Monday, April 30, 2007

Marsch laments

While out there today, I was talking to Jesse Marsch about Disneyland and all that good stuff. He offered up this:

"I wanted to apologize to the Legion because after the game none of us went over there to thank them. I thought they were amazing at the game and they just come and support us so strong every game. Even though we were disappointed with the loss, I still think we owed them a little appreciation for everything they bring to us every game. I just wanted to kind of publicly thank them and let them know in the future we’ll let them know how much we appreciate them. They made the Galaxy fans pale in comparison. We obviously wanted to give them a little bit more to cheer for on the field but it was no fault of theirs."

So I wanted to put that here to hopefully get the message out to Legion that Chivas USA players appreciated their efforts on the stands.

Marsch is cool that way. He blew me off once after a training session last year. I asked him if he had some time and he said "No. Not today." I was like "Wha..." because that's so unlike him, unlike most guys actually. Most guys are happy to talk to us scribes.

But Jesse was cool about it. The next time I saw him was after a home game a few days after that happened and the first thing he told me was that he was sorry he blew me off.

Happiness abounds

When I first heard about Chivas USA's trip to Disneyland, I thought that some players would like it more than others. Some guys on the team, like Jesse Marsch and Amado Guevara, have families and probably have kids who enjoy Disneyland and theme parks and it would make for a good family outing. Others, like Ante Razov and Jonathan Bornstein, have no kids and I wondered if they would be nonplussed about the whole situation. It didn't seem that way, though. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves, both the family guys and the bachelors.

"Beverly - Hills, that is"

Posh and Becks have found a home, sweet home in the famed 90210 area code. It's actually going to be a bit of a haul for him to get to daily practice from there.

He'll be riding the infamous 405 freeway. (If you don't believe the traffic can be that bad, google "infamous 405").

But that's what will make Becks a real Angeleno, dealing with the traffic and cursing the cars on the 405.

He's actually lucky. Frank Yallop starts Galaxy practices at 10:30 in the morning, which means Becks will miss the bulk of the morning rush.

In the summer months, though, it gets so hot that the teams often start practice early, to maximize working out when it's cool. That might be when it's time to hand the keys over and let the limo guy deal with the morning commute.

Show Us Your Colors! Go Galaxy!

In our first of what we hope is a lengthy and interactive feature, a loyal reader shares with us their colors.

This comes from Mike Barloewen. Four-month-old Abby looks stunningly adorable in her green-and-gold colors. Abby, Mike and the entire Barloewen clan is undoubtedly excited now, after the Galaxy laid a whipping on Chivas USA and with Becks just around the corner. Mike shares with us that his daughter is the latest and greatest member of the LA Riot Squad. We are 138! And so is Abby!

Cheers to you, Mike for sharing this with us. And cheers to Abby for appreciating the beautiful game and supporting your local club at such a young age.

ADD: If you want to Show Us Your Colors, use this e-mail from now on:


Hollywood looks

I didn't get a chance to talk to Sacha Kljestan today. It was actually a bit strange in that setting talking to players. I talked to Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch and Maykel Galindo but I kept it to Disneyland talk. Their mind was off soccer for a moment and it was all in all a light day. Besides, I'm going out there on Tuesday to talk about some more on-the-field topics.

Anyway, Sacha Kljestan looked dapper as always.

Happiest place on Earth

I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland today to cover a Chivas USA function. It was actually enjoyable. The team seemed like they were having a good time. They must have been told to smile a lot because most of the guys were smiling. A lot. It was kind of strange seeing them at Disneyland. I hadn't been to Disneyland in at least seven years and had been meaning to save up enough scratch to take the family out. But on a freelancer's wages, saving up takes time.

Anyway, part of my trip today was to check out the park for a future trip. But I also got some pictures of Chivas USA players and did some interviews. I'll post links to stories when they are published.

Monday madness

It's Monday and the weekend games are over. Landon Donovan had a goal and two assists and was named MLS Player of the Week. Several power rankings have been updated and the gaze has already started to fixate on the next week's games.

Only problem is, there is a game tonight. RSL-Colorado are playing a game tonight, however uninspiring it may be to some outside of the region or the Western Conference. Still, a game is a game and it most certainly counts. What if someone has a hat trick? Shouldn't that give someone Player of the Week honors? What if one team wins 5-0? Wouldn't that have an affect on the power rankings for one or both teams.

I'm holding off my own power rankings until after this game.

Francophile Heartbreak

That Frank Yallop, such a downer.

Can anyone guess who on the Galaxy, if this deal had indeed gone through this year, would be able to converse with Zidane in French?

Crutchin' along

In the bustle of the winning locker room after the Galaxy/Chivas USA game, the sight of Quavas Kirk on crutches was a sobering reminder that injury can strike at any time.

Monday's Dish: Revenge

Real Salt Lake's Mehdi Ballouchy is a skilled, creative player who is smooth on the ball, yet I'd love to see him display a bit more grit, frankly.

It's that extra bit of fire and willingness to get "stuck in" that can elevate a player's game to the next level.

So I was glad to hear, when I talked to him about which team he'd like to defeat more than any other, a bit of a vendetta on his part for one team in particular. Those are the situations that motivate extra effort.

"Our little rivalry is Colorado. The players, the teams, the coaches, the fans – we don’t like each other. They’re a good match for us. I have a personal thing with them. Last year, we had a match with them in Salt Lake City. I got hit and went down. They didn’t kick the ball out and they ended up scoring on that play. They didn’t respect the game, or us. I’m looking forward to playing Colorado and beating Colorado."

I love rivalry games.

In a rare MLS Monday game, Real faces the Colorado Rapids tonight.

It's also going to be notable for the MLS debut of Chris Seitz in goal. Though he's the youngest goalkeeper to start for RSL (he's barely twenty) the youngest starting goalkeeper in MLS history was Tim Howard at 19.

The youngest MLS goalkeeper ever? Come on readers, send in the answer, this one was infamous.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cali blonde

Perhaps Becks felt that although many Galaxy fans are happy to have Joe Cannon in goal, they miss a little the bottle-blonde look former goalkeeper Kevin Hartman used to rock when he was here.

Work night

Before yesterday's game started, I wanted to close my laptop and enjoy the first half. I wasn't expecting two goals in the first 17 minutes. By the 30th minute, I was busy writing away.

For the second half, I had plenty to write about as Amado Guevara was taken out rather early and then Chivas scored. I thought we might have a repeat of last year when the game went from Chivas lead, tie game and Galaxy lead within a matter of 10 minutes, completely throwing off my stories. But Cobi Jones made sure I would file on deadline when he scored in the 78th minute.

So during the last 15 minutes or so, I was mostly writing my PE story and my match report. Usually, I have to send both stories when the final whistle sounds and last night was no different. When the referee raised his arm and ended the match, I sent my first story to the Press-Enterprise, sent my second story to and made my way down to the locker rooms.

I sat in on Preki's press conference, then went to the Chivas USA locker room. I didn't have the chance to sit in on Frank Yallop's post-game press conference which is why I only have audio clips of Chivas people. My brother Danny Bueno who writes for and has a day job outside of soccer helped me out with Galaxy quotes and he got some good stuff for me (on an aside, that lucky punk has tickets for Coachella today!).

When I returned, I added some quotes to the PE story and re-sent it, then wrote another completely different story for I had a relatively light night - only four stories. Still, everybody cleared out early as usual. Andrea and I were the last to leave, and she had stories to finish once she got home.


This is something new this year at Galaxy games. Yesterday was the second Galaxy home game and The Underground was up and running. I don't know what The Underground is. A few of us writers were trying to figure it out. One speculated that it's a place for people who sit on the field can go and hang out. My guess is they want some cool chic place for people to chill at and make it some trendy hot spot. To the right of this is the tunnel that leads to the field, so players walk right by here on their way to the locker rooms (which are also to the right, our left).

I'll have to take a picture of it after the next home game, on May 12. I took this picture on Thursday when there wasn't anybody down in The Underground. Yesterday, the door was open and there were some people inside but I couldn't really see too far in there. Plus, I wasn't exactly paying attention to it.

If anybody has been to The Underground or wants to share info with us, that would be cool.

The day after

Someone with Chivas USA mentioned that the Galaxy locker room was probably celebrating with champagne after the win.

I think I spied some pizza boxes in the trash can outside the locker room, but otherwise, it was a typical scene - a few Gatorade bottles scattered around were the only liquid.

My story on the game is up now. So is my take on the "Super Clasico" en espanol.

Not holding back

When Chivas USA and the Galaxy announced a press conference to discuss their upcoming game, it was announced as Galaxy coach Frank Yallop and Galaxy players; Chivas USA coach Preki and Chivas USA players. For Chivas USA, I figured that Ante Razov would be there. I thought the other guy might have been Claudio Suarez since they probably wanted to have one of their Spanish-speakers there. But then I thought the most logical would be Amado Guevara, their prized offseason acquisition.

So I was surprised to hear that Maykel Galindo would be at the press conference instead of Guevara.

After the Galaxy game, maybe there was a reason Amado wasn't the one to represent the team's colors in front of the media. After all, Preki questioned Amado's defense of the Chivas jersey after the 3-1 loss at the post-match press conference. Now, I'm just speculating here. I don't have any sort of reason or anything, but sometimes actions speak much louder than words.

Here's an audio link to what Preki had to say about the game in general and about taking out Amado Guevara.

Here's Amado's own thoughts on the matter (en espanol, por supuesto).

Made it home

I didn't have to fight off sleep tonight, which is good. I'm actually awake enough to get on here and post an item.

That was just a terrible, terrible loss for Chivas. Players said they came out flat and were lacking intensity but I wonder how that could be possible? Against the Galaxy after having won 2 of 3 and having played well enough to have won the other game?

Needless to say, coaches and players weren't very happy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

In between stories

Just sent over my Press-Enterprise write through. Before I start writing my MLSnet match feature, a couple of quick thoughts here as I catch my breath.

I talked to Brad Guzan, Amado Guevara, Claudio Suarez, Ante Razov, Lawson Vaughn and Alex Zotinca in the locker room. I'll have some audio later. Mostly, though, the Chivas locker cleared out quickly. Not that there was a lot of us media down there. Aside from myself, there was Jaime Cardenas of MLSnet, Joe D'Hippolito (I think I spelled it right) of the AP, Dave Denholm of AM 710 and a few TV people. I don't know if anyone else walked in after I left.

Mixing metaphors

Landon Donovan collided with Brad Guzan on a play late in the game.

In the Galaxy locker room, the forward's torso was wrapped in ice as a result of that.

"It's like getting hit by a train," said Landon. "He's a tank. It was stupid of me to go for that."

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same.


More thrills

Preki is chewing his fingernails here - he does not like to sit still.

The thrill is gone

I'm sure all the players and coaches pictured here are going to be amped for the game that starts in just a few minutes, but at the presser, they had more trouble sustaining the excitement.

Piling on

Like Andrea, I too think that Toronto has hit a worse spot than Chivas USA's 2005 team. That team was awful but those players tried hard. They played hard. They had more than their share of bad luck and by the time Juan Pablo Garcia and Francisco Palencia arrived, it was waaaay too late. Hell, by the time June came around, it was too late to do anything.

But there seemed to be more optimism in Toronto than there was here with Chivas or even in Salt Lake that year. Toronto had a coach who many seemed high on, and they assembled a decent group of players to build around, like Edson Buddle, Alecko Eskandarian, Richard Mulrooney, Ronnie O'Brien, Jim Brennan, Conor Casey...

Well, Mulrooney and Casey are gone. O'Brien foolishly hurt himself and now Buddle and Eskandarian look like the hapless Martins-Torres-Taylor-Romo quartet from Chivas USA 2005.

I just hope the fan support is more like RSL than Chivas USA. RSL fans, for as crappy as that team still is, are loyal. So the answer to Are You Loyal? is a resounding YES. Hopefully the losing doesn't discourage Toronto fans.

The next three games don't look very encouraging either. Chicago, Houston, D.C.

The Dead Eyes

Chivas USA's first season in MLS was a tough one. Of all the players they had that year, only two, Francisco "Panchito" Mendoza and Brad Guzan, see regular playing time now.

What I remember most about the team that year is the deadened look that crept into the player's eyes after the losses piled on. They went from frustration, anger, bravado, misery and anguish to a kind of numbed stoicism. It was depressing to watch.

Yet for all of Chivas USA's struggles, I think Toronto FC is in a bit of a worse patch now. Not only is the team still waiting for its first points (they've not even managed a draw), let alone a first win, but the team has yet to score a goal.

In fact, their current run of around 360 minutes played without a goal puts them near the MLS record books. If they don't score in their next game, they could land in sixth place on the all-time list for consecutive minutes without a team goal. Their victors today, the Kansas City Wizards, hold that spot currently with 427 minutes, set in a stretch of games between 6/24/2000 and 7/22/2000.

It might be some consolation to Toronto FC fans to know that the Wizards actually won the MLS championship that same year.

#1 on that list of most consecutive minutes by a team without a goal belongs to Real Salt Lake, at 557 minutes, set during a bad stretch of their inaugural year.

Real Salt Lake fans, bless 'em, marked the moment their team set the record by throwing black streamers onto the field.

Becks to see Clasico

Frank Yallop has kept in touch with David Beckham, and the Galaxy will send a DVD of the clasico contest with Chivas USA to their new signing.

"He’ll see the game tape," Frank explained. "He’s had a few derbies in his time, and clasicos, as well. He’s excited. He’s anxious to get over here."

The Gurus

Llew Llewellyn of American Soccer News and I were both interviewing Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, at the Super Clasico presser and Llew made a passing comment about how perhaps New York Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena should open his own coaching school, seeing as how his former assistants (USMNT's interim coach Bob Bradley and now-Wizards coach Curt Onalfo) are doing well.

"Yeah," Yallop agreed, then added, "Dominic’s done ok, hasn’t he?"

The reference was, of course, to Yallop's former protege, Houston Dynamo coach Kinnear.

"I'm just kidding," said Yallop of taking credit for Kinnear's soccer savvy, while Llew and I laughed.

Of course there's always that saying about jokes holding a grain of truth.

Final count

For MLSnet, I wrote four stories this week, three of them taking a look at the Clasico. I wrote this one for the Press-Enterprise.

I try to talk to enough players and gather enough information to make every story unique. For the PE, I usually try and take a more general look at a team or a player feature or something. In this story, I wrote about the level of respect both teams garner from one another.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Yallop link here

When I was first starting out in my writing career, I left the score completely out of a game story I wrote. It happens. In 2002, I covered the Mexico-AC Milan game and the score at halftime was 2-0 Mexico. I started writing my story, put the score as 2-0, Milan scored a PK in the second half but I didn't update the score. It ran as 2-0 in the paper even though the final was 2-1. From then on, every game I do, I put the score as x-x until the final whistle blows.

So maybe now I'll stop leaving audio links out of the item I'm supposed to put them in.

Frank Yallop talks about the Clasico here.

Thanks, Toddzilla.

Yallop yaps about Clasico

This was actually a good interview. We talked about several different things, including rivalries and his thoughts on Chivas USA from a year ago. Interesting stuff.

I was actually going to write up a story on it but I had a kick-ass workout this morning and it pretty much wiped me out. So I was tired and I'd filed all my paying stories. Anyway, I just decided to throw up the audio here as a little Sideline Views exclusive (or semi-exclusive anyway; I did use some of this for PE stuff).

Among the more interesting things he said:

On Chivas USA:

They’re a very good side in MLS. I like the way they play. I actually like watching them play when they’re not playing us, to be honest. They play the correct way. I feel that the two teams that are going to play Saturday night want to attack and want to do the right things. That always makes for a good game.

On the games he lived through last year:

I think the nil-nil tie was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been involved in as a player and as a coach. It was great. It had everything.

I actually concur on the game. That one is the most memorable for me. I remember being on the edge of my seat the entire game. That was probably one of my favorite games I've covered in the last couple of years.

Señor Cañon

Joe Cannon can hold his own in Spanish.

(Very short clip, like 10-12 seconds)

Galindo Gabs

More audio clips in Spanish. I talked to Maykel Galindo after training on Tuesday about playing the Galaxy for the first time.

Then, he spoke some at Thursday's press conference. This one has an English translation after it, but not from me.

More in Espanol

Well, let's keep this Spanish theme going.

Here's an interview with Amado Guevara that I was a part of. Toward the end, I asked him about life in L.A. and the atmosphere over here and he said:

"Nueva York es como el clima: frio."

That part is toward the end of the chat.


My clasico advance is up on MLSnet, too.


My Clasico advance is up on

A couple of the more interesting quotes:

I'd actually never interviewed Lawson Vaughn before Thursday. I can't believe it. I felt stupid. We had a good five-minute chat. I sat on the team bench next to him after all the starters were done for the day, on the field anyway. We talked about how the team was going to mark Landon Donovan, about his own motivation to succeed in MLS after he slipped to the Supplemental Draft and his future.

Anyway, about the Clasico:

"Before the season starts," Chivas USA defender Lawson Vaughn said, "we look on the schedule to see when we're playing the Galaxy."

I also jumped in on an interview with Claudio Suarez on Tuesday. Colleague Troy Santiago asked Suarez if he felt that Chivas should be the favorites going into the game:

"From the way we've played and the results we've gotten, we're the favorites coming in and we're not going to back down from that responsibility."

Weather wears on fans

I laugh every time someone from Los Angeles launches into an argument about why Major League Soccer should switch to a schedule that involves more games closer to winter. Though this is my home now, I've lived elsewhere in the country, and I haven't forgotten the weather conditions there.

Which is not to say that the move doesn't have appeal, in particular easing the fixture congestion for international matches and MLS games. But the weather remains a mighty big, cold obstacle.

It's a bit of a conundrum.

The Women's Restroom

Thinking back to the Mike Penner/Christine Daniels topic, it occured to me that Christine will be using the women's restroom whenever she covers an event at the Home Depot Center.

If so, she'll have to share with the guys.

That's because inside the press suite at the Home Depot Center, the restrooms are small, single use rooms. There are no stalls. (There are a bunch of public use restrooms nearby, but for those who want to stay in the cocoon of the press box, there's only one room for each gender).

Because there's a rush to use the bathroom during halftime, the male reporters often use the one marked "Women".

I remember once when I was washing my hands, an insistent knock on the door startled me a little. I opened the door to find TV announcer Rob Stone with one hand upraised to knock again and the other holding a beige compact.

He looked surprised - I think he thought one of his coworkers was inside.

"Sorry," he apologized, indicating the compact. "I've got to put my makeup on right now."

Marking Landon

These are the key players who will try to bottle up Landon Donovan.

From top, central defender Claudio Suarez (on right), defensive midfielder Jesse Marsch and central defender Lawson Vaughn.

Assessing the field

I tried to handicap the race for titles in Mexico for

Pachuca is class and America has a good shot of winning Libertadores. Don't know if that'll happen but I give reasons why it could.

Smiles are for wimps

No offense, Jaime.

Weekly Picks April 28-30

Week 4 picks, the weekend version.


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


Kansas City 0, Toronto 0
Columbus 1 DC United 1
Galaxy 1, Chivas USA 0
FC Dallas 2, New England 3
Chicago 1, Houston 2
Colorado 0, RSL 0

Standings before the picks:

L.B. 3-4
A.C. 1-6

Opposing guns

Chivas USA has one of the three most productive goal scorers in MLS history on their side while the Galaxy features the United States' biggest ace. How each club's backline handles Ante Razov and Landon Donovan will be one key to the game.

ADD: Here's what Landon had to say about the Clasico and Ante's thoughts on the rivalry.

Continuity - of losing?

A little item about Real Salt Lake related more to what I cover on my other blog, so I posted it there.

John Ellinger has decided (hat-tip to our reader), to give talented rookie Chris Seitz the starting spot.

Earlier, Ellinger appeared more concerned about continuity in the net than he did about Seitz' actual ability. But sticking with Nick Rimando for the sake of consistency could have had futher dire consequences.

Not a sellout, yet.

The game between the Galaxy and Chivas USA hasn't yet sold out, though a lot of tickets have been sold.

However, there was some confusion and a few places reported a sellout because the Galaxy website carried the news that the Galaxy Clasico, the adult tournament that the team runs, has sold out.

The matchup between Chivas and the Galaxy is known as the Honda SuperClasico, and that was close enough that some news outlets confused the two and began reporting the SuperClasico was sold out. It is not, not yet.

Merlin hopes for time

Laurent Merlin joined Chivas USA after the Galaxy passed on his services. Merlin seems determined to play on Saturday, though, but it's not necessarily out of spite for the Galaxy. His parents are in town to spend time with their son and hopefully watch him play.

If he plays, he said he would be more excited for them than for himself.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Busy bee

I was exhausted a bit when I was done today. In all, I got stuff from about 10 players/coaches out at HDC today. I just finished and sent off my SI Column that will run tomorrow on Nothing controversial this time, which means I probably will get zero reader responses.

Now, I'm going to try and transcribe all of my interviews. I gotta take a deep breath though because it's quite a lot. At least my daughters are asleep.

Path to glory

A view of the tunnel that leads out to the HDC field. It was so quiet on Thursday and it will be anything but on Saturday.

What makes a team special?

I asked that to Landon Donovan. Actually, it's for one of my 84 Super Clasico stories I'm working on. Well, it just seems like it's 84.

Anyway, I wanted to find out from some Galaxy people what it takes for Chivas USA to gain true respect because even though they played well last year, they're not there. Certainly they're not in the Galaxy's class when you compare franchises, from top to bottom. They're just not. It's not possible.

MLS and the Galaxy are in year 12, Chivas USA is in year 3 and those are just facts. Which is kind of what I wanted to investigate this and ask 'What will it take for Chivas USA to really truly gain some respect around the league from players, coaches, other franchises, fans, media, etc., etc.

Anyway, listen to what he had to say. He mentions New York.


Having never interviewed Joe Cannon prior to his arrival in L.A., I didn't know what kind of person he was. You can only tell so much by someone's exterior. But after having seen him in action at the Galaxy pre-season luncheon and now at Thursday's press conference, he seems like a funny guy. He's fairly witty and damned funny.

Listen to this audio clip here where he talks about the Super Clasico, what it means to the Galaxy and how it compares to another rivalry.

The future needs to play

Thoughts on the return of women's pro soccer in the U.S.

Sunrise, sunset.

Mas clasico

US Soccer's web site has another video that's a fave.

Yay to our reader Josh, who provided the direct link!

It's ironic that Sacha is one of the players interviewed, since he's going to miss this upcoming match.

MLS Honda Super Classico LA Galaxy vs CHIVAS USA

Video refresher of some of the history between the teams.


Like Luis, I've covered every Galaxy/Chivas match. My personal favorite was the Galaxy 2-1 comeback win, which was incredible in terms of sheer drama.

I rode in the elevator with Jesse Marsch after that game. "Damn Landon," he complained to a quiet Ante Razov. "I thought I had him covered on that play, but somehow, he was able to get up and head the ball." (Jesse was referring to Landon's assist on the tying goal.)

Still, out of all the goals I've seen scored in the derby, the most impressive ones were the pair Ante scored last year when Chivas finally won. Both were absolute jaw-dropping finishes.

While I think the Chivas USA/Galaxy rivalry would still be heated and in some ways, even more special if Chivas USA had claimed a nearby city, such as San Diego or San Bernardino, as their base, I really enjoy the local rivalry and I have from the first contest.

It's great to see the colors for both teams out, and fans reacting to every play on the field. No good local fan is ever going to cheer a goal by the opposition, but as someone who appreciates the beautiful game in general, it's always nice to see deserving goals by either team get their cheers.

Plus, the energy at matches where the fans care so much about the outcome is amazing, especially since Chivas USA fans have pushed the normally docile LA Galaxy fans to be more vocal and demonstrative.

Life changing

Sometimes, sports writing can kind of take a back seat to real life. So when I read about how LA Times sports writer Mike Penner was having a sex change and will become Christine Daniels, I was floored. Actually, my brother Danny called me on his way to work as I was writing a story on the Galaxy-Chivas USA game for MLSnet. I went online and found the story I linked above.

I had to read it more than once to really grasp it. I've known Mike mostly through his stories. I was first captivated by his writing when he covered France 98 for the LA Times. Along with Grahame Jones and Helene Elliot, Mike was part of the great coverage the Times had for the World Cup that year. I liked how he interjected some wit and how his stories flowed seamlessly through the end.

After the tournament, he wrote a story about why loved soccer. He said he was covering a Romania World Cup game at the Rose Bowl and was mesmerized by a goal George Hagi scored. I can't remember if that was against Colombia or Argentina, but it's a famous goal. Hagi swerved that shot in from about 35 yards out or so, and I remember Mike saying he was hooked on soccer after that.

Even though he has covered other sports, he's always been one of us, a soccer-loving media member so I always looked at him as an ally. I met him in Japan during the 2002 World Cup but only spoke briefly to him. I still follow his writing though it's been a while since we've crossed paths.

So I sat dumbstruck while I read the story. I had to laugh, though, when I came across this part:

When I told Robert, the soccer-loving lad from Wales who cuts my hair, why I wanted to start growing my hair out, he had to take a seat, blink hard a few times and ask, "Does this mean you don't like football anymore, Mike?"

No, I had to assure him, I still love soccer. I will continue to watch it. I hope to continue to coach it.

I think it's great that Mike came to a realization about himself and that he had the courage to stand up and deal with it. I don't know if I would have that same courage if I was faced with similar circumstances. As a sports writer - particularly a soccer writer - you need to have thick skin. You need to be able to deflect insults from readers and non-soccer sports writers, with non-soccer writers/editors making fun of soccer and bashing it every chance they get, with people who ask you what you do for a living and then ask 'Oh, is there a soccer team out here?'

But that pales in comparison with what Mike has had to deal with and what Christine will deal with from now on. I think it's courageous and I truly respect his ability to share with us his struggles.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Galaxy Small Talk

Conan on the Galaxy.

Whoever wrote this for Conan knew something about the team, though Naldo and Memo Gonzalez were dumped off the Galaxy soon after Frank Yallop arrived last season.

After all, it's pretty impressive that Max pronounced Quavas Kirk more or less correctly.

Herculez in disguise?

The comment on the end of this article by Mark Zeigler made me wonder if it could have been left a former player from San Diego. Herculez Gomez used to play for the Guachos and the San Diego Sockers.

For that matter, Hugo Sanchez once played for the Sockers as well.

But the comment implied that person is still working for an MLS team. Of course, it could just be a ticket-seller who left the message. It's no fun to imagine that, though.

First-hand viewpoint

Technically, I wasn't at the Crew/Galaxy Open Cup qualifying match, and I couldn't even watch it on TV, because it wasn't televised. So when I interviewed Nate Jaqua by phone, I basically asked him, "How'd you score the goal?"

However, Rob was in Ohio, and here's his take.

Clasico scorers

- Chivas USA players who have scored against the Galaxy:

Ante Razov (three goals), Ramon Ramirez (two), Douglas Sequiera.

- Galaxy players who have scored against Chivas USA:

Herculez Gomez (four), Peter Vagenas (three), Cobi Jones (three), Landon Donovan (two), Cornell Glen (two), Jovan Kirovski, Chris Albright, Alan Gordon, Joseph Ngwenya, Pablo Chinchilla.

Week 4 picks Part 1

WBefore the weekend gets here, we decided to make our midweek picks. We'll hold off on making the rest of the picks until we have more time to digest the matchups. For now:


Kansas City 3, Toronto FC 0
FC Dallas 0, New York 0


Kansas City 2, Toronto FC 1
FC Dallas 1, New York 0

From one Luis to another

Is it just me or did Real Salt Lake sign Luis Tejada? I mean, I thought he was supposed to have been a big acquisition for RSL but I can't remember him playing so far this year.

Okay, just checked the RSL web site and it turns out I'm not losing my mind (even though it's late and I've got to get up early later today). He's played all of two minutes this year.

If any RSL fan wants to fill us in on Tejada, feel free.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Most goals vs. Galaxy?

I was doing a bit of research for a story I'm writing on the Galaxy-Chivas USA match and I came away with a decent bit of trivia.

What player has scored the most goals against the L.A. Galaxy?

More Frank-ness

So my Press-Enterprise column never made it to the web. I guess it was a paper-exclusive so unless you live in the IE (Riverside, San Bernardino counties) you probably didn't get a chance to read it.

Anyway, one more interesting thing Frank Yallop told me about the Open Cup:

“It’s great to have that run to make that final,” Yallop said. “But when you don’t win it, you kind of look back at it and ask ‘Did it get in the way of our run to the playoffs?’”

Then he pretty much said yes, which was the quote I previously posted.

As far as Tuesday's Galaxy win, they'll be hosting the Red Bulls which means one more game to cover and more money and a chance to see Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore and my boy Todd Dunivant in person. So I can't complain about that. No date yet has been set, at least none that I've seen but it will probably be in May. I just hope it's not at the Track and Field Stadium. Say what you want about quaint. I want comfort.

Stone cold

When it comes to Chivas USA goalkeepers and how they've fared against the Galaxy, well, they haven't fared well at all.

Martin Zuniga was 0-1. Brad Guzan is 0-6.

In fact, the only Chivas USA goalkeeper who has not lost to the Galaxy is Preston Burpo. He was in the nets for the lone Chivas USA win ever against the Galaxy and he also shut them out in the only ever shutout Chivas USA has had against the Galaxy.

Burpo showed up to training with a clean-shaved head on Tuesday. I was just thinking too last week how scruffy he'd gotten since he was working on a bushy beard but the bald hair suits him well.

Clasico no. 3

We're preparing for the first Galaxy-Chivas USA game this season but the recent U.S.-Sweden announcement got me to thinking about the third Super Clasico of the year. The U.S. will play Sweden in Sweden on Aug. 22, in case you missed the news. I can't imagine Landon Donovan not being a part of that.

That, unfortunately, will hurt the Galaxy and take a bit of the luster away from the Galaxy-Chivas USA game on Aug. 23. Of course, that will in all likelihood be David Beckham's first home regular-season match as a member of the Galaxy.

The Galaxy's first regular season home match with Becks and Landon together on the field at the same time should be Sept. 1 against Real Salt Lake.

Practicing Preki

I admit, I like Preki. I used to love watching him play and admired his ability to create space and unload from anywhere on the field. He was my favorite player for a while. It's kind of strange dealing with him on a daily basis. The first time I interviewed him, which was sometime in 1998, I told him how great I thought his goal against Brazil in the Gold Cup was, a game I was fortunate enough to watch from the stands. I forget sometimes how much I admired him as a player.

Anyway, he's a unique person. He's still got a passion for the game but he's not like most coaches I've dealt with. Today, for instance, while the team went through their drills, he jogged around the field, occasionally stopping and taking some of it in.

Kljestan out

I stopped Sacha Kljestan today after training and asked him about the play on Andy Williams. He told me that he would be suspended by the league for one or two games.

He seemed sincere when he told me he felt bad about it and that it was a silly tackle. The damage has been done, though, and hopefully he learns from it.

Open Cup quandary

The Galaxy face Columbus in an Open Cup qualifier today, and it brings up the debate of the tournament's significance. There is strong sentiment among many that the Open Cup means something and is an important part of this country's soccer past, present and future. Others don't really see it as more than glorified friendlies. Still others - mostly those who don't really follow the sport - get confused with the Open Cup and how the Galaxy can play another MLS team and not have it count in the standings.

As far as the significance goes, I do think the tournament carries weight and should be taken more seriously by MLS in that there should be specific weekends set aside for Open Cup. But that typically brings about another debate on how there are only a handful of weekends available and space is limited and all that other gobbledygook.

Usually when I've talked to players and coaches about it, they seem sort of tempered in their remarks. Frank Yallop, though, told me yesterday that last year's Open Cup run probably cost them the MLS playoffs.

“It stopped us from maybe making the playoffs,” he said. “We had some good results obviously in the Open Cup against MLS teams… If it was the other way in league games, I felt we would have gotten enough points to make the playoffs.”

(Unfortunately, the link to this story - it ran in the Press-Enterprise - is not up yet but this is what he said. It's not me in what should be obvious sarcasm; it's Frank being frank.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

MLS random thoughts

Some random thoughts that rattled around my head over the past few days.

- It's a good thing FC Dallas is off to a good start. They've already been on national television three times (TeleFutura twice, ESPN2) and there will be no shortage of nationally-televised FC Dallas games in the next week. Thursday, FC Dallas-New York will be on ESPN2 while Sunday it's FC Dallas-New England on TeleFutura. FC Dallas, America's Team.

- Toronto FC will play at Kansas City on Wednesday in the Wizards' home opener. I kind of get the feeling that Toronto is like the team that everyone wants to schedule for their homecoming game. You want to win your homecoming game, and MLS teams want to win their home openers so it makes sense to schedule a lightweight. Early prediction: KC a lot, Toronto a little.

- Speaking of Toronto FC, they've already dealt Richard Mulrooney and Conor Casey and brought in Marvell Wynne and Kevin Goldthwaite. Looks like they've learned from Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake of 2005 and are hitting the panic button now instead of later.

- Schedule complainers of the week: the Galaxy. "Hey MLS, why are we getting so much time off right now? We didn't play last weekend. After our game this Saturday, we won't play until May 12. What gives? Okay, we know we'll be far more of an attraction with Beckham in August than without him in April and May but more games now and fewer games later would have been nice. Between our season opener on April 8 and our May 20 game against Chivas USA, you guys have us playing five league games. That's five games in 43 days. Now, take a 43-day span beginning on Aug. 5 and we've got 10 games in that span. 43 divided by 10 is 4.3, which means we'll be playing roughly one game every 4 or 5 days. And we'll be playing in five cities as well as a few home games. Thanks a lot."

- Colorado needs goalkeeping help. Trading away Joe Cannon was good in that it brought in Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu but it also left a gaping hole that the Rapids did not addresss. Bouna Coundoul is a liability.

- Shaka Hislop still hasn't recorded an MLS shutout.

- Maykel Galindo scored his first goal on Saturday 28 seconds into the game. None of us reporters in the press box saw at exactly what second the ball crossed over the goal line. Either a statistician or a Chivas USA official said it was 28 seconds so we went with it. I watched the highlights this morning and the ball actually crossed over 27 seconds in. Yes, I know it's nit-picking but that would have tied him with Jamar Beasley as the fifth-fastest goal in MLS history. I haven't taken an official poll yet but I think I'm the only person who cares about this.

The damage done

Week 3

Columbus 2, NE 2
Houston o, New York 1
Chicago 2, Kansas City 1
Chivas USA 4, RSL 0

FC Dallas 3, Colorado 1

L.B. Week 3
Columbus 1, New England 0
Houston 1, New York 1
Chicago 2, Kansas City 1
Chivas USA 2, Real Salt Lake 0,
FC Dallas 1, Colorado 1

A.C. Week 3

New England 2, Columbus 1
Houston 1, New York 0
Kansas City 3, Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 0, Chivas USA 0
Colorado 2, FC Dallas 2

Meh, my powers of prediction took a big hit with this weekend's results. Luis actually called the Chicago game exactly.

The inevitable

It happens. Even for the fittest soccer player, the day eventually comes when you realize you can't eat everything you used to, you don't react the way you once did, and it's getting harder and harder to find that proverbial lost step. Stiffness, a slower metabolism, and all the other ravages of age take their toll. Injuries just speed that process along and suddenly, retirement is around the corner.

However, there are ways of fighting back, and Ante Razov is one who refuses to go gently into that goodnight of leaving the pro game. Who better to learn every trick to prolonging competitive usefullness from than Preki, the longevity legend?


I was going through some of the pictures I took last week during Chivas USA training and came across two more interesting pictures. Yes, it's our favorite KWHY-22 reporter talking to Claudio Suarez. Just like in the one I posted last week of her interviewing El Emperador, Brad Guzan is in the back staying focused.

I guess that kind of focus and ability to ignore a pair of big, uh, distractions is why he got a shutout against RSL on Saturday.

Monday rankings (April 23)

Some teams have played four games already, others are still on two. It kind of sets up for a difficult measuring stick but based on what I've seen so far this season...

1. Chicago. Attack coming along nicely
2. New York. Angel-Altidore pairing downright frightening to rest of league
3. Chivas USA. Galindo gives Goats goals galore
4. FC Dallas. Nunez more than able to replace Mulrooney, O'Brien
5. Kansas City. Offense vanished in Chicago
6. Colorado. Clock's running out on Bouna Time
7. New England. Road draw okay, but not how the Revs went about it
8. Columbus. Cupboard not completely bare for Barros Schelotto
9. Galaxy. Club still has giant question mark hanging over it
10. Houston. Shameful handball by De Rosario; completely unacceptable from player of his stature
11. Real Salt Lake. Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Matt Taylor scores on you
12. D.C. United. Just to refresh your memory, six goals allowed in two games
13. Toronto FC. At least RSL and Chivas USA had each other to point to for league's most pathetic club in 2005

* More thoughts on Houston. They are showing absolutely nothing to suggest that they will even be a playoff contender. They are lucky not to have zero points right now. That De Rosario handball was just plain pathetic. Is that what they've been reduced to? So far, I've been severely underwhelmed by these defending champs.

Countdown to Cup

South Africa is trying to get ready for the World Cup.

I still can't figure out what they're going to do with so many stadiums after the event.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

No break

Apparently, Andy Williams did not break his leg as a result of Sacha Kljestan's tackle. He has a high ankle sprain, which was the injury that kept Clint Dempsey out of a good portion of the playoffs last year. It's usually a four to eight week recovery time for a bad sprain like that.

Jordan Rules

Yes, somebody in Jordan rules for stopping by our blog.

The Jordanian national team made history fairly recently by qualifying for the Asian Cup for the first time. The youth team also achieved an impressive feat, qualifying for the U20 World Cup in Canada later this year.

They're drawn into Group B, with Spain, Uruguay and Zambia.

"Nashama" is the nickname given to the national team. In Arabic, it translates roughly into "bravery, showing courage, initiative, heart and gallantry".

The Locals

Salt Lake reporters are the very rare breed of beat writers who travel to cover their MLS team. It's a great chance to ask some of the local guys for a team what's really going on with an organization.

After Real fell behind by three goals in the first half, I questioned The Deseret News' James Edward and The Salt Lake Tribune's Martin Renzhofer about whether RSL coach John Ellinger could possibly get fired this season.

Their clear consensus opinion was, "No."

"Utah's not like here," James tried to explain. "It's just not the way things are done. They'll wait until the end of the season, and then decide."

Silly Sacha

My take on the game for TopDrawerSoccer.

On these game reports, writers rate the players numerically. It may not make sense to some that I have Sacha Kljestan so low, since he played impressively in the main. But I was pretty appalled at his tackle on Andy Williams.

It's likely that Williams could be out for the rest of season - if his leg is in fact broken, which is what the medical staff thought happened.

Last season, Dominic Mediate broke his leg landing awkwardly from a Ugo Ihemelu tackle, one which didn't even draw any card from the ref, but the MLS committee, upon video review, handed down a two game suspension, calling it a dangerous tackle.

Williams didn't fall, but cried out on the impact of Sacha's tackle, then crumpled to the ground. So if William's leg is broken, it's from the hit of the tackle itself.

Sacha's own coach called the play "silly", and it could haunt Chivas USA if the disciplinary committee hands down a suspension, leaving Sacha out of games like the Superclassico.

Of course, RSL is worse off in comparison in losing Williams.

"You don't expect to see that," said RSL coach John Ellinger. "Sacha's not a malicious kind of guy. He just made a poor decision."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Preki talks rout

Preki talks about Chivas USA's 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake in an audio clip here.

Still waiting

So I'm here in the HDC press box. It's a bit chilly (I'll get some slack from brucio for sure but I'm cold) with the wind blowing and all so I'm glad I brought my jacket.

It looks like my 8,000-12,000 prediction is a bit off. It's an hour before game time and there are probably 200 people in the stands or thereabouts. I'd take a picture but I don't have my camera with me.

I'll keep you posted on the attendance as the game draws near. I gotta go find some coffee, or a blanket.

Where's the crowd?

Tonight I'll be at the Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake match at Home Depot Center. I'm a pretty bad prognosticator when it comes to scores but I think I'll take a shot at tonight's attendance here. I'm guessing there will be between 8,000-12,000 fans there, which is pretty bad.

In the past, they were practically giving tickets away. This season, they have the Chiva Pass that allows you to get kids tickets for free with the purchase of an adult ticket. It's just the latest in an attempt to lure fans out to games.

Anyway, I don't want to get into it too much here but I'll have something about it in the coming days on how they completely dropped the ball on their efforts to build a strong fan base.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy MLS action with a solid 8,000-12,000 hearty supporters tonight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My oh, Myanmar

Someone from Myanmar visited our blog today. Myanmar has a futsal team named the Galaxy, and its national team is currently ranked at 154 by FIFA.

Contrarian on Kasey

I took on the Keller conundrum already, on my other blog.

As accomplished as Keller is, he happens to play a position where the U.S. actually has a nice pipeline of upcoming talent.

Don't ask me how FC Dallas got roped into paying so much money for Shaka Hislop, though.

But Keller doesn't want just a big contract. He wants a committment.

Frankly, I think his best bet is hanging on until 2009. I think the Pacific Northwest is getting an expansion team. Keller could be their anchor player.

Getting WWC ready

The U.S. women are in prep for the World Cup, perfecting new formations and trying different player combinations.

This Sunday, Kristine Lilly takes part in the ceremonies for the draw, where the U.S. finds out who they face in group play.

Kallin' Kasey

My editor Jonah Freedman chimes in with a nice story on Kasey Keller's interest in pursuing an MLS career.

Keller is practically begging Real Salt Lake to take him once his deal this summer is over. Keller has never played in MLS before - like Claudio Reyna - and could be signed with the new designated player rule, like Reyna. RSL has its slot open -though Freddy Adu will have to be grandfathered in next year.

What's interesting is that Keller wants to settle down and plant some roots. His kids have been to three schools and Keller wants something a bit more permanent than that. He wants to be close to his Washington state roots and family but it sounds like his options are open at this point.

If Salt Lake bungles this one - and history suggests that they could - a team that should look long and hard at Kasey Keller is Houston. Pat Onstad is old - oldest player in MLS actually. Keller also won't be around for just another season or so. He's still going strong with the USMNT and will probably want to stay at top form in the hopes of prolonging his national team career as long as possible. And Houston is backed by AEG which won't haggle with a few dollars if it means their club would benefit.

The Harden way

Just a quick story on the one rookie who starts for the Galaxy.

A few quotes that didn't make it into the article:

Any defenders you looked up to growing up?

"Alexi Lalas would be one of the names of players I looked up to. He was a USA hero for sure."

What's it like playing for a team that's bringing in David Beckham later this year?

"It’s definitely added a lot of excitement. It’s going to be crazy. It’s already been crazy. There’s a lot more media attention on us. It think it’s a big opportunity for everyone on the field, because it’s a lot more exposure for every player."

Would you like to play in Europe one day?

"I would love to play abroad, but I’m happy to be here in MLS and I feel comfortable in LA right now."

Preki's thoughts

Chivas USA coach Preki talks about the state of the team after a training session earlier this week.

Audio clip here.

More players

Okay, back from the gym, back from lunch and about to embark on some afternoon writing (if the girls comply by taking naps).

So I figured I'd get out another player to see if you guys are as sharp as you've been today.

"I played from 1996 to 1998 with Kansas City, though I barely played in '96. I was a first-choice player my next two seasons there, though, before joining the MetroStars for the 1999 campaign. I was a regular in New York for two seasons. I played my last MLS season for D.C. United in 2001 and appeared in 19 games, my lowest total since I played four games in '96. Who am I?"

Bornstein talks about procedure

Jonathan Bornstein talks about the procedure he underwent to help him recover from his MCL injury in an audio clip here.

Gloves are off

Alright, we'll keep the Crew them going here.

"Guillermo Barros Schelotto ain't the first Argentine to play for the Crew. I played there in 1996, 1997 and 1998. I even scored eight goals there. ¿Quién soy?"

Gettin' more difficult

Okay, I see our readers are pretty sharp. KevinC had a clinical finish on the last one. I've got to dig deeper for the next one.

"I spent my entire six-year career with Columbus. My best season was 2000 when I scored six goals. I had at least one goal every season with the Crew. I think I also got called into the U.S. at some point, though my memory's hazy but I think L.B. and I shared an elevator once out in Pasadena and I think that's why that sticks out in my head. Anyway, who am I?"

Another one

Okay, Crewcat nailed the last one with a powerful side volley into the back of the net.

Let's try again:

"I spent five seasons with Kansas City before moving to New England in the middle of the 2003 season. The next season I was with San Jose before joining Real Salt Lake in 2005, where I am now. What's my name?"

Random guess

So I'm flipping through the pages of my handy-dandy 2007 MLS Fact and Record book and was going to look at a player's career path for my story. Anyway, I opened to some random page and looked at someone who's not in the league anymore and his career stats and wondered if anyone could guess who the guy is.

Well here goes:

"I started off my career in 1997 with Colorado and played 19 games for the Rapids while scoring two goals. I had 10 goals the next year and went on to play two more seasons with Colorado. In the middle of my fifth season, I was traded to the MetroStars. In 2002, I started 26 games for the MetroStars before finishing my career with two seasons with Columbus. Who am I?"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ezra on the list

I'd missed it before, because I thought Ezra Hendrickson might have gone back to using his last name on his jersey (he used Hendrickson while at DC), but I actually remembered to look for it today when the Crew played the Revolution and sure enough, Ezra wore "Ezra" on his shirt.

It's just a joke that league official Jeff Thiffault would write to Herculez Gomez and his agent a denial of the request for putting "Herculez" on his jersey by saying there were only "two exceptions" in the league to this rule. Does he not pay attention?

Thiffault isn't just off by little bit, he's off by more than twice as many. He says the two exceptions are Fred and Cobi - there's also Thiago, Sinisa, and Ezra.

But, thanks to Thiffault, there's no Herculez.

Simply Marvell-ous

Marvell Wynne is a classy, level-headed guy. If anyone can make the most of an unexpected trade, it's Marvell.

That doesn't mean there wasn't some disappointment involved. After all, at one point, Chivas USA held the number one pick in the 2006 draft, and Wynne was hoping to stay in his home state of California. He adjusted to New York, though, and I'm sure he'll do the same with Toronto.

The move might be hardest on his mom, according to what he told me.

"When I was drafted, I thought, 'Yeah, I’ll be far from home, but I’m in New York. It’s going to be fun.' Now I’m thinking, 'Well, I’m not going too far from New York, but I am going farther from home.' But I’ve heard that Toronto is a nice place. I called my mom about the trade and she was 'You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re going even farther away? I didn’t even know that was possible. They just added this team and now you’re going?' She was sad to see me leave. She is excited for me, but she wishes it was a little bit closer, not a little bit farther."

Weekly picks

Everyone's doing it, so why not?

Our weekly MLS picks to see who the better prognosticator is, myself or Ms. Canales. I'm not a betting man but if you are a gambler, you might not want to use my picks as a guide because I hit about 50 percent during the NFL season.

L.B. Week 3
Columbus 1, New England 0
Houston 1, New York 1
Chicago 2, Kansas City 1
Chivas USA 2, Real Salt Lake 0
FC Dallas 1, Colorado 1

A.C. Week 3

New England 2, Columbus 1
Houston 1, New York 0
Kansas City 3, Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 0, Chivas USA 0
Colorado 2, FC Dallas 2

I'm a pretty conservative gambler myself. I go to Vegas with ten bucks and amuse myself with the nickel slots until it runs out.