Los Angeles Soccer: Tony Tchani
Major League Soccer's annual Generation adidas tour of Europe begins Monday, and the 18-man team Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes will guide includes Zarek Valentin, who would still be part of Chivas USA if he were still in the Generation adidas program.
Valentin, 20, who went to Montreal in last week's expansion draft, is one of four players “graduated” last month from the developmental program on the roster for the 10-day trip, which includes games against Ajax Amsterdam's reserve team, FC Volendam and Almere City FC. Vermes played for Volendam in 1990.
The other “graduates” are Columbus midfielder Dilly Duka and Tony Tchani and Philadelphia forward Danny Mwanga.
Garden Grove's Luis Gil (Santiago HS), a rising midfielder with Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia midfielder Amobi Okugo (UCLA) and Seattle defender Michael Tetteh (UC Santa Barbara) are among continuing GA players on the roster.
MLS's decision to “graduate” Valentin from the GA program led the Goats to leave him exposed in the expansion draft, where he was nabbed by Montreal coach Jesse Marsch, a former Chivas captain. Galaxy coach Robin Fraser last week said it “extremely baffling” and said he was “extremely, extremely disappointed” to see Valentin, 20, pulled from the program.
GA players do not count against clubs' salary caps nor roster sizes.
MLS officials have not addressed the reasoning behind the decision despite requests to do so.
The GA roster is bolstered by former GA Kevin Alston, a defender for New England, and three Home Grown Players: New York's Sacir Hot and Matt Kassel and D.C. United's Conor Shanosky.
It was the tall center back's red card at the end of the first half in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup qualifying loss at Portland that seemed finally to switch the Goats to “on,” and if they can build on the effort in the 2-0 defeat to the Timbers, then watch out.
Robin Fraser's aggressive maneuvering to restock the Goats greatly enhanced the side's quality and depth, but it wasn't until Boyens was ejected following his second yellow card just before halftime Tuesday that they played with the kind of mentality the new coach has been looking for.
The Goats did a lot of good things, especially in possession and team defending, in losses at home to Sporting Club Kansas City and Colorado to begin the Major League Soccer season, but there was a spark in their play after the New Zealander's expulsion that hadn't been present previously.
“This is the first time thus far this season that I think we've outcompeted [against an opponent] ...,” midfielder Michael Lahoud said after Tuesday's loss. “I think we take this energy and lift it up another notch, and I think we can compete against any team in the league. I seriously mean that.”
TORONTO -- This is where the Galaxy wanted to be, planned to be: In Canada's largest city, preparing for Sunday's MLS Cup title game, 90 minutes from the club's first Major League Soccer championship in five years.
The disappointment from last weekend's loss to FC Dallas in the Western Conference final slowly is ebbing away, replaced by a broader perspective of what the Galaxy accomplished over eight months and what will be required to reach next year's goal: winning the MLS Cup title, of course.
L.A. posted the best record during MLS's regular season (18-7-5) -- that would have meant the championship in most leagues on the planet -- it won the Western Conference title, claimed the Supporters' Shield for the third time (gaining entry to the group stage of next season's CONCACAF Champions League) and came just a handful of miraculous Kevin Hartman saves of reaching an MLS-record seventh title game.
All in all, not bad. Just not good enough.
“It hurts. There's only one team that's happy at the end of the year,” defender Todd Dunivant said a few days after FC Dallas' 3-0 triumph ended the Galaxy campaign. “It was a tough ending for us. We had every intention to get back to the Cup [after losing on penalties to Real Salt Lake in last year's final] and win it this year. But we've looked at the positives, too. We won the Supporters' Shield and qualified for the Champions League, so there are a lot of positives to take out of it.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts acknowledges “it means a lot to lead the regular season. It's good. But in this league, it means nothing. Ultimately, you have to play the playoffs and get to MLS Cup. So the Supporters' Shield is only a consolation for me, personally.
“It's not bad we got some silverware. But that's not what I play for. I play for MLS Cup.”
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Pablo Mastroeni and his Colorado teammates celebrate the game's only goal against the Crew.
IN BRIEF: Colorado's first-half dominance paid off with a nifty goal, and the Rapids held off Columbus' late charge to open Major League Soccer's postseason with a 1-0 victory.
BEST PLAYER: It was never a secret that the key player in this series would be speedy Rapids forward Omar Cummings, and he repeatedly tore apart the Crew's backline to run onto balls out of the midfield, most from strike partner Conor Casey and from Brian Mullan. He found space primarily on the right wing, slicing between big UC Santa Barbara alum Andy Iro and rookie left back Shaun Francis, then firing across the face of the goal or delivering dangerous balls for, primarily, Casey. He set up one goal and was unfortunate not to produce more.
BEST GOAL: There was just one, in the 23rd minute, and it told the story of the game. Two quick passes out of midfield, the second a defense-splitting pass from Mullan to Cummings on the right flank, and the Jamaican forward sent in a low cross toward the goalmouth. Casey dragged Crew defender Chad Marshall (Riverside/Rubidoux HS) to the near post, then got a back-heel touch to the ball, helping it to the far post for Pablo Mastroeni, who raced in ahead of Robbie Rogers (Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS) for the last touch.