Los Angeles Soccer: Brek Shea

U.S. aims to close gap on Mexico, the world

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
9:35
PM PT

Kyle BeckermanMarcos Delgado/Clasos.com/LatinContent/Getty ImagesKyle Beckerman of the U.S. team celebrates a goal during a friendly soccer match between Mexico and USA on Tuesday. The U.S. won 1-0.

MEXICO CITY -- The United States hopes its historic victory at Estadio Azteca is a precursor of sorts, but nobody is mistaking it as a shift in the balance within the region's primary rivalry. The gap separating the Americans from Mexico remains intact, and the only questions concern how great is the chasm and what must be done to bridge it.



Mexico's focus on youth development has created a golden generation of players and could signal El Tri's arrival among the truly elite in international soccer. Last weekend's gold-medal triumph at the London Olympics, with their under-23 team, follows successes by the U-17s (World Cup titles in 2005 and 2011) and the U-20s (third place at last year's World Cup), and the impact on the full national team -- the one that could, for real, be competing for the spoils in Brazil in two years -- has been profound.

Mexico's destruction of the U.S. at last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, built on the sublime talent of Giovani Dos Santos, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Andres Guardado, was product of Mexico's reaction to the Americans' dominance in the series for nearly a decade from 2000.

Now the U.S. must respond in kind.

“I think Mexico deserves a big compliment,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in advance of the Yanks' 1-0 victory in Wednesday's friendly. “What they've done the last three or four years is tremendous. They’ve identified a way they want to play, and everybody dedicates themselves to that style of play. ...

“There is a gap. It would be foolish not to recognize that.”

The U.S. went 10-2-2, with both losses at Azteca and one of the victories from the 2002 World Cup, over a span of about 8½ years. That dominance, star forward/midfielder Landon Donovan notes, was while “we had a group of us together for five, six, seven, eight years, and they were kind of in flux.” The roles shifted: The U.S. team is now in transition under Klinsmann.

He took charge a year ago after that Gold Cup defeat and is working toward creating a system and a style that will emphasize attacking soccer, a necessity for success in a landscape that has been altered by Spain's success the past five years. He's also altering the makeup of an aging squad, especially at the back. The Americans' great youngsters aren't so young anymore; Donovan is 30.

Mexico's most important figures aren't yet in their primes. Chicharito is 24, Giovani 23. Defender Hector Moreno is 24. Guardado, a relative veteran, is 25. More than a dozen more first-team pool players are younger than 25.

The U.S. also has a promising young contingent -- Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea are 22, Terrence Boyd 21, Danny Williams 23 and Fabian Johnson 24 -- and several others under 25 who might or might not pan out as international players.

“It's hard to quantify a gap,” Donovan said. “We're kind of a little more in flux now, but the hope is that in two years we've closed that gap and we're [like Mexico] a well-oiled machine.”

The 2014 World Cup is the Americans' chief focus, but the real view is longer. Whatever success the U.S. has enjoyed has been about belief and power, not technical and tactical acumen, although there have been great improvement in both areas since the 1994 World Cup changed everything. Klinsmann, a legendary German striker who has called Orange County home for more than a decade, is looking to alter the foundation of how the U.S. plays, and that requires a philosophical shift.

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Struggles secondary in historic U.S. win

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
12:43
AM PT

MEXICO CITY -- It was an historic victory, the first by the United States at Estadio Azteca in a series that dates to the 1930s, and those responsible couldn't have been more pleased with what they achieved.

The Americans got a superb performance from their backline, at least two heroic saves from Tim Howard and one fortuitous goal to claim a 1-0 triumph Wednesday night over Mexico.

And they weren't shy about proclaiming how important was the result ... even if didn't really mean a thing.

“At the end of the day, we won't win any trophies for winning tonight or won't get any points for it,” said Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, who made an imprint defensively before departing at halftime. “But considering the history, and who knows what happens in the future, [a first win here] can never happen again. We're going to enjoy it tonight.”

They should. Beating Mexico at Azteca is nearly impossible: It has happened only once in an official game, a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in 2001, and in a handful of friendlies. Indeed, this was just the third defeat for El Tri in an international exhibition since 1973.

That the U.S. squad didn’t perform particularly well -- defense aside -- is beside the point.

“It's a wonderful moment, because winning a game against a very, very good Mexico team that we have lots of respect for, at Azteca Stadium, that means a lot to us.,” said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Obviously, when we analyze the game, we'll find many, many things that we want to do better. Obviously, in the first half, we had big problems to keep the ball, to get the ball into zones up front, but Mexico, too, had no chances in the first half at all. Second half, they had more chances, really more chances, than we had, and it became difficult.”

“I think it's important for us to understand that we can compete with big teams at their stadiums, at their locations,” he said. “Very special occasion and we want the players to appreciate that. I want the players to take it all in, because you never know if you can have an occasion like that. That's what we told the players. We said you have nothing to lose, give it all you have. Can we play better? Yes. Can we play technically cleaner? Yes. But moments like this are really important.”

The U.S. generated nearly no offense until the 80th minute. Brek Shea, who had been on the field all of two minutes, ran from the left flank past Mexico right back Severo Meza and winger Elias Hernandez and into the box. He then sent the ball into the goalmouth, where it bounced around a little until Terrence Boyd's backheel put it on the goal line. And Michael Orozco Fiscal, who had come off the bench three minutes earlier, poked it home.

“I never thought that would happen,” said Orozco Fiscal, an Orange Countian who plays for San Luis in Mexico. “It's a dream come true.”

That aside, the Americans struggled to possess the ball, couldn't connect passes and for the most part -- save for performances by Jermaine Jones in midfield, Howard in the net and, especially, Geoff Cameron and Edgar Castillo on the left side of the backline -- failed to offer a whole lot.

There were reasons for the lack of chemistry: Pachuca's Jose Torres was out of position in midfield; Fabian Johnson, a natural left back, was on the right side; and Santos Laguna's Herculez Gomez was often stranded up top in a 4-2-3-1 formation until Boyd joined him at forward in the second half; more than half the first-choice lineup wasn't present. Mexico applied heavy pressure, especially in midfield, and would have won if not for Cameron (who owned Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the first half, stopping him cold three times), Club Tijuana's Castillo (a statement-making performance) and Howard (who flew to stop Hernandez twice after Orozco Fiscal's goal).

The U.S. insists things were better than they appeared.

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CHIVAS USA: Goats make their point

June, 23, 2012
6/23/12
8:39
PM PT

Dan KennedyJerome Miron/US PresswireChivas USA goalie Dan Kennedy made two big saves as he helped his team get a point at Dallas.


Chivas USA did what it needed to do and got a little help at the finish, braving the Texas heat and tiring legs in their third game in eight days to claim a point Saturday night.

Dan Kennedy made two big saves, Alejandro hit the post and referee Fotis Bazakos, making just his third Major League Soccer appearance, gave the Goats a gift in stoppage time of a scoreless draw at FC Dallas.

The Goats (5-7-4, 19 points) pulled even with fifth-place Colorado on points, although the Galaxy could vault past both and into the Western Conference playoff zone with a victory in a later game against Vancouver; L.A. led, 3-0, at halftime. Dallas (3-9-4, 13 points) climbed out of cellar, one point ahead of Portland, which plays Sunday.

Nick LaBrocca returned to action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury a month ago, but Oswaldo Minda took a late yellow card for time-wasting after kicking away a ball following a foul -- his league-worst eighth of the season -- and will be suspended for the next league game, July 17 against Vancouver.

The Hoops, who outshot Chivas, 13-2 -- 9-0 in the second half -- deserved a penalty kick when defender Danny Califf spun around Fabian Castillo just inside the Goats' box four minutes into stoppage, but Bazakos, watching nearby, didn't make the call.

Chivas had plenty of first-half possession but just one legitimate chance at goal, with Kevin Hartman diving to stop a Juan Agudelo drive in the 12th minute and Moreno putting the rebound off the right post.

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CHIVAS: No expectations vs. lowly Hoops

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
9:38
PM PT
Chivas USA spent most of the last month taking points off Major League Soccer's biggest sides, then climbing to within a point of the Western Conference's playoff zone with an impressive victory over a pretty good Montreal side.

Now they get a taste of the American soccer's ghetto.

The Goats (5-7-4, 18 points) are in Texas on Saturday to take on an FC Dallas team that has been decimated by injuries, red cards and suspensions, hasn't won in two months and sits at the bottom of the Western standings.

That doesn't mean a whole lot, says head coach Robin Fraser, whose team has lost just once -- last weekend to Real Salt Lake -- in its last seven games, all competitions.

“For us, it doesn't matter who the next opponent is, we have to improve,” Fraser said. “There are some things that we could he better and sharper at. Regardless of who we play, there's going to be that challenge. Dallas is a very talented team. They've certainly not gotten the results that they're capable of.”

Everything has been tough for the Hoops, who played in the MLS Cup final two seasons ago and reached the playoffs last year. 2010 MVP David Ferreira is still out after last year's injury, and nearly a dozen players have joined him on the bench at one time or another.

They're missing starting center backs George John and Ugo Ihemelu, influential midfielder Ricardo Villar and top scorer Blas Perez with one ailment of another, and star winger Brek Shea is just getting back from a foot injury.

And Jair Benitez is suspended after a red card, for an off-the-ball elbow to Colin Clarke's head, in last weekend's loss at Houston. That's five red cards in 16 games for the Hoops (plus another in a U.S. Open Cup loss), plus a three-game suspension to Shea last month for kicking the ball at a linesman.

The red cards have been largely stupid and costly: Dallas watched a lead turn to a loss following Zach Loyd's second yellow card at Columbus last month, and twice it has given up decisive goals in defeat following dismissals.

The Hoops have lost seven of their last eight games, including the Open Cup, are winless in their last 11 games -- and in five of them, they scored first.

“I think that game is there for the taking,” Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said after Wednesday's 2-1 win over Montreal. “It's not like they're on fire and unbeatable. When you win, it can become contagious, and you can build momentum with it, so that's what we need to do.”

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GALAXY: On the spot before big finish

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
11:49
PM PT


CARSON -- The Galaxy are living and dying from the penalty spot these days, and after the turn of events early in the second half Saturday night, it didn't look as if there was a whole lot of life in them.

Ah, appearances can be deceiving.

Pat Noonan netted a huge first goal with L.A., finishing a stoppage-time scramble in FC Dallas' box to deliver a 1-1 draw in an often invigorating clash that was otherwise defined by Bill Gaudette's fine play in the nets and a pair of penalty kicks that looked certain to doom the Galaxy to another home defeat.

They instead pulled out a point with an ending that, if not enough to nail down a third successive victory, could be as galvanizing as Josh Saunders' penalty-kick stop to beat Colorado a week ago.

“We getting a goal in extra time, can't be complaining about the point,” said head coach Bruce Arena, who might have had reason to complain anyway. “It's that simple. We missed a penalty. We had some good chances during the game. There weren't a whole lot of chances in the game for either team, but we had enough to get ourselves two or three goals and didn't. ... The team plays that hard and gets a point at the end like that, I think that's a positive.”

Robbie Keane missed the penalty kick, with a chance to take the lead in the 49th minute, and Brek Shea converted from the spot 12 minutes later to provide Dallas an advantage that lasted almost to the finish. But Arena made smart substitutions -- Adam Cristman, Chad Barrett and Noonan, all of them second-half submissions, combined on the winning goal -- and L.A. (3-3-1) got more than they might have on a night in which they weren't quite crisp enough.

Gaudette, making his first-team debut for L.A., was outstanding in place of Saunders, who bowed out to deal with what the team called “personal matters.” The veteran keeper has a history at HDC -- he made his first MLS appearance here in 2005 for Columbus and two years ago helped the Puerto Rico Islanders to a 4-1 win over the Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round -- so when he saw his name on the board when he walked into the locker room Saturday afternoon, he was ready.

He made three huge saves -- diving to stop George John's quick deflection of a Daniel Hernandez free kick in the 18th minute, parrying Shea in the 21st and leaping to tip away a looping, off-balance Blas Perez header moments after Keane's miss -- but committed the foul that gave Shea the ball at the spot.

Most of the blame on that play goes to David Junior Lopes, making his third start since arriving in a trade from Chivas nearly three weeks ago. Lopes struggled with the ball at his feet the entire match and made several mistakes, none as debilitating as his poor attempt to chest the ball from a Jair Benitez cross back to Gaudette.

Perez raced past him to take possession, and Gaudette took him down. Shea's shot left Gaudette no chance.

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OLYMPICS: Devastating end for U.S.

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
9:56
PM PT

Dramatic finishes first dangled and then jerked away from the U.S. a trip to the London Olympics on a devastating evening for American soccer.


The Americans' under-23 national team rallied from a second-half deficit against El Salvador in the Group A finale and stood just seconds from the victory required to advance to CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying semifinals when a long-range shot -- and another goalkeeping miscue -- forged a 3-3 draw that ended U.S. hopes.

Jaime Alas' 30-yard blast more than four minutes into stoppage bounced off prematurely diving Sean Johnson and into the net Monday night in Nashville, Tenn., giving El Salvador (1-0-2) the group title and a March 31 semifinal showdown with the No. 2 team from Group B -- Honduras is expected -- for one of the region's two berths at this summer's London Games.

Canada (1-0-2), which on Saturday beat the U.S., 2-0, claimed A's other final-four berth with a 1-1 draw against Cuba and likely will face Mexico for an Olympic berth.

Keeping tabs on the road to London:
  • WHAT HAPPENED?

The U.S. (1-1-1), an overwhelming favorite to join Mexico in the 16-team London field, failed to qualify for the second time in three Olympics as a revived attack -- Philadelphia's Freddy Adu, FC Dallas' Brek Shea and German-born Terrence Boyd the instigators -- could not overcome subpar defending nor poor management by coach Caleb Porter.


The day had held so much promise. The Americans, expecting a winner-takes-all semifinal against Mexico should they win, were given a different path to London when Cuba's Maykel Reyes scored in the 91st minute to pull even with Canada. A victory would give the U.S. the top spot in Group A and prevent, almost certainly, the need to beat Mexico for an Olympic berth.

Then Boyd, a Borussia Dortmund forward, scored after 59 seconds. Things could be going no better.

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OLYMPICS: Corona leads U.S. romp

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
8:48
PM PT
Joe Corona's hat trick led the United States' under-23 national team sprinted to an easy victory in its opener in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, and Canada held on for a draw with El Salvador in the other Group A game.

Keeping tabs on the road to London:

    Joe Corona
    AP Photo/Mark HumphreyJoe Corona had a big game to lead the U.S.'s rout of Cuba.

  • WHAT HAPPENED?

Corona, who chose to play for the U.S. after attending a camp with Mexico's pre-Olympic team, scored three goals as the Americans grabbed a four-goal lead by halftime en route to a 6-0 rout of Cuba in Nashville.

Corona, who was born in Los Angeles, raised in San Diego and plays for Club Tijuana in Mexico's Primera Division, tallied in the 11th (volley after a chest trap), 40th (one-time finish inside the right post) and 88th (inside the left post after two 1-2s with Mix Diskerud) to send the U.S. atop Group A.

New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo, with a can't-miss header, and Philadelphia Union midfielder Freddy Adu, with a forceful blast, also scored goals, and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea was a force on the left flank, setting up the second and third strikes for the U.S.

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GALAXY: Ill Donovan stays in U.S.

February, 26, 2012
2/26/12
6:05
PM PT

This bout with illness that has sidelined Landon Donovan for more than a week will keep him out of the U.S. national team's friendly Wednesday against Italy.


The Galaxy captain did not travel Sunday to Genoa as planned, the club confirmed, and U.S. Soccer announced that Donovan, along with midfielder Jose Francisco Torres and defender Timmy Chandler, both injured, have withdrawn from the team. Replacing them are midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Brek Shea.

Donovan missed last weekend's final game of his loan stint at Everton with what was reported as the flu, and he hasn't yet trained with the Galaxy after joining them Thursday in Tucson, Ariz. Donovan remained at the team hotel, a club spokesman said, during L.A.'s game Friday against Real Salt Lake in the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament.

He is suffering from bronchitis, the Galaxy and U.S. Soccer reported.

This is the third successive national team event from which Donovan has withdrawn after Jurgen Klinsmann included him on the U.S. roster, and he and Clint Dempsey -- the Americans' most important figures -- have not played together since the German legend was hired at the end of July.

Donovan pulled out of the national team's October and November friendlies last year to preserve himself for the Galaxy's title run while he dealt with a quadriceps injury -- the extent of which L.A. kept hidden -- and fatigue. His loan to Everton prevented Klinsmann from including Donovan in the January camp, which is usually meant for top domestic players outside the primary U.S. pool.

Donovan, the U.S.'s all-time leader in goals (46) and assists (47), has made just two appearances under Klinsmann, going the full 90 in friendlies last August against Mexico and last September against Costa Rica.

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CHIVAS: Romero has goals with Goats

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
10:26
PM PT
SAN DIEGO -- Chivas USA's depth is thinner up top than anywhere else on the field, so Cesar Romero's performance during a quick but fruitful trial with the club has been as rewarding as it has been impressive.

The Goats have a fine supply of target forwards, but Romero, 22, is a finisher who can play off a target forward, a skill that ought to prove useful when a goal is needed late in games or as an option when Juan Pablo Angel is not available.

Romero, whose signing was announced Wednesday, has two goals in the equivalent of three full matches this preseason and could add more in Friday afternoon's scrimmage against Loyola Marymount University at Home Depot Center.

“The thing I like about [Romero] is I think in most every game he's played for us, he's had a goal-scoring opportunity,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said last week. “He seems to have a good nose for the goal. He has good feet. ... He's showing some ability to be dangerous in this league; I think every team's looking for guys who can be dangerous.”

Romero is excited for the opportunity -- and for the chance to absorb from Angel, the Colombian veteran who is arguably the finest pure striker in MLS annals.

“I'm really happy I was able to get an opportunity here at Chivas,” Romero said following the 5-2 loss Wednesday night against Club Tijuana at the University of San Diego. “[Now it's time] to work hard and try to get that starting job and help the team out as much as I can.”

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Wambach, Leroux win U.S. Soccer honors

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
4:36
PM PT
Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach and UCLA All-American Sydney Leroux on Friday claimed the top player honors from U.S. Soccer, just hours before leading the U.S. women's team into its Olympic qualifying opener.

Wambach, who scored four goals at last summer's Women's World Cup and was a finalist for FIFA's Ballon d'Or women's player-of-the-year award, won the Female Athlete of the Year honor for the fifth time and second time in succession. Only Mia Hamm also has won five times.

Leroux, which was draft first overall by the Atlanta Beat in Women's Professional Soccer's draft last week, won the Young Female Athlete of the Year award.

Fulham star Clint Dempsey capured the Male Athlete honor for the second time -- Landon Donovan had won the previous two years -- and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea was the Young Male Athlete winner.

Klinsmann building toward bigger things

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
11:27
PM PT
CARSON -- The foundation Jurgen Klinsmann and Caleb Porter are building this month at Home Depot Center will support U.S. Soccer's primary men's teams through what could be a pivotal year for the sport in America.

The start of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and the London Olympics dominate the calendar, but as important as results might be, more crucial is the steps forward the national team looks to take in Klinsmann's first full year in charge and the role the under-23 national team will play in developing talent for the top side.

The teams tangoed late Friday afternoon on Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field, right outside HDC's main stadium, with the full nats -- starting the So Cal portion of their annual January camp -- scoring four times in 15 minutes late in the first half for a 4-0 victory over the U-23s.

They'll scrimmage one more time at HDC before Klinsmann's group returns to Phoenix for next weekend's friendly against Venezuela, with University of Akron coach Porter's younger group, which is preparing for the Olympic qualifiers in March, sticking around through Jan. 25.

The national team has the usual January collection of top MLS talent and secondary players from European leagues with winter breaks, with two midfielders from the 2010 World Cup side (New England's Benny Feilhaber and Eintracht Frankfurt's nearly forgotten Ricardo Clark) and two players from the preliminary World Cup squad (Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando).

They've been working the past 10 days in Phoenix, with a lot of fitness work, and will focus on technical and tactical work before the games Jan. 21 against Venezuela and Jan. 25 at Panama.

“This scrimmage gives us an idea of how they are comfortable on the field,” Klinsmann said afterward. “How they shift. How they take a couple of guidelines that we gave them and implement them. And now we can real the players a bit better. Because you never know when you get a fresh group coming in how their understand is of each other, how they read reach other. We know about their personal capabilities, but not in the context of a team, so that's why we need those games to see that.

“And then we can go ahead and modify training sessions and talks where we kind of want to guide them towards on the tactical side as an entire team together.”

There is some crossover between the national team and the U-23s. Freddy Adu, who has been called into only one full camp under Klinsmann after a stirring performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup title-game loss last summer, is the most prominent name on the roster, but the most important players are with Klinsmann's bunch.

Juan Agudelo, the 19-year-old New York Red Bulls forward, is the most significant -- Klinsmann calls his abilities “special” -- and Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury are age-eligible for the Olympic team, and so is FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, who is drawing considerable interest from Europe. D.C. United's Bill Hamid and Chicago's Sean Johnson, both goalkeepers, also can make the U-23 roster.

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De Ro wins MLS's biggest prize

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
9:47
AM PT

CARSON -- Turns out David Beckham was wrong.


It's Dwayne De Rosario, not Brad Davis, who captured Major League Soccer's top award, and the voting wasn't close.

The D.C. United attacker, who won the Golden Boot as MLS's top scorer, was revealed as MVP early Friday morning, about 10 hours before a news conference scheduled to make the announcement.

Davis, whose leadership and distribution was pivotal in the Houston Dynamo's run to Sunday's MLS Cup final against the Galaxy, had widely been expected to win the honor. Beckham -- a contender who finished well below where he should have in the vote of media, players and club officials -- had said in passing nearly two weeks ago that Davis had “got the MVP, and rightly so, the service that he provides for their team.”

De Rosario almost universally was considered MLS's best player this year, lifting D.C. United into the playoff race after starting the year with Toronto FC and spending a short stint with New York. Is he the MVP? D.C. faded at the finish and missed the playoffs -- De Ro is the first MLS MVP from a club that didn't reach the postseason -- while others (Davis and Philadelphia's Sebastien Le Toux, perhaps most of all) pulled their clubs into favorable positions during the stretch drive.

De Ro's quality won out over context, and he won among all three voting blocs, massively among his peers, who gave him 26.38 percent of the vote and nobody else above 9 percent.

De Rosario weighted score was 72.72, and he was followed by Davis (43.66), FC Dallas' Brek Shea (27.59), Galaxy captain Landon Donovan (26.52) and Seattle's Mauro Rosales (19.30).

Shea drew more players' votes than did Davis, who was close to De Rosario (25.91 percent to 21.24 percent) in the media balloting. Donovan finished third in the club vote, tied with Davis for third in the player vote but received only 5.18 percent of media support.

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GALAXY: Dunivant in Best XI quartet

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
12:18
PM PT

David Beckham? No surprise. Landon Donovan? Been here before. Omar Gonzalez? The man is MLS's Defender of the Year.

Their inclusion in Major League Soccer's Best XI was more or less expected. That left back Todd Dunivant joined them on the league's postseason all-star team was the real reward for the Galaxy.

Dunivant, 30, has enjoyed his finest season as a pro, but his selection to the Best XI comes as a little bit of a surprise after he finished fifth in the Defender of the Year balloting. He leapt past the third- and fourth-place finishers in that vote -- Real Salt Lake's Nat Borchers and Philadelphia's Carlos Valdes -- to join Gonzalez and RSL's Jamison Olave on the all-league side. He's the only outside back on the XI.

Beckham, a first-time Best XI choice after an MVP-quality season, and Donovan, the Galaxy's leader, were expected to make the side, although Donovan's lack of late-season production could have cost him in a deeper than normal field of candidates.

Gonzalez, who was a Best XI choice last year, also was a slam-dunk pick.

Here's the full XI:

GOALKEEPER
Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders):
The former U.S. national team star wrapped a legendary campaign by leading Seattle to the second-best record in the league.

DEFENDERS
Todd Dunivant (Galaxy):
L.A.'s left back is rewarded for a marvelous campaign in which he established himself as MLS's best outside back.

Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy): The MLS Defender of the Year had a mammoth campaign, taking a huge stride forward to make the Best XI in back-to-back years.

Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake): The big Colombian is MLS's most physically dominant backliner, blending athleticism and guile in an explosive package.

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AWARDS: Beckham can win but not MVP

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
3:41
PM PT
There's David Beckham's name on the list of award finalists that Major League Soccer just released, only it's not with the players up for the biggest honor.

The Galaxy midfielder, the club's best hope for the MVP award, is a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year. D.C. United's Charlie Davies and Chicago's Dominic Oduro are the other finalists. Davies, who returned from a deadly car crash that ended his 2010 World Cup hopes to restart his career in MLS, is heavily favored.

The three MVP possibilities are Houston's Brad Davis, D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario and FC Dallas' Brek Shea. Beckham mentioned after L.A.'s Western Conference final victory Sunday night over Real Salt Lake that Davis has won the honor, although no confirmation will be coming from the league, at least not until Nov. 18.

Omar Gonzalez is up for Defender of the Year, along with Real Salt Lake's Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers -- Olave won among the same trio last year -- and Bruce Arena joins Seattle's Sigi Schmid (Torrance/Bishop Montgomery HS and UCLA) and Sporting Kansas City's Peter Vermes among Coach of the Year finalists.

Chivas USA is a finalist for the Team Fair Play honor, UCLA product Kevin Hartman (Palos Verdes/Peninsula HS) is up for Goalkeeper of the Year, and former Cal State Fullerton midfielder Michael Farfan (Wildomar) is a Rookie of the Year finalist. The best-referee trio includes Chino's Kevin Stott.

The top-rookie award, expected to go to K.C. forward C.J. Sapong, will be announced Tuesday, along with the Fair Play awards. Defender of the Year is due Wednesday, with announcements following for the Best XI (Thursday). Other awards will be coming next week.

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Donovan heads to Europe before Cup

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
12:17
PM PT

If the Galaxy advance Thursday night against New York, then beat Real Salt Lake in Sunday's Western Conference final, Landon Donovan will miss some of the preparations for the Nov. 20 MLS Cup title game.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS) would be the only player in the MLS Cup final -- or Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman, should the Utahns advance -- in Jurgen Klinsmann's roster for friendlies Nov. 11 against France in Saint-Denis and Nov. 15 against Slovenia in Ljubljana.

He might not make the trip to Slovenia. If he (or Beckerman) are in Major League Soccer's championship, he (or Beckerman) will be released following the game against France.

Only three other MLS players -- Columbus winger Robbie Rogers (Huntington Beach and Palos Verdes/Mater Dei HS), FC Dallas winger Brek Shea and D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid --- are in the 22-man group, which gathers Monday in Paris.

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA) would reach 100 caps with appearances in both games. Other locals on the roster are defender Michael Orozco Fiscal (Orange/Magnolia HS) and midfielders Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS) and Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach). Former Galaxy striker Edson Buddle also is included.

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