Los Angeles Soccer: Cesar Diaz Pizzarro
They're the big names, but hardly the only ones, among local players aiming for an opportunity with a Major League Soccer team. There are nearly two dozen players who grew up or went to school in Greater Los Angeles hoping to hear their names called in Kansas City.
Some of them, let's be honest, don't have a shot, not with just two rounds of picks -- 38 in all. Next week's supplemental draft will provide possibilities, and players will be looking to participate in team combines and in trials during preseason training.
Some might look abroad -- there are leagues everywhere on the planet -- and there are two professional minor leagues (NASL, USL Pro) and several pro clubs in the Premier Development League and its rival NPSL.
Here's a quick rundown of 22 players who might find a job in MLS, if the right situation develops:
Big West Conference rivals Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside pulled off stunning upsets Saturday night, winning on the road against Southern California's most storied programs.
The Matadors rallied for a 3-2 nonconference triumph at eighth-ranked UCLA, and Riverside beat No. 16 UC Santa Barbara -- also by a 3-2 scoreline -- for the second time this season.
Northridge (7-7-1) halted the Bruins' second five-game winning streak of the campaign. Riverside (8-5-2) handed the Gauchos their second successive Big West loss, leaving the national power in danger of missing the conference and NCAA tournaments.
In Westwood, Jose Luis Garcia (Sun Valley/Poly HS) set up goals by Brian Behrad (Woodland Hills/Taft HS) in the 83rd minute and Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles/Santee Educational Complex) in the 87th as Northridge rallied from a late deficit.
Freshman Christian Gonzalez Diaz (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) gave the Matadors a 34th-minute lead, but Chandler Hoffman netted his 12th and 13th goals of the season in the next 10 minutes to push UCLA (10-4-1) ahead.
In Santa Barbara, Cesar Diaz Pizzarro (Chino/Ayala HS) scored in the 72nd minute to lift Riverside (8-5-2), which climbed to third place in the Big West.
UC Santa Barbara (9-5-1) rallied twice from deficits, with Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) scoring his 10th goal of the year and setting up Sam Garza for another, but couldn't hold off the Highlanders.
Richie Osborne provided the first lead, about midway through the first half, and Jon-Paul Medina made it 2-1 in the 63rd.
In other men's action:
- Freshman Cameron Iwasa tallied three minutes into overtime to send Big West co-leader UC Irvine (13-4-0) to a 1-0 victory over Orange County rival Cal State Fullerton (7-5-3). Jimmy Turner (Mission Viejo/Mission Viejo HS) played his 76th career game for the seventh-ranked Anteaters, fifth-most in program history.
UCLA opened Pacific 12 Conference play in women'ssoccer with a dominant but tight victory over Washington, but USC couldn't hold on to an early advantage in its opener against Washington State.
Vanderbilt transfer Chelsea Stewart scored UCLA's goal in the 79th minute Friday night in front of 2,350 at Drake Stadium, skipping a free kick through a crowded box and past Huskies goalkeeper Jorde LaFontaine-Kussman.
The Bruins (8-0-1) played superb defense, limiting Washington (3-4-2) to one shot.
USC (3-7-0) on Sunday scored the fastest goal in program history -- Samantha Johnson (Palmdale/Highland HS) on an assist from Haley Boysen (Moorpark/Harvard-Westlake School) just 14 seconds in -- then conceded twice in the last 25 minutes to fall to the Cougars (7-3-1) at McAllister Park.
Rachael Doyle's header off the crossbar evened things in the 67th minute, and Jocelyn Jeffers got the winner with 4½ minutes to play.
In other women's action: