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mlssoccer staff

09 May 5:12 pm

It was just a run-of-the-mill Thursday for former Columbus Crew player and current Crew brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk.

Or, maybe not.

Hejduk participated in a "Monster Meat" eating competition with local broadcasters and seven Asian elephants (yes, you read that right) in a charity event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus. The event was sponsored by restaurant group Max & Erma's, who provided the sliders for the humans to eat, and the Ringling Bros., who provided the elephants competing against the humans.

So how well did Hejduk represent the Crew and MLS? He certainly held his scarf aloft and cheered enthusiastically, as you'll see in the video. As far as the competition itself, Hejduk didn't fare as well, as the player well-known for his fitness during his playing days probably didn't routinely eat a stack of sliders at once as part of his regimen.

Citing a lack of appetite, the two-time MLS Cup champion could only finish four sliders, but it was all for a good cause, as Max & Erma's donated $18,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

This event got us thinking: If Hejduk joined the circus, what would be his ideal event? Would his physical gifts make him a good choice for the tightrope or trapeze? Or should he be the ringmaster, with his unlimited energy and infectious enthusiasm?

Maybe his stint with the circus should last longer than one day!

08 May 4:04 pm

It took a day or two, but cooler heads have prevailed in Houston after an unfortunate incident involving homophobic tweets posted on a Dynamo supporters group's Twitter account Sunday night.

On Monday Dynamo officials met with the leadership of the Brickwall Firm, the group at the center of the controversy, and determined that the tweets were the product of a single individual whose statements did not reflect the group's collective values. Brickwall has been tasked with identifying and ejecting -- from their ranks as well as from future Dynamo matches -- the person who wrote them.

“First of all, something totally unacceptable in society has occurred,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told the Houston Chronicle. “We are condemning the comments. The leaders of the group are condemning the comments. They don’t share those values. It was an individual.

“It doesn’t paint a broad picture of members of Brickwall, our supporters groups, our fans or our community. We are going to work with the group to have the person identified and have the group take action against that individual.”

The Brickwall Firm's official account tweeted out an explicit slur towards LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan after Houston's 1-0 win over LA. A day later, Brickwall apologized for the incident in a series of tweets that underlined the isolated nature of the opinions which had been expressed.

06 May 5:05 pm

The premiere of the latest American soccer documentary comes on Wednesday, May 15 (8 pm ET on ESPNU).

It's called Abby Head On and it's about — you guessed it — US women's national team star forward Abby Wambach and her rise from high school standout to international stardom.

The film is directed by Emmy award winners Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby and it will be narrated by NFL Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood.

It will be the eighth documentary in the "Storied" series dedicated to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Wambach bypassed other college soccer powerhouses to play for the University of Florida, and the Gators overcame none other than North Carolina in the 1998 title match.

“It’s like the first biggest thing I won," Wambach says in the documentary. "I’m a romantic when it comes to stuff so I think that getting to Florida and having the storybook ending—that was the only thing I was thinking about."

04 May 12:19 pm

The force is strong today with the folks from KICKTV, who are celebrating #MayThe4thBeWithYou with a comprehensive look at the Galactic Champions League Semi Final. Check it out.

30 April 3:38 pm

With many of the title races in Europe's top leagues all but decided, we're reached the time of the year when the proverbial “silly season” cranks up in anticipation of the international transfer window's arrival this summer.

But when media reports in the club's own backyard place a past Sueño MLS winner on Spanish superpower FC Barcelona's radar, it's worth taking note.

On Tuesday, Barcelona-based publication Mundo Deportivo, citing “some Argentine media,” posted a report claiming that River Plate striker Gabriel Funes Mori is back in the Catalan club's crosshairs as a transfer target.

The Argentina-born, Texas-raised No. 9 was River Plate's leading scorer during the first half of the 2012-13 season and has been linked to Barça and other European powers like AC Milan in the past. But he first rose to prominence as the winner of the 2008 Sueño MLS competition, which earned him a spot in FC Dallas' youth academy.

That opportunity quickly led to a trial with England's Chelsea FC. While Funes Mori did not catch on with the Blues, members of River Plate's staff spotted him and both he and his twin brother Ramiro soon joined the renowned Buenos Aires club and rapidly rose through the ranks.

Funes Mori played for Argentina's U-20 side and made an appearance for the senior team in a friendly against Brazil last year, but US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann reportedly took notice of Funes Mori last winter and invited him to switch allegiance to the US.

Funes Mori turns 22 later this year and probably isn't quite the finished product yet. But if he does wind up at Barcelona, he'll be the first player with American ties to join the Blaugrana's senior squad.

29 April 3:51 pm

Does playing at home influence referees' decisions?

Answering that question may depend on which side fans are on for a given match, and what the outcome of the game is. But there is growing evidence that referees do inadvertently tip the balance in the home side's favor more often than not.

In this article from The Guardian, Sean Ingle discusses the ways in which a home crowd can help their team receive fewer cards, as well as increase injury time if the home side needs more time to get a result.

These results are not only present in English and German soccer, the countries highlighted in the article, as evidence from other sports, including the NBA, also supports the hometown bias.

Still, given the frequent complaints leveled at officials from fans of home teams, the bias isn't the sole determinant of outcome, and obviously has a larger impact on some contests than others. Furthermore, if cheering for one's team and trying to coerce favorable decisions from referees is a hallmark of attending games for fans, the article notes that the impact of fans on actually helping the team perform looks to be negligible, at least statistically.

Don't let that hold you back from heading to the stadium and cheering on your local team, though – you could help give the home team the slightest of edges.

29 April 2:43 pm

Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney can score goals. He can also do the weather.

McInerney was a guest forecaster alongside meteorologist Katie Fehlinger on CBS3 in Philadelphia on Monday and, although he wasn't as good as D.C. United's Chris Pontius, the Union youngster still delivered on the day's weather forecast as well as next Saturday's, when Philadelphia host the Seattle Sounders.

16 April 7:14 pm

Matt Besler's recent ascension to the US national team's starting lineup might just be the biggest honor of his career so far.

But having a large slab of red meat named in his honor isn't half-bad, either. 

Kansas City-area residents hungry for the beautiful game have a new place to fill up with Tuesday's opening of the Fütbol Club Eatery & Tap in Overland Park, Kan.

The region's passion for soccer has already been underlined by the wild success of Sporting KC and their beautiful Sporting Park home, and now patrons at this new establishment can further satiate themselves on Besler or Beckham burgers, Pele's Home Style Pot Roast, Mia's Hamm & Cheese or even an edamame appetizer named after retired D.C. United legend Marco Etcheverry.

Those are only a few of Fütbol Club's soccer-centric menu offerings, including a health-conscious line for young players seeking an appropriate pre-game meal.

And as you might expect, there's also an ample weekend breakfast menu – Preki's Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, anyone? – to go with live airings of English Premier League and other European matches on the place's many television screens. There's reportedly a dazzling array of jerseys and other footy memorabilia displayed on the walls as well.

So next time KC fans find themselves without a ticket for a sold-out Sporting match, they've got another appealing spot to catch the big game. 

08 April 11:29 am

Michael Bradley, the teen sensation. Michael Bradley, the coach's son. Michael Bradley, the US national team star.

Michael Bradley, the actor? It's true. Check out Bradley's chops in this add for Volkswagen's "Viva il Calcio" campaign, airing in Italy. 

03 April 1:24 pm

Consider it their very own Columbus Crew Stadium.

The Costa Rican soccer federation is set to decide on Wednesday whether to stage the Sept. 6 World Cup qualifier against the US national team at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, where the USMNT has never won, or at the newly constructed Estadio Nacional, which opened its doors in March 2011.

The artificial turf and the proximity of fans to the field and lockers have made the Estadio Saprissa a nightmare venue for the USMNT, living up to its nickname the "Monster's Cave." And the Costa Ricans know it.

PHOTOS & VIDEO: A look inside the Monster's Cave

The new Estadio Nacional, where Costa Rica have played their recent matches, was a gift by the Chinese government and features a pristine grass surface.

"I only want to confirm what I've been saying: Both stadiums are useful to the national team," said Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto in November 2012. "When we believe it's convenient, we'll use Saprissa or the National Stadium."

Especially in light of the SnowClasico victory by the USMNT — Costa Rica's protest of the match was struck down by FIFA — the Ticos want to do their best to exact some serious revenge on Jurgen Klinsmann & Co.

There's one hitch: Apparently the state of the artificial turf at Estadio Saprissa is such that it's not even clear that the Costa Rican national team players want to play on it.

Stay tuned.

USMNT at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa (last six matches)

Dec. 1, 1996 -- Costa Rica 2, USA 1
March 23, 1997 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 2
July 23, 2000 - Costa Rica 2, USA 1
Sept. 5, 2001 -- Costa Rica 2, USA 0
Oct. 8, 2005 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 0
June 3, 2009 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 1