Kick Off: Fireworks around MLS with a flurry of goals, late drama, and not a little bit of controversy
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. RSL STRIKE LATE, BUT KREIS IS LIVID
Real Salt Lake continue to lead the way in MLS, but with 10 men they left it late on Wednesday in 2-2 tie with Philadelphia. Javier Morales' stoppage-time penalty leveled the score, but it was Lovel Palmer's red card that occupied RSL head coach Jason Kreis' mind after the match: "Am I going to go here or not? I think I'm going to go here. I think it needs to be said: That referee was not ready to referee that game, in my opinion. I think he was in the wrong pool. That game was too much for what I think is a very inexperienced referee.” (Watch the highlights.)
2. TFC BLOW TWO-GOAL LEAD VS. IMPACT
Leading 3-1 after 25 minutes at home against your fiercest rivals: It’s the stuff dreams are made of for Toronto FC fans. But they’ve seen their team crumble after leading many times before. Wednesday night was no different. Montreal fought back to claim a 3-3 tie. “We also haven’t conceded three goals all season,” Ryan Nelsen said. “I'm extremely disappopinted about that. That hurts me horrendously." (WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS.)
3. CHICAGO EXTEND UNBEATEN STREAK
And just like that, the Chicago Fire -- unbeaten in 6 in the league, 9 overall -- are back in the playoff picture. Mike Magee player the creator for once, rather than scorer, as Chris Rolfe notched a late winner in a pulsating clash at Toyota Park. San Jose fought back to tie but the Fire weren’t to be denied as Dilly Duka and Chicago’s offense dazzled once more. (WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS.)
4. MARTINS THE HERO ON STRANGE DAY IN SEATTLE
Seattle dispatched struggling D.C. United 2-0, with Obafemi Martins scoring both goals to take his tally to six goals in seven starts. And Martins’ partnership with Eddie Johnson continues to develop. The night didn't start off so well, though, as the new wanding security measures at CenturyLink Field left the stadium half-full at kickoff. The delays were so severe -- as were the supporters' reactions -- that the club posted an apology on SoundersFC.com. (WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS.)
5. 'CAPS FRUSTRATE SPORTING
Sporting KC have won just once in their last five home league games, as Vancouver snatched a point at Sporting Park thanks to a moment of magic on the stroke of half time from red-hot Camilo. SKC took the lead through Aureéien Collin, but a superb free kick tied things up and left Sporting disappointed. “We talked about the last five,” Collin said. “I screamed, 'Last five. Be careful, be careful.' We weren't focused enough.” (WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS.)
6. CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE, SOCCER-STYLE
So an average of 3.8 goals were scored in five MLS games last night. Surely, the six teams in action tonight will better that to celebrate July 4th the right way! All three matches are on MLS Live this evening. First up Dallas host Chivas USA at 9 pm ET, then it’s Colorado hosting New York (9:30 pm ET), and finally LA and Columbus round out the night (10:30 pm ET).
7. BALLESTEROS, KINGSTON TO JOIN MLS?
Levante defender Segio Ballesteros has reportedly been offered a one-year deal by Chicago. Is the 37-year-old defender a good replacement for Arne Friedrich? Meanwhile, Ghanaian international Laryea Kingston is close to sealing a switch to MLS, according to Goal.com. The 32-year-old midfielder has 41 caps for the Black Stars and the Accra Hearts of Oak have agreed to let him leave his contract early. So where is he heading?
8. JUNINHO & RED BULLS CALL IT QUITS
Well, that didn’t last too long. Yesterday afternoon the New York Red Bulls and midfielder Juninho parted company, with the Brazilian never replicating his best form in a Red Bulls jersey. BigAppleSoccer.com reflects on his short spell with RBNY.
9. BEASLEY HANDED GOLD CUP CAPTAINCY
Jurgen Klisnmann included DaMarcus Beasley in his Gold Cup squad for a reason. Perhaps this was it. The only starter from the USA’s World Cup qualifying matches to be selected for the Gold Cup squad, Beasley was handed the captain’s armband for the Gold Cup campaign: “It’s always a privilege to represent your country, and to do it now as captain will be really special for me.”
10. USA RISE IN FIFA RANKINGS
Great news for the US national team today, if you care about these things. Klinsmann’s side jumped six spots to No. 22 in the latest FIFA World Rankings. A good showing in the Gold Cup would probably see the USMNT climb into the top 20. Mexico, meanwhile, fell three spots to No. 20. And in case you're wondering about the fallout from the Confederations Cup, Brazil climbed from No. 22 to No. 9, and Spain remained where they were: at No. 1.
11. USL PRO TO TULSA?
What is going on in Oklahoma right now? First the NASL and USL PRO leagues both vie to launch clubs in Oklahoma City, and now Tulsa is getting into the action. Read the last paragraph.
12. NASL SPRING TITLE DECIDED TONIGHT
Everything is on the line in US soccer’s second-tier tonight, as the San Antonio Scorpions, Carolina RailHawks and Atlanta Silverbacks can all win the Spring title. San Antonio and Carolina square off in Texas, with everything on the line. This Independence Day will be extra special for whoever triumphs.
13. UGLY SCENES IN VEGAS AS MEXICAN GIANTS CLASH
A “friendly” between Club América and Chivas Guadalajara in Las Vegas last night was anything but. First, the kickoff was delayed due to fan trouble outside the stadium. Then, during the match, two players from each side were red carded. Finally, at the whistle, fans clashed on the field at Sam Boyd Stadium. For what it's worth, Chivas won the match thanks to a late goal from Giovani Casillas. Yes, the same Giovani Casillas who was just recalled from his loan to Chivas USA.
14. CANADIAN STRIKER JACKSON TO BOURNEMOUTH?
It seems as though Canadian striker Simeon Jackson won’t have to wait long to find a new club. The 26-year-old is on Gold Cup duty with the Canucks, but after leaving Norwich City, looks like he will land with English Championship newcomers AFC Bournemouth.
15. MANCHESTER UNITED APPOINT CLUB LEGENDS AS COACHES
Who’s next? David Beckham as kit man? Roy Keane as water boy? Eric Cantona as a press officer? Maybe not yet. But Manchester United did announce that club legend Ryan Giggs will take on a player-coach role this season at Old Trafford. While former United (and Everton) defender Phil Neville is expected to become an assistant coach to David Moyes. Talk about getting the band back together.
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