blog

Preseason

02 March 3:33 de la tarde

De vuelta en Orlando, Fla. para el juego pretemporada entre FC Dallas y Toronto FC, me topé con Zarek Valentin, el defensa del Montreal Impact que nos compartió su alegría por la victoria que obtuvo con el equipo preolímpico de Estados Unidos sobre México en un crucial amistoso esta semana… pero ojo, se le está olvidando el español por estar aprendiendo francés.

02 March 3:05 de la tarde

I promise you this was not set up.

Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli spent today's post-practice media availability talking up his teammates as players but also citing new sense of camaraderie among the team as a reason for their impressive preseason form (they've been the best team here in Orlando, at least for my money). And then, as if on cue, this happened. It's like the soccer gods willed it to offer proof to the world that what Hassli spoke was the truth.

There's no doubt that the Whitecaps will fare better in 2012 than they did last year and that they now seem more like a team that 11 guys wearing the same colored shirt --that's the Impact's problem now. We'll just have to wait and see if their good times will roll all the way to MLS Cup.

02 March 2:00 de la tarde

Being a referee is not just a thankless job; sometimes it can be downright dangerous.  One AR found out the hard way when he became collateral damage on this rough tackle.

02 March 2:03 de la mañana

My trip down to the Disney Pro Soccer Classic has been a trip of many firsts: my first time in Orlando, my first trip to Disney. Add my first NBA game to the list as I just spent an evening with the guys from Sporting KC basking in the vertically-gifted glow of Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.

For the Sporting KC players, staff, ownership and family, it was a fun night away from the tedium of the practice field and the hotel. For me it was an opportunity to see a bit of live sport that wasn't soccer --a very rare treat-- and to catch up with a few players I hadn't seen in a while like CJ Sapong, Kei Kamara and Chance Myers. I also got to see Aurelien Collin rock a leather vest over a sleeveless shirt while wearing sneakers covered in metal spikes; who knew Mad Max had a French cousin who played centerback?

Teal Bunbury was also in the house, fresh off of the U.S. Olympic team's victory over Mexico last night in Dallas. Unfortunately for him rookie Dom Dwyer was also there to. Check out the clip above and you'll see what I mean.

01 March 6:09 de la tarde

TUCSON, Ariz. – Lionel Messi. Arjen Robben. Sebastian Velasquez?

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman made that lofty comparison of the Colombian-born, South Carolina-raised rookie attacker who has been impressing in preseason camp.

It’s that left-footed unpredictability that has Beckerman – and all of RSL – excited.

“He’s got that lefty whatever it is,” Beckerman said on Wednesday night. “I can’t pinpoint it but Messi has it, Arjen Robben. These lefties. Fabián [Espíndola] has it. They’re able to skin players.”

Not bad company for a guy who played junior college ball. But then again, not even Messi or Robben scored 55 goals over 33 games, like Velasquez did at tiny Spartanburg Methodist College.

What do you think? Is Velasquez the real deal?

29 February 7:50 de la tarde

While most of us where tuned in to the USMNT's (surprise?) win over Italy at a bar, online or on our couches, the MLS players that are here in Orlando for the Disney Pro Soccer Challenge took in the game from their hotel rooms.

While the scene played out at team hotels all over town, Kevin Ellis and Dom Dwyer's room might have been the only one with an MLS camera in it. Check out their predictions and first-half thoughts in the clip above. You'll also find out why Kevin Ellis is, also surprisingly, pro-Italia.

29 February 10:44 de la mañana

Last night was my first matchnight of the preseason and it did not disappoint with both Toronto FC and FC Dallas coming out victorious over their non-MLS opponents at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. I took particular pleasure in two things: Ryan Johnson's tough-angle goal against BK Hacken and the sight of David Ferreira back on the pitch.

While the former was pure entertainment Ferriera's return was a reminder of what FC Dallas was missing in 2011 and a warning of what they'll have in 2012. Opposition beware.

Speaking of opposition, FC Dallas' opponents for the night were local USL side Orlando City, who featured a pair of soccer siblings: Dustin (brother of Dax) McCarty Maxwell (brother of Leonard) Griffin and John (brother of Wayne) Rooney. Last night the latter was living in the shadow of his older brother as a large man in a "Rooney" Manchester United jersey sat almost immediately behind his spot on the bench in the first row of the stands. No doubt John Rooney is a big boy and his own man but that type of thing must be maddening after a while.

Back in MLS land, I had the pleasure of witnessing the Houston Dynamo staff, who were in the press box for last night's matches, absolutely dominate a half-time session of trivia game Sporcle. Steve Ralston and Dominic Kinnear not only know their soccer but baseball as well. They also have an encyclopedic memory for 1990's alternative rock that any radio DJ would be jealous of but with one exception: they didn't know the name of Lit's big hit.

But you can't fault them for that because no one remembers what Lit's big hit was.

28 February 8:43 de la tarde

Benny Feilhaber is a talented man capable of many things. Unfortunately using his left foot is not one of them.

Rookie Kelyn Rowe, on the other hand, uses his left foot better than many of us use our right hand. Watch the kid try to teach the veteran something new and grab a laugh along the way.

28 February 6:28 de la tarde

Not content with the robust stable of forwards already under their employ, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced today the signing of Maltese striker Etienne Barbara. Having registered a 20-goal season last year under Rennie while with the Carolina Railhawks, his nose for goal will be no shock to his former and current coach.

What exactly does Rennie think of his 7th (yes 7th) striker? Check out the clip above to hear what he has to say about him following today's practice in Orlando.