cleared away by McGregor

50 - Ian Murray leveled Donovan, no card; Charlie Adam did the same to Cobi Jones moments later, no card

47 - Quaranta down injured, walks off, comes right back on

Two subs to start the second half:

Galaxy: Landon Donovan in, Robbie Findley out
Rangers: Alan Gow in, Nacho Novo out

Galaxy-Rangers running blog (1st half)


45 - One minute of stoppage time so the teams can kick the ball around and get nowhere

41 - Burke floated dangerous ball into Galaxy area but Marshall cleared it away

37 - Ian Murray fouled Harmse 27 yards out, Galaxy free kick; Quaranta hit the wall

36 - Burke danced around in area with the ball but shot deflected off a teammate and rolled harmlessly to Cronin

34 - Novo had the ball deep inside penalty area, couldn't turn around, ball skipped over end line

33 - Quaranta booked for dragging down Alan Hutton

32 - Haven't forgotten to update, just not a whole lot going on

22 - Chris Burke cross, Cronin got his fingertips on it before Kris Boyd got to the ball

19 - Santino sent Cobi nice pass down right flank, Cobi couldn't get a cross off, Adam cleared it, Galaxy corner

17 - Santino breakaway, GK well off his line, kicked ball clear from 15 yards out

16 - Tyrone Marshall shielded Barry Ferguson from a slow-rolling ball that eventually went over the end line; Marshall knocked Ferguson over

15 - Adam 22-yard shot goes well over crossbar

12 - Nacho Novo free in area for a second but handled ball with his arm

10 - Veris gave away corner kick; Veris headed a ball that was going right into Cronin's arms; on ensuing corner kick, Charlie Adam's header went just wide

5 - Rangers free kick on left flank, Kris Boyd fouled on the play; Rangers swing ball over to right flank, Alan Hutton with cross, Steve Cronin plucks it from mid-air

3 - Not much going on thus far. By the way, I'm told that there are seven subs allowed for each side. Rangers has six players listed as reserves for tonight's game so maybe Walter Smith will get some time on the field.

I wasn't going to do this but what the hell?

Game on. Lineups are below.

Lineups for Gers-Galaxy

Rangers: Allan McGregor; Alan Hutton, David Weir, Karl Svensson, Ian Murray; Chris Burke, Barry Ferguson, Kevin Thomson, Charlie Adam; Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo.

Galaxy: Steve Cronin; Ian Russell, Tyrone Marshall, Kyle Veris, Ante Jazic; Cobi Jones, Nathan Sturgis, Kevin Harmse, Mike Randolph; Robbie Findley, Santino Quaranta.

Cien por ciento

All or nothing. I saw this Chivas logo on this vehicle on my way to the game today. This is a little of downtown LA, by the way. My theory is that the tradition of Chivas in Mexico appeals to so many people because it's such an established tradition that they have never fielded a non-Mexican player. It's black and white, that custom. It's a point of pride for many fans.

Whereas Chivas USA is - well, definitely different. It's kind-of-sorta Mexican, not pure, not one-hundred percent. I'm not sure the team has established the appeal of that yet.