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10 March 12:17 am

First Kick is all about new beginnings, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew. For Joe Cannon and the Whitecaps it's about erasing a rough debut season in MLS and moving forward with a new coach, new players and a new outlook.

It's also about performance, at least in the short term. According to Cannon, tomorrow's match against the expansion Impact won't be about the final score but about how Vancouver plays the game. That may be true for the players but something tells be that the fans wouldn't mind seeing a result as well.

09 March 8:45 pm

It was the night before First Kick and all through the land,

MLS season previews were being put in our hands.

Jimmy Conrad, Steve Nicol and Simon Borg's preview was fair

And you can't wait for what fruit tomorrow will bare.

 

Sorry, but I can't help but sing right now. Too excited about tomorrow.

09 March 5:10 pm

Are you a fan of Major League Soccer? Do you have two X chromosomes? If you answered yes to both of those questions -- or you're just curious -- head over to the new Women United Football Club website, which has been getting some buzz on Twitter today after launching and appears to be a legitimately awesome gathering place for MLS fans of the fairer sex.

I would attempt to put the concept into words but surely the site's founders can do a better job, so I'll leave that to them:

"In America and abroad, MLS has scores of female soccer fans, but there is little in the way of communities or reporting to serve them. We're changing that in 2012. This is a place where women of all ages who are MLS fans can meet, mingle and blog about their thoughts. Join us as we get to experience the thrills and spills of pro soccer in a whole new way!"

Love the concept. Love the design of the website. Love that some of the founders hail from Kansas City (Midwest represent!).

And even though myself and all the rest of the XY chromosomers out there aren't the target audience, I'm glad female MLS fans have a sweet place to come together online. It's the least they deserve.

09 March 4:12 pm

C’est ce samedi que sera donné le coup d’envoi de la saison 2012 de la MLS. Sur le coup de 18h00 (HE), tous les yeux seront rivés sur Vancouver, où Montréal fera ses débuts dans la compétition. Un duel 100% canadien (diffusé en direct sur TSN et RDS) très attendu : d’un côté, des Whitecaps très francophones (Rochat, Hassli, Le Toux) qui ont surtout transféré une pléthore d’attaquants durant l’hiver ; de l’autre, l’Impact qui aura à cœur de prouver que la défaite 3-0 en préparation contre son ancien adversaire en D2 n’était qu’un accident de parcours.

Autre match très attendu en soirée, celui qui opposera le LA Galaxy et le Real Salt Lake, deux des grands favoris à la conquête du titre. Le tenant de la Coupe MLS n’a pas perdu chez lui en 2011 et son dernier faux pas à domicile remonte au 5 juillet dernier (0-0 contre Seattle). Mais sera-t-il remis des efforts consentis en milieu de semaine en Ligue des champions ?

Dimanche, la rencontre Dallas – New York marquera les débuts de la MLS sur NBC Sports Network. Si les New Yorkais sont bien cotés par les ordinateurs, beaucoup d’observateurs doutent de la bande à Thierry Henry, qui s’était toutefois imposée deux fois au Pizza Hut Park la saison dernière. Plus tard dans l’après-midi, Galavision retransmettra un duel qui s’annonce chaud entre Chivas USA et le finaliste malheureux de la dernière Coupe MLS, Houston.

La première journée de compétition prendra exceptionnellement fin lundi, avec Portland – Philadelphie (direct ESPN / ESPN Deportes). La Timbers Army espère que ses favoris, qui restent sur 171 minutes sans but à domicile, marqueront rapidement contre l’Union, qui a fini 2011 avec 200 minutes sans trouver le fond des filets en déplacement.

LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Samedi 10 mars
18h00 : Vancouver – Montréal
18h00 : Colorado – Columbus
19h30 : DC United – Kansas City
22h30 : San José – New England
22h30 : LA Galaxy – Salt Lake

Dimanche 11 mars
15h00 : Dallas – New York
19h00 : Chivas – Houston

Lundi 12 mars
21h30 : Portland – Philadelphie

Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux

08 March 8:35 pm

Photo Courtesy of NESN.com/SeattlePi.com

First Kick is right around the corner, but apparently so is March Madness.

I know, it kind of snuck up on me, but the Big 12 kicked off their conference tournament on Wednesday. I'm less interested in that than I am in the uniforms that Baylor debuted in their opening game today, an 82-74 win over Kansas State.

Baylor's jerseys are, apparently, "lime green." But am I the only one who sees an uncanny resemblance to the Seattle Sounders' "Electricity" jerseys?

I can't be. That's straight up the same color. Can someone please tell me I'm not crazy?

08 March 8:13 pm

Needless to say, Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League games were exciting.

Perhaps even more so because of the nearly unprecedented attendance. Between the two CCL matches, 71,001 fans showed up. That's an average of 35,500.

By comparison, UEFA's four Champions League games this week averaged 49,776.25. That includes 75,632 fans who packed the Nou Camp in an attendance figure nearly as ridiculous at Barcelona's 7-1 destruction of Bayer Leverkusen.

Take what you will from it, but it's fair to say that the bar for CCL matches hosted by MLS teams has been raised.

08 March 4:01 pm

More predictions today from FIFA 12. Not only is it one of the greatest time-sucks/soccer video games ever created but it is also a predictor of Golden Boot winners.

According to EA Sports the game "predicted that Galaxy striker Robbie Keane will win the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot, awarded to the top goal scorer at the end of the regular season. EA SPORTS has predicted Keane will score 19 goals this season."

19 for Keane? It's catchy and it rhymes, so why not.

Here's a look at how FIFA 12 predicts the rest of the race will play out. Personally, I'm wondering if Juan Agudelo will get 10 starts in 2012 let alone 10 goals.

08 March 12:50 pm

Frankie Hejduk is a legend in Columbus. His eight years playing for the Crew, including captaining them to the 2008 MLS Cup title, made him a fan favorite. (Drinking beers in the parking lot with the diehard supporters when he was suspended for a game didn't hurt his Q rating at Crew Stadium either.)

Now, after he finished his career with the LA Galaxy last year, it looks like the Crew might abide the dude again.

“There’s some Crew players that just resonate,” Crew President and GM Mark McCullers told The Columbus Dispatch recently. “Brian McBride still resonates. Frankie resonates and that certainly has value for us. I would love to have Frankie in the organization." 

08 March 12:44 pm

At the beginning of every season every outlet under the sun makes their predictions as to who will lift the Philip F. Anschutz trophy at the end of the year. For ages this has been the domain of both professional & amateur soccer journos, TV pundits and sports radio personalities. You can now add video games to the list.

Yes, even inanimate objects are experts now...kind of.

Using the latest version of their best-selling FIFA soccer franchise, the minds at EA Sports were able to predict who they think will take home the hardware in 2012. And guess what? They're thinking repeat as they've got the Galaxy pegged to do it all over again.

To come to this conclusion, EA Sports simulated the entire 2012 MLS regular season, testing all 19 clubs under the same conditions they will face in the months ahead to determine that the LA Galaxy will finish first overall in the 34-game regular season with a league record 75 points, posting a 22-9-3 win-draw-loss record. This would see the Galaxy completing a record-setting regular season and winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the third straight year.  No team has ever finished first three consecutive MLS seasons.

Here's how FIFA 12 predicted the tables would turn out for both the Eastern and Western conferences this year. Where does your club land?

So go on Galaxy-haters, start sharpening those knives and yelling about big-market bias. Just aim your anger squarely in the direction of your game console, not 420 Fifth Ave.

08 March 12:12 pm

Les deux rencontres de Ligue des champions impliquant des clubs de MLS ont a été riches en spectacle ce mercredi soir. Avec des scores serrés, le suspense reste intégral pour les quarts de finale retour.

Devant une foule record au Centre Rogers, le Toronto FC a pris un départ canon, profitant d’une des faiblesses défensives du LA Galaxy, les corners, pour ouvrir la marque tôt dans la rencontre. On ne jouait pas depuis 20 minutes que le jeune Luis Silva punissait une défense californienne pas encore dans son match pour faire 2-0. Les détenteurs de la dernière Coupe MLS mettaient ensuite la machine en route et réduisaient l’écart à 2-1 avant la pause.

Lors d’une seconde période spectaculaire, Beckham et ses partenaires poussaient de plus en plus vers l’égalisation. Plus Torsten Frings, auteur d’un grand match, peinait physiquement, plus la défense locale pliait. Elle a fini par rompre dans les derniers instants, sur un corner de Beckham que Donovan a propulsé au fond des filets (score final 2-2 - voir le résumé en vidéo).

À peine la rencontre terminée, les yeux étaient rivés sur Seattle où Santos Laguna semblait à prendre. Rapidement, les Sounders ont ouvert la marque et ils semblaient en mesure d’accentuer leur avance. Mais en fin de première période, les Mexicains ont haussé le rythme, puis égalisé méritoirement à l’heure de jeu. Leur joie fut de courte durée : quelques instants plus tard, Evans offrait la victoire 2-1 à Seattle. Un résultat dont les deux équipes ont semblé se satisfaire.

Mardi, le choc 100% mexicain a été remporté par Monterrey, qui s’est imposé 1-3 à Morelia. Ce jeudi soir, Metapan a causé la surprise en battant les Pumas de l’Unam 2-1. Les quarts de finale retour se joueront la semaine prochaine.