Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guzan to stay after all

Brad Guzan is not going anywhere. Guzan's work permit was denied which means his move to aston villa was squashed. While it is a personal setback for Brad, Chivas USA will certainly benefit.

It would have been nice to have an MLS product like brad go abroad, it will be a pleasure to have him around for another year.

Let's hope for Brad's sake that he has another standout year, gets more playing time with the usmnt and heads to Europe a year from now.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New duties

Martin Vasquez's duties will likely be much like these, running players through drills like he did in this pic from a year ago.
I can already picture some of the players talking to Martin.
Bayern player: Where were you at before Bayern?
Martin: Chivas USA.
Bayern player: Who? What's that?
Martin: Nevermind.

Happy trails

Congratulations to Martin Vasquez. Thanks to the service he put in while a member of the Galaxy's staff in 2004 and prior, Vasquez was able to form a connection with Jurgen Klinsmann and now the latter is taking Vasquez to Germany. Vasquez has agreed to join Klinsmann on Bayern Munich's coaching staff for the 2008-2009 season.

Vasquez is one of the good guys. Why he has been unable to land a head coaching job in MLS before is beyond me.

Now Vasquez has six months to learn German and get himself situated in Bavaria. Not bad.

ADD: Okay, back now in front of a computer and not on my phone. Easier to type this way.

As a commenter pointed out, Vasquez has been with Chivas USA since 2005. Yes, I think I've ran across Martin a few times since I've been covering the team. He's always been the slender middle-aged assistant coach. He was that way under Thomas Rongen. He was like that under Hans Westerhof and Bob Bradley and Preki. He won't be around for the 08 season though. He's leaving his job effective immediately.

Maybe Martin's problem is that he's a bit reserved. He certainly isn't as talkative as Thomas Rongen and doesn't have the presence of a Bob Bradley. Westerhof and Preki are each somewhat loose cannons but they can crack the whip on the lads. Martin's more of a lead-by-example type and perhaps that's why he was passed on by. I mean, the guy's got credentials. He's the only player to ever play for both the US and Mexico national teams; he was a player in the league and went on to work as an assistant on both LA teams (and the Spirit of the WUSA before then). I was always amazed why his name didn't pop up more when a coaching job opened up around the league.

Vasquez was born in Mexico but came to the US when he was 12 and progressed through the levels here in the US. He played for Cal State LA before stints in the Mexican league with several teams, including Atlas. Pretty impressive. Now, he's gone the indirect route to Europe as well.

Anyway, congrats to Martin.

New but not improved

The United States national team unveiled the men's 2008 home kits.

There are quite possibly the worst US soccer jersey since the mid-90s. I mean, what are we playing, soccer or rugby?

According to U.S. Soccer, these jerseys are going to make their "world debut" against Mexico a week from today. Let's hope for US fans' sake that the team looks better than their jerseys.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dollface ready to go

(photo courtesy of MLS) Actually, Marcello Gallardo's nickname is Doll in Spanish for his small size, not his babyface.
I've followed Gallardo's career for years, but that doesn't mean that I have high hopes for him in MLS. I mean, look at Denilson. DC United is taking a definite gamble here. I wish Gallardo was younger, because he was an incredible player when he was younger, full of skill, control and pluck.

I remember once that Landon Donovan compared himself to Javier Saviola, "Us little guys," he said, and when he said that, I thought of Gallardo, because he was the little guy I always thought was so dynamic and great to watch on the field. No, he wasn't Maradona - Maradona never passed when he could dribble, and Gallardo was excellent with little short passes.

I realize I'm writing in the past tense, like he's dead, when he's not, obviously.
I'm a little skeptical of how much he still has in the tank, though. I'll make a tentative bet that he'll produce on the level of Reyna - not a Denilson bust, but not a huge upgrade over Christian Gomez. I'm excited to see Gallardo in action, though.

After all, it was still worthwhile to watch Youri Djorkaef in his MLS days. More than a few people thought that Cuauhtemoc Blanco wouldn't have what it would take to make it in MLS. Perhaps the doll will make MLS his playpen.

In Mia's own words

How did you get the idea to do this?
This game actually started in 1997, up in Milwakee, but it was an indoor game and it just consisted of women’s national team players, my teammates, and we played college seniors in the area. 2001 was the last game – we had the WUSA and the national team and there was a lot going on. This year, we just had the idea to bring the game back. It’s just such a good thing and Nomar jumped on board. We thought about the Home Depot – it’s in our backyard, and the guys from AEG, Tim Leiweke, were awesome about letting us use this venue. All the people that pitched in were awesome – the celebrities who came out – we didn’t think we’d get the response that we did. It was fantastic.

It's important to get the word out about registration, no?
It’s so important. I think the more that our country becomes a melting pot, the more important it is. What’s so wonderful about Nomar being involved is the importance of minorities getting involved and getting into the bank. Southern California, you see so many people of so many ethnicities. That was illustrated out there today, with the bone marrow donors and the recipients. That five minutes it takes to get registered. I can’t wait to get that call. You change a family’s life – not just the recipient’s, but the entire family’s life – forever. You change that despair and struggle they’ve had and give them an opportunity for hope. I’m just so grateful for all the fans that came out and all the people that supported this.

Because of your brother you can really relate to all the families struggling with these types of diseases - how does it feel to know what they're going through?

It’s motivating. I know what it was like. My brother was told by his doctors, “you have to have a bone marrow transplant.” Then the insurance company said, ‘We don’t think we’re going to pay for it.” That’s to live – and he’s got a young son and a wife. I was making 35, 000 dollars at the time and I was begging for any kind of help. He deserved it. Then we were told, “We can’t find a match for you.” We eventually found his biological father, but that was just a half-match. They call it a haplo. People asked me, what was your goal today? If I got just one more person signed up, that’s one more opportunity that someone out there has and that makes all the difference in the world – in their lives. Watching that young girl out there, I thought, “That could be our daughter.”

Will this become an annual event?
We hope so. We really hope so. We’ll go back and revaluate, but the response has already been good. The celebrities said they had a blast and sounds like the fans did, too.

You dished out a lot of assists to the celebrities. (Smiling) I did.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Game pics

Aren't these good pictures? No, I didn't take them. Nick Ammazzalorso, who used to be one of the Galaxy media guys when I started covering the team, was helping out the organizers of the Celebrity Soccer Challenge and got them to send me a couple of pics. He was always doing nice stuff like that when he worked for the Galaxy, too.

Carlos Mencia does a butt/hip check of Ty Pennington while Julie Foudy looks on.

Rivers Cuomo celebrates scoring a goal with Bianca Kajlich.

Birth of a tournament

First, there was InterLiga. Then SuperLiga. Now, there's ChampionsLiga.

Okay, well, that's a stretch. The CONCACAF Champions League carries no such -Liga name. But it is another in what is suddenly a long line of tournaments for MLS teams to participate. (UI'm going to look at this tournament from an MLS point of view, for the time being, though InterLiga isn't open to MLS teams)

First, the details:

- 24 participating teams; 4 MLS, 4 Mexico, 3 Caribbean, 2 Costa Rica, 2 El Salvador, 2 Guatemala, 2 Honduras, 2 Panama, 1 Canada, 1 Belize, 1 Nicaragua
- 8 clubs will be seeded and need not qualify: 2 Mexico, 2 MLS, 1 Costa Rica, 1 Honduras, 1 Guatemala, 1 El Salvador
- remaining 16 clubs will play home-and-away series to fill remaining slots
- Preliminary round will be played late August, early September
- Group stage will consist of three home games and three away games for every participating team
- Group stage will be played in September and October
- Quarterfinals will be played in February and March
- Semifinals will be played in March and April
- Final (two legs) will be played in April

Now that we have the details out of the way, my initial thoughts are regarding the existence of this tournament. Is it necessary to expand the CONCACAF Champions Cup to include a group stage? Is there really a demand from CONCACAF soccer fans for such a tournament? What's the incentive for teams to play in this tournament? I haven't seen any figures as far as purse money involved. Prestige is built up over time so starting a tournament like this won't bring any prestige, regardless if you call it the regional champions league or not. My guess is participating MLS teams will still put the focus on winning MLS Cup, not necessarily this tournament.

And as far as the calendar itself goes, I can't understand why you would have the group stage end the final week of October and force teams to wait nearly four months to play the quarterfinals. MLS teams change a lot over the course of an offseason. You could have an entirely different team compete in Match Day 6 and the quarterfinals first leg, provided an MLS team gets that far.

I haven't seen it confirmed but the MLS teams will probably be the Houston, DC, New England and Chivas USA. Incidentally, if the Galaxy is involved in the inaugural edition of the tournament in any way, I will quit my job in protest. Or at least I'll strongly consider quitting.

Anyway, my initial fears over this tournament is the imbalance in CONCACAF shining through. Any time you hold a CONCACAF party, you get a couple of strong participants rounded out by a bunch of weak sisters. Will we see lopsided results and a quarterfinal round composed exclusively of MLS and Mexican teams?

And why did Costa Rica only get two slots? Saprissa won the CCC a few years ago. MLS hasn't had a team win a CCC since 2001 yet they get four? Will that change in the future?

For now, it seems that this tournament has more questions than answers, at least to me. What do you think?

Quotes from the Celebrity Soccer Challenge

Inspiration: I think I want to get back in shape and play on a team. I haven’t played since my late twenties. I kind of retired, but I think I want to start again – get on a team, get playing again. --Rivers Cuomo

I’m going to go upstairs (to register as a bone marrow donor). That’s the whole point of this. --Alexi Lalas

We watched Dare to Dream on our way here. I wanted my daughter to see the documentary on how they changed women’s soccer and how far it’s come. I got very emotional watching, because I was one of the pioneers out there playing with the boys and not getting to play with women. I quit before there really was organized girls soccer. It’s rewarding to see how far we’ve come and to know I played a small part in people’s acceptance of women as athletes. --Elizabeth Shue

I’m new to the foundation, but I’ve witnessed what was going on today and I was really touched. There’s a lot of heroes out there, a lot of people making a difference. It’s just inspired us all. -Jim Abbott

Extreme extertion: It was fun. I’ll feel muscles tomorrow that I haven’t felt in years. --Eric Braeden

I was having some groin issues, but the game was still fun. --Rivers Cuomo

Transfer? What transfer?: We’re not going to talk about that. We’re here for this. --Brad Guzan on Celtic. Interesting use of the royal "we".

Forget Freddy - Andy is the savior of U.S. Soccer: I dominated, to put it in short. It was like – Landon, Mia, and then me.
When you’re as good as me, the play really moves through me. I’m sort of like the Pele man, the John Stockton, Steve Nash as it were, if you were making a basketball to soccer comparison. The Joe Montana, as it were. Who else? I’ll say Muhammad Ali. It’s tough to top. Jordan, maybe? -- Andy Samberg, who is a deceptively tough interview, because I can't keep any questions straight when I'm giggling.

The we're-not-even-playing-on-turf-bewilderment: Actors are very uncoordinated. A few kept falling - I don’t understand. Course, I’d probably fall over in front of the camera. --Pete Vagenas

The perhaps-too-traumatized-by-papparazzi-temporary-deafness: Milo! Milo, a couple of quick questions? Milo? --Me to Milo Ventimiglia, who kept walking.

Previous experience: I grew up playing soccer. I played in high school and college. I loved the game. --Ty Pennington

I used to play here in Los Angeles, with a team called the Maccabees. We won the U.S. Championship four times. --Eric Braeden

I played soccer since I was about eight, up until high school. I play a little bit still, every now and then. --Andy Samberg

I have played soccer, but that was about twenty-five years ago. --Jim Abbott

I played as a kid and I still love it. --Nomar Garciaparra

Soccer I.Q: I watch the national team. A lot of these young guys are new, but I definitely watch the highlights and I’ve been following them. I watch the World Cup and all that. --Andy Samberg

I’m a big fan of soccer obviously. I used to play. Alexi Lalas and Mia Hamm, I’ve played with them before. --Eric Braeden

What it's all about: To come out here and play for Mia and Nomar – I think they’re the only two people who could get so many people to come out for a great cause. --Paul Caligiuri

They’re out here to have fun and they’re doing it for a great cause. That’s what’s the most important thing. --Nomar Garciaparra

It’s amazing to be here, with Mia, who is so well known in soccer and to support the cause. It’s really special to be asked to be a part of it. --Chris Albright

It’s a wonderful cause. --Eric Braeden

We’re privileged to be a part of it and so honored that she wanted us, the Galaxy and the Home Depot Center to be part of it. We didn’t think twice. We said, where and when? --Alexi Lalas

Anytime you can come out and be part of this, for such a good cause – it was a good afternoon. --Brad Guzan

Final thoughts: Unless there’s some sort of fracas in the locker room post-game, I hope to be invited back. --Andy Samberg

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Before the camera broke

I suppose my next camera (when I can afford one) should be encased in rubber or something, so it can survive being dropped.

Mia's Match

Here's my story on the Celebrity Soccer Challenge.

Victor wins it

Hey readers, concord got it right. The four-time winner of the US Open Cup was Eric Braeden. Didn't anyone get the hint when my running blog mentioned that he scored twice in the Soccer Challenge game?

Listen to him here. That voice gives me chills. It's got an awesome accent, tone and timbre.

Eric was born and raised in Germany, where like nearly everyone there, he learned to love the game. Anyway, when Eric first came over to California, he was still using his given name, Hans Gudegast. He attended Santa Monica College and joined a local team, Maccabi Los Angeles. The fact that it was Jewish-based team didn't bother him - he embraced that. His bio on his website mentions specifically that he welcomed the chance to play with the team because it defied people's stereotypes of what a German would do. He was with the team when they won their first championship in 1973. (His bio mentions that one specifically, and he told me, "We won four". I didn't question him in detail, so I don't know which other of the Maccabi's five championships he missed. If we assume a natural order, Eric could have helped the team win 1973, 1975, 1977,1978 and left before they won in 1981. But maybe he missed a season due to having to shoot a movie somewhere.)

Anyway, Eric isn't a Eurosnob about American soccer - check out the first part of this interview, where he talks about soccer, revealing his German loyalty, but giving the U.S. more props than the interviewer does.

Sudan no match

Egypt romped easily over their southern neighbors.

Lions romp

Cameroon destroyed Zambia 5-1 in the African Cup of Nations. It's easy to score so many goals when the opposing defense gifts you several of them, as evidenced by these highlights.

Tough guess

Which player on the field for the Celebrity Soccer Challenge won the U.S. Open Cup four times?

I'm curious to see how long it will take for someone to provide the correct answer in the comments.

Me? Me a celebrity?

I finally got recognized. Yep - your little soccer reporter. And by somebody famous, no less. After the Mia/Nomar charity match, I was getting set to interview Rivers Cuomo, lead singer/writer for the band Weezer, for a quick quote when he cocked his head slightly and said, well, listen for yourself.

Sure, I was the giddy geek at that moment, but at the same time, I know what this really signifies. The soccer fan credentials of Rivers Cuomo are beyond question. If you know who I am, you're probably reading a lot of soccer stuff.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Are you registered?

If there was ever a day to take good pictures for the blog, the Soccer Celebrity Challenge would be it, but I dropped my faithful little digital camera and now it's broken.
I can't feel even a little bit sorry for myself today, though, not when covering an event that helps highlight what real struggle is all about by showcasing the difference bone marrow transplants can make in the lives of many people fighting deadly diseases.
I'm in the bone marrow registry - I got tested and signed up years ago. It's especially important for minorities to join the registry, because right now there are so few of them in the database.
Mia emphasized that point when I talked to her. I had to wait a while for that chat, because she was signing autographs for fans for a long, long, time.

Mia Hamm Challenge Running Blog

Game just started. Mia's team is team Red Mia Hamm, Pat Noonan, Elizabeth Shue, Chris Albright, Milo Ventimiglia, Andy Samberg, Lieberthal, Eric Wynalda, Seth Myers, Taylor Twelman, Joy Fawcett, Casey Jennings, Ty Pennington, Eric Braeden
Nomar's is blue; Landon Donovan, Bianca Kajlich, Colleti, Tony Hawk, Alan Hopkins, Julie Foudy, Carlos Mencia, Kristine Lilly, Kim Ng, Tisha Hoch, Alexi Lalas, Anthony LaPaglia, Brad Guzan,

1-Ty Pennington miffed a Mia Hamm cross, though he was right in front of goal
2-Mia takes it herself this time. Goal! 1-0 to Mia
Anthony LaPaglia is in the blue goal, so now he's been scored on by David Beckham and Mia Hamm both. Wonder how many people can say that.
5- Taylor Twellman bangs it off the crossbar. Nomar's team needs to get going.
6- Casey Jennings scores. I have no idea either. Turns out he's the beach volleyball guy. I don't know. 2-0
8- Rivers Cuomo gets one back for Nomar's team. He took a nice pass from Julie Foudy, I believe. 2-1
10- Elizabeth Shue subs in for Pennington. Should be an upgrade.
11- Wynalda (I think) scores from the halfway stripe. 3-1 Mia
13- Mia and Jennings work a nice give and go that leaves hims alone on goal. 4-1 Nomar is getting spanked.
12- Landon Donovan passes to Tisha Hoch (Venturini) for a blue goal. There's too much subbing, I can't keep track of when he came on. 4-2
13- Mia almost scores again.
14- Pete Vagenas, whose name was horribly butchered during introductions, tries to set up Tony Hawk, but the ball is saved off the line.
15- Landon to Pete to Kristine Lilly - she tops the shot way over goal. Weird. It was almost too easy.
15 - Last shot of the half - Eric Braeden scores! Yeah, Victor from Young and the Restless. I think Guzan needs to get in goal for team Nomar.
The celebrities who played pretty well - Jennings, Hawk looked ok too. Also, that guy from Heroes, Milo Ventimiglia, even though he's kinda small.
Second period
16 -Taylor Twellman is in goal this half for Mia's team. He just make a save.
18- Team Blue scores. It's another volleyball guy, Fonomoana, or something.
25- Landon scores, I missed it, really, just saw him jogging back. 5-4
27- Alan Hopkins had the tying goal on his foot, but puts it off the crossbar.
28- Andy Samberg has about three chances to put the ball in, Guzan blocks them all.
28- Rivers Cuomo one on one versus Twellman, puts it wide.
29 - Mia feeds Pennington again. Guzan picks the ball off his foot.
Now it's halftime. Mia gives a speech to introduce the audience to the Foundation's goal, which is to increase bone marrow registration. Mia's brother, Garrett, fought aplastic anemia for years (he finally got a marrow transplant, but developed an infection and died in 1997). The cause is very personal and meaningful to her.
BTW, Nomar isn't playing. Apparently, his MLB contract doesn't allow him to do so, for fear he might get hurt. Lame. Tony Hawk, (my hero) he gets hurt all the time. Course, skateboarding isn't a team sport.
2nd Half
32- Eric Braeden scores for Red. I think Milo had the assist. 6-4
34- Brad Guzan, who is now on the field, scores on Taylor Twellman and then does a little "hush" finger signal. 6-5
36- Guzan gets a sweet pass from Foudy and scores on Taylor again. Tied game. 6-6
37- Taylor does save a shot from Foudy.
39- Ty Pennington finally scores. I think the ball kind of hit him and went in. 7-6 Mia
41- Jennings passes to Wyss (head of Soccer for Hope) Goal! 8-6
42- Kajlich gets a cross right in front of goal, but it rolls right over her foot.
43- Wynalda scores. Jaime thinks Wynalda can still play in MLS. 9-6
44- Milo Ventimiglia doesn't seem to realize it, but he has masking tape stuck to his red shorts.
44- Wynalda scores again. 10-6
45 - Vagenas scores for blue 10-7
45- Guzan scores for blue again. 10-8.
It's funny how the birds of a feather flock together. During the break, Shue talks with Ventimiglia, the SNL guys appear to joke around together and the athletes talk to each other. Except for Noonan, who is chatting with Braeden.
Final Period begins.
Blue just scored again. 10-9
The game continues, but I'm leaving the wifi press box to try to get quotes.

More from the Elephants

The Elephants vs. the Squirrels. Awesome.

Bye Bye Brad?

Brad Guzan has impressed me over the three years I've covered Chivas USA. Apparently, he had the same effect on Celtic officials.

Celtic have offered Guzan a contract as a deal for the young American goalkeeper could be brokered soon.

While the move would mean the exit of one of Chivas USA's best and most popular players, for Guzan the deal would be outstanding. The opportunity to play for an immensely popular club while having the chance to compete in the Champions League is fantastic. Already, Guzan is one of the top American goalkeepers; to have the chance to continue developing abroad is too good to pass up.

Most have Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard penciled in as the US starting goalkeeper in the 2010 World Cup, but I wouldn't be so quick to assume that Howard has the job wrapped up. In two years' time, Guzan might have started a considerable amount of games for Celtic and if he can improve on his already high level of play, he might claim that number one goalkeeper spot ahead of the World Cup.

Of course, Celtic already has a pretty good goalkeeper in Artur Boruc and Celtic manager Gordon Strachan admitted the move for Guzan would be "an investment for the future."

But Guzan is a true competitor and takes his job very seriously. If he goes, it's only a matter of time before he's the number one 'keeper at Celtic.


One of the most frustrating things of 2008 for me thus far has been the African Cup of Nations.

It's not the tournament itself or the results or anything. It's the mere fact that I can't follow the action! I'd love to be able to watch tournament games, even if they are on delay, but I can't. As a soccer fan, it's very irritating to say the least. There is a grand soccer event going on halfway around the world and it may as well be on another planet.

Anyway, I know this happened days ago but Nigeria and Ivory Coast played in one of the best matchups of the tournament. It was the group stage opener for both, and Ivory Coast won it 1-0. Nigeria went on to draw Mali 0-0 while Ivory Coast thumped Benin 4-1 and are through to the quarters.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Lawson Vaughn went under the knife today. The Chivas USA right back had his left ankle operated on and will be out for six weeks.

Chivas USA's training camp opens on Feb. 4 so obviously Vaughn will be among those not in action at the start of the preseason. No need to rush him back, though, as Vaughn is better off letting his ankle heal safely than risking it by coming back too soon.

Vaughn's got the right back spot sewn up, and if he doesn't I'd need a lengthy explanation as to why not. He's versatile enough to play in the middle but his speed is better suited out right. And if Chivas will play a 4-3-3 this season, he would provide good service from the right side while still having enough speed to get back and defend.

Soccer and Celebrities

Celebritydom isn't usually associated with soccer players in the U.S. One notable exception is David Beckham, obviously, but another is Mia Hamm. Following her retirement, Mia focused mostly on her life with husband Nomar Garciaparra, especially after having twins.

However, there've been signs recently that Mia is looking to get more involved with soccer again. Mia was on the small selection committee that appointed Pia Sundhage to the USWNT coaching position.

Mia is also headlining a
Celebrity Soccer Challenge this weekend for a children's charity.

I'll be there - I'm curious to get Mia's thoughts on the team these days. Also, if she's planning further involvement with the new pro league, Women's Professional Soccer. Yep, that's her image in the logo. I've never gotten anyone in MLS to admit whose foot is on their logo.

Argentina's near

Earlier this week, Argentina released their roster for an upcoming friendly against Guatemala. On Feb. 6, Argentina will play Guatemala at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

Argentina spared no expense in calling in a star-studded roster, which includes Juan Roman Riquelme, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero, not to mention up-and-comers in Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago, among others. The match falls on an international fixture date, which allowed Argentina to call in a mostly European-based squad.

I'm hoping to be at the game as it's not often you get to take in Argentina in person, at least not here in the United States.

Still, I can't help but thinking... the U.S. is playing Mexico that same night, in Houston. Wouldn't the U.S. be better off playing Argentina than Mexico? Sure, a rivalry match is always an enjoyable one but why not test your mettle against one of the best nations in the world?

U.S.-Mexico will undoubtedly be a good game. There will be moments of drama and (probably) pulsating goals. The action will likely go back and forth and few will complain about the entertainment value of the match once its over (though the result will likely irritate one group of fans).

But Argentina is Argentina, and wouldn't a friendly against them be better for the U.S. than another match against Mexico?

Now, I've often been supportive of U.S.-Mexico games, and still am. I think it's one of those things that you can't get enough of, for all the things I've said prior. But Mexico is close by. A two- or three-hour flight from Mexico City to American soil is usually all it takes for El Tri to arrive. Argentina is quite a bit further, especially when you consider most of their players are based in the Old World. That Argentina is willing to come to the United States to play against Guatemala seems a bit strange. I mean, if they are willing to come play Guatemala - all the way in Los Angeles - surely they'd be willing to play the United States here, no? Why didn't the U.S. make a greater push to play against Argentina?

Anyway, here's what the U.S. missed out on:

Goalkeepers: Oscar Ustari (Getafe, Spain), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands).

Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta (Espanyol, Spain) , Ezequiel Garay (Racing Santander, Spain), Federico Fazio (Sevilla, Spain), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich, Germany), Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kazan, Russia).

Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Real Madrid, Spain), Ever Banega (Valencia, Spain), Jose Sosa (Bayern Munich, Germany), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England), Damian Escudero (Velez Sarsfield), Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca Juniors).

Strikers: Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid, Spain), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Angel Di Maria (Benfica, Portugal), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli, Italy), Marco Ruben (River Plate).

Go Grahame!

Grahame Jones wasn't finished pointing out to the soccer suits how they're not helping get coverage for themselves. Lalas seems to counter that the individual teams don't have a lot of choice when, under single-entity, the league is in charge of signing contracts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Won't see March

Normally, I'd file this under the "Who Gives a Shit" category, but since Chivas USA plucked servicable players in the 2006 and 2007 Supplemental Draft, I'm giving this a second look.

Okay, look is too strong. Casual glance is probably more precise, since it'll take an act of Congress to ensure that more than one of these players to play significant minutes in 2008.

Kraig Chiles, F, San Diego State, 5-11, 185; 23 years old
Javier Ayala-Hil, F, Cal, 5-8, 160; 22 years old
El-Hadj Cisse, M, North Carolina State, 5-11, 175; 22 years old
Andre Sherard, D, North Carolina, 6-4, 180; 22 years old

Not sure what you can tell from names and statistics but that's all the energy I'm exerting into Chivas' Supplemental Draft. Sorry.

By the way, the players Chivas took in 06 and 07 were Lawson Vaughn and Anthony Hamilton, respectively. Vaughn has been pretty good but the jury is still out on Hamilton.

Mexican radio

I wish I was in Tia-juana
Eating barbecued iguana

Crazy song right there. Whenever I hear about Tijuana, I either think about that song or the line from Traffic where the corrupt Mexican army official says "Quiero chingarme el cartel de Tijuana."

Anyway, Tijuana will be the site of an international friendly. Mexico will play Paraguay there on Feb. 27. Mexico plays in San Diego every now and then. They were there on Feb. 28, 2007 to play Venezuela and I've seen them play Paraguay and Sweden down in San Diego as well. But Tijuana, that'll be a unique experience.

Tijuana of course is one of the most-visited cities in this region, if not the world. Lots of people pass through Tijuana. Depending on who you talk to, the city has either a bad reputation or a terrible one. Well, that's just my view as an outsider. Jaime Cardenas grew up down in Tijuana, so he'd have a waaaay better view of that city than me.

Whatever the case, I'll be down there for the match. It's actually Mexico's Under-23 team (roster follows below) so it won't be the full national team with all the stars. But I still expect for a huge turnout nonetheless.

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (América), Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey), Jorge Villalpando (Puebla).

Defenders: Severo Meza (Monterrey), Daniel Guerrero (Atlante), Julio César Domínguez (Cruz Azul), Rodrigo Iñigo (América), Omar Hernández (Necaxa), Francisco Gamboa (Toluca), Adrián Aldrete (Morelia), Efraín Velarde (Pumas).

Midfielders: Pablo Barrera (Pumas), Patricio Araujo (Guadalajara), Alan Zamora (Atlante), Gerardo Rodríguez (Pachuca), Juan Carlos Silva (América), Edgar Castillo (Santos), César Villaluz (Cruz Azul), Sergio Avila (Guadalajara).

Forwards: Enrique Esqueda (América), Ismael Valadez (Toluca), Edgar Andrade (Cruz Azul), Santiago Fernández (Toluca), Luis Angel Landín (Morelia).

Reunited and it feels so good

More info later

Jaime's Alive!

Let me first thank Luis and Andrea for inviting me to come to the Sideline Views. I’m here to let people know that my blog (Korner Pocket) is not dead, but rather in deep, deep coma.

There is no truth to the story that my blog was found with sleeping pills scattered around the Web. There’s also no truth to the report that I’m making people sign up to be able to access my blog.

There are two ways to delete a blog on blogger. One is to erase everything and delete the blog, but I wasn’t comfortable with deleting everything I had done and went with option two, which to take the blog offline by restricting access to people. Unlike what one person on BigSoccer said, I’m not trying to make people sign up for my blog. I’m a fan and a believer of the First Amendment so I would never even consider doing that.

I hope not to be gone from the Web too long, but for now the best place to find me in will be the print edition of the Times— I know, how 1980s of me.

I know some of you (*cough* Luis *cough*) just can not get enough Chivas USA news, so I didn’t want to come in here and just talk about myself. Here’s what to expect from Chivas USA as training camp approaches:

  1. Don’t believe the stories that say Jose Saturino Cardozo is close to signing a contract with the team. Cardozo has been invited to training camp, which open on Feb. 4, but Chivas USA is not going to sign a soon-to-be 37-year-old sight unseen. He will be on trail.

  1. Antonio Cue left LA to go to Guadalajara yesterday to talk to Chivas de Guadalajara officials. Cue said, as he was boarding the plane, that he would take a look at some players while he was down there but didn’t give any names. I suggested to Antonio that he look at back up goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.

  1. Look for Chvias USA to try to implement the 4-3-3 formation more next year. While Preki’s defensive style was very successful, it was not always very exciting. And that’s just not the Chivas way. A switch to that formation makes more sense with Ante Razov on the team, but that’s not a guarantee at the moment.

  1. Speaking of Preki, Mr. Radosavljevic will be on the hot seat this season. Preki’s new contract is only for two years, which, IMHO, is no security whatsoever. To make matters worse, the reigning MLS Coach of the Year will be playing with a short deck as he could possibly loose Brad Guzan and Ante Razov this transfer window and might be force to take on a player he may not like in the summer.

I would say something about the Chivas USA vs Columbus game next month at College of the Canyons Community College, but, after reading that Marcos Gonzalez won’t be back with the Crew next year, I’ll just let Andrea talk about that meeting later.

Eddie's first cap

I was saving this audio clip of Eddie Robinson until the little feature I wrote about him went up on soccer365.

Jonny Bornstein scored on his debut with the national team last year, but Robinson scoring was way different, mostly because he's so much older. It's not the arrival of a young talent that can now look forward to many more years with the NT. It's more the sweet solace of, "Finally, damn it - and if it's the one and only chance I get, I know I made the most of it."

Newcastle Rumors

I didn't even bother posting the Becks to Newcastle rumors that surfaced earlier because, well, there's a higher chance that Giuseppe Rossi is going to switch allegiance to the U.S. today.

Thing is, the Galaxy were talking to Newcastle, but probably in pursuit of this guy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Slip of the tongue

Eddie Johnson is on his way to Fulham FC and the Kansas City Wizards sent out a press release on the matter. Then, they sent out a corrected version. Here's what the Wizards sent out initially:

(January 23, 2008) – Forward Eddie Johnson completed an agreement today to transfer from the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer to English Premier League club Fulham FC. Johnson led the Wizards with 15 goals and recorded a career-high six assists in 2007. He was named team MVP and MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

Per team and league policy, specific financial details of the transfer will not be disclosed. The Wizards will, however, receive two-thirds of the transfer fee to use for a variety of purposes that improve on-field product, pending league approval. Money can be applied as allocation money (up to $500,000), toward a designated-player signing or for the KCW Juniors Youth Development Program.

"When a player of Eddie Johnson's caliber signs with an English Premier League team, it speaks to the level of play in Major League Soccer," Technical Director Peter Vermes said. "Eddie grew as a player in Kansas City...

And now the corrected version:

(January 23, 2008) – Forward Eddie Johnson completed an agreement today to transfer from the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer to English Premier League club Fulham FC. Johnson led the Wizards with 15 goals and recorded a career-high six assists in 2007. He was named team MVP and MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

Per team and league policy, specific financial details of the transfer will not be disclosed. The Wizards will, however, receive a replacement allocation.

"When a player of Eddie Johnson's caliber signs with an English Premier League team, it speaks to the level of play in Major League Soccer," Technical Director Peter Vermes said. "Eddie grew as a player in Kansas City...

Interesting. I'm guessing what they said in the first release is accurate but was too much information to pass out apparently so they snipped all evidence of that out and re-sent the release.

Since they have a Designated Player slot, the Wizards could potentiall sign a DP and use some of these allocation funds to nab themselves a pair of good players. Or they could put it towards player salaries. Or they could put it towards scouting. Whatever the case, the Wizards could use this bit of a windfall to improve their team.

Now back to the issue of self-policing whatever information that can or cannot be released to the public. Does it really do any harm to let people know that the Wizards get to use up to $500,000 to improve the quality of soccer on the field? Where is the harm in that?

Landon talks

I already used some of these quotes, but I thought readers might be interested hearing Landon talk more specifically about earning the armband, working with Bob, and playing abroad.

The devil in the details

It's the little things, the little, little things that matter sometimes.

Thanks to the contribution of our loyal and kind reader, Dave A, we now have a few extra touches on our new template (see the soccer ball?).

And the 24/7 means that you'll be subjected to my random soccer thoughts when I'm insomniac in the wee small hours.

Thanks, Dave!


I didn't think my viewpoint was especially rumor-worthy, but apparently it was this time.

Just to clarify a few things, though, because I've gotten emails on the post as well.

I'm not mad at anything or anyone in particular other than the canned control of information. It comes from agents, press officers and institutional rules all over the MLS landscape.

There always exceptions. On both the local teams I cover, there have been players who don't conform to the safe side of things and give sincere answers to questions. Jesse Marsch of Chivas USA is a completely straight-up guy who will give thoughtful answers. Landon Donovan, Galaxy player, will often tell the truth even if it doesn't make him look good.

I do want to stress that I'm not upset with any news breaking elsewhere - I'm glad the information is somewhere. But like Grahame pointed out to Sunil, if you're looking for publicity on your own turf, that's not the way to do it.

As far as MLS goes in general, I do think that the single-entity structure of the league means that the best source is one at MLS headquarters, because all trades and moves have to be approved there.

That actually leaves local reporters at a bit of a disadvantage. Let's say a club is ready to make a move, but doesn't want to confirm it because the league hasn't approved it. They deny the move to the local beat guys. Then headquarters approves the move and someone with a good source (Deep Throat MLS) there could get the news at the same time the club does.

Same problem with U.S. Soccer. By going by the book and not saying anything until a contract is completely signed and confirmed, they leave it open for Spain or whoever they're playing to break the story.

For those who say reporters just have to work harder to break stories - fair point. But I'm talking about soccer needing publicity.

In 2005, Thomas Rongen took Grahame Jones aside for a chat. All the other reporters knew what was happening - Rongen was giving Grahame a scoop. Sure enough, the LA Times ran a top sports story on his resignation the next day. That's just smart, because it gets the team and the sport in an important local paper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

USSF Press Roundtable

Hosted by federation president Sunil Gulati. I've mentioned it here on the blog already, but the little podcasting service Luis and I use for audio on the blog won't accomodate something this long.

There's no way I had the time to transcribe the entire audio, either.

Thankfully, U.S. Soccer has thoughtfully podcasted the whole thing on their site. I say, thankfully, but we reporters didn't know that would happen, so if our questions sound dorky or you hear a strange noise in the background, that's us eating, because food was provided.

I ended up asking almost all my questions about the USWNT, not because that's all the info I care about, but no one else was really asking about the topic.

Wouldn't it be nice

Here's a snip of my interview with Josmer Altidore, where he talks about playing with Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu.

Guzan and the bigger picture

Brad Guzan is on trial with Celtic.
I'm happy for Brad, but the entire situation with his move there has been frustrating for local reporters.
The official news of his trial broke abroad, but not because no one from LA asked him about the move or his plans. Brad was a brick wall, rejecting our questions with as much ferocity as he defends his net.
Even the simplest queries were smothered.
"Are you talking to Celtic?"
"I can't say."
Well, that gives us a whole lot of nothing to write about. Which, incidently, affects exposure and publicity for Brad, his MLS team, and the entire league. Nice going.
Earlier in the day, Grahame Jones had chided Sunil Gulati at the press roundtable for U.S. Soccer's similar stonewalling about upcoming games, citing as an example the news about the upcoming game in Spain breaking there first.
Grahame didn't understand why the organization couldn't even admit that such games were a possibility, pointing out that even if they didn't pan out, the media coverage would include both the original option and any revision, thus ensuring a double amount of the publicity US Soccer says it seeks. Instead, when all the news breaks abroad, it makes soccer look second-rate here in the U.S., when it's really the federation keeping local media in the dark.
I've got a similar gripe about the Galaxy. It's annoying when news about the team breaks on the East Coast because every question I've asked about the topic here results in a denial. If a trade gets to MLS headquarters in New York and someone is going to leak it there, for heaven's sake, admit that transfer to me, Luis, Grahame, Billy or Jaime first, so publicity for the team shows up where the team actually plays.
Instead, it's become harder to get any information from the Galaxy, especially since Beckham arrived. The trades are also killing the local reporters and their sources. Reporters talk to players and develop a trust there, but it takes time, and that's blown away when players leave. New players are often so nervous about making a good impression that they'll say essentially nothing for a long time. Same thing with new coaching staff.
No one wants the kind of regurgitated coverage we get stuck producing sometimes. We had Brad right in front of us, there's no way he didn't know he was flying out the next morning, but he couldn't say something simple like, "I don't know how it will turn out, but I'm flying over there tomorrow and I'm really happy for the chance."
Instead, we've got the after-the-fact crap. No, I won't hold it against Brad. He's a good guy, and his agent probably told him not to say anything, but it's depressing when the programming is so complete.
The media aren't the enemy. We're trying to cover the sport that so many involved with say needs more coverage, and instead of assistance, we're dealing with a lot of resistance. It doesn't really make sense. Agents and organizations such as U.S. Soccer and MLS and the individual teams need to think about how much they want to control their players and club information versus how much they want the public to even know who they are.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rolfe answers

Sometimes when I cover stories, I take a bit of a chance and talk to a lesser-known player before a match because I think he might break out in the game and then I'll have some exclusive quotes on hand to use in an article. Freelance writers have to angle for any advantage they can get.

Anyway, I interviewed Chris Rolfe with that in mind the day before the Sweden game. Since I was on vacation during almost the entire camp, I couldn't really tell who had been training well, but I like Rolfe's playing style and thought he finished the MLS season pretty well. So I picked him out to ask a few questions.

Chris didn't have a good game against Sweden, though, so I didn't really use the interview for anything. I've posted the audio here thinking some Fire fans might enjoy it. My apologies for being so low-energy in my interviewing style. I was really tired and jetlagged.

Difference of opinion

Looking over the new SV poll, I thought about how many readers would wonder why Ricardo Clark is on the list.

Blame Grahame Jones of the LA Times. After the game, in the post-game presser, Grahame had a question about Clark for Bob Bradley and he phrased it thusly:

"Bob, I thought Rico Clark played very well today. He impressed me. Your thoughts on how he played?"

Mind you, I thought Clark played fine, but I also thought a little rustiness was evident. He didn't stand out to me in particular as having a great game, but Grahame obviously thought differently.

The first part of Bradley's response to the question provided a bit of comedy.

"It was good to get him back on the field after his (long pause as Bob searched for the right word) hiatus, I guess." The reporters cracked up a little there at Bob's painfully PC choice of words for Clark's suspension from MLS for kicking Carlos Ruiz.

Anyway, I added Rico to the MOTM list in honor of Grahame, whom I respect a lot, even though I don't always agree with him.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Four Nations Champs

The U.S. Women win.

China View's view.

Nice graph

Actually, it's not really a graph, or even a chart, but mediotiempo does have this cool webpage that tracks all the Mexican players in foreign leagues. Yes, the MLS guys, Blanco, Mendoza and Suarez are on that list too.

They even have a spot for Maribel Dominguez, from the women's team.

It would be nice if U.S. Soccer or someplace had such a chart, so at a glance fans could track the progress of their favorite players abroad.

There is this "Global" blog on the U.S. Soccer site, which is pretty good for news and updates, but nothing as nice or easy to look at as mediotiempo's page.

Don't look at me to do a page like this - I'm not very tech-savvy. I'd just like to see someone who is do it. If anyone knows of a page like this, feel free to provide the info in the comments section.

Carson capers

Carson, is, of course, the home of the Home Depot Center, which is home to the both the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, though only the Galaxy is mentioned in this LA Weekly article about the troubles plauging Carson politics.

The YouTube video of the council meeting is pretty hilarious, though, especially when Carson mayor Jim Dear calls for a doctor to come to the rescue.

Also amusing to WNT fans will be Dear's assertion that Brandi Chastain's famous jersey-removing moment took place in Carson. He doesn't even remember her name, calling her "the woman".

That happened in Pasadena, actually, at the Rose Bowl, (former home of the Galaxy) where the U.S. women won the World Cup. In Carson in 2003, they didn't even play in the final. They finished third after losing the semi-final to Germany, the eventual champion.

Perhaps Dear should be recalled just for getting that so horribly wrong.

On the other hand, it is disturbing to read that a place where so many elite athletes work out is infamous for industrial pollution.

I'm really, really back

Yes, this article is about the aftermath of the Sweden game, but there's other news on the USSP site. We're back to covering MLS! So I get my LA beat back, which is good news.

The Swedes react

I think they're not happy with the loss, but much more than that, I couldn't tell you. Can anyone offer an assist?

I do guess that they're calling Canadian ref Mauricio Navarro an idiot, though. There's no other reason he's so prominent in the picture with the idiot caption.

When you're smiling. . .

Actually, Jozy isn't really smiling here, but somehow, he always manages to look pretty happy. That's even when reporters are shoving each other in front of him and talking over everybody in an attempt to get questions asked of the rising star.

Happy, so happy together

Yep, this was taken after they won the match and one set a historic record. Can't you tell by how thrilled they look?

Back in the groove

The problem with taking a break is that you lose all your regular fitness for something. That applies not only to soccer players, but to writers. You might laugh, but it's true. Last night, not only did I forget my binoculars, but also my extra batteries for my recorder and my headphones. I was definitely off my game.

Wrote a piece on how Landon's historic goal fits into the larger task he's set for himself to become a more consistent performer for the team. Jeff Carlisle was in town (congrats on new baby Ben) and handled the game article. He asked me to look over his player ratings and let him know what I thought. I'm not the conformist type, but Jeff and I have a similar perspective in a lot of ways, and I didn't find any area of disagreement.

Any readers want to make a case or provide their own ratings and rationales?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Running blog - US vs Sweden

I just realized I forgot my binoculars. The pressbox has a good view, so it doesn't really affect things much, but I like to zoom in on players' expressions on occasion. Anyway, the press chat with Sunil Gulati is over.

Landon Donovan has been named captain for this game. All those who voted for Jozy Altidore to score are going to have to wait until the second half, probably. He's not starting.

Guzan is in goal, hopefully setting up for a good show to all those European teams interested.

U.S. Lineup - Brad Guzan, Ramiro Corrales, Eddie Robinson, Jimmy Conrad, Drew Moor, Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan

Sweden- Rami Shaaban, Mikael Lustig, Mattias Bjarsmyr, Peter Larsson, Oscar Ronningberg, Daniel Andersson (capt) Niclas Alexandersson, Anders Svensson, Andreas Johansson, Rade Prica, Pontus Wernbloom

The announcer is calling out names, but no one is on the field yet. It's weird. Usually they're introduced when they're actually on the grass.

Now they're announding the U.S. team names, but the guys still aren't on the field. The bench guys just walked out. It's very odd. People are cheering the name announcements, while looking around like "What's going on?"

I guess they're waiting for the FIFA anthem. Oh, ok, here come the teams now. It was actually hard to tell the difference at a glance during warmups, because both teams were earing blue, but now Sweden is in yellow jackerts, while the U.S. wears white ones.

National anthems. Sweden's sounds both mellow and majestic.

Sam's Army is in the Riot Squad corner of the stands, belting out the U.S. anthem.


1- Landon fouls a Swede.
3 - Brad Davis is offsides.
5- Twellman with a weak shot from the top of the box. He's not the best turn-n-shoot guy.
7- Guzan smothers a shot on a Swedish breakaway. Not too difficult, but he did well.
8- Build up between Noonan ans Twellman leads to a Rico Clark outside shot. Not a bad try.
11- Twelman takes a foul in a good spot for the U.S. freekick. Davis places it nicely - love that left foot - but no U.S. player can shake free from the defense.
13- Guzan smothers another counter, then the Swedes get called for offsides on their next possession.
14- Playing out of the back, Robinson passes forward for Landon, who collects the ball, turns and slips a pass foward to Pat Noonan, whose cross gets blocked out for a corner. Brad Davis takes the corner, The ball bounces off Noonan's back, is blocked back off the line by Shaaban, then Robinson pounces on it to kick it off the crossbar and into a goal. First cap, first goal, just like Bornstein last year.
20- Edu with an outside shot way over. Sweden had a good run of possession after the goal, but no shots.
22- Now they work the ball in for a corner. Svensson is taking it. He pounds it into the box and the US clears. Landon nearly gets the ball going the other way on a counter.
25- Robinson isn't done after scoring the goal - he just went up for a header that he won and sent about 30 feet. That drew ahs in the pressbox.
27- Drew Moor gets fouled - Rade Prica is frustrated - and the ref pulls a yellow card - persistent infringement, apparently.
30 - A FK nearly bests Guzan, but he dives to knock it out for a corner.
31- Pontus Wernbloom is looking for the next yellow. He's throwing his weight around there.
33- Robinson returns the favor, fouling and giving up a FK. Sweden makes the most of it, leading to play that leads to a shot by Wernbloom that Guzan covers well.
34- Another Wernbloom shot denied by Guzan.
39- There's been occasional sloppy play by the U.S., but in general, they've knocked it around well.
41- Landon set Drew Moor up nicely, but the right back muffed his entry cross.
43- Svensson has played well for Sweden tonight. He keeps calm and makes smart decisions and passes to open up chances for his team.
44- CK for Sweden, Alexandersson takes it, it leads to an apparent handball that doesn't get called.
45- Sweden with a late flurry here in front of goal, but they can't get a good shot off and the ball is eventually cleared.
First half over.
Second half
47- The U.S. starts out fast. Landon sets up a play with a pass to Noonan - who gets it to Jozy's feet in front of goal- he should totally score from there, but he gets his feet tangled up. He's still stong enough to fend off his defender, eventually drawing a foul.
48- The local reporters in the pressbox are nervous for Landon as he goes through his little ritual. We watched him miss twice for The Galaxy in 2007, which is unusual for him, but it robs us of confidence. He nails the shot, though, low and hard to his right. That's it for Landon - he passes Eric Wynalda on the alltime list.
58- Can't blog much in the second half. Writing stories.
61- Couldn't resist this note- the Riot Squad influence in Sam's Army is evident. "F*** IKEA," they are chanting.
14878 listed attendance. It looks legit. They were a pretty lively crowd, too.

Video killed the blog star

I was a little lazy about posting the audio of the rest of my interview with Bob Bradley, and now part of it is on U.S. Soccer's website instead. Yes, that's me in the corner, (that's me in the spotlight) of the picture while Bob talks.

Brush up on your Swedish

Can anyone help here?

As far as I can tell, it's an article speculating on the plans of coach Lars Lagerback. Nothing about the U.S. team, other than that they're the opponent.

The paper even has a reporter covering the team via blog, but I searched that in vain as well for any mention of Americans. Well, American soccer players. Ron Jeremy was mentioned. So was Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning and Brett Favre.

Congrats to Danny!

Luis won't be in the pressbox for the Sweden game today, and this guy is the reason why.

Danny Bueno, Luis' younger brother, is getting married today. He's a part-time soccer writer too, covering games for MLSnet during the season. This is a shot of Danny in the pressbox, focusing intently on a game.

Luis will be back for future games, but right now, best man duties take top priority.

No byline

I don't know who wrote the AP story for the USWNT, but the short article doesn't mince words about the goal scored by Finland. Ouch.

The U.S. won anyway. Lindsey Tarpley is emerging as a force.

A slight chance

So this snowball rolls into hell. . .

Years ago, I wrote a story about Guiseppe Rossi, an American kid who was raised by a soccer coach father who taught him to love the country of his heritage, Italy. Rossi was so talented, he was able to move back to Italy at 14 and start a professional career there. He went on to sign with Manchester United. Now he plays in Spain.

Because of his parents, Rossi is eligible to play for Italy and has in fact featured for their youth national teams numerous times.

FIFA rules say that a player can switch to the country of their birth if they've only played for youth teams of another country, but that the move can only be made once. It also has to take place before the player turns 21. Rossi is nearly there - his birthday is in early February.

Last year, Luis had the scoop about U.S. coach Bob Bradley, who is from the area of the country where Rossi grew up, keeping in touch with Rossi. That left the slim possibility that perhaps Rossi was still considering the U.S. as an option.

But the deadline is almost here, and it doesn't seem like an eleventh-hour change of heart is going to happen. Perhaps that's why Bob seemed a little testy when I asked him about Rossi.

I'm not one to worry about the decisions of players. As individuals, they should choose what they want to do. I'm mystified at those who rail at Rossi for playing for Italy, just as I'm puzzled by those who decry Landon Donovan's choice to play in MLS. One's life belongs to no one else.

I still stand by my call in 2005, though. Rossi is a very good player, but not so superlative that he's an automatic choice for Italy, especially when political elements seem to come into play in selection. If Rossi hopes to play in a World Cup, choosing the U.S. team is a safer bet.

I don't think he'll do it, though. I find a kind of poetic irony in the fact that it's likely that both U.S. fans and Rossi may one day rue what might have been had his choice been a different one.

And the winner is

565, folks.

Welcome to 2008.

Last night, at practice, I was wishing "Happy New Year" to the U.S. Soccer staff, since it was the first time this year I'd seen them. Neil Beuthe admitted that it seemed weird to him to hear good wishes about 2008. He pointed out that we were in the middle of January.

That was a valid point.

So I merely nodded hello to Landon Donovan when he walked over for his interview.

"Happy New Year, Andrea," said Landon.

As far as our blog goes, Luis has been crazy-busy with family stuff, and I've been away, so things are just getting started here at Sideline Views. We hope you'll come along for the ride of whatever this year holds.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The day before

Sweden, I mean.

Changes - Good?

Hey folks, I'm finally back in town. Despite my occasional posts here, I kept up on very little soccer during my vacation.

I did make it out to the Home Depot Center today for the final US training before the Sweden game. It was there that Landon Donovan told me that Chris Albright was traded from the Galaxy. (The New England Revolution gave up allocation funds in exchange for Chris.) That turns the tables a bit, when a reporter is clueless.

"Andrea, where have you been?" asked a flabbergasted Landon. "Iraq?"

No, no. I think soccer is more popular in Iraq than where I went for my break. In fact, though soccer is a very international sport, there isn't a single player from there in MLS right now.

"It's kind of a bummer, but that's the way it goes," said Landon about the Albright trade when we switched back to that topic. Landon and Chris are close friends. Bianca, Landon's wife, is also buddies with Leah, Chris' wife. Now they'll be separated by the entire country.

Chris was the first Galaxy player I ever interviewed, and one of the best go-to guys for a good quote. He kept things real with all the beat reporters - he was never one to act differently just for the press. I'd sometimes edit his colorful language out for print consumption, but try as hard as I could to keep the character and clarity of his statements.

The move wasn't entirely a surprise, though. I told Landon last year that the Galaxy didn't have any attractive trade options besides Joe Cannon and Chris. I reminded Landon today of that statement and he nodded. Landon and David Beckham, of course, have no-trade clauses in their contracts.

I was tired from jet-lag - trying to interview Chris Rolfe after talking to Landon, I had trouble focusing. At one point, in response to my question about new coach Denis Hamlett, Chris said, "Change is good." Luckily, he went on to say other stuff, because I was still processing that simple statement.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Alain's travails

Six months ago, Alain Nkong was a man looking for a team. He latched on with Atlante of Mexico and despite an impressive performance did not secure his spot on the club until days before the start of the season. Nkong, a Colorado Rapids castaway, proved valuable to Atlante. He scored four goals and was a valuable asset to the club. Atlante went on to win their first championship in 14 years and although Giancarlo Maldonado was the scoring star Nkong played a role in the title-winning club.

Nkong's performances did not go unnoticed. He was named to Cameroon's squad for the African Cup of Nations. But his decision to participate in the tournament cost him his spot on Atlante. The Mexican champions loaned Nkong to Leon of the second division for the season.

To the victors, then, go the spoils but I'm not sure Nkong had these spoils in mind.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Heading west

Kansas City will look quite a bit different in 2008 than it has in recent years. Eddie Johnson is gone as he is headed to England and Fulham. The defense will also undergo a huge transition as mainstays Jose Burciaga and Nick Garcia are now on their way out. Burciaga is headed to Colorado and Garcia is property of San Jose.

For the latter, Kansas City picked up the first overall pick in Friday's SuperDraft. Giving up a proven defender for a draft choice is risky but KC needed to change over their roster. The writing for Burciaga's exit was also on the wall late in the season as he stopped being a regular starter.

For San Jose, the trade is clear that Frank Yallop wants to win now. RSL got nothing out of their draft pick, the first overall in 2005, and Toronto struck gold with Maurice Edu a year ago. But there's a better shot of drafting a Nik Besagno than an Edu, as the first overall pick has more often than not been a bust.

Colorado gets a good left back, a bit of a rarity in MLS. However, their problems are well-rooted and Burciaga isn't the tip of the iceberg that needs to crash into the Dick for things to change there.


Look familiar? This was pretty much the look for our blog in 2007, which I'm calling OG SV.

Anyway, my vacation is nearly over, and I'll get back to posting about soccer news when I get home. I realize some of you are sick of the changing blog looks, but relax, that's nearly over, too. Last chance to vote, folks.

As far as the Fishy trade, well, those LA fans who are superstitious about the Galaxy only being able to win MLS Cup if a Guatemalan scores have taken heart at the return of Ruiz.

Frankly, I always had the sense that Ruiz was unhappy about being pushed out of LA - he always wanted to come back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Last thought on InterLiga

Before I forget, here's a link to the story I wrote about Saturday's America-Cruz Azul game. I wrote it for today's Press-Enterprise.

I pondered here the other night how great of a game that was and how it would rank among the games I've covered. I think it will go down as the best game I've covered at Home Depot Center. It tops the Galaxy-Pachuca game, which before Saturday was number one on that list.

I think number 118 on that list was the Galaxy-DC United game on June 2 of last year, the boring 0-0 draw between the two teams. Number 119 was Chivas USA-Osasuna in March of 2005, another boring game.

Goodson's here

Clarence Goodson, by the way, was in camp today. Eddie Johnson bolted after joining Fulham but Goodson didn't after signing with IK Start.

Taylor Twellman is still around but then again he hasn't joined anybody.

Bob on camp

Here's about seven or eight minutes worth of conversation with Bob Bradley.

At the end, I asked him about Jonathan Bornstein and his trip to Israel. Bob wanted to reply off the record, so I shut off the recorder. Sorry, but I've got to respect that.

And then there were three

Billy Witz of the LA Daily News was out at USMNT camp today as well and talked to Jimmy Conrad. Billy mentioned to me that Jimmy had made a great point about the Galaxy. It seems the Galaxy now have three Designated Players on their roster as David Beckham and the only two players still with the league to have grandfathered their contracts in are now aboard.

Carlos Ruiz is a great player and will help out the Galaxy immensely. I think it's a bit weird, though, that he's rejoining the team. I mean, the team he left is for all intents and purposes a different team now, and I don't mean just the players and coaches. Doug Hamilton brought in Carlos Ruiz and the Galaxy under Doug was much different (and better) than the Galaxy squad we have before us now. Priorities are different. The way the team runs their business is different. What matters to the team is different.

I liked the old Galaxy better. Maybe Fish can bring some of that nostalgia back.