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12 March 1:55 pm

Last Thursday our new weekly MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager show "Starting Lineup" kicked off. We'll be back again to give you another episode this week and every week from here on out. MLS Experts Jason Saghini and Andrew Wiebe will be answering some of your questions, so if you're having trouble figuring out who to start, who to pick up, who to drop or just a general question about the game let us know. We're here to talk fantasy soccer, plain and simple!

As the season picks up, you'll want to get as much insight as possible so that you can field your optimal team each round. Who will be sitting out due to suspensions? What will happen with this player now that he has been traded? And the popular question this week -- Will Obafemi Martins be available to pick up before the rosters lock for Round 3? And if so, how much will he cost? We'll be answering that and several others, so tune in and check it out this Thursday on MLSsoccer.com.

Post your questions in the comments section below or tweet them to @MLSFantasy, the offical MLS twitter account for all things FS:M related. And if for some reason you missed the first episode of the Starting Lineup last week check it out above.

12 March 11:02 am

Oh, yes, this is good. This is very, very good. 

We already knew FC Dallas had the slow jams on lock, we know now they do commercials, too. 

For just four easy payments of $19.99, you can be the proud owner of the FCD 4-4-2 Orange Obliteration System, ridding your life of the mess that comes from crushing the orange. Unbeatable value. 

MLS on TV: Where to watch CONCACAF Champions League and Rivalry Week action in Week 3

11 March 7:27 pm

Missed the weekend action? Couldn't watch all the matches? Get your fill with a weekend edition of the Smorgasborg:

CANADIAN SWEEP: It was one of the main themes of the weekend as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto all won. But is it just a coincidence that the three Canadian teams have won all of their matches thus far in 2013 (except for Toronto, who lost to fellow Canadian side Vancouver on opening weekend)?

Here's an attempt at an explanation: One common thread that runs through all three teams is that they feature an above-average number of starters with experience playing outside the US and Canada. This past weekend, Vancouver fielded an MLS-high nine of 10 starting field players who have spent time abroad while Toronto and Montreal are right behind with eight of 10 starting field players. The league average for players with overseas seasoning in a single MLS starting lineup: 5.

COOL MOVE: Jay DeMerit, the Vancouver Whitecaps captain who suffered an Achilles injury last week, led his team out of the tunnel on against the Columbus Crew. On crutches.

LINEUP QUESTION: A second look at Colorado Rapids midfielder Kevin Harbottle doesn't convince me that he brings more to the table wide left than second-year player Tony Cascio. This Colorado team, which has played well over 180 minutes, needs a player who can knife through a defense, cause havoc and especially shoot on goal. Harbottle has a single shot (none on frame) in two matches.

KEY INJURIES: Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni pulled up lame after nine minutes with a left hamstring strain. Eddie Gaven apparently rolled his ankle in Crew training and wasn't on the squad. D.C.'s John Thorrington is getting an MRI on his knee and Fire manager Frank Klopas revealed that Chris Rolfe has a muscle issue that is affecting his knee.

GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: It's the point of view that only a former player can share. After Mastroeni left the match, Altitude color analyst and US soccer legend Marcelo Balboa: "Been there, done that. You start digging your hand in right underneath the glute where the hamstring attaches becuase you just want to see if it's tight." His best line came five minutes later when he impressed upon viewers the need for players to stick to their assignment when asked to guard the post on a corner kick: "You do not leave the post. ... I'm going to go back to my Top Gun. Don't leave your wingman."

DEFENSIVE GAFFES: These three defenders may very well be in the running for Defender of the Year by the time the season ends, but the Crew's Gláuber (Kenny Miller's goal), FC Dallas center back George John (Oswaldo Minda's strike) and Sporting's Matt Besler (Robert Earnshaw's first) all had plays that could be in the running for Gaffe of the Year this weekend.

GOALKEEPER FOLLIES: The defenders are not the only ones who should be put under the microscope. Goalkeepers have had their share of mishaps. One week after an error by backup 'keeper Steward Ceus cost the Rapids big time, first-string 'keeper Matt Pickens made a killer error of his own on the Union's first goal. Crew netminder Andy Gruenebaum was caught way off his line on the Goal of the Week candidate from Daigo Kobayashi. And Philadelphia's Zac MacMath probably should have reacted better to Jamie Smith's equalizer in Colorado.

BOSTOCK RISING: After his showing against Sporting Kansas City, some will be wondering what the San Jose Earthquakes were thinking not signing Englishman John Bostock when they had him in camp earlier this preseason, especially given the Quakes' relationship with Tottenham Hotspur. Toronto were most dangerous on Saturday when Bostock was creating on the right flank.

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO SKC?: After two seasons finishing tops in the Eastern Conference, has a bit of complacency snuck in at Sporting KC? How else to explain the opening first half in Philadelphia (Week 1) and then in Toronto (Week 2)? Road fatigue could also be cited as one factor or perhaps the new players inserted in the lineup have taken that edge off a team that was known for its bite, pressure and harassing of opponents.

REMEMBER ME?: In just two games, Sporting Kansas City Designated Player Claudio Bieler has shown why he's DP quality: two shots on goals and two goals to show for them. The truth is that Bieler has been fairly invisible in both of Sporting's matches. In fact, after the halftime break he only had four passes and a throw-in to his name before his 77th-minute goal and that's when Sporting's pressure was its greatest.

Although his continuing adaptation to MLS may be at play, we may eventually figre out that he's a forward who needs another attacker playing closer to him. Perhaps in a 4-4-2? His goal vs. Toronto where he connected with C.J. Sapong on a flick header looked to be a very natural movement for him.

HEARD ON THE FIELD: We got a glimpse at some of the communication challenges that Chivas USA may be facing as goalkeeper Dan Kennedy set up his wall and attempted to grab the attention of teammate Tristan Bowen. Check the MLS LIVE broadcast at minute 21:07. "Tristan! Tristan! Right. … Not you! Tristan!"

OLD MAN JOEL: Match broadcasts are a wealth of information. From the NBC Sports Network broadcast, you learned that Joel Lindpere's girlfriend thinks "he runs like an old man" and he admits it (it's the truth). But even more entertaining is the nugget that the Chicago midfielder never leaves home without his trusted tennis ball which he "takes everywhere he goes just to roll on his back." We need some more information about that one.

CREAM RISES: Big, bad San Jose defender Víctor Bernárdez is a fan of Vick's vapor rub. It's that mentholatum cream that some players wear on their jersey to help their breathing. But did the Boss need an entire jar vs. Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls?

NOT GOAL OF THE WEEK: The prize goes to Chivas USA's Miller Bolaños in the 49th minute against FC Dallas. It's one of the weakest attempts you'll see at goal on a 1-v-1.

THE REAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: The media voted for the guy who got two goals. But Robert Earnshaw's match for Toronto doesn't stand next to Kenny Miller's performance for Vancouver. He was the impact player of the week with his runs, his passing and his chasing. The 'Caps captain was buzzing. And it's perhaps time for those of us who criticized him after his dismal 2012 to eat our words.

MR. UNDERRATED: While Miller will get his due over the course of 2013, Montreal left back Jeb Brovsky may be one of the most underrated players in MLS. He plays his position effectively with excellent technique, stamina and passing. He should be getting plenty more plaudits than merely for his humanitarian efforts.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Tip of the cap to the Vancouver Whitecaps who put on a show for their fans in their win against the Columbus Crew. The one criticism: They made life extra hard on themselves by conceding an inordinate number of free kicks to ever-dangerous Crew playmaker Federico Higuaín.

WHO KNEW MLS HAD ITS OWN BATMAN: The UniMas broadcast crew taught us that Chivas USA defender Joaquín Velásquez is nicknamed "Murciélago," which translates to "bat" in English.

FIT TO BE UNTIED: Of the 17 matches played in MLS after two weekends, there has been just one draw: the 3-3 tie between Portland and New York.

RED ALERT: Also worth noting that there's not been a single red card shown by MLS referees after 17 league matches.

CHALK TALK: In addition to another memorable press conference, Chivas USA manager Chelís was caught by TV cameras during the match vs. FC Dallas having a passionate discussion with some fans near the bench (84:52) … during the match. Dallas broadcaster Brian Dunseth, who was on-site, says it was a prolonged discussion. Can the fan on the other side of the conversation please step up?

THE DAY PIGS FLEW: Elias' Peter Hirdt confirms that the last time Chivas USA and Toronto FC won on the same weekend was July 18, 2012, which is also the last time Toronto FC won a match. And while New England won their first MLS regular-season match at Toyota Park since July 8, 2006, RSL still can't win in D.C. (eight matches and counting).

OOPS: Both TSN and the KCWE broadcasts missed the Bieler goal. And the second half of Vancouver vs. Columbus kicked off before Sportsnet got back on the air.

RATED R: That rating is for Colorado vs. Philadelphia, specifically at 27:14 when the Union's Amobi Okugo lets Colorado's DeShorn Brown know that he thinks he took a dive: "Get the **** up. Stop doing that ****!"

TIFO TIME: The Section 8 supporters in Chicago take the cake for the best tifo of the weekend with the Phoenix rising thematic – "Chicago will rise above them all." Too bad there was no rising by the Fire on Saturday night.

MIXING AND MATCHING: Chicago's Frank Klopas is trying his best to get those Section 8 fans a goal. There was more shuffling of his forward line on Saturday to see which partnership works best. Here's what we've seen over 180 minutes: Chris Rolfe-Sherjill MacDonald (68 minutes), Chris Rolfe-Maicon Santos (87 minutes), Alex-Maicon Santos (25 minutes) and Alex-Chris Rolfe-Maicon Santos (33 minutes). Still no goals, however.

COMBINATION SENSATION: If you didn't catch the Chicago vs. New England match, it's worth the effort to get on MLS LIVE and watch the six-pass sequence put together by the New England Revolution at 55:40 in the second half. The quick combination play featuring Andrew Farrell, Juan Toja, Kellyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen resulted in a corner kick. Welcome to Revolution soccer in 2013.

JAPANESE TRADITION: MLS has featured Japanese players in the past, but Vancouver's Daigo Kobayashi is the first we've seen offer up a ceremonial bow as he came off for a 77th-minute substitution. When he reached the touchline, he turned back around facing the field and gave a subtle bow, a sign of appreciation and sportsmanship toward fans, officials and the opponent.

DOES RYAN JOHNSON NEED HELP UP TOP IN PORTLAND?: We were enthralled by the quick passing combinations of the Nagbe-Valeri-Alhassan trident in midfield during the Timbers' opener against the New York Red Bulls. But as skillful as they are, can the Timbers afford to play with all three in the 4-2-3-1 at the expense of giving Ryan Johnson more help up top? The Timbers will not be able to pass their way through everyone every weekend.

HEAD OVER HEELS: The "shimmy" seemed to be the most popular goal celebration this weekend (see the ones by FC Dallas and the New England Revolution), but the Robert Earnshaw front flip was on full show. How long before Ryan Nelsen hears the Fabián Espíndola back flip injury in 2008 and asks Earnshaw to retire the celebration?

11 March 2:48 pm

Based on this tweet, we know two things about Chicago Fire striker Quincy Amarikwa.

First, he's a multitab iPhone browser. Second, he's probably better than you at MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager.

If you're in public League 3005 or 2975, it looks like you'll be fighting for table position with a current MLS player – and probably ending up on the wrong end of that deal.

11 March 12:05 pm

Beware the vicious pine marten. This small animal, native to North Europe,  belong to the Mustelidae family -- it's related to the weasel -- generally spend their time hanging out in wooded areas and chasing squirrels along treetop branches.

But when that gets boring, it seems pine martens like to get in a little game of soccer.

On Sunday, a pine marten invaded the field in the middle of a Swiss Super League match between FC Thun and Zurich FC. Then it bit Zurich defender Loris Benito after being scooped up in an impressive diving maneuver.

The whole episode reminded us of that time the black cat invaded BMO Field in the middle of a CONCACAF Champions League match last August. An omen? Well, TFC lost the match 3-1.

 

11 March 11:04 am

Les amateurs de surprises ont été servis lors de ce week-end prolifique pour les formations canadiennes, puisque Vancouver et Montréal sont les deux seules équipes à compter six points sur six.

Après leur victoire à Seattle, les Québécois ont montré qu’ils avaient appris à gagner en déplacement et exposé d’autres progrès par rapport à la saison dernière en gagnant sur le terrain d’une séduisante équipe de Portland. Vancouver a profité des erreurs de Columbus pour s’imposer 2-1 lors d’un match riche en occasions, notamment pour Kenny Miller.

Le week-end a été parfait pour les clubs canadiens puisque Toronto a battu Kansas City, toujours 2-1. « Le chemin est encore long », prévient cependant Ryan Nelsen pendant que son vis-à-vis Peter Vermes déplore les cadeaux offerts par ses joueurs. L’autre équipe que tout le monde colle en bas de classement, Chivas USA, a aussi gagné, 3-1 contre Dallas, ce qui lui apporte de la crédibilité, selon Chelis.

Kelyn Rowe a permis à New England de gagner à Chicago, causant une des autres surprises de la journée. Avec une tactique ultra-défensive, Philadelphie s’est imposé à Colorado dans un duel entre deux équipes dont personne n’attend d’étincelles. Enfin, San José a renoué avec ses habitudes de l’an dernier, en battant New York en fin de match grâce à l’étonnant Adam Jahn qui a signé son premier contrat professionnel il y a une semaine à peine.

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

 
2-1
1-2
1-0
0-1
2-1
1-2
3-1
2-1

Classement général
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo

 

11 March 9:54 am

When José Luis Sánchez Solá speaks, you better be ready to listen. One lapse in concentration and you might miss a gem, the kind of quote reporters wait years for while muddling through coach speak and cliche-ridden commentary.

"Chelís," as Sánchez Solá is better known, has already compared his team to a fruit salad. He's likened team chemistry to a busy bee hive. The best yet may have come Sunday after his much-maligned Chivas USA side knocked off FC Dallas, 3-1, at the Home Depot Center.

Special thanks to Goal.com's Zac Lee Rigg for transcribing the full press conference, which really is a must read.

Asked about Giovani Casillas' goal and inspired substitute appearance, Chelis came up with the kind of analogy that's made Chivas USA a team even casual observers can't help but follow.

"Football rewards you. If you go into a match and you grind and grind and grind for the good of the team, at the end, it rewards you," Chelís said, before really rounding into form. "In a barrel of feces, you're grinding and grinding, you finally poke your head up to get the fresh air."

Well, that's quite the image.

Keep the quotable gold coming, Chelís. I can't be the only one on the edge of my seat, waiting for what you'll say next.

09 March 6:57 pm

Rioters in Egypt set the Egyptian soccer federation building ablaze on Saturday, the latest in a series of protests in the wake of last year's Port Said soccer riots.

According to Jeff Bradley, Egyptian national team coach Bob Bradley, who coached the US from 2007-11, is safe:

The rioters were protesting a court's ruling to acquit death sentences for 28 fans of Al-Masry SC, prompting retaliation by supporters of Cairo-based Al-Ahly that left one person dead and several dozen reportedly hospitalized.

The ruling also upheld death sentences for 21 men who were found guilty of playing a role in the murder of 79 rival fans, mostly Al-Ahly supporters. There were also riots over the original ruling in January, leaving another 21 dead.

Bradley told SI.com in February that he intends to continue as Egypt's manager through World Cup qualifying despite the adversity. The Pharaohs, who have not qualified for the World Cup since 1990, are currently atop Group G with six points from two games. They return to action on Marcy 26 vs. Zimbabwe, a game scheduled to be played in Alexandria.

08 March 11:50 am

Ce jeudi soir, le LA Galaxy est allé chercher le 0-0 dans la controverse à Herediano (résumé vidéo). Comme les deux autres clubs de MLS engagés en Ligue des champions, il sera exempt lors de cette deuxième journée de championnat, qui sera certainement riche en enseignements pour beaucoup d’autres.

Les équipes qui ont agréablement surpris la semaine dernière voudront confirmer leur bon départ. Parmi elles, Montréal se déplacera à Portland, où tout le monde encense déjà Diego Valeri. Salt Lake, avec un Plata qui ne semble pas avoir plus de 25 minutes dans les jambes, aura un déplacement tout aussi périlleux, à DC United.

Celles qui ont logiquement gagné voudront affirmer leur suprématie. Ainsi, Kansas City, emmené par un Rosell dont on a déjà pu apprécier l’intelligence de jeu, aura a priori la tâche aisée à Toronto (direct RDS2, TSN). Pour Vancouver et Columbus, la facilité contre un adversaire modeste, c’était la semaine dernière : leur confrontation directe en Colombie-Britannique devrait nous en dire plus sur leurs réelles possibilités.

Mais beaucoup sont déjà en quête de rachat après des débuts ratés. Contre New England, qui a besoin d’un stade mieux situé, Chicago, toujours privé de Pause et Friedrich, doit faire oublier la claque reçue au LA Galaxy (direct NBCSN). San José, dont Wondolowski est le seul attaquant en état de jouer, devra trouver le moyen de battre New York, privé de Juninho, devant les caméras d’ESPN et ESPN Deportes.

Les téléspectateurs d’Univision assisteront au duel Colorado - Philadelphie, le seul opposant deux équipes battues la semaine dernière, annoncé sous une neige abondante. Enfin, en direct sur Unimas, Chivas USA devra rassurer tant sur le terrain qu’en dehors face à une équipe de Dallas qui a remporté son premier match sans convaincre.

LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Samedi 9 mars
13h30 : Toronto - Kansas City
18h00 : Colorado - Philadelphie
19h00 : DC United - Salt Lake
19h30 : Chicago - New England
19h30 : Vancouver - Columbus
22h30 : Portland - Montréal
Dimanche 10 mars
17h00 : Chivas USA - Dallas
22h00 : San José - New York

Classement général
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
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