Friday, February 29, 2008

Harmse harms his cause

I was somewhat surprised that Frank Yallop didn't take Harmse up north when he started as coach at SJ. I wondered then if even Yallop was growing tired of the unpredictability of having Harmse on the field. It's not a good idea to play soccer with a hockey mentality. That's what Harmse too often showed.

Harmse was a scrappy midfielder, but perhaps that didn't suit Ruud Gullit's style. I wrote here that he was probably trade bait after he went home after Hawaii, and I guess that turned out to be right.

It could have been that Harmse started to make a negative impression on Gullit even as early as last year.

Doubleheader action

Chivas USA's games from Friday served as a final tune-up before the tune-ups start. That is, the preseason should take another step from here. Up until today, the club was still trying to sort through the numerous players in camp and trying to get guys healthy. Now, Chivas USA will head to Texas for three games in a five-day stretch where the team should really start to take shape ahead of the season opener on March 30 in Dallas.

Here's what happened on Friday.

Chivas 1, UC Riverside 0

Chivas USA (4-4-2): Brad Guzan; Alex Zotinca, Claudio Suárez, Jim Curtin, Jonathan Bornstein; Sacha Kljestan, Jesse Marsch, Paulo Nagamura (Lawson Vaughn 46), Raphaël Wicky (Luciano Fusco 46); Ante Razov, Atiba Harris.

Chivas USA 2, UC Irvine 1

Chivas USA (4-4-2): Sam Reynolds (Lance Parker 40); José Antonio Patlán, Daniel Carlos Montes, Bobby Burling, Jorge Flores; John Cunliffe, Eric Ebert, Lawson Vaughn (Kraig Chiles 40), Luciano Fusco (Gerson Mayen 40); Maykel Galindo (Justin Braun 47), Chukwudi Chijinju.

The newest revelation is Jose Antonio Patlan, a defender who comes from Chivas Guadalajara. Yes, the pipeline from Guadalajara is alive and well as this is, what, the first player to come north since... um... I can't remember. Sorry. Francisco Palencia, maybe? Patlan is a marginal defender with some upside, but don't expect him to win Defensive Player of the Year or anything. Heck, don't expect him to play anytime soon. He's got to get himself on the roster officially and acclimate himself to the league first. He's a central defender by trade and can also play defensive midfield.

Harmse is gone

Galaxy traded Kevin Harmse to Toronto FC for a fourth-round pick next year.

He's one of an expected trio of Galaxy players who could be gone by the end of the day.

Philly story

Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America likes Philadelphia's inclusion in MLS. He went so far to call it a coup.

Philadelphia beat out St. Louis for the 16th spot. I'd like for the league to stop at 16 and hold steady but having St. Louis and one more team wouldn't be the worst thing, I suppose. I don't think MLS can really have more than 18 teams, though. Sixteen would be perfect - every team plays every other team, once at home and once away. You could do away with the conferences and let the top six or eight teams into the postseason and everything would line up nice and neat, at least on paper.

Non-believers in draft

So far, San Jose has shown us one thing in its fledgling return to MLS. The team has not yet played a game that matters but the 'Quakes are seemingly set on one issue - they do not care much about the MLS SuperDraft.

The 'Quakes displayed as much when they traded away the top pick in this year's draft for Nick Garcia, a solid but not spectacular defender. Earlier this week, they punctuated that apparent mindset with another trade as San Jose nabbed Ronnie O'Brien from Toronto for allocation funds and next year's number one choice.

Part of me feels these are good moves. You are trading away part of the future for some immediate help today, but that help could be the difference in playing decent soccer and recreating RSL and Chivas USA versions 2005. That was filthy soccer and San Jose wants no part of it.

However, when you trade draft picks you are really banking on finding players elsewhere. Luckily for the 'Quakes, soccer has talented players across the world, not just in the collegiate ranks. Still, while RSL and Chivas USA didn't get a whole lot out of their top picks in '05, one of those choices is now a star. Brad Guzan improved tremendously from early '05 to the end of that first year but it didn't matter as far as results go. The club would have been terrible without his services. Nik Besagno, the first pick in 05, is pretty much a bust at this point.

Toronto fared much better with their first pick as Maurice Edu won top rookie last year but again the results would have been terrible with our without him. Edu, though, is an emerging force and should he stick around could be a major presence in the league for years.

San Jose is taking a risk. Five years from now, Chance Myers may be a USMNT regular and a fixture on the Wizards midfield/defense and Nick Garcia might be out of soccer. Who knows? But it's a risk San Jose is willing to take, a risk with both the '08 and '09 top choices. Best-case scenario, Garcia immediately becomes an anchor on the backline and O'Brien reverts back to '05 form. That may not translate into an MLS Cup appearance but instant respectability is something worthy to strive for.


Any time you compile a list, any sort of list, you are bound to get feedback. It's pretty much a given. My editor Jonah Freedman gets a lot of feedback for his World Rankings, and when he puts a Mexican club in the top 10, forget it. That's a bona fide lightning rod - some think it's a joke, others think it's great that a Mexican club gets that sort of respect. I don't conspire with Jonah on the rankings but my guess is he can't ignore Chivas de Guadalajara if they beat Cruz Azul on the weekend and Santos of Brazi in Libertadores play on Tuesday. They might just slide in at number 9 or 10.

Anyway, Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports wrote a top 20 list recently where he ranked the top 20 MLS players. That actually inspired me to compile my preseason unit rankings, which also drew criticism - mainly from RSL fans, of all people, like I overlooked something on their shitty little team. Sorry, I'm not that high on Nick Rimando. Oh yeah, Galaxy fans were mad that I ranked their defense and goalkeepers at 14 out of 14. I think if I had to do it again, I'd rank both those units in the same exact spot.

Getting back to Martin's piece, he got plenty of feedback from readers. It sounds like a lot of it was negative, which is to be expected. He did not have Taylor Twellman in his top 20. That's pretty ballsy, to leave out a guy like that. Not saying I necessarily disagree with Martin, but Taylor is a fan favorite and omitting him is begging for response from readers, which he got.


Sorry this is so late, but here are highlights from Wednesday's River Plate-America game.

River won it at the death, with Ariel Ortega scoring an injury-time winner. Dramatic.

Game on after all

It looks like the on-again, off-again Galaxy friendly in Hong Kong is on-again for good.

The Hong Kong FA gave the green light for the Galaxy's proposed match against a local side at Hong Kong Stadium on March 9. The game will wrap up the Galaxy's preseason Asia tour following games in South Korea and China.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Philadelphia on tap

It's official, folks. Shout-out to Greg Daurio, who must be thrilled. He's a Philly guy.

Chivas doubleheader

If you've got the day free on Friday or are willing to use a sick day, you may want to get out to Home Depot Center. Chivas USA is playing a doubleheader. At 10 a.m., the club is playing UC Riverside and at 11:30, it's up against UC Irvine, I believe. Not sure that the opponents matter, but some of the action might be good to watch. It's going to be cut-down day soon and those fighting for roster spots will likely play their hardest for one last chance to impress.

I unfortunately do not have the day free so I won't be there. I'll be at Monday's training session, the last one before the team leaves for Texas. So if you go out there on Friday you'll have to let me know how it went.

Captain K

Sacha Kljestan will be central to the United States' Olympic hopes. He's heading out soon enough with the team so I took the opportunity to talk to him out at camp the other day. I might not have the chance to talk to him until after the qualifying tournament.

Here's the write-up I did for

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Secret ballot

Any guesses as to what attendance will be for the Galaxy game in Korea?

Roster guesses

GOALKEEPERS (2): Steve Cronin, Josh Wicks
DEFENDERS (9): Celestine Babayaro, Sean Franklin, Michael Gavin, Ante Jazic, Mike Randolph, Troy Roberts, Julian Valentin, Greg Vanney, Abel Xavier.
MIDFIELDERS (7): Ely Allen, Alvaro, David Beckham, Chris Klein, Brandon McDonald, Josh Tudela, Peter Vagenas
FORWARDS (3): Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan, Carlos Ruiz

No Landon Donovan. Apparently the tendonitis is worse than anticipated. Landon's back in LA to get that worked on. Edson Buddle, meanwhile, dislocated his collarbone in the Sydney FC match. There's no injury explanation for Kevin Harmse, Kelly Gray and Israel Sesay going back to Cali, though.

I'll speculate. Sesay is so young and on a Generation Adidas contract, that he's not going anywhere. The Galaxy will take their time developing their prospect. Kevin and Kelly are either known entities, or are on the trading block with Kyle Martino.

The guy who really is hurting, though, is the Galaxy's backup goalkeeper, Charles Alamo, who hurt himself badly in the Friday reserve match in Hawaii. He tore his ACL, meniscus and sprained his MCL all in one fell blow. He'll be out for six months. The Galaxy did offer him a contract, however, so his medical care will be covered.

Message board chat

The Jesus Padilla issue is being discussed in various message boards about soccer. I highlighted this one because most of the posters seemed to be able to make their points intelligently, without namecalling.

One, posting as Dr. Chiva, had an interesting point.

Padilla es mexicano, solo por el hecho de que sus padres son mexicanos. O sea, yo no discuto si Padilla es o no mexicano, discuto que NO puede jugar en Chivas porque NO NACIÓ EN MÉXICO... eso es todo. Francamente, y para ponerlo en términos más entendibles... me vale si es mexicano, si se sente mexicano, si sus padres son mexicanos, si es más mexicano que los nopales, etc... si NO NACIÓ EN MÉXICO, NO TENDRÍA DERECHO DE JUGAR EN CHIVAS... no importa que descienda de Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, si no nació en México, no tiene porque jugar en Chivas. Es verdad, es muy mamón de mi parte decirlo, pero es la tradición. PUNTO.

Padilla is Mexican, for his dad is Mexican. I'm not arguing whether or not he's Mexican, I'm arguing that he can't play with Chivas because he wasn't born in Mexico - that's it. Frankly, and to make it clear, I don't care if he's Mexican, if he feels Mexican, if his parents are Mexican, if he's more Mexican than cactus, if he wasn't born in Mexico, he doesn't have the right to play on Chivas. It doesn't matter if he's descended from Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, if he wasn't born in Mexico, he's not supposed to play with Chivas. That's the truth, it may bother those to hear it, but that's the tradition. Period.

Where in the world is Shavar Thomas?

Missing: Shavar Thomas, Defender, Chivas USA

Missing since: November 2007

Last known whereabouts: Jamaica

Reason for disappearance: Supposed visa problems

Further information: "That's a question for the government. I have no idea on that one." - Chivas USA coach Preki when asked about his missing central defender.

Contact 1-877-CHIVAS-1 if you have information on the missing person listed above.

Not so fast

It looks like the Galaxy's friendly in Hong Kong may not happen after all.

The Hong Kong FA has not approved the friendly and may derail plans for the match. An FA official said that the Galaxy has not yet submitted a formal request for the match.

Details, details. Always getting in the way of preparations. If this game doesn't go off, it could be a blessing in disguise. The team could get back into town earlier than anticipated, spend a few days recovering from the trip and get back into a normal routine without going through such a frenetic pace. The game in China is on March 5, so the team could cut the trip short and get back here by the 6th or 7th instead of the 10th.

But this is the Barnstorming Galaxy we're talking about, and I'm sure they wouldn't have too much trouble lining up another match if this Hong Kong game falls through.

Superstar manager

I like the premise of this Paul Oberjuerge column on Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit.

One Los Angeles sports franchise believes it hired a hugely famous manager.

And one actually did.

And his name isn't Joe Torre. It's Ruud Gullit.

It's funny how Joe Torre is a name and a face well-known in this country but outside these borders few know the Dodgers' newest manager. But conversely, Gullit is quite the famous soccer figure outside of Los Angeles.

It's just another strange twist of soccer in the United States, where the mega-famous can live in relative obscurity. It's something I'm going to explore at some point this season for The Press-Enterprise.

There are exceptions, though. Claudio Suarez of Chivas USA is a fairly recognizable figure, depending on where he goes, in Southern California. And of course Becks is recognizable everywhere he goes.

But for the most part, soccer figures can count on living as just another face here in this country.

Big game

Sometimes, Copa Libertadores gives you not-so-enticing matchups. Atlas fans probably will be more enthused about Boca Juniors than San Jose of Bolivia, for instance.

Tonight, though, is one of those games that comes around only once in a while: Club America vs. River Plate.

So while I won't be down in Tijuana for the match, at least I'll have a chance to watch this clash of gigantes.

South of the border

Unfortunately, Sideline Views will not be able to make the trek down to Tijuana for the Mexico-Paraguay match and some fun at the Avenida Revolucion afterward. Okay, well, maybe the game would have been our only reason to go down there but the city would have provided more post-game options than we have at Home Depot Center.

As it stands, though, the match should be played before an energetic and enthusiastic fan base. Baja California has traditionally been more about baseball and boxing but soccer is apparently gaining popularity there. Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about the status of soccer in Tijuana.

The interesting part of this story is the local club's name - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente. Awesome.

Sideline Views will have to wait for the Under-23s to make their way to HDC to watch Hugo's team. And unfortunately we'll be stuck with the night-club Denny's or the IHOP-in-a-shady-neighborhood-with-shitty-service afterward instead of Avenida Revolucion. Oh well.

Oh, by the way, if you are going and will be commuting from this side of the border, don't forget your passport! Otherwise, you'll be stuck down in Tijuana a la Cheech Marin.

Hop aboard

Chivas USA front office, take note:

The Kansas City Wizards, who like Chivas USA have also suffered terribly at the gate, announced a new program that seems like it could be successful.

From the press release:

The Kansas Wizards and First Student will partner on a program providing FREE “Legends Express” buses to Kansas City Wizards matches at CommunityAmerica Ballpark for groups of 50 or more. As part of the Wizards Soccer Shuttle program, groups will be picked up from anywhere inside the Kansas City metropolitan and surrounding areas, dropped off at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at the Legends in KCK and then returned to their initial location after the match.

“We are pleased to form a relationship with First Student and provide large groups the opportunity for free transportation to Wizards matches via the Legends Express,” Wizards Executive Vice President Greg Cotton said. “The Wizards Soccer Shuttle program will help us create a party atmosphere at the stadium that all fans of Kansas City's team enjoy.”...

Alcohol will be permitted, but not included, on the Legends Express vehicles for patrons 21 and older, excluding kegs. Tailgating at the stadium will also be available and encouraged in a special Legends-Express parking section. Participants in the Wizards Soccer Shuttle program will receive commemorative T-shirts as part of the package. Ticket prices for groups of 50+ start at $500 for berm seats.

Now, some observers feel that if Chivas USA played closer to the Coliseum that the club would draw more fans. I have my doubts about that, but if the team would provide a similar busing program it could have some success, if anything to avoid paying the $15 for parking, or whatever the cost is.

Maybe, though, it's not so easy for Chivas USA to get things like this through since they don't actually own their stadium, and maybe there are hurdles that they can't get past. But if they have the option to provide free busing, it could boost attendance.

As far as Kansas City fans go, will this program succeed? Fifty people seems like a rather large contingent to get together. Will this translate into solid attendance figures?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brad's backup

There were six goalkeepers out at Chivas USA camp. Brad Guzan was one of them. Bill Gaudette was another.

Gaudette should join the club soon enough. He has nearly 20 games of MLS experience. He could be a servicable backup.

Jonny's travels to Israel

Jonathan Bornstein talked to me about his little trip to Israel in the offseason. He had to have some (I'd imagine) pretty tough conversations with Preki, Bob Bradley and Chivas USA officials. I could probably deal with a tongue-lashing from Antonio Cue and one from Preki would be difficult. But a pissed-off Bob Bradley... well, I can't imagine a worse conversation than that.

Chivas USA back in action

And the dead shall rise again...

Okay, maybe "dead" is a bit of a stretch, but several of the walking wounded trained for the club on Tuesday.

The only members who did not participate in the training session were Francisco Mendoz and Alecko Eskandarian. The latter had a setback while the former still hasn't recovered fully and coach Preki said Panchito was day-to-day.
Okay, well, there was another player who didn't train but Shavar Thomas is, for all we know, healthy. He's stuck in Jamaica.
Among those training for the first or second time were Paulo Nagamura, Maykel Galindo and Lawson Vaughn. Also, Jonathan Bornstein and Raphael Wicky trained as well as Jesse Marsch, who hadn't trained since he was tackled from behind by Luciano Emilio a week ago.


Major League Soccer's toughest owner was spotted at Home Depot Center.
Oscar De La Hoya, who is reportedly close to buying a chunk of the Houston Dynamo, held a press conference at Home Depot Center to promote his next fight, a May 3 bout against Steve Forbes.

De La Hoya said the fight will be the biggest fight of his career and that he's not looking at Steve Forbes as a tune-up fight or anything like that. De La Hoya said his entire team is up in Big Bear to help him prepare for the fight and to enter the bout in tip-top shape. I would have liked to have stuck around to ask him about MLS but didn't have the chance. Between Oscar De La Hoya and Charlie Davies, all these work obligations keep getting in the way of interviews for Sideline Views.

In terms of the fight, it will be interesting to see a boxing match at Home Depot Center. It's actually going to be on the main field, not the tennis stadium. De La Hoya said that there will be somewhere around 20,000 seats priced $75 or less, which is apparently affordable for boxing.

Davies sticks around

Charlie Davies trained with Chivas USA on Tuesday and will be with the club for the remainder of the week.

No, he's not the club's latest reinforcement. This Yank Abroad is still abroad. His club Hammarby was in town for training but recently went back to Sweden. Davies, who will join the U.S. Under-23 side for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers, chose to stay at HDC and train with Chivas USA.
Davies and Sacha Kljestan will be part of the contingent that will try to lead the U.S. into the Summer Olympics.
I wanted to talk to him but I had too many other players to talk to and not enough time.

Out to training

I'm heading out to Chivas USA training right now so I won't be able to blog much this afternoon. But I did file a story last night to about Jonathan Bornstein's offseason trip to Israel. Good stuff.

This will be only time to go out and talk to Chivas USA players this week so I'm sure I'll come back with plenty of info.

In the meantime, here are a few articles to pass the time.

This story actually ran yesterday in the LA Times but it's on the same topic as my PE column. The Times' take on the Pan-Pacific Championship and mine as well.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mi nombre lo dice

This cartoon is having a little fun at the fact that Jesus Padilla's nickname is "Gringo".

The goat is accusatory: "You were born 'gringo'! Do you have any other surprises?"

Jesus responds, "No, but you should check to see if 'Guacho' Avila is really Argentine."

He's also holding the paper declaring he was born in the U.S.

Under new management

It looks like Houston will finally walk on its own.

Reports have surfaced that Golden Boy Promotions' Oscar De La Hoya will buy a stake in the MLS champions. According to the Houston Chronicle, De La Hoya will enter into a partnership to purchase 50 percent of the Houston Dynamo.

This is exciting news on many levels. De La Hoya and his business partner Gabriel Brener each have filthy amounts of cash, and that seems like a good thing. I mean, it's preferable to have financially stable people investing in MLS. Plus, a celebrity like De La Hoya could also draw fans of his to MLS. De La Hoya has done well since launching Golden Boy Promotions, and perhaps he could carry those promotion skills into MLS as well.

Also, the city could provide the club financial support for the possibility of a new stadium.

All these things are signs of positive financial growth within the league. Now, if some of that could trickle down to the players, things would really be great.

Mo' better midfielder

Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America wrote a nice feature on Maurice Edu for us over at His point about Edu being one of the few top draft picks to produce is well taken - there are more busts than anything with that first overall pick.

I've talked to Maurice a few times, both over the phone (on draft day in 2007) and in person (most recently at US camp here in Carson). But I actually met his mom first, way before I ever talked to Maurice. I didn't know it was his mom, and it was just a fluke the way it turned out with her son.

I was covering a high school football game out in the beautiful city of Rialto a few years back (I use that adjective loosely, by the way). Anyway, at the time I was trying to find some people from the African nations that made it to the World Cup - Angola, Ivory Coast, Togo and Tunisia to be precise. There were a few from Ghana I'd run across and I was working on a story that ultimately never materialized because apparently there aren't any Angolans in the IE. Who knew?

But I had hopes then and I figured if I could find some sort of African market that I might find some people there. Certain ethnic markets, especially the little mom-and-pop stores, tend to draw people from a certain ethnic group. I had some success with a store called "West Africa Market" or something in Riverside so I was hoping to find some similar markets in San Bernardino.

Well, at this game I covered one of the ladies who was manning the entrance had the last name of Edu. I figured that was an African last name. She said something to the lady next to her and she spoke with an accent. Put two and two together and...

"Hello. I know this sounds like a strange question but you wouldn't happen to be from Africa, would you?"

I wouldn't have asked her that if I wasn't 95 percent sure of the answer. She smiled, then laughed and then I followed up with...

"See, I was hoping you knew of a local African market. I'm trying to find some people from Ivory Coast, Togo and Angola and I was hoping to find a West African market or something."

She actually helped me out quite a bit. She knew of a place right there in Rialto that was owned by a couple from Liberia (dammit, why couldn't they have qualified?!?). But, Mrs. Edu warned, I probably wasn't going to find those countries represented quite as easily as others, such as her native Nigeria.

"Yes, well, Nigeria would have made it a lot easier on me had they qualified. Instead I got stuck with Angola!"

She said she never met anyone from Angola or Togo here (great, I thought) but I should look anyway.

Then she told me that her son plays soccer. I hear that a lot, actually. My so-and-so plays soccer and he's/she's so good! Mrs. Edu said her son is from Fontana and went to Etiwanda High School and then to Maryland, and that he even scored a big goal right here, at that stadium out by Long Beach.

I've never told Maurice that story, though I suppose I will at some point. But every time I see him I ask him how his mom's doing. The Edus are a pretty tight bunch.

Hong Kong Union

The Galaxy announced the third and final match of their preseason Asia tour.

On March 9, the Galaxy will play Hong Kong Union at Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong. Earlier, the Galaxy will play on March 1 at FC Seoul and on March 5 against Shanghai-Hong Kong United.

I'm still not convinced this is the best thing for the club but at this point they need to start getting some real games in against some real competition. The Gamba/Sydney swing was a good start and now the preseason needs to start kicking into gear.

The Galaxy will head back to Los Angeles on March 10 but the players will probably need some time to recover from the jet lag before hitting the training field again.

J League > MLS?

The Pan-Pacific Championship came and went and while the crowds left plenty to be desired the games themselves left me with one impression: Gamba Osaka is a tough club.

Gamba Osaka could have scored several goals on the Galaxy but as it stands walked away with a 1-0 win in a match the Japanese club was clearly the superior one. Against the defending MLS champs, Gamba Osaka dominated as Houston did not belong on the same field as their Japanese brethren.

I've got to admit, I don't watch much of the J League. I watch the Gambare show every now and then on FSC but other than that I don't keep up with that particular league.

But these results left me thinking about the strength of both leagues. Yes, I understand that it would take more than two games to determine the strength of leagues but some MLS fans are quick to say MLS is on par with the Mexican league after a couple of MLS-favorable results.

No, I'm not going to say that based on two games the J League is the dominant league in the Pan Pacific. However, if I had to pick a league, I couldn't say for certain that MLS is the better league. These games actually have me thinking the other way, though again I can't say for sure.

Gamba Osaka demolished one of the teams I have the most respect for in MLS on Saturday. Had they won 2-1 or 3-2 or whatever, then maybe I'd be doing something else right now. But a 6-1 thrashing of Houston is eye-opening.

Yes, I realize it's the preseason and Houston and the Galaxy and neither team is close to the start of the season. But Houston needed these games to prepare for their upcoming CONCACAF Champions Cup matches, and if that's any sort of indiciation of how far they are along in their preseason, they've got a long way to go in a short amount of time.

Though Gamba Osaka looked convincing, I'm not going to say one league is better than the other. But what are your thoughts on the matter? How good is J League compared to MLS, or vice versa?

Preseason rankings

When I wrote up my preseason unit rankings a week ago, I hadn't planned on ranking the clubs. I ranked them every Monday of last season, and I had wanted to do that at some point before the season started.

After posting my rankings a week ago, I figured I'd tally them up collectively and see how they work out for each club. So I took the numbers of each team's ranking per unit - goalkeeper, defense, midfield, forwards - added them up and divided by four. I know, brilliant stuff. But that shows I suppose how I think of the teams. Really, though, I wouldn't be as intricate if I just decided to rank the clubs now as they stand. But it at least provides a good starting point

1. Chivas USA – 2.25
2. Houston – 3.5
3. New England – 4.25
4. DC United – 4.5
5. Colorado – 5.75
6. Chicago – 7.5
7. New York – 7.75
8. FC Dallas – 8.75
9. Los Angeles – 9.25
10. Kansas City – 9.75
11-t. San Jose – 10
11-t. Toronto – 10
13. Columbus – 10.75
14. Real Salt Lake – 11

And here’s the raw numbers for each club, by conference:

(club - gk, d, m, f)
Chivas USA 1, 2, 3, 3 – 9
Houston 3, 1, 1, 9 – 14
Colorado 5, 5, 2, 11 – 23
FC Dallas 10, 11, 8, 6 – 35
Los Angeles 14, 14, 5, 4 – 37

San Jose 4, 8, 14, 14 – 40
Real Salt Lake 11, 12, 11, 10 – 44

New England 2, 4, 6, 5 – 17
DC United 6, 6, 4, 2 – 18
Chicago 12, 3, 7, 8 – 30
New York 9, 9, 12, 1 – 31
Kansas City 8, 10, 9, 12 – 39
Toronto 13, 7, 13, 7 – 40
Columbus 7, 13, 10, 13 – 43

Last chance

The Kansas City Wizards will train today and Tuesday at Swope Park before heading down to Argentina for a pair of weeks, so you might want to check them out if you're within driving distance.

Myself, I'm not anywhere near the Wizards nor do I know where Swope Park is. But I get KC Wizards press releases and thought I'd pass the word along to the handful of KC supporters that peruse this board. Tuesday's training session might be at the KC Sports Lodge, apparently.

Who knows - maybe the Wizards will return from Argentina with El Piojo in tow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Crowd count

Some 23,000 fans turned out to see the soccer doubleheader in Hawaii on Saturday.

I'd been searching for this figure but just now found it. However, given the opponent whom Gamba Osaka allegedly beat, I'm not sure these are the most reliable.

ADD: The link is fixed. For a while, it said Osaka beat the Houston Galaxy. Oops.

Funny guys

Yahoo Sports' Martin Rogers has a funny little snippet of Landon Donovan crossing to our side, albeit for a brief moment.

I like the clever question Martin tossed at Beckham in Landon's presence.

Freak injuries

Over the last couple of weeks, we've seen some pretty ghastly sports injuries. First there was the NHL's Richard Zednik, who nearly died after his neck was slashed open by a teammate's skate.

Now, there is Eduardo da Silva of Arsenal and Croatia. The Gunners' striker suffered a double break (leg and ankle) after Birmingham's Martin Taylor viscously challenged Eduardo in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Eduardo's gone for the rest of the season. He's done for the summer too - no Euro 2008. When he comes back is unknown, if he is ever able to step onto a soccer field again.

He hard surgery on his leg and is recuperating.

Don't expect for Eduard to be trolling for pictures of the incident. He told reporters that he doesn't want to see pictures of it anywhere. At least the good thing for him is that he doesn't remember much from the incident.

"All I remember is when I fell, I looked down at my foot and it had turned the other way. The rest is just a blank."

Chivas' own website tells a different story

Than the one Nestor de la Torre and Jesus Padilla are now spinning about Jesus only having spent ten days in the U.S. Back when people still thought that Jesus was born in Mexico, the club wrote up a little article on their website about him turning down the invite to play with the US U20 team.

Here's how they told his story then.

Jesús Padilla nació en San José de lo Reynoso, municipio de San Miguel el Alto Jalisco, y a los dos años se fue a radicar a la Unión Americana, donde estudió toda su primaria y secundaria y desde los catorce años está en Fuerzas Básicas de Chivas.

La familia de Padilla Cisneros vive en San José, California.

Jesus Padilla was born in San Jose de lo Reynoso, a town in San Miguel el Alto, Jalisco, and at two years of age moved to the U.S., where he stayed all through elementary school and into high school. He joined Chivas' youth team at fourteen. The Padilla family lives in San Jose.

Padilla's in San Jose

Mention of article (now archived) that details how Jesus Padilla grew up in San Jose.

Article on sister Carmen, and how she grew up in San Jose.

Article on little sisters Marisol and Maricela playing in local San Jose soccer leagues.

There's not going to be a ton of info on Jesus himself in San Jose, because he joined the youth team of Guadalajara at 14. He was spotted at the Copa Chivas tournament by their scouts. At the time, he was playing for a club team from San Jose.

Aloha to a new day

I was getting so many emails about how hopeless the Galaxy were after Wednesday. I couldn't disagree, though I thought they improved as the match versus Gamba Osaka went on. Against Sydney FC, the improved form showed from the start. LA should probably have scored more goals, but they'll take the win.

Galaxy win, Chivas USA lose

A couple of months or so, a Galaxy win and a Chivas USA loss on a Saturday night would mean three points earned for one local club and nothing gained for the other.

As it stands, Saturday's respective results mean little, if anything.

The Galaxy bounced back from Wednesday's feeble effort against Gamba Osaka to beat Sydney FC 2-1. David Beckham set up both goals. Josh Tudela and Ely Allen scored the goals. The team is now off to Asia for a pair of friendlies.

On the mainland US, meanwhile, Chivas USA fell to Columbus 2-1. Atiba Harris scored Chivas' lone goal. Chivas used Aleco Eskandarian, Ante Razov and Atiba Harris on the field at the same time, at least in the first half. Jesse Marsch didn't play, so perhaps Luciano Emilio's tackle at the beginning of the week was more serious than we thought.

Also, in case you care about the PPC final, Gamba Osaka destroyed Houston by 6-1. Yeesh.

Galaxy Scrimmage

Quick bit of info - Friday match, versus Houston Dynamo (mostly reserves). 4-0 Galaxy win. Carlos Ruiz played and scored a goal. Mike Randolph scored a pair, and Alan Gordon knocked in one goal.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Padilla video

Announcer: Jesus Padilla, of Chivas Guadalajara, was born in California, and that provoked controversy because of the team’s tradition to play with only Mexicans. Padilla declared that he is 100 percent Mexican, that he was born in California due to familial necessity, but returned to Jalisco within ten days. The information was first published by Sports Illustrated. Chivas considers Padilla 100 percent Mexican, and the case closed.

Jesus: “Within ten days I came to San Jose de Reynoso, with my parents, who were over there working, but I’ve lived the rest of my life here in Mexico. I couldn’t be born there in the living room, I had to go to the hospital, so that’s why there’s a birth certificate (in California). But I’m Mexican, I feel Mexican, and that’s the truth.

Voice over: Jesus Padilla is the fifth U.S. player in Chivas history to play for the team. The first was Wintilio Lozano, who was born in Gerome, Arizona and played eight seasons with the club. The most recent was Gerardo Mascareno, who played 10 games with the club in the summer of 1998.

(ESPNDeportes had the original Padilla story, where he said his mother was American and that the family moved to San Jose, California when he was two years old. He also mentioned all his little sisters were born in San Jose)

El Tri wins

No, not the ones who played in Queretaro.

The Mexican women's national team downed USC on Friday 3-1. The women too are hopeful of qualifying for the Olympics, but they will likely have a tougher go at it than the men.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Growing louder

That noise you hear growing louder are the Lavolpe chants.

They aren't exactly for the deposed Mexico coach but rather for the current one. Hugo Sanchez's team lost, 1-0, to Ecuador on Friday in Queretaro.

"Lavolpe! Lavolpe!"

KO punch

Anyone remember the Giants Cup? It was played at the LA Coliseum in the year 2000 or 2001, can't recall. The premise seemed somewhat viable - invite some of the region's giant clubs and have them play each other. As the clubs were popular, it seemed like a good opportunity to draw some fans.

Except the crowds were, well, if they were small the tournament wouldn't have been such a monumental failure. The crowds were miniscule, and the tournament vanished.

Such could be the fate of Pan Pacific Championship.

Mexico to play...

In Craven Cottage against Ghana on March 26. Interesting.

The two teams played in Dallas in March 2006, just a few months before the World Cup. So Mexico will play a game in Europe but it won't be against a European team. Still, this game is loads better than playing, say Peru in Chicago or something.

Sueno update

The field is down to 60 players. Most of the remaining players are young, as young as 14. Most seem to be 16, 17 or 18 with a few exceptions - Rodrigo Ortiz, 20, of La Puente; Alberto Ramirez, 20, of Perris; Daniel Valdez, 22, of San Diego; and the oldest player, 26-year-old Marcus Chorvat.

The last player, actually, has played professionally before. Chorvat went to college at Indiana and played most recently with the San Fernando Valley Quakes (PDL). Not sure what he did in between.

Cancha cover

Today's cover of Cancha.
You're next, paisano.

Prophetic Emperor

I don't think Claudio Suarez knew exactly what had gone on with his former Chivas USA teammate, Carlos Borja, but I find his answer to a question I had for him a bit prophetic.

Do you think the U.S. and Mexico will one day vie for some of the same players, perhaps some young Mexican-Americans here in Chivas USA?

Yo creo que si, y ahora, lo estamos viendo. Hay un muchacho que juega en Santos, que nació, creo, aquí, pero de padres mexicanos y se considera como mexicano. Edgar Castillo. De hecho que Hugo les llamo a la selección. Empieza ser ese tipo de conflictos, que como el fútbol de acá esta creciendo, ya. Están golpeando que el mundo ver a este fútbol, de que antes no sabían mucho. Entonces, creo que hay aquí mucho calidad, y yo creo que en un futuro haber ese problema, ese conflicto. Depende en cada jugador, lo que el decida, lo que mas – que con siente mas identificado. Sabemos que algunos que tienen toda su vida acá, aunque tienen residencia de México, ya consideran que son de Estados Unidos. Yo veo que eso va pasar aquí en los Estados Unidos mucho.

I think so, and we already see it happening. There's a player in Santos who was born here (U.S.), but to Mexican parents and he considers himself Mexican. Edgar Castillo. Hugo has called him into the national team. So we're beginning to see those types of conflicts, because the soccer here is growing. It's getting the attention of the world, which wasn't paying attention before. I think there's a lot of quality here, so in the future there will be that problem and conflict. It depends on each player, what that decision is, which place he identifies with more. We know that some players have their whole lives here, even if they have Mexican citizenship, and they feel they are Americans. I think this is going to happen in the U.S. a lot.

Change in policy

It seems Jesus Padilla and Carlos Borja are part of a possible new wave of Chivas de Guadalajara players.

The club, which had an unwritten rule about using only "Mexicans born in Mexico" prior to this week, has now aligned itself with the Mexican constitution, which states that any child born to Mexican natives regardless of the actual birthplace is considered Mexican. Under the Mexican constitution, Padilla, Borja and yours truly are all in the same boat.

Before this week, though, Chivas' tradition trumped the Mexican constitution. But according to Cancha, the club has now had an apparent policy shift and will cast their nets toward a wider, possibly lucrative talent pool, the Mexican-American pool.

Chivas put out a release on Thursday, and Cancha published this part of it, which I have translated:

The Constitution establishes that Mexican citizenship is inviolable, that there is no manner in which a Mexican by birth can be deprived of it. Thus, Jesus Andres Padilla Cisneros fits this profile and forms part of this institution.

Previously, the club adhered to an unwritten law which dates back to the early 1940s, when then-club president Ignacio Lopez Hernandez wrote in a letter that the club would henceforth accept only "Mexicans born in Mexico" and shut the door completely on foreign-born players.

Since then, a handful of players not born in Mexico have played for the club, the latest of which was Jesus Padilla.

Now, the "Mexicans born in Mexico" policy is seemingly in the past. Many viewed this as a racist and exclusionary policy while others saw no harm in it. As society on both sides of the border is vastly different now than it was six decades ago, the club has realigned its policies as such.

Should this policy stick, it could have a huge ripple affect on soccer in the United States. More American-born players could set their sights on playing in Mexico now that one of the country's most popular clubs no longer will shut them out. This will only increase the competition between MLS and U.S. Soccer and even within other FMF clubs, several of whom already count on Mexican-American players.

It will be interesting to see what the fallout of this supposed policy shift will be, if the hardcore Chivas fans will accept it or not. My guess is that U.S.-based Chivas fans will be more sympathetic towards Padilla and the new policy while more Mexico-based Chivas fans will not be so easily swayed. Traditions, after all, are difficult to change sometimes.

Borja in Guadalajara

Jesus Padilla is not the only American-born player within Chivas Guadalajara's ranks.

Mexican daily Mural published a story in their sports section Cancha on Friday about Carlos Borja, who spent last season with Chivas USA. Again, I'd post a link but is a pay site which I just recently got access to. But I don't think they'd mind if I posted some of the highlights here.

Borja was born in Orange and went to Loara High in Anaheim. He also spent time at Bradenton in the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program. Borja was signed by Chivas USA to a developmental program last year and joined the club from their Under-19 team.

Between the end of last year and the beginning of this year, he vanished. We never heard anything about his whereabouts and assumed he just pursued other options elsewhere.
His path led him to Guadalajara, apparently. He is with Tapatio, Chivas' Primera A (second division) team.

"He is a player who belongs to Chivas USA," Tapatio coach German Lopez told Mural. "We brought him to Mexico. He's Mexican but he lived in Los Angeles, and after a recent scouting trip to the United States he came as a reinforcement with the Reserve Side as a Mexican."

Lopez also acknowledged Borja's U.S. youth national team past. Having plucked him from Chivas USA's ranks was not much of an issue, apparently.

"We know of him because of Chivas USA," Lopez told Mural. "As we're brothers, well, any interesting player who Chivas USA has and is Mexican, we have priority over him and that's what happened with Borja."

Borja was on the bench for Tapatio's game against Morelia in Estadio Jalisco but has yet to play for Tapatio.

"He is the first Chivas USA player who comes to reinforce Guadalajara and honestly we feel he is a player who will be very important within a short amount of time here in this institution. Borja is very close to being in the First Division," Lopez said.

Borja's parents were each born in Mexico.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Other happenings

Hard for me to believe, but there are other things going on in the world of soccer besides el Gringo Padilla.

- Chivas USA unofficially sent another player to San Jose. Takayuki Suzuki is with the 'Quakes and scored a goal in a friendly against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Now, before you guys get bent out of shape, keep in mind he would have had to have beaten out probably Atiba Harris for a spot on the team. Atiba Harris isn't a superstar or anything but he knows the league and has done some decent things here before. Suzuki does not know the league and would be at best a bit of a project. Chivas USA's roster is limited so if they want to add any more players - to the senior roster anyway - chances are they'd have to move a player in order to do so.

- Atlante has left the door open for Alain Nkong to return. At least, that's what club officials are saying these days. Atlante, of course, tried to ship Nkong out to Leon of the second division after he was selected to join Cameroon's African Nations Cup squad. Nkong did not report to Atlante or Leon or anybody after the ANC, but now Atlante officials apparently are willing to let by-gones be by-gones.

- Pumas coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferreti said that he did not think the Mexican national team should use foreigners. What's the big deal? Well, Tuca was born in Brazil. He said that he just doesn't feel it is right. My guess is, he's angling to get the Mexico gig when Hugo Sanchez's time is up. By saying the right things when the incumbent manager's popularity is sinking, Tuca could gain a groundswell of support that would come in handy later. Such a tactic worked for Hugo Sanchez - why wouldn't it work for Tuca?

Unofficial poll

On, there is a poll question asking readers if they feel Jesus Padilla should stay with Chivas.

Right now, it's 14 in favor of staying and 13 who want to boot him out. There was also someone who posted under the name of Jesus Padilla who said "Nooooooo, don't kick me out" but I didn't count that one.

Anyway, some of the responses there were harsh. Those who didn't want him around anymore were split between the viscious responses "Kick him out! He can't tarnish the tradition!" and the sympathetic ones "As much as I hate to say it, he shouldn't stay here anymore." Those who did support him said things like "Well, if foreigners can play for the national team why not Chivas?" or "I can't believe this is even an issue - that's why this country is the way it is (por eso estamos como estamos)."

Just wanted to share that tidbit of info to give you guys a bit of an insight into what the reaction is like down in Guadalajara and Mexico.

Accident of Birth

Nester de la Torre is fighting with all the power his words have to justify the club keeping Jesus Padilla, even if it means glossing over the club knowing where Jesus was born. I'll bet Mascerano, wherever he is, is wondering why the club didn't try this hard to keep him around back in his day.

"En México, por motivos sociales existen compatriotas que tienen que ir a trabajar a los Estados Unidos, y el que por esa necesidad y que por accidente tu nacimiento se de en otro pedazo de tierra que no sea México ¿te quita todos tus valores, costumbres y raíces como mexicano?, osea que ¿si naces en un avión sobrevolando el océano ya no puedes ser mexicano?"

"In Mexico, for social reasons we have countrymen who need to go to work in the United States, and for that need and for the accident of one's birth on another piece of land that isn't Mexico, does that take away their values, customs and Mexican race? Or if you were born on a plane does that mean you're not Mexican?"

I'm not sure I understand the "accident of birth" argument. If it was such an accident, happenstance, why would Chivas follow the policy of fielding Mexican-born players for so long?

According to his birth certificate, Jesus' mother was born in California, so why wouldn't she stay in the land of her birth? All of his four sisters (two older, two younger) were also born in California, so the idea that the family passed through California quickly just when Padilla was born is weak.

Padilla's own argument is pretty weak, too. Though he admits his U.S. birth, he protests that he is Mexican and offers as proof the fact that he's not blonde. Stereotypes are alive and well.

And then there were more

Many Chivas fans have tried to downplay the Jesus Padilla story and feel sympathy toward the youngster. After all, Chivas have portrayed him as a victim of circumstance and that he truly is 100 percent Mexican.

If you believe that story and you think this particular case is a non-issue, I suppose that's your prerogative.

But Padilla is not the only American-born player in Chivas' system. I learned earlier tonight from a source in Guadalajara that there is indeed another American-born player within their ranks. This player, well, you'd have a difficult time trying to convince many that he's more Mexican than cactus.

We'll let Mural break the story so you'll have to check back tomorrow for this somewhat familiar name.

And then come back and let us know if you think this new one is a non-story too.

Playing the victim

Actually, the more I think about it, it's an act of pure genius on Chivas' part to cast Jesus Padilla as the victim and Luis and I as agents of the U.S. Federation.

Number one, it garners sympathy for Jesus, but also absolves the club of responsibility -putting his having a Mexican birth certificate all on him and his parents.

Number two, how better to rally fans around Padilla and support him staying with Chivas than to charge a conspiracy to steal Jesus away from El Tri? Never mind that Sammy Ochoa's career in Mexico has continued just fine despite him playing for the U.S. U20 national team, while being born in the U.S. didn't stop Edgar Castillo from choosing to represent Mexico.

It's far more effective to throw out a red herring and hope the fans and media bite on that, think, "Poor Jesus, being hounded by American media, who want to kidnap him into playing for the U.S. national team."


The original Jesus Padilla story - the one where he was born in Mexico but came here at the age of 2 - did not make sense before.

The updated Jesus Padilla story doesn't make sense either.

Now, before I get into it, some of you may wonder why we care or why we're pursuing the story. Well, it's a story because of Chivas' own traditions. It's an issue because it's their policy and they are a giant club with millions of fans worldwide. And as a player on said club, Padilla is in the limelight, for both good and bad, just like any other Chivas player. Scrutiny and criticism, both positive and negative, comes with the territory.

Anyway, Padilla's story is now this: he was born here, in San Jose, Calif., but when he was 10 days old, his family moved back to Mexico. For how long, who knows? But he said during a news conference today that his parents were there because of work and he's lived in Mexico since. I'd quote the link but it's on, and that's a pay site. If I find the info elsewhere I'll put it up.

Well, that story doesn't make sense either. His oldest sister was born here in the U.S., that's not contested. So were his three younger sisters. So how long is his whole life? Did he live down there while his parents and other sisters lived in San Jose?

Then there's this story. The San Jose Mercury News profiled Padilla in July of last year, when Chivas played Busan of Korea in San Jose. Read the story and tell me that there aren't inconsistencies.

And as far as the issue of him supposedly disliking the possibility of playing for the U.S., he's talking a big game now but back in July - after he turned down the U-20 invite - he said he'd like to keep his options open, a mindset that supposedly had the blessing of his father.

To some of you, it may seem like I have something against Padilla. Even he himself wondered why this investigation of him. But when he essentially comes up with tales about his life, someone has to call him on it.

New policy?

Might the fallout from the Jesus Padilla case cause a shift in policy with one of the most storied clubs in the Western Hemisphere?

Before yesterday, the common belief was that Chivas accepted only players born in Mexico - it was pretty black and white. Now, it seems that there is a gray area. Padilla and Chivas officials acknowledge that the player was born in San Jose, California, but that since he was able to get his birth certificate in order and, to Chivas, his upbringing checks out, both sides are content with putting this behind them and moving on.

Only time will tell, though, if this becomes a long-term solution or if it is just a bit of damage control on both of their parts. As is usually the case, the people (in this case Chivas fans) will likely determine the outcome of this particular case. I imagine that if there is some sort of acceptance among some Chivas fans while there is likely some animosity or similar emotions from another portion of their immense fan base. Who has the larger numbers and yields more power is the question. Then there is the Mexican media of course that might play a large role as well.

If Padilla does stick around, though, then it may be some sort of shift in policy. Perhaps Chivas will be more open to signing foreign-born children of Mexican nationals and thus expanding their talent base. Of course, this is assuming Padilla's is an isolated incident.

It's not where you were born

It's how quickly you travel over the border.

Chivas and Jesus Padilla now have their story straight. In this article on mediotiempo, They both acknowledge that Jesus was born in San Jose, California. However, they add that he went immediately, within two weeks, to Mexico, and got a birth certificate there. That seems to stretch the definition of "birth certificate", since a person can only be born once in one place. There's also no way to verify the claim of when they traveled across the border, even though it's hard to believe a family with an infant and a mother who has just given birth suddenly feel like traveling to a tiny town in Mexico.

Anyway, the gist from their viewpoint is that there's no problem at all. To play for Chivas, you don't have to be born in Mexico, after all. That's just a technicality.

Truth comes out

Confronted with the story we broke yesterday and the subsequent stories that ran in Cancha today, Jesus Padilla spoke.

Here's what he said:

I was born in San Jose, California, but at 10 days of age I moved to San Jose de los Reynosos with my parents. They were over there working but they have always lived here. They acquired a Mexican birth certificate for me and I am a proud Mexican.

I have my birth certificate and every document is in order. I am more Mexican than cactus. They are investigating me as if I were a delinquent - I don't know why. If perhaps they (the U.S. Soccer federation) feel as if I were an option, they should forget about it. Maybe they see it as a good option, to call me for the national team, but I'm going to continue playing here and fighting for a spot with the Mexican national team.

And Chivas VP Nestor de la Torre also was quoted in the article.

I don't think we need to think too much about this. Everything is very clear and we don't need more background. Jesus Padilla was born in the United States, in California. Less than two weeks after, they moved to Mexico. He was registered here as a Mexican. He has a Mexican birth certificate and as such we see him as eligible to play for Chivas.

Getting the story straight

Here's an important detail about the Jesus Padilla story - no one leaked it. Whether anyone from the Guadalajara club or their associated club here, Chivas USA, knew about Jesus' birthplace is another story, but no one said anything to Luis or I about it before we started working on the story.

When we'd confirmed our suspicions by obtaining a copy of his birth certificate, that's when we started calling people like Thomas Rongen. Rongen's viewpoint that Padilla is unhappy at Chivas may or may not be true, but it didn't impact our story in any way.

We weren't tipped off at all, we just tracked the story down. If anyone thinks a disgruntled Padilla spilled the beans somehow, they're just wrong. Padilla's the one person we still haven't talked to. We tried more than once to set up an interview, but Guadalajara wouldn't cooperate.

Hitting the fan

The cover of Thursday's edition of Cancha, the sports section of Mural, a newspaper in Guadalajara.
The headline says: Goooool against tradition
Inside, Chivas VP Nestor de la Torre said they would review Jesus Padilla's paperwork on Thursday.
I actually got an e-mail from one of their editors late Thursday. We ended up talking on the phone and swapping Padilla stories. They too had a sense that things didn't line up.
According to one of the stories in Cancha, Padilla was not available for comment. However, I'm sure the same won't be the case on Thursday since the news broke a bit late for them on Wednesday.
This story is far from over.


For the last few days, Mexico national team coach Hugo Sanchez has been rather quiet. No post-match assessment. No post-training thoughts. No brash comments. No humble comments... well, not that there are ever too many of those.

Mexican sports daily Ovaciones tells us why:

After chants of "La Volpe, La Volpe" rang during the Under-23's friendly against Chile on Tuesday, national team coach Hugo Sanchez has yet to talk and is apparently upset over what happened after not speaking to the media after the match or following training yesterday (Wednesday).

Of course, similar chants were heard when Ricardo Lavolpe was Mexico's coach. But in those instances, it was "Hugo, Hugo" chants that rang out during games. Now that the shoe is somewhat on the other foot - Hugo does not enjoy the overwhelming amount of support these days as when he took over - perhaps the way he is dealing with it is to avoid the press.

Dynamo get their man

Houston found their replacement for Joseph Ngwenya/Nate Jaqua in the form of Franco Caraccio.

The 21-year-old Argentine is set to join the defending MLS champs soon enough, according to Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle.

Caraccio will join Houston from Arsenal de Sarandi. Arsenal won the 2007 Copa Sudamericana but Caraccio only played once during the tournament, a late-game substitute in an early-round match.

Different goals

I'm sure some MLS fans were glad that Houston was in the Pan-Pacific to restore a bit of pride to the local league, because the Galaxy definitely looked rough last night.

Of course, the defending champions aren't trying a bunch of new players, don't have a new coach who has yet decide on a formation, and don't have too many preseason injuries to deal with.

It's small consolation to the Galaxy fans, but I'll go out on a limb and say the club is at least better than they looked last night.

If Houston wins the Pan-Pacific - how appropriate for Hawaii's native son, Brian Ching, to claim the title.

Sadly, if attendance last night is any indication, it maybe the only such competition. With around 15,000 in the stands, that's low for an MLS game, and certainly not worth the long flight out to the island for four teams.

First-hand perspective

Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports is in Honolulu for the Pan Pacific Championship... not that I'm jealous or anything...

Good for Martin, honestly. I don't think any of the other SoCal-based scribes are out there.

Anyway, Martin seemed impressed with Sean Franklin and Julian Valentin as well as Houston's entire performance.

And, in case you missed it, here's an earlier story Martin wrote about the possible sanity that might be in store for the Galaxy as opposed to last year's insane madhouse.

Benny's payday?

My editor Jonah Freedman tells us that Benny Feilhaber is seeking DP-like money to return home and play in MLS. He also mentions three clubs that have been mentioned before with Benny - Houston, Chivas USA, San Jose.

I agree with Jonah - and not just because he's my editor. Benny does not equal DP money. I wouldn't fork over more than $200 K for Feilhaber. He's essentially unproven at the club level, though clearly he's very talented.

While I think Chivas USA and San Jose would be eager to get ahold of him, I don't expect either club to overpay for him. Chivas would likely have to get rid of an existing midfielder to accommodate him while San Jose probably doesn't want to start its franchise off by overspending. So far, their player personnel moves have been rather calculated.

At some point, Feilhaber is going to realize that his best option - at least in the short term - is on this side of the pond. If he brings his alleged salary demands down, then a move might be easier facilitated.

Preseason unit rankings: forwards

The last edition of my preseason rankings. Obviously, forwards rely a great deal on service from the midfield and backs, but I tried to base these rankings on what the forwards bring to the table in terms of individual qualities and collective abilities.

1. New York. Jozy Altidore-Juan Pablo Angel pairing should strike fear among all opposing defenses. Altidore has barely scratched the surface of his potential while Angel's touch and skill are unmatched.

2. DC United. Luciano Emilio made huge splash a year ago. No reason he won't do it again. Jaime Moreno hasn't yet shown signs he won't be productive. Will need more production from likes of Guy Roland-Kpene and Rod Dyachenko.

3. Chivas USA. Maykel Galindo is fast, skillful and exciting. The Cuban is an ideal complement to Ante Razov, who is still a deadly finisher. Alecko Eskandarian is a strong acquisition and provides Chivas the depth they lacked here a year ago.

4. Los Angeles. Landon Donovan is good for double-digit goals, double-digit assists, but supporting cast has more questions than answers. Carlos Ruiz can still finish but brings a lot of baggage. Edson Buddle is decent when he tries. Alan Gordon, though, is a complete waste.

5. New England. Taylor Twellman will go down as league's all-time leading scorer, as Revs seemingly bent on keeping Twellman around. But Twellman will miss having Pat Noonan around.

6. FC Dallas. Kenny Cooper is rock-solid, provided defenders don't cheap shot him. Question is, who will play alongside him? With good potential, Ricardinho seems most likely to fill role. Dominic Oduro in mix as well.

7. Toronto. Makings of strong forward line, provided Danny Dichio stays on the field. Jeff Cunningham still one of league's most dangerous forwards.

8. Chicago. Chris Rolfe is solid but Chad Barrett is frustrating. So many times last season, Barrett failed to put away simple chances in front of the goal. How much can Fire expect from Andy Herron?

9. Houston. Brian Ching didn't go to Austria - that's a plus. But who will replace those who did? Probably not Chris Wondolowski.

10. Real Salt Lake. Robbie Findley could take a big leap in his development this year. Six goals in a half-season at RSL is promising start. Yura Movsisyan and Fabian Espindola could emerge as well.

11. Colorado. Production was minimal from Nico Hernandez, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings a year ago (five combined goals in total of 47 games). Talent is there but group needs to be tidier in front of goal.

12. Kansas City. With Eddie Johnson gone, KC will struggle for goals. Have some decent hard-working players in Davy Arnaud and Scott Sealy but are missing the go-to guy.

13. Columbus. Robbie Rogers is an intriguing talent who could deliver this year. Alejandro Moreno can put away chances but is a bit immobile. Ricardo Virtuoso still an unknown quantity.

14. San Jose. Gavin Glinton was one of Frank Yallop's favorites off the bench in LA, but Glinton will need to put together more 90-minute efforts. Kei Kamara needs to progress his own development in a hurry as well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pan-Pacific running blog

No Landon Donovan - he's out with a tendon injury. Beckham is starting, though. Anthems are playing.
Steve Cronin, Michael Gavin, Greg Vanney, Troy Roberts and Chris Klein on defense
Alvaro, Josh Tudela and Kelly Gray midline
Ely Allen, Beckham, Edson Buddle on the top line

2- Announcers are talking about the Brazilian influence in Japanese soccer.
3- GOAL! Gamba Osaka - all those of our readers who didn't buy Luis ranking the Galaxy defense so low, please take note - the poor marking and a rather simple finish from Bare that defeats Cronin.
10- Almost another goal. Cronin is saved by the crossbar.
12- Bare is teeing up on Cronin, but this time Cronin gets in a decent save.
13- I've covered the Galaxy for years and when I was posting the line-up, "Who are these guys?" crossed my mind.
15- The Galaxy are scrambling, but they often are hitting bad passes. They're not giving up, but they look desperate.
16- Nice through ball for Bare, Cronin comes off his line, Bare touches ball around him but puts it too far and over the goal line.
19- Galaxy with a nice little run of possession - but it doesn't lead to anything threatening - oh, wait, Beckham puts the ball on Buddle's head, but Buddle heads it over the bar.
22- The turf is pretty poor. It's making the ball bounce strangely.
26- I wish this was on the Spanish channel. These guys aren't even talking about the game.
They just showed a replay of the goal - Bare was arguably offsides, but it was still poor defending.
30- Ely with a through-ball is into the box, turns back, lays the ball off - not well. At least the Galaxy got within range of the goal.
31- Ely again with the ball, but the defense cuts off the middle and starts a counter. Still a good run from the Galaxy.
33- Alvaro looks perpetually angry. He earns a free kick on the right. Beckham lines it up, hits Kelly Gray in the stomach, but Gray doesn't recover in time to kick the ball into the goal. Sad.
36- Ooh, another through ball leaves Cronin exposed and facing two attackers, he comes out quick and gets a palm on it - the follow is denied off the line by Troy Roberts. Cronin is looking better, even if the defense is still shambolic.
39- Gavin with a nice cross pass to Beckham, who then hits a really poor cross out of bounds. That play would have made more sense if the names were reversed.
40- Cronin with another save. He looks more comfortable now.
42-Becks lines up another freekick - Fugikaya catches it.
43- Freekick for Gamba Osaka - Becks is in the 4-man wall - I think the ball hit him, actually.
44- Bare tees up on Cronin again, this time with another low shot, but Cronin gets down for the save.
46- Becks is still around for the second half. Josh Wicks is in goal, Valentin looks like a little like a cyborg warrior with his face patched and that Full90 helmet thing.
53- Gamba looks a little tired, or perhaps they're just content with their one-goal lead. They're not pressuring the Galaxy much, but the Galaxy still can't put together a decent attack.
56- Free kick for Osaka - but wide of goal
58- The Galaxy just keep making simple mistakes. There are a lot of young players out there right now, and i'm sure they're nervous, but some of the gaffes are terribly amateur.
60- Roberts bundles away a ball in the box. Out for a corner, which gets cleared.
61- Galaxy get the ball in the box and get a shot off, but it bounces off a defender.
62- Beckham can't corral a long ball. He seems really irritated. It's not a pretty match, can't blame him.
64- Gavin on an overlapping run gets into the box, but takes too long to shoot and gets blocked.
67- Looked like a handball in the box, but Baldomero Toledo lets it go. Corner. Beckham takes, ball comes out to Josh Tudela, who shoots way over the bar. Gray comes off for Jordan (more who?)
70- Give Beckham credit - he's out there with his team still, trying to make things happen.
71- Buddle brings down a pass, gets the ball in front of goal, but Jordan can't shove past his defender to poke it into goal.
74- That was weird, a graphic showed up briefly of David Beckham wearing the old Galaxy gold uniform. But he never wore it - they had switched to the current look before he joined the team.
76- Buddle with a sweet flick in the box to MacDonald, who skies it. Another chance lost.
78- MacDonald serves a random ball into the box, Osaka clears the Galaxy half-chance.
80- Corner for Gamba, cleared out.
81- Beckham initiates a comedy of errors, he steals a ball and passes into the box, MacDonald misses the header, Ely Allen whifs on the kick, than pulls the ball away from his charging teammate, Tudela, then centers for a miss by Buddle? Not sure.
85- Galaxy playing long-ball looking for a goal chance.
89- Gamba freekick - served out.
90- Ball into the area, but MacDonald can't get a head on it. Probably last chance for the Galaxy.
90+ Nope, Buddle brings the ball down in the area and manages to turn his defender, but after all that work, his shot was weak and easily caught by the goalkeeper.
90+ Wicks saves one final shot.
LA loses, will play third place game on Saturday.

Padilla regrets choice?

Thomas Rongen invited Jesus Padilla to join the U.S. U20 national team just prior to the Youth World Cup in Canada, but Padilla turned him down. Most club teams would be happy to have a player involved in competition against the world's top teams, but Chivas apparently made it clear to Padilla that they would be very unhappy with him if he agreed.

The U20 World Cup is a great showcase though - Adu parlayed a good stint there to a contract abroad. I wondered at the time if Padilla might regret turning down the offer. According to Rongen, he already has.

He’s a part of Chivas Guadalajara, where he’s not happy right now and feels he might have made some bad choices and allowed the pressure from Chivas to get to him. He very much wants to represent his country. This is after the World Cup, so he realized the importance and expressed to me that he’d eventually like to play for the U.S., and he’d also like to make a move to MLS sooner rather than later, since he feels that he’s not getting a fair shake at Chivas Guadalajara. His is a very unique case, because he would have played for me in any game, leading up to the World Cup, but Chivas has that rule that only true Mexicans can play for them and they pretty much told him, “If you go represent the United States, you’re not welcome back here, because you won’t be a true Mexican player.” So they put strings on him. That was tough for him and he chose to stay with his club, but I think he’s ready to move now.