Los Angeles Soccer: Rodney Wallace
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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.
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.
The Portland Timbers opened training at Oxnard College earlier this week and meet the Ventura County Fusion -- the reigning Premier Development League Southwest Division champion -- in a friendly Friday night at Ventura College.
The Timbers, preparing for their Major League Soccer debut, conclude their So Cal stay with a closed-door match Tuesday afternoon against the Galaxy at Home Depot Center.
Here's a quick look at the Timbers:
WHO ARE THEY?
One of two Pacific Northwest expansion teams that, like the Seattle Sounders before them (but more so), emerges from longstanding organizations -- and even lengthier histories. The original Timbers, of course, played in the old North American Soccer League; this club was formed in 2001 and has spent the past 10 years in whichever league constituted the second tier of American pro soccer.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
Scotsman John Spencer, a compactly built pit bull of a forward for 15 years in Britain, Hong Kong and MLS, takes on his first head-coaching job after serving as Dominic Kinnear's top assistant with the Houston Dynamo for 4½ seasons.
Spencer was a Rangers FC product who toiled for Chelsea and Everton (and others) in England and Scotland (and 14 times for Scotland's national team), then wrapped up his playing career with four fine seasons (and two MLS Best XI awards) with the Colorado Rapids.
THE STAR PLAYER
There isn't one, although there soon will be. Rookie forward/midfielder Darlington Nagbe, the No. 2 overall selection in last month's draft, could be something very special, although he's likely -- unlike former University of Akron teammate Steve Zakuani up in Seattle -- to seek to avoid the spotlight.
Caleb Porter, his college coach, told The Oregonian Nagbe is “a very humble, soft spoken and genuine kid with a big heart,” and Spencer said: “Every time you talk to him, you walk away thinking he’s someone you would be happy if your daughter brought him through door and said, ‘Hey dad, this is who I’m marrying.’ You go up to your room and think, ‘Thank God she brought home a good one.’ That’s probably the highest compliment I could pay the kid.”
He's signed, sealed and all but delivered to Mexico's UANL Tigres, but that didn't dissuade the Portland Timbers from taking a chance on Chivas USA captain Jonathan Bornstein.
The Timbers, one of two clubs joining Major League Soccer next season, selected Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA) with the 15th selection in Wednesday's 20-player expansion draft, no matter that the left back/midfielder is beginning a four-year contract in January with Monterrey-based Tigres.
"Contract's are only worth the paper they're printed on. It doesn't mean he's going to complete the contract," said Portland head coach John Spencer, a Scotsman who finished his playing career with the Colorado Rapids in 2004 and served as an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo for four seasons. "And possibly after the course of the contract, he might end up back in Major League Soccer."
The Timbers made two risky picks, also taking Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley, a teammate of Bornstein's on the U.S. World Cup team in South Africa. Findley, a former Galaxy forward who played college soccer at Oregon State, has said his intention is to look for a club in Europe.
"There were reasons behind those decisions," said Spencer, who noted they could have value in a trade. "We'd love to bring [Findley and Bornstein] to Portland. We understand that might not be in the immediate future. If we were able to bring Bornstein back, that would be tremendous. ... I think anything’s possible in the game."
Bornstein, 26, has expressed interest in returning to MLS at some point in his career, and he hoped to return to Chivas USA. The Goats, a team source acknowledged, would consider trading for his rights should he come back into the league.
The Timbers traded the top selection in the draft, FC Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty, to D.C. United for defender Rodney Wallace in a deal that had been agreed to before the draft.
"His multiyear contract with Tigres factored in our decision to unprotect him in the draft, especially as we focus on building for next season," Chivas VP of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton said in a statement. "I’m sure we’ll revisit this issue if and when he chooses to rejoin MLS."