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23 February 5:08 pm

You asked for it via Twitter and Facebook so here it is on MLSsoccer.com: full-length video of last night's State of the League fan forum with Commissioner Don Garber, Crew Owner Clark Hunt and Crew President & GM Mark McCullers. Press play on the video above to view Part 1, visit TheCrew.com to watch Part 2.

23 February 1:38 pm

 

For a long time, the San Jose Earthquakes were the only MLS club going with a name that dated back to the original NASL. They weren't the first to fully embrace their NASL heritage though (hat tip to the Sounders for inventing that).

But the club is making up for lost time with this year's season-ticket packages, which featuring several nods back to the disco-era Quakes of the past. Among the connections they're making to the earliest incarnation of the Earthquakes are:

  • Throwback NASL jerseys to season ticket holders who paid in full by the final home game of 2011
  • "EST. 1974" has been added below the collar on the back of the 2012 jersey
  • Ticket books include photos, like the one above, from different generations of soccer in San Jose

This is in addition to last year's dedication of the George Best Gate at Buck Shaw Stadium, which will have a monitor playing a loop of Best scoring "The Greatest Goal Ever" for 2012.

It's all good stuff but I'm partial to the old school photos on the tickets. Is there anything more retro-cool than having George Best and Johnny Moore in your hands on game day?

 

23 February 12:55 pm

Get ready for the road.

The MLS Road Trip to First Kick presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and adidas is back and bigger than ever this year, as we send two different teams of brave road-trippers up and down both coasts to celebrate First Kick and the start of the 2012 MLS season.

It all starts on Saturday in Philadelphia, where former MLS great Taylor Twellman joins me and Fox Soccer's Temryss Lane to kick off the trip in style at the Dick's Sporting Goods Brandywine location. We'll be giving away tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park and merchandise, and Taylor will take questions from the fans and sign autographs for those in attendance.

Let us know what you think and keep up with all the latest updates on the trip via Twitter as the crews travel more than 5,500 miles and do their best to keep up with all the sights and sounds along the way. You can also find complete coverage on MLSsoccer.com.

23 February 11:57 am

This is a big year for Brek Shea and the rest of the young Olympic hopefuls. So it makes sense that they are fighting tooth and nail to show coach Caleb Porter that they belong in the squad.

Shea probably doesn't have to go so hard as to get a red card in a friendly against his own club team, though. At least he snagged a goal to make up for it. Check out the highlights:

23 February 10:59 am

It took Benny Feilhaber all of about 3 minutes last night to show that he's up for preseason. Soccer's favorite all-American, New York-born, Austrian-Brazilian did his best Lance Armstrong impersonation against LA in the opening match of the 2012 Desert Diamond Cup with an outlandish bike kick goal to put the Revs up 1-0 before most of the crowd had even taken their seats. Hell of a way to start the year.

22 February 11:47 pm

Former Houston Dynamo midfield ace Stuart Holden hasn't had the easiest time since joining England's Bolton Wanderers in January of 2010. Sidelined twice by serious injuries, a broken leg and an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Holden has unfortunately become just as familiar with the inside of the rehab room as he is with the pitch.

But, as the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Or a Youtube series. Welcome to No Holden Back.

22 February 7:50 pm

According to the website of FC Nordsjælland, Michael Parkhurst has been called in to the US national team for next week's friendly against Italy. At least, I think that's what it says - I don't speak Danish, and Google Translate is only so helpful.

Anyway, Parkhurst being tabbed by Jurgen Klinsmann isn't much of a surprise, seeing as the one-time Rev put in two fairly strong showings against Panama and Venezuela last month, and the US is now paper-thin in central defense thanks to the Oguchi Onyewu injury.

Who else will join him? Here's my best guess:

GK: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

D: Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), Carlos Bocanegra (Glasgow Rangers), Timothy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)

MF: Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Danny Williams (1899 Hoffenheim), Fabian Johnson (1899 Hoffenheim), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla)

F: Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Note that this isn't my roster, just the roster I think Klinsmann will call. Also bear in mind that injuries have plagued Kyle Beckerman (recently) and Zak Whitbread (forever), otherwise the first would be a lock and the second would get a look.

The two young American-born left backs in England - Danny Potts of West Ham and Adam Henley of Blackburn Rovers - are expected to be with the youth squads of England and Wales, respectively. And neither's really ready for a spot with any full national team, anyway. Pearce, meanwhile, was pretty solid last month, and needs another look at the spot.

Up top it was a coin flip between LA's Edson Buddle and Wondolowski for the third forward slot, so I ended up going with Wondo. Hush-hush reports out of camp say that Klinsmann's staff were very happy with the San Jose man's ability to create chances - though, like the rest of us, they're still waiting for him to finish a couple.

The big omissions for me are (and will be, unless things have changed) Sacha Kljestan and Benny Feilhaber. I've said all I have to say about that elsewhere, so we'll leave it at that.

22 February 7:21 pm

It may be I'm reading too much into this quote. I'll admit it. But did Rauwshan McKenzie just take a shot at Jason Kreis?

“This is the first time that I’ve had a defensive coach,” a smiling McKenzie said on Monday after inking a deal with Chivas USA three days earlier. “It’s easy to understand what he’s talking about and he obviously helps me because he played the position when he was playing, so it’s a bit easier than having like a forward as a coach.”

The move to Chivas makes sense - McKenzie played for Real Salt Lake in 2010 while current Goats head coach Robin Fraser was an assistant under Jason Kreis. Wait, isn't Kreis a forward?

Yes, actually. Kreis has 108 career MLS goals and was the league MVP in 1999 while with the Dallas Burn. Since then, he's made a pretty successful transition to coaching (see: MLS Cup, 2009).

Back to McKenzie, though: The 6-foot-4 center back has made exactly 11 appearances in MLS, so I think it's fair to characterize his field time as "limited." And whatever else he's done as a coach, Kreis did some of that limiting. If McKenzie harbors any bitterness about his lack of minutes, his former coach probably has a role in that.

And then we have this quote about how he's enjoying not having, like, a forward as a coach. Which is interesting in part because Kreis - yes, the forward - coached the team that set the current record for fewest goals conceded in a single season.

Game on? I hope so. There can never be too many grudges in MLS, as far as I'm concerned.

22 February 6:53 pm

Before you settle in to watch tonight's LIVE, streaming pre-season games from Arizona, head over to TheCrew.com for a LIVE stream of the “State of the League” conversation from 6:00-8:00 PM with MLS Commissioner Don Garber alongside Columbus Crew Owner Clark Hunt and Crew President & GM Mark McCullers. 

Have a question the commissioner? Ask him via Twitter using the hashtag #Crew96. Make sure to follow the Columbus Crew on Twitter for further updates.

Watch the "State of the League" here.