Annual Invasion of the Best European Clubs in LA… Man Utd Open Training (with Pics)

Every summer LA is invaded by the, “top,” European clubs in preseason training… It has now expanded well beyond LA too.

Currently Manchester United and Real Madrid are training here and the Rangers (Scotland) were here last week.    Last night Man Utd held an open training at the Rose Bowl, where they play the Galaxy tonight.

Tickets were $20 for general admission or $300 for front row and player access for autographs.  That looked like a disorganized, unmitigated mess.

This was either Louis van Gaal’s first or second training session with the team and lord is he lively.  At one point, he was either giving directions during the scrimmage session or working on his required cheer routine for his varsity try-outs.

Additionally, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney are adorable together.. like toddle buddies at preschool.  Very sad that I missed getting a picture of them walking arms around either’s shoulder.  Also  the team goalies look like quads… all same size, shape, coloring.

You can tell it was early, early pre-season training.. everyone seemed rusty

Here are a few pics and the 250+ more can be found at my flickr page.


Today is SoccerAid 2014 at Old Trafford


Robbie Williams is an international superstar singer basically unknown in America.  He is also obsessed with soccer. Obsessed to the point he bought minor interest in his beloved boyhood club Port Vale and when he moved to Los Angeles to avoid international paparazzi, he installed a 6-a-side pitch in his backyard, complete with bleachers and a sound system.

Growing up near Manchester he was also a huge United fan.  In 2006, he and his best friend decided they wanted to play soccer at Old Trafford… and then got the idea to host a major celebrity legends/amateur charity soccer match at the Theater of Dreams centered around the world Cup.  The teams were easy  ENGLAND v. ROW (REST OF THE WORLD).

Bi-annually it takes place again centered around the World Cup  or the European Championship.  It is not like a traditional charity match where people show up and play.  It starts with an intensive week long pre-match training camp and a week of television coverage leading up to it.  And it works, 8 years and over £12 million raised so far, it happens again today at Old Trafford.

I have watched almost every one and they are some of the most fun charity matches you can watch.  Both teams take it seriously and they raise a TON of money for important causes. If you do not live in the UK, there are “rivers” on the internet where you can watch it live.




Manager: Sam Allardyce
Coaches: Peter Reid and Bradley Walsh

Robbie Williams, Dominic Cooper, Jonathan Wilkes, Ben Shephard, Jamie Theakston, Marvin Humes, Olly Murs, Danny Jones, John Bishop, Mark Owen, Jack Whitehall, Stephen Moyer, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher, David Seaman, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Matt Le Tissier



Manager: Jose Mourinho

Michael Sheen, Gordon Ramsay, Nicky Byrne, Patrick Kielty, James McAvoy, Sam Worthington, Jeremy Renner, Martin Compston, Kevin Bridges, Santiago Cabrera, Mark Salling, Adam Richman, Edgar Davids, Andriy Shevchenko, Edwin van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Del Piero, Clarence Seedorf

(Names in Bold are obviously former player names)

For more information including where the money SoccerAid raises goes, how to donate and how to keep up with the match visit UNICEF UK/Soccer Air 2014



American citizen[s] or national[s] may be subject to prosecution Under 18 U.S.C. §2423(c)  Even if the person did not have the intent to engage in sex with a minor at the time he or she left the United States, such intent at the time of travel is not necessary. For example, an American citizen or national who travels to a foreign country without any such intent, but who engages in a commercial sex act with a person under 18 at some point during his stay in that foreign country, may be subject to prosecution

The United States Department of Justice Office, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Office

Section 2423(c) prohibits traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in any illicit sexual conduct. Section 2423(c) includes attempt and conspiracy, see 18 § 2423(e), and has a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

United States Sentencing Commission, March 2013

I know this does not seem like a soccer blog topic… The Prostitution of Children seems like a topic very far removed the game we love.  It is not…

Prostituted Children are being exploited all around the game, just to make a couple current examples:

  • Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema are currently awaiting deliberations from a criminal court in France on paying a minor for sexual services.

[UPDATE – Both were acquitted this morning 1/30/2014 … Ribery had admitted having paying the girl for sex over a two year period but not knowing she was a minor. Benzema denied ever engaging in sexual relations with the same 16-17 year old girl]

  • Silvio Berlusconi, owner of AC Milan and Prime Minister of Italy, was convicted of paying for sex with a 17 year old girl, facing new allegations of witness tampering in that case.

The news is not always shameful for soccer.

Wesley Snejider’s wife Yolanthe Sneijder Cabau founded Free A Girl Foundation in the Netherlands with the mission: “…to prevent and repress prostitution of children under 18, anywhere in the world.”  Wesley acts as an Ambassador for the Foundation which has liberated over 2,000 girls from sexual enslavement.

Now comes why this is most important to soccer fans…

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world.  It is ALSO THE BIGGEST CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION EVENT in the World.   It is especially bad this tournament, as it was in South Africa, because of the economic situation of Brazil is precarious at best.  There are an estimated 2 million children currently living on the streets in Brazil all are at risk for sexual exploitation.

As part of the World Cup comes the inevitability of children being sexuality exploited by tourists.  If you are America (or British or whatever), there is NO WHEN IN ROME defense to this.  It is illegal in the US to engage in sexual activity with a minor wherever the hell you are hanging out.  Paying the child, in money, food, shelter, or whatever is child prostitution. In the US, it is a crime punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison… that is the one WITHOUT ANY PAROLE POSSIBLE.


IT’S A PENALTY is a group effort that is working specifically educate and eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children primarily for UK tourists to the Cup.   They have listed David Luiz as a spokesman who in turn as enlisted Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard, Oscar, Ramires, and former teammate Paulo Ferrier as global ambassadors.  Additionally, Steven Gerrard and former player, now commentator Gary Lineker are ambassadors to spread the message as wide as possible to the UK and the World that if you engage with sexual activity with a minor, you will be punished.

The US has the second most tickets requested… We have A LOT of people traveling down for this…  DON’T DO SOMETHING SO STUPID BECAUSE YOU THINK IT’S OK IN BRAZIL… IT’S NOT OK THERE AND IT’S NOT OK HERE or or from where ever you are traveling to Brazil 

Pirlo Pops Exist… I REPEAT PIRLO POPS EXIST and for Charity Too

Pirlo Pops Exist...  I REPEAT PIRLO POPS EXIST and for Charity Too

Kellogg teamed up with Italian charity Dottor Sorriso (Doctor Smiles) and my Boo Pirlo to bring professional clowns to visit pediatric wards around Italy.

Through purchases of specially marked Pirlo IN A CLOWN NOSE boxes of Kellogg’s cereal , they are hoping to donate 1000 days of clown visits.  For more info (in Italian): Kellogg Website and the Dottor Sorriso

Someone in Italy needs to hook me up with these amazing breakfast items.

Also note:  there are many Pirlo Pot related jokes to make here but kids are involved so I will refrain.

Capture2 Capture3 CaptureCapture5

Thanks to BeardedFC for the info.