Los Angeles Soccer: Charlie Naimo

L.A. BLUES: Jean-Baptiste arrives on loan

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
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Bright Dike has returned to Portland after energizing the L.A. Blues attack with six goals over a seven-game span, but the Fullerton-based USL Pro club picked up something good from the Timbers.

Center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste, a first-round pick in January's MLS SuperDraft, has joined the Blues on loan from Portland in advance of this week's games against last-place Antigua Barracuda in Bradenton, Fla.

Also arriving on loan is Orlando City forward Maxwell Griffin (Palmdale/Littlerock HS), a former UCLA star who scored 10 USL Pro goals last year and finished the season on loan to the San Jose Earthquakes. The Blues sent winger George Davis IV to Orlando on loan in the deal.

The moves with Portland coincide with Monday's dismissal of Timbers head coach John Spencer, with general manager Gavin Wilkinson taking charge on an interim basis for the rest of the MLS season.'

The Blues also have signed defender Josh Suggs, who played for the club last year and has been with San Jose this season, and goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, a Chicago Fire supplemental draft pick who spent nearly a week on trial in February with Chivas USA. Head coach Charlie Naimo indicated L.A. also is talking to an MLS club about acquiring an attacking player.

Woszczynski could be replacing Amir Abedzadeh, the Blues' No. 1 goalkeeper, whose transfer to a club overseas appears imminent.

Naimo, whose team has lost five in a row, expects to release a few players this week.

“Everybody knows we’re one win away from feeling good again,” he said in a club release. “That said, it doesn’t erase what I’ve seen over the past two weeks. Nothing will ever erase that -- not even two wins this week in Florida. What has happened has happened, and the mark has been left. Making changes now is nothing more than the logical conclusion from that.

“It’s never personal, but we’re absolutely going to release players and trade to bring on others who we think can help us. I’m exhausting every minute of my time right now to try to find a way for us to get better in our personnel.”

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L.A. BLUES: Another defeat; Dike departing

July, 9, 2012
7/09/12
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FULLERTON -- Charlie Naimo has never been one to hide his emotions, but after his L.A. Blues hit bottom Sunday evening, dropping their fifth in a row with a 4-0 debacle against Orlando City SC, he made it clear that he's ready to dump some of the more useless players under his command.

The Blues' head coach/general manager railed against his team's penchant for costly errors, its naļvete, lack of “mental strength” and shortage of “resourceful guys,” and said if all USL Pro contracts weren't guaranteed, “I would cut so many guys from this team right now. ... Do you think I'd keep some of these guys around here? You kidding me?”

The Blues (5-8-2) were done after conceding two goals to Dennis Chin in first 17 minutes, both following turnovers, then gave up two more near the end, to Jean Alexandre in the 70th and Matt Luzunaris in the 78th minutes, Alexandre's also after a giveaway in the back.

“It's beyond frustrating to me at this point. The bottom line is we make too many mistakes right now,” Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “Nobody scores a hard-earned goal against us. It's always a gift. I don't know, I don't have any answers. It's my fault. I picked the team. I'm the one who signed some of these guys that are allowing these things to happen, so, whatever. It's on me.”

The Blues have in a week and a half fallen from fifth to eighth in the third-division league, and they haven't scored in their last three games, including back-to-back losses at Cal State Fullerton to first-place Orlando City (12-1-4), the defending champion.

They were without striker Bright Dike, who has six goals in 10 games after arriving on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers but tweaked a hamstring in Friday's loss.

Dike might be done with the Blues; he's set to return to the Timbers early this week, but what exactly that means is uncertain.

“He's supposed to go back tomorrow,” Naimo said. “It could be for good, we don't know. We discussed about him going back [to Portland] short-term, coming back [to qualify before] out roster freeze” date in two weeks. “We're working pretty well with Portland right now. I'm sure we'll get another player or two [from them].”

They're getting another defender Monday, with Josh Suggs, who played for the Blues last year and has been with MLS's San Jose Earthquakes this season, arriving on a free transfer. Suggs “is going to give us another winner, winning mentality, good athlete. Helps you in a game like that. I would have played him [rather than Corey Miller] at left center back today, and I promise you the first two goals don't get scored.”

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L.A. BLUES: Dike hurt in loss to No. 1

July, 6, 2012
7/06/12
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FULLERTON -- An early goal and an injury to Bright Dike conspired Friday night to derail the L.A. Blues, who extended their losing streak to a franchise-worst four games despite a rather decent performance against the USL Pro's No. 1 team.

Orlando City SC claimed a 1-0 victory before a sparse crowd at Cal State Fullerton, knocking the Blues (5-7-2) down another peg in the standings -- to eighth -- with a rematch set for Sunday, also at Titan Stadium.

“I don't know what to say. I'm baffled ...,” said Blues head coach Charlie Naimo, whose team lost three in a row on a six-day Eastern swing that ended Tuesday. “As the game wore on, I thought we got better and better and better and just didn't produce a goal. In a tight game like this, there's not going to be a whole lot of chances.

“I was happy with the way we played. We're a good team, and [Orlando knows] it. That's two games in a row against the best team that we could've won both matches [the first, in May, was a 1-1 draw in Florida], and it wouldn't have been we got lucky. Tough shape now, man. We're in real tough shape.”

Center back Kieran Bernard headed home Anthony Pulis' corner kick in the second minute, and although the Lions (11-1-4) couldn't create a whole lot more offensively, that was enough -- especially once Dike was done.

The forward, who has six goals in 10 appearances since joining the Blues on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, limped off with a hamstring injury just before halftime. It doesn't look to be a major ailment, but it will surely keep him out of the finale in the two-game set.

Dike had the Blues' best chance, muscling through Orlando's defense in the 28th minute for a sharp shot at the right post, but goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo made a fortunate stab to keep it out of the net.

“If we'd have played that well with Dike on the field in the second half, you've got to think he would generate three or four shots himself,” said Naimo, whose team managed just six shots, to Orlando City's eight. “So it definitely hurt us.”

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L.A. BLUES: Trip starts with a loss

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
1:32
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UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): An official scoring change has been made, with Bright Dike losing credit for the second goal. Instead, it goes to Irving Garcia, with Dike picking up his second assist of the season. Garcia, who starred at UC Irvine and spent a season with the New York Red Bulls, has two goals this year.

ORIGINAL POST: Bright Dike scored two more goals but they only made the score more respectable for the L.A. Blues, who opened a six-day, three-game Atlantic Coast swing with a 3-2 USL Pro loss Thursday night to the Charlotte Eagles.

Dike, on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, tallied in the 58th and 88th minutes, each time narrowing the Eagles' advantage to a goal.

That's six goals in the past six games for Dike, a fast, muscular striker who has found the net in five of seven appearances since joining the Blues (5-4-2). He'll look to add to the total Saturday night in crucial showdowns against the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads and Tuesday against the Richmond Kickers.

The Kickers (4-5-5) are even on points with the fifth-place Blues, and Wilmington (5-5-4) is in fourth place. The top six teams advance to the playoffs.

Mauricio Salles converted a penalty kick after an Erlys Garcia hand ball to give Charlotte (4-8-2) a 28th-minute lead, and Christian Meza made it 2-0 four minutes later. Jorge Herrera scored the third one minute before Dike's second goal.

Blues coach Charlie Naimo was so unhappy with the Blues' play in the first half that he made four substitutions at halftime, changing three flank players and pulling former Chivas USA striker Maykel Galindo.

Charlotte (4-8-2) made seven changes in the team that lost to Chivas USA in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal two days earlier on the Blues' home field at Cal State Fullerton, then brought on four more Open Cup starters in the second half.

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BLUES: Dike strikes again in win

June, 18, 2012
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The L.A. Blues turned again to Bright Dike to finish off a two-game sweep of the Dayton Dutch Lions, and the star striker did not disappoint.


Dike scored for the fourth time in six games Sunday to deliver another 1-0 victory over Ohio's USL Pro entry and vault the Blues (5-3-2) from seventh to fifth in the 11-team league, just one point out of fourth.

Dike tallied in the 62nd minute, taking a pass from Matt Fondy and curling the ball in from the top of the box with a shot that left Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams no hope.

Dike also scored in Friday's win over the Dutch Lions, and he netted the Blues' goal before that one, too, in a 1-1 draw last month at Orlando City. The big forward, on loan from the Portland Timbers, has scored or assisted L.A.'s last five USL Pro goals.

It bodes well for the speedy, powerfully built forward from Notre Dame, who has struggled with little success to find playing Major League Soccer playing time.

“I can only hope at the end of this loan he gets back where he needs to be,” Blues coach Charlie Naimo said following Friday's triumph. “I think the games he's getting here, the opportunities he's getting, the chances to finish under pressure and helping this team is going to bring him back to where he needs to be. That's what loans are all about.”

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BLUES: Dike delivers first Fullerton win

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
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FULLERTON -- The 10th time was the charm for the L.A. Blues, at least at Cal State Fullerton, where on Friday night they finally claimed victory on their home field.

It took 14 months and a brilliant second-half goal from Bright Dike, who put on a clinic as the Blues took down the Dayton Dutch Lions, 1-0, before a tiny crowd at Titan Stadium.

The Blues went 0-4-2 in their primary venue last season -- one of the losses was in the U.S. Open Cup, as a road team against the Galaxy -- and were 0-2-1 this season heading into the first of a two-game series with Dayton.

“The curse is dead,” Blues coach Charlie Naimo exclaimed. “Now we can just play soccer. ... Now we can just get on with it, not come in here every day thinking, 'Are we cursed?' We won the game deservedly. We had all the chances in the game. ... We broke the curse, but we played a pretty good soccer game. That's what's important now.”

The Blues climbed above .500, at 4-3-2, while dominating the winless Dutch Lions (0-6-5). They should have scored three or four goals, and Dike, on loan from Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers, easily could have had a hat trick.

The goal he scored, in the 56th minute, was a beaut, and he hit the crossbar with a powerful drive just two minutes earlier. He might have had another in the first half, when Dayton goalkeeper Matt Williams' clearance caromed off the athletic striker and rolled back, slowly scooting just past the right post.

“That's what I came here to work on, is get that sharpness,” said Dike, who has three goals in five games since arriving in early May. “When you look at a game like that, you could have one or two, maybe even three. That's what I'm here for, and I'm in a good environment.”

Dike's pace and strength caused the Lions' defenders trouble all night, and he destroyed them on the goal. He took a pass several yards inside the midfield stripe, raced alone to the box, then fired across the goalmouth and inside the right post.

Dike made it all out of nothing, more or less, and most impressive were how he dealt with Dayton's defenders on the play, holding one off as he collected the pass -- he then turned and sprinting right past-- and expertly turning his body against another in the box, protecting the ball as he shot.

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L.A. BLUES: Winless Dayton is dangerous

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
10:46
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Bright DikeL.A. BluesBright Dike has scored twice for the Blues since arriving on loan.

The message out of Fullerton is simple: Don't overlook Dayton.

Ohio's Dutch Lions haven't won a USL Pro game this year, and they only won two of 24 last year, but the L.A. Blues are leery as they prepare for a two-game set this weekend.

“It's not going to be easy,” Blues head coach Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles in advance of Friday night's 7:30 meeting at Cal State Fullerton. “The USL Pro is pretty tight this year. There are no blowouts. We've seen enough now and know [Dayton] is as good as anybody.”

Dayton, it should be noted, is 0-5-5. That makes the second-year club 2-21-11 in almost a season and a half -- numbers that hardly seem frightening -- but the number combination that matters most, that demonstrates what the Lions can do, is 2-1: the score in their U.S. Open Cup upset at Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew.

The Dutch Lions are 3-0 in the Open Cup and set for a quarterfinal showdown June 26 at Sporting Kansas City. They're 3-1-2 in all competitions over the past 3½ weeks -- the lone loss by a goal to second-place Charleston -- after halting the Rochester Rhinos' string of shutout victories with a 1-1 draw nearly a month ago.

The Blues (3-3-2), who are returning to action after a three-week break, won the season's first meeting May 11, a 1-0 decision in Ohio, and Dayton had the better of play for good stretches of the action. It's a possession team with some dynamism, as the name might suggest -- rather like the Blues.

“Thinking of Dayton, the first thing that comes to mind is the Dutch philosophy of keeping possession and knocking the ball around, which is somewhat similar to ours,” Blues winger George Davis IV, who played last year for Dayton, told his club's website. “That seems to have worked really well for them lately, given the run they're on with those Open Cup wins and having been so tough to beat in the league.

“When you add in the fact that they haven't won a league game, that makes them very dangerous. They have every reason to believe in themselves and at the same time are dying to get their first three points, which is a powerful combination.”

Former Chivas forward Maykel Galindo will play his first match at full strength after using the break to recover from a foot injury, and Naimo is looking forward to seeing him teamed up front with Bright Dike, who has tallied twice in four games since joining the Blues on loan from MLS's Portland Timbers.

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L.A. BLUES: Tying champs a step forward

May, 24, 2012
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Everything the L.A. Blues lacked in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup defeat was present Thursday night, when they took the game to the USL Pro's top club and opened a two-game, three-day East Coast trek with a point.

Portland Timbers loaner Bright Dike scored his second goal in three games, Amir Abedzadeh was superb in the nets, and the Blues (3-2-2) played with energy and style to hold reigning champion/first-place Orlando City SC (6-0-2) to a 1-1 draw at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Los Angeles Blues logo

“Coming off of a match in the Open Cup where there was minimal effort, it was great to see the team just leaving it on the field,” head coach Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “A couple guys who were not there for us Tuesday played harder tonight than I've ever seen them play. They definitely took that loss to heart.”

L.A. was looking to attack all night and was the better team at the end, creating several chances and hitting a post as it sought a late winner. That was the Blues' plan from the start, and because Tuesday's loss to the Ventura County Fusion eliminated a game next week from their schedule, that also will be the approach Saturday night against the Charleston (S.C.) Battery (4-2-0).

Orlando City went ahead in the 22nd minute, with Wes Allen powerfully heading home an Anthony Pulis corner kick, but the Blues were even within three minutes.

Dike, who played 33 minutes Wednesday night in the Timbers' friendly with Spanish club Valencia in Portland, Ore., headed home a cross from Allan Russell to tie the score in the 25th.

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OPEN CUP: Fusion topples Blues in OT

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
10:45
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FULLERTON -- Might there be no better soccer team in the country from the 91st minute on than the Ventura County Fusion?

After scoring four goals in overtime to win their U.S. Open Cup opener last week over the Fullerton Rangers, the Premier Development League powerhouse netted two on Tuesday, dispensing with the L.A. Blues in a second-round clash.

Francisco Lopez scored his second goal of the game in the 107th minute -- 17 minutes into the extra period -- and Travis Bowen, Chivas USA forward Tristan Bowen's brother, added another with four minutes to go, and the Fusion stunned the USL Pro club, 3-1, before a sparse crowd at Fullerton College's Sherbeck Field.

Their reward: a third-round showdown next Tuesday night against Chivas USA at Ventura College, pending expected U.S. Soccer approval of the site.

Francisco Lopez converted an extremely iffy penalty kick to force overtime, and UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards made a save on Allan Russell's penalty kick for a Blues win in the 85th minute, but there was no doubt which side was more deserving.

With Rodrigo Lopez, a former Chivas USA and the Portland Timbers midfield, running the field, the Fusion absorbed heavy early pressure, gave up an own goal after just 13 minutes, and spent the rest of the game outbattling the Blues all over the field.

“And now we have a home game against Chivas, which we really relish,” said Fusion head coach Ole Mikkelsen, who watched the final 23 minutes of overtime from just outside Ventura County's locker room after he was sent off for angrily protesting a call. “I have to say, I thought we were [the better team]. We came out slow, which is to be expected: They're a pro team, they play together every day, they're more comfortable with each other.

“Unfortunately, a miscommunication led to that own goal -- those things happen. It could have buried us, but we kept battling, we added some rhythm, and as soon as we got that first goal, I knew that we were in it, and I knew we had a chance to take it from them.”

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OPEN CUP: Blues battle tough slate

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
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Proceeding in the U.S. Open Cup is a priority for the L.A. Blues, who enter the competition Tuesday against the Ventura County Fusion, and they'd love to take a shot next week at Chivas USA if they win.


Getting there won't be easy. The Blues (3-2-1), if they beat the Fusion in the in a second-round game at Fullerton College, face four games in eight days on two coasts. The USL Pro contests between the Open Cup dates are against two of the third-division league's best clubs, defending champion Orlando City SC (6-0-1) and Charleston Battery (4-2-0).

Something's got to give.

“I'd like a different schedule, let's leave it at that ...,” Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles on Monday. “Really, it is out of my control. Out of the organization's control. You can't worry about what you don't control, you just have to go out and do it. I have to decide based on what happens [Tuesday] how I want to play Thursday and Saturday. I have to choose.”

Orlando City's situation is the same as the Blues', with four games in eight days if it wins its Open Cup opener Tuesday, but the Lions would sit at home until next week's third-round game at Sporting Kansas City, provided they beat K.C. Athletics, a U.S. Adult Soccer Association side. Charleston also has an Open Cup game but plays just once on the weekend.

Naimo's approach will be fairly straightforward. Beating the Fusion is important, but it likely won't require a first-choice lineup -- Ventura, amateurs from the USL's Premier Development League is playing its fourth game in eight days -- and the goal is victory in Orlando.

“I'm thinking our guys will be up to play the defending champions,” Naimo said. “We're going after that game. We're not going in to try to steal a point. We want to win that game.”

Do so and, if the date with Chivas is on for May, the Blues “might not put in guys who won't be able to play against Charleston and Chivas. It's tough to do that. ... My goal is winning [Tuesday], have a good result against Orlando. Can't think much beyond that point.”

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WPS's demise is W-League's gain

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
1:30
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Whitney EngenJoel Auerbach/Getty ImagesThe Pali Blues have brought in U.S. national team defender Whitney Engen to their roster this season.


A tumultuous winter has left the American women's soccer landcape in flux: The pro league is dead and gone, a lot of the players have scattered overseas, and the maneuvering for position among clubs and rival leagues for whatever's next is well under way.

The impact will surely be felt in the USL W-League's Western Conference, which has picked up its share of big names -- with more possibly to come.

The W-League season kicked off this weekend, and two Western matches are featured -- one pitting SoCal clubs Pali Blues and L.A. Strikers on Sunday evening at Occidental College. Pali, a two-time league champion, is one of the clubs benefiting from the talent dispersal and thus one of the expected contenders to win the national amateur/semipro league's title.

The Blues have brought in one national-teamer -- defender Whitney Engen, from Rolling Hills Estates -- among a handful of WPS veterans, and more could be coming, with speculation centered on local stars Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez.

The Seattle Sounders made the biggest splash, luring the U.S. team's biggest name (goalkeeper Hope Solo) and hottest property (Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan, whose boyfriend, Servando Carrasco, plays for the Sounders' MLS side), the No. 1 pick in the WPS draft (UCLA's Sydney Leroux), along with two more national-teamers (midfielder Megan Rapinoe and former L.A. Sol defender Stephanie Cox), among other pros.

“It's interesting. Kind of a feeding frenzy,” said L.A. Strikers head coach Demian Brown, who did not pursue WPS and U.S. national team stars. “I know a lot of W-League teams made real strong pushes for international and national team players, and almost by circumstance we didn't. I would have loved to have a Whitney Engen or a Hope Solo, but some of those women will only play in the league for a bit because of their commitment to the country.”

Most WPS vets will be available all season. The national-teamers, as Brown says, not so much. The London Olympics begin in mid-July, and preparations will be the top priority for the big stars the rest of the spring and into summer.

“I'm not worried about the full national team players [Seattle] signed,” said Charlie Naimo, who guided the Pali Blues to the 2008 and 2009 W-League titles, served as GM of the WPS's L.A. Sol in 2009 and returns to the women's game after taking last season off to concentrate on the L.A. Blues pro men's team, which he continues to run. “They're not going to be around for the playoffs. When I look at the league schedule versus the national team schedule, they're physically available for only a few league games. If they do play against us, we'll be excited. It's a great challenge for our team.”

The Vancouver Whitecaps, who reached the W-League title game two years ago and the semifinals last year, have a handful Canadian national-teamers but lost the core of its team. The Colorado Rapids, formerly the Force and now the third team in the league with an MLS affiliation, brought in WPS standout Brittany Bock, another former Sol player.

Everybody, it appears, will be improved, at least in the eight-team West, which features three Pacific Northwest teams (the third is in Victoria), two from Colorado and three teams from So Cal (the third is Santa Clarita Blue Heat). It might be the best division in the women's game, on par with W-League rival rival Women's Premier Soccer League's Elite Division, which has three WPS survivors.

A look at the three local teams:

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L.A. BLUES: Dike to debut in Dayton

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
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Bright Dike is in camp, and the L.A. Blues have a new alignment to make the most of what he brings. They'll unveil it Friday night, when they open a two-game, two-night Eastern swing in Dayton, Ohio.

Bright Dike
Ned Dishman/Getty ImagesBright Dike is on loan to the L.A. Blues from the Portland Timbers of MLS.

Dike, a fast, physical forward on loan from the Portland Timbers, joined Blues preparations Tuesday and figures to feature USL Pro games Friday against the Dayton Dutch Lions and Saturday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

“From watching his highlights, I expect something a little different [from Dike],” Blues head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo told ESPN Los Angeles. “Watching his early days, before the Achilles injury, he was more power than finesse. Watching [now], to be honest, he's got nice feet. He's a good all-around player. Now that we're back into a possession style and have tweaked the formation, he's fitting right in.

“He gives us the strength to get through somebody if we need to get through somebody. He's very versatile. The team has responded well to having him here. He seems to be happy as well. ... An addition like that is never going to hurt you.”

Dike, 25, played 11 games in his first Major League Soccer season last year after missing the first 5½ months because of a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in Portland's preseason opener in early February. He had not played in a first-team match this year before the loan deal was completed. He's scheduled to spend the entire USL Pro season with the Blues -- the playoffs begin in late August -- but the Timbers may recall him if they choose to.

Dike's arrival, and former Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo's impending debut, prompted Naimo to switch the Blues (1-2-1) from a 4-1-4-1 alignment to a 4-4-2 that will emphasize the forwards. Galindo remains sidelined with a sprained ankle -- his target date is the May 22 U.S. Open Cup second-round game against the Fullerton Rangers or Ventura County Fusion -- but Matt Fondy and Cheun-Yong Park have impressed in stints up top, providing decent depth to the attack.

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L.A. BLUES: Wait for big guns isn't done

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
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The L.A. Blues will have to wait a little longer before Maykel Galindo and Rahman Rezaei suit up, and Charlie Naimo has only so much patience. He could use both of them -- for the intangibles, more than anything else -- for this weekend's USL Pro games against the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads.

Los Angeles Blues logo

Galindo, a former star forward for Chivas USA who played last season with FC Dallas, was expected to make his Blues debut in Friday's 5 p.m. game at Fullerton College, but an ankle sprain will sideline him this weekend -- game two is Sunday at Cal State Fullerton -- and perhaps for next weekend's trip to play Dayton and Pittsburgh.

Rezaei, a center back who played in Italy's Serie A and for Iran at the 2006 World Cup, has his visa but is going through a final background check before he can enter the country.

They'll provide needed skill and experience up front and at the back for the Blues (0-2-0), who were shut out twice at home by Rochester in the first two weeks of the USL Pro season. More so, they will demand accountability of their teammates, which Naimo, the head coach and general manager, wants to see.

“It still really remains to see who our best 11 is,” Naimo said. “That's the biggest mystery, the biggest stresser, is who should be playing. We have a lot of similar players, and there's really not that much of a hierarchy. It's been very hard to find consistency in our team because of that fact.”

The Blues' first season veered off course last year after Argentine playmaker Walter Gaitan departed in mid-June, after just 2½ months with the club, leaving them without, Naimo says, “the leader by example that nobody wanted to cross.” Galindo and Rezaei will be those guys this year.

“No question in my mind,” Naimo said. “I just can't wait for that to happen. Everyone will be more confident players with those guys on the field. Accountability will be difference, and so will confidence.”

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L.A. BLUES: Maykel Galindo fits up top

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
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CARSON -- The L.A. Blues haven't scored in their first two USL Pro outings this season, but they appear to have an answer for that: former Chivas USA forward Maykel Galindo.

The Cuban star, who scored a dozen goals in his first of four seasons with the Goats and spent last year with FC Dallas, is expected to sign shortly with the Blues, in time to be available for their next game, May 4 against the Wilmington Hammerheads.

Maykel Galindo
Ned Dishman/Getty ImagesMaykel Galindo could be exactly what the L.A. Blues offense needs.

Galindo, 31, on Tuesday made his first game appearance since the Major League Soccer season ended last fall, starting up top for the Blues in a 3-2 loss to the Galaxy in a closed-door scrimmage at Home Depot Center. Head coach/general manager Charlie Naimo can envision him there when points are on the line.

“He's going to be great once he gets fit ...,” said Naimo, whose Fullerton-based team dropped 1-0 and 2-0 decisions the past two weekends against the Rochester Rhinos. “He's a good guy, he's probably 60 percent fit right now, so he'll probably pick up another 20 to 25 percent before we get to the next game, and he'll be dangerous.

“If teams don't press us like the Galaxy presses and we have the ball territorially like we've been having it in our other games, he's going to get goals. You're going to have to play different against us when he's on the field, because he's resourceful and he finds ways. Once we get first goals in games, teams are going to have to play different against us. They can't sit all day and counter us, they're going to have to start playing.”

The Blues dominated possession in their games against Rochester but didn't create enough chances and failed to finish the chances that did develop. They expect to be more successful when defenses aren't as packed in as was the Rhinos'.

Naimo said the club “should have a deal done pretty soon” with Galindo, who has delighted just to play -- although the Galaxy had nearly constant possession in the 62 minutes he was on the field.

“It was good to be back,” Galindo said. “I haven't played for a long, long, long, long time. I'm happy to be in L.A., but right now for me it's like I'm starting from zero. It's good to be with the Blues, I'm working hard and I'm so happy to be back and playing a little soccer.”

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L.A. BLUES: Defeat, on and off the field

April, 21, 2012
4/21/12
12:53
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FULLERTON -- The L.A. Blues' second outing this season went worse than the first, on and off the field. Another loss, this time by two goals, despite nearly constant possession during the first half and a flurry of chances at the end of the second.

The Rochester Rhinos took advantage of Blues miscues to score goals six minutes apart early in the second half Friday night to post a 2-0 triumph, dropping L.A. to 0-5-2 all-time at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium and into the cellar in the third-tier USL Pro, at least until Wilmington and Harrisburg tangle Sunday.

“I'm baffled right now, I got to be honest,” said Blues head coach/GM Charlie Naimo, whose team lost its opener last week to the Rhinos, 1-0. “We wasted a half -- the first half they were there for the taking, the energy wasn't there in their team, and we didn't take advantage of it. ...

“Not a poor performance. I can't look at it and say we're bad. We're not bad. We do things well, we just can't get that elusive goal.”

Rochester goalkeeper Kristian Nicht came up big twice, making a diving stop on Irving Garcia in the 29th minute and parrying a Ricky Waddell free kick in the 73rd. The Blues' other chances -- a Garcia shot off the post, a deflected Bryan Burke blast that just went wide, and a Burke header that bounced past the upper-right corner of the net, all in the second half -- weren't on target.

“I'm a bit shell-shocked, to be honest, the fact that we lost, 2-0,” said Waddell, the captain. “That's the way soccer is. Credit to Rochester, because they came out with a game plan, same as last week -- exact same -- sat [back] and came out and attacked us, and they've done very well, and we weren't good enough to cope with that. We've got to look at that carefully as a team to sort that out.”

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