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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. 

04 March 4:48 pm

Round 1 of the 2013 MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager season is officially in the books. Some of your favorite soccer personalities are battling it out in the ExtraTime Experts League, so here’s the run down on how they started.

TheCrew.com's Ashleigh Ignelzi (Iggy FC) was the top scorer this week in her 99-70 victory over Soccer By Ives' Ives Galarcep (SBI United). She did it with goals from Robbie Keane (captain), Álvaro Saborío, Federico Higuaín and Graham Zusi. She also managed to rack up four clean sheets from three defenders and her keeper. Ashleigh’s 99 points currently ranks her 18th among all players in FS:M.

"My first week of MLS fantasy wasn't too bad.  I expected a bit more from my midfield but I also didn't expect Seattle to lose at home or for Chicago to lose so poorly on the road. All my strikers had a great opening weekend so hopefully they keep it up and I don't make any rookie mistakes!" 

ESPN's Taylor Twellman (ThinkTaylor) and MLSsoccer.com's Jason Saghini (Newborn FC) each put up a respectable 80 points and currently sit in a tie for third place after cruising to victory lane rather easily.

The closest match of the week was between Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl (Danny Szetela’s Afro) and FoxSoccer.com's Kyle McCarthy (Undisclosed Terms), with Wahl squeaking out a 58-56 win over the New England Revolution writer.

Former league champions TV announcer Jonathan Yardley (Fort Nonsense SC) and ESPN's Max Bretos (COLOTERORITA) both lost, as did MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas (Tesla’s Revenge) and Simon Borg (Borgussia Borgmund), although Borg did put up a respectable 71 points in his 75-71 loss to ESPN's Alexi Lalas (SlurpeeRatt). Lalas had some friendly words for his fellow competitor:

"For many, taking down the Borg would be cause for celebration. I, however, see it as no more than the natural course of events and completely expected. I didn't even use Saborio and I still won. Unlike most things in Simon's life, there can be no debate over this outcome — I owned him."

Big misses from Brad Davis (captain) and Will Bruin helped MLSsoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe (Meara’s French Licks) edge out a win over me, 67-63. Although, watching Diego Valeri score one of the nicest goals of the weekend early on against the New York Red Bulls did give me a little glimmer of hope.

For all the latest news and advice regarding MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager follow @MLSFantasy.

Key Matchups in Round 2

Upset Alert in Round 2

04 March 3:10 pm

Employees from Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing took to cycling this weekend for Cycle for Survival, an indoor team cycling event that raises funds for rare cancer research. Employees participated in four cycling shifts which each lasted for one hour. Team MLS raised more than $40,000 and the event total was more than $13.5M.

In 5 days, 10 cities participated in 27 rides on 2,750 bikes engaging more than 13,000 participants.

One hundred percent of the funds raised from the event go directly to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and are allocated within six months of each event. The donations help fund the most promising research and clinical trials and have led to better treatments for cancer patients worldwide.

Since its inception in 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised over $31 million dollars for rare cancer research and funded 53 clinical trials and research studies. Cycle's direct funding has drastically reduced the time it takes for treatments to reach patients - in some cases cutting the span from years to months.

Learn more about Cycle for Survival.

Learn more about MLS WORKS.

04 March 12:44 pm

Si la logique a généralement été respectée lors de cette première journée de championnat, deux équipes ont cependant créé la sensation en déplacement : Montréal et Salt Lake, qui se sont imposés respectivement à Seattle et à San José.

Meilleure défense à domicile la saison dernière, Seattle y a été surpris par des Montréalais qui aiment la vitesse et ont affiché leur nouvelle maturité. À San José, trop isolé et mal approvisionné, Chris Wondolowski n’avait pas d’or dans les pieds, contrairement à Alvaro Saborio, auteur des deux buts de Salt Lake offerts par son nouveau compère, Joao Plata.

C’est plus la sévérité des chiffres qui a de quoi surprendre dans la raclée 4-0 infligée à Chicago par le LA Galaxy, où Mike Magee a réussi le premier triplé de sa carrière. Le match le plus spectaculaire fut sans nul doute le nul 3-3 entre Portland, où le duo Nagbe - Valeri a fait des étincelles, et New York, dont la préparation a été perturbée par les transports aériens.

Notons également le mauvais départ de Chivas, où la situation hors du terrain inquiète et qui a perdu 0-3 contre Columbus, et la victoire 2-0 que Houston a forgée à la patience contre DC United.

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

 
1-3
1-0
2-0
1-0
0-1
0-3
4-0
3-3
0-2

Classement général
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo