Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Value for pay

Forget Beckham. That game was amazing. Anyone who didn't show up just because David wasn't there missed out. This one was historic. The goals came so fast and furiously - it was incredible.

First there was LA's dominance, than Dallas' grit to fight back, then LA putting the screws in again - and Dallas still not giving up. Wow.

Anyone still think Dallas fans deserve their money back?

Dallas-Galaxy blog

90+ Dallas goal! Abe Thomson heads in off a McCarty corner kick. Wow. This SuperLiga match just tied an MLS record. The most goals ever scored in an MLS game was 11, the Galaxy versus Colorado 7-4 back in, when else, 1998.

90 + Galaxy goal! Donovan on the counter - passes to Pavon, who gets on the board for his first Galaxy goal.

90+ Ruiz wanted a call in the box, but Xavier played it smart.

90+ Although the match looks close, because it's not elimination, Dallas needs to win to advance, so they need two goals still. Galaxy just need to tie.

90+ This time the bounce goes Ruiz' way. He scores! The shot deflected off a sliding Ty Harden, giving Cannon no chance.

90 Five minutes of stoppage - Dallas header hits crossbar. So close.

89 - Off a corner, Cannon makes great save, but the Galaxy get lucky as the rebound goes through Carlos Ruiz' legs.

87 - Donovan made the goal down the middle look like he could have done that all day. Just so controlled, simple and easy.

85 - Donovan gets a yellow for taunting the crowd. I don't think he was ever popular in Dallas per se, but they hate him now for sure.

84 - now the crowd is alive! Donovan scores on the counter and does the cutthroat move - to shush the crowd.

83 - Galaxy nearly counter, Kirk just misses.

81 - Dallas goal! Toja gets it to Alvarez, who sneaks it in near post.

77- Goal - Dallas! Galaxy corner - cleared out. On the counter, a bad Galaxy backpass by Vagenas gets picked off by Oduro and he passes to Toja, who gets his goal. Cannon is down.

75 - Galaxy knocking it around, but Dallas gets a corner, cleared out.

70 - Oduro beats Harden, but Harden puts it out for corner. Dallas looking so much younger and trickier right now, though the scoreboards says Galaxy is dominant.

67 - Morrow checks his watch, as well he should. Dallas needs a play, quick.

66 - Toja is freaking everywhere. Dallas corners are testing the Galaxy's weak spots.

62 - I agree with the comment that this game is going to see a red. Dallas is frustrated, and too many Galaxy players have a yellow.

61 - Galaxy with a stretch of possession. Wow - it had been a while.

58- Toja pass to Alvarez, who tears up the right side, and Jazic is forced to chase and tackle from behind. Yellow to Jazic.

56 - Toja beats Kelly Gray, who is already committed to the tackle, and then gets called for a yellow.

55 - Dallas sets up right at the Galaxy box for a full minute before a shot goes wide. Cannon is pissed at his defenders.

53 - Actually, it's Dallas who looks good now - especially Alvarez. I've been gushing over Toja, but Alvarez is having a break-out year.

52 - Why can't the Galaxy play like this when I cover games? It's depressing to go to the locker room after a loss. Everyone is chipper after a win.

49 - All Dallas, all the time, but they need to score soon.

47 - Wow - Cannon with a great stop, then Ruiz nails a bicycle kick, but he's offside.

2nd half

Richetti is having a row with the officials - he's lucky he doesn't get a yellow. Alvarez did. Gordon got a yellow too. I'm not sure what for - the matchtracker says game disrepute.

Dallas fans furious - Toja down in the box, but the ref says it was a dive. He was close to the play, though.

45 +Galaxy fight off a corner, now face a free kick.

45 - it's a big uphill climb, though, and the Galaxy can counter all day, like they just did now with Donovan, who was stoned against Sala, but beat Adrian Serioux badly.

43 - Dallas really needs to s- and they do! Alvarez scored on a header from a Drew Moor cross.
It makes all the psychological difference, because the Galaxy were getting a little complacent with their big lead. Now Dallas has a charge.

40 - Game has settled down. Carlos Pavon is warming up. Frank Yallop might want to save Gordon.

37 - Now it's Alan Gordon's turn to run into a high kick from Saragosa. Goes down.

36 - Incidently, the team the Galaxy scored eight goals against? Dallas. That was the high-powered 1998 LA team.

34 - Ty Harden hipchecks Carlos Ruiz, who initiated the contact by running into him, but Harden didn't back down or give way. Ruiz down hard.

33 - This match won't count in the MLS record books, though, because it's not an official league match. So even if the Galaxy tie their MLS record for most goals scored - 8, it won't be a record.

28 - The Galaxy have let a four-goal lead slip away before, versus the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003, but that was on aggregate. I don't think they've ever lost a match when they've led by four goals. I'm not sure any MLS team has.

26-Morrow makes another first-half sub. This coach isn't giving up on this game. He's throwing his team forward. Rhine out for David Wagenfuhr.

25 - Maybe the Galaxy is getting the hang of this dealing with extra Beckham scrutiny.

24 Ruiz earns FK - right at top of box. Toja takes, cleared out.

20 - Ricardinho subbed out. Don't know if he's injured or if Morrow wants to reel this game back quick or save Ricardinho, or what.

18 - Wow - Harmse with a goal. They are bringing the hurt heavy this time.

17 - Three goals in fifteen minutes - that could be a Galaxy record.

15 - Galaxy score! Jazic with a nice cross to Alan Gordon, who heads it beautifully into the goal. Who needs Beckham? The Galaxy are putting on a clinic.

14 - Yellow to Harmse - a crunching tackle on Toja.

13 - Take heart, Dallas fans, it's not as if the Hoops haven't come back from multiple goals down before.

12 - Klein scores! Landon beat Bobby Rhine and laid the ball off to Klein in the box.
Nice play.

12 -I don't know who this SuperLiga announcer is in English, but he's sounds like he's trying to out VinScully Vin Scully. He's just got a baseball timbre and rhythm, which sounds weird to my soccer ear.

8 - I covet Juan Toja - meaning I wish he was on a local team, because I'd love to watch him play more often. He's great.

5 - Now it's all Dallas - pushing hard to get the goal back.

Ok, I'm not Luis, but let me try to blog this anyway. I'm not in the stadium, by the way. I'm watching at home.

Game starts.

Galaxy score. Gordon off a corner kick from Donovan.

Wrangling Rossi

Villareal have secured the services of one Guiseppe Rossi. I've never met the young striker, but I wrote a piece on him years ago. It was actually my most-read article ever until the Beckham Era began.

Since I first wrote on Rossi, he's made it pretty clear that he wants to play for Italy, not the U.S.

The reporter grapevine of some people who knew Rossi back in his New Jersey days have told me that the guy might have considered the U.S. if the choice was left up to him, but that his dad was pretty adamant that he should play only for Italy.

LD on Becks

(We didn't expect him to play) Not when we first saw his ankle. He hadn’t done anything with it and it was still this big. You can’t rush that. He knows how it feels. He wants to be out there more than anyone else wants him to be out there, but he’s smart about it. If it was up to him, he’d probably be out there. But we don’t want to hurt him so we’ll make sure he’s ready before he gets out there.

What he says he’s feeling, he feels. When he says he’s ready, he’ll go. You can put a time table on it, but it doesn’t matter, when it’s ready, it’s ready. He’ll know when it’s ready. I wouldn’t guess. I don’t know.

Feeling fine

FIFA has a nice article on John Hackworth's U.S. U17 squad.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Speaking of circus. . .

Impersonators! Whoo hoo! New levels of ridiculous!


Luis checked in from vacation with his SuperLiga picks.

FC Dallas 1, Galaxy 0
Chivas 3, Pachuca 2

Houston 2, DC United 0
Morelia 2, America 0


FC Dallas 1, Galaxy 1
Chivas 1, Pachuca 2

Houston 2, DC United 2
Morelia 1, America 2

Stay home, David

I'll admit, I'm glad that David Beckham has joined MLS, specifically a team that I cover locally. It's great exposure for the game in the U.S., and he brings significant skill to the field as well.

But for a while now, I've become sick of the circus that has sprung up around David, and the last thing that should happen is for that to be perpetuated.

That's what happens, however, when Beckham is treated far differently than other players. For example, I was rather glad that Don Garber stuck to his guns about making MLS teams fly commercial this year. Let the change happen when more teams can prepare and plan for it at the start of the season, perhaps, after the committees vote on it.

Though I sympathize with those who bought tickets in Dallas hoping to see David, I was a little incredulous to read some articles calling for Beckham to fly out to Dallas anyway, even if he can't play because his injury has improved so slowly.

For what? So people could look at him on the bench? The circus indeed. David's not a freak show. If he can't play, he shouldn't be there.

The idea that the Galaxy perpetuated some grand scheme to sell tickets is a cynical one, if understandable to a point. But injuries are tricky things sometimes.

"I’ll just sit it out and let it recuperate and hopefully be ready for this weekend’s game. I think I’ve learned a thing or two about playing with injuries. This isn’t anything that’s going to set me back. Frank’s doing well to monitor it. The trainers are doing a good job. I didn’t do too much damage tonight. The next couple of days, if I take off, hopefully I can come back and get ready for Saturday."

These famous last words were spoken by Kyle Martino after the Pachuca game, where he aggravated a groin injury. Kyle really thought there was a good chance he'd be fine for the Chivas match, and now, like Beckham, he's not even going to Dallas (any Martino fans demanding that he fly over anyway? Didn't think so.)

The point is, Kyle really thought he'd be ok, but the injury didn't cooperate. It's just not getting better as quickly as hoped. Same with Beckham. Sometimes it's that simple - you wake up and the swelling is gone. No one is going to give up hoping for that until it doesn't happen and tough decisions have to be made. That's why the Galaxy waited until the last moment to decide.

"Sorry," said Frank Yallop, about David's unavailability. "The guys here want to see him as well. It is what it is. He could have done his ankle in this morning and been unable to go to Dallas. That's reality. Unfortunately, that's sports. you can't guarantee a guy is going to play - because of injuries. I feel very sorry for the people in Dallas, but there's not much we can do about it. He wants to go, but he can't go."

The idea that the Galaxy are holding David back to somehow deny any other clubs is ludicrous. No team (except RSL) needs wins and points more than the Galaxy right now. Dallas has one of the most exciting MLS teams, are still alive in every league competition this year, an MVP candidate in Juan Toja, and some of their fans are complaining about missing out on watching an injured Galaxy player limp around?

David signed a five-year contract. This is not the Champion's World exhibition games in town for a quick tour. Whether or not teams marketed the games as David Beckham Comes to Dallas is immaterial. Every ad I saw carried the caveat that his appearance could not be guaranteed. His ankle injury has been in the news for weeks, so common sense dictates that there was the very real possibility that he would not appear.

Any other MLS player would be allowed to stay home and recuperate his ankle until it was well enough to play on. If MLS wants to be taken seriously as a legitimate organization, it shouldn't treat David Beckham any differently. Let David stay home, rest up, and lets see him when he can actually do what MLS is paying him to to - play.

You're both wrong

I love this article. Tobias Xavier Lopez takes both soccer fans and soccer haters to task on the Beckham issue. I have to agree with a lot of what he says.

Soccer fans should lighten up and love their sport because they love it, instead of sometimes acting like someone dared to insult a special-ed kid when they express they don't like soccer.

The soccer haters are bad in a different way, too, so narrow-minded and frankly, very stale and unaware with their insults.

Bury the eagle

Another Mediotiempo cartoon.

This one has a DC United player (Ben Olson?) carving the headstone for the Club America eagle. The eagle asks, with his dying breath, apparently, for the stone to read, "Cuauhtemoc, I miss you".

Home not home

Frank Yallop was pretty unhappy that the Galaxy's game versus Chivas was held at the Coliseum.

"Dallas gets two home games, Houston gets two home games, DC gets two home games, but we get one home game and one away game. It was terrible. Ninety percent of the crowd there was for Chivas."

The Galaxy weren't able to play in their home stadium because of the X-Games. It wasn't, as some have supposed, moved because AEG wanted to make more money. The X-Games contract is a longstanding one.

However, money could have been the motivator for switching the opponent. Pachuca was originally scheduled for the Coliseum and Pachuca doesn't have the drawing power that Chivas has. The matches were switched, which meant the Galaxy faced a more full-strength Chivas side than FC Dallas did.

The last time the Galaxy played in the Coliseum (2005), they had thousands of fans cheering them to victory. That's because they played a doubleheader of Chivas USA/Galaxy and Chivas/Club America, and the America fans got an even bigger turnout than the Chivas ones. They cheered for the Galaxy. The stadium was rocking that night.

Benched Beckham

So David Beckham isn't going to Dallas to play in the SuperLiga match there. What was funny is that as I was trying to ask coach Frank Yallop about this situation, an AP photographer handed Yallop a phone. Apparantly the AP reporter couldn't be there, so they tried to call in and get word on the Beckham saga.

Frank handed off the phone to media director Patrick Donnelly, who ended up holding the phone up while we local reporters were interviewing Frank. Frank's answers to our questions went to whoever it was at AP.

I'm assuming that the AP reporter was at a computer, because AP had the story up first. But it wasn't because of being on location.

Oh well, I got some other quotes AP wasn't able to take, mainly from Landon Donovan.

Landon at length

It’s important for us to play well right now. We felt good about the Pachuca game, but we want momentum going back into the league. In reality, that’s what we need to do well in.

I’m a forward. We weren’t keeping the ball. Regardless of where I’m playing, if I’m not getting the ball, it’s not going to matter. But when we did our job in terms of keeping the ball, then I got some joy. But ideally, I’d be in front of the goal.

We didn’t play well. But you can see that guys believe we have a chance, even though they were a lot better in the first half. We’re getting there.

Oh, yeah. If we can compete with good teams here, we can compete in MLS. We’ve got to do better regardless who we’re playing.

It’s not so important if we lose or win if we play well. This is my passion and I hope we always win.

They played well. It was a hard game for us.

They’re a good team. They know where they need to be and what to do on the field.

When three or four don’t play well, it’s hard. Everyone for Chivas played well.

Agree? Disagree? Why?

This is a reader email. I get stuff like this all the time and was curious as to what you guys would think of it.

This talk that the MLS teams could cut it in Europe is pure rubbish. When the EPL starts up on August 11th watch an EPL game and then watch an MLS game, then honestly tell me that an MLS team could make it in the EPL. Yes in the MLS they have great endurance and speed but the passing and ball retention in the MLS is horrible. Watch a Coca-Cola Championship (the league below the EPL) game and even their the quality is better then the MLS. The SPL has better quality then the MLS. I live in the US and I have tried to watch the MLS but after a couple minutes I just can't watch it.

Over the years the MLS has gotten better and better but it still can be painful to watch. Its no where near as fast paced as the EPL, no where near as technical as La Liga and tactically it cant even compare to Serie A. Overall a MLS club is somewhere around mid to low level Coca-Cola Championship team to an upper League 1 team. Saying they are any better then that is an insult to the European legaues. And claiming the MLS is getting better because the All-stars beat teams that are still in their preseason is also misleading. If the MLS played Fulham, Celtic and especially Chelsea when they are at top form they would get killed.

The US men's national team had the chance to hire Jurgen Kilnsmen but "couldn't" find the money, so instead they hire Bob Bradly. As good as Bob Bradly might be he is no where near as good as Jurgen Kilnsmen (Jurgen got the GERMANS to play attacking football) Sure Bob will be
able to qualify for the World Cup (and honestly any competent manager would be able to do that in CONCACAF) but when the World Cup roles around the US will again be bounced in the first round because Bob Bradly will be using an MLS system which wont work in Europe. I will
never understand Bob Bradly's logic of bring a bunch of young players to Copa America. He should have brought he first team so at least they could play against skilled opponents something they rarely get to do in CONCACAF. His selection of players for the MNT is also quite puzzling. Only recently did Jay DeMerit get a call up and before he did he MLS defenders were being picked before him. For Bob Bradly to think that a defender playing regularly in the EPL is second to a defender in the MLS is mind blowing. If the US truly wants to preform
better in the World Cup they need to get more players playing in Europe.

When the "star" of the US national team couldn't cut it in Germany and had to come back to the MLS that says all you need to know about the state of US football on an international level.

Bravo for Bravo

Landon Donovan exchanged jerseys with Omar Bravo after the Chivas/Galaxy match.

"He’s a good guy," said Landon "I respect those who play the game well."

Actually, he was talking to Spanish reporters at the time, but I translated what he said.

Walking wounded

The Galaxy, bitten by the injury bug earlier this year, had a mini-relapse versus Chivas.

Kyle Martino was out due to a groin strain.
Chris Albright had surgery to repair a torn ligament - and is still expected to be out another month.
Cobi Jones aggravated his painful heel problem - the same one that is causing him to retire this year.
David Beckham - Still has serious swelling of bad ankle.
Edson Buddle - Achilles heel problem has affected both feet.

"My heel isn’t quite there yet," said Buddle. "My right’s fine. My left is coming along, but it’s still sore."

Buddle pointed out that the crush of games wasn't being kind to the recovering players.

"There have been a lot of games back to back. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for the league games."

More fun

Mediotiempo cartoons continue.

In this one, a Galaxy player (Kelly Gray?) tells the Chivas goat that he can't use the baseball bat on David Beckham's face because the soccer player is an "artist". Notice how the cartoon makes the door behind which Beckham is hiding look like a movie star's?

The goat replies that the bat isn't for Beckham - it's for Landon Donovan instead.

In the next cartoon, the Club America eagle threatens a DC United player (Bobby Boswell?), "I'll show you the strength of Mexican teams!" but its slingshot is empty.

"As soon as I find some ammo," says the Eagle.

Podcast prima donna

Dave Denholm invited me to take part in his ESPN soccer podcast this Monday. Dave's a great one with opinions, and heck, I've got my own perspective on things as well, so it should be fun.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

SuperLiga Soundoff

My espn.com piece on the SuperLiga tournament.

More Morelia

Gotta say that I really like the play of Morelia in the SuperLiga. Face it, they were the stepsister invited to the SuperLiga ball when the original club asked to participate, Cruz Azul, declined because of schedule conflicts.

Cruz Azul is my fave Mexican league team, but I've a soft spot for Morelia as well. Thier press liason people are nice, and there's an interesting backstory to their goalkeeper, Moises Munoz.

He lived in the U.S. for about seven years when he was young, going to elementary school in Northern California. Basically, he started playing soccer in the U.S., not in Mexico, where he was born. He speaks English fine, so of course he was doing the bulk of the interviews for the team with our local press.

Anyway, Morelia fought back to score a goal and tie their first match versus DC United, even while a man down. Versus Houston, they also had a late equalizer. They're a scrappy, never-say-die squad.

Moises had some great saves to keep his team in the match and in the SuperLiga in general.
Morelia have to knock off Club America to advance, but they've given a good account of themselves thus far.

They're not getting any love in our SuperLiga poll, though. No one has picked them to win it.

UPDATE: Someone finally voted for Morelia in the poll.

Legion flag-waving

I didn't get a pic of the big flag, but here's the Legion waving flags during the player announcement. They took over the top level of the stadium.

SuperLiga love

I have to admit that I like the SuperLiga tournament, but it's not the first time I've marched to the beat of a different drummer. So I thought I'd ask our readers - what do you guys think about SuperLiga? How could it be improved? What's good about it now? What's bad? Who is your prediction pick for Golden Boot? MVP?

Brave soul

Most of the Galaxy fans grouped together near the Riot Squad/Galaxian section. However, there were a few Galaxy supporters who bought open tickets and were lonely outposts surrounded by a sea of Chivas fans.

One didn't seem intimidated, though, brandishing his Galaxy scarf aloft during introductions.

A few more Galaxy fans were closer to the press box.

Galaxy pierde

My report here.

Here's the one Luis wrote.

Mediotiempo's take.

Shockingly, we all agree. Chivas played well and deserved the win.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Random tidbits

The Galaxy have played Chivas Guadalajara four times previously to this match - and never lost. They'd won three, tied one.

Landon Donovan, as usual, was doing twice the number of interviews, in Spanish and English, so he was the final player to leave the mixed zone. A group of kids cheered for his attention, calling out "Donovan!". He waved in their direction. Half of them were wearing Chivas jerseys.

Beckham and Frank Yallop had a quick talk with the ref after the game about a foul they thought should have been called on Pete Vagenas just before the Chivas goal.

"That's the way it goes," Landon's reaction after I pointed out that the players who leave the Galaxy seem to find their scoring touch.

Chivas Guadalajara is the first Mexican team to win a game in the SuperLiga. They still need a result in the final game to advance.

"We don't want their teams to advance," Landon said. "We'd like to be all MLS teams in the finals."

It's not going to happen - with Chivas' win, at least one Mexican team is this group is guaranteed to advance. In fact - the reverse could be true instead - there is a mathematical chance FC Dallas and the Galaxy could be out of the tourney, depending on Tuesday's results. (correction is in the comments)

No K-Mart

Kyle Martino's groin injury is apparently worse than originally thought. He's not even on the reserve list - though he did come out with the bench players.

I think the Galaxy are going to miss him more than Becks at this point.

Time for Quavas Kirk and Chris Klein to step up, I suppose.

Galaxy-Chivas running blog

FULL TIME: Match ends, Chivas 2, Galaxy 1. Chivas the deserved winner, the Galaxy were schooled. Thanks for your company.

90 - Bravo goes down inside box and no PK called because it wasn't a PK.

90 - Three minutes of stoppage time.

88 - Galaxy goal: Donovan! The ball skipped inside the box and Landon flicked it over Michel.

87 - Chivas looked like they were in midseason form; I hadn't thought they'd do too well in the Mexican league (I have them in the Liguilla but that's it) but I might change my mind.

82 - Chivas goal: Bravo! He latches onto a cross from Ramon Morales (I think) and he knocks it into the goal, the play started when the ball skipped away from Kelly Gray's foot.

81 - Landon Donovan hasn't played well at all; Chivas' defense has done well to pressure him and the rest of the Galaxy players.

76 - Galaxy sub: Gavin Glinton in, Troy Roberts out

76 - Pavon with another open header, and another bad miss; he rose for an Ante Jazic cross and flicked it harmlessly over the crossbar

75 - Chivas sub: Omar Bravo in, Santana out.

74 - "Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!" The fans are happy that Omar Bravo is coming into the match.

71 - Harmse tackled Pineda from behind, Pineda crumpled to the ground but no card for Harmse

67 - Chivas sub: Padilla out, Patricio Araujo in

66 - Carlos Pavon free header, sends it high.

65 - Vagenas rips 22-yarder that nearly beats Michel on left post; Galaxy corner goes nowhere.

64 - Galaxy sub: Harmse in, Kirk out.

59 - Chivas goal; Maza! Omar Esparza found Maza Rodriguez on the back post and Maza climbed for the header and knocked it past Cannon.

57 - Finally, Arellano out, Julio Nava in. Fans were screaming for Omar Bravo but no dice.

51 - It just occurred to me: I'll be at Lake Powell tomorrow falling on my ass as I try to water ski.... I better soak tonight in as much as possible...

51 - First Galaxy shot on goal: 51st minute, Landon straightaway from 24 yards, easy save by Michel.

46 - Legion 1908 just rolled down their gigantic flag; the middle was the Legion logo and it was flanked on either side by Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA logos. Impressive.

46 - Okay, I'm back. Just knocked out 316 words on the first half. Might have to cut but gotta file right when game ends.

HALFTIME: Like a reader said, Chivas is carving up the Galaxy but to no avail. Chivas grew stronger as the match went on while the Galaxy didn't show much of anything. Okay, gotta do some writing for the PE so I'll be back in a bit.

45 - One minute of stoppage time.

45 - Jazic tried to clear the ball, ricocheted off a Chivas player, off his own face and into touch for a Chivas throw in.

40 - Galaxy sub: Vagenas in, Gordon out. Early reports are that Gordon is suffering from do-nothing-itis.

35 - Ante Jazic called for a foul 27 yards out, Morales hits a free kick on frame but Cannon extends and saves it; the scoreboard flashed to a shot of Frank Yallop and he's biting his nails.

33 - Santana blows what should have been Chivas' first goal; Ramon Morales blows by Xavier, races into into area and rips 12-yarder on goal; Cannon dives and knocks it out to Santana on right side; with an open goal in front of him, Santana instead flops around and hits it harmlessly wide.

30 - Another Chivas corner; Cannon punches it away, goes to Landon for a quick counter, foul and yellow on Kelly Gray. On a quick restart, Arellano winds up with the ball but again makes a mess of a shot in the box.

29 - Chivas corner kick; short corner, Morales to Padilla to Morales to Santana, who fires a shot off Alan Gordon and into touch; Gordon's down in apparent discomfort.

27 - Galaxy subs Peter Vagenas and Kevin Harmse are up; wise move, they need someone to win some balls and mix it up in the midfield; I'd guess take out Alan Gordon who has been the invisible man, move Landon to forward and bring in either Vagenas or Harmse.

25 - Chivas has had the majority of the possession, as expected if you saw the Pachuca match; but Chivas hasn't put anything near dangerous on frame, Padilla and Arellano leave lots to be desired.

24 - Galaxy corner kick, Landon takes it and pass goes off Kelly Gray and scooped up by Michel. Nothing doing.

23 - Arellano again withe the ball on the left of the area, gets around Roberts but Cannon grabs his attempted centering pass with ease.

20 - Omar Arellano with another poor play; he's held the ball on the left flank a few times and has done nothing. Now he just got called for a foul on Troy Roberts as Chivas held possession. No, Omar Bravo's not warming up quite yet.

19 - Oops. Troy Roberts botched a pass from Kelly Gray as it sailed into touch.

16 - Crowd looks like it's at about 30,000; I wonder if the Galaxy will announce 45,000-plus...

12 - Jesus Padilla carried the ball into the box, centered it and forced Cannon to dive; the ball floated up but no Chivas player was nearby and Troy Roberts cleared it; Chivas is starting to show some life.

11 - Omar Arellano had the ball on the left flank but made a mess of it; he over-dribbled and was nowhere near on target with his shot.

9 - Alan Gordon knocked down Maza Rodriguez from behind. No card; could have been a yellow.

7 - Gonzalo Pineda dyed his hair blond apparently because he wanted a different look; it's not Bofo Bautista, who is now with Jaguares.

2 - Sergio Santana with an open 22-yarder that went right to Joe Cannon.

2 - Landon took a long shot and missed by a lot.

1 - Game's finally underway.

0 - That was a debacle. The teams came out and announced that the Mexican anthem would be played first followed by the U.S. anthem. We got some strange little tune that wasn't an anthem at all. So the U.S. anthem started instead and when it was done many people cheered. Then, they announced that the Mexican national anthem was next. We waited, and waited, and waited. People started jeering and booing to fill the silence. Then, we heard some notes that sounded like parts of the anthem, but it sounded as if someone was rewinding it. The anthem started mid-stream, then skipped. It stopped and the announcer apologized and moved on to the starting lineups.

0 - The music hasn't been too bad. No Jay-Z tonight. We've been fed lots of Mana and Jaguares. Heroes del Silencio are on the stadium sound system right now. Mana of course are from

0 - The teams went back into the locker rooms. We're about a quarter-hour from kickoff.

0 - There looks like there's about 20 or so members of the Riot Squad out here. They started to chant and the thousands of Chivas fans in the stands booed and drowned them out.

Lineups are in; David Beckham is listed as a reserve but we were told yesterday that he'd probably be there. Don't see him out on the field, though, as the teams are going through their pre-game warmups.

Chivas: Luis Ernesto Michel; Omar Esparza, Hector Reynoso, Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez, Jonny Magallon; Sergio Santana, Ramon Morales, Gonzalo Pineda, Edgar Mejia; Jesus Padilla, Omar Arellano.

Galaxy: Joe Cannon; Ante Jazic, Troy Roberts, Ty Harden, Abel Xavier; Quavas Kirk, Landon Donovan, Kelly Gray, Chris Klein; Carlos Pavon, Alan Gordon.

And for good measure, the reserves...

Chivas: Alredo Talavera, Juan Ocampo, Patricio Araujo, Xavier Baez, Omar Bravo, Javier Hernandez, Julio Nava.

Galaxy: Steve Cronin, David Beckham, Kevin Harmse, Cobi Jones, Peter Vagenas, Edson Buddle, Gavin Glinton.

Tunneling through

Covering games at the Coliseum can be a bit hectic, as we can attest to. When you cover games for so long at one venue (for us, Home Depot Center), and then suddenly you are thrust into an unfamiliar venue, it can throw you off which is exactly what happened to us during a Gold Cup doubleheader in 2005.

The first game did not live up to expectations. Mexico had just lost to South Africa 2-1 and Guatemala lost to Jamaica 4-3 two days before
at Home Depot Center. Mexico-Guatemala, we figured, would be a good game. Instead, it was a 4-0 blowout. The match was memorable because Jared Borgetti scored two goals and became Mexico's all-time leading scorer.

After the match was over, I made my way down to the tunnel with Andrea as well as Paul Gutierrez (then of the L.A. Times) and Matt Zimmerman (then of the Long Beach Press-Telegram). Though we had strength in numbers, we didn't really have an idea of where we were going. Somehow, Andrea ended up leading us; Matt, Paul and I just kind of floated behind figuring someone would take the lead. Andrea took the initiative as the blind led the blind.

At Home Depot Center, one way to get to the tunnel is through the stands, sort of by Section 138 where the Riot Squad congregates during Galaxy games. So we figured the same would hold true at the Coliseum.

It didn't as we quickly found out. We walked at the edge of the section in that picture, to the right of the tent covering the entrance to the tunnel. Nobody stopped us, so we kept on walking until we got to the grass. As soon as we were down there, I knew we were somewhere where we shouldn't have been. I looked to my right and there was nothing standing between me and the
field. I could have sprinted to the midfield if I'd have wanted to.

We saw the tunnel and walked towards it. We also saw the South African and Jamaican teams standing in two lines, waiting to walk out onto the field. I definitely knew then that we made a wrong turn somewhere. Oh well. Nothing we could do about it but keep walking.

I looked over and saw Tyrone Marshall, figured what the hell and shouted "Good luck Tyrone!"

He glanced over and said "All right man, yeah man," as we scurried past.

L.A. view

The L.A. skyline is visible over this section of the stadium.

Our press box is pretty high up here so we have quite a view the city.

Early Galaxy

The Galaxy checked out the field before fans were let into the stadium.

Galaxy-Chivas previa

Donovan talks again about "motivacion".

SuperLiga 2007 Full Promo

When they showed this promo at the press conference in LA, a local reporter piped up, "Are there any Galaxy goals they can include in this?"

That was, of course, a reference to the team having scored few goals in the season thus far.

They did find a couple to include, however.

Oh, Mexico

Billy Witz has a nice piece on Landon Donovan and Mexico.

Recently, Landon spoke of the animosity and controversy that has sprung up in the past with the Mexican media, players and fans. He didn't get too specific, but he acknowledged that he probably could have handled things better than he did before.

"I think part of that was me, because I was also not the best. I was always angry and didn’t like the Mexican players, but now, I have a lot of respect for them. Especially this team [Pachuca]– it’s a very good team. I can shake their hands and say, 'You’re a good team. Good luck in the future.'"

Landon was then asked if he thought Mexican players would ever respect U.S. teams.

"I hope so," he responded.

Then someone asked if Landon would ever be friends with Oswaldo Sanchez, the long-time Mexican goalkeeper.

"No, no chance," Landon replied. "That’s a different animal. It’s something every game. It’s up to him if he wants to change. Every time we play, he does something bad or unsportsmanlike. I’m not going to get angry with him. If he wants to shake hands, fine, but I’m not expecting it."

Reporters under fire

Back when both Christian Echeverria and I had seperate incidents as reporters (Christian was shoved and yelled at, while I was yelled at, mostly) in the same week, Beau Dure left a message in the comments about whether or not he should wear a helmet to cover an upcoming game.

A helmet might have helped this baseball reporter out.

Fans and players

Mexican soccer fans typically don't hold MLS in high regard, but that sentiment is not shared by many Mexican soccer players.

At least that's what LA Daily News writer Ivan Orozco found out when he talked to several of them regarding their thoughts on MLS.

Pachuca's Rafael Marquez Lugo and Chivas' Ramon Morales each said they'd play in MLS - the latter's only caveat would be to remain a Chiva. Kikin Fonseca also said he'd play here so long as "there's certain conditions met that you look for as a player."

By playing against MLS clubs now and having played them in the past, Mexican players typically hold MLS in much higher regard than their fans do. By having the chance to play in the United States and in MLS stadiums, the players too are exposed to the facilities MLS teams have in place and that might also factor into a player's decision to come here. I'm not saying Mexico's facilities are sub-par because they're not but South American players in the past have said that the facilities here are top notch.

While results in favor of MLS likely won't change Mexican fans' views of MLS, at least their players respect the league and its clubs.

Late July picks

Lest we forget...

New England 1, RSL 1
Toronto FC 1, Chicago 1
Kansas City 0, Chivas USA 0


New England 1 RSL 2
Toronto FC 0, Chicago 2
Kansas City 1, Chivas USA 0

Pachuca 2, FC Dallas 0
Chivas 1, Galaxy 0
D.C. United 2, America 1
Houston 2, Morelia 0


Pachuca 1, FC Dallas 0
Chivas 1, Galaxy 1
DC United 0, America 1
Houston 1, Morelia 1

Friday, July 27, 2007

Winners either way

I was trying to get feedback from fans about SuperLiga, and I interviewed a couple of Chivas USA fans who will be attending the Chivas Guadalajara match versus the Galaxy.

I asked one, "If, in a future edition of SuperLiga, Chivas USA faces Chivas Guadalajara, who will you be rooting for to win?"

He smiled. "I'm a Chivas fan. If Chivas plays Chivas, then whoever wins, I'm going to be happy."

I don't know if he speaks for a lot of Chivas fans, but it was a good answer.

Bruised egos?

Mediotiempo is coming down hard on the Mexican teams in the SuperLiga.

The little prince (Morelia Monarchs) says, "There's no doubt - the distance is definitely getting shorter."

That's likely a reference to how far ahead of MLS the Mexican league has always been considered to be in terms of talent, prestige and skill.

The eagle (Club America) responds, "Yes, each time we're getting closer to getting ridiculed."

In the background, the gopher (Pachuca) and the goat (this one shouldn't need explanation), look dazed.

To our readers

Maybe one day Luis and I will team up on another soccer venture, and really make it all we envision, but in the meantime, look for our opinions and articles in the other places we write for; espn.com, SI.com, soccer365.com, the Press-Enterprise and MLSnet.com.

Sideline Views isn't a news site, per se. It's our little blog outlet, completely independent of anything except our own ideas. The posts here will ebb and flow with the time and info we have to spare.
Hopefully, a few of you will continue to check out our perspectives.

I'd also like to chime in on the subject. We don't get paid a thing for this blog and aren't really looking to do anything more than provide our thoughts and insights and perspectives. Hopefully people enjoy what we have to say and the stuff we provide, such as the audio clips and video clips and links to stories and, of course, the pictures. And if people don't, oh well. We have enough readers now who I'm willing to do the little extras for, such as take extra pictures and put up the audio clips for certain interviews and other things that our readers enjoy.

Frank speak, in surround sound

Here's the audio of the interview/impromptu presser Frank Yallop had as Friday's Galaxy training session wrapped up.

It's almost all Beckham talk and it's a good 11 minutes long, but it's worth the listen.

Really, really big flag

Anyone remember the really big banner Chivas USA fans displayed during the last Chivas USA-Galaxy match? It took up the entire general admission seating back on May 20.

Well, Chivas fans have added to it. Jaime Cardenas of the LA Times told me today that the new flag is something like 80 feet by 150 feet and will take 40 people to bring it into the Coliseum. It's going to roll down from the top of the stadium as opposed to starting from the first row.

I'll be sure and take pictures of it, but it will probably make it to the television broadcast. Also, check out the LA Times tomorrow and Jaime's story on that part of the game.

Running blog

Just to clarify, I'll be doing a running blog during Saturday's Chivas-Galaxy match. I'll only have one story to file right on deadline (my PE story) so I'll have a chance to blog about the game and give you some immediate first-hand thoughts on the game as well as the atmosphere.

Game time's 7 p.m., though I'd imagine my running blog will be much earlier than that.

Landon talks Chivas

The Galaxy-Chivas match is expected to draw some 40,000 fans, not quite the 70,000-plus many had assumed would show up when the game and site was first announced.

Still, there will be plenty of fans there regardless, and most won't be rooting for L.A.

Here's audio of Landon Donovan talking about the game. I asked him about playing in the Coliseum and the support for the match, both for the visitors and for his own side. He slips into Spanish fairly smoothly for the last half or so of this clip.

He was first asked, though, if he thought Saturday's game would like playing in Azteca.

Abel's truth

Abel Xavier is great. He's part experienced soccer player, part philosopher. Absolutely great combination.

Listen to this audio clip where he talks about playing against Mexican teams, the travel part of the U.S. game and marathons.

And the rest

A piece on non-Beckham members of the Galaxy.

Frank speak

I don't get it. Sometimes, I just don't get it. I mean, weren't we in the same predicament a week ago before the Chelsea game than we are today? Isn't David Beckham's ankle hurting today just as it hurt last week?

The way Frank Yallop talked today, you'd think Beckham was fine and dandy a week ago and now is suddenly gimpy.

I'll post the audio link to this later so you can decipher for yourself but here's some of what Yallop said regarding Beckham's injury and not playing him on Saturday, and some of the reasons I'm shaking my head as I listen to the audio.

On whether he thinks Beckham is frustrated by not being able to play:
"I would think he’s frustrated. What he realized when he played in the Chelsea game is he wasn’t ready to sort of get really going. He knows now to get fit and healthy to get really going and help the team."

On whether he's disappointed about Beckham not playing:
"It’s not disappointment. It’s being realistic. It would be great to have him from Day One but what you can’t do is force anything and make a player when he’s not ready because he won’t play well.

"We can’t send him out there if he’s not going to play well and if he’s hinged by an injury it’s going to be difficult for him. There’s no way we’re going to send him out when he’s not ready for us.

No Beckham

Frank Yallop said today after training that David Beckham will not play against Chivas on Saturday.

Yallop also said that Beckham will probably see some time against Dallas, though.

It's disappointing for Southern California fans that Beckham arrived on July 13 and in four games since he will have played exactly 12 minutes. My guess is that the Galaxy figured they didn't need Beckham's presence to put people in the stands against Chivas since Chivas will do a good enough job of doing that on their own and they're sort of obligated to play him in Dallas as the stadium's all but sold out in anticipation of that game.

So yes, we're in the center of the Beckham madness but he'll be seen more often in Dallas, Toronto, New England, D.C., New York and London than he will here, even though the team made a big deal about him coming to L.A. and playing for the Galaxy. I suppose Galaxy fans should just be happy that he's on their team even if they'll have three chances to see him play in person.

SuperLiga Superman

I'm going to disagree with Luis again - I think David Beckham will play on Saturday - not the whole game, but perhaps 30 minutes.

It's typical for players to add on week by week in 15 minute increments when they're recovering from injury.

The thing is, Galaxy practices have been closed to the media since Wednesday, so it's possible that Becks has been practicing with his teammates. Otherwise, why close the practice? (Yes, those teenage girls that mob Kelly Gray are annoying, but otherwise harmless).

SuperLiga is an important tournament, and Chivas Guadalajara wil be there full-strength on Saturday, in front of far more people than could ever fit in Dallas. It matters to the Galaxy to play well in their home town, even if it's not in their home stadium.

"It’s really important to us," said Kyle Martino. "This is a chance to show that in North America, we’re a club team to reckon with. We take all these games very seriously. This isn’t just a friendly. These guys aren’t treating it like preseason. They’re bringing their big guns and everyone is playing. This is a serious tournament."

Here's what Kyle had to say about the new guy getting some playing time.

"I know he’s trying hard to get ready for that match. If he’s fit, he’ll definitely be out there."

Galaxy's best

The Galaxy's best player, for the entire season up to this point, might have been Kyle Martino, who was once touted for great things back as a young rookie.

Both Kyle and Santino Quaranta showed up in LA saying the right things about the move to the Galaxy being a fresh start to fulfill their potential, but Kyle really got in gear and brought hard work consistently to both practice and games. I wrote a while ago about how he'd developed a new defensive bite to his game.

Now he's playing through a slight groin injury, trying to still contribute.

"It’s not terrible. I think I just strained it a little bit. Coming into the (Pachuca)game, we knew it wasn’t going to make the whole game. I was just trying to go as long as I could. It was feeling all right through the first fifteen – twenty minutes of the game. I went in for a slide tackle on the sideline and tweaked it a little bit. I think I got out before I did any bad damage. I’ll just sit it out a bit and let it recuperate and hopefully be ready for this weekend’s game."

"I had it before the Tigres game. It’s been nagging me this past week or so. Before the Tigres game it was pretty bad, then I got a few days off before the Chelsea game and it started to feel good. I made it most of the way through that game, and then, with this being so quick after the Chelsea game, we knew this wasn’t going to last. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it through to the second half."

"I think I’ve learned a thing or two about playing with injuries. This isn’t anything that’s going to set me back. Frank’s doing well to monitor it. The trainers are doing a good job. I didn’t do too much damage tonight. The next couple of days, if I take off, hopefully I can come back and get ready for Saturday."

Blog biz

I'll be at the L.A. Coliseum tomorrow night for the Galaxy-Chivas match. I've been looking forward to this match for a while, not so much the venue. The game, I thought, would be interesting because the Galaxy has built up a rivalry with Chivas USA and now we get to see them take on the parent club in a meaningful match.

I also thought it would be good to see David Beckham play against Chivas, but now that seems unlikely to happen. The Galaxy will trot him out on a bum ankle to play in an overhyped game against Chelsea but probably won't risk the same ankle against Chivas especially because the Galaxy's only scheduled visit to FC Dallas is on Tuesday, and there's just standing-room only seats available for that match.

Becks arrived here on July 13 and in three games since has played 12 minutes. If he doesn't play on Saturday, Southern California's next chance of seeing him will be on Sept. 1 unless he doesn't get called into England's squad for England-Germany on Aug. 22, and provided his ankle is okay by then.

Anyway, I'll be out there and will do another running blog like I did on Tuesday. This time, though, you can plan for it as I'm letting everyone know with plenty of time. It wasn't as hectic as I thought on Tuesday and it kind of doubled as my game notes, so I'll do it again.

Also wanted to let readers know that it's going to be The A.C. Show for most of next week. With the break in the local calendar - no games to cover locally until Aug. 23 - I'm taking a little vacation. I'll be in Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah attempting to water ski for the first time. My wife's family goes there regularly and I've been with them several times but have yet to water ski. We'll be leaving early Sunday morning (so I'll get no sleep on Saturday night) and will be staying in Page, Ariz., far away from soccer... and internet connections, so I probably won't have much of a chance to blog. I may have withdrawals at some point.

Last time I went, I get on the internet using AOL's 800 number so I'll have some way of connecting so I might chime in here and there.

Host with the most

No miracle for the young U.S. squad in the Pan-Am Games. The U20 team lost to Brazil in the final. They gained valuable experience, however, and I think it will show in their future endeavors.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Galaxy reps

The Galaxy hosted an event today out at the HDC Stadium Club, some sort of press conference but not sure of the details. I wasn't able to make it because I'm going out for training on Friday and training was closed on Thursday. Of course, had David Beckham been out at the event today, I'd have dropped everything and went because my editors would have wanted me to.

Anyway, I didn't miss much. Not sure who Chivas brought to the event but the Galaxy's representatives were, well, a bit perplexing. Among the players the Galaxy made available was Lance Friesz. The biggest name player was Alan Gordon. No Landon. No Cobi. No Cannon.

I suppose Lance's take on meeting Beckham may have been mildly interesting but otherwise what does Lance have to offer about SuperLiga or anything pertaining to the club's upcoming games?

Oh well. Maybe they figured everyone's going out on Friday anyway. I'll be out there.

Watch without prejudice

Yallop on the Galaxy:

We’re really probably in preseason right now. We’re still growing and learning about each other. We’re still getting fit. We’re still getting guys off the treatment table – Alan Gordon being one. All of a sudden, you start having options. It’s not been – there’s only 12 guys to pick from and guess what, “You’ve got to play left back, Ty Harden. I know you don’t really want to play there, but you have to play there.”

We’ve been unfairly judged on this season already by a lot of people. For me as a coach, and for the group of players, we don’t like that. Once we have everybody healthy, we can start to grow as a team and get on some type of run and then you can actually judge us on what we’re doing.

Pub team responds

Yallop on the Galaxy being called a "pub team": It’s all right. As long as I get free pints out of it.

Kyle Martino: The best pub team in America? I don’t get the Sun over here. We’re a pretty damn good pub team.

Another Bruin to Germany

Much like former UCLA standout Benny Feilhaber did in 2005, UCLA star Sal Zizzo turned his Under-20 experience into a Bundesliga contract.

Zizzo signed a three-year deal with German side Hannover 96 after his strong performance for the United States in the Under-20 World Cup. Feilhaber had a similar fate after starring in the 2005 edition when he joined Hamburg following the tournament instead of rejoining UCLA.

Zizzo was impressive for the US and one of the unheralded stars. While Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu grabbed the headlines before the tournament, Zizzo didn't even fall into the "known commodity" category such as Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela and Nathan Sturgis because he was a college player.

Clearly the best path for him to take at this time was Germany. Had he stayed in school, he might have been taken high in next year's MLS draft but this was too good a deal to pass up. Consider this: his previous team's next friendly is slated for Aug. 24 at North Carolina State; his current team's next friendly is on July 31 against Real Madrid.

Now, Feilhaber has blossomed into one of the USMNT's key players for this World Cup cycle, and he has come along without the benefit of playing for Hamburg's first team. It's unfair in a way that Zizzo will have that sort of bar set for him but in many ways those sorts of expectations are likely to be placed on him, fair or not.

From what I've seen, he's a fine player and will do well to harness some of his energy and bulk up a little. And now the rabid followers of Americans abroad will have another player to keep tabs on.

Wanchope joins Blanco

Luis Arroyave reports that Paulo Cesar Wanchope is all but set to join Chicago as his signing is imminent.

Wanchope has long been a quality player. He broke through with Derby County in the mid-90s and also played for West Ham as well as Manchester City in England and enjoyed a spell in Spain with Malaga. Most Americans, though, are likely familiar with Wanchope because of his international career. Long the top Costa Rican national team striker, Wanchope has been one of the better strikers in this region over the last decade.

Last summer, he had two goals in the opening match of the World Cup, a 4-2 loss to Germany.

Wanchope gives Chicago a vital attacking piece and along with Blanco and a healthy Chris Rolfe, Chicago seems poised to shed the offensive woes that have plagued them all season.

Thursday pick

New York 2, Chivas USA 0


New York 1, Chivas USA 0

SuperLiga's first days

Through two days of SuperLiga, MLS clubs have held their own. MLS sides are 2-0-2 against their Mexican counterparts and Houston pretty much had their way with Club America on Wednesday.

But it's far too early for anyone to draw any conclusions about the strength of MLS compared to the Mexican league.

These games have been highly entertaining and MLS teams seem determined to show well but four games into this tournament is too early to say anything conclusive.

As one reader pointed out here, these results shouldn't have been too surprising. DC United and Houston each hosted a Mexican club in a meaningful match earlier this year and came away with nearly identical results on Wednesday. DC tied Chivas 1-1 while Houston beat Pachuca 2-0 in March; on Wednesday DC tied Morelia 1-1 while Houston beat America 1-0.

This tournament appears like it will produce some quality and entertaining soccer matches and hopefully the foundation will be laid for future editions that feature games in Mexico. In order for the tournament to be somewhat conclusive regarding the league's strength, then the parameters must be as level as possible; that means the clubs must face as many of the same conditions as possible, which includes traveling and playing as an away team.

And just like the CONCACAF Champions Cup comes during the MLS teams' preseason, SuperLiga comes during the Mexican teams' preseason and those factors will remain unchanged so long as MLS' calendar remains unchanged.

For now, quality soccer and hard-fought games are setting the tone for SuperLiga and that's not a bad thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No help

Apparently, all's quiet on Chivas USA's front. With an opportunity to bring players in to help boost the squad heading into the stretch drive, Chivas USA has done little. They've tried and have looked at some players but nothing substantial has come of it.

Sorry, but Sueno MLS winner Jorge Flores doesn't count. He signed today in a move that will have no impact on anything of significance this year.

David Beckham's first practice with LA Galaxy

I believe this is called "taking the piss" over in David's England. I think it's pretty funny.

I voted

My Honda Player of the Year ballot, which of course I waited until the final day to submit...

1. Landon Donovan
2. Benny Feilhaber
3. Tim Howard

Donovan scored a goal in the last group game of the Gold Cup, a quarterfinal, semifinal and in the final match. They were all from the penalty spot, unlike Feilhaber's thunderous volley, but goals are goals.

I actually wanted to vote for Feilhaber because I feel his goal was one for the ages. Beauty aside, it was a match-winner in a final over the arch rival. That speaks volumes to me. And even though it was a failed effort, Feilhaber did more for the U.S. in Copa America than Donovan.

Still, Donovan's four goals and his overall play in the Gold Cup ultimately won out. Feilhaber, for his strike and efforts in both the Gold Cup and Copa America, took second. Tim Howard, who helped preserve the lead in the Gold Cup final with a clutch save on Bofo Bautista, nabbed third.

I also want to thank those who gave me my input. It was overwhelmingly in favor of Donovan and that also helped in my decision.

Overall, Gold Cup and Copa America were the the only games I took into consideration. Donovan's hat trick against Ecuador was nice but it had no bearing on my vote. I know others probably factored that in and perhaps I should have as well but success in friendlies is like doing well in practice. I want to see a player or team succeed when the lights are on and the results count.

New colors


Mediotiempo has much better SuperLiga coverage than MARCA in Spanish.

Of course, they should; their teams are playing.

Even if you can't read Spanish, enjoy their photo gallery.

If you can read Spanish, read my article, too.


The young U.S. women's team is doing well at the Pan-American games, and just advanced to the gold-medal match versus the host team, Brazil.

When I was talking to Jill Ellis about this squad, she mentioned her opinion that this U20 team didn't have the talent that the previous squad did (members from that team, now on the U21 squad, just trounced Germany, 4-0 to win the Nordic Cup).

Jill had the view that the current U20 squad had "nice players" but not that special spark of extra skill. Jill was also a little wary of facing the full national teams of Canada, Mexico and Brazil at the Pan-Am games. The U.S. federation had already committed to sending a youth team before they found out most other countries were including a large share of their senior players.

I tried to be encouraging, sharing an observation that sometimes, the team without big stars really pulls together and plays as a cohesive unit.

"Sometimes the whole can be stronger than the parts," I pointed out.

"That's true," said Jill. "We'll see how it turns out."

I'd say it's gone pretty well.

The men's team was eliminated by Mexico at the Pan-Am games, 2-0.

Um, not so much.

While it's great that MARCA is covering anything MLS, some things in this match report are just flat-out wrong.

Landon Donovan scored the second goal for the Galaxy, for example.

Pachuca's nickname is "Los Tuzos", not "Chuzos".

The article also says that Beckham was watching the match holding his youngest son, Cruz, but the picture with the article clearly shows Romeo, his middle child (hi, cutie!).

Finally, the reporter says the Galaxy face Chivas Guadalajara at the Home Depot Center Stadium this Saturday night.

Uh, no. That guy might be the only one there in Carson. The game is being played at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Kinder, gentler Mourinho

I think some reporters were surprised to see Mourinho be quite gracious after Chelsea's close victory over the Galaxy.

This article says he's mellowing out.

He might be taking it a little too far. In LA, as he left the press conference dais, Mourinho was greeted by a reporter sitting next to me, apparently an aquaintance. I ducked my head slightly so they could shake hands.

I then turned around and saw SI soccer editor Jonah Freedman sitting behind me with a rather bemused expression.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Jose Mourinho just clapped me on the shoulder," said Jonah. "He shook that guy's hand, then he grabs my shoulder. I was too surprised to react. I've never even met the guy."

"Maybe he thought you were someone else," I speculated.

"I'm never going to wash this shirt again," Jonah joked.

Edson, where art thou?

"He's been injured," said Frank Yallop of Edson Buddle. "His Achilles has been a problem. He was there in case we needed him late, but he's been injured for the last couple of weeks now."

Nery to England?

Reports on both sides of the Atlantic are that Nery Castillo could be on the move from Olympiakos to Manchester City. A deal could be worth up to $19 million.

Castillo is playing in relative isolation in Greece, isolation from Mexico and this side of the world anyway. There's a far greater chance of a Man City match on television than an Olympiakos game, so in that sense alone Nery fans are probably happy for the move.

Castillo would be the second Mexican to ever play in the Premiership, following in the footsteps of Tri teammate Jared Borgetti.


I still can't figure out how RSL has one win in 15 MLS games this season but beat Everton 2-0 on Saturday and tied Boca Juniors 1-1 on Tuesday. Boca had some chances to win and the PK call that led to RSL's only goal was questionable but they got the result nevertheless.

Some highlights are up on Ole. It's a pretty small screen there but at least you can see the highlights. I looked for them on RSL's site and found nothing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom from Pachuca coach Enrique Meza:

L.B. "Could you explain what happened on the Galaxy's goals?"

Meza: "The ball went in."


FULL TIME: Galaxy 2, Pachuca 1. Nice win for the Galaxy. Hard to believe this team got the crap kicked out of them by Tigres just one week ago.

90 - Caballero lets loose a shot from inside the box but Cannon makes nice save

90 - Three minutes of stoppage time

81 - Galaxy answers; Cobi Jones with a shot inside the box, Landon deflects it and ball goes over goal line. 2-1 Galaxy.

78 - Pachuca golazo; Alvarez centered to front of goal, GR redirected it into goal, game now 1-1

76 - Nothing going on. Shot hit wall and Pachuca player knocked it over endline

75 - Pachuca gets free kick from 22 yards out, Danger lurks.

71 - "Tonight's attendance: 19,317." Told ya.

66 - The cute Galaxy intern just sat next to me; I'll try to maintain my focus... on the game

65 - Galaxy sub: Vagenas in, Pavon out; semi-useful for useless

64 - Kirk centers to Pavon who puts shot on goal but Calero pounces on it; Gordon was in position to tap in a rebound but no dice

63 - Gimenez free kick misses left post by inches, centimeters even

61 - Just informed of the subs rule: four subs plus the goalkeeper

60 - Alvarez butchers a pass that he should have collected; He's on the left side and Kirk is in at right back; the matchup favors Pachuca

56 - Damian Alvarez in for Fernando Salazar. Somebody better mark this guy; he's good.

50 - Wow. Alan Gordon scored on a nice goal. Donovan finds Gordon with a pinpoint cross from the right side of the field on the left side of the box; Gordon trapped it with his shoulder and ripped a left-footed shot past Calero. Nice goal.

49 - Be back in a few; gotta start writing my PE story

47 - Klein sends Carlos Pavon racing down the field unmarked but Pavon blasts a shot wide of the net.

46 - Cobi Jones for Kyle Martino the only sub for both sides

HALF - In preparation for my long drive home which will probably start sometime after midnight, I pounded some coffee at halftime. Oh yeah, bust out the coffee bong.

45 - Ensuing corner looks like Xavier nearly got a hand to a ball

45 - Carlos Rodriguez forces Cannon to make a diving save

45 - Looks like there'll be one minute of stoppage time

41 - Gimenez with another long range shot, Cannon has an easier time with this one

39 - Gimenez puts a dipping 30-yarder on goal; he can score from long range as Houston knows; he's the one that scored the game-winner in that 5-2 game earlier this year

35 - Jazic finds Gordon unmarked in penalty area but Gordon pushes ball over crossbar; had more time and could have done better

33 - Xavier clears but plays with fire, header goes just wide of own net

32 - I'm guessing here, but this is probably the first time Beckham has seen Pachuca play maybe ever; he may not even know there existed a Pachuca Club de Futbol before today

27 - Scoreboard just showed David Beckham sitting in a suite; many in the crowd booed and whistled.

26 - Klein crossed from the right side of the six-yard box to Carlos Pavon who put his header attempt on the side netting. Nice play up until the poor finish.

23 - A colleague just asked me if Kelly Gray had played in the Dynamo-Pachuca game earlier this year. I felt so lame because I hadn't made the connection. Yes, Gray did play the full 120 minutes down in Hidalgo in the 5-2 thriller and it would have been nice to have talked to him about it yesterday. Crap.

16 - Chitiva's on fire; he somehow got past Kelly Gray, fed Marquez Lugo who had made a nice diagonal run in the box but ML sent it wide (from now on, Marquez Lugo is ML and Gabriel Rey is GR, damn it)

15 - Galaxy having trouble maintaining possession and stringing some passes together; Pachuca is not

14 - Carlos Rodriguez dribbled into box unmarked, tried to find Gabriel Rey but Cannon dived and scooped it up

12 - Landon Donovan fed Alan Gordon a nice through ball on a counter, but Gordon was ruled offside; TV replays appeared to show that Gordon was onside, possibly even; don't worry, though, one reporter said "he would have missed it anyway."

10 - Chaco Gimenez tried a shot from 25 yards that almost landed in the Stadium Club instead of feeding a wide-open Chitiva on the left flank; after the shot, Gimenez motioned to Chitiva angrily for some strange reason

7 - Chitiva dangerous again; broke down left flank, centered ball and Marquez Lugo tried to re-direct it on frame but Kyle Martino clears ball over endline

6 - Pachuca on a quick counter, Abel Xavier saves Galaxy by clearing a ball into touch

6 - Nice passing by Tuzos; Chitiva sends through ball to Marquez Lugo, who fires shot over bar from about 15 yards

4 - Landon Donovan gets called for knocking down Gabriel Caballero from behind, though the contact seemed minimal.

2 - Luis Gabriel Rey gets his head to a cross but sends it high. Two minutes, two shots.

2 - There's about 12-14,000 here right now, which means they'll announce 18-20K.

1 - Game underway. Alan Gordon gets free at top of area and rips a shot over the bar 15 seconds in.

0 - Jay-Z is blaring in the stadium as we await the almighty television to dictate when we start. I prefer Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live" that was playing before pre-game warmups, so I hope this game starts soon.

Oh what the hell. I'll try doing this as a running blog. Just finished watching the FC Dallas-Chivas match and it was pretty good for the most part. Nice goal by Arturo Alvarez, disputed goal by Antonio Olvera.

Lineups are in:

Galaxy: Joe Cannon; Ante Jazic, Ty Harden, Abel Xavier, Troy Roberts; Kyle Martino, Landon Donovan, Kelly Gray, Chris Klein; Alan Gordon, Carlos Pavon.

Pachuca: Miguel Calero; Carlos Rodriguez, Marvin Cabrera, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Fernando Salazar, Leobardo Lopez; Andres Chitiva, Christian Gimenez, Gabriel Caballero; Rafael Marquez Lugo, Luis Gabriel Rey.

SuperLiga perspective

Yeah, I'll agree that the SuperLiga isn't perfect, but I still think it can be an exciting tournament.

Even more exciting is what it might lead to in the future.

Boca, baby!

My favorite team from my childhood plays today versus Real Salt Lake. Boca Juniors of Argentina is in Utah for their preseason. I liked the preview from Clarin so much I decided to translate it here.

Miguel Russo leaves the hotel for a second to pose for a photo for Clarín. At that moment, water falls from the heavens. Rain. A flood. Just like that, from one moment to another.

"Rain, rain, we're no longer in the desert, ha, ha, ha," says the coach on the path of Little América. That's true. It's not Arizona. It's Utah, and in the city (Salt Lake) that today celebrates that in 1847, on this date, July 24, the pioneers who settled this place arrived on site. Most of them were Mormons. There have been parades since early this morning. The streets have been filled with floats. The final act of the festival includes Boca as a protagonist.

There's no mistake. Boca played Sunday in Phoenix, got here yesterday at noon and trained, will train yearly this morning, and in the evening, will take the field against the local team, Real Salt Lake, who defeated the English club Everton in a recent friendly, 2-0, but in MLS are in last place, with only 9 points gained from a possible 51.

Russo will make certain changes. Alvaro González, Morel, Urribarri, Leandro Díaz y Mondaini will play. The objective for the future is a triple one, with the obession being the World Club title.

Pachuca primer

The Galaxy and Pachuca will meet today in their first-ever SuperLiga game. The Galaxy is a known commodity... well, the players are a known commodity - how they play from game to game is a mystery to many.

But some of our readers may not be as familiar with Pachuca, though. I'll try and get you guys up to speed on what I consider one of the three best clubs in the Western Hemisphere.

Pachuca hold the Mexican league title, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and Copa Sudamericana. That's unprecedented in Mexico. Additionally, only Toluca has enjoyed as much success as Pachuca over the last decade. Pachuca won promotion to the Mexican First Division in 1999 and beat Cruz Azul to win th Invierno 99 title. Many thought that was a fluke as Pachuca had never before won a league title, strange considering their 100-plus year history.

It wasn't a fluke; instead, it was a taste of what the next decade would hold. Pachuca captured the titles in Invierno 2001, Apertura 2003, Clausura 2006 and Clausura 2007. Perhaps more impressive, each of those championships were won with a different coach at the helm: Javier Aguirre won the first, then Alfredo Tena, Victor Manuel Vucetich, Jose Luis Trejo and Enrique Meza.

Players too have come and gone. Only Gabriel Caballero has been a part of all five championship sides. Miguel Calero, Andres Chitiva, Fausto Pinto and Jaime Correa have been key parts of several titles as well.

The Galaxy will face a deep and talented squad, but not flashy by any means. There aren't any headline-grabbing names that you'll find on America and Chivas. Calero's pretty solid in goal. He's been on four of Pachuca's championship sides.

On defense, Pinto is steady but Aquivaldo Mosquera is a beast. He had offers from France and turned them down to stay with Pachuca. Marvin Cabrera, Leobardo Lopez and Fernando Salazar offer quality on the backline as well.

Correa, Chitiva and Caballero are key parts of the midfield and with Damian Alvarez, Meza has plenty of options and weapons in the midfield. Alvarez and Caballero had four goals apiece last season while Chitiva chipped in with three. Caballero is your typical crafty veteran. He doesn't have much speed and is 37 years old, but he still produces and can still be dangerous.

Pachuca lost Luis Angel Landin to Morelia but brought in Luis Gabriel Rey to fill Landin's super-sub role. Rey is a proven goalscorer in Mexico as he had strong stints with Morelia and Atlante before joining Pachuca. Rey, though, is likely Pachuca's third-best option as Juan Carlos Cacho and Cristian "Chaco" Gimenez figure to be the starters. Cacho had 11 goals last season and was a key part of Mexico's Copa America squad. Gimenez had nine goals last year but he scores goals in bunches. Gimenez had a hat trick against Houston in a 5-2 win that eliminated the MLS club from the CONCACAF Champions Cup earlier this year.

Pachuca's the classiest side in the tournament but because they lack a name player and because they don't have millions of supporters like Chivas and America, they tend to be overlooked but all Pachuca does is win trophies. They're my pick to win the first ever SuperLiga tournament and any team they face will have their hands full.

EDIT: Fausto Pinto, Jaime Correa and Juan Carlos Cacho are not here because of their participation in Copa America.


Between Andrea and I, we tag-teamed the SuperLiga coverage for various sites.

Andrea's take for MLSnet.com in English and MLSnet.com in Spanish.

Here's my PE advance, with a bit more input from the Galaxy than others, of course, as that's the local side.

SuperPicks; first games

We're pretty average-to-bad at picking the MLS games, so to show it's no fluke, here are some picks that will hit at about 45.37 percent, so don't go running to your local bookie an account of us.

SuperLiga 7/24-25
Pachuca 2, Galaxy 0
Chivas 2, FC Dallas 1
DC United 1, Morelia 0
Houston 2, America 1


Pachuca 2, Galaxy 1
Chivas 1, FC Dallas 1
DC United 0, Morelia 1
Houston 2, America 2