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04 April 1:56 pm

This ex-soccer player could perhaps rival the star of the cult Dos Equis commercials as the "most interesting man in the world."

German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel is now an international scout for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, yet his playing career, which included a stint with current MLS outfit the Vancouver Whitecaps, wasn’t quite as conventional.

He was signed by 25 teams in 13 countries and to date is the only professional to have played in all six of FIFA’s confederations.

He was declared dead while on the pitch when playing for Bradford Park Avenue and was also locked up in a Singapore jail. He has spent five days in an igloo in a German ski resort, during which his antics were streamed live over the internet. He was also, believe it or not, a member of the "crazy gang" at Wimbledon and was stripped naked by Vinnie Jones and his teammates during a jog through London on a cold November morning in his first few days with the club.

Pfannenstiel spent time playing in North America with Vancouver in 2007, making four appearances, while also turning out for the Calgary Mustangs in 2004.

His title as an international scout for Hoffenheim means that current US national team players Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and U-23 player Joe Gyau are all know to the eccentric German.

If those three have careers half as interesting as Pfannenstiel's, then we are all in for a real treat.

Stay thirsty my friends.

04 April 1:49 pm

You've never seen dancing like this in MLS. Trust us.

Two of the most noticeable celebrations from the weekend featured D.C. United's Maicon Santos and New York's Mehdi Ballouchy getting down in front of the home fans.

Let us know who you think has the best moves on the poll below.

04 April 1:42 pm

TORREÓN, Mexico – Toronto FC's hotel on the eve of the Canadian club's CONCACAF semifinal second leg against Santos Laguna was a scene of tranquility.

Only one state police car waited outside, watching on.

The legions of fans that Aron Winter was expecting to be chanting, banging drums and keeping the players awake throughout the night did not turn up and the Reds arrival was decidedly low key.

Not that it should lull the Canadian club into a false sense of security, as could be witnessed when I reported the above via Twitter last night.  

“The hell will be tomorrow … we don't need to disturb them today,” responded Santos fan Braulio Rodríguez.

Fellow Guerrero Nick Simonis summed up the mood: “Don't you know … it's the calm before the storm.”

A sellout is likely at the Estadio Corona, with 25,000 tickets sold by yesterday afternoon, the Santos Laguna press office confirmed to MLSsoccer.com.

On-form US striker Herculez Gomez – fast becoming a legend in Torreón, according to locals – did his bit to promote the game yesterday, teaming up with Santos Laguna teammate Marc Crosas to buy and then give out 100 tickets to local fans.

Around town this morning, there are plenty of green-and-white Santos Laguna shirts and a sense of excitement is building, with los Guerreros and their fans determined to reach the Club World Cup.

Toronto FC, on the other hand, have already achieved more than most expected by reaching this stage of the competition.  

Is a surprise in store? We'll find out a little later, but at least the Toronto boys go into the game after a good night's sleep.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.

04 April 1:28 pm

The visiting supporters were out in force this past weekend in MLS and they made themselves heard.

There were Montreal Impact fans that made noise at Red Bull Arena. We heard the "Chicago Fire" chants at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. And the San Jose Earthquakes fans were seen on the match broadcast living it up as the Quakes hushed the 38,000 in Seattle with a 1-0 road win.

But arguably no traveling group had a better time than Real Salt Lake's. They were stuck in a corner at JELD-WEN FIELD but relished that epic RSL comeback in Portland.

04 April 12:14 pm

Ah, un déplacement à Santos Laguna, le cœur rempli d’espoir. Parlez-en aux supporters de Montréal ou de Seattle, ils peuvent en témoigner, et ils savent pertinemment bien comment les rêves peuvent se transformer en désillusion.

Dans l’obligation de gagner ou de marquer au moins deux buts à Torreon pour la demi-finale retour de la Ligue des champions, le Toronto FC ne part certainement pas favori. Cela n’empêche pas Aron Winter, qui garde la composition de son équipe secrète, de faire preuve de confiance.

Suite à un match aller houleux qui a engendré les suspensions de Koevermans, Mares et Quintero, les Torontois s’attendent à une réception hostile. Les joueurs du TFC ont déjà leur tactique en tête : rester groupés, laisser centrer et ne pas offrir d’espaces.

Sera-ce suffisant ? Tout indique qu’on vivra encore une soirée de folie à Torreon. Reste à savoir au bénéfice de qui… Dans l’autre demi-finale, Monterrey, vainqueur 3-0 à l’aller contre les Pumas de l’Unam, a déjà pris option sur la qualification.

N’oubliez pas non plus qu’il y a deux matchs de MLS en ce milieu de semaine. Ce mercredi soir, Salt Lake reçoit Montréal dans un affrontement a priori disproportionné, alors que demain, New England tentera de confirmer sa bonne forme actuelle à Dallas.

LIGUE DES CHAMPIONS
Mercredi 4 avril
20h00 : Santos Laguna (Mex) - Toronto (Can) (1-1)
22h00 : Pumas Unam (Mex) - Monterrey (Mex) (0-3)

MLS
Mercredi 4 avril

21h00 : Salt Lake - Montréal
Jeudi 5 avril
20h30 : Dallas - New England

Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Horaire télé des matchs de Ligue des champions et de  MLS

03 April 5:16 pm

Une récupération de balle, des gestes décisifs effectués dans l’axe du jeu entre la ligne médiane et le grand rectangle adverse, et en quelques passes, c’est but ! Ce scénario vous est familier si vous avez regardé les résumés de la semaine.

Plus du tiers des 26 buts ont été inscrits lors d’une reconversion offensive rapide (alors que la moyenne en MLS tourne autour de un sur sept). Sept d’entre eux ont été bâtis dans l’axe, autant dans ce que les techniciens appellent la « zone 2 ».

Si l’origine de nombreux buts est semblable, leurs auteurs ont eu le mérite de varier les plaisirs. Notons la demi-volée de De Leon (DC United) contre Dallas, l’effort individuel du Montréalais Mapp à New York, le tir en pivot d’Henry dans le même match, la tête de Sapong (Kansas City) à Chivas USA ou encore Keane qui passe derrière les défenseurs de New England.

Quelques reconversions rapides ont aussi été facilitées par une erreur adverse, dont ont profité Perez (Dallas) ou le montréalais Nyassi. Sans oublier le but d’Anor (Columbus) à Toronto, qui regroupe presque tous les éléments évoqués dans ce texte (d’où mon choix de vidéo).

Autre fait notable de cette quatrième journée : hormis les trois penaltys, aucun but n’a été inscrit sur phase arrêtée !

02 April 5:05 pm

The nice thing about age-group soccer is that another chance to make good is always right around the corner.

For the US, that means shifting focus from the failure of the U-23s to the next crop of U-20s. Or as I'll be referring to them in my head, "Luis Gil's Group."

The Real Salt Lake youngster is by far the most experienced player in Tab Ramos' squad, announced by US Soccer on Monday, which also includes three other MLSers: Jack McBean of the LA Galaxy; Jonathan Top of FC Dallas; and Victor Pineda of the Chicago Fire.

Here's the whole squad, courtesy of US soccer:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Pomona, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (9): Christian Dean (California; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Bryan Gallego (Akron; Kinnelon, N.J.), Jordan McCrary (North Carolina; Marietta, Ga.), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Jeffrey Payeras (LA Galaxy Academy; Hawthorne, Calif.), Derek Vogel (Pateadores; Long Beach, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Seth Casiple (California; Rocklin, Calif.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)

FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Ethan Decker (New York Red Bulls Academy; Manahawkin, N.J.), Daniel Garcia (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), James Rogers (New Mexico; Salt Lake City), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas)

One player not on the list? Charles Renken. The 18-year-old midfielder is still settling in with the Portland Timbers, seeing action in reserve games and regular run in practice. But apparently he's not ready for the U-20s quite yet.

 

02 April 2:36 pm

Luke Rodgers may not be a Red Bull, but he hasn't lost his scoring touch.

Just days after New York terminated the English striker's contract by mutual consent, the result of a rejected visa appeal, Rodgers popped up on the scoresheet for his new team, Norwegian side Lillestrom.

Rodgers came on as a substitute and headed home a loose ball in front of net to put his new club up 2-1 in the 78th minute. Rosenborg scored an equalizer in the 90th minute, but it was still a shining start for the former Red Bulls talisman. And who knows, Rodgers may end up back in New York sooner than anyone thinks.

02 April 2:17 pm

After being subbed off at halftime against the New England Revolution on Saturday, it appears superstar LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham is no longer worthy of a full 90-minute performance. I don't know, man. Ask Bruce Arena about it.

But no matter how LA are doing on the field, one thing remains clear: Beckham is still in the conversation for "Dreamiest Man in MLS." I dare you not to get lost in those eyes.

And don't worry if you can't, because you are not alone. Apparently the poor people at Burger King can't manage it either. Or at least that's what this new commercial would have us believe.

In reality, I'm skeptical that one could remain smitten by a man who says "smoovie." But it's still a funny ad, and Beckham is still a dashingly handsome man. Seriously, just look at the guy...

02 April 12:04 pm

Le triplé de Thierry Henry, Kansas City qui poursuit sa course en tête, un premier point pour Philadelphie et une nouvelle défaite du LA Galaxy ont marqué la quatrième journée de compétition.

Vainqueur à Chivas USA (grâce à un nouveau but dans lequel était impliqué Graham Zusi), Kansas City est désormais seul à compter le maximum des points. Un départ en fanfare qui n’émeut toutefois pas l’entraîneur Peter Vermes.

Victorieux à Seattle grâce à la ruse de Lenhart, San José confirme son bon début de saison, et mène la poursuite en compagnie de Salt Lake, qui a fait la différence en fin de match à Portland, et Colorado, où Rivero a réussi ses débuts.

Vancouver n’a toujours pas encaissé mais est resté muet à Philadelphie, offrant un premier point à l’Union. Du coup, Toronto, également en panne offensive, reste seul dernier, avec toutefois un match de moins.

Cela va mieux à DC United, qui a battu Dallas, remportant son premier succès depuis le 25 septembre. En revanche, le LA Galaxy ne fait plus peur et a été battu chez lui par New England.

Pour leur premier déplacement en groupe, les supporters de Montréal ont espéré 45 minutes à New York, avant de voir le milieu de terrain local s’ajuster en deuxième mi-temps, posant les bases d’une victoire aux chiffres sévères.

LES RÉSULTATS
DC United - Dallas
Toronto - Columbus
New York - Montréal
Philadelphie - Vancouver
Seattle - San José
Portland - Salt Lake
LA Galaxy - New England
Colorado - Chicago
Chivas USA - Kansas City

4-1
0-1
5-2
0-0
0-1
2-3
1-3
2-0
0-1
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo