Kick Off: Pandemonium in Portland, Becks on refs

Pandemonium. That’s what Portland Timbers players are expecting at JELD-WEN Field tonight should they get on the board against the Chicago Fire (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPNDeportes) in the club's first ever MLS home game.

Moreso than a first glimpse at renovated JELD-WEN Field, the anticipation surrounds the supporters – the Timbers Army.

New Portland Designated Player signing Diego Chará is not expected to be available for the Timbers while he awaits his paperwork to come in. But like the fans, he’s expected to be a game-changer.

In addition to tonight’s big match, there’s also a major announcement coming out of Vancouver later today.

Meanwhile, another chapter in the Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids rivalry was written last night and it was another last-gasp finish with RSL claiming a late winner for a controversial 1-0 victory. The CONCACAF Champions League finalists say they’re rewarded for their focus and concentration.

The articles out of Salt Lake City are full of praise for hard-working goal scorer Fabián Espíndola, who waited until the 93rd minute against Colorado to net his first goal of the season. However, all the reports are also quick to point out that the goal probably should not have counted.

Colorado manager Gary Smith said he hoped that the goal was not offside because it was a match that in the eyes of the Englishman “had 0-0 written all over it.”

RSL’s Canadian international Will Johnson, who wore the captain’s armband in last weekend’s victory in New England, was suspended but would have still been unavailable due to a thumb injury which the club claims was caused by field boards that are too close to the field at Gillette Stadium.

Officiating was also a topic of discussion following the 0-0 draw between Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night. Following the result, David Beckham registered another biting comment aimed at the referees, saying that “they’re becoming the stars of MLS.”

Seattle manager Sigi Schmid was talking Philadelphia Union instead of referees. He says that Peter Nowak’s side aims “to defend first” and that they’re a team that’s like a “willow”: They bend but do not break.

Here’s a comparison New York Red Bulls fans likely would rather not see: Fernando Torres, who’s mired in a scoring drought at Chelsea. However, NYRB forward Luke Rodgers predicts that just as Torres will eventually break out for “25 goals,” when it comes to the Red Bulls “sooner or later a team is going to get battered.”

The Red Bulls will need to bottle that spirit after reports indicate they have been invited to participate in the Emirates Cup, hosted by Arsenal FC during the summer at Emirates Stadium. It would mark Thierry Henry’s return to the stadium and club he called home.

The Columbus Crew are not looking back, instead aiming forward with an extension for president and GM Mark McCullers. He has a plan he outlines in this article and has a mandate to execute it.

The world got what it wanted with Real Madrid and Barcelona meeting in the semis of the UEFA Champions League. Manchester United is England’s lone hope to play in the final at Wembley but German club Schalke is their last hurdle.

The question in today’s Europa League quarterfinal second legs is whether three Portuguese teams can claim all but one of the four semifinal berths today. Benfica travels to meet PSV Eindhoven (3 p.m. ET, GolTV), while Porto is on the road at Spartak Moscow (5 p.m. ET, GolTV).

Italian giants Juventus are playing catch-up on the international front. Their long-term goals now involve establishing roots in Queens, New York with a new partnership that they hope will produce the first American to play with the Old Lady.

In other international action, there was a full slate of Mexican league action on Wednesday which saw RSL’s Champions League final opponent, Monterrey, lose heavily at Cruz Azul. American Herculez Gomez also scored again for Pachuca.

Meanwhile, here’s a Robbie Findley update for all those wondering what has come of the ex-RSL and current Nottingham Forest forward.

Findley played at Oregon State University and the state he formerly called home could be welcoming another professional soccer team to the area in due time.

Finally, because we’re all curious as to what Sporting KC forward Teal Bunbury will name his next dog, here’s an interview that spills all the details.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

He’s part man and part chainsaw: the legendary Timber Jim on ExtraTime Radio

New Timbers Designated Player Chará expected to provide Portland a lift

Houston Dynamo are linked with new star player: Spaniard Sergio Koke

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