Los Angeles Soccer: Corona del Mar High School
South Orange County's reputation as the epicenter of girls soccer has been burnished during these CIF Southern Section playoffs. All four schools in the Division 1 semifinals are south of Irvine.
Santa Margarita Catholic (16-5-2) upset top-seeded Corona del Mar of Newport Beach in Friday's quarterfinals, and Nos. 2-4 seeds San Clemente (17-2-7), Dana Hills (16-5-1) and Aliso Niguel (18-1-4) joined the Eagles in the final four.
Add St. Margaret's (16-4-5) of San Juan Capistrano, which reached the Division 6 semifinals, and that's five South County teams playing Tuesday for title-game berths next weekend.
Santa Margarita, from Rancho Santa Margarita, beat Corona del Mar, 1-0, when Taylor Klawunder volleyed home a cross from her twin sister, Kaitlin, in the 74th minute.
San Clemente, aiming for a fifth straight trip to the final, overcame Harvard-Westlake of Studio City on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Freshman Amanda Gerrain delivered the knockout blow on the sixth round of kicks.
Breanne Chilton-Eddy scored twice to lead Aliso Niguel, from Aliso Viejo, in a 3-0 romp over Santa Ana's Mater Dei. Dana Hills, from Dana Point, was a 2-0 winner over Orange Lutheran.
Seven of the eight Division 1 quarterfinalists (and 11 of 16 second-round teams) were from Orange County.
It's a similar story, but different geography, in Division 3. Three of the four semifinalists -- third-seeded Claremont (25-1-4), St. Lucy's Priory (18-8-2) of Glendora and Chino Hills (17-4-6) -- are from the Sierra League. A fourth Sierra team, Ayala of Chino Hills, was five minutes from joining them.
The Sierra League is 11-1-1 in the tournament, the lone loss Ayala's on Friday against defending champion Bishop Amat (21-4-4) of La Puente. Amat scored three times in the final six minutes, with Jamie Peters netting the winner, to pull out a 4-3 victory.
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Jack McBean turned pro at 16, a prospect so bright the Galaxy wanted to begin working with him now.
CARSON -- Scotty McBean knows Landon Donovan has taken his son under his wing, that David Beckham offers him encouragement, that Robbie Keane cracks him up.
He knows because he sees it when he visits Galaxy training sessions or when he attends the team's family events. But hear about it? Remember, Jack McBean is 16.
“Jack doesn't say much,” Scotty reports. “He's pretty tough to get information out of.”
Ah, teenagers. It's easy to forget just how young Jack McBean is. He'd only be a junior at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, not 17 for another week and a half, if it weren't for his facility on a soccer field -- and the huge upside scouts see in him.
That's why he turned pro at 16, a prospect so bright the Galaxy wanted to begin working with him now, and offered enough cash and incentives to convince his parents to allow it to happen. He wraps up his first season with the club this week as a maturer person, stronger player.
“I go out to practice and watch,” Scotty McBean says. “It's unbelievable to see my son out there with these guys. They treat him great, and I think he's starting to feel he's part of the squad. When you're starting, I'm sure it's 'I'm 16, and what's this all about?' Now I see him joking with the team.
“He's really good with you guys [in the media], says the right things. I'm sure he's good with his friends and his teammates. And he's really good at his [community] appearances, that I can see. He loves playing with the little kids -- I think he's very genuine at these events.”
LEARNING EXPERIENCE: What Jack McBean does say is he's having a lot of fun.
“It's been really good,” he says. “To come in here and feel at home, it's been awesome. I'm really thankful to all the guys and Bruce [Arena] and all the staff, all the veterans. All the guys have been really helpful and nice through the whole year. It's been fun.”
The Galaxy's youngest player has arrived in Southern California after leading the U.S. under-17 team to the regional championship, and he'll train with the first team for the first time Thursday.
He accomplished more pressing business first, joining his former teammates at Corona del Mar High School for a bus trek to its CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinal game Tuesday afternoon at Paramount High and cheering on the Sea Kings in a 2-1 defeat.
Afterward, 16-year-old forward Jack McBean said he was excited to be joining the Galaxy and hoped he could reward their faith in him.
“I know I'm not going to go in there and start right away, because they have Juan Pablo [Angel] and Landon [Donovan],” said McBean, who signed as a “Home Grown Player” in January but has been with the U.S. U-17s as they prepared for and played in the CONCACAF championship.
“I want to improve my game the best I can, take all the experience I can as a young player, have an open mind to things, try to get better every day and see where that takes me.”
McBean's life has been a whirlwind the past few months. He left Corona del Mar to join the U.S. under-17 residency in Bradenton, Fla., then signed with the Galaxy, then played a pivotal role -- assisting two goals and setting up a third -- in the Americans' 3-0 overtime triumph over Canada in Sunday's final in Jamaica.
He's not expected to play much, if any, first-team soccer for the Galaxy this season, instead learning in practice and in reserve games, playing for the club's youth Academy team and featuring for the U.S. U-17s, who are headed to the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Brian Ford knows well how good Jack McBean is on a soccer field, but he finds the notion that his longtime friend and teammate has signed a pro contract -- and with the Galaxy, no less -- stunning.
“It's like a Freddy Adu story,” Ford said. “But if there's anyone to do it, it would be Jack.”
McBean, just 16 and a high school sophomore, is expected to arrive in Galaxy camp next week, soon after Sunday's CONCACAF U-17 Championship title game in Jamaica. It's the start of a process that, in another four or five years or so, might have the striker squarely on the street to stardom.
His biggest fans are the ones he's left behind, his friends and teammates at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, and they're trying to win a championship without him. It's not easy.
“When he said he was going to leave, we supported it 100 percent,” Ford, a UC Davis-bound defender, said after a victory earlier this week sent the Sea Kings into Friday's CIF Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinals. “It's inspiring, but we've just got to worry about ourselves. Once Jack left, we started to realize: 'Hey, it's not about him, it's about us as a team, too,' so we've got to do our own thing, with or without Jack.”
Corona del Mar had McBean, just a freshman, for runs to CIF Southern Section and Southern California Regional titles last year, but that was a big, powerful, experienced side -- UCLA's Reed Williams was the marquee player -- that just overpowered opponents. This year's team (15-2-7), which plays Friday at Santa Maria (with a showdown against fellow Regional titlist Paramount looming in the semifinals), has had to find its own path after losing, for all intents, seven starters from that group.
“It's been a challenge, but I think we've grown through it,” said Sea Kings coach George Larsen, who also coached McBean and four of his CdM teammates to a national championship last summer with Slammers FC's U-16 team. “You know, last year we kind of got hot and stayed hot all the way through, whereas this year there was more of a learning process, there was more of a learning curve.
“It was about setting the proper expectations, because there's a tendency to want to compare yourself to last year. That's kind of been the tone of us, is just saying, 'Hey, you don't have to go defend what you won last year. You're not defending anything -- just be the best team we can be this year, come together, and whatever happens happens. You know?”
McBean joined the Galaxy's academy program last August, after the Slammers' triumph, and when he accepted an invitation late last fall to join the U.S. under-17 national team's residency in Bradenton, Fla., his time with Corona del Mar was done.
It was a little bittersweet, acknowledged junior defender Jack Gorab, to see him go.
The Galaxy appear to be prepared to offer Jack McBean what Major League Soccer calls a “homegrown” contract.
McBean turned 16 last month.
The Corona del Mar High School sophomore, who is in U.S. Soccer's under-17 residency in Bradenton, Fla., is in negotiations with the Galaxy, Sea Kings coach George Larsen told the Daily Pilot. Larsen said McBean's father, Scotty, called him after L.A. made an offer Tuesday.
“They were anticipating taking a week to two weeks to finalize all the details to the contract,” Larsen told the Daily Pilot. “It's a special moment for a kid who is getting a special opportunity. He deserves that opportunity. I couldn't be prouder of him. We're all rooting for him. We're hoping to see him in that [Galaxy] jersey.”
A Galaxy official confirmed the team was in talks with McBean.
McBean, whom Larsen coached at Slammers FC in Newport Beach, played for the Galaxy's under-16 team and is eligible for a “homegrown” contract, which enables MLS clubs to sign players developed in their academies.
The 6-foot forward was one of the stars, as a freshman, when Corona del Mar last year won the CIF Southern Section Division IV and Southern California Regional Division II championships. He played only once for the Sea Kings this season before heading to Florida.
The Galaxy opens its preseason camp Monday and will be on the field the first time on Jan. 31.