Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MIKE DONOVAN
A dispute between Earthquakes ownership and its main supporter group, the 1906 Ultras, came to a head Saturday as the Ultras remained silent throughout the Quakes 2-0 victory over Chivas USA.
The silence came after management revoked the ability to display banners from the group after a controversial Tifo during a match against the Portland Timbers in late July.
The Ultras have also been banned from traveling to the Aug. 31 match at the LA Galaxy. Ultras member Mel Marcia told the Mercury News that some members are considering asking for refunds on next year’s season tickets.
Here are some more news and notes from around the Western Conference heading into MLS Week 24 action:
Chivas USA’s academies continued their successful season as their U-23 squad won the California state title after defeating Corinthians USA Pomona United 3-0 on Sunday night. While the Goats academy has fared well this season at various levels, the title was the first championship won by a Chivas USA youth team since 2005.
Leading the U-23s was former U.S. U-18 International Omar Elmasri. The former Tigres defender was the only player to play every minute of the team’s season.
“It’s not easy sometimes; you have ups and downs, but it feels good to end in a high note. I think I can speak on behalf of the guys when I say we’re all very happy and we’ve all worked well together,” Elmasri told the club’s website.
The untimely passing of Christian Benitez left former teammates around the world stunned by his sudden death last week. Colorado’s Diego Calderon had known Benitez since the pair were playing youth soccer in Quito, Ecuador, as 12 year-olds.
“Lots of people remember him as a great soccer player and as a great scorer,” Calderon said of Benitez to his club’s website. “I remember him for the type of person that he was: Humble, and one who was good to his friends.”
In 2011, Calderon and Benitez were teammates on the Ecuadorian national team and had maintained a close friendship.
With the club mired in a nine-game winless run and five-game goalless streak, head coach Schellas Hyndman has started to make changes to his lineup, including benching Kenny Cooper and Eric Hassli. When asked after Tuesday’s practice about any impending changes, Hyndman said the club is already making them.
“We’re already doing that. Pulling Kenny [Cooper] out of the starting lineup is not something any of us probably thought was going to happen,” Hyndman told the Dallas Morning News. “Not playing Eric Hassli was probably something we didn’t think was going to happen. We thought we’d have three of the best strikers. One could hold the ball, one could run off the ball and guys could be scoring goals.”
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Landon Donovan didn’t need a scouting report when the Galaxy signed Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo earlier in the week. Donovan has played against Penedo many times over the years when the U.S. has taken on Panama.
“I’ve [watched] Jaime from a distance for a long time. He’s been with Panama for many years now, and I remember him when he was a young guy, and he’d probably say the same about me,” Donovan told the club’s website. “We’ve sort of grown up through these qualifying and Gold Cups together. It’s nice to see him. He looks like a friendly and nice guy, and hopefully he can help us.”
In addition to his career-best season, Will Johnson is also helping the Timbers off the field. Johnson joined Timber Joey and fellow Timbers Diego Valeri and Jack Jewsbury to clear trails and pick up trash at a suburban Portland Park a day after his club’s 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps Saturday.
“I’m living my dream playing soccer for the Portland Timbers, and people are coming up and thanking me for my hard work and effort, so that means a lot,” Johnson told the AP. “They’re smart, knowledgeable soccer fans, and that’s humbling and makes me strive for greater things.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Before RSL took on the Timbers Wednesday night in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, former RSL player Will Johnson talked to the Salt Lake Tribune about his return to Utah.
“We went through a lot of battles here,” the Timbers captain said. “I played over 100 games with this group of guys, and you don’t do that without having a bond, a strong bond. So I’ve got very strong ties to a lot of the guys in that locker room.”
Before Clint Dempsey signed with the Sounders, Seattle had to lose a designated player. That’s what happened when Shalrie Joseph agreed to take a pay cut in order to give the club an open DP spot. Joseph, however, didn’t know his generosity was going to bring in his former teammate from the New England Revolution.
“I didn’t know it was for him, specifically,” Joseph told the Seattle Times.
Joseph, who has lost in the MLS Cup three times, accepted lower pay in 2013 (deferring salary to 2014) because he knew it would make his chances of finally winning a title go up.
Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted made his MLS debut in Saturday’s 1-1 draw and coach Martin Rennie was happy with the Dane’s performance.
“I thought he did well,” Rennie told the Province newspaper. “He looked comfortable. I didn’t think we had really any chances against us. They weren’t really too dangerous, so we didn’t have too much to do, but I thought he looked very confident.”
Ousted is in a fight with Brad Knighton for top starting goalkeeper spot as the club looks to maintain its playoff position.
What do you make of these developments? Do you see the Earthquakes supporters continuing their silence? Do you see Kenny Cooper regaining his place in the starting XI?
Share your thoughts below.