PAN PACIFIC TOURNAMENT

Teams from Asia join Galaxy in Pan Pacific tourney

February 16, 2009

CARSON, Calif. -- League champions from China and South Korea, and the holder of Japan's league cup, will join the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Pan-Pacific championship for two doubleheaders starting Wednesday.

South Korea's Suwon Bluewings will face China's Shandong Luneng in Wednesday night's first game, followed by the match between the Galaxy and Japan's Oita Trinita.

The losers will meet in Sunday night's third-place game, with the winners playing later for the championship.

Shandong won the Chinese Super League for the second time in three seasons last year. Suwon took the K-League title under coach Cha Bum Kun, the South Korean national team's all-time leading scorer with 55 goals.

Oita Trinita earned the J-League Cup last year. Forward Daiki Takamatsu was the Cup's most valuable player.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the players to test themselves against quality competition," said Galaxy midfielder Eddie Lewis, who played in two World Cups for the United States.

"It's a great break from the preseason," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "This is a great opportunity to see where we are, to look at some players and simply to gauge the kind of progress we've made."

Shandong has had difficulties since arriving on Feb. 6. The Chinese champions lost a preseason game to Seattle Sounders FC 2-0.

"We are not fully prepared right now," Shandong coach Ljubisa Tumbacovic said through an interpreter. "A lot of our starters are sidelined by injuries. Also, there are some logistical problems and it just kept raining."

One of Shandong's starters, defender Jiao Zhe, will miss the tournament with an injured left knee.

The tournament was first held last year in Hawaii, when the Galaxy's David Beckham was the star attraction who drew record crowds for soccer in the islands. The Galaxy finished third. Gamba Osaka of Japan's J-League won the title.

Beckham and teammate Landon Donovan are on loan to European clubs and won't be playing.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press