Soccer: Michael Boxall
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Galaxy had all of the ball but none of the chances for the first 30 minutes Saturday, but as their most pivotal player's involvement in the proceedings increased, so did their dominance.
Landon Donovan scored two goals, set up another and provided the tactical shift that sent L.A. to a 4-0 rout of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a triumph fueled by a terrific final hour -- perhaps the Galaxy's best sustained soccer of the season.
It turned a vibrant match featuring end-to-end action, both ways for a time, into a most one-sided affair as L.A. (12-2-9) began a two-game Pacific Northwest trek by matching their best output of the season with their most emphatic triumph.
All four goals came in the second half, with Donovan -- returning to the field after missing last weekend's friendly against Manchester City and Wednesday's Major League Soccer All-Star Game because of a calf strain -- scoring superbly from Sean Franklin's long ball in the 61st minute and converting a penalty kick in the 75th, then setting up Franklin for No. 3 in the 80th. Adam Cristman's fortuitous header in the 90th completed the romp.
It was closer than the score suggests, and better aim might have given the Whitecaps (2-11-9) an upset, but the Galaxy took charge about a half-hour in, created myriad chances and was certain of victory once Donovan netted his first.
“First half, I thought Landon was quiet,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “Second half, he was real loud.”
The goals were his 10th and 11th of the season, pulling him even with New York's Thierry Henry for the top spot among Major League Soccer's scorers, but more important was the impact he had ripping apart a Whitecaps backline that had done well to limit the Galaxy's chances despite a serious advantage in possession.
L.A. had almost all of the ball through 30 minutes but never seriously tested goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Vancouver created eight solid opportunities in that span -- and several more to start the second half, the best Shea Salinas' deposit off the left post after a weaving run to the top of the Galaxy box after a giveaway.
Juninho twice forced diving saves from Cannon, who did well to keep out shots by Juan Pablo Angel and Mike Magee, too.
“I thought it looked like we were a little tired in the beginning,” defender Gregg Berhalter said. “Then we settled in, got our second wind. When we control the game and we look for a quick switch of the attack, we're really dangerous.”
Angel, who struggled to connect with teammates in the first half but was involved after halftime, until exiting in the 67th minute, said Empire Field's artificial turf slowed down L.A. at the start.
“I think it's normal.” he said. “It takes a little bit of time to get used to the field, the surface, but then we managed to be accurate with the passing, and when we got the movement right, we were very dangerous. ... And when Landon scored the first goal, it was just game over.”
Arena said the Galaxy's “ball movement was the key to the game. We passed better and we got out of pressure better. In the first 30 minutes, we were turned over in the middle third of the field, and they were dangerous on the counter. But as our passing got better, we got into a rhythm.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's victory:
BEST PLAYER: Donovan was magnificent in the second half, especially after moving into the middle about 10 minutes or so into the second half because, Arena said, “I thought we needed a little bit more pace up top to get behind.”
He scored one superb goal, converted a penalty kick and set up Franklin's second goal in as many games (and in a 3½-year MLS career) with a perfect ball across the goalmouth to the far post.
UC Santa Barbara defender Michael Boxall -- initially considered a potential first-rounder in last week's SuperDraft, but his stock dropped after a poor combine (and because, as a New Zealander, he counts as a foreign player -- was the top pick in Tuesday's proceedings, going to Vancouver.
Stanford's Ryan Thomas (Claremont/Claremont HS) was selected with the second of the Galaxy's two first-round picks.
“I was watching the draft online and it was a shock to me to be picked by the Galaxy,” Thomas told Stanford's website. “I grew up in L.A. and would go to watch the Galaxy games at the Rose Bowl, and now I am going to get to play on that field.”
The Galaxy, of course, moved from the Rose Bowl to the Home Depot Center in 2003, but it still plays the occasional friendly in Pasadena.
Loyola Marymount midfielder Rafael Baca (Lawndale/Animo Leadership HS) wasn't selected and is available to attend any MLS camp as a free agent.
The supplemental's three rounds effectively were rounds 4, 5 and 6 from Tuesday's draft, and most teams used their selections for prospects who will be needed with restoration of the reserve league.
DANIEL KEAT: New Zealand national-teamer, a four-time All-Ivy League pick and an All-American as a junior, was a savvy, aggressive central midfielder at Dartmouth who might be better suited to wing play in MLS.
Quartet finds employment
- Michael Tetteh (UC Santa Barbara): Top left back in the draft lasted into the second round, was taken by Seattle with the 20th selection.
- Michael Farfan (North Carolina): The playmaker from Wildomar (Cal State Fullerton) saw his stock drop considerably after a poor combine. Philadelphia took him with the 23rd pick, the last of the Generation adidas players to go.
- Hector Jimenez (California): Midfielder from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS) is headed home, snapped up by the Galaxy in the second round (34th pick)
- Davis Paul (California): The forward from Upland (Damien HS), Jimenez's teammate at Arsenal FC in Alta Loma, heads to Chicago in the third round, with the 51st of 54 picks.
Who waited … and waited ...
- Michael Boxall (UC Santa Barbara): The New Zealand national-teamer went into the combine regarded among the top center backs, but his weaknesses -- struggles to keep up with fast forwards, questionable decision-making, an inability to play out of the back -- really hurt him. And his foreign status doesn't help either.
- Amani Walker (UC Irvine): Target forward didn't offer a good enough glimpse of himself during the combine and dropped further down the depth chart. He's a good bet for the supplemental draft.
Up for grabs in Tuesday's second draft
- Rafael Baca (Loyola Marymount): The wing-midfielder from Lawndale (Animo Leadership HS) would make a nice pickup for some MLS club.
- Corey Attaway (UC Irvine): Hard-working, versatile midfielder from Chino (Chino Hills HS) deserved a combine invite, is going to play somewhere.
Several teams, the Galaxy included, could be looking to move up in the draft -- the first half-dozen or so players would help anybody, and there are a few more role players available in a class that might be better than first thought.
The draft has shrunk to just three rounds -- 54 picks -- but those not selected will be available in a four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.
And on to the picks:
Here are the top five propsects with SoCal roots (and seven more who could slip in):
1. MICHAEL TETTEH (UC Santa Barbara)
The Ghanaian speedster, who went to the Dunn School in Los Olivos, went into the combine as the top-ranked left back, and two subpar outings weren't enough to change that. He's raw, but Tetteh's otherworldy pace and a Generation adidas contract, which means he won't count against roster size nor cap, makes him a coveted prospect.
The former Cal State Fullerton playmaker from Windomar, in Riverside County, is a two-time All-American with U.S. youth national team experience, but there are concerns about how quickly he can raise his game under heavy pressure, and he did himself no favors during the combine. But he's got the skill and there's no denying his body of work in Chapel Hill.
3. MICHAEL BOXALL (UC Santa Barbara)
The New Zealander has extensive experience -- he's already appeared for the Kiwis' national team -- but he appeared to slip down the center-back depth chart with a hit-and-mostly-miss combine. That likely dropped him out of first-round contention, but his play for the Gauchos will aid his cause.
4. HECTOR JIMENEZ (California)
The wing-midfielder from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS) has great touch, combines well and has the skill to create. He enjoyed a solid combine, especially the first two days, with Bears teammate Demetrius Omphroy providing support.
5. RAFAEL BACA (Loyola Marymount)
The midfielder from Lanwndale (Animo Leadership HS) was a surprise omission from the combine, but the former Galaxy U-20 player could be a nice fit for a team looking for a right-sided winger. His coach with the Lions, Paul Krumpe, has no doubts: “He can be a fantastic wide midfielder at the next level. Talk about a guy with a ridiculous amount of workrate. He's solid through and through.”
M Corey Attaway (UC Irvine)/Chino (Chino Hills HS)
D Joel Bagby (UC Irvine)/Huntington Beach (Edison HS)
M/D Gray Bailey (UC Irvine)/Huntington Beach (Huntington Beach HS)
F Tomislav Colic (Vanguard)
*F Davis Paul (California)/Upland (Damien HS)
F Spencer Thompson (UC Irvine)
*F Amani Walker (UC Irvine)
* Attended combine
Major League Soccer's technical staffs are in Fort Lauderdale the next four days to assess top draft prospects at the league's annual combine. Seventy players have been divided among four teams, and doubleheaders will be played Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
The draft, with three rounds of 18 picks apiece, is Thursday in Baltimore. Chivas USA has the fourth overall selection, and the Galaxy will pick 16th.
Ten players, nine of them college underclassmen plus 17-year-old forward Omar Salgado, who signed with the league when he was forced to depart Club Deportivo Guadalajara after committing to the U.S. under-20 national team, are on Generation adidas contracts and will count neither against the roster size nor salary cap for the clubs that select them. GA players traditionally are among the most talented and coveted in the draft.
The list includes UC Santa Barbara junior Michael Tetteh, a Ghanaian midfielder who prepped at the Dunn School in Los Olivos. Five GAs -- including Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen, widely seen as the top two prospects in the draft -- come from NCAA champion Akron. Also among the group is defender Zarek Valentin, whose brother, Julian, was a defender for the Galaxy in 2008-09.
Four GAs -- Salgado, Kitchen, Valentin and Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath -- will miss the combine while playing for the U.S. U-20s. Nagbe, who on Friday won the Hermann Trophy as college soccer's top player, also will skip the conbine.
Five foreign players who did not play at U.S. colleges are in the combine, including forward John Rooney, the brother of Manchester United superstar Wayne Rooney. John Rooney spent time on trial with the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers to prepare for the draft.
Stanford's Christen Press and Cal's Alex Morgan, both of them So Cal products, are finalists for the MAC Hermann Award, college soccer's most prestigious player-of-the-year honor.
Also announced Friday: North Carolina midfielder Michael Farfan, a Cal State Fullerton transfer from Wildomar in Riverside County, is among five local players on the NCAA Division I men's All-America team.
Press (Palos Verdes Estates/Chadwick School), a massive favorite for the honor, scored an NCAA-best 26 goals with eight assists to lead No. 1 Stanford to its second successive NCAA title-game appearance. Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS), the only college player regularly featured with the U.S. women's national team, scored 14 goals in just 12 games for Cal, her time curtailed by international duty.
The other finalist is Melissa Henderson, who scored 17 goals with 11 assists to lead Notre Dame to a national championship. Men's finalists are Indiana's Will Bruin, Akron's Darlington Nagbe and Louisville's Colin Rolfe.
Locals joining Farfan on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-America team are four third-teamers:
- Loyola Marmount senior midfielder Rafael Baca (Lawndale/Animo Leadership HS)
- Cal senior forward Davis Paul (Upland/Damien HS)
- UCLA freshman midfielder Kellyn Rowe
- UC Santa Barbara senior defender Michael Boxall
UC Irvine's Amani Walker and local products Hector Jimenez and Davis Paul from Pac-10 champion Cal are among 54 college seniors who have been invited to Major League Soccer's annual pre-draft combine Jan. 7-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Walker led the Anteaters (14-3-3) with 11 goals, scoring 48 in four years at Irvine. He led the USL Premier Development League's Southwest Division with 12 goals for Orange County Blue Star last summer.
Paul, from Upland, led Cal with eight goals and 14 assists, and Jimenez, from Bell Gardens, contributed two goals and six assists and totaled 28 assists in four seasons.
In all, five players with local ties were invited. Here's a full list (with hometown, local high school or previous college and with youth club affiliation in parentheses):
D Michael Boxall (UC Santa Barbara), Auckland, New Zealand
M Michael Farfan (North Carolina), Wildomar/Cal State Fullerton (La Jolla Nomads)
M Hector Jimenez (California), Bell Gardens/Bell Gardens HS (Arsenal FC
F Davis Paul (California), Upland/Damien HS (Arsenal FC)
F Amani Walker (UC Irvine), San Diego (San Diego Surf)