GALAXY: Tottenham makes for tight fit
March, 22, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
CARSON -- The Galaxy announced Thursday they will take on Tottenham Hotspur in a July friendly at Home Depot Center. What they didn't announce is how difficult a fit the game is in their schedule.
The July 24 date makes for five matches in 15 days in the middle of one of the toughest stretches in L.A.'s schedule: Seven of eight league clashes on the road, with the home game (and one of the away games) a SuperClasico match against Chivas USA.
The Galaxy plays at Portland on July 14, at Vancouver on July 18, and at home July 21 against Chivas. L.A. is off to play FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas, four days after the Tottenham match.
Summer friendlies are increasingly a highlight of the American soccer schedule, and the Galaxy is expected to play two top clubs this summer. Tottenham, with which L.A. has a longstanding relationship, had long been rumored. Manchester United's name has been bounced around a bit, too.
What about Real Madrid? The Galaxy played friendlies with the Merengues the past two seasons, at the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum, and manager Jose Mourinho has annually brought his team -- first Chelsea, then Inter Milan, the Real -- to UCLA for preseason. There has been speculation Mourinho will depart Real in May, and former president of business operations Tom Payne last summer told ESPN Los Angeles that he had told the Spanish giant that their presence in Southern California prevented other clubs, which the Galaxy hoped to play in friendlies, from visiting the area.
The Galaxy has been more aggressive about scheduling friendlies since Bruce Arena took charge in August 2008. AC Milan and Barcelona visited in 2009, Real Madrid and Argentina's Boca Juniors in 2010, and Manchester City -- currently second in the EPL -- played at Home Depot Center eight days after last year's Real Madrid tilt. Chelsea visited HDC in 2007.
The Galaxy also played a July 2009 friendly against Crystal Palace in Richmond, Va., but it was abandoned at halftime because of heavy rains.
Tottenham, which features American goalkeeper Brad Friedel and has spent most of this season sitting third in the English Premier League standings, has a business relationship with the Galaxy, and David Beckham and Robbie Keane are close to Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, who could become England's national team coach in May. Beckham trained before the 2011 season with Tottenham, and Keane, a former Spurs striker, spent a few days in January working out with the club before joining Aston Villa on loan.
BECKHAM IS WEALTHY: Beckham is the soccer world's second-best earner, France Football magazine reports, making $41.5 million last year through salary, endorsements and other earnings. He was MLS's only player in the top 20, no surprise except that New York's Thierry Henry was a regular presence on the annual list until arriving in the league two years ago.
Three players linked to the Galaxy -- Cameroonian forward Samuel Eto'o (fourth, $30.7M), from Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala, and English midfielder Frank Lampard (15th, $17M) and Ivorian striker Didier Drogba (17th, $16.6M), both from Chelsea -- made the top 20, which is filled, as expected by the game's biggest names.
No. 1? Argentine Lionel Messi, the unquestioned (in nearly every quarter) “world's best player.” He made $43.5 million and is the only Barcelona player on the list. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid, $38.5M) was third and Wayne Rooney (England/Manchester United, $27.2M) was fifth.
Other familiar names on the list include Fernando Torres, Kaká, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar, Nicolas Anelka and Franck Ribery. Mourinho is the best-paid coach, making $19.5M. Nobody from Tottenham got a mention.
WORTH NOTING: No. 2 goalkeeper Brian Perk underwent sports-hernia surgery this week and will be sidelined about four weeks. This is related to the injury suffered while with the U.S. under-23 national team in January, which kept the former UCLA standout out of most of preseason. Bill Gaudette will serve as Josh Saunders' top backup. … Adam Cristman expects to be available for the Galaxy's next game, March 31 against New England. The big forward, who suffered a concussion during a Tucson, Ariz., friendly at the end of February, has returned to training and will undergo neuropsychological testing Friday with hopes he'll be cleared to play afterward. … Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa, who missed a month after a tonsilectomy, has returned to training. … Englishman Craig Harrington has taken charge of the Galaxy Academy's U-16 team after Kenny Arena's departure to become head coach at Florida International University. Harrington, a So Cal club veteran who played in Swindon Town's and Oxford United's youth systems, had been in charge of the Galaxy's U-13 and U-14 sides. Arena, son of the club's head coach/general manager, guided the U-16s to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national title last summer. Former Galaxy and New York defender Gordon Kljestan, the brother of U.S. national-teamer (and former Chivas USA captain) Sacha Kljestan, is the new U-14 and U-15 coach, and former MLS midfielders Ted Eck (U-12) and Braeden Cloutier (U-13) have joined the Academy staff. ... Tottenham will play at New York on July 31.