Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another game, another win

Turns out, Chivas USA ain't too bad after all.

Saturday's win was their third consecutive game. Jorge Flores and Jesse Marsch scored for the third consecutive game. And suddenly, Chivas USA is in a three-way tie atop the Western Conference standings.

Now, the table right now means nothing. It does not matter who is in first right now, but that Chivas USA is where they are now is a bit startling considering their poor early-season form. Chivas USA also picked up their second shutout of the season and second consecutive win over an Eastern team here at Home Depot Center.

Perhaps what's more remarkable about this stretch is who the club is doing damage with. Flores scored a nice goal with a left-footed volley in the 21st minute. Justin Braun set up Marsch's goal just a minute later. Bobby Burling started for the fourth straight game. Atiba Harris went the distance.

Chivas now heads to New York to face a club likely sagging in confidence as the Red Bulls lost their second consecutive match on Saturday, 1-0 at Houston.

Anyway, here's audio of how Preki saw his side's 2-0 win.

When players attack journalists

It's not pretty.


Sven could be named Mexico's new coach as early as Monday, but it's likelier to happen mid-week.

Galaxy/TFC running blog

Hello, Sideline Views fans. Look at the lovely skyline of Toronto! FSN is doing a feature on Weezer, who of course I adore, and not just because Rivers Cuomo knows who I am.
The commentators are discussing the horrid defense of the Galaxy. And yet, Sean Franklin, on that defense, is Rookie of the Year material.
Oh, look, they mention the streamers - "It looks like a kid's party at Chuck-E-Cheese." Well, that's impressive.
Here's Andrea's Keys to the Game: Better defense. Score without the Dynamic Duo. If the Galaxy have a lead, don't take a corner until every streamer is out of the way (in homage to Beckham's OCD tendencies) even if it takes half an hour.
It looks like Landon Donovan might play in this match. I'm not sure. The announcers haven't said definitely yet.
Oh wait, they just did. He won't start, but he's going to be on the bench.
For those readers who were concerned about my car - it's fixed! D and E Auto Repair (Ave 35 and Verdugo Blvd) replaced the radiator and thermostat. So my wheels are rolling again.
* 18 - Brian Edwards (GK)
* 4 - Marco Velez
* 5 - Kevin Harmse
* 6 - Maurice Edu
* 10 - Rohan Ricketts
* 11 - Jim Brennan
* 12 - Todd Dunivant
* 16 - Marvell Wynne
* 23 - Jarrod Smith
* 28 - Olivier Tebily
* 96 - Jeff Cunningham
* 1 - Steve Cronin (GK)
* 2 - Mike Randolph
* 3 - Greg Vanney
* 7 - Chris Klein
* 12 - Troy Roberts
* 14 - Edson Buddle
* 15 - Alvaro Pires
* 16 - Joe Franchino
* 21 - Alan Gordon
* 28 - Sean Franklin
* 32 - Brandon McDonald
1- Cunningham is offside, but the Galaxy defense looks shaky already.
2 - Brandon McDonald goes down in the box, doesn't get the call.
5 - TFC FK Ricketts to take, Galaxy clear.
7 - Announcers discussing Steve Cronin. BTY is Zach Wells the only regular MLS starter without a shutout to his credit this season? I think so.
8 - Vanney blocks a shot - perhaps intentionally.
9 - Randolph on Wynne - the two speedsters could cancel each other out.
10 - McDonald is attacking more than I've seen in the past.
12 - I'm not sure why Ruiz isn't starting - maybe Ruud wants him to be really hungry.
13 - Nice Buddle cross - well, a bit short, but it was a decent attack setup. Klein kills the counter going the other way.
15 - The Galaxy don't look terribly skillful right now, but there's a grit to their defending that is interesting to see.
16 - Brennan overshoots Wynne on a long pass. He's not that fast, Jim.
17 - Roberts robs Cunningham of the ball, but the Galaxy can't create.
18 - Julius James is going in for Oliver Tebily, who hobbles off. Not sure why. Maybe he pulled something.
19 - Edwards catches a long Galaxy pass.
21 - TFC with more ball possession now. Galaxy can't seem to get out of their own half. Goal kicks don't count.
22 - Cunningham is Offside! And wide!
23 - Final pass doesn't reach Gordon in the box. This is a jumbled game, as befits a lot of non-regular players hoping to impress. More heart than finesse, that's for sure.
25 - Galaxy FK - Vanney sets up - Klein takes - into the wall. Galaxy work the ball back, but the pas to Randolph is offside.
26 - Uh, oh - Dunny on the long free throw gives TF a chance in the box, Franklin slides it out for another FT.
27 - Harmse shoots! It's high.
28 - Cunningham is offside- though the whistle was late.
30 - Franklin clotheslined by Smith, but the FK is too far out to be considered dangerous.
31 - Gordon shoots wide and awkwardly.
33 - Dunny on a throw - deep into the box. Dang, he's good at those, but the Galaxy cover the back chip attempt.
36 - Wynne stumble nearly leaves Gordon alone on goal, but Marvel recovers.
37 - TFK FK to TFC FT - but Cronin comes out to catch it.
38 - Klein to Gordon, who brings ball down and touches to Buddle, who one-times. It's high, but that's the first flash of genuine offense from the Galaxy.
39 - Cunningham in the box, shoots, Cronin parries, Galaxy clear. Speaking of offensive chances.
41 - Pires gets pulled by Edu, who sees yellow. It's far out, but it's a FK and Vanney takes it. A soft chip to the players in the box, but TFC clears.
43- Pires looks to be holding his side.
45 - TFC on the attack. Ricketts beats two, gets in the box, Cronin off his line to snuff the attack.
45+ McDonald hard tackle to stop a TFC counter, but it looked clean.
Halftime - The Galaxy have to regret that they didn't test the backup keeper more, but they're not getting run off the field by an undermanned TFC, either.
46 - Now TFC fans are throwing streamers at the Galaxy goal during the run of play. Great. but why should anyone be surprised. If the argument is that players should be able to play through mere paper on corners, why shouldn't the same be expected elsewhere? If it's ok to affect the game in one spot, why not another?
47 - GOAL- Julius James gets a header on a free kick by Ricketts. The rain might have been a factor, but it seems that James just out-jumped Troy Roberts to it.
53 - Edu's low shot is bobbled by Cronin - the rain probably contributing again, but Cronin eventually hangs on.
54 - Velez gets whistled for a foul and is pissed about it, which turns into a yellow.
55 - Smith on a counter - he's not offside - and somehow, everybody misses his cross. TFC corner, eventually. It ends up in Cronin's hands.
61 - Vanney smart defensive play there.
63 - The rain is the12th man right now. It's a mess to watch. But part of soccer is dealing with the elements, right, John Terry?
65 - GOAL! The ball bounces perfectly for Cunningham, while Galaxy guys slip and slide. He takes on Cronin and puts it away for his second of the year. Apparently Cunningham can only score against the Galaxy. 2-0 TFC
70 - Ruiz is on for the Galaxy, but hasn't made an impact yet.
72 - Ricketts wide in the box as more streamers are thrown.
74 - Smith alone on goal - Cronin out - Smith shoots wide.
76 - announcers aren't even calling the game any more. They're saying TFC should build extra seats.
77 - Roberts and Wynne in the box, Roberts wins out, while Wynne lies down - why not, he's winning.
78 - Ricketts shoots at Cronin. Cronin catches.
80 - Galaxy with a little run of possession, but no shots on goal.
82 -Klein with a horrid cross.
83 - Gordon and Ruiz put together an attack, but Edwards is set for the rather outside shot of Ruiz.
85 - FK by Ruiz is deflected for a corner. Franchino takes it.
86 - Fans are throwing full cups of beer, not just streamers. The ball gets cleared to Franklin, whose outside shot is high and wide.
90 + As the announcer notes, the fan on the field is helping TFC - taking more time off the clock.
Gordon is pulled down right at the arc. Klein wants it. It's deflected.
Ha, ha. The fans want the final whistle, but it seems the refs are fighting back against the timewasting by pitch invasion and streamers. It doesn't help the Galaxy, though. In fact, Cunningham gets a late chance on a counter that he sends high and wide.
Well, the Galaxy are back to .500 on a couple of rain time goals. It's easy to say that TFC had the advantage of being more familiar with how to play on wet turf, but one goal was due to poor marking, and the other was on a Keystone Kops sequence of lost defensive shape. Above and beyond that, the Galaxy generated little offense themselves.

Tri no likey Sven

Announcer: The topic that keeps coming up is that of the imminent arrival of Sven Goran Eriksson, and voices continue to be raised, above all those of the veteran international players. They all follow the same path.

Osorio: "Hopefully, hopefully, the directors tomorrow will begin to think about what Mexican soccer needs, especially the players on the national team. It's not a question of bringing in the best coach, for me. Let them bring the best coach, but if he knows nothing about Mexican soccer, he starts at zero."

Announcer: The impression gained from Osorio and Galindo is that it would be best to stick with the work by Chucho Ramirez. In addition, they didn't lose an opportunity to send a message to the directors of Mexican soccer.

Galindo: "It would be great if they would listen to the players, but we know it's not going to be like that. The directors will make the decision and, well, we'll follow orders. In the end, those who play and represent a country are the players.

Announcer: It's clear that the veteran players don't agree with bringing in a coach who doesn't understand the Mexican style of soccer, such as Sven Goran Eriksson. The players were asked about meeting with the directors to explain their point of view. To which Osorio responded, "That sort of thing doesn't happen in our soccer."

Hunts want Hyndman

Buzz has the scoop.

If so, then Dallas GM Michael Hitchcock wasted his time getting USSF permission to talk with Oscar Pareja. I didn't include Schellas in the FC Dallas coaches poll, because I for one was tired of him turning the post down in the past, and I was hoping that lack of passion and desire for the position was enough to eliminate him from contention. Apparently not.
Instead, a higher salary offer and more authority might have finally sealed the deal for the SMU coach. Landing Hyndman could be a personal triumph for Clark Hunt, who played soccer for Hyndman at SMU.
What's strange is that, if his college coaching record is any indication, Hyndman is unlikely to provide the dynamic spark that propels a team to a championship. He's never won one. If regular season success followed by playoff failure was what the Hunts wanted - they should have just stuck with Colin Clark, who delivered that consistently.
However, Diego rebuts the Hyndman story, with a quote from Hyndman himself denying he is set to be coach. Granted, he doesn't say he won't take the job, either.

Oh, Captain!

Becks is really, really back.

Guzan talks Aston Villa

Just not to the local press.

Actually, that's not new.

Chasing the Cup

Reports that Tim Leiweke has issued something of a "make or break" about winning MLS Cup at home - not surprising, actually. It emphasizes that the regular season of the league isn't what counts, it's the hardware at the end, especially in front of home fans.

MLS coaches have paid the price for that before.

When Sigi Schmid didn't reach the 2003 final with the Galaxy (after their epic playoff collapse), the first played at the HDC - his tenure with LA started to look shaky. He was replaced the next year, though the club was tops in the league.

It was failing to reach the MLS Cup final after the event was twice played in Pizza Hut Park that seemingly cost Colin Clark his job. His FC Dallas teams in 2005 and 2006 had good regular-season records.

DC basically chucked the roster that, despite winning the regular season, didn't make it to MLS Cup 2007 on their home field.

It's the ideal of many clubs to win a championship on their home field, though the record in MLS shows it rarely happens. Still, expectations are there and I'm not surprised jobs are at risk in LA.

Landon calls it

Like he sees it

Turf monster

Grahame gets to it

Answers more mail

Becks in the saddle again

Out where a friend is a friend

Where the longhorn cattle feed

On the lowly gypsum weed

Becks in the saddle again

Money trail

At this rate, is it possible that more MLS organizations than Premiership clubs will turn a profit this year? The number is eight in England. Which MLS clubs have the best chance of coming in without a loss this year?

Francisco "Panchito" Mendoza

Sacha at the presser

Sacha Kljestan - I actually wish I had tape of his conversation with the media after the presser. he was telling stories about playing soccer years ago with Robbie Rogers "He's like a little brother to me.", and of being one of the shortest on his team all through his youth until a late growth spurt freshmen year, where he grew inches in a matter of months. It actually cost him for a while in soccer, because he was so awkward with his new body. "I couldn't figure it out, how to move, and I got dropped from the State team." and of wanting to play his way on to a starting sport in the Olympic Team. "I've got to make it hard for Peter not to pick me." He also mentioned how much he loves playing in Giants Stadium, which is rare among MLS players, who generally hate the turf. Apparently, Sach has a lot of good college memories there - the Seton Hall players would scrimmage the MetroStars. Sacha also mentioned Amado Guevara as one of the players who was nice to the college visitors.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Video Crew

Guille and Robbie, opening statements (I planned to post this hours ago, but my car overheated and it turns out the radiator is shot and so I've only arrived at home now)

Crew/Chivas preview

No, I didn't forget to preview Columbus and Chivas USA in my little Canales Corner feature - I just wanted to cover it in more detail, because they're having a presser about the whole thing.
Robbie Rogers and El Melli go first.
Here we are.
Guille is asked about the last Chivas USA/Crew game. He says he expects this one to be as as hard-fought.
He's asked about an interview he gave in Argentina about MLS.
"It lacks experience. It's only about ten years old. It's growing."
Robbie says the team can keep getting better.
Guille is asked about the Argentine players in MLS.
"For a league that's trying to develop, it's good to get good players. They happen to be Argentine, but they can come from elsewhere, like Robbie."
Guille is asked about the perception of U.S. soccer in Argentina.
"It's a growing league. It's trying to make progress. They see it as a league with a good future. I saw it as a league that is expanding."
I ask Robbie about differences between this year and last - what's helped the Crew improve their results?
"Last season, I felt that our head would get down if we got scored on. Now we just take that challenge and we keep going at it. We gave up two goals in that last game versus Chivas and we kept going at it. We're bringing more energy to the game. That's made a big difference."
I ask Guille about fans throwing stuff on the field.
"I think it's a demonstration of the excitement of the fan. As long as it's done properly, it's part of the game."
Chivas USA is up now
Sacha admits getting sent off is extra motivation to do well.
Panchito is asked if this team is as strong as the one last year.
He gives a long answer that basically says, Yes, but we've had trouble with injuries.
Sacha is asked about having to play different positions.
"if your'e a good soccer player and you're smart, you can play any position. I have no complaints. It doesn't matter to me as long as we're winning."
Sacha talks about playing with Robbie when both were young.
"We're pretty close. I treat him like my little brother."
Sacha is asked about the West.
"No one has run away with it. We could be in first if we win tomorrow."
Pancho is asked about playing left back.
"I felt comfortable. I think I have a good view of the field there, getting into the attack. I do see a possible future there, though I see myself more as an attacker."
If Pancho plays tomorrow (92 appearances) he'll set the record for appearances for the team.
Panchito says he's proud of the record and will be proud to reach 100 games with this club that has helped him grow.
Last question
"It's the same system and style we had last year," says Panchito. "We're sticking to what has worked for us. We want to improve, however, and play better, especially at home. It's important for the new players to adapt, and they've done that well, so I think we're going to put on a good performance at home."
"I don't know if the football is different," Sacha says. "Maybe we haven't been taking care of the ball as well, but that happens with differences on the team. We're starting to create more chances now. That happens when you learn each other's tendencies. That's been getting better in practice and in the games."

Off to a great start

Seattle Sounders FC haven't yet started playing, but the club scored a major victory this week. Sounders FC will don the sponsor XBox 360 on their front as Microsoft and the club agreed to a sponsorship deal this week worth a reported $20 million over five years.

The jersey looks pretty cool. I like the color scheme. Maybe it's because of the Supersonics or maybe the city's nickname (Emerald City) but I've always associated green with Seattle, so this is perfect. I think this could become a popular jersey as the XBox 360 is a popular game system and might appeal to non-soccer or casual soccer fans.

It's too bad they won't be competitive until 2010.

Latvia, Lithuania, Lilliput, whatever

And you thought Americans were bad with geography...

Apparently, the Czechs aren't so handy with maps. On Wednesday, the Czech Republic displayed Latvia's flag and played the Latvian national anthem before their friendly against...


To be fair, though, aren't all L countries the same in terms of soccer? Latvia, Lithuania, Libya, Laos, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Liberia, Lilliput... oh wait... Um, okay, that argument doesn't hold much water. Sorry, Czechs.

Perhaps Lithuania can play the Slovakian national anthem the next time the Czechs visit Lithuania.

We won!

I'm certain ESPN's online division triumphed because of my insightful articles for the site. Seriously, though, MLS represented well at the Sports Business Journal Awards, winning league of the year and (partially) exec of the year. What's also interesting looking at the nominees was that TFC was apparently nominated as a sports league, not a team. Weird.

Sports Executive of the Year – Tim Leiweke, CEO, AEG
Athletic Director of the Year – Ron Wellman, Wake Forest University
Professional Sports Team of the Year – Boston Red Sox
Professional Sports League of the Year – Major League Soccer
Sports Agency of the Year – Octagon
Sports Event Marketing Firm of the Year – SportsMark
Sports Facility of the Year – AT&T Park
Sports Innovation/Technology of the Year – Sportvision
Sports Media of the Year – Fox Sports
Sports Online of the Year – ESPN Digital Media
Sports Sponsor of the Year – Pepsi Cola North America

Caption This: Alexi Lalas

More than a year ago, we tried to run a write-the-caption type thing but it got a muted response. I hadn't thought much about that until I snapped this picture last year. And then somewhere along the line I forgot about it. Until now.

Here's our second installment of Caption This, and it's a pretty good shot if I do say so myself. It's Galaxy General Manager Alexi Lalas walking with one of David Beckham's personal assistants, and past HDC security. You can't see him too well but it's Lalas, trust me.

I guess I'll start it off... ahem...

"Yeah, I know why he's Golden Balls, but do you want to see why they call me Fire Balls?"

Have at it.

Cover boy Cuauh

The latest issue of Futbol Mundial includes a season overview and a feature on Chicago's main man.

Canales Corner #1

I decided to bring back a column I once had, Canales Corner, as a vlog feature, hopefully on a weekly basis. Because I could babble on about soccer almost endlessly, I set myself a five-minute time limit. Yes, I know the whole production is frighteningly low-tech, but with other responsibilities that I have at present, keeping it simple is probably the only way I'll keep up. Criticism and suggestions are welcome, as long as they're not too cruel.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brad's in

Brad Guzan will be with the US on Wednesday for the game against Spain but he will be in town as Chivas USA hosts Columbus on Saturday. Guzan played the last half of Wednesday's 2-0 loss to England and gave up a goal to Steven Gerrard.

If Guzan is gone next week, backup goalkeeper Dan Kennedy will get the nod. Dan actually has a very interesting story and I've been waiting to write a feature on him, so if he will start on Thursday in New York, look for a story on him.

On their way out

Bruno Marioni, who had been mentioned as a possible MLS target, is out of Atlas. But he's not heading north. Marioni left the Guadalajara club and joined Pachuca, who like Atlas reached the repechaje round of the postseason but could not advance to the Liguilla.

Marioni is a talented striker who scored plenty of clutch goals in his brief stint with Atlas. Now, he joins his fourth Mexican league club as Marioni also played for Pumas and Toluca.

Meanwhile, Jose Pekerman is out of Toluca. According to several reports, it appeared the decision was personal matters - some sort of family emergency - that forced Pekerman's hand. No word if Pekerman is taking over at another club or the national team, though neither seems likely. It's possible the federation is waiting until after the Mexican league final is over to announce any signing of any coach, whether it's Sven Goran Eriksson as has been widely rumored or another candidate.

Santos takes first leg

Behind second-half goals from Fernando Arce and Christian Benitez, Santos Laguna beat Cruz Azul 2-1 in Thursday's first leg of the Mexican Clausura 2008 final. Santos returns home on Sunday and needs just a draw to claim their first league title since 2001.

Arce was Sunday's hero, as he scored the goal that put Santos through to the final. Benitez set up Arce's tally before scoring a late match-winner.

Like most of the playoff games thus far, the match was very entertaining.

Here are the highlights:

Shaka secrets

Hislop's take this week is especially interesting in light of his insider knowledge of FC Dallas. The knives of many fans are currently out for GM Michael Hitchcock, but Hislop supports him.
I have to admit, back in the exit of Colin Clark era, I thought it was interesting that Hitch didn't go in a different direction for a new coach. I wonder if he will now.

Before I change the poll, for the record, our readers picked Hugo Sanchez, narrowly, over Oscar Pareja for the job.

Cooper for Spain

Alright, I'm officially starting the Start Kenny Cooper Against Spain campaign. Anyone else want to join?

Cooper and Brian Ching played on the same field Wednesday as FC Dallas hosted Houston. Cooper scored a goal in the 2-2 draw, and it really was an awesome goal. The long ball was splendid from Pablo Richetti but Cooper's touch, poise and finish were sublime.

Ching, meanwhile, was involved in both of Houston's goals. He did assist on the first one but his lack of aggressiveness in the box on that play is troubling. He slipped the ball to Corey Ashe but he shouldn't have let it go that far. He should have buried it. On the equalizer, Ching had problems getting to the ball. Such lack of aggression could be disastrous for a striker.

While Ching had the experience - World Cup, Gold Cup, WC qualifiers - Cooper has the talent and intangibles necessary to be a force. Throw him into the mix against Spain from the start and see what happens. After all, we already know what we can expect from Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff and Brian Ching.

Everybody now: "Start Cooper, start Cooper, start Cooper..."
"it takes three minutes to get the corner off." Danny O'Rourke of the Columbus Crew.

That's as damning a statement as can be found that the streamers affect the run of play - MLS admins need to first admit that, and then do something about it. It's not merely atmosphere when it holds up the game.

Streamers are basically like streakers at that point. People may think they're cool, but it's still illegal and not allowed, and certainly not condoned the way Garber and a few other people did at one point.

Re-Act, Go to It

Bradley on Becks

The debate continues


Brit slang practice

Becks on Terry

All about allocations

Toronto holds the top spot in allocation rankings after San Jose used theirs on Jean Phillippe Peguero. In case you were wondering what the allocations and all that means, well, here's a snippet straight from the horse's mouth.

From the MLS Fact and Record Book:

Section II, Part A:
The allocations will be ranked in reverse order of finish from the 2007 season, taking playoff performance into account. San Jose, as an expansion team, will have the top-ranked allocation at the beginning of 2008. The rankings will be separate and distinct from the allocation amounts and will only be relevant in the event two or more teams file a request for the sam player on the same day, as in the case of returning U.S. National Team players, or in other cases where the League, in its discretion taking into account all the circumstances, determines that the allocation rankings shall be applied. In such cases, priority will be granted to the team wit the higher allocation ranking. Once the team uses its allocation ranking to acquire a player it will drop to the bottom of the list. The ranking itself can be traded provided part of the compensation received in return is another team's ranking. A team may move up or down in the rankings, provided that at all times each team is assigned a ranking (no team can have more than one ranking and no team can be without a ranking). The rankings reset at the end of each MLS League Season.

What am I bid?

So the word is that McBride is making his triumphant MLS return to Chicago (anyone want to start complaining about how MLS always bends the rules for the Fire?)
Back when Donovan returned to the league from Germany, the Galaxy traded Carlos Ruiz, their best player at the time, to Dallas for the right to sign Donovan.
Blanco is indisputably Chicago's best player now.
Who sees a Blanco trade? I don't, but I've been wrong before.
TFC is tops in the allocation order - what should TFC ask of the Fire in return for the rights to McBride? Where would the Fire get another DP slot from? Perhaps a different MLS team will be involved.
If I were TFC, I'd ask for Chris Rolfe, Justin Mapp, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares, or a combination of those, since four players for one McBride might be a bit much. Problem is, if the rights to McBride and a DP slot are separate deals, that's not going to leave Chicago much to bargain with without gutting their team, which is playing excellently thus far.
Perhaps the deal to bring McBride in is contingent on next year, though, leaving the Fire intact for now. It would be easier to integrate new contributors in the offseason. However, last year, it was Blanco's midseason contribution which helped the Fire push through to the playoffs.
What should TFC ask for? What should the Fire be willing to give up? What is McBride worth?

Azul's back in the final

It's been nine years since Cruz Azul played for a Mexican league title. Invierno 99 was the last chance Cruz Azul has had of claiming league silverware, but the last time Cruz Azul won a league title was in the Invierno 97 season.

In that span - from 99 until now - Cruz Azul has seen the rise of Pachuca (whose first title was in a shock win over Cruz Azul in the Inv 99 final), the rise, fall and rise again of Toluca; and possibly worst of all respective championship seasons by America, Pumas and Chivas, who each snapped a years-long drought to claim league titles.

It's Cruz Azul's turn now to go for league glory, and as one of the four most popular clubs in all of Mexico, there will be massive support for Cruz Azul throughout both Mexico and parts of the US.

Here's a little clip of some of the sights and sounds outside Estadio Azul before and during the semifinal match against San Luis on Saturday. The announcer keeps saying something to the effect of "Believe it, Cruz Azul. You are in the final."

Dear Brian

So after a few years away, you've decided to come back to MLS.

Have to give you a quick heads-up - it's no longer the league you remember. It's not just the new teams, or the travel to Canada, or the fact that Mexico's best-known player and England's best-known player both now play in MLS.

You'll find most of the games on TV now. Highlights pop up on the sports shows. More teams have spiffy stadiums to play in. Some teams fly charter.

Clubs have added reserve games and youth teams. Visiting fan sections are set up, and security is being trained to deal with rowdy away fans at some games.

The more things change, though, the more they stay the same. MLS has some bigname busts every year (Denilson, Reyna) but also some up and coming young talent (Altidore, Edu).

You've always been a consummate professional, so I'm sure you'll readjust to the league you once knew so well.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

US/England Running Blog

This is it, folks, Wembley the Great, England, the Three Lions, and the U.S. Upstart Colonists (we really have to get a decent nickname, no?)

Starting lineup for the U.S.:

Cherundolo – Onyewu – Bocanegra – Pearce
Dempsey – Clark – Bradley – Beasley
Johnson - Wolff

David James
Wes Brown, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry
Owen Hargreaves, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard,
Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney

John Harkes has already bobbled "injury against the Galaxy" No, John, LD was hurt against the Wizards, playing FOR the Galaxy.
Becks is starting! Representing MLS. Now some sad shots of Terry at the Champions Final- and it's true, I have less sympathy since the spitting video.
The stadium and the field look great (on television). Harkes is recalling his playing days - Hey, there's a shot of Sam's Army!
Teams walking out. U.S. has their red warmup jackets on.
Bobby Charlton is out to mark Beckham's 100th cap. It's gold. Wonder who would possibly present Landon his cap. Actually, England is the only country, I think, that gives players real caps for appearances.
Becks is holding up his cap case, which has each of his games etched on the glass.
EJ! EJ is singing along to the anthem. Ok, that counts for me almost like he scored a goal, really. Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child is diva-ing along to the song. Most of the audience doesn't care and just wants it to end. EJ looks to be the only American player singing. Everyone else looks grim.
Ha, Owen Hargreaves is singing the English anthem. About half of England's players are. Becks isn't. He just looks concentrated.
Boca and Terry shake hands.
Fabio looks focused, too.
1 - Onyewu's first touch is to put it out. Beas and Pearce attack, but England gets it right back.
2 - Long ball from Gooch completely overshoots EJ.
3 - Defoe tries to pick off a pass, but Gooch heads to Howard. Gerrard catches Cherundolo on the throat as the two clash for a ball.
4 - The crowd roars, but England is just moving the ball up from the back. It's not dangerous yet.
5 - Defoe plays pass through for Rooney, but Wayne is offside.
6 - I don't think Rico has touched the ball. FK England, but it's center circle, so nothing really. happened with it.
7 - Groans from the crowd for Ashley CheaterCole - his pass to Wes Brown bounces over him.
8 - Pearce cuts off a Defoe attack before the final pass to Rooney.
9 - Nice dribble from Dolo to free himself for the cross, but DJ catches it and starts counter to Becks, Michael Bradley saves an attack, sliding in for a tackle that takes both players down.
11 - Neither team has started in dominant fashion - they're feeling each other out right now. Clark fouls Gerrard. FK. Becks is over it, the crowd cheers, the ball served in Gerrard scores - nope, early whistle from the ref. Kick over. This time it's deflected for a corner, nope, goal kick
14 - Hey, the sports ticker just said McBride is leaving Fulham.
15 - Deep throw for England, hargreaves long pass up front to Rooney, Howard clears. England is settling in though, connecting better.
16 - MB cuts off a pass, gets attack to Beas, but his second cut move fails him and he loses the ball. England's counter gets stifled, too, though.
18 - All the U.S. players are in their own half.
20 - Becks shoots from distance, top of the arc, from an unexpected Gerrard pass - it's high, Becks rushed a bit because the U.S. defense has given him little breathing room.
22 - Defoe's elbow kills the latest England attack. The U.S. gets a free kick.
23 - Becks gives Pearce a forearm shiver. Rooney on the attack, but his pass is behind Gerrard, which means he leans back and can't get a good shot off.
24 - Deep FK for England after Dolo fouls Cole outside the box. Becks fools the U.S. by playing a little flick to Gerrard, but it's blocked.
26 - FK for the U.S. Beas takes, Lampard tried to clear, it fell to EJ, who chips the ball, trying to find MB, but Terry's header clears.
27 - EJ again, but his shot is weak and outside the post. James catches.
28 - Dempsey draws a foul. It's a decent chance here. gooch comes up for it, but England clear almost immediately.
29 - Fabio reportedly has England subs warming up already. Six are allowed in today's friendly.
30 - Harkes criticizes Dempsey's outside shot as too ambitious.
31 - the U.S. with a little run of attack but Pearce's final pass into the box is poor and caught by James.
32 - Gooch and Defoe wrestle in the box - crowd wants a call - doesn't get it. the U.S. on a coutner earn a FK off a Terry foul on EJ.
33 - FK is cleared. Though some give LD stick for his set pieces, the U.S. team misses him here.
34 - Gerrard on the run, crosses to Defoe in the box, who hits it awkwardly off his shin and wide of the goal.
35 - Crowd is impatiently chanting England's lack of dominance.
36 - That's straight comedy - Defoe jumping for a header against Gooch, who goes up on his toes a little to beat Defoe and clear the ball out of the U.S. box.
37 - Better play from England, they're pressuring the u.S. goal, Rico fouls. Uh, oh.
38 - GOAL! Becks serves it in perfectly and Terry snaps a header down. Howard is leaning the wrong way and changes direction too late. 1-0 England.
40 - "That's a bad place for a foul" says J.P. No kidding. It's right outside the box.
41 - Becks stands over it, but Gerrard takes it, bounces off the wall.
42 - Hargreaves cracks an outside shot - it's high.
43 - England looks lively and confident since their goal.
45 - Cherundolo gives up another FK off a foul - and gets a yellow. this one is in the perfect place for Becks, but he puts it into the wall.
45 + It's painfully obvious, but the U.S. really misses Donovan. They've defended well and kept good shape, but that spark of control and creativity that leads to a goal is missing.
Halftime - England deservedly lead.
47 - Bentley FK, Guzan collects.
49 - Beas continues to draw fouls, but the U.S. can't seem to do much with that.
50 - Rooney with a bike that completely misses. He didn't look graceful there.
52 - The U.S. is only down by a goal, but their offense has been so anemic, that it doesn't seem the U.S will overcome the gap. the only question seems to be whether England is pad the lead.
53 - SAVE. Defoe turns in the box, but Guzan makes the close-range grab.
54 - US Corner - Beas sends the ball in, but James grabs it.
58 - Wes Brown and Lampard are out, Gareth Barry and Glen Johnson are in.
59 - GOAL! Gerrard makes a great diagnol run, and Barry one-times it through to Stevie perfectly. Guzan comes out and Gerrard delicately places it leftside netting. 2-0 England.
61 - Now the crowd is celebrating. This is the outcome they expected.
62 - hejduk from distance with a looping shot. James catches easily.
64 - Guzan catches a dangerous long ball well. He's not embarrassed himself tonight, that's for sure.
66 - Divin header from Wolff off a Bradley pass- but it's wide.
67 - Gerrard fouls Demps, Beas' free kick doesn't clear the first man.
68 - Dempsey shot from outside - james tracks it the whole way and catches securely.
Freddy Adu comes on Jermain Defoe is off for Peter Crouch.
69 - Rooney in the box, but can't quite get a shot off.
71 - Pearce gets a yellow, but he's actualy played pretty well today.
72 - Adu backheels to Hejduk, but Gerrard tackles it out of bounds. he limps slightly. Onyewu long throws into the box, but the U.S. shot is deflected England counters, but Hejduk breaks it up.
75 - Adu passes to a lot of nothing, EJ and he had a misunderstanding there. I bet Adu would love to see Altidore up top. They've worked together more.
76 - Rooney cleans out Hejduk gets yellow.
78 - The crowd is chanting like crazy, secure in the result. Mo Edu comes in for Rico. Joe Cole in for Rooney.
80 - Corner kick for the U.S. Eddie Lewis serves it in. that's better, but England clears. Eddie Lewis gets the ball back deep, dribbles one defender, sends in a pass to the front of goal, but David james punches the ball out for a corner.
81 - Corner cleared.
82 - Cheater Cole is off for Wayne Bridge.
84 - JP has interesting pronunciation on Edu's name - he says, "Mois". Adu has a FK, it gets cleared by England.
85 - England on the counter, get a corner. Foul called on England. goal kick
88 - MB cuts off a ball in the midfield, gets it to Freddy, who dribbles forward and takes a shot that David james has to dive for.
90 - Nate Jaqua coming in for EJ.
90+ England is dominating the closng minutes. they might even score again. I don't think jaqua will touch the ball.
Bradley bad pass leads to England shot, but it's deflected for a corner. Served in the middle, deflected out for another corner, taken short, cross up - Guzan has it.
Final whistle! England wins handily.



He's not even available as a sub.

Chuck and Becks

Culpepper's take on LA's #23.


I have to drop stuff off at work today, but I'm "sick", so I'll be here for the U.S. versus England. Is anyone else struck by a mysterious malady that can only be cured by copious amounts of soccer? Or have the planners among soccer fans already taken vacation time for today?

America draws at home

America played a decent game on Tuesday but needed to come from behind to tie Liga de Quito 1-1. America needs a win or a tie of 2-2 or better to advance to the final.

Crappy replay

Had I known that Terry Cooke was going to whip in a nice cross from the right side and that Conor Casey was going to knock it into the goal, I would have had the camera rolling. Instead, I only recorded the replay on the scoreboard. I know, it sucks. But it's the replay of the goal and you can mostly tell what's happening - cross, header, goal, celebration, stunned defenders, game, set, match.

Rapids post-game stuff

As promised, here is post-game audio. Unfortunately, since my only post-game assignment was to cover the Rapids I only have quotes from Rapids players. It was actually a tag-team effort as colleague Greg Daurio and I were the only two media members down in the presser. Fans aren't the only ones who stay away from these games, apparently.

Here's Fernando Clavijo's post-game comments as well as Conor Casey, who scored the goal eight minutes from time, and Preston Burpo, who just one week ago was still with San Jose, and still with not shot of playing regularly. Burpo's an odd cat, but I say that in a good way... mostly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Post game reactions

Clavijo: We don't have a lot of stars, we have a real team.
Bouna Coundoul is in Senegal right now, so we were very fortunate to get someone with experience (Preston Burpo) and to get him a match and to show that he belongs there. It's a wonderful opportunity.

Ruud Gullit: I think today gave some people the chance to show themselves. Of course, it was a pity. The problem was in midfield. We couldn't control it. The players there are often on the bench. The post was against us in the first half. In the second half, we didn't play well at all.
What was good was to see the players who don't always get to play. The big miss for us was Alvaro - he's very important for us. He had a knee problem, so we had to rest him, knowing that we play Toronto on turf.
We had so many chances - we just didn't make it. But everyone is going to write that we can't play without those two (LD and Becks).
I'm disappointed by the fact that we're out.
The most important thing was the midfield. We were very weak in that department. In attacking we were ok.
The first half- Ruiz was ok - but he's not really fit yet. He did some good things, but real match fitness is something different.

By the way, 9,189 was the final crowd count.

Galaxy/Rapids Open Cup rb

The running blog is stretching right now, kicking a few balls back and forth for warm-up.

Rapids: Preston Burpo, Kosuke Kimura, Stephen Keel, Rafael Gomes, Jordan Harvey, Terry Cooke, Mehdi Ballouchy, Nick LaBrocca, Colin Clark, Conor Casey, Tom McManus

Galaxy: Steve Cronin, Chris Klein, Abel Xavier, Sean Franklin, Ante Jazic, Brandon McDonald, Peter Vagenas, Ely Allen, Carlos Ruiz, Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon.

The Galaxy have sold seats in the upper deck of the stadium, which I think is a bad idea - just make all the tickets ten bucks and let people sit anywhere they want.
Players are walking in now. Press box is discussing how Ruud Gullit has put out a strong lineup. Anthem. So many people in the stands are wearing the Galaxy warm-up jackets that it looks like they could storm the field and play if the team isn't doing a good job. It's also chilly, hence the jackets. Though they are covered up pretty well, there are some strange lines on the field. There was a lacrosse game here Sunday.
2 - Galaxy attack but the Rapids let the ball go out for a goal kick.
3 - Galaxy FK into the box, where Stephen Keel nearly heads into his own goal, Stone puts it out for a corner, which Alan Gordon knocks down a header to Buddle, who flicks a pass behind him - to the Rapids defense.
6 - Ball possession problems on both sides, but the Galaxy prevail just a bit more to get the ball into Rapids territory, but aren't able to get a shot off.
7 - Ruiz beats Burpo to a long pass in the box; as the two collide, Ruiz gets enough on the ball to sent it towards goal, where Keel chases it down to clear off the line. Close call.
10 - Pete V, long absent from the starting lineup, is making good passes to help the G's hold midfield well. It's in the link-up to the attack that the Galaxy are faltering.
11 - Shot by the rapids - Cronin has it covered, though it's a bit wide as well.
12 - Yellow for McManus, for charging in on an Abel Xavier kick.
14 - ACB and the Riot Squad are doing an across the field call and response "LA!" "Galaxy!" Pretty cool. Corner kick for the Galaxy comes to nothing.
16 - Ely in the box nearly strips Kimura of a long pass, but Kimura just barely escapes danger.
18 - Rapids slowly advancing from their end of the field more often.
20 - The Galaxy are missing the killer final pass of Becks or LD. They are working the ball upfield, but not getting service to the strikers at the right time or place.
21 - Rapids put together a run of possession and attack just noe, but like the Galaxy, lacked the shot set up. Galaxy back in Colorado ground on the counter. Pass reaches Ruiz in the box, but he has to lean backward for the header and it pops high for a clearance.
23 - Ruiz is down briefly, but seems alright.
25 - McDonny with a shot - wide. He was on a counter run, but still outside the box for that one.
26 - Pete and Mehdi clash for the ball - it looks like Pete wins it clean, but the ref, Janon Anno, blows for a foul. Crowd unhappy with that call.
28 - Klein fired three crosses in a row in to the box, thanks to the play of Pete to keep winning the ball back, but no one connects. McDonald should have on one, but Klein's crosses don't exactly have the quality of Becks.
30 - Shot by McDonald! Soo close. it just curved slightly away from the post.
32 - Ball free in the Galaxy box - oh, Croning scoops it up. The Galaxy have had the upper had, but the longer the Rapids escape, the more frustrated LA will get.
35 - It's back and forth in the midfield right now. One great play or one slight defensive bobble could decide this. Xavier heads a cross away on a Rapids counter.
36 - Buddle off the post! Burpo dives and misses, the ball hits him and he nearly gives up an own goal. On the corner, the Galaxy argue that Burpo palmed the ball out, but the ref saw it hit a Galaxy players leg, apparently.
38 - Clarke shoots, Cronin blocks but can't hang on, galaxy manage to clear the ball.
39 - CK for the Rapids, Galaxy clear for a deep throw.
40 - Galaxy on the counter, cross to Ruiz, ref blows for a handball.
41 - RUIZ! From midfield, he shoots, catching Burpo off his line, Burpo runs backward and falls - ball goes off the frigging POST! Unbecredible, as Ravelli would say. That would have been Beckham-esque.
43 - Ely slid into someone and got a yellow, though he seems the one hurt.
44 - Rapids FK hits wall, but ref blows for handball. moving the subsequent FK much closer to goal - SAVE - Cronin.
45+ Klein overhits two forwards with another cross.
Ruud subs Allen for Randolph. I think Ely might be hurt.
Halftime - The Galaxy should be leading by a couple, but now there is all to play for in the second half.
BREAKING NEWS - Ely has been diagnosed with a concussion.
46 - Jazic is in for the Galaxy.
47 - Galaxy FK - oh if only Becks. . . . Pete sends a decent ball that Abel gets a head on, Burpo catches.
49 - Yellow for Nick LaBrocca - he kept standing in front of the Galaxy FKs.
50 - Pete serves ball it, gets knocked out to Randolph, who slips in a great pass that Gordon manages to miss on the doorstep of the goal. So close again.
53 - Rapids on the attack. McManus sends outside shot wide. I think his 40-yarder, which is winning Goal of the Week, might have swelled his head a bit.
55 - Killer instinct - it is lacking among the LA players right now. Xavi with dangerous packpass to Cronin, who barely clears against an attacker. Play it forward.
57 - The longer the Rapids hang around with the game in the balance, the better it is for them, because they can send a fast forward like Herc to burn the defense.
58 - Rapids corner - cleared.
60 - Pete slips, misses the ball, Rapids attack, Cooke has the ball on the right - cross! Galaxy barely clear.
62 - Galaxy CK, Pete takes and McDonald heads just barely wide.
Izzy going in. Israel Sesay in for Ruiz.
64 - Colorado FK out for goalkick.
66 - Galaxy again controlling most of play - again not finding final pass. Mehdi on the counter tried to catch Cronin off his line - misses high by about ten feet over the goal.
67 - Gordon clips LaBrocca from behind - gets yellow. MacManus is out, Omar Cummings is in.
68 - Clarke shoots, it's deflected wide for corner, Cronin comes out and catches the cross.
70 The Galaxy are losing sharpness as the game goes on. Ciaran O'Brien is on for Clarke. Crowd boos, remembering his hit on Ruiz at the season opener.
71 - Gomes gets a yellow for pulling down a Galaxy player on the counter. The Galaxy are all around the box, but keep mistiming runs and crosses for the final shot. Pete finally winds one up from outside, but it gets deflected.
72 - Josh Tudela in for Brandon McDonald. the Galaxy lose strength in midfield with that mover, because Pete is not an enforcer.
73 - Iz called offside. Crowd hated that call. Looked on, really.
74 - Casey nearly finishes it - shooting/crossing across the face of the goal. The Rapids then reel off a corner and two shots. The Galaxy can't clear, but they do deflect one and Cronin comes up with a pretty good save on another. The Rapids have all the momentum, now, though.
76 - They're coming at the Galaxy hard, again, Casey earns another deep throw - Cooke just waiting for the chance to cross - but Randolph steals the ball, Rapids counter again, Cooke crosses, Cronin punches out!
78 - Rapids circle the Galaxy goal like vultures. The Galaxy are trying to work the ball out past midfield. Nothing doing.
79 - IZ! Randolph on the counter uses his speed to creat space and sends in a great cross, but Iz just clean misses it. Wow.
81 - Cronin poor clearance leaves Rapids near goal - then the Galaxy D gives up a FK in a prime spot.
Casey cracks a header on goal, nice and low, and Cronin atones by getting down for the grab.
82 - GOAL! Casey makes no mistake this time, while Cronin hesitated, stepping out for Cooke's cross, then backing off on it, while the Galaxy D didn't shoulder off Casey. 1-0. Rapids.
85 - A tired Buddle is stuck in the corner, unable to get a cross off. He finally knocks the ball to Randolph, who botches it completely.
87 - The Galaxy are attacking, but everything they do looks frantic right now, and they are overhitting a lot of passes.
88 - Galaxy CK - Gordon is up for it, gets good contact - it's wide. Cesar Zambrano coming in for the goalscorer, Casey.
90 - Cummings holding the ball up well every time the Rapids regain possession. He draws a FK, then a corner.
90 + Cooke gets a yellow card - for time wasting? I'm not sure. Gordon draws a FK on the other end. This could be the last chance for the Galaxy. Herc is on for Cooke. Pete serves, it's good, Gordon goes up for it - his header is wide.
Colorado holding the ball well, galaxy with one last attack - Xavid serves ball in, out for throw. Into box, Rapids clear.
Final whistle. Crowd boos the result for a bit, then pounds the drums for the Galaxy players. The Rapids will now play Kansas City on June 4th for the right to officially enter the Open Cup. The Galaxy meanwhile, are out of all competitions this year - other than league play. If this was a preview of the team without LD and Becks well, to be fair, they still created a lot of chances, more so than the Rapids. But close ain't cutting it.

Galaxy-Rapids pre game

Welcome to HDC. We'll have lineups right here as they become available. The teams are warming up now (they came out about 10 minutes after I snapped this picture) so we should have the lineups soon enough.

On my way up to the press box, I was chatting with a colleague about the Galaxy and their Open Cup history. We couldn't quite remember Open Cup matches at the Rose Bowl, though we both attended Galaxy Open Cup matches at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, both as fans and media members.

I suppose I could just get out my Galaxy media guide and see the Galaxy's USOC history for myself, but what's the fun in that? I think I'll just ponder the history off and on all night.

Okay, now the lineups:

Galaxy: Steve Cronin, Chris Klein, Abel Xavier, Sean Franklin, Ante Jazic, Brandon McDonald, Peter Vagenas, Ely Allen, Carlos Ruiz, Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon.

Colorado: Preston Burpo, Kosuke Kimura, Stephen Keel, Rafael Gomes, Jordan Harvey, Terry Cooke, Mehdi Ballouchy, Nick LaBrocca, Colin Clark, Conor Casey, Steve McManus.

Donovan may not play

I mentioned it in my US Soccer Players article, and it looks like Donovan may not recover in time to play versus England.

Reversing course

Well, Ives for one has changed direction on the streamers. Me, I've been consistent all along, though I'm not happy to be proved right on that count.
So many people commented that streamers were fine, it wouldn't get worse, etc, ignoring both common sense and human nature. Even if the actions hadn't worsened, I would still be bothered by the simple fact that the game isn't respected when people take action that delays play.
Most worryingly, the video proves that I've been wrong about thinking racism isn't much of an issue at MLS games. It may not be endemic, but it exists. While that's sad, it's also a challenge for MLS administration to step up and return integrity to the game - and yes, that means not allowing fans to interfere with the games and throw stuff at players during the run of play. Streamers need to stay in the stands or only hit the field during stoppage, Don.

Cruz, not Cruise

Overheard. . .

One of the Galaxy staff: Cruz was wearing a monkey costume in the locker room

Me, hearing "Cruise" and thinking Tom, since he was in the Galaxy locker room last time I stopped by: You mean like a tuxedo?

Galaxy staffer: No, a monkey costume.

Me (getting a weird visual, until I remember the name of Vicki and David's youngest) Oh, oh.

So Cruz likes his costume, apparently. I guess that's a phase for some young 'uns. The little son of a friend of mine wore out his Spiderman outfit. He liked to wear it everywhere.

Sven really is the man

Mexico's Justino Compean says the fed has picked Sven. Sven doesn't speak Spanish, but perhaps, like Ruud Gullit, his Italian helps him get by.

Becks talks internationals

Becks was responding to a question about whether he'd miss the Colorado Open Cup game and the next two MLS matches.

Cap 'im

Landon Donovan goes for the one-double-Z.

Filling out the roster

Usually, early-round (or in this case, a play-in) US Open Cup games serve as a glorified reserve game. Often, MLS clubs will trot out reserves and rest many first-choice players and if they win, they win. If not, oh well. I don't necessarily agree with that feeling but that seems to be prevalent.

Anyway, the Galaxy have won two consecutive games now and the team will have to change the lineup no matter what. David Beckham and Landon Donovan are in England and will not play, so the lineup will change.

But just how much should it change? Do you think Ruud Gullit should keep the starters on the field and only account for Becks and Landon? Or do you think it's time for Josh Wicks, Josh Tudela, Julian Valentin and/or Bryan Jordan to step in and see what they can do?


A lot of people believe that the league hyped David Beckham's arrival last season mercilessly, and it fell flat when he unfortunately was injured. But did MLS go too far the other way this season? One reader thinks so.

New email:
The sad thing to me is that by treating Beckham like a Hollywood movie they wasted some of the ooomph of this season's performance. They overhyped the premiere, when he was hurt and should have been rested. Now that he is living up to if not exceeding expectations, this is when you should be promoting him through the roof. Imagine if it was at this point, and not last year, that LA was on ESPN like almost every week.
Whether it's throwing all that money and hype at Freddy Adu, naming the Sounders, or writing silly letters about the City of Houston regarding stadium desires, I wonder what's going through MLS' mind sometimes. The best things about the league are stuff like Clint Dempsey and JP Angel that happen almost on accident.

Holes to fill

My Tuesday column for the Press-Enterprise. With tonight's Open Cup game the first match of the year that neither Landon Donovan nor David Beckham will be available, I took the opportunity to look at what it means for the Galaxy in the short and long term.

Stoning the Galaxy

Manning the goal for Colorado tonight will likely be someone who has never lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Okay, that's stretching it a bit because he's had just two games against LA but Preston Burpo did go 1-0-1 for Chivas USA in the games he played against the Galaxy. In those games, he allowed just one goal. Who scored it? Current Colorado teammate Herculez Gomez.
Preston was dealt to San Jose by Chivas USA and at first appeared to have a shot of starting for the expansion team until Joe Cannon moved north as well. Preston will now get his shot with Colorado as the Rapids needed cover for Bouna Coundoul, who is off with Senegal.

Back for more

Grahame Jones of the LA Times with another round of letters.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lighter (shade of) Brown Rankings (May 26)

1. Chicago Fire (6-2-1). Blanco should be frontrunner for MVP.
2. New England (6-3-1). Could this side finally have found some consistency?
3. Columbus (6-2-1). Hesmer's PK stop should have kept unbeaten streak alive.
4. Los Angeles (4-3-2). Defensive problems don't matter when this offense works the way it should.
5. Toronto (4-3-2). Two goals should have been enough for a road win.
6. FC Dallas (3-3-3). Morrow's out, and FC Dallas celebrated with come-from-behind win.
7. Chivas USA (3-4-2). Young players finally producing.
8. New York (3-2-3). Why was this team rated so highly again?
9. Colorado (4-5-0). Looks like Clavijo's curse is alive and well in Colorado.
10. Houston (2-3-4). Hangover should have cleared up by now.
11. Kansas City (3-4-2). Too much talent to sit back and defend for 90 minutes.
12. San Jose (2-5-1). See what happens when Kamara finishes?
13. Real Salt Lake (2-5-2). No Joy in Frisco for this sad sack of a club.
14. DC United (3-7-0). Morale victory saved Tom Soehn's job.

Talking back

I may not have received a lot of email on my article, but that doesn't mean that people don't have opinions on it. There's a new feature on the site called Conversations, where readers can comment individually on articles. I'd miss our regular blog readers if they abandoned Sideline Views to comment exclusively elsewhere, but it's an interesting new option for feedback on specific pieces.

Mail call

It's always interesting to me which articles will generate reader response. So far, there's only been one on my latest piece, focused on Beckham.

Reader email:

Beckham has been and will always be a support player. He's never
been a standout player at the premier level except for his restart
abilities. It's amazing what the media can do to talk a guy up,
who only came this way because he wasn't good enough to play where
he was anymore.

Another addition to the mailbag just came in:

Shut up please you annoy American press.David Bechkam still has what? The bum only has the fact that first he is white and second English. For this reason only reason you continue heap praises on him meanwhile true football(not soccer) fans know that he is no more worthy to carry the jockstrap of names such as Ronaldinho,C.Ronaldo Kaka, Drogba to name a few. Grew up and really learn the game.

Tabbing it

In the Galaxy locker room post-game, I asked Landon Donovan, "Is there anyone else on the team, besides David, that you'd rather have lining up a 70-yard shot?" He laughed, and then I got a good quote about his reaction to the final goal.
However, the tabloids have twisted it a bit. "There's nobody else I'd rather have hitting that." somehow became "I can't imagine anyone else hitting that."
Chris Klein, talking about how cleanly David strikes the ball across the field, said, "He does it 10, 15 times a day in a game," and yet the article sets it up as if Beckham scores 70-yard goals that often in training.
A lot of other papers are also quoting the Sun, so the situation gets compounded.

Um, ok.

Am I the only one who read this headline and thought it referred to Cristiano Ronaldo not coming to the Galaxy?

Memorial Day

Week 9 Spotlight

Top 11

G: Matt Reis
D: Tyrone Marshall Gonzalo Peralta
D: Bakary Soumare
D: Drew Moor
M: Jorge Flores
M: Ivan Guerrero
M: Cuauhtemoc Blanco David Beckham
M: Landon Donovan
F: Dominic Oduro
F: Chad Barrett
F: Danny Dichio Kei Kamara

Top coach: Ruud Gullit showed the magic touch again by inserting Alan Gordon and dropping Landon Donovan back a bit off the forward line. The adjustment threw the Wizards off and opened up space for the Galaxy, space the hosts used to pull away in a 3-1 win.
Interim coach Marco Ferruzzi steps up in a difficult moment and makes the right moves to guide Dallas to victory.

Top player. Cuauhtemoc Blanco had a hand in every Chicago goal. He picked up a goal, three assists and sent in the corner kick that Gonzalo Segares finished off to give Chicago their fifth goal in a 5-1 thrashing of the Red Bulls.

Best game: DC 3, Toronto 2. Tom Soehn was moments away from a possible firing before something lit a fire under DC's back side. The result was a come-from-behind victory for the fallen giants and an all-around exciting game.

Best goal: David Beckham's goal versus Kansas City. Any time you see a 70-yard goal, it's one to remember.

Best save: Matt Reis kept the Crew off the scoreboard with a quarter hour left with a splendid save off a Robbie Rogers header.
Chris Klein's goal-line clearance after Landon Donovan inadvertently poked Scott Sealy's cross towards the net.


Wasn't defense supposed to be Kansas City's strength? Then why can't KC hold on to 1-0 second-half leads?

Th streamer mess is spreading to other sites besides Toronto, and not only does it look more amateur every time, it is undoubtedly affecting play, leaving MLS leadership with egg, or at least, streamer stuff in their face if they are forced to back track on the issue.

FC Dallas is in the habit of collecting red cards. Bobby Rhine took his turn on Saturday with an unnecessary blow to RSL's Javier Morales. Compounding the red card was Ian Joy's earlier, equally-as-unnecessary challenge on Kenny Cooper, which also resulted in a red. Rhine's red, though, canceled Joy's out.

Greg Sutton completely botched a shot from Santino Quaranta that led to Luciano Emilio's match winner. Sutton had better not be allowed anywhere near Brazil with that sort of goalkeeping.

Opening up the cup

On Tuesday, the Galaxy will host Colorado in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match. The game, to my knowledge, won't be broadcast anywhere and the only radio that is available is of the Spanish-language kind. While that's fine for some Galaxy fans, others will be stuck in a precarious situation - not being able to attend the game, not being able to listen to it and wondering what's going on.

Just tune in here. We'll have a running blog going, the usual post-game audio from both sides and possibly video as well.

A year ago, we had a similar situation when New York came to LA to play the Galaxy in an Open Cup play-in match and that was one of the most thrilling experiences I've had. Our little blog was tiny back then but that game sort of helped get our blog out there. We had a running blog and I got some timely video as well, including Juan Pablo Angel's first MLS goal, which has gotten more than 20,000 views.

If you can make the game, great. It should be a cozy atmosphere out there. If not, visit us here and we'll be your eyes and ears.

Klein post-game

After talking to Greg Vanney in a nearly-empty (in terms of reporters) Galaxy locker room, I waited for Chris Klein to get ready. He was getting treatment or something before getting showered and dressed. After he was ready to talk, I got first dibs on a conversation. About halfway through our chat, or maybe even a few minutes in, the mass hordes of reporters crowded around us. Apparently, they were informed in the presser that Landon Donovan would be made available in the locker room instead of the press conference. So that's why there are some repeated questions there.

Here's about eight minutes or so of Chris Klein.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Luster's off the game

As I was watching the Chicago Fire tear apart a terrible New York side, I thought 'I can't wait until Chicago plays at the Galaxy.'

Turns out, I don't need to get ahead of myself. Instead of Cuauhtemoc Blanco versus Becks and Landon, it's going to be Cuauhtemoc Blanco versus Chris Klein and Edson Buddle. Chicago plays at LA on Aug. 21. On Aug. 20, the U.S. will play its first of six semifinal World Cup qualifying matches, if the U.S. gets past Barbados. The same day, England will play the Czech Republic. And at the rate we're going, Blanco may somehow earn a spot back on Mexico.

Suddenly, I can wait.

Liguilla day eight

Wow. Talk about drama. Unbelievable drama. That's what Santos and Monterrey pieced together in the second half of Sunday's decisive second leg. The two teams had tied 1-1 on Thursday and Santos needed just a draw to advance. But Jared Borgetti and Humberto Suazo each scored in the second half and Monterrey held a 2-0 lead with a quarter hour standing in the way of them and a trip to the final against Cruz Azul.

But Matias Vuoso and Fernando Arce had other thoughts as Santos battled back to claim a spot in the final.

Indios gain promotion

Indios of Ciudad Juarez will play in the Mexican First Division next season after the club tied Leon in Sunday's decisive second leg. The match finished at 2-2 and Indios took the series on a 3-2 aggregate.

Marco Antonio Vidal, a native of Texas, played the entire game for Indios. It remains to be seen, though, if Vidal or many of his teammates actually get to play next season. Teams commonly overhaul their rosters upon ascending. Vidal, though, was a regular on the club this season.

Red Bull NY/Chicago Fire

Well, Chad Barrett already scored, but I was having brunch.

31 - Announcers talking about Juan Pablo Angel's back problem.
33 - Usually I harp on English announcers for not talking about the game, but this time, the Spanish-speaking ones have gone off on a long tangent about FC Dallas firing Steve Morrow. They're not talking about the game at all.
34 - Rolfe to Barret, but the give and go doesn't go.
36 - NY, according to the announcers, cannot penetrate, cannot probe, cannot test the Fire with the non-threatening way they're playing right now.
38 - Jon Busch leaps to punch the ball and comes down on top of his defender, Bakary.
39 - NY FK, Reyna takes, Sassano's shirt gets torn, Parke looks like he reaches it, but his header is wide. The announcers ding the ref.
40 - Danleigh Borman one-times a pass over the bar. Nice volley try.
45 - Announcers discussing the Osorio soap opera.
Halftime - Chicago winning the grudge matchup between the two teams.

Thoughts on Chivas USA

When I did my weekly radio spot for Around the League in 90 minutes on the Champions Soccer Radio Network last week, I didn't have too much faith in Chivas USA's ability to pull out a result in Colorado. It's not that the Rapids have been world beaters, but Chivas hadn't done well to piece together consistent matches, let alone a solid 90-minute road effort. I don't remember if I made an outright prediction but I was all but tagging the Rapids for a win.

Chivas proved me wrong. The club had its first good road effort and came away with a strong momentum-building win. While the 3-1 win over DC helped Chivas realize that they could in fact play like they did a year ago, Saturday's win should serve as a confidence boost. Two games now Chivas has came away with maximum points.

What is more startling is the lineups the club has used to get their six points. Players like Bobby Burling, Justin Braun, Atiba Harris and Sueno himself Jorge Flores have played key roles in each victory. Anyone but ardent Chivas supporters would be hard-pressed to pick Burling out of a lineup while Braun came from out of nowhere to even land a roster spot, yet those guys are finally responding and getting their opportunities as regulars Maykel Galindo and Shavar Thomas deal with injury.

Flores, though, has been a pleasant surprise. The kid obviously has talent. It was evident, not because he won Sueno MLS or even because he got a contract but because of his repeated call-ups to the Under-20 national team and the things that coaches say about him, about his strong work ethic, attitude and mentality. Flores is just 18, not even one calendar year removed from high school, and now he's got two goals under his belt. At this point, it will be difficult to not include him in the starting lineup for next week's match against Columbus.

As more players recover from injury, such as Carey Talley did against the Rapids, Chivas will only get stronger. And with consecutive wins now under their belt, the club is only going to grow in confidence.

Ahead of the crowd

After listening to the Wizards in the post-game presser, I made a quick dash to their locker room. I had enough time to talk to one KC player, so I talked to the one I knew would give me some good stuff. Here's my little chat with Jimmy Conrad.

I thought about sticking around and saying hi to Kevin Hartman but he was in the middle of an interview and I wanted to make it over to the Galaxy locker room before everyone left. Sometimes the guys linger but other times it clears out rather quickly.

I was actually one of the first reporters there. While most had stayed behind to listen to Ruud Gullit, I was in the locker room with maybe two other reporters. David Beckham was still there. He was tidying himself up and getting ready for his trans-Atlantic jaunt while his three boys played in the locker room. It was a regular day care center in there as Chris Klein, Joe Franchino and Becks all had their kids in there. It's not like I'm not used to little ones scampering around so it didn't exactly faze me. I actually thought it was kind of cool for the players to have their kids down there.

Anyway, I got the chance to talk to Greg Vanney and Chris Klein before the hordes descended upon the locker room for Landon Donovan.

Here's audio of my one-on-one with Greg Vanney, some of which I'm using for my Tuesday column in The Press-Enterprise. I'll probably post the Klein stuff at some point as well.

Liguilla day seven

Cruz Azul tied San Luis 1-1 on Saturday thanks to a late Pablo Zeballos goal and la Maquina advanced to the Mexican league final.

Cruz Azul is trying for their first league title since the Invierno 97 season. The team is close to breaking that long stretch but will have to beat either Santos or Monterrey to do so.

Michael Orozco did not play for San Luis.


KC Kyle

I didn't get a chance to make it to the Wizards locker room (where it would have been nice to interview the new DP, Claudio, say hi to 'El Gato' and collect a pithy quote from my fellow writer, JC), but this morning's email from Kansas City media dude Kyle Rogers contains more Wizards trivia than I could ever hope to collect in one post-game visit.
It's interesting, too, unlike a lot of press releases the league puts out.

Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made six saves on the night, his second-best save performance of the season.

· In the 3rd minute, Hartman surpassed former teammate and current LA assistant coach Cobi Jones for 4th place on Major League Soccer’s all-time minutes list.

· In the 88th minute, Hartman surpassed current Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jason Kreis for 3rd place on the all-time list.

· Kreis and Real Salt Lake are the Wizards next opponents in MLS play.

· Hartman ended the game with 25,245 career minutes.

· He trails only New England midfielder Steve Ralston and former Wizards assistant Chris Henderson in career minutes.

· Hartman now has 1050 career saves, trailing only former Wizards standout Tony Meola on Major League Soccer’s all-time list.

· Hartman and defender Jimmy Conrad are the only Wizards to play all 810 minutes so far this season.

· Forward Claudio Lopez sits just behind Conrad and Hartman with 806 minutes and has played the entire 90 in six matches.

· Lopez recorded his 3rd goal of the season with a moment of individual brilliance in the first half.

· He is now tied with Conrad for the team lead in goals scored.

· It was the Wizards 3rd goal scored in open play this season.

· Midfielder Davy Arnaud made his first start of the season.

· With the appearance, Arnaud surpassed Matt McKeon for 6th place on the team’s all-time games played list.

· Five Wizards were born in the state of California: Myers, Victorine, Conrad, Kronberg and Wahl.

· Three Wizards formerly played professionally in the state. Hartman and Victorine both played for Los Angeles. Conrad played for San Jose before joining the Wizards.

· Former Wizards standout Chris Klein played 90 minutes at right back for LA.

· Four Wizards played collegiate soccer in at UCLA: Hartman, Conrad, Victorine and Myers.

· Hartman attended Cal-State Dominguez Hills for his first two seasons. Home Depot Center sits on the campus of CSDH.

· Conrad had 150 friends and family in attendance.

· Kansas City was without reserve defender Jonathan Leathers, who is in Toulon, France with the U.S. U-23 National Team