Los Angeles Soccer: Esteban Rodriguez
Juan Agudelo, after his first training session as a Chivas USA forward and again after his first game with the club, spoke of his excitement to return to Red Bull Arena and face his former club.
That game has arrived, but Agudelo is missing, off with the U.S. national team in Florida preparing for next month's World Cup qualifiers. He is, however, a big part of the conversation heading into Wednesday's Major League Soccer showdown against the New York Red Bulls.
So, too, defender Heath Pearce, who a week ago was on Field 6 at Home Depot Center preparing for a tough stretch of games on Chivas' schedule. Now he's anchor to the Red Bulls' backline, ready to take on his former club.
If ever a trade were win-win, Thursday's was it. Chivas (4-6-1) picked up a young, rising star that New York, for whatever reason, had no interest in. The Red Bulls' thin defense got a versatile veteran with national team experience. And then Chivas, in another trade, picked up Pearce's replacement, veteran Danny Califf. Everybody is happy.
Agudelo, just 19, already has impressed with the national team and is a regular on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's rosters. But he didn't fit in stylistically at New York and struggled for playing time last year behind Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers and this year behind Henry and Kenny Cooper, although he also was dealing with a knee injury.
Henry is happy to see him at Chivas.
“[Red Bulls GM] Erik Soler said it at halftime [last weekend]: He wanted to go. So you’ve got to respect that,” Henry told the New York Post. “He wasn’t playing here, so I thought and he thought actually that it was a waste of time for him. ... I know some people were upset about it, had [something] to say about it, but at the end of the day, if you think about Agu, he had to play. It’s good for him.”
Klinsmann weighed in when he announced that Agudelo, who debuted for the Goats in Saturday's 1-0 SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy, was coming into camp with the U.S.
Galaxy midfielder William Raygoza and forward Jaime Villarreal -- the younger brother of L.A. Home Grown Player Jose Villarreal -- are on the 35-man roster, as are Chivas USA midfielder Marco Delgado and Ben Spencer.
Former Chivas USA midfielder Esteban “Stevie” Rodriguez, a star on the U.S. team that played at last year's FIFA U-17 World Cup, also is on the roster. Rodriguez signed in early February with Club Tijuana after spending the first week of preseason training with the Goats' first team.
Delgado and Spencer train with Chivas' first team, and the club is angling to sign Delgado as a Home Grown Player.
Here is the list of local players invited to the camp:
F Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC/Alta Loma), Chula Vista
M Marco Delgado (Chivas USA/Carson), Glendora (Glendora HS)
M William Raygoza (Galaxy/Carson), El Monte (South El Monte HS)
F Esteban Rodriguez (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Palmdale (Bell Gardens HS)
F Ben Spencer (Chivas USA/Carson), Albuquerque, N.M.
F Jaime Villarreal (Galaxy/Carson), Inglewood (Leuzinger HS)
CARSON -- Chivas USA's second preseason match was a little bit like the first, in that there were some very fine things to be seen across midfield. That's good news -- it's the area of the field the Goats amassed so much depth over the offseason.
Newcomer Ryan Smith and fourth-year veteran Michael Lahoud looked very sharp on the wings and Peter Vagenas paired well in the middle with debutant Oswaldo Minda as Chivas romped to a 5-0 triumph Friday at Home Depot Center over FC Hasental, a Thousand Oaks club that plays in the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League.
Lahoud and Smith scored first-half goals, Juan Pablo Angel converted a penalty kick, Chris Cortez added a second-half goal, and trialist Cesar Romero -- a very interesting prospect -- netted at the finish to push the Goats to 1-1-0, whatever that's worth.
“It’s one of those things where we’re looking at specific things: how we move as a unit, our thoughts attacking-wise, and it’s great to see for a group of guys that is basically playing together for the first time, that they had a number of good ideas,” said head coach Robin Fraser, who started used a 4-2-3-1 alignment in the first half, just as he did in last week's wind-blown hour exercise against the Ventura County Fusion. “Cohesion was decent, and it’ll get better, but at the end of it, as we’re trying to get results going forward, it’s important.”
Smith, an Englishman whose rights were acquired from Sporting Kansas City the day after the MLS Cup final, is a speedy attacking presence on the left flank. Lahoud is prospering in his best position after spending most of last season at right back.
“Both players, they're taking steps forward and working on fitness, but one of the keys for us is going to be how dangerous our wide players are,” Fraser said. “Both guys showed the ability to be dangerous today, and it's good that we keep moving in that direction where things seem to be getting better.”
Minda slid in next to Vagenas at the base of the five-man midfield and showed he can be commanding, even if he's not match-fit yet.
“He's very solid, he's got a lot of good ideas before he gets the ball, his first touch is clean,” Fraser said. “He covers ground, he covers ground, he covers ground. He’s a guy who is very experienced and very professional player. He brings a lot to us.”
So might Romero, a former U.S. under-18 national-teamer from Chula Vista who has played in Mexico's (with Murcielagos FC) and Germany's (with TSG Thannhausen) lower divisions and is tearing up the Premier Arena Soccer League (local entrants: Anaheim Bolts) -- with 33 goals in seven games, including two nine-goal games, for the Tijuana Revolucion.
CARSON -- Chivas USA has been looking to tap into Southern California's rich pool of young talent, and the first real foray was on display as the club opened its preseason camp Monday morning at Home Depot Center.
Salvadoran midfielder Marvin Iraheta, who came to Chivas' academy in last year's merger with Cosmos West, was presented, sort of, as the Goats' newest signing. He was the U.S. Developmental Academy's U-17/18 Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season and played at Old Trafford last year with a Cosmos side constructed for Paul Scholes' testimonial match.
Iraheta, just 19, is looking for more.
“I'm very happy about the opportunity I'm being given,” Iraheta, who moved from El Salvador to Pasadena when he was 17 and holds a green card, said through a translator. “This is something new for me, and I'm going to work as hard as I can so I can reach the top.”
Fraser, who Monday also welcomed English midfielder Ryan Smith, right back James Riley, goalkeeper Tim Melia and rookie forward Casey Townsend to the club, not only likes Iraheta, but also what he represents.
“Marvin is a tremendous product of Southern California soccer,” the Goats' head coach said. “He's a kid who was the Development Academy's Player of the Year a couple year back, certainly highly sought-after, well-recognized for his achievements. He's a non-nonsense, hard-working midfielder. He's a battler. He's a true competitor.
“It's great. This is what we've talked about since we got here [a year ago]: to be able to find and unearth some of the local talent that's here, and Marvin is a good example of that. he's a kid who's excelled as a youth player and is certainly moving into this next stage of his career.”
Another local talent, former Chivas Academy defender Mario Ledezma, is on trial with the Goats. The El Camino Real High School grad had been in Guadalajara's system.
There's still one game left on the schedule, Saturday night against Seattle at Home Depot Center, but it means nothing in the grand scheme, not much more than Tuesday's MLS Reserve League clash with Vancouver, a 1-0 triumph claimed on Victor Estupiņan's goal near the end of the first half.
Most newsworthy was a second-half appearance by French midfielder Nicolas Dieuze, a 32-year-old midfielder who has played alongside assistant coach Greg Vanney and midfielder Laurent Courtois.
Dieuze, out of contract since his pact with Grenoble Foot 38 expired last spring, came on at halftime for Mariano Trujillo and fared well in his first real action for the Goats.
“Where we are, we're open to everything, and we're looking at everyone,” Fraser said. “We're going to look at everything we can see, everything we think might be worthwhile. With Nicolas, the opportunity to look at him came up, and we figured we'd take it.”
Dieuze played with Courtois at Toulouse from 1999 to 2001, then was Vanney's teammate at Bastia from 2001 through 2003. He then returned to Toulouse for five years, spent a season with Le Havre and two at Grenoble.
“I think he's an excellent two-way midfielder,” Vanney said. “He's an interesting player. We're always looking to gain some experience and look at players who can maybe help our team in the future.”
By the time McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS), a 16-year-old phenom signed in January through Major League Soccer's Home Grown Player apparatus, came on in the 57th minute for North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez, the Germans already were up by four goals and certain of a Fourth of July quarterfinal against England.
Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) and Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) started all four games in the U-17 World Cup for the Yanks, who finished second in Group D with a 1-1-1 record but were shut out in their final two matches. Esteban Rodriguez scored the second goal in the 3-0 romp over the Czech Republic in the U.S.'s tournament opener.
Paul Arriola, a San Diego-area forward who plays for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC youth club, started three games in the competition, including Thursday's. Murrieta's Wade Hamilton (Murrieta Valley HS) was one of two backups to starting goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh and did not play.
Three of the four quarterfinal matchups have been set. Uruguay will meet Group D winner Uzbekistan and Japan will face Brazil in games Sunday. Monday's second game will pit Mexico or Panama against France or Ivory Coast. The semifinals are July 7 in Guadalajara and Torreon, and the title and third-place games are July 10 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
The U.S. did just enough to advance to the knockout stage at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, wrapping up Group D play with a scoreless tie, then prevailing in a game of chance when defeat might have been preferable.
Saturday's result in Pachuca sent the Americans (1-1-1) and their opponent, New Zealand (1-1-1), through to the round of 16. Because the teams were even on goal difference and goals scored, lots were drawn to determine that the U.S. was second and the Kiwis third in the group, behind Uzbekistan.
Might third place have been the spot to be? Perhaps so.
The Americans will face the Group E winner Thursday in Queretaro, and unless something extraordinary occurs, that will be Germany, which has routed Ecuador (6-1) and Burkina Faso (3-0) and on Sunday takes on Panama.
New Zealand on Wednesday gets Japan (2-0-1), which eked out a victory over Jamaica, tied France and dominated an Argentina side that has not impressed. The Uzbeks will face the No. 3 team from Group F, likely Ivory Coast and possibly Australia.
Mexico, France, England, Argentina, Congo, Uruguay and Ecuador also have clinched round-of-16 berths.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) and North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) were in the U.S. lineup again, and Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) and goalkeeper Wade Hamilton (Murrieta/Murrieta Valley HS) again watched from the bench.
Bobir Davlatov's stunning 13th-minute goal sent the Uzbeks ahead, and Abbosbek Makhstaliev converted a penalty kick to break a 1-1 draw in the 54th. Alfred Koroma, with his second goal of the tournament, tallied just after halftime.
Three local players started for the U.S.: Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS), North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) and Paul Arriola, who is from the San Diego area but plays club ball for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC. Galaxy forward Jack McBean, from Newport Beach (Corona del Mar HS), and goalkeeper Wade Hamilton, from Murrieta (Murrieta Valley HS) were among the unused substitutes.
The U.S. and New Zealand, a 1-0 loser to the Czech Repubic, top the group on goal difference (plus-2) and goals scored (four apiece) heading into their meeting Saturday in Pachuca.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez scored the second goal as the U.S. romped to an unexpectedly simple 3-0 victory Sunday over the Czech Republic in its Group D opener at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS/Cosmos West Academy) slotted deftly into the far post seven minutes into the second half from feed by Paul Arriola, a San Diego-area product who plays for Arsenal FC in Alta Loma.
San Diego's Alejandro Guido gave the U.S. a fifth-minute lead, and Sierra Leone-born Texan Alfred Koroma scored in the 89th in triple-digit heat in Torreon.
North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley/Central Aztecs) started up front for the U.S. Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) was an unused substitute.
The U.S. faces Uzbekistan on Wednesday in Torreon and New Zealand on Saturday in Pachuca.
The U.S. U-17 World Cup roster is out, and five players from the L.A. area -- including 16-year-old Galaxy forward Jack McBean -- are on it.
McBean, a Corona del Mar High School sophomore who signed at the end of January with the Galaxy through Major League Soccer's Home Grown Player mechanism, is the only first-team Major League Soccer player on coach Wilmer Cabrera's 21-man roster for the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. McBean has played with the Galaxy's reserve and academy teams but hasn't yet featured for the first team.
McBean and three others from the area -- midfielder Esteban Rodriguez and forwards Mario Rodriguez and Paul Arriola -- were part of the U.S. team that won the CONCACAF championship in February. Goalkeeper Wade Hamilton is the fifth local player.
Arriola lives south of San Diego but plays for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC, with Hamilton.
The Americans will face the Czech Republic (June 19 in Torreon), Uzbekistan (June 22 in Torreon) and New Zealand (June 25 in Pachuca) in Group D play.
Here's a list of the locals, with hometown, local high school and club team:
- Wade Hamilton (Murrieta), Murrieta Vallety HS/Arsenal FC
- Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale), Bell Gardens HS/Cosmos Academy West
- Paul Arriola (Chula Vista), Arsenal FC
- Jack McBean (Newport Beach), Corona del Mar HS/Galaxy
- Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood), Poly HS/Central Aztecs
Garden Grove's Luis Gil netted the third goal for the U.S. under-20 national team in a 3-3 draw Tuesday with France, part of a six-day training camp in Vichy with interim head coach Tab Ramos, the former U.S. national team star.
Gil, 17, who plays for Real Salt Lake, scored in the 54th minute to give the Americans a 3-1 lead in Carquefou, France. UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe also was in the starting lineup.
The teams will meet again Thursday.
U-17 DRAW: The U.S. under-17 national team was drawn into Group D with the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan and New Zealand for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The U.S. will play the Czechs on June 19 and Uzbeks on June 22, both in Torreon, and New Zealand on June 25 in Pachuca.
Galaxy forward Jack McBean came off the bench to set up two goals as the U.S. captured CONCACAF's under-17 boys championship Sunday with a 3-0 overtime triumph over Canada.
McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar), who last month signed a "Home Grown Player" contract with the Galaxy, came on for fellow Southern Californian Marco Rodriguez (North Hollywood/Poly HS in Sun Valley) with 10 minutes to go in regulation. He set up goals by Andrew Oliver and Alfred Koroma as the Americans won the first U-17 title CONCACAF has awarded since the mid-1990s.
Nathan Smith broke the scoreless draw two minutes into overtime with a 35-minute strike. Oliver made it 2-0 eight minutes later on a breakaway from McBean's throw-in, his fourth goal of the tournament, and Koroma netted the finale in the 119th.
Both teams finished with 10 players after Oliver and Canada's Marco Lapenna were sent off after a scuffle in the 117th minute.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) went the distance again for the U.S. The midfielder was the only American to play every minute of the tournament -- and the only U.S. player to start all five of the team's games. Mario Rodriguez and McBean saw action in for games.
Both teams had already qualified for the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The U.S. had previously won the tournament in 1983, when it was a U-16 event, and in 1992. Coach Wilmer Cabrera, a former pro defender who represented Colombia at the 1990 World Cup in Italyc and played at the 1998 World Cup in France, has posted an 8-0-0 mark in FIFA U-17 qualifiers. The Americans were 3-0-0 two years ago at the CONCACAF championship in Mexico, but the semifinals and final were canceled over swine-flu virus concerns.
"It was a good final, and Canada was a great opponent," Cabrera told U.S. Soccer's Web site. "A lot of things happen in finals, and I'm really happy about this one. This is the first time we've won a championship like this at this level, and I'm proud of the kids and the work they did. To come here, play five games and win all five shows that they've been doing a good job."
Panama, which beat Jamaica, 1-0, in the third-place game, and the tournament-host Reggae Boyz also qualified for the World Cup. The draw will be held May 17 in Mexico City.
Fourteen countries have qualified for the 24-team tournament, including host Mexico. The others, aside from the CONCACAF teams: Australia, North Korea, Japan and Uzbekistan from Asia; Burkina Faso, Congo, Ivory Coast and Rwanda from Africa; and New Zealand from Oceania. South America will provide another four teams, and Europe will qualify six.
Marc Pelosi scored in the 10th minute and Andrew Oliver tallied in second-half stoppage for the U.S., which will meet Canada, a 1-0 victor over Panama, in the title game in Montego Bay.
McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS), who signed last month with the Galaxy as a "Home Grown Player," came off the bench in both of the Americans' group-stage games -- just 26 minutes in all -- but did not play in the quarterfinal win over El Salvador, which sent the U.S. to the FIFA U-17 World Cup, beginning in June in Mexico.
Midfielder Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood/Poly HS) was suspended for the game after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against El Salvador, but midfielder Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale/Bell Gardens HS) went the whole way for the U.S. He and defender Mobi Fehr are the only U.S. players who have been on the field for the entirety of every game.
There were two goals and three red cards in the final eight minutes of overtime in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but the Americans held on to advance to Thursday's semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's Jamaica-Honduras game.
Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) scored five minutes into the extra period to provide a 2-1 advantage, and Mark Pelosi tallied in the 112th to make it 3-1. The Americans lost defender Kellyn Acosta to a second yellow card a minute later, and goalkeeper Fernando Piņa and El Salvador's Jose Peņa were ejected after a final-minute collision in the box, leading to Gerardo Iraheta's penalty kick.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) played the full 120 in midfield for the U.S., but Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) did not feature.
Panama also clinched a berth in the June 18-July 10 World Cup in Mexico, beating Costa Rica, 1-0, to advance to a CONCACAF semifinal against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico, as World Cup host, is not taking part in the CONCACAF championship.
The U.S. opened the CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Monday with a 3-1 victory over Cuba, with Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez scoring a goal and North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez assisting Andrew Oliver's strike.
Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) and Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) were in Wilmer Cabrera's starting lineup for the Group B opener in Montego Bay, Jamaica. New Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) came on for Mario Rodriguez in the 73rd minute.
The U.S. wraps group play Friday against Panama, and a victory in the quarterfinals will clinch a berth at the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Alfred Koroma gave the U.S. a 27th-minute advantage, Oliver made it 2-0 from Mario Rodriguez's superb outlet pass in the first minute of the second half, and Esteban Rodriguez struck four minutes later. Frank Lopez scored Cuba's goal in the 68th.
Costa Rica beat Haiti, 3-1, in the Group A opener.