Archive | September, 2012

Saborio Hat Trick carries Real Salt Lake past Chivas USA

Posted on 30 September 2012 by iyeo

With a return trip to the Home Depot Center for a showdown against the surging Los Angeles Galaxy looming next Saturday, Real Salt Lake looked to take care of business against the stadium’s other tenant this past Saturday.

Striker Alvaro Saborio had himself a monster night with three goals and his strike partner, Fabian Espindola had three assists as Real Salt Lake vaulted into second place, three points clear of the Galaxy while sending Chivas to its sixth straight loss with a convincing 4-0 win.

“I think it was important,” Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said of RSL’s performance. “We’ve struggled to find the rhythm offensively and score some goals and finish chances, so it was nice to see that we did that tonight.”

Real Salt Lake got going early, getting two goals inside a three-minute span. The first came in the ninth minute, as Espindola held the ball on the left edge of the penalty area while being marked by two Chivas defenders. Still, Espindola managed to flick a ball into the ball for Morales, who then headed a ball towards goal, which went to Saborio and his header beat Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy near post to open the scoring. Three minutes later, RSL was on the board again courtesy of a rare mistake by Kennedy, as his throw-in was intercepted by Espindola, who sprinted into the penalty area and crossed a ball for Saborio, who tapped a ball past Kennedy into the back net, and just like that, Real Salt Lake was up two goals.

“When we got two up, I think their heads went down, and we were able to improve from last week,” RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said, referring to last week’s match against Portland in which it went up 2-0, but eventually hung on for a 2-1 win. “

Even as Real Salt Lake sat comfortably in front, Chivas did its best to stay toe-to-toe. Midfielder Miller Bolanos was the catalyst for Chivas’ attack, posing numerous threats to the RSL defense and getting off a few chances himself. Bolanos however was unable to prevent Chivas form seeing its scoreless streak extended to 442 minutes, as his chances either narrowly missed or were parried away by RSL keeper Nick Rimando. RSL and Saborio got goal number three in the match when Kennedy sent back Will Johnson’s point-blank shot, but Saborio collected the ball, then lobbed a ball forward that hit the crossbar and crossed the goal line. RSL capped off the scoring in the 81st minute, as Espindola sent Paulo Jr. forward and his one-timer beat Kennedy near post.

“We actually started off the game pretty well,” Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser said. “”We were decent, we created a number of opportunities, but once again shot ourselves in the foot.”

Next Saturday’s massive matchup with the Galaxy is just part of a huge stretch of games for Real Salt Lake, as their next opponent after LA is the Sounders in Seattle, followed by a CONCACAF Champions League match against Herediano, followed by its regular season finale against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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DC United slowly climbs the learning curve with another 1-0 win

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Steve Long

DC United has played fifteen games at RFK without a loss, yet the team still seems to be struggling. With few exceptions, their games have been one goal affairs which have proven that the Mythbusters’ demonstration that you can’t dodge a bullet are overstated. They’ve just done it three in a row.

In early MLS going, United Coach Ben Olsen appeared to be bringing his team slowly into better use of width and more coordinated overall team play. They became smarter as a unit while continuing to work hard in the Olsen mold.

Then it all fell apart. Some of it was due to injuries to key players, exposing what seemed to be United’s exceptional depth as a myth itself. As Olsen had to adjust the roles of his players, their comfort in the system in which he was training them disintegrated.

The team had weeks with three games interspersed with big gaps between games. The main constant was that Dwayne De Rosario played all of almost every game. His exceptional skills and vision gave the team a hook to hang their attack on and may have left them with little sense of roles when he suddenly became absent.

On most MLS teams a franchise player has a specific set of skills and a certain predictability. De Ro stood out precisely because the “libero” role that Olsen let him play fit his unique unpredictability. The team came to rely on his fascinating inventions, which grew fewer and fewer as the inevitable fatigue set in.

His loss should benefit the team in the longer run as others must assume the mantle of leadership. In the last few games that task has been shared among several players. Andy Najar returned from the Olympics with an even more fierce determination than usual and took up a role as an overlapping right back.

Chris Pontius has returned from injury to apply his unique energy to the opposite flank, freeing up Chris Korb to occasionally overlap him as he draws defenders inside. The whole team has adapted to the flow of their energy.

Still, there remains a sense of unease. Olsen captured it in his comment at the press conference, “We’ve rode our luck at times too, we could have had ties or losses in all three of these games, they weren’t overwhelmingly dominating. I think that’s the one overwhelming theme with this group right now, they’re grinding and they’re surviving.”

If the team is to make the playoffs and win even a few of those games, it must establish a more certain style of play. The seeds have been planted and show signs of bearing fruit. As the season has progressed, I have spoken often with Josh Wolff as he explained how the width and overlapping of backs was part of “modern soccer.”

I got almost the same quote from defender Dejan Jakovic on Sunday evening, “That’s the way soccer is being played right now. It’s a very attacking game. In Europe, Barcelona does it really well.” It looks like the team has bought into Olsen’s vision, but I’m still a bit leery of the chances of success in this style for a typical MLS team.

On a top European team the wide backs can often send in great balls as proficiently as wide midfielders, but on DC United Chris Korb is not a better crosser than Pontius. With Najar on the right, Olsen has found one suitable overlapper when two may be needed.

Steve Cherundolo has excelled in club and international soccer as just the sort who fits that “modern” role, but he is rare indeed. If DC United obtains a left back who can match Najar’s energy and effectiveness, Olsen’s scheme might devastate opponents. As it is, it presents some problems for them, but also unbalances United.

When the Dutch National Team popularized total soccer, it played on exactly the complete skill set that top teams can hope to have in each player. MLS level competition can’t really get there and must adjust a bit.

In basic total soccer a team maintains its shape by rotating about an imaginary center of mass. The more modern version has players rotating in smaller segments as the wide midfielder, wide back and central holding or attacking midfielders switch positions.

All teams have always done some of this simply to keep triangles and maintain passing options, but the modern game seeks to institutionalize it. If it is to succeed, players must be attentive for the entire game. That’s where fatigue comes in.

Olsen and his staff have clearly come to believe that Branko Boskovic is most effective when opponents are sliding into that fatigued state. They express it as “the game slowing down” while describing mental more than physical fatigue.

OIsen’s original coach, Bruce Arena, emphasized possession which sought to control the game from the very beginning and throughout. The young coach appears to have opted to allow some greater freedom of possession to opponents only to come at them with guile later in the match.

This follows a mid season approach which saw him sending in the speedy Long Tan in late stages to attempt the more traditional speed against tired legs tactic. It is this recognition that he must have a variety of tools in a good scheme that may bring him success late in the season.

The risk of trying a sophisticated style with as many young players as he has is fairly high. By choosing to use his wiser players as substitutes Olsen has perhaps slowed the learning curve which may have been exacerbated by Boskovic’s mid season injury.

As long as the team matures along with their coach, the learning may continue and DC United may go deep into the playoffs.

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Juninho, Keane carry Galaxy past Toronto FC

Posted on 23 September 2012 by iyeo

A Pair of aces? How about a pair of braces.

That’s what the Los Angeles Galaxy got on Saturday night against Toronto FC. Juninho and Robbie Keane found the back net twice for LA, and both of their braces turned out to be badly needed on Saturday, as LA jumped out early and eventually held off a feisty Toronto squad en route to a 4-2 win at the Home Depot Center.

“Tonight was in my view not a complete performance,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We were a little bit sloppy, but still, I thought Toronto came after us for 90 minutes.”

The win clinches a playoff spot for the Galaxy, who were once again without the services of midfielder David Beckham. The win and the playoff berth wasn’t the only good news for Los Angeles, as San Jose’s 2-1 win over Seattle means the Galaxy are in second place in the Western Conference, albeit tied with Real Salt Lake, who defeated visiting Portland 2-1 on Saturday.

“We’re pleased with the win,” Arena said. “We know we can play better, (but) we’re happy with where we stand right now.”
The Galaxy were on the offensive right from the start, and broke through 11 minutes in when Christian Wilhelmsson was fouled on the left just outside the penalty area. Juninho stepped in for the set piece and curled a ball past the TFC wall and keeper Freddy Hall for the first goal of the game. Goal number two was vintage Juninho in the 33rd minute, as he received a ball from Sean Franklin and a quick touch enabled him to wind up and fire away from about 30-35 yards out and it sailed past Hall into the far post. It became a three-goal LA lead in the 36th minute when Donovan crossed a ball to Mike Magee in the penalty area, Magee turned Richard Eckersley, left a ball for Keane who in turn maneuvered past Eckersley and chipped a ball for goal that was deflected by Hall, but still rolled its way across the goal line.

“Whenever he gets the ball, he just needs to shoot,” Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee said of Juninho’s recent run of form. “The form he’s in right now is literally like nothing I’ve ever seen, not in practice, not in games, not on TV, not anything.”

Despite being outplayed for the first 37 minutes, Toronto was keen to show it was not the side sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference. TFC got on the board just two minutes after Keane’s goal, as a throw in by Jeremy Hall was headed by Luis Silva to an open Terry Dunfield, and the midfielder’s header beat Saunders far post to get Toronto on the board. Toronto made it really interesting in the 86th minute, as Eric Avila crossed a ball into the box for Silva, his shot deflected off Omar Gonzalez and sailed past Saunders across the goal line to cut the Galaxy lead to just a single goal. Keane however put aside any thought of a Toronto comeback, as he received a ball from Landon Donovan in the box, Keane then turned Ashtone Morgan and sent his shot past Hall into the back net to seal the three points for Los Angeles.

“There’s always a lot of fight left in us,” Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner said. “My hat goes off to the lads, they worked hard coming back to 3-2 away from home against the Galaxy, but at the end of the day, we still lost.”

The Galaxy now brace for a difficult stretch of matches, starting next Sunday when it travels to Colorado to face the Rapids. That match is easy compared to what awaits them the next three matches after that, as they face Real Salt Lake at home, followed by San Jose on the road, then a CONCACAF Champions League match on the road against Isidro Metapan, then at home against Seattle to close out the regular season.

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Wondo Keeps Quakes Top of Table

Posted on 23 September 2012 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders slim chance at winning the Supporter’s Shield was crushed Saturday evening in Seattle when the San Jose Earthquakes put on an offensive display that shows that they truly belong at the top of the MLS Table. The two sides have been building some bad blood recently, a couple of close matches, a couple of physical altercations, the same mutually exclusive prize in an unbalanced schedule and you’ve got a budding rivalry.

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It didn’t take long for the Quakes to get started, in the 2nd minute Simon Dawkins was given space to shoot from a yard beyond the penalty box semi-circle. It was a horrible start for Sounders at home, all Michael Gspurning could do was watch it sail into the top corner and voice his displeasure at his defenders. Although it is not uncommon to give a midfield player space that far away from goal, it was too much space and the shot was not challenged by a defender.

Sammy Ochoa starting in place of Eddie Johnson, suspended for yellow card accumulation, was given his first real opportunity to start in MLS action and made an important contribution when he was able to beat his defender with a flick and then crossed the ball, Fredy Montero tried for it near the middle of the goal, but it was just out of reach. Steve Zakuani was ready for the ball when the cross went past the Colombian, and finished unmarked to draw the Sounders level.

San Jose Earthquakes were the dominant team in the first half, they were able to pass the ball with more ease, get forward in dangerous positions, create crosses, and get shots on goal. Their winner came on a corner kick that was conceded by Adam Johansson & Michael Gspurning in an awkward fashion. The corner kick went over the goal frame and was sent back in by Victor Bernardez and flicked past Gspurning by Chris Wondolowski, who stayed on pace with Roy Lassiter’s record 27 goals from 1996. Wondowlowski has 22 goals now with 4 matches left in the season to catch Lassiter.

Zakuani, who had been the hero moments earlier, was caught on the back post after the ball had been played out initially, he stayed on the post for the second cross into the box by Bernardez. A player can’t be offside on a corner because of where the ball is on the end line, when a player is stuck on the post defending you can’t be offside then either. Wondowlowski would have been offside had Zakuani stepped off the post, Ianni gave space, and tried to close when he realized he was onside, but it was too late.

As much as San Jose came out screaming in the first half, their enthusiasm was considereably muted in the second half. Scoring opportunities, crosses, were all down in the second half as the Quakes looked to defend their lead in Seattle. Sounders looked better and did have a better second half, but when the opposing team is bunkering down to defend a lead you can’t help but look better than you did before.

Sounders only managed one shot on target the entire night, Zakuani’s goal. Jon Busch didn’t have a single save.

Usually rivalries are give and take, but it’s been all San Jose this season and the Sounders have been taking it. San Jose had always been a good offensive side that defended poorly, Frank Yallop has gotten his side organized and kept the goal differential on the positive side by 26 goals after tonight’s match. Sounders fans would probably start a rivalry with any team that Steven Lenhart is on.

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AEG, Galaxy up for Sale

Posted on 19 September 2012 by iyeo

Perhaps the most important man in the young history of Major League Soccer has put one of the league’s most valuable teams on the market.

Late yesterday, it was announced that Phillip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire in charge of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a sports and entertainment subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation, announced that AEG, which owns the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Home Depot Center, in addition to numerous sports entities, would be put up for sale.

Anschutz is revered for investing in a sport, let alone a league, at a time when such an investment was considered risky. Anschutz was one of the co-founders of Major League Soccer in 1995 and its first franchise it owned was the Colorado Rapids. Anschutz eventually came to own the Galaxy as well as the Chicago Fire, DC United, Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) and the New York Metrostars (now the NY Red Bulls). AEG also owned the San Jose Earthquakes when it moved to Houston and became the Dynamo in 2006 and won MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007 and a new Earthquakes franchise was eventually reborn in San Jose in time for the 2008 season. Overtime, Anschutz eventually divested himself of those teams and the Dynamo are in the process of being sold, most likely to Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. AEG built the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA for the Galaxy in 2003 and paved the way for other Soccer-Specific-Stadium projects in Chicago, Houston and New York.

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DC United adjusts to the loss of Dwayne De Rosario with 2-1 win

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Steve Long

Coach Ben Olsen was honored on Saturday night with a banner on the DC United Hall of Tradition for his years of excellence as a player. He began his career with United with energy to burn, a fierce desire to beat his man to win games, and the wisdom to constantly learn. He adjusted to the adversity of a severe ankle injury which moved him into a holding central midfield role.

As you might expect, his strategy as a young coach today reflects his playing experiences. Having succeeded with a pairing with Brian Carroll as dual holding midfielders in a 3-5-2 formation, he easily fell back on a variation of the classic 4-4-2 which features what is called the “empty bucket”.

The concept is to play a flat back four which does not normally mean that all four in back are square across the field, but that they rotate around the flow of the game with either wide back finding himself as one of the two central defenders in some cases while the other advances to or even through wide midfield to overlap a pinching wide midfielder.

It has become increasingly common for teams to feature an overlapping/attacking back. Josh
Wolff explains, “The game has changed, that’s the rationale, I think…..You want to get guys in advance of the ball…..You’ve got outside guys who can pinch inside to encourage your backs to go and you get numbers in advance of the ball.”

This strategy can leave defensive holes as the wide midfielder pinches in. Wolff points out that recently, “We’ve had Perry (Kitchen) and ‘Celo (Marcelo Saragosa) in there so when a wide guy goes, there’s your cover.”

With the injury to Dwayne De Rosario, the team needed a bit more creativity and the coaching staff chose to insert Branko Boskovic in place of Saragosa. Thus, Wolff said, “Tonight with Branko in there it was a little bit different. Branko’s a little bit more up the field and doesn’t cover as much ground as ‘Celo.” Until he tired in the second half, Boskovic’s offensive threat was enough to keep the Revolution somewhat withdrawn.

As Boskovic slowed, Andy Najar showed how the overlapping back could add to the attack. “I think when we got Andy forward and Korb forward we were actually better.” “It took a little while for Andy to get forward……But I think quickly in the second half he was a little more aggressive and it paid off with some real attacks”, Wolff noted.

Asked about whether he liked Najar at right back, Wolff waxed enthusiastic, “I think Andy has been a much better soccer player for us as a right back. He’s more comfortable with the ball when he gets in the final third. That’s what you see with Andy, there’s a little bit of a breakdown with the service. There’s a little bit of a breakdown with the ideas.

“Whether he’s shooting whether he’s dribbling, that’s the one thing. He’s only 19 so it’s gonna continue to grow. I don’t think you get enough out of him as a midfielder. When he’s in back he’s putting guys under pressure a bit more, his service from deeper is a little bit better and he’s still capable of going at guys one on one. My own opinion, I think he’s a fantastic right back.”

Coach Ben Olsen backed up Wolff’s point about central midfield, “Well one, Branko’s not 90 minutes fit, so we knew at some point he was going to have to come off. It just looked like he was starting to fade a little bit. It is tough because Branko offensively gives you some real magic and the set pieces he put in today I thought were really good but there was starting to be a cost to that.

“I thought Lewis came in and really changed the game and slowed us down a bit, kept possession, won some tackles and was pretty diligent doing the work next to Perry Kitchen. I thought that helped and then he gets the goal, which is great, and I’m happy for him to get the winner.”

On the night, United barely prevailed in their own home against a team with a significantly weaker record thanks to a great performance by goalie Bill Hamid. Olsen claimed that, “We were rusty. It was not a great game and we were probably a little lucky. It could have gone either way.”

Having slid into the final playoff spot, DC United must take advantage of nominally lesser teams like Philadelphia and Chivas this week in order to assure post-season play. Olsen waxed philosophical about it, “That is going to change, again and again and again. We have six more games so this thing is going to continue to change.

“I hope it changes with us continuing to move forward – that’s our goal. We have a couple of games coming up that we should do well in, but it ‘s going to take a much better performance than this.”

So, it’s on to Philadelphia to shake off more rust.

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Chivas USA done in by Controversial Moment

Posted on 16 September 2012 by iyeo

It seems Chivas USA can’t get a break these last few weeks.

This time, against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, it was a controversial moment that proved to be a stumbling block that did Chivas in. A foul in the penalty area took about three minutes before it was called, leading to a penalty kick, which was converted by MLS’ leading scorer, which turned to be the key play in the Quakes’ 2-0 win at the Home Depot Center.

“It seems like we can’t really put a foot right and we can’t get things to go our way,” Chivas USA defender Danny Califf said. “We seem to be putting in some effort, but not in the right places I guess.”

It wasn’t necessarily the foul itself that was the question mark (in fact, the call was spot on), it was the amount of time it took to make the call as well as the person who made the call that had the Chivas bench beside itself. It all started around the 38th minute when Center Back John Valencia delivered a forearm check to the shoulder of Quakes striker Alan Gordon off the ball, sending him to the ground. Gordon laid down for a while before play was finally stopped. Referee Chris Penso consulted with his assistants, and the conclusion was a yellow card to Valencia and a penalty kick awarded to San Jose, which Chris Wondolowski converted in the 40th minute for his 19th goal. Chivas head coach Robin Fraser was irate at the fact that fourth official Alejandro Mariscal was the one that administered the call, and his continued protest of the decision led to the abrupt end of his night, as he was ejected during halftime.

“It’s frustration on both sides in terms of where the call came from and our player putting us in that situation,” said Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney, who took over as head coach after Fraser’s ejection.

Up until the penalty, Chivas was playing up to par with the league-leading Earthquakes. Miller Bolanos posed several threats to San Jose on the offensive end, and Chivas had two good looks at goal in the first half, such as a cross by Nick LaBrocca that was headed dangerously towards goal by Casey Townsend, but was parried away by keeper Jon Busch in the 23rd minute. A minute later, Bolanos crossed a ball into the box and Juan Agudelo stretched himself to get on the ball, but didn’t get enough and Busch made the easy collection. San Jose added to its lead in the 49th minute when a darting run by Justin Morrow from the left enabled him to cross a ball into the penalty area, Mehdi Ballouchy’s dummy enabled the ball to get to Wondolowski, who quickly touched it to Gordon, who sent his shot past keeper Dan Kennedy into the back net to make it a two-goal game.

“Tonight was a tricky game,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. “It’s never easy to play away from home, we just beat these guys at our place, so they want revenge. I think the turning point was Jon Busch’s save.”

San Jose now braces for a pivotal showdown with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, while Chivas try again to break out of its slump, though it certainly won’t be easy, especially on a short week, as they travel to Columbus to face the Crew on Wednesday.

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Wilhelmsson, Keane Propel Galaxy past Rapids

Posted on 15 September 2012 by iyeo

A return plus a debut equals another three points for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhemson made his debut for the Galaxy on Friday night against the Colorado Rapids, starting in place of David Beckham, who sat out with an ankle injury. Also, striker Landon Donovan made his return to the lineup, and both were instrumental in the Galaxy’s 2-0 win over the Rapids at the Home Depot Center.

“Maybe not our best game, but it’s an important win and it keeps pressure on the teams ahead of us,” Donovan said.

Wilhemson and striker Robbie Keane were the goal scorers for LA as the Galaxy earned its third straight shutout and fourth in its last five MLS matches. The Galaxy (14-11-4, 46 points) now find themselves tied for third in the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake, one point back of second-place Seattle and six points back of conference leader San Jose. All this is pending the outcome of this weekend’s matches.

LA was aggressive from the opening kick, getting its first look three minutes in when Donovan played a ball to Right Back Sean Franklin in the penalty area, but Franklin instead sent his shot into the side netting. Midfielder Mike Magee also had two volleys on frame in the 13th and 40th minute, but both were parried away by keeper Matt Pickens for his 12th goal of the season. The Galaxy broke through in the 15th minute courtesy of a flawless string of passes. It started when Franklin crossed a short ball to a cutting Marcelo Sarvas, who then sent a ball towards Keane and Donovan. Keane’s run threw the Rapids defense off as Donovan received the ball, then played a perfectly weighted pass to an onside Keane, whose shot beat Pickens far post.

“It was a good play,” Keane said of the buildup to the goal. “We kept up a few passes, Landon played me in and luckily enough, I got the goal.”

The Galaxy added to its lead in the 58th minute, as Sarvas sent a long ball to a sprinting Wilhemson and the Swedish midfielder juked in between two defenders, then fired a shot that was initially parried by Pickens, but the ball continued forward and trickled across the goal line for Wilhemson’s first MLS goal. LA wilted away the match the rest of the way, with Colorado’s only real shot at finding the back net coming in the 79th minute when a miscue enabled Conor Casey to evade Galaxy keeper Josh Saunders, leaving him with an open net, but Sarvas came in at the last moment and used his body to parry away Casey’s shot.

“It was a great feeling, big relief,” Wilhemson said of the goal. “First goal in the first game, it’s amazing, but I’m just glad we could get the three points.”

The Galaxy jump back into CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday, as they travel to Puerto Rico to face the Islanders in the return leg of that series, followed by a return to MLS play against Toronto FC next Saturday. Colorado’s next match is on the 23rd, as they head to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps.

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Galaxy sign Swedish Midfielder Wilhelmsson

Posted on 05 September 2012 by iyeo

The Los Angeles Galaxy took a step towards reinforcing the depth of its lineup ahead of the stretch run of the MLS season on Wednesday, as the team announced it had signed Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson.

The 32-year old Wilhelmsson has played in numerous countries since his career began in 1997, starting out with Swedish club Mjallby, where he played there until 2000 and scored 11 goals in 51 appearences. Wilhelmsson then moved to Norwegian club Stabæk, where he spent another three years and scored 25 goals in 84 appearences. Wilhelmsson then moved to famed Belgian club Anderlecht, helping them to league titles in 2004 and 2006. Recently, Wilhelmsson has had stints in France, Italy, England, Spain and more recently, with Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.

Wilhelmsson had also represented Sweden, collecting 78 caps and playing in the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 European Championships. Wilhelmsson is currently awaiting P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and if all goes according to plan, he could make his debut on Friday, September 14 against the Colorado Rapids at the Home Depot Center.

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Galaxy sends Whitecaps to Fourth Straight Loss

Posted on 02 September 2012 by iyeo

One team is heading in one direction while another team appears to be clinging onto its postseason life.
The Galaxy entered Saturday’s matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps looking to continue its climb up the Western Conference standings while the Whitecaps came in mired in a three-match losing streak. When 90 minutes were up at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, it was mission accomplished for LA, as they sent Vancouver to its fourth straight loss courtesy of a 2-0 win.

“We needed it to be a good performance,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “”We’re happy with the win, at times we could’ve played better, but overall, we’re happy with tonight.”

Beckham Juninho were the goal scorers, and both goals came in vintage fashion for the two, as Juninho blasted a trademark long-range volley just before halftime while Beckham’s goal came on a trademark free kick late in the second half. The Galaxy at the moment sit in third place in the conference pending the outcome of the Seattle Sounders matchup against FC Dallas on Sunday.

The Galaxy broke through in the 41st minute when Hector Jimenez crossed a ball to Robbie Keane, who then quickly touched it to a charging Juninho, and the midfielder’s volley from about 30 yards out beat keeper Brandon Knighton right post to put the Galaxy ahead. Los Angeles continued to maintain possession throughout the second half while holding down Vancouver on the other side of the field, and the Galaxy got a chance to put the game away in the 78th minute when Keane was fouled by Martin Bonjour 25 yards away from goal, giving Beckham a set piece opportunity. The Whitecaps’ John Thorrington initially covered the left post area, but with Keane making his way into the penalty area, Thorrington was caught in the middle of trying to keep the left post guarded and marking Keane in the box. Beckham then sent the free kick over Thorrington and the Vancouver wall into that left post area to give the Galaxy the two-goal cushion they rode all the way to victory.

“The Juninho goal was huge, and in the second half, I thought the energy Vancouver put into the first half fatigued them,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.

In addition to moving up the conference standings, the Galaxy are just seven points back of the San Jose Earthquakes in the Supporters Shield race, though that point differential could change when San Jose hosts Chivas USA, also on Sunday. The Whitecaps remain in the fifth spot and still five points back of FC Dallas.

“It’s something we’re going to have to fight through,” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie said. “We’re still in a good position, but we must find our form and now’s the time to find it.”

The Galaxy will be off next week due to the international break, as will most MLS teams. Los Angeles returns to the pitch on Friday, September 14 when they host the Colorado Rapids. The Whitecaps meanwhile brace for perhaps its biggest match of the season a day later on the 15th, as they go on the road to face FC Dallas.

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