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07 March 11:41 am

Sporting News soccer scribe Brian Straus spotted it during Wednesday night's broadcast of the Tigres UANL vs. Seattle CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg.

American midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, who plays for Tigres and goes by the nickname "Gringo" in Mexico, has apparently embraced the moniker and prefers it over his actual name on the back of his jersey (photo above by Brian Straus). It dates back to his days in Pachuca, where he played from 2006-12.

Some give the move a thumbs up: Below were some of the comments on the photo that was tweeted out by the Sporting News writer.

Are you in the same camp? How do you feel about the use of the nickname on the jersey?

06 March 6:29 pm

Major League Soccer is joining Special Olympics in its efforts around the global Spread the Word to End the Word® awareness day. Today, people around the world will unite their communities to Spread the Word to End the Word, as supporters participate in the fifth annual 'Spread the Word to End the Word' awareness day, aimed at ending the hurtful use of the R-word ("retard(ed)") negatively impacting people with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD).

Special Olympics and Major League Soccer encourage people all over the word to pledge to use respectful language at the website www.R-word.org and build communities of respect and inclusion for all people.

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide.

Major League Soccer is committed to supporting the communities where we live and play our games, and to providing an environment in which our staff, clubs, players, partners and supporters are treated with dignity and respect. We will not tolerate discrimination, bias, prejudice or harassment of any kind.

Join Major League Soccer and Take the Pledge...DON'T CROSS THE LINE!

 

 

06 March 5:01 pm

The city of Orlando has quietly purchased more than $8 million of downtown real estate in recent months in the area mooted as a potential location for a new soccer-specific stadium, offering further proof of the central Florida community's strategic positioning for an MLS expansion bid.

Third-division side Orlando City SC have made no secret of their desire to someday join MLS, and the club seems to have found a willing partner in mayor Buddy Dyer, who hopes to help facilitate the development of a $110 million soccer stadium for the Lions. Some $30 million of that estimated amount would come from the club, and the rest would be provided by a mix of city, state and county funds and taxes.

READ: New investor in tow, Orlando City focus on stadium

Last week, Dyer received authorization from the city council to buy four parcels of property worth $4 million near the Amway Center, the downtown arena which is home to the NBA's Orlando Magic.

This week the Orlando Sentinel discovered, via a public-records request, that Dyer's administration had actually spent more than twice that amount overall, thanks to the acquisition of 17 more plots worth $4.3 million. Because none of those land parcels were worth more than $500,000 each, Dyer was not required to attain prior permission from the council for those purchases, but Mayor Dyer's deputy chief of staff Heather Fagan told the Sentinel that “the commissioners were briefed on potential options for future uses of the site.”

The land itself is described as “mostly vacant lots and warehouses,” in the words of the area's City Commissioner, and it adds up to an estimated three-quarters of two city blocks.

City officials refused to confirm that the land purchases are related to the stadium project, calling them only “a strategic acquisition.”

But it certainly looks like the ideal location and footprint for a downtown soccer venue.

06 March 1:31 pm

When it comes to the men in the middle, the 2013 MLS season is off to a good start, says Peter Walton, the head of the Professional Referees Association, in a new post on the PRO website Wednesday

PRO was created a year ago to assign, manage and evaluate officiating in MLS, MLS Reserve League and lower-division leagues as well as other top North American competitions like CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup.

Its stated goals: "To increase the quality of officiating in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues, develop more professional-quality officials at a younger age, and produce officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions."

Walton, a retired referee with two decades of experience overseeing matches in the English Premier League, FA Cup and elsewhere in his native country, pronounced himself pleased with the efforts of his officials over opening weekend. 

"It doesn’t seem three months since that epic MLS Cup Final in LA, but here we are at the start of another season," writes Walton. "Saturday saw the kick-off to the 18th MLS season, the first for the Professional Referee Organization. After a busy pre-season it was so important that we, the officials, got off to a good start; and from what I saw and what others have said, we did just that."

Walton also announced that PRO will be producing a "plays of the week" segment to shine a light on examples of effective refereeing practices over the course of the season. PRO also communicates with the public via its official Twitter feed, @PROreferees.

06 March 12:46 pm

Le championnat vient à peine de reprendre et les représentants de MLS sur la scène internationale n’ont pas le temps de chômer, puisque les quarts de finale aller de la Ligue des champions se jouent en ce milieu de semaine.

Tout a commencé hier à Houston, par une victoire 1-0 des Texans contre Santos Laguna (résumé vidéo). Alors qu’il avait été laissé sur le banc en début de match, Brad Davis a offert aux siens le but de la victoire à une minute de la fin. Une défaite par le plus petit écart qui n’émeut guère et n’inquiète pas plus que cela des Mexicains confiants de renverser la situation lors du match retour à Torréon.

Ce soir, Seattle sera au Mexique pour racheter sa défaite contre Montréal. La tâche ne sera pas simple pour un club qui n’a réussi à de qualifier qu’une fois sur sept lors des confrontations à élimination directe qu’il a disputées en Ligue des champions. D’autant que son adversaire, Tigres UANL, est invaincu en neuf matchs de championnat du Mexique, mais vient cependant de perdre son meilleur buteur. Coup d’envoi à 22h (HE).

Le LA Galaxy, troisième représentant de la MLS à ce stade de la compétition, affrontera demain les Costariciens du CS Herediano (20h, HE) sur leur terrain. Un déplacement que Marcelo Sarvas connaît bien et dont il se méfie particulièrement, puisqu’il a défendu les couleurs d’un club rival, Alajualense. Le Brésilien s’attend à voir un adversaire qui imposera la pression dès le coup d’envoi.

La quatrième rencontre, seule sans représentant de MLS, verra ce soir le tenant du titre Monterrey se déplacer à Xelajú (Guatemala), l’invité surprise de ces quarts de finale.

05 March 4:00 pm

Having trouble picking the right players? Need some expert advice? Well, here’s your chance to be heard.

On Thursday, MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager experts Jason Saghini and Andrew Wiebe will be answering some of your questions on MLSsoccer.com. We want to hear from you so send us your concerns and we'll do our best to answer as many as we can. If you have a question about the scoring, who to start, who to pick up or whether or not you should use your wildcard, ask us. If it's fantasy-related, we're game. We're here to help, even if all of it didn't live up to our billing in Week 1.

And remember, for daily updates on injuries, suspensions, trades and insider information follow @MLSFantasy.

To have your questions answered on Thursday, tweet it to @MLSFantasy or feel free to post them in the comments section below.

05 March 2:36 pm

As with most interviews, not everything makes it into print. That's why we've got this blog: to pass on all the fascinating tidbits that might get overlooked or swept under the rug.

With that in mind, here are some of Herculez Gomez's quotes that didn't make it into my preview of tonight's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer).

Remember, you can get your fill of CCL coverage right here at MLSsoccer.com.


On whether his teammates respect MLS...

“Let’s not mistake respect with fear. I think guys on our team respect MLS. They don’t fear MLS. Every time they play an MLS team, they definitely want to beat them and beat them bad – but not because they’re MLS. I think it has more to do with USA-Mexico and all that. But they know it’s growing. They know these players are getting better. Nobody likes to lose. At this level, we don’t play for fun. It is a job, you do get paid for this. But at the end of the day, it’s all about pride. It’s about what you want to leave behind. None of these players – the professionalism they have is off the charts – want to be known as second best.”

His reaction when told Sanots Laguna manager Pedro Caixinha favorably compared the Dynamo to a British side...

“I love that he says that and not something else. It shows the kind of respect that MLS is finding. He’s a smart guy. He’s been around the block and seen plenty of European football. And to compare MLS to European football – some might think maybe talk about the nature [of the game], the physicality – I think has a lot of merit to it. He talks about how quick paced, how exciting it is – two different styles of football kind of clashing. It will be fun for us. Fun for the fans hopefully.”

On MLS' stated goal of becoming one of the best league's in the world by 2022...

“Obviously, [MLS has] a long way to go to get to that 2022 projection. But you’ve got to start somewhere. I think they’re doing that. Today the soccer sense, the soccer IQ is definitely growing, tactically speaking.”

How MLS has improved since he left for Puebla in 2010...

“I think tactically the understanding is a lot better. You’re bringing in coaches who understand the American athlete and understand it’s a special kind of athlete. The American player is a player who will die for you. They’re willing to run through that wall for you. They just want to know why you want them to run through that wall.”

On the differences between the Dynamo's playing style and that of the majority of the teams in the Liga MX...

“It’s night and day. I think the Dynamo are a straight 4-4-2 team. Very forward, direct, physical. Set pieces are crucial for them. I don’t necessarily see them being such a possession team, but that doesn’t mean they don’t control the ball at times. It’s very different. The type of teams we play in Mexico, the majority are possession oriented. We’ve got definitely four or five teams that play direct. Very direct and very physical as well because that’s kind of what they have to do.”

05 March 1:06 pm

On l’attendait avec impatience, on a été comblé le week-end dernier. Le championnat a repris ses droits et l’équipe de Coup Franc consacre son émission hebdomadaire (à écouter ici) à cette première journée.

Pour mieux suivre nos conversations, voyez aussi :

Par ailleurs, n’oubliez pas que la Ligue des champions recommence ce soir, avec Houston - Santos Laguna.

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

04 March 7:21 pm

The Seattle Sounders will try to accomplish the improbable over the course of the next week, going up against what is arguably the best team in North America in the form of Tigres UANL in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

However, their task may now get just a little bit easier. Reports out of Mexico Monday indicate that Tigres' leading scorer, prolific Argentine striker Emanuel Villa (above) will miss four to five weeks with an injury to his left calf, meaning he is guaranteed to miss both Tigres games vs. Seattle and would be a doubt for the semifinals (set for April 2-4 and 9-11), should Tigres advance.

Villa, a proven poacher who joined Tigres from Cruz Azul in the winter transfer window, is the Liga MX's top scorer in the Clausura 2013 tournament with eight goals in eight games (the injury kept him out of the ninth round of games this weekend). That total accounts for 42.1 percent of the 19 goals Tigres have scored in the tournament.

The Sounders will still have to find a way to shut down Argentine schemer Lucas Lobos, the string-puller for Tigres' attack, while Spanish veteran Luis García and promising youngster Alan Pulido can fill in ably for Villa, but the news should still be a boost to a still-coalescing Sounders backline.

For more CONCACAF Champions League information, be sure to check out our up-to-date CCL homepage, read our primer on the CCL quarterfinals and, of course catch Seattle's game at Tigres on Wednesday at 10 pm ET on Fox Soccer.

04 March 7:04 pm

How close is Miami to joining the queue to get an MLS expansion franchise?

Maybe not as close as a recent report from Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl seemed to indicate.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee took to Twitter on Monday to address the report, which said that MLS Commissioner Don Garber had engaged in talks with the NFL club about bringing a team to South Florida. Dee said that there had been no formal discussions between the two parties, but explained that the Dolphins would "keep an open mind" about MLS:

On Monday evening, MLS released a statement regarding the situation, saying that "no formal discussions" had taken place between the league and the Dolphins.