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25 February 9:00 am

Last Friday, the US posted an efficient, if tentative, 1-0 win over Costa Rica to secure top spot in Group A of the U-20 CONCACAF Championship. Jose Villarreal headed home the winner in the 63rd minute to secure the three points.

The LA Galaxy youngster is increasingly showing that the hype is warranted -- provided he plays in the center rather than on the wing. "Center forward is kind of my spot," he told MLSsoccer.com after the win. 

The Americans now move on to face Canada in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 6 pm ET. The match will be broadcast on Fox Soccer. The winner will earn a spot in the U-20 world cup 

23 February 11:48 am

C’est le grand retour de l’émission Coup Franc et pour cette première de l’année (à écouter ici), nous vous avons préparé une émission spéciale présentant la saison 2013. L’équipe livre ses impressions sur les grandes tendances à venir :

  • Les favoris de la compétition
  • Les surprises (bonnes et mauvaises)
  • Les nouveaux venus à surveiller
  • Les meilleurs joueurs désignés
  • Les hommes qui vont sortir de l’ombre
  • Les bons et mauvais coups de l’hiver et ceux à venir
  • Le LA Galaxy est-il beaucoup plus faible que l’an dernier ?
  • San José va-t-il confirmer sa bonne saison 2012 ?
  • Quelle équipe canadienne sera la mieux classée ?
  • Et de nombreux autres sujets, aussi sérieux que farfelus !

Le tout bien entendu en fonction de l’état des troupes au moment de l’enregistrement (le vendredi 22 février)… pendant lequel cinq transferts ont été officialisés… et ça risque de bouger encore pas mal dans les prochains jours !

Pour cette première, nous recevons également un invité prestigieux, Jérôme de Bontin, directeur général des New York Red Bulls. Il parle évidemment des ambitions de son club pour la saison à venir et à long terme, mais évoque aussi les conditions de son arrivée en MLS, la situation particulière d’un club à New York, les contraintes du plafond salarial ou encore les relations entre les dirigeants et les arbitres.

Rejoignez aussi l’équipe des animateurs de l’émission Coup Franc sur leur nouvelle page Facebook.

L'émission Coup Franc est disponible sur Stitcher et iTunes. Vous pouvez nous joindre par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS).

22 February 5:33 pm

In true Friday fashion - we take a look at this week's community stories from around the League. You can tell the season is fast-approaching as teams begin to host their annual kick-off luncheons and other community events to get fans excited about Opening Weekend - we sure are.  Here are this week's highlights:

Philadelphia Union Foundation Cocktails and Cleats event sold out

Timbers players and fans get together for third annual Kick-off Luncheon

Crew, UNC looking forward to honoring Urso on Sunday

Whitecaps visit BC Children's Hospital

Seattle Sounders 4th Annual Sounders FC Kickoff Luncheon

Former Timbers intern goes back to old job: MLB pitcher

Columbus - Orlando: Day Thirteen

Muchas Gracias De Todo Corazon

For more community news from around the League, visit the MLS WORKS news section.

22 February 5:27 pm

Nothing like a little pitch and catch after a tough training session.

Yesterday we kicked it with the Crew for a little bit, and today we met up with Graham Zusi and Sporting KC for a special outing for the native for the native Floridian.

The Atlanta Braves hold their Spring Training here each season and today they took on the reigning American League champion Detroit Tigers.

The man chosen to throw out the first pitch? None other than Mr. Zusi. After the kid lit up practice with his feet, Zusi (along with Benny Feilhaber, Chance Myers and C.J. Sapong) busted out the leather to get the arm loose before he took the mound at Champions Stadium. Here's about how serious we got:

Finally, it was time to hop in the golf cart, get showered up and prepare for The Biggest Moment Of Graham Zusi's Adult Life a couple hundred yards away. We entered the stadium, walked down the tunnel, waited, then waited some more, talked about the Sandlot for a while before they called Zusi's name. The only real disappointment was that we didn't get any 'Enter Sandman' over the PA.

Oh, and as for the pitch itself? Well, at least he didn't hang it.

22 February 2:39 pm

Leading into MLS's first-ever Jersey Week, we asked fans to turn to art for inspiration. To give fans an avenue to express their passion for their local clubs, we launched a contest called #TrueColors, following on the heels of our partnership project with the Futbol Artist Network (FAN)

Fans were encouraged to create a piece of art that would demonstrate their passion for their team using their favorite Club’s color scheme. After receiving lots of entries, we have randomly selected a winner. He has certainly embraced the spirit of the campaign and some serious enthusiasm for the upcoming 2013 season.  

Congrats to Javier Peino, who won the official MLS 2013 jersey of his choice. Any guesses what jersey he'll pick? A preview of his artwork is pictured above, and you can see the full image by clicking the Instagram link below. 

Here's a look at a couple others we really enjoyed:

Joanne, D.C. United
Jake, Seattle Sounders 
F
rank, Montreal Impact
O
rlando, LA Galaxy

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest, your submissions were fantastic!

22 February 1:09 pm

Ce week-end est certes le dernier de février mais surtout le dernier avant la reprise du championnat. Ce sera l’occasion d’une répétition générale sous forme de match amical pour l’ensemble des 19 clubs de MLS.

La finale du tournoi d’Orlando opposera deux équipes que l’on dit plus fortes que l’an dernier : Montréal, qui n’a enregistré que deux transferts entrants, et Columbus, dont le PDG rêve de Coupe MLS. En matchs de classement, Philadelphie, qui a déjà laissé partir trois joueurs acquis durant l’hiver, se mesurera à Kansas City, où Josh Gardner compte relancer sa carrière, alors que DC United, qui espère voir Pontius rétabli pour le début de la compétition, affrontera Toronto où les jours de Frings semblent comptés.

Autre joueur à l’avenir incertain, Christian Tiffert, de Seattle, adversaire en finale du tournoi de Tucson de Salt Lake, qui vient d’attirer le jeune attaquant colombien Olmes García. Le club de l’Utah voit aussi s’en aller Jonny Steele vers New York, adversaire dans l’autre match du jour de New England où l’on attend beaucoup d’Andrew Farrell, premier choix du dernier SuperDraft.

À la Carolina Challenge Cup, le club hôte, Charleston, rencontrera Houston dont le dernier renfort en date, Andrew Driver, est prêt à faire le sale boulot. De son côté, Chicago, qui salue les progrès accomplis sur phases arrêtées, se mesurera à Vancouver où Nigel Reo-Coker a signé pour quatre ans.

AIK sera l’adversaire de Portland, où les blessures s'accumulent, devant son public pour clore son tournoi où l’on observera aussi attentivement le duel entre San José, privé de plusieurs forces vives à l’attaque, et Dallas, qui s’est suffisamment renforcé cet hiver pour viser le haut du classement.

Seules trois équipes ne participent pas aux quatre tournois d’avant-saison. Chivas USA, où les éloges pleuvent sur Chelis, se mesurera au LA Blues. Colorado, qui a radicalement changé de visage en quelques mois, est en Californie pour y affronter dès ce soir le LA Galaxy où Bruce Arena explique qu’on ne voit pas la valeur d’une équipe durant la préparation mais seulement quand la compétition commence.

21 February 9:41 pm

The year was 2008. 

Alejandro Moreno was heading to a team dinner on the eve of another road match. Suddenly, a request. 

ESPN, the network broadcasting tomorrow's match, wanted to speak to Mr. Moreno. 

Flush with excitement and perhaps a nerve or two--this was ESPN, after all--Moreno strode into the meeting room with the producers and broadcast talent, ready to speak clearly and candidly about the next day's match. He was going to knock this interview out of the park. 

That is, until he found out he was only serving as a translater. For his strike partner, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. What a bummer. 

Still, Moreno sucked it up and sat in the interview room for nearly two hours, orchestrating a conversation between the two parties. He didn't have to stay, it wasn't his job, but he did it anyway. 

Three years later, Moreno's phone is ringing. It's ESPN, and they want to speak with him again. This time, however, it's because they want to offer him a job. Turns out being a good sport and choosing to stay in that interview room was a good call, after all.  

Speaking in front of the 2013 version of the Columbus Crew, this was Moreno's lesson. Interviews and media obligations might not always seem like fun, but if you approach each one with a professionalism and a positive attitude, they can pay big dividends in the end, even after you're done playing. 

Moreno's insight was just a part of a two-hour discussion on the ins-and-outs of dealing with the media in MLS, led by Dan Courtemanche, Will Kuhns and Gabriel Gabor. The training sessions have been utilized by 12 teams during this preseason as a way to make sure their players are sharp when they step outside the white lines. 

For the young players, the information was new, and likely more thorough than they anticipated. For seasoned vets like Danny O'Rourke and Chad Marshall, the session served more as a refresher before the start of the campaign. These guys literally do hundreds of interviews a year, so it's good to be reminded of some key principles: 

Mainly, show your personality, never lie, be a good person and stay away from doing things like this:

And of course, don't get yourselves in a situation like this, either:

21 February 8:16 pm

There's been a bit of a hullabaloo about Landon Donovan's Wednesday night talk with a USC sports journalism class, which based on the transcripts from some intrepid student journalists, sound like some of his most candid public comments since, well, The Beckham Experiment.

Now, there is some video to go along with some of the quotes floating around, recently posted by Donovan's agent, Richard Motzkin, on his Twitter account. Take a look for yourself:

Yes, he actually said it. But if/when Jurgen Klinsmann will call him in is another matter entirely, but we know Donovan, when on form, should be a shoo-in for the USMNT.

When do you think Klinsmann will call the USA's all-time leading scorer back in? Will Donovan make the difference in World Cup qualifying? Have any other burning Landon-related thoughts? Chime in below!

21 February 6:46 pm

All soccer specific stadiums are beautiful. Even ones that have the camera on the wrong side.

Check out Louisville's planned soccer specific stadium here. It's pretty great - it really is.

The one issue is that, if the mock-ups are accurate, the camera will be pointing toward the "open" end instead of the filled grandstand. That's a shame, because it absolutely will take something away from the TV broadcast/online stream.

But hey, they're all beautiful. Even when the camera's fixed on the wrong part.

21 February 5:13 pm

It's that time again. If you haven't already, head over the MLSsoccer.com Fantasy home page and create a team.

Once you've done that, sign up for the ExtraTime Radio league using the code below and battle for prizes (yet to be determined, but suggestions welcome in the comments section below) against your friends while you try to one up the guys from the show.