without David Beckham
and Landon Donovan
and serving as host rather than as Hawaiian guest, the Los Angeles Galaxy
begins its 2009 season Wednesday with semifinal play in the second Pan-Pacific Championship at Home Depot Center.
South Korean league champion Suwon Bluewings, Chinese champion
Shandong Luneng and Nabisco Cup (Japan) winner Oita Trinita are at HDC for a pair of doubleheaders Wednesday and Saturday.
Suwon and Shandong open the tournament at 8:30 p.m. (ET),
followed by the Galaxy and Oita at 11 p.m. The losers meet Saturday in the third-place match at 8:30 p.m. and the winners play in the championship match at 11 p.m. All games will be televised live
on Fox Soccer Channel.
Donovan and Beckham may be absent, yet head coach Bruce Arena
will use the PPC to get a look at some new players:
midfielders Dema Kovalenko
and Stefani Miglioranzi
and forward Mike Magee
acquired in offseason trades; SuperDraft picks Omar Gonzalez
and A.J. Delagarza
are vying for time in the back with
Venezuelan trialist Leo Bautista
; and Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts
is also proving himself to new teammates.
Suwon is coached by former South Korean international Bum-Kun Cha
, who still holds the national team record of 55 goals and played 308 Bundesliga
matches for Darmstadt 98, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Bayer Leverkusen from 1978 to 1989. Goalie Woon-Jae Lee
started for his country in the last two World Cups,
and the club recently added Chinese defender Weifeng Li
to its roster.
Shandong has been training and taking its lumps in Southern California
the past week. It lost 2-0 to MLS expansion team Seattle, 5-1 to Chivas USA and then suffered an 8-0 defeat by Real Salt Lake in scrimmages. The Chinese Super League champion in two of the last
three seasons includes Venezuelan defender Alejandro Cichero
, whose brother Gabriel
played for MLS Cup finalist New
York last year.
Oita features two young Japanese internationals: Akihiro Ienaga
(22) is on loan from defending PPC champion Gamba Osaka, and
(21) represented Japan at the 2008 Olympic Games soccer competition.
Gamba Osaka won last year's PPC in Hawaii. The Galaxy --
with Beckham but without an ailing Donovan -- lost its opener to Gamba Osaka, 1-0, and went on to finish third by beating Sydney FC of the Australian A-League, 2-1.
There is no
Australian team in this year's PPC. The competition conflicts with the A-League's playoffs being played this week.