Matt Taylor's scoring exploits this season surely will provide options this summer. The former Chivas USA forward from Irvine has been one of the German third division's deadliest finishers, a bright spot in his club's subpar campaign.
Taylor, 29, who played at Irvine High School and UCLA, netted his 14th and 15th goals this season for Rot Weiss Ahlen, a small club in the Muenster region of western Germany that brought him in from second-tier FSV Frankfurt last August.
Since then, Taylor has tallied 15 times in 27 league games, last week adding a pair with the second goal in a 2-0 win over SSV Jahn Regensberg and Rot Weiss' lone tally in a 5-1 loss at VfB Stuttgart II.
Taylor hadn't hit the net in his five previous games, and he's scored in bunches throughout the season, with three multigoal games, five in a four-game stretch last fall, three in succession upon returning from winter break, and three in three games last month.
Rot Weiss (10-15-9), which is 16th in the 20-team 3.Bundesliga, is pretty good when Taylor scores (7-3-2) but not so fine when he's shut out (2-11-2) or doesn't play (1-1-5).
TIE IS A LOSS: Rangers FC's Scottish Premier League title hopes likely were lost in a scoreless draw Sunday with Old Firm rival Celtic FC that kept the Blues atop the standings.
Rangers (26-5-3), with Fontana's Maurice Edu in midfield, retained a one-point lead over its Glasgow rival after sharing the points in the seventh meeting this season, but Celtic (25-3-5) has one game in hand, and that's what matters most.
The Bhoys also have a superior goal difference, plus-52 to plus-44, so if the teams finish even on points, they're in position to claim the trophy.
Rangers has four games left, at Motherwell, home against Hearts and Dundee United and at Kilmarnock in the May 15 finale; Celtic plays the same quartet and has a game at Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It also meets Motherwell in the May 21 Scottish F.A. Cup final.
TROPHY TOWN: Which Europe-based player with local roots stands to enjoy the biggest trophy haul this season? It's Dallas Moore, from Santa Monica, whose midseason transfer to St. Neots Town in the seventh tier of English pro soccer has brought unexpected riches.
The center back, who arrived from Halesowen Town -- the worst side in the Southern League's Premier League -- in January, is celebrating one championship this week, could snag another next week and is set to claim a third not long after.
St. Neots (33-1-5) in the past week advanced to the Hinchingbrooke Cup final, clinched the United Counties League's Premier League title, and began preparations for next Monday's Huntingdonshire Senior Cup title game.
The other Santa Monica-born player in England's minor leagues, Hednesford Town's Jay Denny, is preparing for a playoff opener Thursday. The Pitmen (26-9-5), who won the Southern League Cup, finished second in Southern League's Premier League -- they wrapped the regular season with a 6-0 rout of Moore's former club -- and are seeking promotion to Conference North or South, the second level of “non-league” football.
ETC.: Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan went the distance as RSC Anderlecht fell back to second in Belgium's Jupiler League with a 1-1 draw at KAA Gent. Kljestan didn't feature in the following game, a 2-1 win at Lokeren that left Les Mauves (21-5-9) one point behind Racing Genk and two in front of Standard Liege halfway through the 10-game championship round. … Another superb outing by former UCLA goalkeeper Brad Friedel with Aston Villa, with big saves on Robert Huth's half-volley and Kenwyne Jones' header in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City.
AREA PLAYERS IN EUROPE
D CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Alta Loma/UCLA)
Club: Saint-Etienne (France, Ligue 1)
Last week: 90 minutes at left back as Les Verts (11-10-11) dropped to eighth place with a 2-0 loss Sunday at Girondins Bordeaux
Season: 28 league games (28 starts) with 2 goals, 30 games (30 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday at 15th-place AS Monaco (8-10-14)
M MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier League)
Last week: Was not on the game-day roster for Saturday's 1-1 draw vs. Stoke City
Season: 2 games (1 start) in all competitions for Aston Villa; 22 games (20 starts) with 4 goals for Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
Next: Saturday at 12th-place West Bromwich Albion (10-14-10)
M/D JAY DENNY (Santa Monica)
Club: Hednesford Town (England, Southern League Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes as the second-place Pitmen (26-9-5) won, 2-0, Saturday vs. Brackley Town and 6-0 Monday vs. Halesowen Town
Season: 40 league games (40 starts) with 1 goal, 52 games (51 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions
Next: Thursday in promotion semifinal vs. fifth-place Leamington (24-10-6)
M MAURICE EDU (Fontana)
Club: Rangers FC (Scotland, Premier League)
Last week: 90 minutes as the Blues (25-5-3) won, 4-0, Tuesday at Dundee United; started, played 83 minutes in Sunday's 0-0 draw vs. Celtic to maintain a one-point lead atop the SPL standings.
Season: 29 league games (23 starts) with 2 goals, 43 games (36 starts) with 5 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday at sixth-place Motherwell (13-15-6)
G BRAD FRIEDEL (Bay Village, Ohio/UCLA)
Club: Aston Villa (England, Premier Division)
Last week: 90 minutes with 2 saves as the Villans (10-13-11) slipped to 11th with a 1-1 draw Saturday vs. Stoke City
Season: 34 league games (34 starts), 56 goals allowed, 102 saves, 6 shutouts; 39 games (39 starts), 68 goals allowed, 121 saves, 6 shutouts in all competitions
Next: Saturday at 12th-place West Bromwich Albion (10-14-10)
M SACHA KLJESTAN (Huntington Beach)
Club: RSC Anderlecht (Belgium, Jupiler League)
Last week: 90 minutes as Les Mauves (21-5-9) dropped to second place with a 1-1 playoff-round draw Wednesday at KAA Gent; was not on the game-day roster for Sunday's 2-1 win at Lokeren
Season: 20 league games (15 starts) with 2 goals, 28 games (23 starts) with 3 goals in all competitions
Next: Sunday vs. fourth-place Club Brugge (17-10-8)
D DALLAS MOORE (Santa Monica)
Club: St. Neots Town FC (England, UCL Premier Division)
Last week: Did not play in the 1-0 win Wednesday over Biggleswade Town in the Hinchingbrooke Cup semifinals; 90 minutes for the league-champion Saints (33-1-5) in a 4-0 win Saturday vs. Daventry United and a 4-1 win Monday vs. St. Ives Town
Season: 14 league games (14 starts) with 2 goals, 16 games (16 starts) with 2 goals in all competitions for St. Neots Town; 13 games (13 starts) with 1 goal for Halesowen Town (England)
Next: Saturday at fourth-place Long Buckby AFC (23-9-6), Monday vs. St. Ives Town in the Huntingdonshire Senior Cup final
F YURA MOVSISYAN (Pasadena/Pasadena City College)
Club: FC Krasnodar (Russia, Russian Premier League)
Last week: Did not play because of injury as sixth-place FCK (2-1-3) lost, 2-1, Wednesday at Spartak Moscow in a Russian Cup quarterfinal and 4-1 Sunday vs. Lokomotiv Moscow in a league game
Season: 2 league games (0 starts) with 1 goal, 3 games (0 starts) with 1 goal in all competitions for Krasnodar; 25 games (20 starts) with 14 goals for Randers (Denmark)
Next: Sunday vs. first-place Zenit St. Petersburg (4-1-1)
F MATT TAYLOR (Irvine/UCLA)
Club: Rot Weiss Ahlen (Germany, 3. Bundesliga)
Last week: Started, played 85 minutes, with a goal for 16th-place Rot Weiss (10-16-9) in a 2-0 win Wednesday vs. SSV Jahn Regensberg; 90 minutes with another goal in Sunday's 5-1 loss at VfB Stuttgart
Season: 27 league games (27 starts) with 15 goals, 28 games (28 starts) with 15 goals in all competitions
Next: Saturday at 17th-place VfR Aalen (8-14-12)
F BOBBY WOOD (Irvine)
Club: TSV 1860 Munich (Germany, 2. Bundesliga)
Past week: Did not dress, because of an ankle injury, as the eighth-place Lions (13-9-9) won, 3-0, Saturday at fourth-place SpVgg Greuther Fuerth
Season: 5 league games (0 starts), 23 games (14 starts) with 7 goals in all competitions
Next: Friday at first-place Hertha Berlin (20-5-5)