Los Angeles Soccer: John Doyle
The U.S. and Mexico haven't met in the L.A. area since a 2000 friendly at the Coliseum, and if you want to lay blame for that, target CONCACAF (just one Gold Cup final in L.A., until this one, and Mexico didn't make it) and U.S. Soccer (no desire to play in front of 85,000 or so El Tri fanaticos).
So Saturday's Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl hearkens back to a tradition that went strong for a decade -- seven meetings here from 1991 through 2000, four of them friendlies) -- and dates to 1957, when Mexico drilled the Yanks, 7-2, in a World Cup qualifier in Long Beach.
In all, they've played a dozen times in L.A., Pasadena or Long Beach. Here are five of the best showdowns:
Nov. 6, 1960
United States 3, Mexico 3
Salvador “Chava” Reyes, the great Mexican hero of the 1950s and '60s (later part of Chivas USA's academy administration), scored twice as El Tri took a 3-0 lead in the first 21 minutes of a World Cup qualifier first leg before 8,000 at old Wrigley Field. The U.S. rallied as Helmut Bicek, Carl Fister and Al Zerhusen scored goals, then fell, 3-0, a week later in the second leg in Mexico City.
July 5, 1991
United States 2, Mexico 0
The Americans' triumph in the first Gold Cup was fueled by a surprise victory in a Coliseum semifinal as John Doyle (now GM of the San Jose Earthquakes) and Peter Vermes (head coach of Sporting Kansas City) netted second-half goals in front of 41,103 fans. El Tri's lineup included Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre, now its coach.
Jones, who played 164 times for the U.S. and spent 15 seasons with the Galaxy, as player and coach, before taking a position last month with the New York Cosmos, makes his initial appearance this year on the ballot, which arrived in voters' e-mail boxes Thursday.
He's a slam dunk. So is former U.S. national team backline anchor Eddie Pope, also among six newcomers on the eligibility list.
Others making their first appearances are Chivas USA assistant coach Carlos Llamosa, former Galaxy midfielder Chris Armas, Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis and former U.S. women's standout Danielle Slaton. Armas, among the four, is the best bet for first-year induction, although it is more likely one or more of 18 holdover join Jones (Westlake Village/Westlake HS and UCLA) and Pope in the class.
Our first choice among the holdovers: Dutch-born former U.S. star Earnie Stewart.
Others holdovers include Chivas USA head coach (and former Galaxy defender) Robin Fraser, former Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, former UCLA standout (and Seattle Sounders technical director) Chris Henderson, and two local players: former U.S. national team stars Joe-Max Moore (Irvine/Mission Viejo HS and UCLA) and John O'Brien (Playa del Rey/Brentwood School).
Others on the player ballot: Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes, Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak, New England Revolution VP of player personnel Mike Burns, former U.S. national-teamer Steve Trittschuh, former MLS stars Raul Diaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry, Roy Lassiter and Carlos Valderrama, indoor legend Victor Nogueira, and former U.S. women's national-teamers Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow, Tiffany Roberts and Tisha Venturini-Hoch.
The 10 names before the veterans committee include San Jose Earthquakes GM John Doyle and the late, great George Best, who spent a little time with the old L.A. Aztecs; Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid (Torrance/Bishop Montgomery HS and UCLA) is one of seven men up for consideration by the builders committee.
Votes are due in by March 11 and results will be announced in early spring.
The San Jose Earthquakes arrived Sunday for a week of training at Oxnard College, and they've got scrimmages planned against Chivas USA, the Galaxy and the Ventura County Fusion.
The Quakes meet Chivas on Monday afternoon at Home Depot Center Field 4, west of the main stadium. They'll face the Galaxy on Thursday at the HDC track and field stadium and take on the Premier Development League's Fusion on Friday at Oxnard College.
Here's a quick look at the Earthquakes:
WHO ARE THEY?
The Galaxy's former No. 1 rival, before Chivas USA arrived and MLS's original Clash/Quakes hightailed it to Houston after the 2005 season. This model returned to MLS in 2008, with Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff (encouraged by super soccer fan/A's GM Billy Beane) putting up the money, former star center back John Doyle as GM and the return of coach Frank Yallop, who guided the previous Quakes to MLS titles in 2001 and 2003. They reached the playoffs last year, knocking off Eastern Conference champ New York to make it to the MLS Cup semifinals.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
Yallop is no stranger to these parts. The English-born Canadian former defender was the Galaxy's head coach the last part of 2006 and during that wasted 2007 campaign, unfairly jettisoned afterward with the Quakes asking for his hand.
Yallop, who's one of the really good guys in MLS, spent 13 seasons with Ipswich Town, played in Tampa Bay in the first three MLS seasons, then worked for the Mutiny and then at D.C. United before taking over in San Jose in 2001. After three seasons and two MLS Cup titles, he became Canada's national team coach, a post he left for the Galaxy job after failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
THE STAR PLAYER
The closest thing San Jose has to a star is forward/midfielder Chris Wondolowski, who burst into everyone's consciousness last year (his sixth in MLS) with 18 goals, 10 of them in the final eight games, to swipe the Golden Boot from L.A.'s Edson Buddle on the final day of the season.