20 February 6:50 pm

Sebastian Velasquez didn't take a typical route to MLS. It doesn't appear that it will matter in the end.

Velasquez tweeted on Monday that he had been offered a contract with Real Salt Lake after being taken 36th overall in January's SuperDraft.

Needless to say, he was a little excited.

20 February 2:26 pm

Admit it: You can’t stand noobs. They’re always just a little too quick to pull out the over-the-top display of enthusiasm for whatever it is they don’t know how to do.

This week’s episode of IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia highlights the problem with newbies when Peter and Nance, an eccentric, overly eco-conscious couple played by the show’s stars Saturday Night Live mainstay Fred Armisen and indie rock veteran Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) — go to their first Portland Timbers game with a flag they designed to show their support for the team.

Yes, it is as tragic and funny as you imagine.

“It’s funny and weird because I’m not usually a sports person and I don’t live in Portland but I love Portland,” Armisen said when reached via phone last week.

“One of the things I love about it is that it reminds me of England a little bit, and the fact that they like soccer there as much as they do just makes it seem that much more vaguely European. We had to get them in the show somehow.“

He’s not saying that the wild passion of JELD-WEN Field’s section 107 is a put-on, though.

“It’s not an affectation, they really do love it,” Armisen said. “When we first met the people from the Timbers Army we knew it was a very real thing.”

Brownstein, a Washington native who now lives in Portland, testified to the region’s well-documented fervor over football.

“When I was a kid I went to Sounders games in Seattle, where I grew up, and I played soccer. I think for everyone in the Pacific Northwest it’s the obligatory sport you play.”

Like the character she plays in the episode, which airs Feb. 24 at 10 pm ET, Brownstein has yet to see the Timbers in action. 

“I haven’t been to a game [in Portland] yet, but when we shot the episode it made me want to go,“ she says. ”Portlanders are eager for communal experiences and the Timbers are perfect for that. “

“Also the singing is really great, even just at the shoot. It’s all pretty intriguing so I really want to go.”

Armisen and Brownstein aren’t the only comedy titans taken with what’s going on in JELD-WEN’s North End.

“[Saturday Night Live creator] Lorne Michaels read that article in The New York Times about them,” said Armisen, “It was funny because he was immediately fascinated by them.”

This week’s show won’t be the Portlandia debut for a few members of the TA though, as they were cast for the “Allergy Pride” sketch that aired earlier in the season.

“If you watch the parade, they’re the Soy Punks,” Armisen said. “They were perfect for it because they were so good at shouting and shouting angrily.”

19 February 4:34 pm

A little more than a year after taking the seventh-seeded Colorado Rapids to an unlikely MLS Cup victory, Gary Smith is working knockout wonders again on the other side of the Atlantic.

Smith and his new side, League One club Stevenage Borough, held Premiership visitors Tottenham to a scoreless draw on Sunday in FA Cup action, setting up a winner-take-all replay at White Hart Lane. Tim Ream and Bolton await the winner of that game. One in which Smith and Stevenage, emboldened by what was a very competent performance against Spurs, hope to push what could be a distracted Tottenham side to the limit.

“It’s quite incredible and we’ve got every chance,” Smith told ITV following the match. “They’ve got Arsenal and Manchester United soon and we might be sandwiched between them and we’ll go there with belief."

If they do manage to pull off a shock result and write their names into FA Cap lore, it will be because they managed to slow down the likes of Gareth Bale, Louie Saha and Jermain Defoe, something Smith was keenly aware of following the match.

"I thought today we prevented a tremendous Tottenham side from creating more than they are probably capable of," he told Sky Sports. "There was just a bundle of energy about the team.I thought that when that intensity dropped towards the end of both halves, the players' ideas and organisational skills to keep some very talented individuals at bay was fantastic."

Of course, Stevenage and their recently hired manager – Smith joined the cause on January 25 in a move club chairman Phil Wallace called a "different approach" – will have a much harder time containing Spurs in London, but it's still nice to see a former MLS headman giving an EPL title contender at least a temporary headache.

Added note from Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta:


19 February 4:16 pm

In their final day in Florida, the Philadelphia Union held a light practice in front of about 100 fans. While there wasn't much action in the regeneration session, four Union players put on an odd feat of strength and coordination. We present the quad-push-up.

19 February 1:16 pm

Landon Donovan's second loan stint at Everton may not have ended in storybook fashion – he missed his final game because of the flu – but that doesn't mean the LA Galaxy and US national team stalwart didn't cherish every moment he spent this winter in Toffee blue.

Donovan sat down with to talk about his month-and-a-half at Goodison Park and what the club means to him after two wildly successful loan spells at the Liverpool-based club.

And in regards to whether this is his last go-round at Everton? Donovan had this to say:

"I would approach it the same way I approach it each year when I get a call from the manager here. One, am I physically able to do it? Two, does the manager want me? Three, do I feel like I can contribute and benefit the club? I would not come back if it was just for me to have the experience, but where I couldn't benefit the team. That would do nobody any good. I have too much respect for the club, the manager and the players to do that. The expectation is very clear if I come back. If I feel I can deliver on that expectation and the club wants me I would absolutely do it. I know I will be back in the future. I just don't know if it will be as a player – I hope it is.”

18 February 9:16 pm

While everyone else in the New York area is still dealing with the last remnants of winter, the Red Bulls skipped out of town for preseason preparations in Mexico. To document the proceedings in Cancun, someone came up with the idea to give Stephen Keel a camera and let him go wild.

The result was some absolutely vintage stuff from Keel packed into four episodes of priceless footage.

Highlights in no particular order:

  • Red moustaches
  • bocce ball
  • Remember the Titans
  • Alcohol-free Piña Coladas
  • Scandinavians
  • Oblivious tourists
  • Zip lines
  • Fake English accents
  • Ball washing stations
  • Scandinavians
  • Baby fat
  • Designer sunglasses

Keel Cam Part 1 of 3

Team Bonding at Xplor - Agudelo interview

17 February 7:03 pm

If you guessed Eddie Johnson to the Seattle Sounders (in exchange for Mike Fucito & Lamar Neagle) I want to take you to Vegas AND to my local convenience store to buy lotto tickets. And guess what? A few frequenters of Seattle's Facebook page actually called it yesterday when they saw the above photo of EJ with Chris Henderson in a team training photo gallery.

Seriously Juan, Michael & Neil, call me. There is a casino out there that needs us to relieve it of its cash.


17 February 6:47 pm

The Montreal Impact pulled the trigger and used their top spot in the allocation order to pick up one-time USMNT star Eddie Johnson. But don't bet on EJ taking up French lessons just yet as it seems Jesse Marsch is using him as trade bait.

Any guesses on where he'll land?

17 February 6:00 pm


The images of freezing players in Wednesday's Zenit St. Petersburg-Benfica Champions League match would make anyone shiver.

It should also give even the biggest "European-calendar" zealot some pause. For one thing, the temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit at kick off.  For another, the field at Petrovsky Stadium was a disaster.

Maybe it all gave the Russians a home-field advantage. After all, they pulled off a 3-2 win, thanks to two goals from Roman Shirakov.

But even the Zenit hero himself came out and complained. “Should we play in such freezing cold? I don’t think so,” Shirakov said after the match. “The ball feels like a rock. You could easily break a leg.”

Break a leg? Not good.

The reality is, a game like this is not fun for anyone -- not for the coaches, not for the players, and certainly not for the fans. The conditions aren't that far off from those in, say, Toronto or New England on any given Saturday night in February. Though there would probably be more snow.

So, the question is: Would you really want to go watch games in 17-degree weather? And you, MLS player, would you want to play on that field and kick a "rock"?

Yeah, didn't think so. Neither would I.

RELATED: February in Russia: So What Did You Expect? (

17 February 4:34 pm

Con los Cuartos de Final de la Liga de Campeones de la CONCACAF a la vuelta de la esquina, la pregunta tiene que ser hecha: ¿Quién es mejor delantero: Fredy Montero de los Seattle Sounders o Hérculez Gómez de Santos Laguna?

Este par no tiene demasiado en común: uno es colombiano y el otro mexicoamericano, uno triunfa en EE.UU., el otro en México, a uno le gusta la salsa, al otro el hip-hop, etc., etc., etc.

Sin embargo, estos titanes del gol se estarán viendo las caras el 7 de marzo por la Concachampions y desde ya me tengo la duda sobre cuál de estos dos brillará con más fulgor en la serie de dos partidos que le concederá paso al equipo ganador a la semifinal del torneo regional.

Y es que a ambos jugadores les sobra la motivación. Gómez quiere sacarse la espinita que tiene con el DT de Seattle, Sigi Schmid, de quien dice que un día le aseguró que “debería escoger otra profesión”.

Por su parte, Montero quiere llevar a Seattle a la gloria internacional y, de paso, volverse a ganar un espacio en la selección Colombia, ahora liderada por José Pekerman, algo que considera que podría abrir las puertas del seleccionado al jugador emelesero de ese país.


Tenemos que esperar hasta el próximo mes para verlos en la misma cancha, pero por el momento que dicen: ¿Montero o Hérculez?