Los Angeles Soccer: Luis Gonzalez
If you're looking for a local team to support in the USL Pro, the third-division league in American soccer's pyramid, the L.A. Blues aren't your only option.
There's also the Wilmington Hammerheads.
The North Carolina club, which will visit the Blues for a couple of games next month at Cal State Fullerton, have the largest collection of Southern California talent in the league: seven players from the area, another who played college ball here, and one more -- not sure he really counts -- who was with the Blues for a short spell last year.
They're among 32 players from Greater Los Angeles in USL Pro, which heads into its third weekend of games with Friday night's Blues-Rochester match at Fullerton.
The Blues, who featured a heavily local roster in their first season, have three players from the area (Anaheim's Carlos Borja, Newport Beach's Bryan Burke and Long Beach's Luis Gonzalez), four more from local colleges (UC Irvine's Irving Garcia, Cal State Fullerton's Shay Spitz and Bethesda Christian's Sun-Hyung Cho and Cheun-Yong Park), plus a former Galaxy winger who has called SoCal home since signing with MLS at 16 nearly five years ago (Israel Sesay).
The Rochester Rhinos, who won a league opener over the Blues last weekend, also have a decent contingent led by former UCLA star Mike Zaher and UC Santa Barbara products Conor Chinn and Tyler Rosenlund. All three, plus former Galaxy defenders Quavas Kirk and Troy Roberts, have MLS experience.
Orlando City has Palmdale's Maxwell Griffin, a UCLA alum whose performance for the champs last year led to a late-season loan deal to the San Jose Earthquakes. Pittsburgh has Long Beach's Tino Nuñez, from UC Santa Barbara, who spent a couple seasons with Real Salt Lake. Three goalkeepers are in the group: L.A.'s Kevin Klasila at Charlotte, Huntington Beach's Kyle Polak with Wilmington, and Laguna Hills' Eric Reed at Charlotte.
Wilmington's So Cal group includes former Chivas USA forward Chukwudi Chijindu, a Fontana product who spent last season with the Blues on loan from the Goats, plus Hollywood's Jack Avesyan and Hagop Chirishian, Laguna Hills' Trey Cole, Lakewood's Manny Guzman and Thousand Oaks' Dylan Riley.
Here's a full list of players with local ties in the USL Pro (with hometown and local high school/college in parenthesis, with local adult club following):
They're the big names, but hardly the only ones, among local players aiming for an opportunity with a Major League Soccer team. There are nearly two dozen players who grew up or went to school in Greater Los Angeles hoping to hear their names called in Kansas City.
Some of them, let's be honest, don't have a shot, not with just two rounds of picks -- 38 in all. Next week's supplemental draft will provide possibilities, and players will be looking to participate in team combines and in trials during preseason training.
Some might look abroad -- there are leagues everywhere on the planet -- and there are two professional minor leagues (NASL, USL Pro) and several pro clubs in the Premier Development League and its rival NPSL.
Here's a quick rundown of 22 players who might find a job in MLS, if the right situation develops:
UCLA's Chandler Hoffman scored goals by the bunches on a quest to go home. Nadia Link netted nearly as many to take Long Beach State to unprecedented heights. Christian Ramirez dazzled for Concordia. And Fabiola da Silva prodded Cal Baptist to a national championship.
They're ESPN Los Angeles College Players of the Year after superb fall campaigns on local fields.
We selected men's and women's teams, one for players from 10 local NCAA Division I institutions and another for players from 24 NCAA Divisions II and III, NAIA and unaffiliated schools.
Our coaches of the year in Division I are Junior Gonzalez, who led the remarkable turnaround by UC Riverside's men, and Tim Ward, whose Pepperdine women were a top-five team during the regular season. In the lower divisions, it's Ralph Perez, who took Redlands' men to 20 wins and NCAA Division III third-round berth, and Kristen St. Clair, who presided over a superb transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, with the Pacific West Conference title and National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Division I national crown.
The freshmen of the year: Cal State Northridge's Edwin Rivas and UCLA's Abby Dahlkemper in D1, Cal Baptist's Michael Salazar and Cal Lutheran's Taylor Will in D2/D3/NAIA.
Here are our inaugural postseason all-star teams:
In the Big West Conference, UC Irvine's Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) and UC Riverside's Cesar Diaz Pizarro (Chino/Ayala HS) were co-Offensive Players of the Year. UCI's Andrew Fontein was honored as top goalkeeper, and Riverside's Nat Gonzalez was Coach of the Year. UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva (Los Angeles/Salesian HS) won Midfielder of the Year honors, and James Kiffe was the best defender.
California Collegiate Athletic Association champion Cal State L.A. dominated the league's awards, with UC Santa Barbara transfer Taylor Rivas (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) winning for Most Valuable Defensive Player, Rosario Bras for Newcomer of the Year and Chris Chamides as Coach of the Year. Cal Poly Pomona star Luis Gonzalez (Long Beach/Millikan HS and Cerritos College) was the Most Valuable Offensive Player.
Redlands' Cody Carlson (Burbank/Burbank HS) is the Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year.
Here are all of the local men's all-conference teams:
As the college soccer season hits its stretch drive, let's take a look at some of the most dominant players in Southern California this year, no matter the division.
Here are 10 who enjoyed marvelous campaigns:
- LUIS GONZALEZ
Who is he? Senior striker from Long Beach (Millikan HS), the national JC Player of the Year at Cerritos College and soon-to-be two-time All-American in two seasons with the Broncos.
What has he done? Scored 14 goals this year and 26 in two seasons at Cal Poly Pomona, winning the California Collegiate Athletic Association's Most Valuable Offensive Player award this fall.
Coachspeak: “I equate Luis Gonzalez to Magic Johnson,” Broncos coach Lance Thompson said, “and I do that because a heard a story about Magic where he was playing for his youth basketball team and they were winning and he was jumping for joy and excited and couldn't figure out why his teammates were so depressed. Well, if the team scored 70 points, he scored 68, and he learned a valuable lesson of giving and getting others involved so they could contribute, and he became one of the best assist guys ever. That's Luis. Luis takes more pride and has more joy in getting teammates involved than he does in scoring. And the more he gave, the more he received. That's what sets him apart over any other student-athlete I've coached.”
- COCO GOODSON
Who is she? Senior center back from Ramona (San Diego County), a University of Texas transfer expected to repeat as a Division I All-American.
What has she done? Set the standard at the back to lead the Anteaters to back-to-back Big West Conference titles, an NCAA sweet 16 appearance last year, and a return to the NCAA tournament this fall.
Coachspeak: “Coco's unique,” Anteaters coach Scott Juniper said. “She is the strongest player that I've seen in women's soccer. She strikes a ball better than many of the male players I've worked with, and she is just a relentless competitor. She's totally unique, and there isn't another player out there like her.”
CARSON -- Chivas USA wrapped up its season Friday with a 3-1 victory in a “closed-door” friendly against the L.A. Blues -- with a few dozen fans and some media watching, no problem, from the bluff above the Goats' practice field at Home Depot Center.Ben Zemanski, Juan Pablo Angel and Justin Braun tallied for Chivas, which continued training after the season ended Oct. 22 -- and will regroup in mid-January.
Chivas coach Robin Fraser looked at several players the past couple of weeks, and the Goats' burgeoning academy program has some outstanding talent, too.
“Our plan is the continue to improve the team,” he said. “We need to continue to look to add pieces. We're pretty far down the road in terms of some good ideas about players to get, but certainly this offseason for us is about trying to identify and secure players we feel can help us.”
Pepperdine's dream of an unbeaten season ended Friday night to a goal scored with just eight seconds to go in the first half.
No. 10 Santa Clara pulled out a 1-0 triumph over the third-ranked Waves, vaulting into the top spot in the West Coast Conference when Bridgett Miller (Los Angeles/Archer School for Girls) put away a deflected free kick in the Bay Area showdown.
Roxanne Barker (Irvine/Woodbridge HS) made two big saves to keep Pepperdine (13-1-4) level, but there were no answers for Miller's goal.
“[Santa Clara is] a good team, and, to their credit, they came out firing, and we came out flat,” Waves head coach Tim Ward told his school's athletics web site. “As poorly as we were playing in the first half, I thought we were going to come out with a 0-0 score at half, but, unfortunately,
it didn't happen.
“The second half, we played much better and had some excellent scoring opportunties.”
The best was a Myriah Stockman try off a corner kick in the 52nd minute that Broncos goalkeeper Bianca Henninger saved.
Santa Clara (12-1-5) is 5-0-1 in the WCC. The Waves, who are home Sunday against Portland, and San Diego are 5-1; BYU is 4-1-1.
The loss ended a program-record 18-game unbeaten streak for Pepperdine,
In other women´s action:
- Taylor Nelson (Garden Grove/Pacifica HS) and Nicole Sweetman (Oxnard/Oaks Christian HS and UCLA) scored goals three minutes apart early in the second half as Long Beach State (12-5-1) clinched a Big West Conference tournament berth and climbed within a point of first-place UC Irvine with one game to go with a 2-0 victory over visiting UC Davis.
- Sydney Leroux netted her second first-half hat trick in as many weeks and Jenna Richmond added two goals as sixth-ranked UCLA (13-1-2) romped to an 8-0 Pacific 12 Conference victory at Colorado.
- Lauren Mellano (Fullerton/Troy HS) scored 105 seconds into overtime as Cal State Fullerton (8-8-3) edged Pacific, 1-0, in Big West play. The Titans tied an NCAA record (set in 2005 by William & Mary) with their 11th overtime game of the season and are 4-4-3 in games with the extra period.
- USC (6-12-0) saw its three-game winning streak halted in a 3-0 Pac-12 loss at Utah.
Farran (San Pedro/San Pedro HS) fired home with 97 seconds remaining in regulation after Katie Russ (Canyon Country/Canyon HS) headed along a throw-in from Chloe McDaniel (Palmdale/Quartz Hill HS).
Long Beach State (10-4-1) had won six in a row and led the Big West with a 3-0 mark, but the loss drops the 49ers one point behind the Matadors (5-7-2) and UC Irvine, which are 3-1-1. Long Beach visits Irvine on Sunday.
Northridge has won three of its last four games.
In other women's action:
- Elizabeth Eddy (Newport Beach/Newport Harbor HS) tallied in the fifth minute, and USC ended an eight-game losing streak and claimed its first Pacific 12 Conference victory in a 1-0 encounter at Washington. The Women of Troy (4-11-0), who are 1-5 in the Pac-12, benefited from solid defense backed up by freshman goalkeeper Carley Pennington (Rancho Cucamonga/St. Lucy's Priory HS), who got the shutout in her college debut.
- No. 6 UCLA (10-1-3) dictated play and ran up a 29-8 advantage in shots but couldn't find the net, and the scoreless draw at Washington State extended the Bruins' winless streak to three games. The Cougars (10-4-2) moved ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 standings at 4-1-1. The Bruins are 3-1-2.
Stanford scored four first-half goals to rout the Bruins, 4-1, Sunday in its packed Cagan Stadium, extending its home winning streak in women's soccer to 43 games and taking command of the Pacific 12 Conference race.
Chioma Ubogagu scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season to deliver a two-goal lead by the 18th minute. After Zakiya Bywaters halved the deficit seconds later for UCLA (10-1-2), Lindsay Taylor scored her ninth of the year in the 28th and Kristy Zurmuhlen provided a three-goal edge in the 40th.
UCLA's four-game shutout streak ended, but the Bruins stopped Stanford's seven-game stretch.
“I think we're in a good place,” said Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe, whose team has reached the past two NCAA Division I finals. “The team's doing well, but we've got to keep getting better. We've got to keep improving. We've got to learn from this game and keep growing.”
The Cardinal (13-0-1), which is 5-0-0 in the Pac-12, is looking for a third successive perfect conference campaign. Every other Pac-12 school has lost at least one. UCLA is 3-1-1.
In other women's action:
- USC (3-10-0) lost its eighth in a row as Rachel Mercik and Taylor Comeau scored second-half goals in Cal's 2-0 victory. The Women of Troy are 0-4-0 in Pac-12 play.
- Nicole Hubbard (Lakewood/Mayfair HS) scored with 12 seconds to go in regulation and Nadia Link (Rowland Heights/Walnut HS) netted her 12th goal of the season in the fifth minute of overtime as No. 23 Long Beach State (10-3-1) rallied for a 2-1 Big West Conference victory over Cal State Fullerton (6-6-2).
Billy Gutierrez is a sparkplug off the bench. Tiffany Hollis is a presence in the nets. Both are crucial players for Cal State Dominguez Hills' soccer programs, which enter every season with national-championship aspirations.
And they're a team.
Gutierrez, a 26-year-old senior defender, and Hollis, 20, a junior goalkeeper, will celebrate 18 months of marriage at season's end -- and they hope, too, for returns to the NCAA Division II tournaments after both teams missed the postseason last year.
The men are off to a 6-2-1 start, with Gutierrez (Huntington Park/Huntington Park HS) the Toros' No. 2 scorer, with a pair goals and three assists. The women (5-4-0) have struggled, ending a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win Friday at San Francisco State. Hollis (Los Angeles/Lakewood HS) has been a strong suit and was the California Collegiate Athletic Association's player of the week earlier this month.
Soccer provided a foundation for their relationship, and with home life, classes (both major in kinesiology) and the tight ties between the teams (they travel together for CCAA matches), they rarely spend time apart.
“Soccer is a big deal for both of us, because we are always talking about soccer, and that's what brought us together in the beginning ... ” Hollis told the school's athletics website. “We know how to find a balance between everything, but it's not easy. We decided to get into this boat together, and now we just have to know how to work through the adversities, remembering what the most important thing is, which is our relationship.”
Gutierrez and Hollis met in a soccer class three years ago at Cerritos College, where both played for the Falcons' state-championship sides. They wed in May 2010, arrived in Carson a year ago and played reserve roles for Dominguez Hills, which struggled after winning the men's national title in 2008 and reaching the women's championship game in 2009.
UCLA opened Pacific 12 Conference play in women'ssoccer with a dominant but tight victory over Washington, but USC couldn't hold on to an early advantage in its opener against Washington State.
Vanderbilt transfer Chelsea Stewart scored UCLA's goal in the 79th minute Friday night in front of 2,350 at Drake Stadium, skipping a free kick through a crowded box and past Huskies goalkeeper Jorde LaFontaine-Kussman.
The Bruins (8-0-1) played superb defense, limiting Washington (3-4-2) to one shot.
USC (3-7-0) on Sunday scored the fastest goal in program history -- Samantha Johnson (Palmdale/Highland HS) on an assist from Haley Boysen (Moorpark/Harvard-Westlake School) just 14 seconds in -- then conceded twice in the last 25 minutes to fall to the Cougars (7-3-1) at McAllister Park.
Rachael Doyle's header off the crossbar evened things in the 67th minute, and Jocelyn Jeffers got the winner with 4½ minutes to play.
In other women's action:
UC Irvine had final-four aims a year ago, when head coach George Kuntz's talented, senior-heavy team climbed into the top 10 before an upset loss to Cal State Fullerton in the conference tournament and a poor RPI kept it out of the NCAA tournament, one of the most stunning omissions we've seen in the men's soccer brackets.
Expectations this fall aren't so towering. The Anteaters were picked fourth in the Big West Conference's preseason coaches poll, behind UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Fullerton.
Might want to rethink that.
Irvine is off to a 6-0-0 start for the first time in school history after rallying twice from first-half deficits, then pulling away to a 4-2 non-conference victory Sunday at Midwest power Illinois-Chicago.
Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) scored in the 58th minute and Christopher Santana in the 77th to lift the Anteaters, who are No. 9 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America men's Division I rankings.
UIC (2-1-2) went ahead twice, on goals off corner kicks by Zach Kaleta in the fourth minute and Craig Krzyskowski in the 22nd, but UCI answered immediately both times, through Christian Hernandez (Palmdale/Palmdale HS) in the 13th and Jonathan Rivas (Norwalk/Santa Fe HS and Cerritos College) in the 24th.
In other men's action:
- Ryan Lee and Chandler Hoffman scored first-half goals to lead UCLA (2-2-1) past 10-man Loyola Marymount (2-3-0). The Bruins dominated the game, outfiring LMU, 13-4; the Lions were handicapped when Logan McDaniel (Palmdale/Quartz Hills HS) was red-carded in the 14th minute, just 23 seconds after Lee tallied.
- Jesse Escalante (Placentia/Valencia HS) and Nick Posthuma (Pasadena/St. Francis HS) scored to lead Cal State Fullerton (4-0-1) past San Francisco, 2-0, to win UNLV's event, the Titans' second tournament championship in as many weekends.
- Cal State Northridge (2-3-0), just seven minutes from victory, surrendered three goals in 97 seconds and lost, 3-1, to New Mexico in the decisive encounter of the Lobos' tournament. Gustavo Villalobos (Van Nuys/Birmingham HS) tallied for the Matadors in the 35th minute.
UCLA finally has a victory. Another might boost the Bruins back into the top 25.Chandler Hoffman scored his third goal of the season and All-American Kelyn Rowe added another to lift UCLA (1-2-1), one of the chief preseason NCAA title favorites, to a 2-1 triumph Friday night over St. Mary's at Drake Stadium.
The Bruins, ranked sixth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll (and as high as No. 2 elsewhere), dropped out of the top 25 following losses to Louisville and UC Davis and a draw at Santa Clara.
Hoffman, who has eight goals in his last 10 games for the Bruins, finished a sequence from Shawn Singh and Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS) three minutes into the second half. Rowe's goal, a magnificent blast from just wide of the box to inside the far post, made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute.
UCLA takes on Loyola Marymount on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the Bruins' North Athletic Field.
In other men's action:
- Everett Pitts (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) volleyed home a rebound 16 minutes into overtime to lift No. 9 UC Irvine (5-0-0) to a 3-2 triumph at Wisconsin. The Badgers (2-2-0) rallied after Enrique Cardenas (Coachella/Coachella Valley HS) provided the Anteaters a 2-0 lead with a pair of yeoman's goals in the first six minutes of the second half.
- Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS) sent Cal State Fullerton (3-0-1) to a 2-1 win over UW Green Bay at UNLV's tournament, converting a 73rd-minute penalty kick for the winner.
- Chris Smith (Palmdale/Quartz Hill HS) fed goals by Taylor Bowlin and Yarden Azulay as Cal State Northridge (2-2-0) romped, 3-0, over Missouri State at New Mexico's tournament.
UCLA faces great expectations this season -- NCAA championship kind of expectations -- but the Bruins need to find their game before they can aim so high.
Two games in, and UCLA is still looking for its first win. It followed last week's loss at top-ranked Louisville with a disappointing 2-2 draw Friday night at Santa Clara.
The Bruins, ranked as high as sixth in Division I men's soccer, overcame a quick deficit but couldn't hold onto a late lead in a rough clash marked by 35 fouls and eight yellow cards,
Chandler Hoffman answered Erik Hurtado's strike to pull UCLA even in the 17th minute, and Eder Arreola (Chino Hills/Chin Hills HS) struck with a volley to provide a 70th-minute lead. Mykell Bates, Arreola's former teammate with the U.S. under-17 national team, pulled the Broncos (1-0-1) even in the 84th.
In other men's action:
- Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) scored the first goal and set up a stunning overtime winner by Victor Calderon (San Jacinto/San Jacinto HS) as No. 14 UC Irvine (3-0-0) overcame visiting Gonzaga, 2-1. The Anteaters held a 44-4 shot advantage, but Ryan Caballero made 17 saves to keep the Bulldogs in the game.
- No. 9 UC Santa Barbara (2-0-0) started its trek to North Carolina with a 3-2 victory over Duke, with Dom Sarle's overtime goal decisive.
- All-American Luis Gonzalez (Long Beach/Millikan HS) and Daniel Gomez (Ontario/Chino HS) scored late goals six minutes apart as Cal Poly Pomona won its opener, rallying for a 3-2 victory over Dixie State in Phoenix.
UCLA WOMEN RALLY AT PEPPERDINE: Freshman Ally Courtnall (Westlake Village/Oaks Christian HS), the daughter of former NHL winger Russ Courtnall, scored with a little less than three minutes left in regulation, giving No. 6 UCLA a 1-1 draw with No. 24 Pepperdine in Malibu.
Lynn Williams' first-half goal gave the Waves (4-0-1) a first-half lead, and Roxanne Barker (Irvine/Woodbridge HS) made 10 saves as UCLA applied heavy pressure in the second half and during overtime.
Pedro Corona/Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona athletics
Cal Poly Pomona's Luis Gonzalez had four goals and two assists against Cal State East Bay last week to set a CCAA points record.
Cal Poly Pomona's Luis Gonzalez was unstoppable in a 7-0 romp over Cal State East Bay last Sunday, totaling 10 points -- on four goals and two assists -- to set a California Collegiate Athletic Conference record.
It made for a five-goal, three-assist week for the junior forward from Millikan High School in Long Beach -- our Player of the Week -- who also had a goal and assist in a 2-1 victory Friday over UC San Diego. The Broncos (9-6-1 overall, 7-6-1 CCAA) need victories this weekend at Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal State L.A. -- and help elsewhere -- to claim a berth in the CCAA tournament, which begins next Friday.
The four goals tied a CCAA record set last year by teammate Tyler Reinhart.
Gonzalez, who leads Pomona with 11 goals and seven assists, is a two-time junior college All-American who scored 51 goals in two seasons at Cerritos College and led the Falcons to the this year as the reigning national junior college Player of the Year. Gonzalez, who scored 51 goals with 35 assists in two seasons at Cerritos College (leading the Falcons to the 2008 state JC title). He was the NSCAA's JC Division III Player of the Year in 2009.
GREATEST GOAL: What a sweet finish by USC freshman Autumn Altamirano (Tustin/Beckman HS) in the 86th minute to beat UCLA, 1-0, last Friday in front of an NCAA women's regular-season record crowd of 8,527 at the Coliseum.