LA Galaxy needs a penalty kick shooter; apply within

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You don’t have to be Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson all rolled into one – that’s one big mass of managerial brilliance, don’t you know? – to see certain things about the game with crystal clarity.

Here’s a great “for instance:”  Someone other than Landon Donovan needs to step up on penalty kick duty next time an MLS ref points to the spot for the Galaxy.

Donovan was once among the country’s most reliable figures from the 12-yard mark. Never mind that silly, involved little hand dance that once preceded his spot shots, he was money just the same.

(On the national team, too … although those numbers are surprisingly difficult to turn up. I’ll keep trying.)

As the 2012 MLS season closed, Donovan was 24 for 26 in regular season penalty kicks. You can slice and dice stats until you are blue in the soccer face, but you could not turn those numbers any way that wouldn’t look damned impressive.

But Donovan … well, he just isn’t there right now. He couldn’t squeeze one past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez three weeks ago. Then last night at home, Donovan could not beat Houston’s Tally Hall.

Watch them both below. Meanwhile, here’s what Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said about it:

Never good to miss a penalty kick. We’re probably going to have to change that. He’s missed two in two games that we’ve lost, 1-0. Not good, so we probably need to make a change there.”

One problem is in the lack of an obvious choice to fill in for Donovan. Make no mistake: not everyone has a big enough bag of practice balls to step up and hit these. Robbie Keane certainly does, but he’s been hurt lately. Plus, he’ll miss more time this summer due to Ireland internationals.

Juninho? Marcelo Sarvas? One of the young kids now on patrol along the Galaxy front line? We may soon find out.

First, the thwarted effort in a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas:

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And then last night’s shot, hit to just about the same spot and saved by Houston’s Tally Hall. Note the stutter-step, rather than the more confidence “stride up and smack it” approach:

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FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

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The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

AP Photo/LM Otero
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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

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Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).