Thursday, June 9, 2011
GALAXY: Juninho off to the altar
By Scott French
The Galaxy on Saturday will be without midfielder Junihno, who is traveling to Brazil to get married.
The Galaxy won't have the services of Juninho this weekend against Toronto FC. The Brazilian midfielder is back home in Sao Paulo ... getting hitched.
His wedding is this weekend, so the Galaxy is using his absence -- and that of Landon Donovan, who's with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup -- to investigate a formation they used with great success earlier this season.
The idea is to put a playmaker of sorts right behind the two strikers in a 4-3-1-2 alignment. In training Thursday, Miguel Lopez was stationed behind Juan Pablo Angel and Chad Barrett. Paolo Cardozo is another option for the withdrawn spot.
Donovan played in that role in a 1-1 draw May 11 at Philadelphia, in which L.A. was deserving of all three points but conceded a late equalizer on a nasty Sean Franklin giveaway.
"It worked pretty well, although Miguel and Paolo are two different types of players [from each other and Donovan]," said Angel, who expected to return to the lineup after he was a late scratch, because of a twisted ankle, in last week's scoreless tie with D.C. United. "We have to work on it. We tried it today. Let's see how it goes tomorrow and if we can implement that over the weekend. Every time you change formations, you're subject to make mistakes, and, hopefully, that doesn't happen this time."
Juninho is MLS's second Brazilian this month to head home for a wedding. FC Dallas defender Jackson Goncalves was married last weekend. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said the midfielder, who has had a terrific first nearly three months of the season, would be back for the June 18 clash at MLS Cup champion Colorado.
His teammates gave Juninho and his bride a card filled with cash.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get invites," David Beckham kidded. "We were looking forward to a trip to Brazil. It would have been nice, but I don't think Bruce would have been happy."
Beckham noted he waited until the offseason when he got married, and Arena said of the midseason nuptials: "Uh, that's life, you know? What are you going to do? Tell the bride that. I think brides in Brazil like June weddings as well."
ALL-STAR SNUBS: Angel said he has no problem being left off Major League Soccer's All-Star Game ballot, but defender Todd Dunivant -- also snubbed, and clearly deserving of being on the list -- questioned the wisdom of letting every team, no matter how they've performed, have a half-dozen names (and no more than a half-dozen) up for the fan vote.
"When I saw the format, I wasn't too surprised [I didn't make it]," Dunivant said. "I don't know how much sense it makes to give the teams on the bottom of the league the same number of [slots] as us. We should probably have six guys on the team, let alone on the ballot.
"The system is what it is, and not much I can do about it."
Dunivant could be selected for the team by New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, who will guide the All-Stars against Manchester United on July 27 in Harrison, N.J., or by Commissioner Don Garber.
"I'm going to start emailing Hans Backe tonight, see what he has to say ...," Dunivant deadpanned. " 'You guys looked good, Hans. Really!' "
Angel, who has struggled to find his form and has scored just twice in 13 games, said he wasn't surprised to miss the ballot.
"I've been part of [MLS All-Star Games] before, and I would have wanted to be part of this one, too, but the performance wasn't there for me to be selected ...," he said. "Right now I'm concentrating on getting myself back, try to get the form better and having a good second part of the season."
The Galaxy players on the ballot: goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, defenders Franklin and Omar Gonzalez, and midfielders Beckham, Donovan and Juninho.
WORTH NOTING: Dunivant was inducted into the Colorado Rush Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in Denver, becoming the fourth player honored by the national youth-club powerhouse. "For me, it was a big honor, a special night," he said. Previous inductees include Rapids forward Conor Casey, a Rush teammate of Dunivant's, Rapids technical director (and former Galaxy director of soccer) Paul Bravo, and former women's standout Aleisha Cramer Rose, a sure-thing U.S. national team star who left the sport because she wouldn't play on Sundays -- she's Mormon -- and wanted to raise a family. ... Angel and Gonzalez will be at a meet-and-greet with fans Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the adidas store on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade.