Los Angeles Soccer: Spencer Thompson
The Galaxy's dominance of the Portland Timbers extended into Sunday afternoon's MLS Reserve League meeting, but it lasted less than a half-hour.
Once Michael Stephens, the most influential player to begin the match, was sent off for a last-man foul in the 28th minute, the Timbers found their legs, started linking passes and took advantage of their opportunities for a 3-1 victory in a league opener at Home Depot Center's Track and Field Stadium.
Rookie forward Spencer Thompson, out of UC Irvine, scored two of the Timbers' goals, and former Santa Barbara High School standout Rodrigo Lopez assisted a pair.
Jovan Kirovski, the Galaxy captain, slotted into central defense, his “first real game” he's played at the position.
“I think I can play there,” he said. “We're short on central defenders, and I can do the job there. So it's fun. I had fun playing there.”
Both teams used experienced lineups, each with at least a half-dozen players who wouldn't look out of place in the first teams. Included: Galaxy Designated Player Juan Pablo Angel, who faded after an energetic first 25 minutes and departed at halftime.
SEEING RED: Stephens, teamed with Paolo Cardozo in central midfield, was outstanding both ways and provided a foundation to the Galaxy's possession game. Until he was red-carded, for dragging down Ryan Pore just outside L.A.'s box while trying to make up for a give-away, the game had been played overwhelmingly between the midfield line and Portland's box.
Another Anteater has made it to Major League Soccer. Spencer Thompson, a three-time All-Big West forward who scored 25 goals with 17 assists in four seasons at UC Irvine, signed Friday with the Portland Timbers.
Portland took Thompson with the No. 2 overall selection in the Jan. 18 supplemental draft.
Thompson, from Akwatukee, Ariz., is one of two UC Irvine products in MLS, along with Seattle Sounders midfielder Brad Evans. Forward Irving Garcia was waived by the New York Red Bulls at the start of March.
The Quakes are not publicly identifying trialists, although coach Frank Yallop has confirmed several, including Loyola Marymount product Rafael Baca and former UCLA star Maxwell Griffin. San Jose primarily used trialists, draft choices and young players Friday.
Patrick Otte, a midfielder from Thousand Oaks who has played in English club Middlesbrough's academy, tallied in the 57th minute for the Fusion, the Premier Development League's reigning Southwest Division champion.
The Quakes went 1-1-1 during their trip, losing, 1-0, Monday to Chivas USA and tying the Galaxy, 1-1, on Thursday.
Earthquakes draft pick Spencer Thompson, from UC Irvine, played for the Fusion.
Ventura County Fusion: Sam Hayden; Dylan Riley, Ivan Becerra, Jack Avesyan, Willie Rupert, Manny Guzman, Rodrigo Lopez, Danny Barrera, Diego Barrera, Artur Aghasyan, Spencer Thompson. Subs: Jordan King, Gabe Gonzalez, John Lopez, Patrick Otte, Ivan Mirkovich, Raul Yepez, Rosario Bras.
San Jose Earthquakes: David Bingham (Andrew Weber, 45); Steven Beitashour, Brad Ring, unidentified trialist, Justin Morrow; unidentified trialist, Tony Donatelli, unidentified trialist (Anthony Ampaipitakwong, 61), unidentified trialist (unidentified trialist, 51); Omar Jasseh, unidentified trialist.
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.”
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.