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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

February 27, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

1_Boxer Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions shareholder Gabriel Brener are poised to buy a 50% stake in the defending Major League Soccer champion Houston Dynamo. "I want to be part of what is the No. 1 sport with Latinos and with the world, and that's soccer," De La Hoya said Tuesday.

The deal, which will see AEG sell half of the team for as much as $20 million, will leave De La Hoya and Brener, a Mexican businessman with U.S. real estate and other investments, each with a one-quarter share of the club. Negotiations have been going on between AEG and the two men for three months and have reached the point where a final agreement is expected by the end of this week.

Less than five years ago, AEG was operating six MLS teams as Phil Anschutz almost single-handedly kept the league in business. Since then, investment interest has mushroomed and AEG has sold, in order, the Colorado Rapids, the New York MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, and soon half of the Dynamo. The Galaxy is the only club now fully owned and operated by AEG.

2_Germany has come up with a novel way of unveiling the team it will take to June's European Championship, which will be jointly staged by neighboring Austria and Switzerland.

Coach Joachim Loew will announce his roster on May 16 atop the country's tallest mountain, the Zugspitze. From the peak of the 9,718-foot mountain it is possible to get a glimpse of both Euro 2008 hosts. "We looked for an attractive location that links Germany geographically and symbolically with the two hosts," said former international Oliver Bierhoff, general manager of the national team.

3_When is a Barcelona jersey not really a Barcelona jersey?

When it's sold in Saudi Arabia, according to England's World Soccer magazine, which reported that replica jerseys on sale there do not include the red cross on the club badge but rather a vertical red stripe.

The absence of the cross supposedly gives Saudi fans a "religiously correct" way of showing support for the Spanish team.

4_The average price of a house in London is $800,000, which angers Jonathan Woodgate, who scored the overtime goal Sunday as Tottenham Hotspur defeated Chelsea to win the English League Cup. "Prices are a joke," Woodgate said. "It's unbelievable."

That brought a wry observation from England's Observer newspaper, which pointed out that Woodgate's basic salary with Spurs is $800,000 every six weeks.

5_The Australian league might be a decade or two behind MLS, but its players certainly know how to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The A-League's championship game was played Sunday, with the Newcastle Jets defeating the Central Coast Mariners, 1-0, on a disputed goal. Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic later struck the referee on the arm and Monday was suspended by the league for 15 months for "violent conduct" against the official.

If FIFA extends the ban globally, Vukovic, a regular on Australia's under-23 national team, will miss the Beijing Olympics. "It's stupid, there's no doubt about that," said Australia Coach Pim Verbeek.

Worse was to come: at Monday's postseason celebration by the Mariners, German-born midfielder Andre Gumprecht attended the festivities dressed as Adolf Hitler, sparking loud protests from Jewish groups.

"Such behavior is not only stupid but is not tolerated," said Ben Buckley, president of Australia's soccer federation.

Buckley said he would also be having a word with former Australian international Tony Vidmar, who decked himself out in white robes, painted his face black and came to the party as God.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

MAKING THEIR PITCH

, born in San Jose and now playing for Chivas de Guadalajara, which traditionally has employed only

Mexico-born players:

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'I am more Mexican than

cactus.'

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STAT OF THE WEEK

* David Beckham, above, helped attract 23,087 to Aloha Stadium for the Galaxy's game against Sydney FC in Honolulu. That broke the attendance record of 22,000 for a soccer match in Hawaii, set in 1977 when Pele and the New York Cosmos played Team Hawaii in the heyday of the North American Soccer League.

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ACCENT ON COACHING

In the English Premier League, the big four clubs are coached, respectively, by a Scot, a Frenchman, a Spaniard and an Israeli--in other words, Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, Liverpool's Rafael Benitez and Chelsea's Avram Grant. In MLS, foreign-born coaches also rule the day, even though six of them (see asterisks) can underline their American credentials by having either played for or coached U.S. national teams:

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*--* Coach Team Birthplace Chicago Denis Hamlett Costa Rica Chivas USA Preki Radosavljevic Yugoslavia * Colorado Fernando Clavijo Uruguay * Columbus Sigi Schmid Germany * D.C. United Tom Soehn Chicago FC Dallas Steve Morrow N. Ireland Galaxy Ruud Gullit Netherlands Houston Dominic Kinnear Scotland * Kansas City Curt Onalfo Brazil * New England Steve Nicol Scotland New York Carlos Osorio Colombia Real Salt Lake Jason Kreis Omaha* San Jose Frank Yallop England Toronto FC John Carver England *--*

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