Hollywood playing for a cause

July, 23, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- So, on a lazy Sunday afternoon the other day, I decided to take in a charity game being played at Beverly Hills High School. The game featured members of the celebrity soccer team, Hollywood United, a club founded 12 years ago by a group of British expats who frequented the Cat & Fiddle pub on Sunset Boulevard.

The occasion was for a couple of good causes -- designed to benefit the Program for Torture Victims (PTV) and Hollywood United Youth Soccer Association/ Santa Monica United (HUYSA/SMU). PTV is a nonprofit organization that provides free medical, psychological and social services to torture survivors living in Los Angeles.

On the day, Hollywood United was divided into two different squads -- Europe and Global -- effectively its "A" and "B" teams, although who the first-teamers were depended on which side of the fence you talked to.

For the Europe side, luminaries such as Frank LeBeouf and Vinnie Jones turned out. For the Global team, Preki, Eric Wynalda, Alexi Lalas, Paul Bravo and Jimmy Jean Louis were among those present.

Actor Michael Vartan (Alias) was listed as the backup goalkeeper for Hollywood Europe and was happy to promote the cause.

"It's a great charity, and anytime you're asked to participate in a charity the least you can do is say yes. I was born in France and I love soccer so I thought it'd be fun," said Vartan. "I haven't played in 25 years, but I'm feeling it -- although I hope they don't put me in because I can hardly feel my legs."

The game was a high-scoring event and even with the odd sight of Lalas playing left wing, the Global squad ran out 7-5 winners, as Wynalda sealed the game for them with a late solo effort which began at the halfway line. All in all a fairly entertaining afternoon on both sides.

When asked why his team lost, "CSI" producer Danny Cannon laughed and pointed out the inequity of the lineups.

"They had internationals on their team! We had Frank [LeBeouf] and Vinnie [Jones], but they had Bravo, Lalas, Wynalda, loads of people. I think we had too many actors," said Cannon.

Other weekend thoughts:

1. RSL wins. Lost in the attention being paid to David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco's debuts, was the fact that Real Salt Lake hosted Everton and beat them 2-0. Disregarding all the usual caveats (Everton being in preseason form and out of shape, etc.), the result was still surprising given how bad RSL has been this season. Having said that, RSL has made some nice trades lately in picking up Nathan Sturgis, Robbie Findley and now Kyle Beckerman and with Freddy Adu likely to move to Benfica in the very near future, RSL actually looks like a brand new team.

2. Next year's All-Star opponents for MLS. One thing's for certain, it's highly unlikely to be Man United. Speaking to reporters on United's current Asian tour, United's chief executive, David Gill, indicated that the team viewed Asia and Africa as more profitable markets for its global branding than the U.S. -- a direct contrast to Chelsea, whose marketing strategy seems focused stateside for now.

Jen Chang is the U.S. Soccer editor for ESPNsoccernet. He also writes regularly and is a contributer to Soccernet podcasts. He joined ESPN Studio Production in 2004 and earned a Sports Emmy award, before making the move to ESPN.com in 2005.



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