Los Angeles Soccer: Sal Zizzo

Chivas leaves Arizona with an injury

February, 18, 2011
Not the best way Chivas USA's week in Arizona could have gone, with certain starter Blair Gavin hobbling off a little before halftime of Friday's 1-0 victory over Vancouver in Casa Grande.

No word yet on what Gavin hurt nor how serious it is, but the second-year midfielder missed the last two months of last season because of a hamstring injury that he twice re-tweaked.

Gavin was the primary attacking conduit for the Goats (3-2-0), who had the better of play in their third Arizona match but not the best chances. Jesus Padilla got the goal in the 89th minute, streaking between Whitecaps central defenders Greg Janicki and Ryan O'Leary for a ball over the top from Michael Umaņa, then slotting past goalkeeper Jay Nolly.

Mariano Trujillo missed a penalty kick after Jeb Brovsky fouled Alan Gordon at the start of the second half, firing wide left.

Heath Pearce made his Chivas debut, seeing little of the ball in the game's first half-hour.

“I think every team comes out and has, like, five or six goals they have written on the board: 'This is what we want to accomplish today,' ” Chivas defender Jimmy Conrad said. “Today maybe we accomplished four of those six things.”

Starting goalkeeper Zach Thornton made a huge save against Vancouver trialist Russell Teibert in the 54th minute, and backup Sergio Arias knocked aside Brazilian trialist Camilo's first shot on a breakaway in the 76th; Camilo's rebound went wide.

MOVING AROUND: Gordon started in central midfield, next to Gavin and in front of Michael Lahoud, in the 4-1-4-1 formation head coach Robin Fraser likes. Trujillo, likely out at right back with Pearce and rookie Zarek Valentin on the scene, got another look in midfield, this time on the left flank. He might fit in better here than on the backline.

Valentin started in the middle, and, near as we can tell, moved to right back when Umaņa came on for Pearce. Tristan Bowen returned to action, playing the final 23 minutes, and trialists Jimmy Asprilla and Guillermo Torres saw second-half action.

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Chivas sends Sal Zizzo to Portland

February, 16, 2011

After giving up a good chunk of allocation money in the deal to bring in veteran defender Heath Pearce from FC Dallas, Chivas USA recovered some of it Wednesday in a trade sending midfielder Sal Zizzo to the Portland Timbers.

Zizzo, 23, a former UCLA standout from San Diego, joined the Goats via a lottery last July following three frustrating seasons in Germany with Hannover 96. Used as a wide midfielder, he made 10 appearances for Chivas with one start and one assist.

Zizzo figured to be in the running for a starting job on the wing for Chivas, but Francisco Mendoza's return from Mexico -- he hasn't yet signed with Chivas, but it's a matter of time -- has strengthened the Goats on the flanks. Mendoza and Michael Lahoud seem the likeliest wing starters.

“Zizzo is a player we’ve been interested in pursuing for some time now,” Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson said in a statement. “We are delighted to add such a quality player to our roster.”

The clubs and league won't make public the allocation figures in these, or any, trades, but Pearce unquestionably cost more than Zizzo brought in, probably by a substantial margin. Allocation money can be used to acquire players or “pay down” salaries to fit under the salary cap.

Blue Star, Seahorses receive USL '10+' honors

November, 16, 2010

Two local Premier Development League clubs -- Orange County Blue Star and the Southern California Seahorses -- are being recognized for their longevity by the United Soccer Leagues.

They're among six USL clubs, and three from the PDL, receiving “10+” honors at the organization's Hall of Fame banquet Friday in Tampa, Fla.

Blue Star joined the PDL in 2001 and has helped develop former Chivas USA captain Sacha Kljestan (Huntington Beach/Huntington Beach HS), now with Belgium's RSC Anderlecht, as well as Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers (Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS), Kansas City Wizards wing-forward Kei Kamara (Lawndale/Leuzinger HS and Cal State Dominguez Hills), Seattle Sounders midfielder Brad Evans (UC Irvine) and Chivas USA midfielder Sal Zizzo (UCLA). The biggest name to play for the OC team: Juergen Klinsmann, who used the pseudonym Jay Goeppingen, taking the last name from the town of his birth.

The Seahorses, who are based in La Mirada, also debuted in 2001 and are affiliated with Missionary Athletes International, a Christian sports ministry, and a sister club to USL Second Division power Charlotte Eagles. Alumni include Columbus Crew forward Steven Lenhart (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS and Azusa Pacific), Seattle Sounders defender Patrick Ianni (UCLA) and former Galaxy defender Adam Frye (UCLA) and midfielder Josh Hansen, who plays for USSF D2 Pro League champion Puerto Rico Islanders.

Three clubs with Major League Soccer connections -- the Chicago Fire's PDL side and the Seattle Sounders' and Vancouver Whitecaps' women's teams -- also are being recognized. So is USL Pro club Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

CHIVAS USA: Vasquez's return among few certainties

October, 24, 2010
Difficult decisions loom for Chivas USA brass after a rough campaign, but this one was easy: Martin Vasquez will be back as head coach.

Martin Vasquez
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesHead coach Martin Vasquez of Chivas USA looks on during the game against the Seattle Sounders FC.

The Mexico-born, Alhambra-raised former midfielder, who aside from a nine-month stint as Juergen Klinsmann’s assistant coach at Bayern Munich has been with the club since its 2005 debut, will be in charge for the next step of the Goats’ transition, says vice president of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton.

“He’s the guy,” Hamilton said Saturday night after Chivas’ 8-17-4 season wrapped with a 4-1 loss to the visiting Chicago Fire. “We hired him for a reason. We believe in him. This has obviously been a tough year for everyone -- it’s a transition. …

“The things we saw in him previously, we still see in him, and I think he’s going to benefit from a year of experience as a head coach. This is his first go as a head coach, so I think he’s learned a lot. And talking to him in private, the conversations we’ve had, I feel good about him, the things he wants to do going forward.”

The Goats have a steep climb after finishing last in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference and 15th of 16 teams overall, ahead of only D.C. United (6-20-4).

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