Los Angeles Soccer: Steve Cronin
Blake Brettschneider, a supplemental-draft selection from the University of South Carolina, scored two goals in United's 3-1 victory at Oxnard College. The game was to have been played Saturday afternoon but was postponed because of heavy rains.
MEET THE OLD BOSS: Onstad was part of D.C. coach Ben Olsen's close-to-first-choice lineup, which also included reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar, former U.S. World Cup forward Josh Wolff and, in central defense, top draft choice Perry Kitchen.
A goalkeeper injury crisis brought Onstad, 43, D.C.'s new goalkeeper coach, back to action last week. The former Canadian national-teamer retired last fall after eight seasons (in San Jose and Houston) among MLS's best netminders, but he agreed to to join the active roster after one of the top two keepers (Steve Cronin) joined the other (Bill Hamid) on the injury list.
It sounds like a part-time gig.
D.C. takes on the Fusion on Saturday afternoon (3:30) at Oxnard College, meets UC Santa Barbara in the Gauchos' Harder Stadium on Thursday night (7), and scrimmages Chivas USA at an undetermined Home Depot Center field on Feb. 25.
Here's a quick look at D.C. United:
WHO ARE THEY?
MLS's most decorated club, with four MLS Cup titles (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004) and one of the league's two CONCACAF Champions' Cup titles (1998; the Galaxy captured the other, in 2000), provided the league its first dynasty, reaching the first four title games (the first three under Bruce Arena) with three championships in that span. The club's heroes: Bolivians Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry, Eddie Pope and, of course, Ben Olsen, who followed a revered career in D.C. by taking charge of the club late in last year's horrendous campaign. United went 6-20-4, the league's worst mark, after winning only three of its first 20 games. Injuries were an issue, but so was a roster light on talent and depth, and Olsen stepped in after Curt Onalfo's ouster in August. (Onalfo has since joined Arena's Galaxy staff.)
THE MAN IN CHARGE
Olsen is one of the most respected and beloved figures in American soccer, bright and funny, a real leader, with World Cup (in 2006) ability. The midfielder, who spent nearly his entire post-collegiate career with D.C. (there was a brief loan to England's Nottingham Forest) won MLS's Rookie of the Year in 1998 as a speedy winger with a sure attacking sense, but ankle injuries slowed his pace, and he transitioned into a tough, savvy central midfielder and was an MLS Best XI selection in 2007. His ankle problems forced his retirement after the 2009 season.
The former University of Virginia star -- Arena recruited him to Charlottesville -- made a positive impact for D.C. after taking charge as interim coach on Aug. 4, and the club played its best soccer down the stretch. After club president/CEO Kevin Payne (brother of Galaxy president of business operations Tom Payne) declared late in the season that Olsen would not be considered for the full-time post, he accepted the job in late November.
“Benny’s installed this no-nonsense mentality. Things are going to get done his way, and if anyone has a problem with that, they’re not going to be around,” forward Chris Pontius told MLS's website. “Everyone’s bought into it.”
THE STAR PLAYER
Charlie Davies changes things, but we still like Andy Najar, the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year and one of the most electric players in the league. The Honduran-born winger, who moved to Virginia and joined D.C. United's academy when he was 13, is still a teen -- he's 17 for another month -- and he's got two nation's soccer fans on edge as he mulls his international future.
Weighted lotteries dispersed three top young players into the league. Two of them have the potential to be big stars. The third is a highly regarded outside back pegged for a long, productive career.
Former University of Virginia forward Chris Agorsor, who also has star potential, went to Philadelphia, and teen right back Korey Veeder was picked up by Columbus.
Neither the Galaxy nor Chivas USA entered the lotteries, for which a team's chances are based on its record in its past 30 games in relation to the other teams involved.
Arnoux, who scored 32 goals in his sophomore and junior seasons at Wake Forest, returned last summer from a year with English club Everton's reserves and seemed to settle in nicely with the Vancouver Whitecaps in their final season as a D2 club.
That's what the Whitecaps figured: They tried to sign Arnoux for their MLS side, but the league wouldn't have it. MLS uses lotteries for players coming out of college who sign after the draft or for players who previously turned down a league offer. Arnoux had been aggressively pursued before he left Wake Forest following his junior season, so to Friday's lottery he went.
RSL won despite just a 5.4 percent chance of success.
“Miracles never cease,” quipped GM Garth Lagerwey to MLS's website.
Arnoux is renowned for his work rate and his nose for the net, and he said he hoped he could step in for Robbie Findley, the World Cup forward who moved to England's Nottingham Forest.
“I never stop working -- that’s what I build my game around,” Arnoux told the league's website. “I’m not the guy who’s going to make the right pass every time or make the right decision. But I’m good in front of goal and have confidence in front of goal and that has to be built back up because I’ve been off for a while.
“I’m a hard worker, and that’s something English fans like. Even though I wasn’t playing with [Everton's] first team, they appreciated that a lot, and I know American fans appreciate that a lot. That’s the kind of player I am. I’ve not always been the best, but I’ve always had to try to work harder to beat everyone else.”
Until it cleared up so nicely on Saturday, Major League Soccer’s playoff scenarios were complicated, to be sure. The Galaxy might have ended up with a first-round series with Colorado or San Jose or FC Dallas; that they’ll face Seattle is fine with them.
Not that it’s perfect.
“Seattle’s not going to be easy. It never is,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after Sunday’s victory over FC Dallas set up encounters with the Sounders on Sunday in Seattle and Nov. 7 at Home Depot Center. “But I think the choices were … what were the choices? I think they were Dallas … none of the choices were real good, to be honest. I wouldn’t want to be going into Dallas either.
“I do prefer going to Seattle than going into altitude. There was always a chance at some point we could go to Colorado or Salt Lake, and the altitude is an issue, and the one thing we’ve assured ourselves is that we’re not going to be playing in altitude. Not that guarantees anything, but I think that’s good. It’s a lot easier for the players to adjust to the artificial field [in Seattle] than to altitude. So In think that’s a positive out of this.”
Perhaps so. If L.A. and Real Salt Lake win their first-round series, they’ll meet in Carson. Toronto, where MLS Cup will be played Nov. 21, has a lower elevation than downtown L.A. But the Galaxy are hardly happy they’ll start their home-and-home, total-goals series on the fake turf at Qwest Field.
“I don’t like it,” said Edson Buddle, who led the Galaxy with 17 goals. “I’m not a big fan. I never was. But I have to deal with that and get over it.”
Said David Beckham: “At the end of the day, it is what it is. We have to go there, and we have to play. It’s the same for both teams. Obviously, it’s an advantage for them, because they play on it every other week, but it is what it is.”