By ADAM SERRANO
Hector Jimenez has been living life under the radar in his rookie season, but when the midfielder from the University of California has had his chance to see action, he's grabbed a hold of it.
Jimenez was instrumental in the Galaxy's 2-1 victory over Morelia in the CONCACAF Champions League, helping to create the winning goal. He also saw time last Tuesday during the Galaxy's 2-0 defeat at the hand of the New York Red Bulls.
Despite seeing only limited minutes as of late, Jimenez has been a staple in Galaxy travel squads for their recent trips in the CCL and has earned praise from coaches and teammates alike for his dedication. With the Galaxy reserves likely to see extra minutes as the season wraps up, Jimenez admits that watching guys like David Beckham and Landon Donovan has done wonders for his own game.
"Being able to watch some of the best players in the league perform at their best definitely helps me out a lot," said Jimenez. "To be able to watch how they do things, whether on the road or here, day-in and day-out helps you."
Here are more notes from around the Western Conference:
Chivas USA's playoff dreams are over, but the Rojiblancos still have plenty to play for. With their focus turned to their Oct. 16 match against the L.A. Galaxy, the Goats understand that they must now try to pick up their first victory against the Galaxy since 2007.
"We're very sad, because we've been working really hard to try and make the playoffs and we all expected that we would do it," said defender David Júnior Lopes. "It's difficult and unfortunate, but life goes on. You just have to keep working hard and try to move forward."
Eddie Ababio's time with the Colorado Rapids has been a short and tumultuous one, but that hasn't discouraged the youngster from the University of North Carolina.
Ababio scored the first goal in the Rapids' impressive 4-1 victory over Metapan in the CONCACAF Champions League, helping preserve the Rapids' faint hopes of quarterfinal qualification. Ababio impressed while playing at right wing, but the young Ghanaian has shown other skills as well, playing at right back for the Rapids 5-1 reserve victory over FC Dallas last Sunday.
For a player, who at one time walked away from the organization, his success is a testament to his hard work as of late.
The Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex was awarded with the honor of "Best Sports City" in America earlier this week due to the success of the NBA's Mavericks and the NFL's Cowboys, but not to be outdone are FC Dallas. Once again in the thick of the playoff hunt after advancing to the MLS Cup Final last year, captain Daniel Hernandez believes that FCD has become part of sports fabric of the city.
"We definitely have an identity now. Schellas Hyndman came aboard, you see the number of national-caliber players we have and Hispanic players who have gotten some publicity," Hernandez told The Sporting News. "We have a very Latin-style team, and I think we play somewhat similar to their style of soccer. It's attractive to fans we didn't have when the team moved (from the Cotton Bowl, near downtown) to (suburban) Frisco."
The Portland Timbers are done with just being called a hard-working team.
Following the Timbers' 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend, Vancouver head coach Tom Soehn said that the Timbers were "a hard-nosed, blue collar team that likes to get challenges in."
Timbers head coach Jon Spencer admits to taking offense to this statement with his team in the heat of the playoff chase.
"It's a little bit of disrespect to say we're just a hard-working team," Spencer told The Oregonian. "We pride ourselves on hard work, but to get to 40 points in this league, you have to have a little bit of quality as well."
REAL SALT LAKE
Jason Kreis is sick of losing. Literally.
Having lost three consecutive matches as well as its chance to win the Supporters' Shield, Real Salt Lake looks to rebound on Thursday night in Vancouver against the Whitecaps. Facing the last-place team in the West, a team that has not won at home since August, makes the match a must-win for RSL if it is to solidify its playoff positioning.
"It makes me a bit nauseous," Kreis told the Salt Lake Tribune. "To be completely honest, we have to be completely focused on us right now. I can be happy as I want with performances and things I see in matches — effort, togetherness, camaraderie — but at the end of the day we need to win some games, too."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes may be eliminated, but don't expect a youth movement, at least not at goalkeeper.
Goalkeeper Jon Busch admits that he will not be surrendering any starts to rookie David Bingham as the Earthquakes look to wrap up this season. Bingham has seen time primarily in reserve matches this season while Busch has worn the No. 1 shirt, a prize that Busch admits Bingham must take from him.
"I prepare myself for every game and to be chosen every game," Busch told reporters in San Jose. "Now, that's obviously up to [Yallop] and the coaching staff, but I've always believed and I was raised in the system that it's yours until somebody takes it from you. It's mine, I work hard every day to keep it and make it mine.
"Until somebody takes it from me, I want every game possible."
If the U.S. Open Cup is going to get a facelift, then Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer wants to have a say in the discussion. Amid reports in the Sporting News that the U.S. Open Cup's bidding process will change as early as 2012, the general manager of the Sounders, who have won the last three straight U.S. Open Cup trophies wants to be part of the conversation.
"I want the tournament to grow in profile, and for it to continue to become more relevant in every market in MLS, in USL, NASL, lower divisions, amateur divisions," Hanauer told the Tacoma News Tribune. "It’s probably above my pay grade to say whether the bidding process can help raise the profile. I’d like to be in the conversation, though."
The Whitecaps will get their second crack at a win at the newly refurbished BC Place on Thursday night when they take on Real Salt Lake. The match that was supposed to take place earlier this summer but was postponed due to field conditions at Empire Field after a temporary surface installed for the World Football Challenge failed to drain after a rainstorm. Victories have been few and far between for Vancouver this season with the club going winless on the road and their last victory at home occuring in August.
With disppointing results becoming the norm, head coach Tom Soehn admitted that it's time to look to the club's youth as the Caps look to next season.
"You're going to look for guys who are hungry now," Sohen told The Province. "Coming off a disappointing performance, that's the one thing you can say: Whoever is going to come back and is going to fight and scrap – because I think we missed that part a little bit – is going to play.