Los Angeles Soccer: Carlos Bocanegra

MLS Power Rankings: Open window

June, 27, 2012

Marco Di VaioRichard Wolowicz/Getty ImagesItalian striker Marco di Vaio, right, most recently with Bologna, is Montreal's new arrival.

Major League Soccer's second transfer window opens Wednesday, so big-name players -- some from Euro 2012 -- could soon be enthralling North American audiences.

Well, at least in theory. Some big names have been bandied about as potential acquisitions, and there have been reports that Italian stars Alessandro Del Piero (to the Galaxy) and Alessandro Nesta (to New York) have signed deals, but most of the rumors are nothing more, and to date only five players definitely are arriving in MLS.

The big names are both Designated Players: Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who figures to debut for Montreal in Wednesday night's clash with Toronto FC, and Honduran winger Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is joining Houston.

Philadelphia claimed through allocation former Chicago star Bakary Soumare, who has been playing in Europe, and Chicago (Brazilian midfielder Alex de Lima) and Columbus (Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta) also have made additions.

Chivas USA also figures to bolster its roster, with the return of forward Tristan Bowen from a Belgian loan deal, although head coach Robin Fraser this week said it's merely “among the consideration of things we have to do. ... I don't feel like we're under a real time constraint, so certainly we'll make the decision when we feel the decision is right.”

Nesta says he's not coming -- he wants to play in MLS but received no offers -- and talk that Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko might join D.C. were quickly tossed aside. New York wants a DP; Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland's name has been most prominent.

Then there's Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, the U.S. national team captain whose tenure at Rangers FC might be ending as the club deals with financial troubles that are going to drop it to the bottom division in Scotland. Vancouver got allocation money, among other things, in the deal that enabled Philly to sign Soumare, and speculation has Bocanegra headed to B.C. Any chance Fontana's Maurice Edu, also at Rangers, could return to MLS, too?

The window is open for a month.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3, 33 points), Last Week: 3
Week 16:
Chris Wondolowski converts a late penalty kick to beat Colorado, 2-1, and scores at the end for a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake; late flurry can't solve Seattle in 1-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat.
Latest: Game vs. Galaxy at Stanford is a sellout -- 50,000 tickets sold.
Top scorer: Wondolowski leads MLS with 13 goals in 14 games.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Stanford Stadium, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Tuesday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 5
Week 16:
Former Chivas USA center back Heath Pearce gives Red Bulls a 1-1 draw at Vancouver; former D.C. backup Brandon Barklage scores two brilliant goals to lead New York past United, 3-2.
Latest: Bulls give up fastest goal in D.C. United history, then play the best 45 minutes “probably since I arrived,” Hans Backe says.
Top scorer: Kenny Cooper has scored 11, two more than Thierry Henry, who has played just 10 games.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2, 29 points), LW: 2
Week 16:
Jacob Peterson's eighth-minute goal is worth a point in a 1-1 draw at Seattle; late goals magnify 4-0 loss at Philadelphia; C.J. Sapong scores twice in 3-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro).
Latest: Thousand Oaks-bred right back Chance Myers' minutes streak ends at 2,250, all competitions, when he's not in the lineup for the Open Cup quarterfinals. He last missed action last Sept. 17.
Top scorer: Lawndale's Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong each have five.
Next: Friday vs. Chicago, 5 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Montreal, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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WCQ: Bocanegra equals Balboa in win

June, 8, 2012

Carlos BocanegraAndy Mead/Icon SMIAlta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra scored the first goal for the U.S. on Friday night.

The U.S. opened its World Cup campaign with a tighter-than-desired 3-1 victory over rising Caribbean minnow Antigua & Barbuda, and Carlos Bocanegra made one of the deepest impressions.

The American captain, 33, scored the first goal and gave a solid performance at left back, his former position -- and a problem spot for the U.S., at least on this occasion.

Bocanegra, circling to the far post, knocked home the remains of a Landon Donovan corner kick to give the U.S. and eighth-minute lead. It was the 13th international goal for the former UCLA star from Alta Loma, equaling Hall of Famer Marcelo Balboa's U.S. mark for defenders.

Balboa, from Cerritos, starred for the U.S. at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, was part of the 1998 team and made 128 appearances in a 12-year national team career. Bocanegra, who plays for Rangers in Scotland, has played 105 internationals since debuting for the U.S. in 2001.

Bocanegra is a center back who started his career as a left back, and he moved to the flank Friday when Jose Francisco Torres -- employed on the left with Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo unavailable because of injury -- went down with an ankle injury in the 54th minute.

If Johnson can't return from a calf injury in the next few days, Bocanegra is likely to start on the left in Tuesday's qualifier at Guatemala.

Donovan, the Galaxy captain from Redlands, set up two goals -- he also drew the foul for Clint Dempsey's penalty just before halftime -- in an otherwise quiet performance, and former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez netted the third goal for the U.S.

U.S. grades can be found here.

Third round
Group A
United States 3 (Bocanegra 8, Dempsey 44, Gomez 72), Antigua & Barbuda 1 (Byers 65)
Jamaica 2 (Phillips 40, Johnson 46), Guatemala 1 (Pezzarossi 92+)

Group B
Mexico 3 (Salcido 11, G. Dos Santos 15, og Rodrigues 51), Guyana 1 (og Moreno 62)
Costa Rica 2 (Saborio 10, Campbell 15), El Salvador 2 (Gutierrez 23, Romero 54)

Group C
Cuba 0, Canada 1 (Occean 54)
Honduras 0, Panama 2 (Perez 64, 80)

CHIVAS: Agudelo dropped by U.S.

May, 25, 2012

Chivas USA's young new star has returned the club after he was dropped from the U.S. national team roster for the “five-game tournament” that begins with Saturday's friendly against Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla., and wraps up with next month's World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

Juan Agudelo, a 19-year-old, Colombian-born striker acquired eight days ago in a trade from the New York Red Bulls, has been a regular for the U.S. under Jurgen Klinsmann, but his failure to make the cut from 27 to 23 players was not all that surprising. He has just returned from a knee injury and is still seeking his best form, having made only his second start of the season in his Chivas debut in last weekend's SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy.

Agudelo returned to the Goats on Thursday, is scheduled to train Friday morning and be available for Saturday's night's Major League Soccer game against the Seattle Sounders at Home Depot Center.

Also trimmed from the camp roster were Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and two German-born players, Hertha Berlin defender Alfredo Morales and 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Danny Williams.

Agudelo was the only one of seven forwards in the Orlando, Fla., camp who did not make the roster for three friendlies -- the U.S. plays Brazil on Wednesday in Landover, Md., and Canada next Saturday in Toronto -- and for the qualifiers June 8 against Antigua in Tampa, Fla., and June 12 at Guatemala. The forwards on the list: Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez from Mexican champion Santos Laguna, and European-employed Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd and Clint Dempsey.

Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS) is five local players on the roster. The others are Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA), Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA), Chievo Verona midfielder Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach), and Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS). Two San Diegans -- veteran Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo and Club Tijuana midfielder Joe Corona -- also made the cut.

Here's the full U.S. roster for the five games:

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GALAXY: No Donovan for U.S.? Well ...

May, 15, 2012

Jurgen Klinsmann has started unveiling the names of those with whom he's ready to head into his first World Cup qualifying campaign, and Landon Donovan's name is nowhere to be found.

Has the Galaxy captain, who has played in just two of 10 U.S. national team games under Klinsmann after pulling out of three call-ups because of injury, fallen out of favor with the German legend? Ha!

No, Klinsmann has a reputation for doing things differently, and he's living up to it in announcing the most important roster of his 9½-month tenure as U.S. coach. It's coming in waves, with the names of the first 16 of “as many as” 29 players for a camp that begins Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., released by U.S. Soccer.

More names -- Donovan's included, to be sure -- are scheduled to be announced Sunday, and the 23-man roster for three friendlies (against Scotland, Brazil and Canada), the June 8 qualifying opener against Antigua & Barbuda and the June 12 qualifier at Guatemala will be selected May 25.

Only two Major League Soccer players were among the first 16: Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and midfielder Kyle Beckerman. RSL is the only MLS club with a bye this weekend.

Donovan's last game before departing for camp figures to be Saturday's SuperClasico against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. While with the national team, he will miss only three games: May 23 against San Jose, May 26 at Houston and the May 29 U.S. Open Cup third-rounder. MLS is virtually taking off the first two weekends in June, with just one game each week.

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Donovan, Buddle off for Italy

February, 23, 2012

Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and returning forward Edson Buddle are heading to Genoa for next week's U.S. national team friendly against Italy.

The L.A. attackers are among four Major League Soccer players in Jurgen Klinsmann's 21-man roster for Wednesday's friendly, a prep for the start in June of the Americans' World Cup qualifying campaign. The match will be telecast on ESPN2 and Galavision (11:45 a.m. PT kickoff). Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron also are on the list.

Donovan and Buddle are fresh off European experience. Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS), who has been sidelined most of the past week with the flu, is coming off a successful seven-week loan to Everton. Buddle spent a year in the German second division before re-signing with the Galaxy at the start of the month.

Four local “regulars” also are on the roster: U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA) and his Rangers FC teammate Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS) and Chievo Verona midfielder Michael Bradley, whose family lives in Manhattan Beach. Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo is from San Diego.

Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan returns to the U.S. team for the first time since November 2010.

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How the Yanks voted in FIFA's award(s)

January, 9, 2012

FIFA's annual Ballon d'Or honors are voted upon by national team coaches, captains and select media.

Here are how the votes for the men's World Player award, which went for the third straight year to the Argentine Barcelona star Lionel Messi, fell within our borders:

Jurgen Klinsmann, coach: 1. Messi; 2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid); 3. Diego Forlan (Uruguay/Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan)

Carlos Bocanegra, captain: 1. Messi; 2. Xavi (Spain/Barcelona); 3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Paul Kennedy, media (Soccer America): 1. Messi; 2. Cristiano Ronaldo; 3. Xavi.

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Bocanegra joins Century Club

November, 15, 2011

The best thing about the U.S. national team's 3-2 victory Tuesday in Slovenia -- and there were a lot of good things -- might have been the opening whistle. It gave U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra his 100th cap, a threshold only 11 American men had previously reached.

The central defender from Alta Loma (Alta Loma HS/UCLA) went the full 90 as the Yanks improved to 2-4-1 under Jurgen Klinsmann with their first victory in Europe in 3½ years.

Clint Dempsey forced a turnover that former Galaxy striker Edson Buddle finished from distance in the ninth minute, and Dempsey's header from Michael Bradley's corner kick restored the U.S. advantage in the 41st minute. Jozy Altidore converted a penalty kick two minutes later after Fabian Johnson was dragged down.

Tim Matavz's second goal of the night, in the 61st minute, pulled Slovenia closer.

Other L.A. area players seeing action were Bradley (Manhattan Beach), who started in midfield, and Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS) and Robbie Rogers (Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS), who came off the bench.

Bocanegra debuted for the U.S. in December 2001 and has served as the team's captain since June 2007.

“It was a special night,” Klinsmann told reporters afterward. “The team was pumped up all day, and they wanted to do well for him.”

Five of the top seven on the all-time U.S. caps list are from Southern California -- Cobi Jones (Westlake Village/Westlake HS and UCLA), Landon Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS), Marcelo Balboa (Cerritos/Cerritos HS), Paul Caligiuri (Diamond Bar/Walnut HS) and Eric Wynalda (Westlake Village/Westlake HS) -- and Bocanegra is joined at 100 caps by Joe-Max Moore (Irvine/Mission Viejo HS and UCLA).

U.S. Soccer has put together a “infographic” -- a poster, more or less -- commemorating Bocanegra's 100 maches, and a PDF is available for download.

(100 international appearances)

1. Cobi Jones 164
2. Landon Donovan 138
3. Jeff Agoos 134
4. Marcelo Balboa 128
5. Claudio Reyna 112
6. Paul Caligiuri 110
7. Eric Wynalda 106
8. Kasey Keller 102
9. Earnie Stewart 101
10. Carlos Bocanegra 100
Tony Meola 100
Joe-Max Moore 100

Donovan heads to Europe before Cup

November, 3, 2011

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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Anderlecht, Rangers in command

October, 20, 2011

RSC Anderlecht's aim is to remind everyone in Belgium who's boss. Rangers just wants more hardware.

The second-tier European powerhouses, both featuring Southern California talent, have quickly made their points, racing atop their leagues' standings -- and one of them is threatening to run away from the field.

Scottish giant Rangers, with Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra and Fontana's Maurice Edu, returned from the international break on a sour note -- a 1-1 home draw with St. Mirren -- but stand seven points ahead of Motherwell and 10 in front of archrival Celtic. More impressive: Gers has a plus-19 goal difference after just 11 games.

The Glasgow club, founded in 1872, has won 54 top-tier league titles -- that's a world record -- and is seeking its fourth straight championship. Hated crosstown/sectarian rival Celtic, which has won 42 Scottish league championships, is, as always, the real competition.

Rangers or Celtic have won every title since 1986.

Brussels-based Anderlecht, Belgium's foremost club, blew it last year, nosediving during the playoff phase after winning the regular-season title, and the Mauves must make amends.

With Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan taking on a more influential role in midfield this season, RSCA is off to a 7-1-2 start, good for a one-point lead on Club Brugge, and coming off a 5-0 rout of Standard Liege, last year's runner-up and the Jupiler League champion in 2009.

EUROPA REDUX: UEFA's Europa League returns to action Thursday. Group L leader Anderlecht (2-0-0) plays at Austria's Sturm Graz (1-1-0). Tottenham (1-0-1), without former UCLA star Brad Friedel -- he's Spurs' league goalkeeper -- is home against Russia's Rubin Kazan in first-place showdown.

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EUROPE: Bradley fits in with Donkeys

October, 10, 2011
Michael Bradley spent the summer facing an uncertain future after his loan spell with Aston Villa led nowhere and Borussia Mönchengladbach made plans without him.

All's well and all that after the 24-year-old midfielder, one of the U.S. national team's most influential players the last four years, landed at Chievo Verona.

It was a fortuitous opening: Bradley has been a Serie A fan since childhood, and the opportunity to play in Italy will certainly help in his development.

“I think what you have in Serie A right now is a good mix of the tactical teams and then some skillful players,” Bradley told Major League Soccer's website last week. “It makes for a good game and a competitive season. It's been good to get my feet wet. Not I just need to concentrate on continuing to improve.”

Bradley, a cerebral player who thinks the game much like his father, former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, has gone the distance the last three games at the right-midfield slot in the Flying Donkeys' 4-3-1-2 formation.

Chievo is 2-1-2 and in eighth place with most of the season to go, and winning a European slot next season -- finishing among the top five -- would be a huge success. Finishing in the upper half of the 20-team league would be admirable.

After hardly playing during the January-to-May loan to Aston Villa, Bradley's happy he can contribute.

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EUROPE: Armenia aims for playoff

October, 4, 2011
Pasadena's Yura Movsisyan wants to lead Armenia to its greatest achievement in the world's game, and a couple of victories in the next week will have the Highlanders on the verge of completing that mission.

They're chasing Ireland (and Russia) as qualifying for next year's European Championship comes to a close, and a showdown next Tuesday in Dublin could determine which heads to a home-and-home playoff next month for a berth in Poland and the Ukraine.

AP Photo/Boris GrdanoskiYura Movsisyan, who honed his game in Pasadena, has big dreams for his homeland of Armenia.

Armenia (4-2-2, 14 points), which was under Soviet control until 1991 and has since not come close to qualifying for a World Cup or European Championship, also needs to beat Macedonia on Friday in Yerevan. Ireland (4-1-3, 15) plays Friday at minnow Andorra.

Russia (5-1-2, 17) is more or less conceded the top spot in Group B. A win at Slovakia (4-2-2, 14), which also is in the mix, will be enough; there's no way the Russians lose their finale at home to Andorra.

Movsisyan, who was born in Azerbaijan, moved to Pasadena when his family was granted asylum a decade ago and now plays in Russia, has scored four goals in seven qualifying appearances.

“It is possible for us to win the group if we win our last two games and if Russia lose their two, but although it is possible, it is unlikely,” he told Irish daily The Evening Herald. “I can't see Russia dropping points in their last two games, and I have to be realistic. Russia have been lucky so far in some games, but they have got the results they needed, and that's what is important, too. But we can finish in second place, and that is our aim.

“It's hard for me to say too much about Ireland, I've only played against them once. But they have great players in their team, they all play with good English clubs. So it's hard to know how all of the matches over the next week will work out, but I believe we can win our games.”

Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra and Fontana's Maurice Edu, both from Rangers FC, and Manhattan Beach's Michael Bradley, from Italy's Chievo Verona, also are on international duty. The U.S. plays friendlies Saturday against Honduras in Miami Gardens, Fla., and Tuesday against Ecuador in Harrison, N.J.

Also in for these games is former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle, now playing at FC Ingolstadt in Germany's second division. Buddle was called in Monday to replace former L.A. teammate Landon Donovan, who pulled out because of a strained quad.

MAUVE-A-LOUS: Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht are soaring in two competitions. The Mauves are atop Belgium's Jupiler League after nine games and have won both of their contests, quite handily, in the UEFA Europa League.

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Rimando hears Klinsmann's call

September, 29, 2011

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando has received his first U.S. national team call-up from Jurgen Klinsmann.

The former UCLA star is among six Southern California products -- the others squad regulars -- on the 22-man roster for friendlies Oct. 8 vs. Honduras in Miami and Oct. 11 vs. Ecuador in Harrison, N.J.

Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS), 32, was the top domestic keeper under former coach Bob Bradley, and he was on the U.S. roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June, but he's made only five international appearances, the last in a 1-1 draw in January against Chile at Home Depot Center.

The Americans' top netminders have been based in Europe, primarily England, for more than a decade. Tim Howard, who plays at Everton and is on this roster, is America's No. 1. Rising youngster Bill Hamid, who plays for D.C. United, is Klinsmann's third keeper for this set of games.

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EUROPE: Much Edu about Rangers' success

September, 28, 2011
Fontana's Maurice Edu was in rare form last weekend as Rangers FC, already off to a fine start in its bid for a fourth straight Scottish Premier League title, romped to a 4-0 triumph at Dunfermline.

Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra made his imprint, too.

Both Americans scored early goals for the Glasgow giant, which followed with a 2-0 victory Tuesday over Kilmarnock -- with Edu assisting the second goal -- to open a seven-point lead on archrival Celtic barely two months into the season.

Bocanegra headed home Steven Davis' corner kick in the ninth minute, his second goal for the Blues since arriving from France's Saint-Etienne, and Edu doubled the advantage with an impressive 20-yard blast eight minutes later.

Edu, who has exhibited erratic form since joining Rangers in 2008, was superb all afternoon, and manager Ally McCoist singled him out for praise.

“I'm delighted with Maurice,” McCoist, a former star striker for Rangers and Scotland, said on the club's website. “I'm just pleased for him, because there have been a couple of times when his form hasn't been great. He has had a little bit of criticism, as everybody does when you sometimes warrant it and things aren't going well. I did say that the one thing he would do would be play his way out of it and keep going, and he has to keep doing that.

“He's that type of player, and he has to use his athleticism and aggression. He's a mean footballer when he uses those two attributes. I think the best qualified people to talk about Maurice Edu are his teammates, and they are all pleased for him.”

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EUROPE: Bradley debuts

September, 23, 2011

Michael Bradley has moved into Chievo Verona's starting lineup after his move from Germany's Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Bradley debuted for the Flying Donkeys in a 2-1 loss last weekend at Parma, coming on in the 72nd minute for Paolo Sammarco. The 24-year-old central midfielder, whose family is based in Manhattan Beach, went the full 90 in Wednesday's 1-0 surprise home victory over Napoli.

Bradley is the first American to start in Italy's Serie A since Alexi Lalas played for Padova in 1994-96.

EUROPA ROMP: Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan assisted the last goal in Matias Suarez's hat trick as Belgian power RSC Anderlecht opened UEFA Europa League group play with a 4-1 Group L victory over Greece's AEK Athens.

Brad Friedel's club, Tottenham, drew, 0-0, at Greece's PAOK Salonika in a Group A opener, but the former UCLA star was not on the 18-man game roster. Italy's Carlo Cudicini has been in the nets for the European matches, with Friedel getting the call for league duty.

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EUROPE: Kljestan, Friedel on Europa duty

September, 14, 2011
UEFA's Europa League starts group play Thursday, and a couple of local players are involved.

Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan (Huntington Beach HS) is expected to be in Belgian power RSC Anderlecht's midfield for a Group L home game against AEK Athens.

Former UCLA star goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who is Tottenham's starter in league games, figures to back up Carlo Cudicini or Heurelho Gomes as Spurs head to Greece to take on PAOK Salonika in Group A of Europe's No. 2 club competition.

Kljestan's influence is growing at Anderlecht, where he had a roller-coaster first season but nailed down a starting job, with some very good reviews, last spring.

The Mauves met AEK in Europa group play last year, too, winning at home, 3-0, without Kljestan.

TWO DEBUTS?: Van Nuys' Tristan Bowen made his debut for his new club, but Michael Bradley will have to wait another week.

Bowen, on loan from Chivas USA to Belgian second-division side KSV Roeselare, went the the full 90 up front in a scoreless tie Sunday with Standaard Wetteren.

Bradley, whose family lives in the South Bay, was on the 18-man game roster but did not play for Italy's Chievo Verona in a 2-2 tie against Novara in its Italian Serie A opener. The Flying Donkeys play this weekend at Parma.

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