The world of LA soccer

It is an exciting time for soccer in Los Angeles with the spectacular start of LAFC and the arrival of Zlatan, hashtag #zLAtan. His signing with trumpeted with a simple yet over-the-top one page ad in the LA Times.

The marketing minions of the LA Galaxy have trotted out this promo video!



Have been a follower of the LA Galaxy on and off and mostly on since 2010. The club definitely goes for the off-the-field sizzle and has produced a lot of on-the-field steak (5 MLS cups). We shall see how this pans out.

I was excited about the Steven Gerrard move to LAG but it soon became apparent that he had reached a point in his career that he was too injury prone and so the on-the-field performance didn't live up to the hype.

Below is a video of some highlights from his career and so if he can stay healthy and do 1/2 of what he did in his prime, he will have an impact!



In financial terms, it was a pretty reasonable move considering it is only for $3 million over 2 years.

In practical terms, what is the starting XI going to look like?

In the near term, the defense is not going to change with the possible exception that the injury to Ciani might keep him out of the line up for more than month.

Previously, the "ideal" plan had Kitchen and JDS as defensive midfielders with Alessandrini, GDS, and Lletget as attacking midfielders and Kamara as the lone striker. Injuries have already rendered that plan "inoperative" for the next match or three.

For instance, in tonight's match against Vancouver, it is likely that Kitchen, JDS, GDS, and Allesandrini will be unavailable due to injury and Kamara is out for international duty. But if we take an optimistic view that all will return eventually, who ultimately gives up a starting spot to Zlatan?

If GDS lives up to his full potential, then Lletget is the odd-man out?

I would imagine Zlatan will be a 60 minute starter at most unless it is very clear he is fully recovered from his injuries. In some other scenarios, he might be a final 20 minute substitute.

Interesting times for the LA Galaxy.

Meanwhile, LAFC has taken the path of finding talent from Central (Carlos Vela) and South America (Diego Rossi).

And so after two matches, the talent scouts at LAFC have to be pleased.

Check out the 5 goal blitz they put on Real Salt Lake in the video below.








QPR - looking safely out of the relegation zone?

Have been wearing my R's baseball cap periodically and I've said that I'll go find some Fish and Chips if someone recognizes the cap as a QPR cap. People do ask what team the hat is from occasionally and I explain it is an English soccer club in the Championship.

When I was in London asking directions in the Underground to go to Loftus Road to see the Queens Park Rangers, people didn't seem to know what I was talking about! So I guess it isn't surprising that no one so far has recognized the cap in and around Los Angeles.

Perhaps, I should change the Fish and Chips to the next time QPR wins a match?

###

QPR has picked up 7 points on 3 matches!

3 points against relegation bound Sunderland is what you expect.



Getting 3 points from an Aston Villa that is looking at promotion via playoffs was an unexpected surprise!


Getting a draw from Fulham that is aiming for promotion via playoffs was an unexpected surprise after going down two goal.



It has been lots of fun following QPR from Los Angeles. I saw the last part of the Fulham match on ESPN3. I check on the text commentary at the QPR site on games not on TV. I listen in on most episodes of the QPR podcast to get the pulse of the people who sit in the stands.

I suppose the goal for the rest of the season is to continue to build upon the mix of talent that is in the club, in particular the younger players that might stick around another season or two. Some of the more established talent will continued to be showcased as they might draw interest from the Premier League or other leagues in Europe that see the Championship as a proving ground for the next level.


The screen capture above are the "top" players on the QPR roster according to Tranfermarkt.

Will be interesting to see which of these players will be moved this summer (for a profit) to help with QPR's financial problems. For a team in QPR's position you hope to sell on at a profit and pick up new players on the rise at a reasonable cost.

Until then, looking forward to some more good efforts by the Rangers!

Come on you R's!

Liverpool FC: what is next for them?

If you had said LFC would be in the Champion's League quarterfinals before the season started, fans would take that.

If you had said LFC would lose Coutinho and still be competing for a top four finish in the Premier League, fans would take that.

But of course, now that expectations have been raised, fans want more!

The Champions League showdown against Manchester City will be interesting as the two teams split their meetings in the Premier League with Man City winning the first time 5-0 but LFC taking the second meeting 4-3. Am figuring the odds makers have Man City as favored in the two-legs of the quarters. If I had to guess, I would say 60/40 in favor of Man City. A check on the stat heads at 538 says 57/43 (as of 6:12pm March 18, 2018) for Man City.

The remainder of the Premier League schedule looks favorable to LFC. The difficult matches: Everton (away) and Chelsea (away). Liverpool should beat relegation zone Crystal Palace (away), West Brom (away), and Stoke (home). They should also beat mid-table Bournemouth (home) and Brighton (home). With 5 wins, they gets them to 78 points. If they can scratch out draws at Everton and Chelsea, LFC can finish with 80 points which should get them a top-four finish. But even with 78 you have to go back to 2013/14 where that isn't enough to finish top-four.

But you got to play the games and injuries and crazy stuff happens.

For this fan of recent vintage (started in 2014), it has been a very good year. Hope it finishes off strong!

Go Reds!!

Below is the 5-0 win over Watford with Mo Salah getting four goals and one assist.

 

Homelessness and Hunger in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a series of editorials on the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles.

Excerpts:
Homelessness burst its traditional borders several years ago, spreading first to gloomy underpasses and dim side streets, and then to public parks and library reading rooms and subway platforms. No matter where you live in L.A. County, from Long Beach to Beverly Hills to Lancaster, you cannot credibly claim today to be unaware of the squalid tent cities, the sprawling encampments, or the despair and misery on display there.
[.....]
Today, we are paying the price: The economically homeless are now estimated to make up more than half of L.A.’s unhoused — and it is their rising numbers that are fueling the unprecedented growth in that population. More than half of the people surveyed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority last year said they were homeless because of an eviction, foreclosure, unemployment or “financial reasons.”
[.....]
Until the mayor and the members of the City Council treat the building of these 10,000 units of housing with the kind of extraordinary urgency this crisis requires — the kind that the federal and state governments bestowed upon, for example, the rebuilding of the broken Santa Monica Freeway after the Northridge earthquake — they simply will not be built. And they must be built. Supportive housing in particular — which offers not just a place to live but also access to job counseling and mental health and substance abuse treatment, among other things — is the best long-term solution for the chronically homeless, whose cases are the most difficult to solve. A substantial number of these housing units must be located in every single council district. They cannot just be concentrated in poor areas or in neighborhoods with less political clout. Already, a new report shows that even more housing will be needed than was estimated at the time HHH was passed.
[.....]
The largest psychiatric institutions in the United States are the Los Angeles County jails, the Cook County Jail in Chicago and Rikers Island in New York. L.A. County incarcerates thousands of mentally ill people. The Sheriff’s Department reports that more than 70% of inmates who enter jail report a serious illness, either mental or physical. The county is moving forward with a $2-billion-plus plan to replace the aging Men’s Central Jail with a new facility specifically geared toward mental health treatment — but still a jail. We’re back where we started, but this time even more literally than before: Mentally ill people are prisoners. It’s not that jailers want the new business. It’s a population, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell recently told ABC7, “that I would argue should not be treated in a jail facility.”
[.....]
Across the city, drivers exiting freeways routinely encounter homeless people on the off-ramps shuffling from window to window requesting money. Libraries, train stations and public parks have become refuges for homeless people. In many residential neighborhoods and commercial districts, encampments have become a seemingly immutable fact of life. As homelessness spreads across Los Angeles County — the official tally shows a 46% increase from 2013 to 2017 — it is drawing two conflicting responses, at times from the same people. There’s sympathy and a desire to help, but there’s also a sense of being invaded and perhaps even endangered — in terms of both physical safety and public health
[.....]
Yet such a czar would only be as powerful as the mayor who appointed him or her. And in L.A., the mayor lacks legal authority to override City Council members, who can and do frequently say “no” to proposed housing and mental health facilities in their districts. And neither the mayor nor the czar would have control over the county, which supplies the services, or the region’s other 87 cities. Czar-like powers would be possible only if council members were to relinquish some land-use and budget authority through something like an emergency declaration. And remember, they never did that. They gathered together and said they were going to do it, and much of the world’s media mistook that cleverly phrased promise to do it as actually doing it. You’ll find news stories saying they did it. But they did not.

As an individual, there is little one can do against such massive needs. But we can be faithful to what we can do. Like most Angelinos, I voted for Measure H and HHH. I also donate to Union Rescue Mission and Salvation Army and Venice Family Clinic, three organizations that have been providing help for many years.

I'm a research scientist not a social worker. I'd have no idea how to help the people in these situations. Each person and family has a story and hats off to people who have the heart, knowledge, and skills to help them. And so I support the three organizations mentioned above. I'd encourage you to find a group or two to support. And maybe all of us together helping in some small way can begin to help turn the tide of this crisis.

NYCFC v LA Galaxy line-up guesses

Alessandrini is definitely out. Pontius is day-to-day.

What is the starting XI?

Defense picks itself:
Bingham/Cole/Skelvik/Ciani/Feltscher

Simply want the unit to get used to playing together. Might see some rotation during fixture congestion and when the training staff identify players who need a break. However, barring any injury issues, we should be seeing this line-up most of the time.

Forward:
Kamara

Don't have any idea who they will rely upon if Kamara gets injured or needs a break during the season!

Midfield:
Defensive: Kitchen/Carrasco
Offensive: JDS/GDS/Boateng

Will assume Pontius is going to be rested. Lletget isn't ready to start. He will probably get subbed in around the 60 minute mark to continue stretching out his minutes and testing out his surgically repaired foot.

Bench:
vom Steeg
Steres/Romney/Hillard-Arce
Husidic/Lletget/Alvarez

Lletget should be first off the bench around the 60 minute mark.
Husidic could get in around 70-75 minute mark.
Alvarez may get his debut if LA is clearly behind heading to defeat.
If Galaxy have a 2+ goal lead late in the game, then Hillard-Arce may get his MLS debut coming in as an extra-defender.

Just one blogger's opinion!



Cardiac kids of Queens Park Rangers: QPR 1 Derby County 1



QPR dominated possession, got the shots but as is often the case, were down by a goal and almost out.

On this day, Luongo got the header across the line on a set-piece at the 87th minute!

QPR sit fairly safely in the lower part of the mid-table 10 points above the relegation zone.

The front office has serious financial constraints but they do have some solid players and hopefully in the next transfer window they can spot some overlooked talent and up-and-coming players to bring in.

Am not enough of a fan to know the contract situation of the existing players and who could be let go for cost reasons. As for selling players on at a profit, I don't know if any members of the current roster has had such a dramatically good season such that QPR could do a Southampton.

Historic day for LA Soccer!

There are, once again, two soccer teams in Los Angeles!

Seattle 0 LAFC 1

Click here for the video highlights.

LAFC's first match as a club and they got the win. Diego Rossi the 20 year old young phenom from Uruguay got the pass from Carlos Vela, the DP from Mexico, and fired the shot into the goal!

Meanwhile, LA Galaxy aim to put behind the dreadful 2017 season.

LA Galaxy 2 Portland Timbers 1

Click here for the video highlights.

Ola Kamara was signed to get goals from the striker spot and he delivered at 32 minutes. Allesandrini got the second in short order at 34 minutes. LA defense held on just giving up one goal.

When I started following LA Galaxy routinely (2010), the stadium was shared with Chivas USA. However, at that time Chivas USA was already in bad shape and eventually went under after the 2014 season. Will be interesting to see if the front office at LAFC will do a better job. So far, they have made a lot of good moves: new stadium, top notch manager in Bob Bradley, and a good mix of young and older players in the roster. Will see how big a rivalry will form between the two teams!

What are the realistic expectations for the two teams?

LAFC as an expansion club probably would view playoff qualification as the high end of expectations. Atlanta United did that last season and Bob Bradley led the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup in 1998. Back then there were only 12 teams, now there are 23 teams! Realistically, finishing just out of the playoffs at seventh or eighth would be quite an accomplishment.

As for the LA Galaxy, realistic expectations are playoff qualifications and at the high end finishing in the top three of the western conference.

Heading into the October international break

LA Galaxy have dropped two in a row and in both cases their defense was the culprit. As a result, they go into the MLS playoffs in fifth pla...