Los Angeles Soccer: Brian McBride
Big crowd? Check. Rooting for El Tri? Of course. Early Mexican domination? Just like in series history. Lights-out goalkeeping? Shades of Tony Meola, Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel. An American triumph on home ground? Bingo.
“Same old same old, right?” Eric Wynalda chirped afterward. “2-0. That's the way these games finish.”
This one did, lending a red, white and blueish glow to a surprisingly delightful evening at the Clasico de Leyendas match between great U.S. and Mexican players of yesteryear, primarily the 1990s and early 2000s, when the rise of American soccer created the region's greatest national teams rivalry.
These games do finish 2-0, as most everyone on the field noted.
“Reminds me of the  World Cup,” said Cobi Jones, who like former Westlake High School teammate Wynalda played in three World Cups for the U.S. “Same score, always fabulous.”
2002 is the apex of the rivalry, the only World Cup encounter in 59 meetings, but it was 2-0 U.S. in the home qualifier for the last three World Cups, in the 1991 Gold Cup -- the first of 13 U.S. victories in the past 21 years -- and in 2000 and 2007 friendlies.
The goals came from Roy Lassiter (Major League Soccer's first scoring champion) and Brian McBride (a legend in the U.S. and parts of England), and both arrived in the second half, after Galaxy goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer (capped just once, in 1992) had made the best of eight fantastic saves -- on Francisco Palencia, Ramon Morales, Jared Borgetti twice, Alberto Garcia Aspe, Ramon Ramirez and Luis Hernandez twice -- that kept the Yanks in what had been a very one-sided game.
Ever wish you could travel back in time to see some of the region's greats of yesteryear? American stars such as Cobi Jones and Eric Wynalda, Alexi Lalas and Paul Caligiuri, or Mexicans Jorge Campos, Jared Borgetti, Luis Hernandez or Alberto Garcia Aspe?
Circle a week from Sunday on the calendar. The Legends Classic, featuring some of the biggest names in the North American game, is scheduled for April 15 at Home Depot Center, with a 6 p.m. kickoff. Tickets start at $15, and the game will be officially announced any moment.
The U.S. roster, according to the PRIMETIME Sports, the event's organizer, features National Soccer Hall of Famers Jones, Wynalda, Lalas, Caligiuri and Thomas Dooley, all key figures on the U.S. World Cup sides of the 1990s (and 2002, with Jones).
Also on the list: John O'Brien, who played in two World Cups; Cle Kooiman, a defender on the 1994 World Cup team; former Galaxy stars Clint Mathis, Chris Klein and Jovan Kirovski, plus longtime pros Roy Lassiter, Ted Eck and Christopher Sullivan.
Hall of Famer-to-be Brian McBride and Galaxy goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer are on the list but unconfirmed, and Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo will guide the American “legends.”
The Mexican roster will feature Campos and Hernandez, both former Galaxy standouts, plus Garcia Aspe and Roberto Luis Alves, better known as Zague, the organizers confirmed. Hoy Los Angeles reports that Borgetti and former Chivas USA star Francisco Palencia also will play.
UPDATE (April 6, 5:40 p.m.): The game has been announced, and with it Mexico's roster, which includes former Chivas USA stars Claudio Suarez, Ramon Ramirez and Mariano Trujillo. Organizers report that also suiting up for El Tri, in addition to the players listed above, are Martin Zuniga, Carlos Reynoso, German Villa, Ramon Morales, David Oteo, Joel Sanchez, Missael Espinoza, Marco Antonio “Chima” Ruiz and Jesus Olalde.
Marvin Iraheta is ready to play at Old Trafford against Manchester United. At least, he'd better be.
The Pasadena teen is among 18 players selected Thursday for the new New York Cosmos' first first-team roster, to go up against the English Premier League champion in Paul Scholes' testimonial match Aug. 5.
Former U.S. national team stars Brad Friedel and Brian McBride also are on the roster, which was put together by Cosmos director of soccer Eric Cantona and honorary president Pelé. Iraheta stars for Cosmos Academy West in Pasadena, part of the club's youth development structure.
The Cosmos, who claim lineage to the great North American Soccer League team of the 1970s and '80s, were formed last year and aim to be Major League Soccer's 20th club. Former Galaxy star Cobi Jones is the club's assistant director of soccer.
Iraheta, 19, an El Salvador native who graduated last month from Blair High School, last year was the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's U-17/18 Player of the Year last year and this season was a first-team All-Development Academy selection.
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:
Chivas USA wrapped its second-worst season Saturday night with another loss, their sixth in seven games, this one as lopsided as any this year: 4-1 to the visiting Chicago Fire, their fifth three-goal defeat (and their second in succession and third in the final six games).
Ah, a time for celebration. No, really.
The result really didn’t matter, not that Chivas wanted to lose. Houston’s victory over Seattle earlier in the day had consigned the Goats to last place in the Western Conference, so finishing 8-17-4 is only a little worse than 9-16-4 -- and nowhere nearly as poor as the 4-22-6 they posted in 2005, their inaugural year.
This one was about goodbyes more than goals, and the 14,825 that Chivas said was on hand at Home Depot Center got to see Jonathan Bornstein’s last game with the Goats and watch retiring U.S. legend Brian McBride exit with a pretty little goal to start the Fire’s romp.
C.J. Brown, a solid defender who has been toiling admirably since before Major League Soccer was born (and has been with Chicago since the club’s 1998 arrival), also played his final game.
It was an emotional night for all three, in varying degrees. McBride’s 80th MLS goal, a nifty backheel from a Freddie Ljungberg feed in the 40th minute , was “icing on the cake” of “a game we want to win.”
The most absorbing storylines for Major League Soccer's final weekend:END OF THE LINE: Much has been made, and for good reason, of Brian McBride’s final game, but his teammate C.J. Brown, a Chicago Fire original, also will be bowing out when the club visits Home Depot Center on Saturday night to play Chivas USA. It’s also the final game with the Goats, at least for the near future, for Mexico-bound midfielder/defender Jonathan Bornstein.
Jaime Moreno’s long tenure with D.C. United ends, too. The Bolivian forward, who shares MLS’s all-time goals record (with 132) with FC Dallas’ Jeff Cunningham, figures to play on somewhere, and he’s suggested in recent weeks he could be tempted to stay in the league, if there are any offers. D.C. interim coach Ben Olsen, who played alongside Moreno for a decade, says the last remaining player from MLS’s inaugural 1996 campaign will start in Saturday’s game against Toronto FC.
As for McBride, the iconic forward who represented the U.S. at three World Cups, he says the game against Chivas is “the same as any other game,” and Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos hasn’t determined whether he’ll be in the starting lineup.
AWARDS: Last chance for players to make impressions for the big awards: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Best XI -- we’ve got to missing one or two, right? … Coach of the Year, but that won’t go to a player.
L.A.’s Landon Donovan says he’d give the MVP honor to FC Dallas’ David Ferreira, and we tend to agree. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski says he’d give it to L.A.’s Edson Buddle. All four of them are viable candidates.