Los Angeles Soccer: Franck Songo'o

MLS wraps preps in L.A., Oxnard

February, 18, 2012

The Chicago Fire split a pair of games Saturday morning at Oxnard College, bringing to an end a series of 20 preseason matches involving Major League Soccer clubs in Carson and Oxnard.

Three more games were played in San Luis Obispo, and Chivas USA has a ticketed game Wednesday night in San Diego against Mexico's Club Tijuana.

Eight clubs, including Chivas and the Galaxy, trained this month at Home Depot Center or Oxnard College, several of them at both sites.

The San Jose Earthquakes beat the Fire, 2-0, in Oxnard's main stadium Saturday, with Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart and Brad Ring scoring first-half goals. The Fire rallied from a first-half deficit to beat the Ventura County Fusion, 2-1, on an adjacent field. Woodland Hills' Orr Barouch converted a penalty kick and set up Pari Pantazopoulos' strike to lift Chicago.

Thousand Oaks' Danny Barrera, who was in camp for the Fire, scored on a free kick, his second such goal in as many games. Barrera, a former UC Santa Barbara standout who is contracted to a Serbian club, scored a superb goal in the Fusion's loss Friday to the Montreal Impact at Home Depot Center.

BEST OF THE CAMPS: All in all, the soccer on display wasn't great. Everyone's in preseason form, which means lagging fitness, too many mistakes and too many connections still being made. Some matches were interesting only because you could hear everything said on the field, including a fair share of expletives. (Yes, you can swear in soccer, so long as you don't direct it at the ref.)

All that said, here were some of the good things we saw during the games in L.A. and Ventura counties:

BEST TEAM: The Portland Timbers clicked better than everyone else, with Cameroonian trialist Franck Songo'o leading one of the few attacks that appeared ready for the season to start. Portland went 3-0-1, scored four on the Galaxy and two against Houston and Chicago.

BEST PLAYER: It might be Songo'o. Or his teammate James Marcelin, a monster in midfield. We also liked what Sanna Nyassi brings to Montreal's attack, Michael Lahoud's and Ryan Smith's play on Chivas USA's flanks, and the effort Adam Cristman brings up front for the Galaxy. L.A. newcomer Marcelo Sarvas' vision and touch also impresses, and Oswaldo Minda is clearly going to be a solid midfield anchor for Chivas. If we have to pick one ... it's Songo'o.

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Portland wraps HDC stay with win

February, 15, 2012
If there were an MVP honor for Southern California's preseason slate, Portland Timbers trialist Franck Songo'o would be celebrating.

The Cameroonian midfielder, looking to move to Major League Soccer from Spanish club Albacete, burnished his chances to make the Timbers' roster with two more assists in a 2-0 win Wednesday over the Chicago Fire at Home Depot Center.

Songo'o also had two assists in a man-of-the-match performance in Portland's 4-1 romp over the Galaxy eight days ago. The Timbers were the most impressive of the eight teams training in SoCal -- that number includes the Galaxy and Chivas USA -- posting a 3-0-1 record. They also beat Houston, 2-0, and drew, 0-0, with Montreal.

Eric Alexander and Jorge Perlaza scored in the 120-minute exercise, and Portland coach John Spencer was pleased with his defense.

“We’ve now played against four decent teams in preseason and conceded one goal,” Spencer told his club's website. “For us, I’d rather be winning these games, because it builds confidence and spreads a good spirit amongst the group. The first part of the preseason is over, and I think we’re starting to hit our stride and we’re starting to look fitter and stronger.”

Chicago wraps its SoCal trip with a game Saturday morning at 9 against San Jose at Oxnard College.

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