Los Angeles Soccer: Jose Mourinho
CARSON, Calif. -- David Beckham says he's happy to be back in Los Angeles.
He's happy to be back home with his wife and kids. He's happy to be back with his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates. He's happy to be enjoying the Olympics in London, like the rest of America, on tape delay from the comfort of his living room.
But you can tell he's not really happy, and he has every right to feel that way.
On Thursday night, Beckham was on the field at the Home Depot Center to take on his former team, Real Madrid, in front of 30,317, the largest soccer crowd ever at the stadium. It was, as expected, a lopsided affair that Madrid won 5-1. Beckham set up the Galaxy’s only goal with a picture-perfect serve off a free kick that went off the head of David Junior Lopes and past Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Beckham, however, should be in England, preparing for Great Britain’s quarterfinal match against South Korea on Saturday.
After all, Beckham was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to London, calling it "one of the proudest moments I've been involved with." Giving one of the most famous and influential figures in English sports history a spot on the 18-man roster seemed like the right thing to do. Given the way Beckham, 37, has been playing of late, few would have seen it as a courtesy gesture. Beckham had every right to be on the team for on- and off-the-field reasons.
That is, of course, not how Great Britain manager Stuart Pearce felt in June when he opted to fill the three over-23 slots on his team with Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, Manchester City's Micah Richards and Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, who will turn 39 in November.
"Of course, I'm disappointed, but life goes on," Beckham said. "My family is healthy, I'm pretty healthy, so at the end of the day, I'll be there to support the Great Britain team."
Instead of being an Olympian at the Summer Games he helped attract to his country, Beckham played a central figure in last week’s opening ceremonies and will again play a part in the closing ceremonies. He helped bring the torch to the Olympic Stadium while wearing one of his custom suits and driving a speed boat, in a scene that looked straight out of a James Bond film.
"I was out on the boat for a few hours, so it was good," Beckham said. "I had a few days during the week so I was prepared. It was good times. … Obviously being an East End boy and growing up there, having the Olympics in that part of London is a very proud moment for us all. But it was a great experience being part of it, being part of such a historic moment for England. It was special."
The Galaxy's Aug. 2 friendly against Real Madrid at Home Depot Center, which was announced Monday, will be the fourth meeting between the teams as Jose Mourinho brings the Merengues back to Southern California for the third straight preseason.
The last two were at far bigger venues -- 2010 at the Rose Bowl and last year at the Coliseum -- but this year's battle returns to cozy Home Depot Center, site of the first encounter, back in 2005.
Real Madrid is expected to play more games while in America, and soccer blog The Offside Rules reports that it will meet AC Milan in an Aug. 5 friendly in Las Vegas.
Here is a quick rundown of the first three Galaxy-Real Madrid games:
July 18, 2005, at Home Depot Center
Real Madrid 2, Galaxy 0
David Beckham makes his L.A. debut, in Real colors, but it's Zinedine Zidane's presence that makes this one of the most special occasions in Southern California soccer history. Zidane was mesmerizing in an hour's performance, and he set up Michael Owen's goal six minutes in. The dominance was greater than the margin of victory -- Roberto Soldado's second-half header doubled the advantage -- but L.A. clearly missed Landon Donovan, in his first year with the club, who was away on national team duty.
Aug. 7, 2010, at the Rose Bowl
Real Madrid 3, Galaxy 2
L.A. was on its way to an upset after Todd Dunivant and Donovan provided a two-goal lead by halftime, but then Real Madrid put in some of its bigger stars -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas included -- and tore apart the Galaxy. Higuain, coming off a superb World Cup performance for Argentina, scored twice, and Xabi Alonso netted the winner in the 71st minute.
July 16, 2011, at the Coliseum
Real Madrid 4, Galaxy 1
Real's quality overwhelmed the Galaxy, with Jose Callejon and Joselu scoring in the 15 minutes before halftime and Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the 15 minutes after the break to roll up a 4-0 lead. Fabio Coentrăo, newly arrived from Benfica, was the star among stars, repeatedly probing the L.A. defense and combining to create chances -- if not for Josh Saunders' and Brian Perk's play in the nets, Real might have scored seven or eight. Adam Cristman tallied in the 67th for the Galaxy.
Real Madrid made another pilgrimage to L.A., a treat for local soccer fans, of course, if a bit of a headache for the Galaxy.
The Spanish giant is one of the world's most storied clubs, and the presence of big names Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká, Iker Casillas, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, Fabio Coentrăo, Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira, Ricardo Carvalho ... it's a dream team, really, with talent matched perhaps only by archrival Barcelona.
The Merengues' biggest star might be manager Jose Mourinho, whose love affair with Southern California has brought so many great sides our way. He annually brings his squad -- Chelsea, then Inter Milan, now Real Madrid -- to Beverly Hills and UCLA for preseason training, and we get a game or two out of it, too.
There's the problem. The Galaxy played Real Madrid last year in front of 89,134 last year at the Rose Bowl. This year's game, a 4-1 Real win at the Coliseum, drew just 56,211 -- a game against Guadalajara in San Diego no doubt siphoning off the crowd. But what's more worrisome to L.A. officials is that Mourinho and Co. consider SoCal a second home, and other global giants have taken notice.
“In the end, to be honest, I can't have Real Madrid coming here every year,” Galaxy president of business operations Tom Payne, whose team also played a summer friendly against Manchester City, said back in May. “I told them that. It means the other guys don't come. They're so … territorial. Like, Man United won't come [to L.A. if Real Madrid does]. That's just the way it works.”
Whether that sways Mourinho is another matter. The man loves The Beverly Hills Hotel, loves the facilities at UCLA, loves the weather and loves the atmosphere. It's perfect.
Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach is a finalist for FIFA's Ballon d'Or women's player-of-the-year honor, joining former L.A. Sol forward Marta and Japan's Homare Sawa, who has starred in both U.S. pro league's, among the top three.
Wambach, 31, was the catalyst for the United States' run to the Women's World Cup final last summer in Germany, scoring four goals, and she led the U.S. with eight goals in 2011. She also won Women's Professional Soccer's scoring title with 11 goals in 11 games, finishing the campaign as player-coach for magicJack, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based club that last month was expelled from the league.
The big forward has in 165 international appearances scored 125 goals, fourth all-time internationally (behind Mia Hamm's 158, Kristine Lilly's 130 and German forward Birgit Prinz's 128).
Wambach, who is from Rochester, N.Y., has finished in the top five four times but never higher than fourth.
Marta, the Brazilian star who helped the Western New York Flash to the WPS title, has won the honor the past five years, deservedly on most occasions, and is again the likely victor. National team coaches and captains and select international media vote for the FIFA awards, and with so little women's soccer readily available on television or online -- unlike the men's game -- reputation carries more weight in the process.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage is a repeat Coach of the Year finalist, joined by France's Bruno Bini and Japan's Norio Sasaki, the favorite after a surprise Women's World Cup triumph.
The finalist for the men's player-of-the-year honor are Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Argentine forward Lionel Messi and Spanish midfielder Xavi of Barcelona. Messi has won the last two years.
Men's Coach of the Year finalists are Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Barcelona's Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho. Finalists for the Puskas Award, for “most beautiful goal,” are Messi, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Santos' Neymar.
Winners will be announced at a Jan. 9 gala in Zurich.
Arena and Real Madrid's José Mourinho both expected a competitive affair, with Mourinho emphatically proclaiming he didn't want his preseason matches to "end 10-nil" or for them to be "fun."
Real Madrid might get a stern talking to from its coach because players appeared to be having a blast.
"I'll have to sit back on that and think about it down the road," Arena said. "I think it's a good experience for the young players tonight. But I just don't think we did a good job of it. I don't think we played well and we were certainly beaten easily by this fine Madrid team."
The Galaxy, despite fielding a close rendition of its starting 11, simply couldn't hang. The Merengues grabbed a 4-0 lead in the 58th minute, which was somewhat surprising given each team's pregame comments and last year's 3-2 result at the Rose Bowl.
"It's clear that we studied them pretty well," Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. "They're in the middle of their season and we're just getting started, but they've still got a solid club."
An Adam Cristman goal in the 67th minute gave the small Galaxy contingent reason to cheer, but the match had been decided long before that. The Galaxy won only 37 percent of duels and lost the possession battle, 60-40. They had eight shots on goal to Real Madrid's 20.
"Four goals against us isn't what we wanted," Galaxy backup goalkeeper Brian Perk said. "It isn't what we set out to do but, at the same time, I don't think it's flat out embarrassing."
Perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo said it best: "We won and that's what's most important."
CENTURY CITY -- Real Madrid began its preseason work Tuesday morning at UCLA, the first steps, the Merengues hope, toward taking down European champion Barcelona in Spain's La Liga and UEFA's Champions League in the coming season.
They'll be in L.A. until July 22, with games Saturday night against the Galaxy at the Coliseum and next Wednesday against Guadalajara at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, before heading to Philadelphia for another match, back to Europe for matches in Germany and England, then off to China for more training and a couple of games.
Superstar manager Jose Mourinho has a serious crush on Southern California: This is the second straight year he's brought Real to L.A., and he previously held preseason camp in Westwood -- with his teams always squired next door in Beverly Hills -- with Chelsea and Inter Milan.
“We are very happy to come, first of all because Los Angeles has become our home, in terms of preseason,” said Mourinho, who won just one of the three desired trophies -- the Copa del Rey, Spain's premier cup competition -- in his first season at Real Madrid. “We feel at home.”
What's the allure?
“The training conditions are good,” he said. “The freedom that we have is also good, because in Europe our life is difficult. Socially, it's difficult. Here the players, they feel some freedom. They can walk in the street, they can be together, they can share some time together, not like in Europe, where they close each other in their own room and they cannot communicate.
“At this moment, I think it's important for the players to build team spirit, to let [new] players come into the group. For me, this is an important part of the situation.”
So are the matches, for which Mourinho, goalkeeper Iker Casillas and forward Cristiano Ronaldo joined Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, forward Landon Donovan and midfielder David Beckham to discuss Tuesday afternoon at Creative Artists Agency. They're part of the World Football Challenge, a series of exhibitions CAA and Major League Soccer, along with Soccer United Marketing, MLS's marketing arm, are producing.
Also part of the 14-match series: the Galaxy's friendly July 24 against England's Manchester City FC.
“It's exactly what you need, it's exactly what you want,” Mourinho said. “I don't like preseason matches to win 10-nil. I don't like preseason matches to have some fun. I like serious matches, and they always give us that [in the U.S.] ... Of course, it's not the priority, but of course everybody wants to win and everybody tries to win every single match, every single tournament.”
The Merengues arrive July 11 in Westwood, where Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho will lead training sessions for the second straight year, and have two matches planned in Southern California, on July 16 against the Galaxy at the Coliseum and July 20 against Guadalajara at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Here's the list:
Antonio Adán (Spain)
Iker Casillas (Spain)
Raul Albiol (Spain)
Alvaro Arbeloa (Spain)
Ezequiel Garay (Argentina)
David Mateos (Spain)
Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Marcelo Viera (Brazil)
Hamit Altintop (Turkey)
José Callejón (Spain)
Lassana Diarra (France)
Roysten Drenthe (Netherlands)
Fernando Gago (Argentina)
Sergio Canales (Spain)
Sami Khedira (Germany)
Pedro León (Spain)
Mesut Özil (Germany)
Nuri Sahin (Turkey)
Xabi Alonso (Spain)
Karim Benzema (France)
Esteban Granero (Spain)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
It's not news, aside from the date: The Merengues' friendlies with the Galaxy (July 16 at the Coliseum) and Guadalajara (July 20 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego) were announced last month, and manager Jose Mourinho has brought each of his teams -- Chelsea and Inter Milan before Real -- to UCLA for preseason.
Real Madrid spent preseason last year in Westwood and beat the Galaxy, 3-2, in front of 89,134 at the Rose Bowl.
Real Madrid's release notes that UCLA “boasts 173 buildings and 170 hectares in its campus, including two football pitches, a baseball field, a basketball arena and a gym.”
The Spaniards will head to Philadelphia following the game with Chivas to play the Union on July 23, return to Madrid the following day, and travel to China on July 30 for games against two Chinese clubs.
That's the situation after Major League Soccer, through its marketing arm, confirmed an evening start on July 16 at the Coliseum for the Galaxy's clash with the Spanish giant.
The Galaxy-Real Madrid game is part of this summer's World Football Challenge, featuring MLS clubs against big-name European opposition in a series of exhibitions produced by Soccer United Marketing, MLS's marketing arm, and CAA Sports.
Major League Soccer officials responded to an interview request with a statement: “We are aware of the situation. At this time, we are analyzing options.”
Primary among those options would appear to be moving Chivas' game from Saturday night to Sunday, July 17. An MLS spokeswoman said in an email Friday that the “overlap is still being examined.”
Tom Payne, the Galaxy's president of business operations, acknowledged that the conflict was considered “for a minute, to be frank” while setting up the date.
“At the end of the day, sometimes these games are almost dictated for you,” he said. “This is the time Real Madrid could play. … We certainly didn't mean it to fall on that day. We didn't have any choice in the end.”
Real Madrid, which will be conducting preseason training in Southern California for the second straight year under noted Angelenophile Jose Mourinho, had strict timeframes with which to work. The Merengues also are playing Guadalajara on July 20 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, a date that doesn't please the Galaxy.
The anticipated friendly between Guadalajara and Real Madrid is a done deal, set for Wednesday, July 20, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, with kickoff at 8 p.m. The game comes four days after Real meets the Galaxy at the Coliseum.
Guadalajara also will face Barcelona, on Aug. 3 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The match is part of the 2011 World Football Challenge series of exhibitions this summer in North America. The schedule so far (all times Pacific):
- July 13: New England Revolution vs. Manchester United (England) at Foxborough, Mass., 5 p.m.
- July 16: Galaxy vs. Real Madrid at the Coliseum, Los Angeles, 7 p.m.
- July 18: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Manchester City (England) at Vancouver, British Columbia, 7 p.m.
- July 20: Guadalajara (Mexico) vs. Real Madrid (Spain) at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, 8 p.m.
- July 23: Chicago Fire vs. Manchester United (England) at Chicago, 2 p.m.
- July 24: Galaxy vs. Manchester City (England) at Home Depot Center, 1 p.m.
- July 30: Barcelona (Spain) vs. Manchester United (England) at Landover, Md., 4 p.m.
- Aug. 3: Barcelona (Spain) vs. Guadalajara (Mexico) at Miami Gardens, Fla.
- Aug. 6: Barcelona (Spain) vs. America (Mexico) at Arlington, Texas, 1 p.m.
In addition, Manchester United will meet MLS's best in the league all-star game on July 27 in Harrison, N.J.
Guadalajara, the original Chivas, is one of Mexico's two biggest clubs, seen as an instrument of Mexican loyalty because of its policy of fielding only Mexican players. It's coming off a fine Clausura campaign in which it knocked off top seed UANL Tigres en route to the semifinals.
Real Madrid, one of the world's great clubs, is expected to hold preseason camp in Los Angeles -- it's manager Jose Mourinho's favorite summer venue; he previously brought Chelsea and Inter Milan to train at UCLA, and Real Madrid caused a sensation on campus last year.
It's the second successive year L.A. has met the Merengues, one of the world's great clubs, which is expected to spend preseason training again in Southern California under manager Jose Mourinho, who also has brought Chelsea and Inter Milan to UCLA.
Real Madrid, which this season won the Copa del Rey, reached the UEFA Champions League semifinals and are on target to finish second in the Spanish La Liga, toppled the Galaxy, 3-2, in front of 89,134 last August at the Rose Bowl.
The Coliseum match is the fifth announced as part of Major League Soccer and CAA Sports' World Football Challenge. The highlight of the series is a July 30 meeting in Landover, Md., between Barcelona and Manchester United -- a rematch of the upcoming UEFA Champions League final. The other three announced dates pit Man United against MLS clubs.
The trip apparently will include big-stadium matches against the Galaxy and Club Deportivo Guadalajara.
Guadalajara-based El Informador is reporting that Real Madrid will face Guadalajara on July 3 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. That would make for an earlier camp than usual -- the Merengues made their preseason trek last year to L.A. in late July -- and no confirmation yet from Soccer United Marketing, Major League Soccer's marketing arm, which owns the rights to Guadalajara's games in the U.S.
We're hearing a different date in San Diego -- July 20, which makes more sense -- and whispers that the Spaniards will meet the Galaxy on July 16 at the Coliseum. A Galaxy official Thursday night said "nothing has been finalized from our side, and these reports are simply rumors at this time."
We expect Real will set up camp at UCLA, Mourinho's favorite preseason facility.
By the way, the newspaper says Guadalajara also will play Barcelona, on Aug. 3 in Miami.
Weighted lotteries dispersed three top young players into the league. Two of them have the potential to be big stars. The third is a highly regarded outside back pegged for a long, productive career.
Former University of Virginia forward Chris Agorsor, who also has star potential, went to Philadelphia, and teen right back Korey Veeder was picked up by Columbus.
Neither the Galaxy nor Chivas USA entered the lotteries, for which a team's chances are based on its record in its past 30 games in relation to the other teams involved.
Arnoux, who scored 32 goals in his sophomore and junior seasons at Wake Forest, returned last summer from a year with English club Everton's reserves and seemed to settle in nicely with the Vancouver Whitecaps in their final season as a D2 club.
That's what the Whitecaps figured: They tried to sign Arnoux for their MLS side, but the league wouldn't have it. MLS uses lotteries for players coming out of college who sign after the draft or for players who previously turned down a league offer. Arnoux had been aggressively pursued before he left Wake Forest following his junior season, so to Friday's lottery he went.
RSL won despite just a 5.4 percent chance of success.
“Miracles never cease,” quipped GM Garth Lagerwey to MLS's website.
Arnoux is renowned for his work rate and his nose for the net, and he said he hoped he could step in for Robbie Findley, the World Cup forward who moved to England's Nottingham Forest.
“I never stop working -- that’s what I build my game around,” Arnoux told the league's website. “I’m not the guy who’s going to make the right pass every time or make the right decision. But I’m good in front of goal and have confidence in front of goal and that has to be built back up because I’ve been off for a while.
“I’m a hard worker, and that’s something English fans like. Even though I wasn’t playing with [Everton's] first team, they appreciated that a lot, and I know American fans appreciate that a lot. That’s the kind of player I am. I’ve not always been the best, but I’ve always had to try to work harder to beat everyone else.”
What we learned from FIFA's Ballon d'Or festivities Monday night in Zurich: Mongolians love Abby Wambach.
The Hermosa Beach-based striker picked up eight first-place votes in the Women's Player of the Year contest, and two came from Mongolian women's national team head coach Ganjuur Bayartsogt and captain Sugar Bayar.
It wasn't nearly enough to halt former L.A. Sol star Marta's romp to her fifth successive world's-best honor: The Brazilian forward, who led FC Gold Pride to Women's Professional Soccer's title and is now playing in Brazil for Santos, captured 151 of 266 first-place votes from 119 coaches, 121 captains and 26 media. She failed to make the top three on on only 52 ballots, and on two of those -- both from Brazil -- she was ineligible.
Argentina's Lionel Messi won the men's World Player of the Year award for the second straight year, beating Barcelona teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta. The coaches of the year were Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho, who last spring guided Inter Milan to the UEFA Champions League title, and Germany women's national team coach Silvia Neid.
More interesting than who won is how everyone voted. FIFA won't make public the executive committee members' choices on a World Cup host, but every Player of the Year vote is online, both men and women.
U.S. men's captain Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA) voted Xavi first, Iniesta second and Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan) third.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley (Manhattan Beach) went with, in order, Xavi, Sneijder and Messi.
1. U.S.-MEXICO SUPREMACY
U.S. Soccer has avoided scheduling against Mexico's national team in Southern California for obvious reasons, but the federation has no (reasonable) choice this year. Circle June 25 on the calendar: If all follows form, the Yanks and El Tri will renew the region's best rivalry in a packed Rose Bowl with the CONCACAF Gold Cup title on the line. A young version of the U.S. will face Chile at Home Depot Center on Jan. 22, and we're hearing talk of Mexico at the Rose Bowl in March. And the HDC gets a Gold Cup date June 6, but no idea who will play in the doubleheader.
2. GALAXY'S GOAL: A TROPHY
The Galaxy might have answered its biggest need in Major League Soccer's re-entry draft, selecting aging but gifted Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel. Now they've got to sign him -- and hope Edson Buddle doesn't bolt for England or Scotland. L.A. has come close to After coming close to MLS Cup titles the past two years, losing in the 2009 final and in the 2010 Western Conference title game, and anything other than a trophy in 2011 will disappoint (although getting through the CONCACAF Champions League's group phase might mitigate somewhat). Landon Donovan is nearing 30, David Beckham's contract ends next December, and Angel is a quick-fix kind of addition. The backline is getting younger (and better, it seems), and if Bruce Arena can find a little more speed, L.A. will be tough to beat. But so will Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls, and maybe reigning champ Colorado if it can keep Omar Cummings from bolting to Europe. Our expectation: a terrific MLS race.
3. THE GERMAN MISSION
The U.S. women haven't won a Women's World Cup title since that delightful summer of '99, and they've since lost the American public's attention, mostly because Mia Hamm (and others) retired and Nike stopped contributing millions to the team's marketing campaign. This group of Yanks will try to restore some of the glitz, but it's not going to be easy. They'll certainly among the teams to beat at the WWC in Germany next summer -- and they might pull it off, if Abby Wambach and Hope Solo are at their best -- but if anyone other than the Germans are celebrating come July 17 in Frankfurt, it's a massive upset.