Los Angeles Soccer: Anthony Wallace
Juan Pablo Angel will be ready to take the field when Chivas USA opens its season Sunday against Houston at Home Depot Center. The Colombian striker signed his contract Thursday, general manager Jose Domene confirmed in a text message to ESPN Los Angeles.
Domene said Angel would not occupy a Designated Player slot, for those whose salary exceeds the $350,000 budget maximum, but did not say whether the club used allocation money to pay down his salary-cap hit or that he signed a contract under the DP figure.
Angel, 36, made $1 million in base salary last season, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union. He scored seven goals in nine games for Chivas after arriving in an August trade from the Galaxy, which needed to clear a DP slot to sign Irish forward Robbie Keane.
Angel, 36, is one of Major League Soccer's deadliest forwards, with 71 goals in five seasons, the first four with the New York Red Bulls. A former star at Colombian powerhouse Atletico Nacional, Argentine giant River Plate and Aston Villa in England, he spent the entire preseason with Chivas while finalizing his contract for this year. He and Domene had reported there was one sticking point that delayed completion of the deal, but neither would identify it.
The club has provided no details on his contract. His salary won't be public until the Players Union, as is its custom, releases all of the league's figures in mid-spring.
Domene also said Chivas “will likely” sign former Cal Poly star Patrick McLain as its third goalkeeper on Friday. McLain has been battling UCLA All-American Brian Rowe for the job behind returning starter Dan Kennedy and newcomer Tim Melia.
That likely will finalize the Goats roster for the start of the MLS season. They would have 25 players on their active roster -- including forward Tristan Bowen, who is on loan to KSV Roeselare in Belgium -- with five slots available. Six remaining players have been on trial with Chivas, and head coach Robin Fraser has repeatedly introduced trialists to camp since taking over as head coach 14 months ago. More could be coming.
The reigning MLS Cup champs, with neither Omar Cummings (off with Jamaica's national team) nor Conor Casey (tightness in his calf) in the starting XI for the first time since October 2008 -- a span of 67 league games -- managed just two scoring opportunities, and Quincy Amarikwa made the first count, finishing a counterattack in the 32nd minute for the only goal.
A quick look at Chivas' loss:
BEST PLAYER: Take your pick from these three Rapids: central midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, left back Anthony Wallace or center back Drew Moor.
Larentowicz was a force in the middle for Colorado, more so defensively, his energy key as Chivas (0-2-0) failed to penetrate despite decent stretches of possession. Wallace made several big plays and kept whichever winger he was matched up with -- Marcos Mondaini, so good in the Goats' season-opening loss to Sporting Club Kansas City, and Justin Braun -- from making impacts. Moor was nearly perfect in the middle, anchoring a superb defensive effort that had the Rapids in charge from the start.
Best for the Goats? We'll go with central midfielder Nick LaBrocca, who won balls and distributed nicely, playing major roles when Chivas kept possession in the first half and applied pressure in the second.
BEST GOAL: There was only one, and it wasn't a very good one, from Chivas' viewpoint. Blame another defensive breakdown: The Goats' backline was pushed forward, failed to corral Jamie Smith on the left flank, and his ball toward the box for Amarikwa to run onto found gaping space.
A.J. DeLaGarza, so impressive during Major League Soccer's stretch run, gets his first call-up to the national team; he'll be joined by Galaxy backline mates Sean Franklin (Palmdale/Highland HS and Cal State Northridge) and Omar Gonzalez in the Jan. 4-22 camp at Home Depot Center.
Chivas USA forward Justin Braun and three players with local ties -- Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and Colorado Rapids defender Marvell Wynne (UCLA) and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (born in Pasadena) -- also are on the 24-man roster, from which Bradley will draw his lineup for the Jan. 24 friendly against Chile at HDC.
The annual January camp, always at HDC, usually is used to scout younger players -- including those who emerged during the previous MLS campaign -- and give U.S.- and Scandinavia-based veterans a foundation to build fitness before their seasons begin in the late winter or spring.
This time Bradley called in very few veterans. Sweden-based midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is the only player from the U.S. pre-World Cup training camp on the roster, and none who went to South Africa is involved. A dozen players are uncapped, five more have just one cap, nobody has made more than six international appearances -- across the roster, there are only 28 caps.
A rundown on the two dozen players coming to HDC:
Sunday's 15th MLS Cup, which kicks off at BMO Field a little after 5:30 p.m. (ESPN and Galavision), could be a classic. Dallas and Colorado are fast, athletic, attacking sides capable of producing scintillating stuff.
There will be abundant goal opportunities, but with Palos Verdes' Kevin Hartman (Peninsula HS/UCLA) in the FC Dallas nets, there's no certainty of scoring. At least at one end.
Both teams attack so well, especially off the counter, that defensive approaches ought to be decisive. The team that does the best job closing space and preventing its opponent's attacking speed from making a difference is likely going to prevail.
Three keys to victory: