Kick Off: Snowed in this weekend? Mickey will save the day

If it still hasn’t hit you that the MLS season is right around the corner, that will likely change this weekend.

The Disney Pro Soccer Showcase kicks off on Saturday with six MLS teams and four quadruple headers – yes, four games in a single day – and MLSsoccer.com will be your destination for the live streams of all the group stage matches beginning tomorrow: Columbus vs. Toronto FC kicks things off at 1 pm ET (WATCH IT LIVE HERE), followed by Montreal vs. Sporting Kansas City (3 pm ET, WATCH IT LIVE HERE), Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union (6 pm ET, WATCH IT LIVE HERE) and D.C. United vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (8 pm ET, WATCH IT LIVE HERE).

Before we get to Orlando, however, the Portland Timbers wrap up their Desert Friendlies participation with a match this afternoon against FC Tucson (1 pm ET). And if you’re planning on watching the match and familiarizing yourself with some of the players, you’ll appreciate Geoffrey Arnold’s feature on Ryan Miller.

Also, in an attractive Western Conference preseason clash, Real Salt Lake will face the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy today. But it’s a closed-door scrimmage at the Home Depot Center.

On Saturday night, there will also be a live stream of the match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Chicago Fire from Santa Barbara, Calif. (9 pm ET). Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo will take on SMU at 11 am ET tomorrow, just a few hours before Chivas USA take on Gangwon FC at the Home Depot Center (2:30 pm ET).

In case you missed it, the New York Red Bulls downed Swedish side Malmö FF in a 3-2 come-from-behind win yesterday. Here’s the story of the match and you can watch the full replay here.

Toronto FC will be one of the most intriguing sides to watch this weekend as they start to take shape under new manager Ryan Nelsen. And club president Kevin Payne is not looking to put any undue pressure on his head coach in 2013: “I'm not really interested in talking about the playoffs right now. I'll talk about the process that we're trying to put in place to make our team better all day long. If we're successful in establishing that process then we will have success on the field. But we have to stop worrying about the end result before we get the process right."

USL side Orlando City will be participating in the tournament and whether it’s the US Open Cup or the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Orlando have proven tough competition. “We like to look at ourselves as the best team outside of the MLS," said midfielder Jamie Watson.

Orlando City’s expansion ambitions are no secret. But you can put Sacramento in that same camp. Elk Grove, Calif., officials say they have the ideal site to build a soccer stadium and the Feb. 27 release of a feasibility study will help shape the direction of the project.

The New York Cosmos are sure looking like an MLS team with their recent additions. Yesterday they announced the hiring of another ex-MLS player and coach with Carlos Llamosa coming on board.

Staying with the NASL: Find out which former MLS goalkeeper is leading the charge for the Virginia Cavalry, who start play in 2014.

Alert. Alert. Preseason goal prediction. They never go well, but given that this one comes from Vancouver forward Darren Mattocks, you have a feeling it’s not so far-fetched: “I’m much more comfortable up top so I think it’s going to be more goals this season,” Mattocks said. “Without injury or without cards or mishaps, I think I can get 20 goals this season.”

The Colorado Rapids’ top scorer in 2012, Colombian Jaime Castrillón, won’t be focused on goal targets for a while after it was learned he’ll be going under the knife for knee surgery. But Rapids fans can take solace that Edson Buddle is ready to get back to training.

That was fast. When it looked for a moment like we’d be hearing official news of a trial for Argentine forward Andrés Fabricio Romero, it turns out the Montreal Impact have already signed him on loan. "He's played at a very high level in Argentina and Brazil,” says Montreal sporting director Nick De Santis.

There may be another Argentine arriving right behind Romero. Toronto FC have Nicolas Alejandro Cabrera in for a trial, while the team is in Orlando. Find out more about him here. Reports in Argentina say that his previous club Gimnasia is ready to give him the all-clear to join the MLS club if he gets an offer.

Remember yesterday we told you about the potential arrival of Colombian forward Fernando Uribe from Atlético Nacional? Well, the South American club apparently has no interest in doing a loan deal which is what reportedly was offered stateside. (SPANISH)

Optimism. USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann is usually brimming with it, but the same can’t be said of the supporters. ESPN.com posted a SportsNation poll in which 50,000 fans say the US should be “very worried” about the 2-1 setback in Honduras. Find out what grade 60,000 fans gave Jurgen Klinsmann.

The Sporting News’ Brian Straus wonders whether Klinsmann can learn from his own mistakes, comparing the Honduras loss to the one suffered in Jamaica in the previous round of World Cup qualifying.

But what if the issues are deeper? In hindsight, maybe US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati was right: According to New York Daily News writer Filip Bondy, Gulati suggested the Americans may simply not be as desperate as their opponents. And it arguably showed on the field in San Pedro Sula. “I wouldn’t use the word coddled, but the experiences are different,” Gulati said.

About that Honduras trip. Outside Magazine’s Ryan O’Hanlon was there and paints a detailed matchday picture that’s definitely worth a read.

As poorly as US right back Timmy Chandler played on Wednesday, he’s going to have to be the solution at the position for now after news emerged yesterday that long-time USMNT servant Steve Cherundolo underwent left knee surgery.

One US national teamer who was in Honduras ends his week with some good news today: Sacha Kljestan extended his contract with Anderlecht through June 2016.

Five of MLS’ youngest American players will look to put their names on the international map after being called up to the US Under-20 national team qualifying squad that will be playing for a place in the U-20 World Cup.

One of the players who will not be there is Liverpool’s American Marc Pelosi. He was added to the club’s Europa League roster.

Staying in England, reports in England say that Brek Shea could be making his Stoke City debut this weekend although many thought it would have taken a few more weeks after his offseason foot surgery.

And we leave you with two quick hits by Jason Davis at KCKRS.com, where he has Vancouver Whitecaps part-owner Steve Nash pulling off some soccer juggling tricks during last night’s Lakers-Celtics NBA game. And for one last sports crossover: Hulk Hogan gives his Premier League predictions for this weekend’s EPL action, including a 40-1 score line in one match. Find out which one.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio talks to Juan Agudelo and Alexi Lalas

LA president Klein: Galaxy must lead MLS forward

The Throw-In: Lamenting what Davies could’ve been for US


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