bocanegra

Carlos Bocanegra set for MLS re-introduction in big night for Chivas USA

Leave a comment

Former United States national team captain Carlos Bocanegra, his international player certificate now in hand, is set to debut tonight for Chivas USA.

The Goats meet Toronto FC at the StubHub Center (formerly the Home Depot Center, the LA Galaxy’s stadium on the Cal State Dominguez Hills campus) in a match that is big for several reasons around Chivas USA.

Not only is Bocanegra (pictured) being reintroduced to the league that helped him establish a long, fruitful career in European soccer, highly regarded Mexican striker prospect Erick “Cubo” Torres is also set for a Chivas USA debut. Torres, 20, formerly captained the Chivas de Guadalajara’s under-17 team and made his first team debut back in November or 2010.

So, the night is mostly about these bookend Chivas USA debutantes – “bookend” in terms of age, that is, 14 years apart. Kickoff from Carson, Calif., is set for 10:30 p.m. ET. (The official MLS match preview is here.)

Bocanegra will play in his first MLS match since late in the 2003 season, after which he earned a second consecutive MLS Defender of the Year award, a resume plum that helped get the California native noticed by Fulham.

Since leaving MLS, “Boca” has played professionally in England, Scotland, Spain and France, and he was a member of United States World Cup rosters in 2006 and 2010.

(MORE: Will Bocanegra’s move to MLS get him back into U.S. team?)

There’s one more reason to be interested in this one. Chivas has looked better lately, a little more defensively disciplined, under new manager Jose Luis Real. It paid off in recent road draws at Dallas and Toronto, and nearly so again in last week’s controversial – well, actually lets go with “just plain wrong” – loss to Philadelphia. Read about that one here, if you like.

Chivas USA is winless in 14 matches, having failed to taste victory in April, May, June or as yet in July. One more loss or draw will match the club record. So, a home contest against Toronto FC, another of the league’s poorest clubs, and one that just lost its top defender, represents about the best opportunity out there to get things going in a better direction.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

Ian Walton/Getty Images
2 Comments

Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.