Los Angeles Soccer: Mario Rodriguez
Not in the games that count -- they've got eight games in all, seven of them in league, without a victory -- but Tuesday's 3-1 triumph in Vancouver takes L.A. out of the league's minibreak with successive MLS Reserve League victories.
Jose Villarreal netted two goals in his first start of the year and Jack McBean came off the bench to nod home a late winner as the Galaxy (3-1-1) climbed atop the Western Division standings at the University of British Columbia.
Things aren't going so well in MLS proper: L.A. is last in the West and 17th of 19 clubs overall with a 3-8-2 mark heading into Sunday afternoon's clash with Portland at Home Depot Center. Do Reserve League victories translate to the real deal? Subtly but surely.
“It's that feeling,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who went the full 90 after retuning from a month in MLS's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program for a 2-1 win 10 days ago at Portland, noted last week. “The guys that were in the locker room after the [reserve games] remember that feeling of winning. That's contagious. Those guys know what it's like to win again, and, hopefully, we can push that into our first team.”
Trialist Andy Iro, the former UC Santa Barbara All-American who played for Columbus and Toronto FC, went 90 minutes in central defense. Rookie Rafael Garcia, a central midfielder, got a look at right back. And assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who guides the reserve team, gave Galaxy Academy players Oscar Sorto and Mario Rodriguez spots in the starting XI.
Villarreal, a Home Grown Player from Inglewood, scored his first two goals since signing in December, finishing a Michael Stephens feed two minutes into the second half and adding an insurance goal in second-half stoppage from a long clearance by Saunders.
Two first-half free kicks were put away by Leonardo and Chad Barrett as the Galaxy claimed a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers to vault from fifth to second place in the West Division standings with a 2-1 victory at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. It's L.A.'s first win that counts since the April 21 MLS triumph at Colorado and the first of any sort since a reserve friendly three days later against the L.A. Blues, a span of nine games in all.
The biggest news was Saunders' first game appearance since entering Major League Soccer's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health treatment program at the end of April, but that was quickly overshadowed when Leonardo, just back from a devastating knee injury suffered 13½ months ago, appeared to reinjure his right knee after a collision in L.A.'s box with Timbers forward Sebastian Rincon.
There was no immediate diagnosis on Leonardo, who appeared anguished while lying on the turf, was comforted by several teammates, and had to be stretchered to the sideline.
The Brazilian center back tore several knee ligaments near the end of an April 2011 MLS game in Chicago, including the anterior cruciate and, worse, the lateral collateral, requiring two surgeries and an extended rehabilitation. He made a brief appearance in the April 24 game against the Blues, played a half in the May 8 Reserve League match with San Jose, was activated from the MLS Disabled List on May 18, made the 18-man game-day rosters (but did not play) for the last three MLS matches, and went the full 90 in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup loss at the Carolina RailHawks.
He went down just five minutes after giving the Galaxy a quick lead, volleying home a free kick that Kyle Nakazawa curled toward the left post. L.A. got its second goal in the 30th, also on a Nakazawa free kick, from the right edge of the box. Jack McBean, beyond the far post, headed the ball into the goalmouth, and Barrett outleapt Eric Alexander to nod it home.
Alexander scored on a 69th-minute penalty kick for Portland after Rafael Garcia fouled Brent Richards.
Saunders, who remains in the SABH program but returned to training May 21, looked solid in his first action since April 21. He did well on crosses into the box, ably cut off balls meant for Portland's forwards and made all the saves he was supposed to make, none of them particularly difficult.
The rookie backliner from Claremont, and Stanford University, gave a breakout performance for the visiting Galaxy on Thursday night, scoring one goal and assisting another as L.A. trotted out to a two-goal lead over the Portland Timbers with about 20 minutes to go.
Thomas was taken in MLS's supplemental draft, the 70th selection overall. Nagbe, an Akron product expected to become a huge star, was No. 2 overall.
The result was enough to assure the Seattle Sounders the Western Division title in the MLS's Reserve League. Portland (4-2-2) had been the only team capable of catching the Sounders (7-1-0); the Galaxy is 1-5-1.
By the time McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS), a 16-year-old phenom signed in January through Major League Soccer's Home Grown Player apparatus, came on in the 57th minute for North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez, the Germans already were up by four goals and certain of a Fourth of July quarterfinal against England.
Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) and Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) started all four games in the U-17 World Cup for the Yanks, who finished second in Group D with a 1-1-1 record but were shut out in their final two matches. Esteban Rodriguez scored the second goal in the 3-0 romp over the Czech Republic in the U.S.'s tournament opener.
Paul Arriola, a San Diego-area forward who plays for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC youth club, started three games in the competition, including Thursday's. Murrieta's Wade Hamilton (Murrieta Valley HS) was one of two backups to starting goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh and did not play.
Three of the four quarterfinal matchups have been set. Uruguay will meet Group D winner Uzbekistan and Japan will face Brazil in games Sunday. Monday's second game will pit Mexico or Panama against France or Ivory Coast. The semifinals are July 7 in Guadalajara and Torreon, and the title and third-place games are July 10 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
The U.S. did just enough to advance to the knockout stage at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico, wrapping up Group D play with a scoreless tie, then prevailing in a game of chance when defeat might have been preferable.
Saturday's result in Pachuca sent the Americans (1-1-1) and their opponent, New Zealand (1-1-1), through to the round of 16. Because the teams were even on goal difference and goals scored, lots were drawn to determine that the U.S. was second and the Kiwis third in the group, behind Uzbekistan.
Might third place have been the spot to be? Perhaps so.
The Americans will face the Group E winner Thursday in Queretaro, and unless something extraordinary occurs, that will be Germany, which has routed Ecuador (6-1) and Burkina Faso (3-0) and on Sunday takes on Panama.
New Zealand on Wednesday gets Japan (2-0-1), which eked out a victory over Jamaica, tied France and dominated an Argentina side that has not impressed. The Uzbeks will face the No. 3 team from Group F, likely Ivory Coast and possibly Australia.
Mexico, France, England, Argentina, Congo, Uruguay and Ecuador also have clinched round-of-16 berths.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) and North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) were in the U.S. lineup again, and Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) and goalkeeper Wade Hamilton (Murrieta/Murrieta Valley HS) again watched from the bench.
Bobir Davlatov's stunning 13th-minute goal sent the Uzbeks ahead, and Abbosbek Makhstaliev converted a penalty kick to break a 1-1 draw in the 54th. Alfred Koroma, with his second goal of the tournament, tallied just after halftime.
Three local players started for the U.S.: Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS), North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) and Paul Arriola, who is from the San Diego area but plays club ball for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC. Galaxy forward Jack McBean, from Newport Beach (Corona del Mar HS), and goalkeeper Wade Hamilton, from Murrieta (Murrieta Valley HS) were among the unused substitutes.
The U.S. and New Zealand, a 1-0 loser to the Czech Repubic, top the group on goal difference (plus-2) and goals scored (four apiece) heading into their meeting Saturday in Pachuca.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez scored the second goal as the U.S. romped to an unexpectedly simple 3-0 victory Sunday over the Czech Republic in its Group D opener at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS/Cosmos West Academy) slotted deftly into the far post seven minutes into the second half from feed by Paul Arriola, a San Diego-area product who plays for Arsenal FC in Alta Loma.
San Diego's Alejandro Guido gave the U.S. a fifth-minute lead, and Sierra Leone-born Texan Alfred Koroma scored in the 89th in triple-digit heat in Torreon.
North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley/Central Aztecs) started up front for the U.S. Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) was an unused substitute.
The U.S. faces Uzbekistan on Wednesday in Torreon and New Zealand on Saturday in Pachuca.
The U.S. U-17 World Cup roster is out, and five players from the L.A. area -- including 16-year-old Galaxy forward Jack McBean -- are on it.
McBean, a Corona del Mar High School sophomore who signed at the end of January with the Galaxy through Major League Soccer's Home Grown Player mechanism, is the only first-team Major League Soccer player on coach Wilmer Cabrera's 21-man roster for the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. McBean has played with the Galaxy's reserve and academy teams but hasn't yet featured for the first team.
McBean and three others from the area -- midfielder Esteban Rodriguez and forwards Mario Rodriguez and Paul Arriola -- were part of the U.S. team that won the CONCACAF championship in February. Goalkeeper Wade Hamilton is the fifth local player.
Arriola lives south of San Diego but plays for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC, with Hamilton.
The Americans will face the Czech Republic (June 19 in Torreon), Uzbekistan (June 22 in Torreon) and New Zealand (June 25 in Pachuca) in Group D play.
Here's a list of the locals, with hometown, local high school and club team:
- Wade Hamilton (Murrieta), Murrieta Vallety HS/Arsenal FC
- Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale), Bell Gardens HS/Cosmos Academy West
- Paul Arriola (Chula Vista), Arsenal FC
- Jack McBean (Newport Beach), Corona del Mar HS/Galaxy
- Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood), Poly HS/Central Aztecs
Garden Grove's Luis Gil netted the third goal for the U.S. under-20 national team in a 3-3 draw Tuesday with France, part of a six-day training camp in Vichy with interim head coach Tab Ramos, the former U.S. national team star.
Gil, 17, who plays for Real Salt Lake, scored in the 54th minute to give the Americans a 3-1 lead in Carquefou, France. UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe also was in the starting lineup.
The teams will meet again Thursday.
U-17 DRAW: The U.S. under-17 national team was drawn into Group D with the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan and New Zealand for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The U.S. will play the Czechs on June 19 and Uzbeks on June 22, both in Torreon, and New Zealand on June 25 in Pachuca.
Marc Pelosi scored in the 10th minute and Andrew Oliver tallied in second-half stoppage for the U.S., which will meet Canada, a 1-0 victor over Panama, in the title game in Montego Bay.
McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS), who signed last month with the Galaxy as a "Home Grown Player," came off the bench in both of the Americans' group-stage games -- just 26 minutes in all -- but did not play in the quarterfinal win over El Salvador, which sent the U.S. to the FIFA U-17 World Cup, beginning in June in Mexico.
Midfielder Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood/Poly HS) was suspended for the game after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament against El Salvador, but midfielder Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale/Bell Gardens HS) went the whole way for the U.S. He and defender Mobi Fehr are the only U.S. players who have been on the field for the entirety of every game.
There were two goals and three red cards in the final eight minutes of overtime in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but the Americans held on to advance to Thursday's semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's Jamaica-Honduras game.
Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) scored five minutes into the extra period to provide a 2-1 advantage, and Mark Pelosi tallied in the 112th to make it 3-1. The Americans lost defender Kellyn Acosta to a second yellow card a minute later, and goalkeeper Fernando Piña and El Salvador's Jose Peña were ejected after a final-minute collision in the box, leading to Gerardo Iraheta's penalty kick.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) played the full 120 in midfield for the U.S., but Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) did not feature.
Panama also clinched a berth in the June 18-July 10 World Cup in Mexico, beating Costa Rica, 1-0, to advance to a CONCACAF semifinal against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico, as World Cup host, is not taking part in the CONCACAF championship.
The U.S. opened the CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Monday with a 3-1 victory over Cuba, with Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez scoring a goal and North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez assisting Andrew Oliver's strike.
Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) and Mario Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) were in Wilmer Cabrera's starting lineup for the Group B opener in Montego Bay, Jamaica. New Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) came on for Mario Rodriguez in the 73rd minute.
The U.S. wraps group play Friday against Panama, and a victory in the quarterfinals will clinch a berth at the June 18-July 10 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Alfred Koroma gave the U.S. a 27th-minute advantage, Oliver made it 2-0 from Mario Rodriguez's superb outlet pass in the first minute of the second half, and Esteban Rodriguez struck four minutes later. Frank Lopez scored Cuba's goal in the 68th.
Costa Rica beat Haiti, 3-1, in the Group A opener.
The Galaxy's newest and youngest forward has obligations more pressing than competing for playing time in Major League Soccer. Jack McBean, just 16, is off for Jamaica with the U.S. under-17 national team to play in qualifiers for this summer's FIFA U-17 World Cup.
McBean, a Corona del Mar High School sophomore who last month signed a Home Grown Player contract with the Galaxy, is among four players with local ties on U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera's 20-player roster for the 12-nation CONCACAF U-17 Championship that kicks off Monday in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Forward Mario Rodriguez, from North Hollywood, is among seven players in their fourth semester of residency and is one of the team's most experienced players, with 18 under-17 caps. Esteban Rodriguez, from Palmdale, has 14 caps. The fourth local player, Paul Arriola, is from the San Diego area but plays club soccer for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC.
The U.S. will face Cuba in a Group B opener Monday and Panama next Friday. The title game is Feb. 27. The top four teams will advance to the June 18-July 10 World Cup in Mexico.
Local players on the roster (with hometown, local high school and club affiliation):
- F Paul Arriola (Chula Vista), Arsenal FC
- F Jack McBean (Newport Beach), Corona del Mar HS/Los Angeles Galaxy
- M Esteban Rodriguez (Palmdale), Bell Gardens HS/Cosmos Academy West
- F Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood), Poly HS (Sun Valley)/Central Aztecs