Los Angeles Soccer: Kenny Arena
CARSON -- The Galaxy announced Thursday they will take on Tottenham Hotspur in a July friendly at Home Depot Center. What they didn't announce is how difficult a fit the game is in their schedule.
The July 24 date makes for five matches in 15 days in the middle of one of the toughest stretches in L.A.'s schedule: Seven of eight league clashes on the road, with the home game (and one of the away games) a SuperClasico match against Chivas USA.
The Galaxy plays at Portland on July 14, at Vancouver on July 18, and at home July 21 against Chivas. L.A. is off to play FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas, four days after the Tottenham match.
Summer friendlies are increasingly a highlight of the American soccer schedule, and the Galaxy is expected to play two top clubs this summer. Tottenham, with which L.A. has a longstanding relationship, had long been rumored. Manchester United's name has been bounced around a bit, too.
What about Real Madrid? The Galaxy played friendlies with the Merengues the past two seasons, at the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum, and manager Jose Mourinho has annually brought his team -- first Chelsea, then Inter Milan, the Real -- to UCLA for preseason. There has been speculation Mourinho will depart Real in May, and former president of business operations Tom Payne last summer told ESPN Los Angeles that he had told the Spanish giant that their presence in Southern California prevented other clubs, which the Galaxy hoped to play in friendlies, from visiting the area.
The Galaxy has been more aggressive about scheduling friendlies since Bruce Arena took charge in August 2008. AC Milan and Barcelona visited in 2009, Real Madrid and Argentina's Boca Juniors in 2010, and Manchester City -- currently second in the EPL -- played at Home Depot Center eight days after last year's Real Madrid tilt. Chelsea visited HDC in 2007.
The Galaxy also played a July 2009 friendly against Crystal Palace in Richmond, Va., but it was abandoned at halftime because of heavy rains.
Tottenham, which features American goalkeeper Brad Friedel and has spent most of this season sitting third in the English Premier League standings, has a business relationship with the Galaxy, and David Beckham and Robbie Keane are close to Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, who could become England's national team coach in May. Beckham trained before the 2011 season with Tottenham, and Keane, a former Spurs striker, spent a few days in January working out with the club before joining Aston Villa on loan.
BECKHAM IS WEALTHY: Beckham is the soccer world's second-best earner, France Football magazine reports, making $41.5 million last year through salary, endorsements and other earnings. He was MLS's only player in the top 20, no surprise except that New York's Thierry Henry was a regular presence on the annual list until arriving in the league two years ago.
UCLA lost an assistant coach Friday when Kenny Arena, the son of Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, was hired as Florida International University's men's soccer head coach.
Arena, 31, also was coaching in the Galaxy's youth academy and guided its under-16 team to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15/16 national championship last summer.
The former defender starred at the University of Virginia and played in Major League Soccer for the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls) and D.C. United. He was part of former Galaxy midfielder Jorge Salcedo's staff at UCLA the past four years, helping the Bruins to three conference titles and a NCAA College Cup final four berth last fall. He previously was on staffs at Virginia and George Mason.
Arena replaces Munga Eketebi, who was 27-51-9 in five seasons as Miami-based FIU's head coach. The Golden Panthers were 5-8-2 last year.
Salcedo, a former UCLA standout, and assistant coach Eddie Soto, a former MLS forward who starred at Cal State Fullerton, were childhood friends and teammates from Cerritos. Soto is head coach of the Galaxy Academy's U-18 team.
LOS ANGELES -- Chandler Hoffman was heading home to Birmingham, and he was bringing a couple dozen of his best college buddies with him.
They hope to return to L.A. with an NCAA trophy.
Hoffman, a sure-to-be All-American striker, leads UCLA into this weekend's College Cup men's soccer final four in Hoover, Ala., where the Bruins figure to be a fan favorite, with all of his family and friends filling seats.
“Man, my phone has been blowing up. Facebook has been blowing up,” Hoffman said as the Bruins prepared for Friday night's semifinal showdown with top-seeded North Carolina. “Everyone's excited to come out. It should be like a home game for UCLA.”
This is what Hoffman has envisioned since word arrived earlier this year that the College Cup would be played in Birmingham's suburbs. Now that it's here -- and the Bruins are there -- he can barely contain his excitement.
“I'm so waiting for someone to pinch me and wake up,” he said. “It just feels like a dream.”
That dream comes true if UCLA (18-4-1) overcomes the Tar Heels (20-2-2), then knocks off second-seeded Creighton (21-2-0) or Charlotte (16-4-3) in Sunday's final. It would be the fifth NCAA men's soccer title in school history, and it would fulfill Jorge Salcedo's dream, too.
The Bruins' head coach has been part of three UCLA titles -- as a ballboy in 1985, a freshman midfielder in 1990 and an assistant coach in 2002 -- and came close to winning another in his third season in charge of the program.
“It would mean so much,” said Salcedo, who played for four Major League Soccer clubs, including the Galaxy, and Morelia in Mexico. “I quietly always hope that it's going to happen, and now, once again, we have another chance. The loss [to UC Santa Barbara in the final] in 2006 left a bitter taste in my mouth, because we were a good team back then, I think ready to win a championship. But I think we're even more ready now as a program to win one.”
The Bruins have ample talent, extraordinary depth -- especially in attack -- and solid upperclass leadership, and there's that destiny thing at work, too. At least Hoffman believes so.
The Galaxy and Woodland Hills-based Real So Cal will play in the under-15/16 tournament July 9-16 in Milwaukee, and Mission Viejo-based Pateadores will compete in the under-17/18 championships.
Pateadores, guided by former UCLA coach Todd Saldaņa (and with former U.S. national team captain and National Soccer Hall of Famer Thomas Dooley on staff), won all three of its games at FC Dallas' Pizza Hut Park complex, with Lawndale's Jose Villareal (Leuzinger HS) scoring in each match.
The Galaxy also went 3-0-0 -- with wins over fellow MLS clubs Sporting Kansas City's and Houston Dynamo's academy sides -- behind Rancho Santa Margarita's Justin Dhillon (Tesoro HS) scoring four goals, with a hat trick in a 4-1 rout of Bradenton, Fla.-based IMG Soccer Academy. (Dhillon also has played for the Galaxy's reserve team this year.) The Galaxy is coached by UCLA assistant coach Kenny Arena, a former MLS midfielder and the son of Bruce Arena.
Real So Cal, which made it to the U-17/18 finals last year, went 2-0-1 in Frisco after finishing fifth in the So Cal Division, won by the Galaxy, during the regular season. Woodland Hills' Steve Manios (El Camino Real HS) scored twice for the club, which is coached by Cal State Northridge head coach Terry Davila.