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06 April 12:51 de la tarde

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

With the exception of Shaquille O'Neal – known to some as the Big Aristotle – pro athletes are not necessarily known for their smarts. Leave it to the Swedish to shatter our worldview.

A new study by Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet on the cognitive function of top-tier soccer players in Sweden reveals that they are way smarter than we are. As a matter of fact, the 29 players tested combined for an average score in the top five percent of all participants.

My immediate reaction is that these results are skewed: I assume everyone who lives in Sweden is smart, attractive and interesting. But apparently even by that lofty standard, these soccer players are at the top of the heap, because they also scored better than guys in the lower divisions.

So now the people who are in much better shape than us are also better at using their brains. Ladies and gentlemen, we are truly, desperately in trouble.

06 April 12:26 de la tarde

Après le match avancé de ce jeudi, toutes les rencontres de cette fin de semaine pascale se joueront samedi. Sept duels au programme, avec un menu très alléchant…

L’autoritaire meneur, Kansas City, recevra un LA Galaxy malade (mais qui affirme ne pas douter) à la peine cette saison face à des adversaires qui font le jeu. Que pourra faire le champion en titre devant les caméras d’ESPN contre un adversaire qui sait désormais faire preuve de sang froid ?

Auteurs d’un excellent début de saison, Salt Lake (dont l’entraîneur est pourtant insatisfait) et Colorado se retrouveront dans l’Utah pour le choc des Rocheuses qui mettra aux prises deux équipes habituées à marquer en fin de match. Le duel des bonnes surprises du début de compétition verra San José recevoir Vancouver, qui n’a toujours pas encaissé de but.

Contre Seattle, DC United tentera de confirmer son regain de forme à domicile, alors que New York ira à Columbus (direct Univision Deportes) dans l’espoir de grappiller ses premiers points en déplacement.

En bas de classement, le duel Montréal – Toronto sera celui de la plus grande rivalité canadienne (direct TSN et RDS), mais aussi des deux déçus du milieu de semaine, toujours en quête d’une première victoire

LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Déjà joué
Dallas - New England 1-0
Samedi 7 avril
12h00 : Montréal - Toronto
15h00 : Columbus - New York
16h00 : Kansas City - LA Galaxy
19h00 : San José - Vancouver
19h30 : DC United - Seattle
21h00 : Salt Lake - Colorado
22h30 : Portland - Chivas USA

Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv

05 April 7:50 de la tarde

Not many MLS players are the focus of a documentary, let alone lend their first name to the film's title.

Kei Kamara is one of the few (only?) to have that honor. Copper Pot Pictures chronicled his return to Sierra Leone for a Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and life in general for a short documentary called KEI.

In the filmmaker's own words:

KEI is a short documentary about Kei Kamara, a forward for Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City. Set against Kei's return to his native Sierra Leone for a critical match with his national team, the film relives Kei's epic journey from refugee to soccer star.

Check out the trailer below, and visit the official website for more information and additional clips.

05 April 6:08 de la tarde

How does a 5-foot-9 goalkeeper last for 13 seasons in MLS and remain one of the best in the league? Footwork and athleticism are among the many reasons for Nick Rimando's continued success, and both are on full display in this little clip I shot Wednesday night at Rio Tinto.

In super slow motion, he almost looks like a volleyball player (or better yet, one of his beloved Lakers) soaring through the air for a spike or a dunk.

05 April 11:47 de la mañana

Ah, rentrer au vestiaire à Santos Laguna avec, à la mi-temps, de grands espoirs de qualification historique… Après Montréal et Seattle, Toronto a vécu l’enfer de Torreon, s’effondrant après la pause pour repartir avec un cinglant 6-2 dans les valises.

Tout avait bien commencé pour les hommes d’Aron Winter, qui ont mené à la marque deux fois… Jusqu’à ce que Santos Laguna se réveille. “Ils étaient bien organisés, mais quand on l’a décidé, on a marqué”, disent ainsi les Mexicains qui aiment être poussés dans leurs derniers retranchements.

Une fois de plus, offensivement, le TFC a répondu à l’attente, mais sa défense a péché. Un but encaissé dans les arrêts de jeu de la première mi-temps, deux penaltys concédés au retour de la pause et le match était plié.

Désormais, Toronto doit se concentrer sur la MLS, et rattraper son mauvais départ dès ce samedi à Montréal. Ce sera face à un adversaire lui aussi battu ce mercredi, 1-0 à Salt Lake. Il faut se fier aux occasions, et non aux statistiques, pour voir que l’Impact a souffert dans l’Utah, contre des joueurs locaux mécontents de leur prestation.

Quant à Santos Laguna, il disputera la finale de la Ligue des champions contre Monterrey, qui a assuré l’essentiel sur le terrain des Pumas de l’Unam (1-1 après son succès 3-0 à l’aller).

04 April 6:31 de la tarde

In recent weeks, MLS has been putting it's money where it's mouth is, so to speak. The MLS Disciplinary Committee has been dishing out punishments after the fact for violent tackles and simulation.

It's come down hard on embelishment, too.

In my book, there are different forms of embellishment. There is embellishment that is used -- and, really, necessary -- to alert the referee that you have been fouled. This is the type of thing you see when, say, a faster player gets around a slower defender and is impeded. It might not be enough contact to bring a player down, but it is enough to stymie the attacker.

WATCH: Cruz and Benitez battle for possession

Unfortunately, refs are reluctant to blow the whistle in this scenario, thereby actually punishing the attacker. In many of these instances, the attacker will embellish the effect of the contact, making sure the referee recognizes that there was a foul. I'm okay with this kind of embelishment.  

I'm not okay with embellishment that is meant to con the referee into thinking a foul has taken place when it hasn't or a foul is worse than it really is. For examples, check out Danny Cruz's shameful writhing after being elbowed by Jair Benitez in D.C.'s win over Dallas last weekend. Or Alvaro Fernandez's histrionics a few weeks ago against Houston. It's sophomoric stuff, and both players were rightly fined for it.

It's also nice to see that at least one of the players involved isn't throwing a hissy fit about being sanctioned for his actions.

"There are different perspectives on soccer in the world," Fernandez told The Seattle Times this week. "So where I'm from, down in South America, we work on getting an advantage out of every situation that we can -- no matter what that is. It's not looked upon badly. Here it is looked upon badly. It's not a bad thing, it is what it is, and I just have to adapt to the league."

Well said.

04 April 6:13 de la tarde

With NBC Sports continuing their great coverage of MLS for the first time in their history, check out the awesome "All Rise" promo video below.

Make sure you tune into their next nationally televised game between Philadelphia and Columbus at 3:30pm on Saturday April 14.

Hands up if your enjoying the coverage so far…..oh I see David Beckham is a fan of the production on NBC Sports!

04 April 1:56 de la tarde

This ex-soccer player could perhaps rival the star of the cult Dos Equis commercials as the "most interesting man in the world."

German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel is now an international scout for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, yet his playing career, which included a stint with current MLS outfit the Vancouver Whitecaps, wasn’t quite as conventional.

He was signed by 25 teams in 13 countries and to date is the only professional to have played in all six of FIFA’s confederations.

He was declared dead while on the pitch when playing for Bradford Park Avenue and was also locked up in a Singapore jail. He has spent five days in an igloo in a German ski resort, during which his antics were streamed live over the internet. He was also, believe it or not, a member of the "crazy gang" at Wimbledon and was stripped naked by Vinnie Jones and his teammates during a jog through London on a cold November morning in his first few days with the club.

Pfannenstiel spent time playing in North America with Vancouver in 2007, making four appearances, while also turning out for the Calgary Mustangs in 2004.

His title as an international scout for Hoffenheim means that current US national team players Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and U-23 player Joe Gyau are all know to the eccentric German.

If those three have careers half as interesting as Pfannenstiel's, then we are all in for a real treat.

Stay thirsty my friends.

04 April 1:49 de la tarde

You've never seen dancing like this in MLS. Trust us.

Two of the most noticeable celebrations from the weekend featured D.C. United's Maicon Santos and New York's Mehdi Ballouchy getting down in front of the home fans.

Let us know who you think has the best moves on the poll below.

04 April 1:42 de la tarde

TORREÓN, Mexico – Toronto FC's hotel on the eve of the Canadian club's CONCACAF semifinal second leg against Santos Laguna was a scene of tranquility.

Only one state police car waited outside, watching on.

The legions of fans that Aron Winter was expecting to be chanting, banging drums and keeping the players awake throughout the night did not turn up and the Reds arrival was decidedly low key.

Not that it should lull the Canadian club into a false sense of security, as could be witnessed when I reported the above via Twitter last night.  

“The hell will be tomorrow … we don't need to disturb them today,” responded Santos fan Braulio Rodríguez.

Fellow Guerrero Nick Simonis summed up the mood: “Don't you know … it's the calm before the storm.”

A sellout is likely at the Estadio Corona, with 25,000 tickets sold by yesterday afternoon, the Santos Laguna press office confirmed to MLSsoccer.com.

On-form US striker Herculez Gomez – fast becoming a legend in Torreón, according to locals – did his bit to promote the game yesterday, teaming up with Santos Laguna teammate Marc Crosas to buy and then give out 100 tickets to local fans.

Around town this morning, there are plenty of green-and-white Santos Laguna shirts and a sense of excitement is building, with los Guerreros and their fans determined to reach the Club World Cup.

Toronto FC, on the other hand, have already achieved more than most expected by reaching this stage of the competition.  

Is a surprise in store? We'll find out a little later, but at least the Toronto boys go into the game after a good night's sleep.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.