Los Angeles Soccer: D.C. United

MLS Power Rankings: Midpoint assessment

July, 4, 2012
7/04/12
3:43
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It's another busy Fourth of July in Major League Soccer history, with five games around the league, including this evening's Galaxy-Philadelphia clash -- with the requisite fireworks to follow -- out at Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy have been home for the Fourth every year of their existence, winning a lot more than they lose. The league's most iconic Independence Day celebration takes place in Denver, where the Colorado Rapids also are home for the 17th time -- and looking to improve on their 11-2-3 record.

This also marks the midpoint, more or less, of the MLS season -- 10 of 19 clubs have played 17 or 18 of 34 matches -- so let's look at how things have gone.

BEST TEAM: The San Jose Earthquakes are atop the Supporters' Shield standings, and that's a decent barometer this time. Their knack for comebacks and late winners could take them far.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: See Best Team.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: You thought I was going to say the Galaxy? No, it's Toronto FC. The Reds made such huge strides last year, did well to knock out L.A. in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, then collapsed. It cost Aron Winter his job, but they've looked better under Paul Mariner.

MVP: The best player in MLS has been Thierry Henry, but injuries have limited his time -- and New York's best run took place while he was sidelined. Dwayne De Rosario, last year's winner, is critical for D.C. United, the Eastern Conference leader. Marvin Chavez has been fantastic for San Jose. But our vote goes to Chris Wondolowski, whose importance for the Earthquakes goes beyond his league-best 14 goals.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Frank Yallop is a slam dunk for what San Jose has done.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (11-4-3, 36 points), Last Week: 1
Week 17:
Chris Wondolowski's 14th competes rally from two-goal deficit to beat the Galaxy, 4-3; Alan Gordon's strike too late in 2-1 loss at Portland.
Latest: Shea Salinas, back from a broken clavicle (thanks to Rafa Marquez), returns to the starting lineup.
American idol: Yorba Linda's gritty Steven Lenhart, the most hated forward (by opposing defenders) in the league.
Next: Saturday at FC Dallas, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. D.C. UNITED (10-5-3, 33 points), LW: 5
Week 17:
Chris Pontius scores his ninth just before halftime, and D.C. cruises to a 3-0 victory over Montreal.
Latest: Long Tan arrives from Vancouver, looking for playing time.
American idol: Has to be Pontius, Yorba Linda's other goal-getter.
Next: Sunday, July 15, at Houston, 6 p.m. (Galavision).

3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-4-4, 31 points), LW: 2
Week 17:
Jan Gunnar Solli scores at the start, but Red Bulls settle for 1-1 draw at Toronto FC.
Latest: Bulls hopeful Teemu Tainio can return from knee injury. Seems surgery would help.
American idol: We're going with Kenny Cooper, a Texan only because his father -- an English goalkeeper -- was an NASL star way back when.
Next: Sunday at New England, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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GALAXY: Keane back on target in romp

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
9:43
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Galaxy Ring
Robert Mora/L.A. Galaxy2011 MLS Cup championship ring given to the L.A. Galaxy.


CARSON -- Bruce Arena stuck with his first-choice lineup, or most of it, for a fourth game Sunday, and for awhile things looked a whole lot like they had for the first three: dominance, lots of chances, not nearly enough sharpness in front of the net.

A simple tap-in goal by Robbie Keane just before halftime made things right, and the Galaxy cruised to their first victory of the season, using two goals by their Irish striker in an impressive 3-1 romp over D.C. United on a cold, windy afternoon at Home Depot Center.

Keane added a spectacular strike in the 69th minute and Marcelo Sarvas scored his first Major League Soccer goal -- and first goal with his head in his career -- as L.A. (1-1-0) put last weekend's loss to Real Salt Lake and the CONCACAF Champions League disaster against Toronto FC behind them as they head into a 13-day break.

Keane, whose struggles in front of the net in Wednesday's defeat to TFC sparked Arena's comments that the star forward had lost confidence, needed several opportunities before he provided a 45th-minute advantage, then wasted a couple more before doubling the lead midway through the second half with a blast to the top-right corner.

“I don't mind missing chances,” Keane said after his first two-goal game in MLS. “I mind when I'm not in position to score them, so as long as I keep getting into positions, I know eventually I'll score.

“You try and not let [a slump] wear on your mind too much. As you know, in football, sometimes it can take you over. I thought that was probably a little bit of the case. I knew I'd keep plugging away, and as long as I keep getting into the positions, I knew I would score.”

Keane might have had four or five -- and the Galaxy at least a half-dozen -- but sharpness remains an issue. L.A. took 21 shots (to D.C.'s 13) and put eight on target, but until the first one hit the net, there wasn't a whole lot different from the games against RSL and TFC.

“For awhile, it looked like a mirror image of our previous games, where we control the game, had the run of play, create the chances and had nothing to show for it,” Arena said. “Therefore, Robbie's goal right at the end of the half was important for our team and for Robbie. And you saw in the second half a player playing with a lot of confidence, and he played quite well.

“To me, the most important thing: The team performance was better, the effort, the coordination of the team. The desire to play for each other was much improved today, and that's certainly something to build on.”

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GALAXY: Countdown to preseason II

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
6:48
PM PT

Landon DonovanStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesLandon Donvon says he's looking forward to the next two weeks since the Galaxy will get valuable training time.


CARSON -- The Galaxy have one more game before they can jump back into preseason for a couple of weeks, and all expectations are that Bruce Arena will do as he should have a week ago and give a largely reserve lineup a run out against D.C. United.

Sunday afternoon's showdown at Home Depot Center between longtime Major League Soccer rivals wraps up a rough 12-day stretch for the Galaxy, who collapsed in their league opener and fumbled away their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with as horrid a start to the season as could be imagined.

Arena used nearly identical starting lineups in both Champions League matches against Toronto FC and the 3-1 MLS defeat to Real Salt Lake, and tired legs, problems with chemistry and the effects of too abbreviated a preseason added up to disaster -- even as the Galaxy played some decent soccer.

What now?

“One, you stick to what you do as a general statement, because it's not like we've been played off the park in any game, it's not like we've been battered any game, and we're not much of a different team from last year, with one glaring omission,” captain Landon Donovan said. “But we have to be honest with ourselves and figure out what's going wrong. I think we have a good idea now, after three games.

“Unfortunately, right now we don't have the time to analyze it a lot. We will in the next two weeks, but we've got to get ourselves right emotionally for [the D.C. game] and make sure we have guys on the field who can run and play hard for 90 minutes.”

That's key after the Galaxy, weary from travel and a fierce schedule to start their campaign, faded at the end of the losses last Saturday to RSL and Wednesday night to Toronto, their first back-to-back HDC defeats in five years. The glaring omission -- injured center back Omar Gonzalez -- is massive, but the problems extend deeper than inadequately filling the hole left behind.

Donovan, asked Friday about the difficulty repeating as MLS Cup champions -- it has been done only twice -- took the topic further.

“In all sports, it becomes difficult because your human tendency is to relax a little bit: 'Oh, we won the championship, we're the champions, we think we're great.' Success is a very dangerous thing,” he said. “Sometimes, it makes very talented and smart and able people think they're better than they are, and we need to take a little bit of a look at ourselves and make sure we're doing the things we did in previous years that made us successful.”

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GALAXY: Gonzalez back by midsummer?

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
5:52
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TORRANCE -- Omar Gonzalez confirms: The target for his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament remains September, and he's in no mood to push things more quickly than he should.

But Tim Leiweke's assertion that the Galaxy's towering center back might be on the field again in three months made him smile.

Omar Gonzalez
David Banks/Getty ImagesOmar Gonzalez, above, could be back in three months if Tim Leiweke's projection is correct.

Leiweke, president and CEO of Galaxy owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, was asked following a news conference Friday announcing the 10-year, $44 million extension of its sponsorship agreement with nutritional supplements company Herbalife whether L.A. needed to find a replacement outside the club for Gonzalez, 23, after the club conceded seven goals in three games while dropping its league opener and crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League.

“What people have to remember here is it's not like Omar's gone for the whole year ...,” Leiweke said. “Those who think he's gone for the full year are sadly mistaken. This kid will be back, he'll be back soon, and when he does get back, it will change our team.”

Gonzalez, a 6-foot-5 Texan whose dominance in the back has grown through three Major League Soccer campaigns, was the league's Defender of the Year last season. He tore the ACL in his left knee Jan. 5 during his first training session following a short-term loan to German club Nuremberg. He underwent surgery in mid-January; recuperation usually requires seven to nine months.

The Galaxy has struggled in the back without Gonzalez, with mistakes by his replacements -- newcomer Andrew Boyens and rookie Tommy Meyer -- costing L.A. on three of Toronto FC's four goals across two games in the Champions League quarterfinals. The Galaxy is winless in three competitive games this season and lost back-to-back games at Home Depot Center for the first time in five years.

Leiweke called Gonzalez's absence a “very temporary” situation.

“We've got to get through about three months here,” Leiweke said. “And when we get through those three months, he'll be back. … I think we're going to see the kid in the summer.”

A midsummer's dream, to be sure, and Gonzalez isn't counting it out.

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CHIVAS USA: Angel is in the fold

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
8:29
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Juan Pablo AngelVictor Decolongon/Getty ImagesJuan Pablo Angel will be in uniform for Chivas USA on Sunday after signing his contract Thursday.

Juan Pablo Angel will be ready to take the field when Chivas USA opens its season Sunday against Houston at Home Depot Center. The Colombian striker signed his contract Thursday, general manager Jose Domene confirmed in a text message to ESPN Los Angeles.

Domene said Angel would not occupy a Designated Player slot, for those whose salary exceeds the $350,000 budget maximum, but did not say whether the club used allocation money to pay down his salary-cap hit or that he signed a contract under the DP figure.

Angel, 36, made $1 million in base salary last season, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union. He scored seven goals in nine games for Chivas after arriving in an August trade from the Galaxy, which needed to clear a DP slot to sign Irish forward Robbie Keane.

Angel, 36, is one of Major League Soccer's deadliest forwards, with 71 goals in five seasons, the first four with the New York Red Bulls. A former star at Colombian powerhouse Atletico Nacional, Argentine giant River Plate and Aston Villa in England, he spent the entire preseason with Chivas while finalizing his contract for this year. He and Domene had reported there was one sticking point that delayed completion of the deal, but neither would identify it.

The club has provided no details on his contract. His salary won't be public until the Players Union, as is its custom, releases all of the league's figures in mid-spring.

Domene also said Chivas “will likely” sign former Cal Poly star Patrick McLain as its third goalkeeper on Friday. McLain has been battling UCLA All-American Brian Rowe for the job behind returning starter Dan Kennedy and newcomer Tim Melia.

That likely will finalize the Goats roster for the start of the MLS season. They would have 25 players on their active roster -- including forward Tristan Bowen, who is on loan to KSV Roeselare in Belgium -- with five slots available. Six remaining players have been on trial with Chivas, and head coach Robin Fraser has repeatedly introduced trialists to camp since taking over as head coach 14 months ago. More could be coming.

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CARSON -- Rauwshan McKenzie has patiently awaited his chance, and he's willing to wait a little longer, if need be.

The 25-year-old center back, Chivas USA's newest signing, mostly has sat and watched through his first four Major League Soccer seasons, and a fine showing in the Goats' preseason camp the past month or so probably isn't going to give him a regular starting gig this year either.

But it's going to give him the opportunity to play ample minutes, and with that, who knows?

“I think if you look at his career, if he may have landed in some other places, maybe it would have been a little different, because he does have a lot of ability ...,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said following training Monday at Home Depot Center. “I think he's definitely got the ability to be a good defender in MLS, and we're glad we have the opportunity to have him.”

McKenzie was a raw apprentice in his first two seasons, with Kansas City, where Jimmy Conrad was the leader in the back. He spent the past two years as cover for Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, the best center-back tandem in MLS.

All told, he's played in just 11 league games, 20 first-team competitive matches and 21 reserve-league games. And he figures to back up Heath Pearce and Colombian newcomer John Alexander Valencia in central defense this year.

“Those guys are more experienced than I am,” said McKenzie, who put pen to paper Friday afternoon. “So I just try to learn from them every day in practice. I've obviously got to keep working hard and hope when the opportunity comes that I'm ready to go.”

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CHIVAS USA: Minda's choice? His heart

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
10:09
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CARSON -- Oswaldo Minda grew into a commanding central midfielder while with Deportivo Quito, where he won three Ecuadoran titles in four years before signing with Chivas USA in December.


His new club, of course, is strongly affiliated with the original Chivas -- Club Deportivo Guadalajara. The Goats are, more or less, under their big brother's umbrella.

So when Deportivo Quito plays Tuesday night at Guadalajara in a Copa Libertadores group opener, who is Minda cheering for?

“Oh, you're putting me on the spot here ...,” he said through a translator. “It's going to be a very dynamic game.

“Quito's bringing in a lot of young players. They're a team that's very dynamic, and this is a group that's been together for four or five seasons. I saw [Guadalajara] play against Morelia [on Saturday]. It's a team that unfortunately has a lot of problems -- they're very young, primarily. As time goes by, they'll bring it back. They'll be all right.”

Guadalajara is struggling -- winless in its first five matches in the Mexican Primera Division's second-half Clausura championship after posting the best regular-season record in the fall Apertura. Deportivo, with Minda, just won the Ecuadoran title, and it's making its fourth straight trip to South America's club championship (and seeking its first knockout-stage berth since 1989).

Minda says he'll be watching (Fox Deportes, 6 p.m.) with Ecuadoran friends, and that he hopes it's “a good show for everybody ... and that the best team wins.”

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GALAXY: Nakazawa in 'happiest' days

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
7:25
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CARSON -- Kyle Nakazawa couldn't wait to get home. He was on a plane almost the minute his trade to the Galaxy was completed Wednesday and was out at practice, wearing No. 34, Thursday morning at Home Depot Center.

“Happiest couple days of my career so far,” he beamed when the session was over. “You know, I couldn't be happier -- being back home, playing in front of family and friends, and, of course, playing for the defending champs, a great organization. I couldn't be happier.”

Kyle Nakazawa
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireKyle Nakazawa, a UCLA product from Palos Verdes, is thrilled to be with the Galaxy.

The former UCLA All-American from Palos Verdes Estates arrives after two years with the Philadelphia Union, where he started 22 of his 36 Major League Soccer appearances but struggled to find a regular role in Peter Nowak's system. He had heard word of talks between the clubs before, “but nothing materialized, and then the last couple days things kind of came together.”

The deal, with the Galaxy also picking up a 2013 second-round draft pick and surrendering an international slot for this season, was finalized Wednesday afternoon Philly time, “and I was on a plane back here already,” Nakazawa said. “I was happy for what happened in Philadelphia. It was a good two years. But like I say, I couldn't be happier to be back home playing here.”

The 23-year-old midfielder, who played for the Irvine Strikers and at Peninsula High School before joining the U.S. under-17 national team's Florida residency in advance of the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, adds to L.A.'s deepening midfield. He provides head coach Bruce Arena another option -- to go with former Bruins teammate Michael Stephens and three second-year players, playmaker Paolo Cardozo, organizer Dan Keat and winger Hector Jimenez -- behind the anticipated first-choice quartet: Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas and Mike Magee.

“I think he's a very good two-way player,” Arena said. “He plays simple. He's a very good competitor. In the college level he could score goals; at the professional level we saw that he was a very good player on set pieces, serving balls, hitting free kicks. He's got some qualities that we can use on our team.”

Nakazawa likely won't get the chance in too many dead-ball situations -- David Beckham is the Galaxy's primary set-piece taker, and Landon Donovan is No. 2 -- but his versatility will come in handy as Arena rotates his lineup among at least 41 competitive matches. Nakazawa is a central midfielder by trade but can play on the flanks, too, especially with the Galaxy, which doesn't use its wide midfielders as out-and-out wingers.

“I'm just looking to help this team in any form I'm asked upon,” Nakazawa said. “Any position on the field that Bruce and the coaching staff wants me to step up and play, I'm willing to do, and just work as hard as I can and help the team get another championship.”

He describes himself as a “linking player” who is “trying to grow myself more into a box-to-box midfielder” and realizes adding goals to his résumé is part of his evolution “to become a complete professional.” He scored 20 at UCLA, but has just one (and three assists) in MLS play. He started 14 games last year as the second-year Union qualified for the postseason, but Nowak has turned over his roster during the offseason. Nakazawa was the 13th departure.

“I don't know what's going on, but I know there's a lot of changes, and, you know, I was one of those players going out,” he said. “But I think the situation worked out well for me.”

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GALAXY: Snubbed Dunivant looks ahead

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
8:06
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DunivantKelvin Kuo/US PresswireTodd Dunivant had hoped to be trying to impress Jurgen Klinsmann at U.S. national team camp this month.


CARSON -- Todd Dunivant should have been in Panama on Wednesday, getting a look at left back with the U.S. national team. Instead he was at Home Depot Center, taking part in the first stages of the Galaxy's preparations for the coming season.

The veteran defender is coming off an MLS Best XI campaign that figured to vault him into U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's first January camp -- especially considering the Americans' slim pickings on the left -- but the call never came.

Dunivant, who has been passed over so many times, took the news with a sense of resignation and sharpened his focus for the task at hand: helping the Galaxy build on its phenomenal success last season while bolstering a backline that has lost its leader.

The Galaxy is what really matters, Dunivant knows, but it still would have been nice to spend the past couple of weeks showing off for Klinsmann and his staff.

“That stuff's always a head-scratcher sometimes, but it's out of my control,” Dunivant, 31, said as the Galaxy opened their preseason camp this week. “And I've got to just to what I can do with the Galaxy, and if it's enough to get me a look, then it is. This time around it wasn't, but I'm gonna keep doing my thing here.

Bruce [Arena] demands a lot out of us, and if we're doing well for him, he demands a national-team level out of us. And I think you saw last year, you saw a lot of guys step up their games and play at that kind of a level. And that's what Bruce demands. I mean, he was the national team coach for eight years.”

Dunivant certainly met the demands last year. An elegant attacking left back who has sharpened his defensive skills remarkably over the years, he was L.A.'s most consistent performer -- and he went the distance in a team-best 32 league games, all four playoff matches, all six CONCACAF Champions League games and one of the U.S. Open Cup matches. He also appeared in all six friendlies.

“Todd has been very good ... for the most part rock solid,” Arena said during the playoffs last year. “This is possibly Todd's best year in the league. [It's about] experience, just understanding the areas he's had to be a little bit better in and being more consistent. I think he's accomplished that.”

Klinsmann's snub has provided some benefits, allowing Dunivant more offseason time to rest before what could be the longest season the Galaxy has ever played. The first game that counts is March 7, a Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Toronto FC. They hope to play, preferably at home again, in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 1. And if in April they win the Champions League title, they'll be in Morocco for he Dec. 11-21 FIFA Club World Cup.

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CHIVAS USA: Vagenas adds experience

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
10:14
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CARSON -- Peter Vagenas has been a part of teams that have won eight trophies in a 12-year Major League Soccer career, playing a significant role in some of the triumphs, and that alone makes him attractive to Chivas USA.

The veteran midfielder from Pasadena (St. Francis HS/UCLA) joined the Goats' preseason preparations this week and is set to sign with the club, likely on Saturday.

Peter Vagenas
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireMidfielder Peter Vagenas of Chivas USA.

“We told you we were looking for experienced players, right? And Pete's been through the wars,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said after Friday morning's fitness session at Home Depot Center. “He's won championships, he's been a very instrumental part of very good teams in this league. When the opportunity came up to get him, it was something we really had to jump at.”

Vagenas, 33, comes to Chivas after a season with Vancouver, in which he started 13 of the 16 league games in which he appeared. He spent the previous two years with Seattle, making 21 league appearances, after nine seasons with the Galaxy.

He helped L.A. win two MLS Cups, two U.S. Open Cups, a CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the 2002 Supporters' Shield, captaining the Galaxy to a MLS Cup/U.S. Open Cup “double” in 2005. He also was with two U.S. Open Cup-winning sides with Seattle.

“We've known Pete ... gosh, his first year was my last year with the Galaxy. So I've known him a long time,” Fraser said. “[Assistant coach] Greg [Vanney] and Jim [Liston, the fitness coach] know him even better than I do. ... Pete's the kind of guy who has been an important part of locker rooms with very successful teams. And we keep coming back to that, looking for guys who have track record of success. And he's been very good.”

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CHIVAS USA: Smith's back and it's good

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
11:34
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CARSON -- Ryan Smith's disappearance was among the oddest occasions in Major League Soccer last season, and the mystery surrounding his departure for England just three months into the campaign led to understandable doubt he'd be around when Chivas USA opened its preseason camp this week.

Ryan Smith
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesRyan Smith, right, had to leave MLS last season to be with his ailing mother in England.

Turns out that was never in question.

The London-born midfielder, whose rights Chivas acquired from Sporting Kansas City in a November trade, is in great spirits as he begins his tenure in Southern California, and he understands there are questions about why he left last June.

Smith, 25, who came up in his neighborhood club Arsenal's system and played for Leicester City, Derby County, Millwall, Southampton and Crystal Palace, was an immediate hit when he joined K.C. in 2007. He's a creative midfielder with uncommon qualities, and he scored three goals with seven assists that season. Injuries slowed him early last year, and then in mid-June, he was gone.

All Sporting would say: Family reasons.

“I had to leave last summer to return to look after my mum,” Smith said. “What a lot of people don't know if the reason why I left is to be close to her because she suffers from lupus, which is an [autoimmune] disease, and it's a permanent illness as well. Nobody knew that apart from the coaching staff at Kansas City, and that was the reason I was sent home.”

He went on trial at Real Zaragoza in Spain, but “nothing worked out over there for whatever reason,” Smith said. Then he “spoke to the guys here at Chivas, and they wanted to take me, and that was it. It was pretty much done as quickly as I found out.”

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GALAXY: Ronaldinho's aim elsewhere?

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
12:55
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If reports that Ronaldinho could be coming to Major League Soccer are more than just speculation or posturing, then don't be too surprised if he ends up somewhere other than the Galaxy.


That's the latest from France, where some of the Brazilian superstar's representatives are based: that the “big offer” being prepared is not with L.A.

Ronaldinho, 31, has been linked to the Galaxy for some time, and there were reports in Europe and Brazil that he was bound for L.A. before signing last January with Rio de Janeiro-based Flamengo following a decade in Europe with Paris-Saint Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan.

Reports have resurfaced, claiming the attacker could be the replacement if David Beckham signs with Paris Saint-Germain, as French media claim he will do shortly after New Year's, but MLS-News, a French website that covers MLS and is an “official partner” of University Elite Athletes USA -- a French management agency working to move Ronaldinho to the U.S. league -- says that might not be so.

“Yes, we're trying to bring Ronnie to the league, but there may be a surprise in which club he could play for,” said Jerome Meary, a University Elite Athletes USA representative the website said was “handling the case jointly with MLS.”

“We are preparing a big offer, but it is not with Los Angeles.”

Meary told MLS-News that the Galaxy has right of refusal on Ronaldinho. The player's French adviser Michael Wiesenfeld, founder of the New York-based European Football Group agency (and a former marketing assistant at PSG), last week told the website that negotiations with the Galaxy had begun last summer and “are intensifying.”

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GALAXY: Sao Paulo wants Juninho

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
6:17
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Juninho's time in Southern California might be over amid reports that Sao Paulo plans to keep him after two years' seasoning with the Galaxy.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who played a prominent role in L.A.'s successes this season in Major League Soccer and the CONCACAF Champions League, earlier this week signed a three-year contract extension with the Brazilian giant, which had loaned him to the Galaxy the past two years.

The Galaxy had been trying to acquire Juninho, who in November said he wanted to stay in L.A.

Fabio Mello, the player's agent, told Brazil's Globo media group that the club plans to use Juninho in its first team “and we agreed for him to stay.”

Galaxy coach/general manager Bruce Arena has not responded to requests earlier this week for comment, and he was not available Thursday.

L.A. could lose both of its starting central midfielders in the space of a week. David Beckham, Juninho's partner in the middle, must decide whether to re-sign with the Galaxy or accept a lucrative offer from Paris Saint-Germain.

Arena already has lined up once replacement, acquiring Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican power Alajuelense.

UPDATE (7:45 p.m.): Juninho has confirmed, via his Twitter account, that he will be playing for Sao Paulo. In successive posts, he tweeted, “I want to thank Galaxy and all of my fans for your kindness and support for the past two years that I was on the team” and “I will always have a place for you in my heart. I want to let you know that I have decided to re-sign with Sao Paulo fc.”

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CHIVAS USA: Alvarez arrives via re-entry

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
4:48
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Chivas USA has decided to invest in veteran winger/forward Arturo Alvarez, claiming him in Monday's first-stage draft in Major League Soccer's re-entry process, even with his salary close to $200,000.

Alvarez, 26, a Texan who plays for El Salvador's national team after representing the U.S. at the youth levels, has scored 24 goals and 20 assists in 187 MLS games over nine seasons, but he's coming off an unhappy experience at Real Salt Lake, where he played in just 16 games, starting eight, in 2011.

He has started 20 games in a season just three, in 2007 at FC Dallas, in 2008 between Dallas and San Jose, and in 2009 in San Jose. He scored a career-best six goals in 2008 and five the following season.

“Arturo is a player who I've always thought had a very interesting skill set,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles. “He's very, very comfortable on the ball, good taking players on. The type of player who I think it is very difficult for defenders to deal with.”

Alvarez is out-of-contract, and Chivas is forced to make a “Bona Fide Offer” that is at least equal to Alvarez's 2011 salary, which was $192,585 ($201,933.50 average guaranteed compensation). The forward also is believed to be considering options in Mexico.

“I think there is a possibility that Arturo has had an eye for leaving the league for a long time ...,” Fraser said. “The word on him is thatt he's always wanting to go overseas. Hopefully, he's interested in staying. Perhaps he goes overseas and doesn't like to options available to him, in which case we have the opportunity to keep him.”

Fraser said Alvarez's price tag was not a deterrent.

“There's a negotiation to be had, no matter what,” Fraser said. “I think he's a player who can be extremely, extremely dangerous in this league and has shown he's a player who can be very dangerous creating opportunities both for himself and other people. We don't necessarily look at that number and say no way, because we do think he can be very productive.”

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MLS CUP: Galaxy's title-game history

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
3:24
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  • 1996/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.

strong>D.C. United 3, Galaxy 2 (OT)
L.A. takes a 2-0 lead into the final 10 minutes, watches it disappear, then loses to an Eddie Pope header four minutes into sudden-death overtime. In a Nor'easter. Without captain Dan Calichman, suspended for playoff yellow cards.
  • 1999/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.
D.C. United 2, Galaxy 0
Bad fortune all around. Top defender Robin Fraser goes down because of a shoulder injury in the opening minutes, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman whiffs on a back pass to gift D.C. a second goal. And that was it.
  • 2001/COLUMBUS, OHIO
San Jose Earthquakes 2, Galaxy 1 (OT)
Mexican star Luis Hernandez provides an early lead, but Landon Donovan is a 19-year-old star for San Jose, not L.A., and his first MLS Cup strike pulls the Quakes even before halftime. Dwayne De Rosario comes off the bench to tally the overtime winner.
  • 2002/FOXBOROUGH, MASS.
Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 0 (OT)
The third trip to Foxborough brings success, finally! Sigi Schmid delivered the first MLS Cup crown to the Galaxy in front of an event-record 61,316, with Carlos Ruiz's strike 23 minutes into overtime -- just moments after Winston Griffiths hit the crossbar from distance for New England -- starting the celebration.
  • 2005/FRISCO, TEXAS
Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 0 (OT)
The Galaxy was the bottom seed for the playoffs, but they went on a run after stunning San Jose in the first round and conquered the Revs again. Guatemalan forward Guillermo “Pando” Ramirez -- scoring his first goal on his 62nd shot of the season, worst ratio in MLS history -- was the hero, knocking in a cleared corner kick 17 minutes into overtime.
  • 2009/SEATTLE
Real Salt Lake 1, Galaxy 1 (OT)
(RSL wins on penalties, 5-4)

Injuries dogged the Galaxy, with goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and defender Omar Gonzalez forced to the sidelines in the second half, and a first-half lead through Mike Magee disappeared in the 64th minute, courtesy of Robbie Findley. Nick Rimando was the difference in the shootout, making two saves to give bottom seed RSL an unexpected title.

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