Found Three! The Cubans have resurfaced…

…in Los Angeles. But not with Chivas USA as expected.

Defender Yenier Bermudez, midfielder Yordany Alvarez, and goalkeeper (hero of the 1-1 tie vs. the US U-23s) Jose Manuel Miranda – the all-star of the bunch – are now on trial with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

With WIcks and Cronin, I see Galaxy giving a long look at Miranda and most likely signing him. Bermudez was fantastic in the backline, while Alvarez showed some decent stuff. If anyone, expect Miranda and Bermudez to join the team on developmental contracts.

Hope these guys can latch on somewhere in the US. Just saw that Osvaldo Alonso – of the 2005 Gold Cup defectors – landed a contract with the Charleston Battery of the USL First Division. Alonso joins Lester More who signed for the Battery earlier this year.

Now where are the other four??

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Q&A with LA Galaxy’s JULIAN VALENTIN

30 stitches for a Championship...

Okay. Okay. So I missed all Red Bull coverage this weekend. Take a look at Jeff’s account of the game – I will post on it later. I wasn’t able to make the game due to some family stuff and it turns out I missed a fun one. Won’t happen again, I promise.

I was able to talk to NSCAA All-American Julian Valentin this weekend though. The Lancaster, PA native was selected by the LA Galaxy in 2008’s SuperDraft and talks about his time with the youth national teams, his travels, the new MLS Philly franchise, and his biggest achievement as of late, winning the 2007 College Cup with Wake Forest.

All of this over at OLDE CITY.

MLS Week 1 Power Rankings – HA! (+ do post your own rankings)

I’m torn between two images for this first edition of the Major League Soccer power rankings. This one captures what rankings, oh, #2-14 look like to me:

This one, on the other hand, gets to how making each of those selections felt:

So, yeah, confidence is low, people, so low in fact that I put fairly little stock in what appears below; I blame the whole Week 1/too little information thing.

Rankings and jabbering aimed at justifying them appear after the jump. And, as always, the previous week’s ranking appears in parentheses after the current week’s rankings. This will go into the collective rankings – look for those Thursday – along with several others I have already found. Anyone is welcome to submit power rankings of their own into the comments (or to email them to me; jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com) and those will go into the collective mix as well.

Now….the rankings….accuracy, validity, hell, even intelligence, not guaranteed: Continue reading

The Team Alexi Has Built: A Visual Reaction

My first attempt at capturing the spirit of this game was a sketch of me covering my eyes, an appropriate choice because that’s how I watched the the final fifteen minutes of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s season opener. But the image at left, which captures my reaction to the Colorado Rapids’ third goal and the degenerating mess that was LA, poses the question that came to me at the time: what the frank was Alexi Lalas thinking when he built this team? Max Bretos (or was it Christopher Sullivan) said enough when he wondered aloud what good it does LA to have three all-stars in the front line when they don’t have the players behind them to get the ball upfield.

Some other quotes, this time from Bretos, as he watched the game:

“Like lambs to the slaughter….”
(Just before Colin Clark’s goal, which Colorado’s fourth.)

“Like a hot knife through butter.”
(Right after Clark’s goal. And it was that bad.)

Without laboring the point, something I’ll be doing later on the Rapids Offside, I want to kick an idea out there: how is Alexi Lalas still employed? And isn’t it just a little insulting to your understanding of the game that he still is? This is just a guess, but I’m thinking if you ran the roster and some video past, oh, 85% of soccer fans they’d immediately question both the roster and the assumptions behind it. I mean, there’s taking risks (driving fast) and there’s being just plain stupid (driving fast and stumbling drunk…toward a brickwall…probably one with that big picture of Beckham in underwear).

The painful thing is, the weakness is exactly where everyone expected it – even if I’m pretty confident no one anticipated the degree of the problems. It’s important to put this in perspective: LA just had their defense mauled by the Colorado Rapids. Yes, one of the worst offensive teams from just one year ago…and one missing a bunch of starters to boot. Michael Gavin is, quite possibly, the worst left-back in MLS; Abel Xavier is starting to show his age (did you see what Colin Clark did to him? Sheesh.): but, generally, they’re disorganized, unsure of their roles, they may not be collectively competent for all I know…just a friggin’ mess.

MLS 2008 Western Conference Preview: Contenders, Dark Horses, Filler, and C.H.U.D.s

Having already unloaded all my caveats in yesterday’s Eastern Conference Preview, there’s nothing to do here, but get to it. For your convenience, here are the resources borrowed and applied in creating what comes below: WVHooligan’s most current list of off-season player movement and Climbing the Ladder’s best guess at starting elevens for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Western Conference sides. The same labels will apply as well: Contender, Dark Horse, Filler, and C.H.U.D. For your convenience, here’s a copy/paste on the meaning of the terms from yesterday:

“The first two are pretty obvious – e.g. ‘Contender’ attaches to a team with a clear shot at the title, while ‘Dark Horse’ flags a team with the talent and depth to steal the title, but only provided good form and luck through ‘08. For ‘Filler’ teams, the playoffs are within reach, but the title…well, it ain’t gonna happen. Finally, ‘C.H.U.D.s’ – aka, ‘Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers’: these are the teams that will suffer through a season in the confines of MLS’s cellars, only coming out from time to time to feast on the flesh of the living.”

So, let’s get to it…teams are listed in descending order from Contender to C.H.U.D. Continue reading

MLS Daily Sweeper, 10.19: Canales Double-Dip (Oh, get your minds out of the gutter…)

Seemed like a slow news day for some damn reason…

– Canales #1: If the LA Galaxy are to have a shot in Hell at a successful season, Carlos Ruiz needs to have a Hell of a year.  In an interview with Canales posted on Soccer365.com, el Pescadito sounds more focused than I’ve heard in a couple years…the FC Dallas years to be precise.  Wonder how FC Dallas fans are taking that… (Hat-tip: USSoccerplayers.com).

Canales #2: The anatomy of Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez’s jam.  Speaking for myself, I hope he’s still around during World Cup qualifying.  As funny things go, Mexico failing to qualify would rank pretty highly.  And I don’t mean that maliciously…it’s more about fun following from things coming out of deep, deep, (deep, deep….I mean, this is CONCACAF) left field.

– About last night: I already posted on DC United’s rout over Harbour View FC, but found a couple other takes I appreciated.  The Offside Rules posted a lovely montage capturing the magnitude of the win (which Soccer By Ives posted already…so all y’all have already seen it; don’t care), but there’s also a collection of photos posted on DC United Offside scaled as if viewed by ants.  Can’t promise this one will be up for long – jon, the author, has vowed to fix it – but I like the super-sized images better.

GREAT OUTDOORS
– Suddenly, my Comcast package sounds more ominous than good.  (HT: Fark.com)

– Have I posted this before?  I only know it’s an oldie, but it’s a topical one: The Easter Bunny Hates You.

One Main, Late Thought on LA Gals v. Hong Kong Union

Yeah, I actually watched this game in the wee hours of Saturday night.  I know this is almost absurdly late to post on any game, never mind a warm-up, and many of you have already read good write-ups on the game – for instance, Soccer America’s entirely deserved praise of David Beckham’s play or the LA Offside’s notes on promising contributions from Ely Allen and Sean Franklin (I second jen’s thoughts on Franklin, especially, though Allen’s not bad).

Given my tardiness, both comparative and real, I’ll only say I enjoyed the game enough, though LA’s difficulty with making more of their edge over Hong Kong surprised me more than a little; with a defense balanced between green (rookies/youngsters) and gray (geezers), they need that offense to fire cleanly and often.

Generalities aside, one thought stuck with me since Saturday: after being fairly impressed with Alvaro Pires play, particularly against Sydney FC, his limitations stuck out like a sore thumb wrapped in ten feet of gauze on Saturday.  He runs at players well enough and he can play a decent short pass, but after that…it’s pretty bad.  He put several hundred pounds too much weight on lofted passes, through-balls, etc.  In other words, anything other than a short, possession pass and Alvaro brought too little for a pro.  The only upside I see in him over Kyle Martino?  He’s healthy.  That’s it.  I’d pass on him and, so far, LA has.  We’ll see what they do down the road.