Los Angeles Soccer: Juergen Klinsmann

Klinsmann's first loss isn't a total defeat

September, 2, 2011

Ric Tapia/Icon SMI
Costa Rica's Michael Umana (4) and Jose Torres of the U.S. match up during the friendly at the Home Depot Center in Carson on Friday night.
CARSON -- It's a work in progress, a process that will take time and much effort, so if the U.S. national team wasn't everything its supporters hoped for in Friday night's friendly against Costa Rica at Home Depot Center, it was enough.

That was Jurgen Klinsmann's take, more or less, following a 1-0 loss to the Ticos, who absorbed heavy pressure -- especially in the first half-hour -- and found chances through counterattacks, with Rodney Wallace finishing one of them in the 65th minute.

The U.S. didn't get a shot on goal in the first half and lacked killer instinct in front of the net. If the Yanks deserved more from this outing, they didn't do enough to get it.

“Bad result,” said Klinsmann, who suffered his first loss as U.S. coach. “Never like to lose a game, but very good performance. I was pleased with the performance. I was pleased with the way all the players tried to implement all the work that we did on the training field throughout the week. ... From a performance point of view, it was very, very positive, what we saw.”

What were the positives? Here are three:

1. CONNECTIONS: The U.S. moved the ball well and interchanged successfully in midfield, especially, more so at game's start than in the second half. Playing out of what amounted to a 4-1-4-1 formation -- with Landon Donovan and Jose Francisco Torres above Maurice Edu in a midfield triangle and Robbie Rogers and Brek Shea on the flanks -- the U.S. created pretty patterns between midfield and the Ticos' box.

(Read full post)

Yanks' open session is just a first

August, 31, 2011

Jurgen KlinsmannKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesU.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann interacts with fans during an open training session Wednesday at the Home Depot Center.

CARSON -- There's a far different spirit in the U.S. national team camp since the arrival of Jurgen Klinsmann, who brings energy and a positive spirit quite unlike anything American soccer has ever seen. Certainly not at this level.

Fans got a chance to witness this Wednesday when Klinsmann threw open the doors to his team's training session at Home Depot Center and invited everyone in.

A crowd of 1,500 fans, perhaps a few more, took the German legend up on his offer, watching -- and cheering on -- an hour-plus session inside the main stadium. They oohed and aahed during a cross-and-finish drill that produced some pretty goals and enjoyed a small scrimmage, then lined the bottom rails to get autographs.

Klinsmann, who is readying his team for Friday night's friendly at HDC against Costa Rica, told the gathering he planned to open a training session before every U.S. home game. He enjoyed Wednesday's as much as anyone.

“My experience always had been, in Europe playing in different countries, that when you get to know your fans, the people that love the game, you feel also a little more responsible about what you're doing,” Klinsmann, a world-class striker who starred for Germany in three World Cups and guided it to the semifinals at home in the 2006 World Cup, told the media afterward. “I started that process in 2004 with the German team -- before every national team game, we opened up to the public. In the beginning, it took awhile until the word got spread out, but, really, the people loved it.

“And the players. They felt like, 'Oh, we've got to show these people we're ready to compete on the highest level.' I think it's a great connection with the fan base.”

Klinsmann said Germany, before the 2006 Cup, would draw 30,000 or 40,000 to some sessions. It might take some time to build up that kind of crowd in the U.S. Even with all the boring fitness stuff left out.

“Obviously, when we do a session like that, we don't stretch it now in the tactical or physical side of it,” Klinsmann said. “That was done already the past couple of days. They had a very intense session this morning, so I knew the things we were going to do in the public session were a little more on the entertaining side, where we're finishing crosses and play a little scrimmage.”

Klinsmann understands, brushes off Lahm criticism

August, 29, 2011
MANHATTAN BEACH -- Jurgen Klinsmann has heard the criticism thrown his way by Philipp Lahm, and the new U.S. coach says he understands the German defender's sensibilities, even if what has been said misses the point.

Lahm, a star outside back for Bayern Munich and Germany's national team, lashed at Klinsmann and two more of his former coaches, former Germany coach (and forward, before that) Rudi Völler and ex-Bayern boss Felix Magath, in his autobiography The Subtle Difference, which was released Monday in Germany. The German tabloid Bild has been printing excerpts, and they've caused an uproar.

Lahm calls Klinsmann tactically inept and writes that “the experiment with Klinsmann [at Bayern] was a failure. We were only working on our fitness in training. He didn't care much for tactical stuff. It was up to the players to come together before a match and discuss how we were going to play.

“'All the players knew after about eight weeks that it was not going to work out with Klinsmann. The remainder of that campaign was nothing but limiting the damage.”

Lahm, who captains Germany and Bayern, has been called in for discussions with the Deutscher Fussball-Bund, Germany's soccer federation, and apologized last week on the DFB's website: “I certainly did not want to personally insult or slander in any way Rudi Völler, Juergen Klinsmann and other people. I apologize. For misunderstandings that have arisen in this way, I hereby apologize to all those involved.”

Klinsmann, a legendary forward who played in three World Cups (winning with West Germany in 1990), told a group from L.A.'s soccer media Monday that Lahm's comments were uneducated but understandable.

“It's basically a player's perspective that never has the coaching perspective,” said Klinsmann, who has called Orange County home since 1998. “He doesn't see the big picture, what actually the work of a coach means. In many different elements. ... As a player, there's no perfect coach to you. And as a coach, there's never a perfect, perfect player. And it's just normal.

“I had wonderful coaches throughout my career, from an [Arsene] Wenger [at AS Monaco] to a [Cesar Luis] Menotti [at Sampdoria] to a [Franz] Beckenbauer [with West Germany's champs and at Bayern] to a [Berti] Vogts [with Germany's national team] to [Ossie] Ardilles [at Tottenham and Giovanni] Trapattoni [with Bayern] -- they've won everything. I am so thankful I had that opportunity. Was there a perfect, perfect one? For sure not. Because when you work with each other, you [work through] ups and downs. It's just normal.”

Klinsmann was asked if he considers himself a tactician.

(Read full post)

Vasquez is Klinsmann's 'right-hand' man

August, 29, 2011

Juergen Klinsmann and Martin VasquezAlexander Hassenstein/Getty ImagesJurgen Klinsmann, left, and Martin Vasquez last teamed up as coaches with Bayern Munich in 2008-09.

MANHATTAN BEACH -- No surprise that Martin Vasquez was included in Jurgen Klinsmann's staff for his first two camps as U.S. national team coach. No surprise, either, that his role will be more prominent than has been let on.

The former Chivas USA head coach will serve as Klinsmann's top assistant, the German legend acknowledged Monday, the same role he held during Klinsmann's 2008-09 tenure as Bayern Munich's manager.

“It was something in my mind already decided once I took the job that he will be my right hand ...,” Klinsmann said during a sitdown with L.A.-area soccer media. “It is definitely Martin Vasquez will play that role.”

Vasquez (Alhambra/Alhambra HS and Cal State L.A.), 47, a former midfielder who played for the U.S. and Mexican national teams, was dismissed last October after one season as Chivas' head coach after refusing to demote one of his assistants. He had been an assistant coach for the Goats from 2005 through 2008 and previously was on the Galaxy staff.

Chivas last year went 8-18-4 and finished last in Major League Soccer's Western Conference, not unexpected after the departure of the team's three foremost leaders and other key players.

Klinsmann, who has lived in Orange County since 1998, has an enduring friendship with the Mexico-born Vasquez, who played for four Mexican clubs and two in MLS during a 15-year professional playing career.

(Read full post)

Pearce dropped, Pontius added to U.S. team

August, 29, 2011
MANHATTAN BEACH -- Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce is out, and Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius is in.

The U.S. national team on Monday made two substitutions on its 24-man roster for Friday's game at Home Depot Center against Costa Rica and next week's friendly in Brussels against Belgium, replacing Pearce and FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd with D.C. United attacker Pontius and Birmingham City's Jonathan Spector.

Pearce suffered a hamstring injury in Chivas' loss Saturday night to Real Salt Lake -- he said trainers told him they believe it is torn, but no word yet on what tests determined -- and Loyd is nursing a hamstring strain.

Pontius (Servite HS and UC Santa Barbara), 24, who was in the U.S.'s January 2009 camp at HDC, can play several attacking positions and has been employed primarily on the left wing with D.C. He has scored a career-best seven goals in his third season with the club.

DEALING WITH BRADLEY: U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was asked Monday during a roundtable discussion with L.A. soccer media whether it was uncomfortable coaching Michael Bradley, the son of Bob Bradley, Klinsmann's predecessor, who was dismissed from the job last month.

Bradley, whom Major League Soccer's website reports is finalizing a deal to join Italian Serie A club Chievo Verona before Europe's transfer window closes Wednesday, was a starting midfielder for the U.S. in Klinsmann's debut, a 1-1 draw Aug. 10 with Mexico in Philadelphia.

“It was not complicated at all,” Klinsmann said. “I called him up and said, 'Michael, first of all, I have the highest respect for Bob. He did a great job, and I will touch base with him down the road. ... I definitely want to sit down with Bob and pick his brain and have a soccer talk.'

“I told him I'm there simply to help him.”

JOHNSON CAN'T PLAY: German-born defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson, who plays at 1899 Hoffenheim, is not yet eligible to play for the U.S. -- he represented Germany at the 2009 UEFA U-21 Championship, and FIFA must grant approval for his switch to his father's homeland.

(Read full post)

Klinsmann calls in 24 for HDC clash

August, 25, 2011

Juergen Klinsmann's roster for the U.S. national team's game next week against Costa Rica at Home Depot Center has been released, and there aren't many surprises.

Michael Bradley, the son of Klinsmann's predecessor, is missing from the 24-player list, but he's seeing no time at Borussia Mönchengladbach and is being linked to a move to AS Roma. The side's other big stars -- Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and England-based attacker Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Tim Howard -- are on the roster.

So is Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce, who was called in for Klinsmann's debut earlier this month against Mexico, although he did not play in the match. Pearce had been a preliminary-roster selection for the 2010 World Cup but hasn't represented the U.S. since.

Other local selections are Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, Orange's Michael Orozco Fiscal, Fontana's Maurice Edu, and Huntington Beach's Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.

The U.S. meets Costa Rica on Friday, Sept. 2, at HDC and will open its training session to the public next Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. The Yanks also will play Belgium in Brussels on Sept. 6.

One newcomer on the list: former Germany U-21 defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson, 23, who was born in Munich, plays for 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga and has dual citizenship. German-born back Timmy Chandler returns to the roster, but Jermaine Jones, the third German-American player in the pool, isn't on the roster.

Former Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez and former U.S. national team stars Thomas Dooley and Tab Ramos will serve as Klinsmann's assistants for the games, and Galaxy goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer will join the staff for the Costa Rica match.

(Read full post)

USA-Mexico: How our boys fared

August, 11, 2011
Grades for So Cal's figures in the U.S. national team's 1-1 draw Wednesday night against Mexico in a Philadelphia friendly:

ROBBIE ROGERS (Palos Verdes/Huntington Beach)
The Columbus Crew winger made a huge impression off the bench, scoring one goal (on an easy-as-can-be tap-in from Brek Shea's ball across the goalmouth) and speeding past Mexico's defense en route to what might have been another -- and should have been a red card when he was dragged down by Gerardo Torrado.

The Galaxy attacker, stationed in his usual post on the right, got better as the game went on, was the Americans' most consistent attacker and was pivotal in their late dominance. Should have been rewarded with what would have been a winning penalty kick in the 78th minute.

Edgar Castillo's nightmare at left back might have been cause to move the U.S. captain back to the flank, but he's at his best in the middle -- and was solid marshaling a backline while flanked by two rookies, more or less. He'd have a goal, too, if not for Guillermo Ochoa's diving, slapping save 10 minutes into the second half.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (Manhattan Beach)
Lot of eyes on former head coach Bob Bradley's son, who was fine in central midfield even though out of position -- in an attacking role that at times seemed beyond him. But he was always involved, and his inability to stop Oribe Peralta on Mexico's goal can be forgiven.

The Mexico-based defender's surprise call-up was followed by an even more surprising assignment next to Bocanegra in central defense. He was a little too aggressive early on, quite understandable, and had some fine moments, although not enough to warrant first-choice consideration.

JURGEN KLINSMANN (Huntington Beach)
The result wasn't bad, although it mattered not at all, and not all of the decisions worked quite as planned, but a decent start for the new U.S. coach, whose spirit on the sidelines, in dealings with his players and when addressing the media is certainly infectious.

Beckham: 'Strong' Klinsmann a plus

August, 5, 2011

CARSON -- David Beckham was asked following the Galaxy's traning session Friday morning what kind of impact he thought German great Juergen Klinsmann would have as U.S. national team coach.

“I think he'll have a very good one,” said the English midfielder, who played in the first of his three World Cups at France '98, the last of Klinsmann's trio. “I think he's got the experience, he'll have the respect from the players.

“I'm sure if there's any problems throughout the team, there won't be anymore, because I think that he's a strong manager, I think he's a strong person, a strong personality. And he's a manager and a player that's done everything in a soccer player's career. So he's got that respect.

“Good luck to him. I hope he's very successful with the U.S. team, because there's some good players.”

Klinsmann will make his debut as U.S. coach Wednesday in Philadelphia in a friendly against Mexico.

(Read full post)

Klinsmann asks Vasquez, Dooley for assists

August, 5, 2011

Juergen Klinsmann says he won't select his assistant coaches for some time, probably not until fall, and will use “guests” for his staff in friendlies before he does make the hires.

The new U.S. coach's guest assistants for Wednesday's game against Mexico in Philadelphia include former Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez and former U.S. national team captain Thomas Dooley, who lives in south Orange County.

Vasquez (Alhambra/Alhambra HS and Cal State L.A.), 47, who was in charge of the Goats last year, has a history with Klinsmann, working with him during his 2008-09 stint as head coach of German powerhouse Bayern Munich. The Mexican-born coach last month became director of soccer for Real Salt Lake AZ, the Major League Soccer club's academy in Casa Grande, Ariz., and at related institutions Grande Sports World and Grande Sports Academy.

Dooley, 50, has maintained a Laguna Niguel residence since he was brought into the U.S. national team's Mission Viejo residency before the 1994 World Cup. The German-born son of an American serviceman, who captained the U.S. at the 1998 World Cup, played with three Bundesliga clubs and finished his career in Major League Soccer. The National Soccer Hall of Famer was Todd Saldaña's assistant as Mission Viejo-based Pateadores last month won the U.S. Development Academy U-17/18 championship.

Klinsmann's other assistants are Tab Ramos, a Hall of Fame midfielder who played in three World Cups for the U.S. and is a respected youth coach in New Jersey, Philadelphia-based goalkeeper coach Mike Curry, and Mark Verstegen, owner and president of Athletes' Performance (which is a tenant at Home Depot Center) who worked with Klinsmann with the German national team before the 2006 World Cup.

Chivas' Pearce in Klinsmann's first roster

August, 4, 2011

Juergen Klinsmann's first U.S. roster was announced Thursday, and Heath Pearce has reason to celebrate.

The Chivas USA center back, a preliminary-roster selection for the 2010 World Cup who did not make the final squad, was among 22 players selected for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico in Philadelphia.

Orange's Michael Orozco Fiscal, who plays in Mexico for San Luis, also received a recall -- he's made just one international appearance, back in 2008.

The other locals on the roster -- Galaxy star Landon Donovan, Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, Fontana's Maurice Edu and Manhattan Beach's Michael Bradley -- are national team regulars. Former Galaxy striker Edson Buddle, now in Germany, also is on the list.

Pearce made his U.S. debut in 2005 and has made 33 international appearances, playing almost entirely as a left back. He was shifted to the middle by Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser this season but is expected to be an outside back for Klinsmann.

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings, Week 21

August, 3, 2011

The U.S. not only isn't going to win a World Cup with a roster full of Major League Soccer players, it'll never get to a World Cup with such talent. So what role does MLS play in preparing the national team for the game's biggest games?


Landon Donovan might be the only U.S. star stationed stateside, but nearly everyone contributing to the Nats has roots in America's league -- before taking off across the Atlantic, where there is better competition, atmosphere and, of course, pay.

But Donovan isn't the only MLSer who representes the Red, White and Blue: Big things are expected of New York's Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, of Sporting Kansas City's Teal Bunbury and of D.C. United's Charlie Davies, who is finding his way back from a deadly car crash after he couldn't find playing time in France.

MLS always will be a starting point for a significant group of players who might do amount to something on the international stage, and new U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann knows, as his predecessor Bob Bradley knew, he must keep a keen eye on what's happening on America's fields.

Who should he be looking at. We have some ideas, below.

This week's rankings:

1. GALAXY (12-2-9, 45 points), Last week: 1
Week 20:
Donovan scored Nos. 10 and 11 as L.A. opens Northwest trek by hammering Vancouver, 4-0
Remark: Doesn't matter what's going on off the field, in the training room, on the field -- L.A. just keeps rolling on
Hey, Juergen: Donovan is a national team star. Todd Dunivant deserves a shot at left back
Next: Wednesday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket, 8:30 p.m.)

2. FC DALLAS (12-5-6, 42 points), Last week: 3
Week 20: Jackson Goncalves
scores, Kevin Hartman saves, and FCD opens CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round with 1-0 win at Alianza (El Salvador); Marvin Chavez's deflected shot gives the Hoops the points in brutal heat, with 1-0 win over Chivas USA
Remark: Former UC Santa Barbara star Eric Avila dealt to Toronto FC for former Chivas USA forward Maicon Santos
Hey, Juergen:
Winger Brek Shea saw time with Bradley's B teams, is playing his way into A territory
Next: Wednesday in a CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round second leg vs. Alianza (El Salvador), 5 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel); Saturday vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket, 8:30 p.m.)

3. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (10-5-8, 38 points), Last week: 2
Week 20:
Three straight losses after 3-1 defeat at Houston
Remark: Reversing loss in Panama might be a must if this is to be considered a successful season
Hey, Juergen: Central midfielder Brad Evans, who starred at UC Irvine, could add depth
Next: Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round second leg vs. San Francisco FC (Panama), 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel); Saturday at Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

(Read full post)

Donovan: Klinsmann brings 'positive energy'

July, 30, 2011

Landon Donovan and Juergen KlinsmannGetty ImagesLandon Donovan, left, says he and his U.S. national team teammates are "all excited" to play for Juergen Klinsmann.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- America's most important soccer player says he's excited about playing for Juergen Klinsmann, saying that the German legend's “positive energy” could make a difference for the U.S. national team.

Landon Donovan also praised Bob Bradley, who was dismissed Thursday as the U.S. coach, in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com following the Galaxy's 4-0 rout Saturday at Vancouver.

Donovan, the all-time leading U.S. goal scorer (with 47 in 141 international appearances, said he and his teammates are “all excited” about the prospect of playing for Klinsmann, who succeeded Bradley on Friday and will be formally introduced at an event Monday in New York.

“I have the benefit of having played under Juergen a little bit [while on loan in early 2009] at Bayern Munich, and I think one of his biggest attributes is just his positive energy, and I think he brings real excitement and good energy, and I think that's going to be really helpful for our guys,” Donovan said.

Klinsmann, who scored 11 goals in three World Cups and starred for clubs in Germany, Italy, England and France, spent nine months in charge at Bayern after guiding Germany to a surprise third-place finish at home in the 2006 World Cup.

Bradley, who succeeded Bruce Arena as national team head coach following the 2006 tournament, led the U.S. to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup title, to an upset of Spain and into the final at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and to the second stage of last year's World Cup in South Africa.

“When you spend five years with a coach,” Donovan said, “when you see him leave, it's sad, because you develop a relationship and you go through a lot of great times, a lot of really hard times together. So it's sad to see Bob go. And I think we all have a lot of respect for what he's done.

“Now is the time to move forward, and the end goal is the same. But the bigger goal for all of us is to qualify [for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil]. What players come and go, what coaches come and go, we've got to make sure that we keep qualifying.”

Donovan praised Bradley's tenure and said his legacy was that “we achieved things we never achieved before” under his leadership.

“I think he really brought a new professionalism to our team,” Donovan said. “Since I've been on the national team, we've never been respected the way we have when we were coached by Bob. And everywhere we went, teams respected us, and he took us to a new level. So he did a lot for this team.”

Arena, the Galaxy's head coach, said some of the criticism Bradley endured was unfair.

(Read full post)

Five candidates to be Bob Bradley's successor

July, 28, 2011

Bruce Arena, Sigi Schmid and Juergen KlinsmannGetty ImagesAmong those who could be candidates to be the next U.S. coach are, from left above, Bruce Arena, Sigi Schmid and Juergen Klinsmann.

If you've not heard the big news yet, Manhattan Beach's Bob Bradley has been dismissed as U.S. national team coach following the Americans' failure to hold onto a two-goal lead against a superior Mexican side in last month's CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

Whether you agree with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati's decision -- we're not as convinced as others are that this was the right move -- everyone knows that it's important to bring in the right coach, rather than the sexiest, as Bradley successor.

Our choice would be Dutchman Guus Hiddink, 64, who has guided the Dutch, South Korean, Australian and Russian national teams (along with several high-profile clubs, Real Madrid and Chelsea among them) and is currently Turkey's national team boss. Given his contract status and the amount of cash that would be required to bring him here, we would be very surprised if he's a candidate.

There's a world filled with options -- former Italy boss Marcello Lippi, 63, who won the 2006 World Cup, is getting a lot of love from some analysts -- but U.S. Soccer could do far worse that staying stateside, and if they do, here are five coaches that should get a look ... and a conversation:

BRUCE ARENA: There's precedent for bringing back a former coach -- all over the world, yes, but it has happened three times with the U.S. national team. (George Burford had two stints in the 1920s, George Meyer in 1957 and 1965, and Bob Gansler guided the Nats at the 1990 World Cup in his second go-round.) The Galaxy boss, 59, is the most successful coach in American history, and the U.S. quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup was largely his work. (2006 wasn't nearly as awful as fans seem to remember.)

SIGI SCHMID: The Seattle Sounders' coach, 58, who is from Torrance and won three NCAA titles at UCLA, has done a terrific job with three Major League Soccer clubs (winning MLS Cup titles with the Galaxy and Columbus). He also has a history with U.S. Soccer, starting as an assistant coach for Bora Milutinovic in 1994. He might be the best bet among domestic candidates.

DOMINIC KINNEAR: The former U.S. national-teamer, 44, who missed the 1994 World Cup after an appendicitis attack in Asia during a preparatory trip earlier that year (Milutinovic seemed to lose confidence in the attacking midfielder afterward), has long been considered a future U.S. boss, given his success at San Jose and with the Houston Dynamo, his team-building skills and calm, delightful demeanor. The Dynamo's struggles the last season and a half aren't a plus.

JASON KREIS: Real Salt Lake's manager, just 38, was a top MLS forward who never quite secured a role with the national team -- he made 15 international appearances from 1996 through 2000 -- but it's impossible to discount what he has done in Utah, especially in building a system that works. He's going to get his chance, but it might be a little early right now.

JUERGEN KLINSMANN: The German legend, 46, lives in Huntington Beach, is married to an American and understands our culture and our soccer better than any other foreign candidate possibly can. He also has been offered the job twice before -- when Bradley was hired and, he says, after last year's World Cup -- but turned it down over power issues. If Gulati is finally willing to cede power to the man who took Germany to the World Cup semifinals five years ago, he's the man for the job.

2010: The big party ... and the man in charge

December, 30, 2010
Our countdown of 2010's top 10 soccer stories and newsmakers -- from a Southern California slant -- continues.

  • Stories/No. 2: What a World Cup party!

It has been said that the difference between the U.S. and the rest of the world is that the rest of the world stops in its tracks every four years -- such is the impact of the World Cup nearly everywhere else.

This year Southern California joined the party.

Korea Fan
Scott French for ESPNLA.comA Korea fan shows off his enthusiasm during a televised showing of a World Cup match at Staples Center.

From the Germans at Alpine Village in Torrance to the Africans gathered at the Springbok in Lake Balboa to the Dutch in Orange County and in West L.A. to American fans everywhere, the 2010 tournament in South Africa captured the Southland's attention like never before.

Of course, Mexico was a favored team: Big gatherings at Lynwood's Plaza Mexico cheered on El Tri, and every television along Broadway downtown, it seemed, was tuned into the Mexicans' matches, with celebrations along Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park.

The best celebrations occurred in Koreatown, where thousands gathered for every South Korea game -- even the 4:30 a.m. start -- at a little plaza on Wilshire Boulevard. More packed Staples Center for broadcasts of the Koreans' matches.

Fans of every team in the tournament, from Algeria to Uruguay, could be found in L.A. -- North Korea, too … seriously -- no surprise given the size and diversity of the region, but the best-supported team in these parts might have been the U.S.

Bars, pubs, restaurants and workplaces everywhere were tuned in for the Americans' stirring victory over Algeria. Supporters club American Outlaws' L.A. chapter celebrated Landon Donovan's stoppage-time winner with an impromptu march down Hollywood Boulevard, which drew honks from passing cars and even a police escort.

Americans have been following the World Cup all along, since the U.S. reached the semifinals in the inaugural event 80 years ago, but the 1994 World Cup, held in the U.S., was the real introduction to those not among soccer cognoscenti. The numbers paying attention have risen with each tournament since, and we can only guess how big a deal the 2014 tournament, from Brazil, will be.

(Read full post)

Blue Star, Seahorses receive USL '10+' honors

November, 16, 2010

Two local Premier Development League clubs -- Orange County Blue Star and the Southern California Seahorses -- are being recognized for their longevity by the United Soccer Leagues.

They're among six USL clubs, and three from the PDL, receiving “10+” honors at the organization's Hall of Fame banquet Friday in Tampa, Fla.

Blue Star joined the PDL in 2001 and has helped develop former Chivas USA captain Sacha Kljestan (Huntington Beach/Huntington Beach HS), now with Belgium's RSC Anderlecht, as well as Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers (Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS), Kansas City Wizards wing-forward Kei Kamara (Lawndale/Leuzinger HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills), Seattle Sounders midfielder Brad Evans (UC Irvine) and Chivas USA midfielder Sal Zizzo (UCLA). The biggest name to play for the OC team: Juergen Klinsmann, who used the pseudonym Jay Goeppingen, taking the last name from the town of his birth.

The Seahorses, who are based in La Mirada, also debuted in 2001 and are affiliated with Missionary Athletes International, a Christian sports ministry, and a sister club to USL Second Division power Charlotte Eagles. Alumni include Columbus Crew forward Steven Lenhart (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS and Azusa Pacific), Seattle Sounders defender Patrick Ianni (UCLA) and former Galaxy defender Adam Frye (UCLA) and midfielder Josh Hansen, who plays for USSF D2 Pro League champion Puerto Rico Islanders.

Three clubs with Major League Soccer connections -- the Chicago Fire's PDL side and the Seattle Sounders' and Vancouver Whitecaps' women's teams -- also are being recognized. So is USL Pro club Pittsburgh Riverhounds.