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Quakes Win Final California Clasico

Posted on 04 August 2008 by Evan White

A goal by Ryan Cochrane in the 90th minute broke a 2-2 tie and gave the San Jose Earthquakes a 3-2 victory–their first win in nearly two months.

With so many new faces on the front line for San Jose, players might not have even noticed the difference between McAfee Coliseum and last week’s host Buck Shaw Stadium. Four of the six midfielders and forwards had less McAfee Coliseum experience than the entire Los Angeles squad, including Arturo Alvarez who was making his Earthquake premier. Alvarez did not disappoint as his goal in the 8th minute gave the Quakes a quick lead. Goals by Darren Huckerby and Cochrane followed, giving San Jose their highest offense output of the season. Scores by the Galaxy’s Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan kept the game close, but the day belonged to the Earthquakes.

“It feels good to win in front of our fans,” San Jose coach Frank Yallop said after the game. “We had some good chances to score some more goals. All in all, it was a terrific game for us. We were obviously not happy for the two goals that LA scored, but sometimes you’re a little bit vulnerable. We had a terrific comeback in the last couple of minutes of the game, and it showed character in the team.”

The Quakes came out aggressively and made the most of their opportunities. Forward Scott Sealy, in his third game with San Jose, provided a high energy style reminiscent of Ryan Johnson who was sitting on the bench. After a Galaxy turnover near midfield, Sealy received a lofted pass with space on the left side. Penetrating towards the heart of the LA defense, he was able to slot the ball to an open Arturo Alvarez. Alvarez maneuvered around one defender, and slid the ball just past the diving keeper Steve Cronin. He did not waste time in providing an impact, becoming the second Earthquake in as many weeks to score a goal in his SJ debut.

“It felt really good to get the goal,” Alvarez said. “Obviously it’s my first game in three years with the Earthquakes. It’s not a bad way to start. Hopefully I can bring in more goals.”

Moments later the Galaxy mounted a counter attack, pouncing on the Earthquake’s and the crowd’s celebration. A cross provided Edson Buddle, the hero of the last Clasico meeting, with an open touch shot at the goal. The ball was sent high off the forward’s right foot, lofting into the small group of “Galaxians” behind the goal.

The Earthquakes kept up their pressure. In the 16th minute Ronnie O’Brien found a bit of separation on the right flank that gave him a clear path down the sideline, but his cross couldn’t find a recipient and was knocked away from danger.

A minute later a SJ turnover gave David Beckham acres of land on the right side. As Beckham charged towards the goal, no defender was near enough to challenge a potential shot on goal. Luckily for the Earthquakes, Beckham tried to slide the ball to a trailing teammate, but the Earthquake defenders diffused the effort.

When asked after the game if he chooses to pass too quickly because he’s so good at it, Beckham said, “I do what I see. I saw Alan Gordon in the middle with a better opportunity than me to score. I tried to find him, and it just wasn’t a good pass.”

In the 29th minute Alvarez had the opportunity to score his second goal of the game, a header off of an O’Brien cross. Even with good placement, the header was snagged by Cronin to keep the game close.

LA almost equalized on an Ante Jazic cross from the left, but the header was sent past a diving Joe Cannon and just wide of the post.

The Earthquakes responded quickly in the 40th minute as Eric Denton advanced the ball up the left side. A pass to Huckerby left him with just one defender to beat–Chris Klein who slipped. Huckerby continued into the LA penalty box near the end line. Even with the tricky angle, Huckerby was able to fire the shot past the diving keeper and clip the inside of the far post. With his second goal in as many games with San Jose, Huckerby pulled to within one of Ryan Johnson for the team lead.

“It was a good ball from Eric (Denton),” Huckerby said. “and I knew it was one-on-one, and I just got by them. I was looking to pass it to Scott (Sealy), but he got blocked off so I took the ball to the corner, and it worked.”

A 2-0 deficit may have been the proverbial shot in the arm for the LA attack. Two minutes after Huckerby’s goal, Beckham found himself with an indirect kick from the right channel. His chip was headed high by a member of the LA goal-mouth mob, which was punched away by Cannon. Beckham again found himself with separation on the side. His cross was perfectly placed to the head of co-star Donovan, who re-positioned the cross past a diving Cannon for the goal.

Donovan was followed by a constant stream of boos every time he touched the ball, but his 42nd minute goal momentarily silenced the crowd.

San Jose two goals going into halftime were the first they had scored against their SoCal rivals all season.

The second half would begin much like the first, with the Earthquakes relentlessly attacking and setting the tempo. Sealy had possession deep in the box, but was unable to get off a clean kick as he was hounded by the Galaxy defense. His shot was directly at the keeper, but Cronin bobbled the ball. With Alvarez in the vicinity, the Galaxy defense had no option but to clear the ball quickly.

Galaxy defender Chris Klein had trouble all afternoon with the Earthquake’s attackers, almost getting beat for a goal again by Sealy. After a few moments of possession with his back to the goal, Sealy spun left evading Kline, but rifled his shot off of the cross bar and out of play.

The Galaxy continued to struggle against the stringent SJ back line, but almost found another goal off a Beckham indirect kick. In almost the same position as his first, Beckham bent a pass that was barely deflected by a leaping Cannon. With the ball squirting out towards the center of play, and Cannon still sprawled on the field from his effort, the Earthquakes were fortunate to come out with possession.

After a prolonged period of unsuccessful advances on the SJ defense, the Galaxy was able to break through with Mike Randolph handling the ball just outside the penalty box. Weaving in and out of defenders, Randolph was just in front of the goal hounded by defenders. He flung a shot at the goal, which was again stopped by a diving Joe Cannon.

The same sort of blasé passing at midfield earned Ronnie O’Brien an open shot on goal, as a cross-field pass coupled with an O’Brien ball fake game him an open lane at the goal. His shot in the 72nd minute trickled just wide of the post and past a diving Cronin.

The highest scoring team in the MLS would not be held to one goal for long. Earthquake nemesis Edson Buddle dribbled through three SJ defenders and slipped a low shot just under Cannon’s outstretched arm for an unassisted score in the 76th minute.

In the 89th minute Ryan Cochrane broke through. Cronin knocked away a Corrales cross right to Huckerby who drove it right back to Cronin. This time, Cochrane recovered the rebound eight yards out and drilled the shot into the back of the net for the game winning goal.

Cochrane was as stunned by his goal as the Galaxy. “I really don’t know what happened,” he said. “The ball was just loose, and I was hanging around the area. I almost gave up on it, but thought I would stay down there and hopefully something would come up.”

A few last-minute Galaxy attempts drew the crowd to their edge of their seats, but the last moments of the clock melted away quickly.

Alvarez discussed returning the Quakes after a three year hiatus with FC Dallas. “It feels good to be back. I forgot how nice the weather was here. I’ve been in Dallas for three years, and I’m also from Houston, and it’s pretty hot there. But I’m happy to be back in the beautiful California weather.”

{democracy:17}

Match Facts

Los Angeles Galaxy (6-8-5) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4-9-6)
August 03, 2008 — McAfee Coliseum

Scoring Summary:
SJ — Arturo Alvarez 4 (Scott Sealy 1, Darren Huckerby 1) 8
SJ — Darren Huckerby 2 (Eric Denton 1) 40
LA — Landon Donovan 13 (David Beckham 8) 42
LA — Edson Buddle 12 (unassisted) 76
SJ — Ryan Cochrane 1 (unassisted) 90

Lineups:

Los Angeles Galaxy — Steve Cronin, Chris Klein (Carlos Ruiz 76), Sean Franklin, Greg Vanney, Ante Jazic, David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Peter Vagenas, Ely Allen (Mike Randolph 46), Edson Buddle, Alan Gordon,

Substitutes Not Used: Alvaro Pires, Eduardo Dominguez, Mike Munoz, Josh Wicks

San Jose Earthquakes — Joe Cannon, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, Eric Denton, Arturo Alvarez, Ronnie O’Brien (Ryan Johnson 82), Ramiro Corrales, Francisco Lima, Darren Huckerby, Scott Sealy (Jovan Kirovski 92+),

Substitutes Not Used: John Cunliffe, Kelly Gray, Michael Gustavson, James Riley, Shea Salinas

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Ryan Cochrane (caution; Reckless Foul) 46
LA — Landon Donovan (caution; Tackle from Behind) 73

Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee’s Assistants: Paul Scott; Greg Boles
4th official: Yader Reyes
time of game: 1:55
attendance: 26,071
weather: Clear -and- 70 degrees

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Beckhamania hits Toronto

Posted on 25 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

David Beckham and the MLS All-Stars beat West Ham United 3-2 last night at BMO Field, marking the midfielder’s first game in Toronto and improving the league’s All-Star record against foreign opposition to 5 and 0. Chivas, Fulham, Chelsea and Celtic have all fallen to the All-Stars in recent years.

West Ham came out strong in the early minutes, with Carlton Cole showing the preseason form that saw him start the last Premier League campaign on fire.

FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper had the first real chance of the game, however, turning and firing in the 19th minute. The attentions of Hammers defender Joe Widdowson kept him from getting the shot on target towards Robert Green’s goal.

The game was quickly developing into a back-and-forth tug-of-war. The visitors opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Dean Ashton found himself free of the last defender and fired low into the far post.

The lead wouldn’t last, however, and with entertainment value the number one priority at BMO Field this week, Christian Gomez gave the fan’s their money’s worth with a quickfire equalizer. Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco set up the Colorado Rapids midfielder, and Gomez coolly slotted home with West Ham having barely finished their goal celebrations.

The All-Stars kept up the attack and struck again just before half-time. Blanco collected a pass inside the area, cut inside onto his right foot and sent a curling effort past Green into the top corner.

Canadians and Houston Dynamo players Dwayne DeRosario and Pat Onstad entered the game in the second half to the delight of the Toronto crowd, but the fans were only truly placated when Toronto FC Captain Jim Brennan made his entrance close to the hour-mark.

Having played 90 minutes against Montreal on Tuesday, the full All-Star game would have been asking a lot from the Canadian international, but an extended run-out in front of his hometown fans was always on the cards.

The All-Stars looked capable of scoring again, but it was Ashton once again who quieted the crowd at BMO in the 67th minute. The former Norwich striker found space outside the area and struck a powerful shot that deflected off of Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad and into the net.

Just as in the aftermath of Ashton’s first goal, the All-Stars responded quickly. Red Bull New York forward Juan Pablo Angel sprung DeRosario with a perfectly-weighted through ball, and with the Canadian bearing down on goal, West Ham captain Lucas Neill had little choice but to hall down DeRo.

Referee Mauricio Navarro awarded the penalty for the All-Stars but was perhaps reluctant to hand out a red card in what is ultimately an exhibition match. Having drawn the foul, DeRosario was given the chance to score a penalty in front of his hometown crowd ahead of Beckham and game MVP Blanco.

The Canadian ace blasted his penalty off the crossbar and in to make it 3-2 amid the roars of the crowd, who had to wait for the ball to rebound into the netting before they were sure it was a goal. Angel “scored” a goal of his own just a minute later with a curling right-footed shot, but the linesman’s flag was up. Replays showed that Calum Davenport may have played the Colombian onside.

The game marked the first major showpiece at BMO Field, a ground that has been slated to host the MLS Cup final in 2009 and CONCACAF Gold Cup games the same year. Black t-shirts were in abundance but a proposed sit-down fan protest was largely muted.

“MLS showed that they can compete,” West Ham manager Alan Curbishley told reporters after the game. “It was a great game for MLS. It showed off their talents and when we go home it will be a big memory.”

Beckham was, as usual, the center of attention in Toronto, but the Englishman was full of praise for his teammates.

“Everybody knows the quality of player [Blanco] is,” Beckham said of the Chicago Fire forward and game MVP. “He is a great player, winning the award shows that.”

Earlier this week, Toronto FC lost out on the chance to represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League by drawing Montreal Impact 1-1 at home on Tuesday. Montreal needed only a draw to win the Canadian Championship and their seventh straight Voyageurs Cup and will play Nicaraguan side Real Estelí in a two-legged qualifier to determine entry into the potentially lucrative Champions League group stages.

The Impact will have taken heart from MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s media address during All-Star week, in which the Don stated that the league was looking to expand to two more teams by 2011. Montreal and Vancouver were mentioned on a shortlist of expansion candidates.

Match Facts

West Ham United vs. MLS All-Stars
July 24, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:

WHU — Dean Ashton 1 (Carlton Cole 1) 26
MLS — Christian Gomez 1 (Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1, David Beckham 1) 27
MLS — Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1 (Juan Toja ) 43
WHU — Dean Ashton 2 (Luis Boa Morte ) 67
MLS — Dwayne De Rosario 1 (penalty kick) 69

Lineups:
West Ham United — Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Calum Davenport, Anton Ferdinand, Joe Widdowson, Julien Faubert (Junior Stanislas 75), Hayden Mullins (Jack Collison 65), Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington (Luis Boa Morte 46), Dean Ashton (Kyel Reid 80), Carlton Cole (Tony Stokes 91+),

Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Spence, James Walker

MLS All-Stars — Matt Reis (Pat Onstad 70), Jonathan Bornstein (Edson Buddle 88), Frankie Hejduk (Steve Ralston 88), Jimmy Conrad, Pablo Mastroeni, David Beckham, Christian Gomez (Jim Brennan 59), Shalrie Joseph, Juan Toja (Dwayne De Rosario 59), Kenny Cooper (Juan Pablo Angel 46), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Landon Donovan 46).

Substitutes Not Used:

Misconduct Summary:
WHU — Scott Parker (caution; Delaying a Restart) 46+
MLS — Jonathan Bornstein (caution; Pushing, Holding) 52
MLS — Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Foul) 56
MLS — Jimmy Conrad (caution; Reckless Foul) 82

Referee: Mauricio Navarro
Referee’s Assistants: Hector Vergara; Greg Barkey
4th official: Mark Geiger
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 20,844
weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 72 degrees

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Can the rest of MLS survive the Beckham effect?

Posted on 14 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Watching TFC’s future Canada Cup opponent Vancouver Whitecaps taking on David Beckham and his LA Galaxy side on Tuesday night, we were once again treated to a packed stadium of pre-teen girls cheering on Beckham and generally paying little attention to the game at hand.

This situation was common in the midfielder’s first MLS campaign last year and has been seen across North American stadia so far in 2008. Red Bull New York saw 66 000 fill Giants Stadium last year for the visit of the Galaxy, while their average attendance for the year was just 16 530.

Naturally, with such a powerful marketing tool in Beckham, the league has seen an increase in gate receipts and advertising revenue. By the next collective bargaining agreement, the players are sure to see a wage increase to account for this increased profitability, with the league’s hope being that the Major League Soccer brand will have grown enough to sustain itself after Beckham’s ultimate departure from the league.

However, the signs seem to indicate that f the league doesn’t make significant contingency plans to cover itself in the post-Beckham period, MLS could be facing bigger problems than finding time to schedule enough money-spinning friendlies involving the Galaxy.

Beckham

media darling

For their part, Toronto FC seem better-equipped than most to handle the eventual transition. Even before the league announced his signing on the first day of 2007, Toronto’s season-ticket sales were going well; and you get the feeling that BMO Field would face sell-outs regardless of the English midfielder’s participating in this league. In fact, Beckham isn’t likely to make his Toronto debut until the All-Star game this summer.

The truth is, for all their investment in youth programs and big-name foreign stars, David Beckham is irreplaceable. As a marketing tool, he has proved a valuable commodity at whatever club he’s been at — the Galaxy reported a massive 700% increase in annual jersey sales at the end of 2007.

Ahead of Beckham’s arrival stateside, Jonathan Bronitsky of the American looked ahead to the future:

“Although profits will be made, they will be short-lived, reflecting the star rather than his sport. And David Beckham, just like his predecessors, will fail at luring Americans to ‘the beautiful game.'”

With the impending drop-off not just in merchandising but ultimately fan interest and corporate sponsorships, MLS teams without a solid fanbase may be forced to adjust to drastically different financial circumstances in the coming seasons.

With a well-grounded infrastructure built on a developed marketing plan and involvement in the community, the league’s “have” clubs look set to revel in a new era of profitability even after Beckham’s departure from the league. From their perspective, the Englishman will act as a valuable stimulant to the league, leaving it stronger than when he arrived.

Perhaps this is where MLS’ parity will finally face its greatest test — playing squads may be kept in competitive check by the salary cap, but how will the front offices cope with the absence of the Beckham effect? Small-market MLS franchises may find their very futures in doubt.

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Beckham brace bends Galaxy back from the brink

Posted on 05 May 2008 by Patrick McShane

Morales spins Becks right round, baby right round ©ASN/Julia Fizer

The L.A. Galaxy came back from being down by two goals to tie Real Salt Lake 2-2, thanks in large part to David Beckham’s stunning performance.

RSL entered Saturday’s match looking to continue their solid performance at home, having just defeated San Jose 4-0 in the U.S. Open Cup play-in match on Wednesday. After 20 minutes it looked as though RSL would continue to score goals in bunches at home, only to see both the lead and their control of the match erode in a span of five minutes thanks to two bending David Beckham goals.

{democracy}


Galaxy fans vote for your team’s Star of the Match here.

Rookie Tony Beltran got his first MLS start in place of injured and under-performing Ian Joy as RSL continue to retool and adapt their back line. This change appeared to pay off on the offensive side, as RSL were particularly aggressive on the wings, pushing the ball forward for much of the match. This wing play combined with decent control and possession in the middle is what allowed RSL to finally break the Galaxy’s defense in the 6th minute.

After just missing on a chance to open his account two minutes earlier, Fabian Espindola took advantage on his second opportunity. Collecting a beautifully driven cross from Javier Morales on the far right wing, Espindola slotted the ball into the lower right corner of the net past a diving Steve Cronin.

Moment later the situation appeared to worsen for the Galaxy when forward Edson Buddle came up lame, only to be replaced by Alan Gordon. This early substitution seemed to cause even more confusion to an already unstable Galaxy lineup as they persistently gave the ball away in the middle of the pitch and seemed unorganized on the attack with numerous errant passes.

RSL struck again in the 18th minute when Morales placed the perfect cross into the box to a wide-open Kenny Deuchar for a sublime header placed perfectly inside the right corner of goal. The most Cronin could do was push the ball inside the net as Deuchar ran off to celebrate his first goal at home for RSL. The assist from Morales tied him with none other than David Beckham for the top assist count in the MLS with four.

Despite their lead, RSL continued to push forward with even their central defenders, Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave, getting involved with offensive breaks. This effort almost paid off in the 24th minute when Olave nearly scored on a corner kick from Andy Williams, only to head the ball over the goal.

The momentum changed in the 36th minute, however, when RSL found themselves in shock due to two fantastic goals courtesy of David Beckham. Trying to pass out of the back instead of clear, Beltran lost possession of the ball, which eventually landed at the feet of a wide-open Beckham on the right wing. Not wasting an obvious opportunity, Beckham set himself and placed a perfect, bending shot into the top-left corner of goal past a diving Nick Rimando.

Minutes later the Galaxy earned a free kick at the top of the box in ideal territory for one of Beckham’s infamous shots. Again, Beckham did not disappoint as he curled the free kick into the goal. The capacity crowd of 25,500 seemed to be both disappointed with evaporated lead as well as excited that they were getting what they paid for from Beckham.

The Galaxy seemed to be energized by equalizing the score, though RSL had a tremendous opportunity to take the lead in the 43rd minute. Kyle Beckerman lost and confused Beckham with a series of stepovers as he drove into the box, sending a low pass for Deuchar to slam home. However, the goal was called back as Deuchar was ruled offside.

The entire second half was an intense match of back and forth, with both teams appearing to be on the verge of either blowing the game wide open or crumbling in defeat. Despite this open play, both teams really only produced a couple of dangerous chances. Morales and Williams both had opportunities off of free kicks that were sent high and wide of goal, while Beckham took a free kick quickly and sent a beautiful cross in for a Landon Donovan header that was barely tipped to the side by Rimando.

Despite the continued pressure by both teams, little excitement occurred in the final minutes of the match, outside of Olave & Gordon engaging in a pushing match in the corner by RSL’s goal. RSL had to be disappointed with the draw, especially since it appeared that they had control of the match early on. Deuchar summed it up perfectly when he noted: “We’ve got to be more ruthless. We’ve got to go for the jugular and finish them off.”

RSL will get a chance for redemption next Saturday when they take on Western Conference leaders FC Dallas at home.

AT A GLANCE

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola 2 (Javier Morales 3) 6
RSL — Kenny Deuchar 2 (Javier Morales 4) 18
LA — David Beckham 2 (Landon Donovan 3, Alan Gordon 3) 36
LA — David Beckham 3 (unassisted) 40

Los Angeles Galaxy — Steve Cronin, Chris Klein, Sean Franklin, Greg Vanney, Troy Roberts, David Beckham, Joe Franchino, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, Edson Buddle (Alan Gordon 12), Landon Donovan.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran (Robbie Findley 74), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Matias Cordoba 90), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Kenny Deuchar, Fabian Espindola (Yura Movsisyan 79).

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Brandon McDonald (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
LA — Alan Gordon (caution; Professional Foul) 89
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Professional Foul) 89

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TFC, new signings head to Hollywood circus

Posted on 11 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC’s 0 and 2 start to the 2008 Major League Soccer season has some fans looking angrily back towards last year’s inaugural campaign, where they lost their first four matches going scoreless in the process. A 2-0 loss in Chivas last year was followed by a 4-0 rout in New England, and it was deja vu this year, with the club falling by a deuce in Columbus and looking set to lose by four at DC United. There was one crucial difference, however, as Maurice Edu popped up at the death to send a looping header past United keeper Zach Wells to make it 4-1 — a minor blip on the scoresheet, perhaps, but a moment that could resonate with the confidence of Edu and his TFC teammates.

Ahead of Sunday’s visit to LA Galaxy, Edu, who was last season’s rookie of the year, will be joined in the midfield by two new arrivals. Laurent Robert joined the club in time to take part in the DC loss and looked bright, but it was a case of being the best of a bad bunch against the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup semifinalists. Another attacking player, Amado Guevara, has been signed in time for the LA trip and is likely to slot in at the head of a five-man midfield with Edu and Carl Robinson behind him.

The Honduran midfielder, 2005 league MVP with New York Red Bull, has been playing in his native country with Motagua after falling out with Chivas USA management at the start of last season. While his temperament means that the top MLS clubs weren’t lining up to re-sign the enigmatic midfielder, the BMO Field faithful are hoping that a sold out stadium with a passionate fan base will bring the best out of Guevara. Until his signing, the club were lacking options in midfield, forced to play either a flat four or a five-man line with youngster Tyler Hemming in the center.

With the midfield set, the only question marks for the Reds relates to the starting positions at the front and back. Head coach John Carver will have to choose between Jeff Cunningham’s pace and Danny Dichio’s power at the business end of the pitch, while defenders Tyrone Marshall and Marco Velez weren’t at their best in Washington, conceding two goals in the first six minutes. The alternative, New Zealand international defender Andrew Boyens, doesn’t seem to have made an impression on Carver in preseason despite a fine 2007 campaign.
More signings could be on the way to Toronto. Former Birmingham defender Olivier Tébily has been spotted on trial in the Queen City having dinner with Robert. The French defender would offer much-needed stability to the back line, and will have been hoping to impress Carver along with fellow triallist Rohan Ricketts. The ex-Barnsley winger would fill a gap on the right side of TFC’s midfield.

For Los Angeles, starting a season with a healthy David Beckham is better than any new signing, although new arrival Carlos Ruiz has provided much-needed ammunition up front. Along with Landon Donovan, Beckham struck against traditional rivals San Jose Earthquakes last week to earn the club’s first win of 2008. LA will be looking to make it two wins from two at the Home Depot Center and pass the .500 mark after starting the season with a 4-0 loss in Colorado.

Each squad has one player who might have some inside information on the opposition. Canadian Kevin Harmse was a regular in Ruud Gullit’s Galaxy squad last season, the hard-tackling foil to Beckham and Donovan’s flair. He joined up with Toronto in the offseason, and while Harmse will miss out on the LA game after his ejection in DC, his knowledge of their tactics will almost certainly have been utilized by the TFC management. Striker Edson Buddle went in the opposite direction early last season, and much has changed at both clubs since his move, but he knows first-hand what it’s like playing alongside Danny Dichio and — from this brief spell in New York — Amado Guevara.

Much is at stake for both sides, with Toronto eager to enter their home opener on April 19th with at least one point in the bag. Finding a winning momentum early on could be the difference in TFC’s playoff hunt. For manager Gullit and his Los Angeles side, every home game means pressure to succeed in front of the HDC crowd and the world media. Much will depend on how quickly the Canadian club’s new signings adjust to life in their new surroundings, with a trial by fire awaiting them in LA.

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