Los Angeles Soccer: Chivas

MLS Power Rankings, Week 5: FC Dallas makes its point(s)

April, 13, 2011
FC Dallas was Major League Soccer's best team for a good portion of last season, and had Macoumba Kandji's ball ricocheted differently off George John last November, it might have been the Hoops celebrating an MLS Cup title on that chilly Toronto evening.

Last week's 3-0 romp over Colorado in a title-game rematch could serve as a spark for FC Dallas, which started the season slowly after head coach Schellas Hyndman, a deserving MLS Coach of the Year in 2010, tossed out some key players during the offseason.

We've had the Hoops as low as 13th in our power rankings, mostly wondering whether Hyndman's moves -- especially letting go linking midfielder Dax McCarty (to D.C. United, through the expansion draft), speedy forward Atiba Harris (to Vancouver in the expansion draft) and versatile defender Heath Pearce (in a trade with Chivas USA) for, well, nothing -- had destroyed the balance and chemistry that served the club so well in last year's run.

Friday night's victory showed Dallas in the best light, with reigning league MVP David Ferreira scoring twice, then celebrating with a pacifier and by “rocking the baby” to let the world know his wife is pregnant. Colorado was missing some key personnel, but if Ferreira is back at his best, FC Dallas is capable of anything. We've got them sixth this week.

This week's rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (3-0-0), Last week: 1
Week 4:
Takes its B team to Foxborough and cleans up, 2-0, on the Revolution
Remark: RSL would be a contender with its second team
Star of the (coaching) staff: Head coach Jason Kreis scored 108 goals, won 1999 MLS MVP with Dallas in 1999
Next: Wednesday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

2. GALAXY (2-1-2), Last week: 3
Week 4:
Get robbed on Charlie Davies' end-of-game dive for 1-1 draw at D.C. United
Remark: Landon Donovan offers Davies some pool gear, via Twitter; maybe he could give the Galaxy a few goals
Star of the (coaching) staff: With Cobi Jones off with the Cosmos, the honor falls to assistant Gregg Berhalter, a two-time World Cup selection who would be starting on L.A.'s backline if healthy
Next: Wednesday at Toronto FC, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Sunday at Chicago, 1 p.m. (Galavision and Fox Sports West)

3. COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1-0), Last week: 2
Week 4:
No match for FC Dallas in 3-0 defeat
Remark: Pablo Mastroeni's absence plays huge role in MLS Cup rematch
Star of the (coaching) staff: Former Galaxy director of soccer Paul Bravo, the Rapids' technical director, was a star forward in San Jose, Colorado
Next: Wednesday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

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Weekend tip: Soccer Nation Expo

February, 11, 2011

Cal South, U.S. Soccer's arm in Southern California, is staging its annual Soccer Nation Expo this weekend at the Long Beach Convention Center, with all usual the attractions, seminars, clinics, games and activities, interactive exhibits, meet-and-greets, on-field sessions and shopping for equipment, products and merchandise.

The Galaxy and Chivas USA will have booths, and Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts -- both MLS Best XI picks last year -- will be signing autographs during Saturday's session.

The Futboleros, a team of soccer freestylers, will perform, and there will be extensive seminars for those with VIP Coach passes, with featured speakers including Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo, former Galaxy assistant coach (and current University of Redlands men's head coach) Ralph Perez, former Guadalajara coach (and one of the Mexican national team's interim coaches last fall) Efrain Flores and Randy Waldrum, head coach of Notre Dame's NCAA women's championship team.

Public hours for the fest are Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, and more information can be found at www.soccernationexpo.com.

MEXICO: America makes its move; so does Toluca

November, 9, 2010

America is peaking at the best possible time. Toluca is crumbling when it counts. The impact on the Mexican Primera Division's Apertura campaign is massive.

The Aguilas clinched a berth in the eight-team playoff Liguilla with a 1-0 victory at Atlante, courtesy of Matias Vuoso's eighth goal of the season, and head into their final regular-season outing -- against Mexico City rival Pumas UNAM -- with three-game winning and six-game unbeaten streaks.

They've pulled through last month's attacking drought, in which they were shut out by first-place Cruz Azul, second-place Monterrey and archrival Guadalajara, scoring seven times in their past three games -- and that should be eight.

Pavel Pardo converted a stoppage-time penalty kick against Atlante, but referee Paul Delgadillo ordered a retake for encroachment, and Potros goalkeeper Moises Muņoz saved Pardo's second attempt.

America, which is atop Group 2 and fourth overall, behind Santos Laguna on goal difference (plus-8 to plus-7), appears to have shored up its defensive problems, and the relationship among Vuoso, playmaker Daniel Montenegro and former Toluca star Vicente Sanchez has solidified just when it most matters.

“We're there, and we were able to get there,” America coach Manuel Lapuente said after Saturday night's victory, according to Reforma. “We're playing well … we've finished the league well, although we have a game against Pumas to play, and we cannot lose at home. We're going to put a lot of effort into that game. This isn't over until it's over, and we're going to fight to climb one spot higher.”

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MEXICO: Is Chivas in trouble?

October, 26, 2010

Jaime Lopez/Getty Images
Vicente Sanchez, left, of America vies for the ball with Jonny Magallon of Chivas during Sunday's game.

The rule of thumb is you play to win at home and to tie on the road, but Sunday’s 0-0 draw at America in the 206th edition of Mexico’s “Super Clasico” wasn’t enough for Guadalajara, which faces a difficult path to get into the Primera Division’s Apertura playoffs.

Chivas (3-3-7) are fourth in Group 1 and 11th overall, and they’re only two points behind eighth-place America (4-3-6), which held onto its spot in the playoff zone despite its third successive draw. But the Goats finish with a brutal schedule, with games in this week’s “doble jornada” against fifth-place (and reigning champion) Toluca and at third-place Santos Laguna, followed by showdowns with No. 1 Cruz Azul on Nov. 6 and at No. 2 Monterrey on Nov. 13.

Six clubs -- Pumas UNAM, Morelia, Pachuca, Puebla, Gallos Blancos in addition to Guadalajara -- are within three points of a top-eight slot, and only Cruz Azul and Monterrey are assured of playoff berths, realistically if not mathematically.

“Now we depend on what other teams do, and that is a very complicated position,” Jose Luis Real, Guadalajara’s head coach, told the media following Sunday’s draw. “But we can’t surrender -- we are going to try to qualify. As long as we are alive, we will fight for the postseason.”

Chivas have won just once in its last eight games and have picked up only seven of 12 points against the division’s three worst clubs: They lost at Atlante in August, beat crosstown rival Estudiantes Tecos in early September, managed only a 2-2 draw with Atlas, their other Guadalajara rival, the first weekend in October, and beat Necaxa last week.

In games against eight of the nine clubs battling for the final four postseason berths -- Toluca is the ninth -- the Goats are 0-2-6, 0-2-2 at home.

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