Greetings from Southern California, two days ahead of MLS Cup featuring the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.
First, some D.C. United news: No need to swap out your replica jersey next season.
The club has reached agreement with Volkswagen on a one-year extension of a sponsorship deal, according to Kevin Mayer, VW vice president of marketing. The company also has an option for 2014. The current deal expires Dec. 31. Mayer didn’t want to comment on the specific financials but did say the terms have changed. The last contract was worth almost $3 million annually to United.
“The team is thriving again, the product is strong,” Mayer said. “Down the road, if a new stadium is built, we would like to be part of it.”
There is, after all, a Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, Germany — the company’s world headquarters. VW’s U.S. offices are in Herndon, Va.
Volkswagen is also negotiating a new deal with MLS.
*Chris Wondolowski accepted the MLS most valuable player award, an honor locked up by his record-tying 27 goals and his San Jose Earthquakes winning the Supporters’ Shield.
The voting was not even close: Wondo won 91 percent of votes cast by club representatives, 97 percent of media ballots and 71 percent of the players’ votes.
New York’s Theirry Henry was second and Kansas City’s Graham Zusi third.
Wondolowski became only the second American in seven years to claim the trophy and fifth U.S.-born winner, joining Landon Donovan, Taylor Twellman, Tony Meola and Jason Kreis. (Preki won it twice and is American but was born in Yugoslavia.)
Wondolowski arrived in Los Angeles from Washington, where he was raising awareness of Native American issues with congressional leaders. He spoke on behalf of a Nike program designed to help those communities but also from the heart: The maternal side of his family is Kiowa, with roots in the central United States and particularly Oklahoma.
“There are so many problems, especially with obesity and suicide, kids not graduating from high school,” he said. “I was able to speak to senators and congressmen about how this is affecting children and how sports can help them and give them something to identify with, so they have hope.”
Wondolowski was scheduled to testify before the Committee on Indian Affairs today but had to travel in order to accept the MVP award. While on Capitol Hill, he met with, among others, Sen. Danil Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ben Lujan (D-N.M.).
“It’s part of my heritage, it’s part of who I am,” he said. “I am half Native American. My grandpa is still very involved and I have a lot of family. It’s something that is affecting a lot of people.”
*On Saturday, David Beckham will play his final official match for the Galaxy. Today, he held his final standing-room-only pregame news conference. I will have a story about his impact on MLS in Saturday’s print editions, but here’s what he had to say about Coach Bruce Arena:
“When I first moved here, we kind of jumped from manager to manager. The team was not settled in any way, we didn’t have any stability. The first year, year and a half was very unsettling and not a great place to be. And then Bruce came in, settled everything down. That’s the reason we have had the success we’ve had the last four years. He is a great man manager — the way he looks after the manager, the way he looks after the team, the way he treats the players. He is strong and harsh when he needs to be, but he also puts his arm around you and has a joke with you when you need it. I owe a lot to Bruce and his staff. It’s been an honor working with him.”
As he began answering my question,
his cell a reporter’s cell being used to record the interview began buzzing. Video of his reaction:
*The weather is dreary in Los Angeles and won’t get much better before kickoff Saturday. The forecast now calls for a game-time temperature of 65 degrees, cloudy and a 30 percent chance of rain — not nearly as bad as last year’s downpours at Home Depot Center but not the ideal conditions the league hoped when the Galaxy secured the home game.
*Houston officials estimate 1,500 to 2,000 supporters are en route to California.
*Word on the streets is that the celebrity list Saturday at HDC will include actors Gerard Butler and Jeremy Piven, director Jason Reitman, Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, several L.A. Kings and, best of all, “Man vs. Food” host Adam Richman.
*Seattle defender Patrick Ianni has scored only four times in seven years, but his volley against Kansas City in June won him MLS goal of the year. Watch:
*Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando had three of the four final candidates for save of the year. Here’s the one that won the league award: