Kick Off: Kreis shares CCL game plan, Koke takes off

Kick Off: April 26

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Following Monday’s practice session, Real Salt Lake held a lengthy video session with the players to fine tune the game plan ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League finale against defending Mexican league champs Monterrey. (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer, Telefutura)

RSL manager Jason Kreis admits that Monterrey tore them apart in the first leg but the squad has figured out exactly what they need to do to limit the attacking options by the Mexican club on Wednesday.

This is sure to cause some debate: one local columnist in Salt Lake City says that if RSL wins the CONCACAF Champions League it will rank among the Top 10 sports stories in Utah history, but not above the 1984 national football title by BYU.

Fox Soccer broadcaster Kyle Martino says RSL should be concerned about one specific aspect of this second leg: “Having Monterrey against the wall is a very dangerous thing.” He thinks being in the driver’s seat is actually a tough position for Kreis’ men.

RSL will be hoping it does not have to resort to the tactic employed by relegation-threatened Real Zaragoza in Spain’s La Liga: Having ball kids throw multiple balls onto the field to break up plays by the opposing team.

Despite the fact that RSL holds a slight edge due to the 2-2 tie in Mexico, 85 percent of fans believe Monterrey will wind up with the CCL trophy, according to a poll on FIFA.com. (SPANISH)

CONCACAF Champions League glory is one thing but how does it compare to being featured in the Drudge Report? That was the honor bestowed on Philadelphia Union fans.

For an appetizer ahead of Wednesday’s CCL main course, D.C. United will host the New England Revolution in a U.S. Open Cup, loser-goes-home, play-in match (7:30 p.m. ET, Maryland SoccerPlex). RevolutionSoccer.net will have a live audio stream of the proceedings.

The game will be an opportunity to see MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar, who has struggled to break into the D.C. lineup this year.

Today is also the day that sees new Houston Dynamo forward Sergio Koke get on a flight from Spain to Texas after a 10-day delay due to paperwork.

While they’re celebrating in Houston, there’s sadness in Portland where one of the Timber Army’s originals passed away one day after the team’s 3-0 loss in Los Angeles.

Now a few days removed from the Steve Zakuani incident, Seattle Sounders fullback James Riley offers some perspective. He says there also “has to be consideration” given to Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan and that “we all needed to decompress ... and come back to it with somewhat of a clear mind.”

In the meantime, the debate continues about what is the appropriate suspension to be levied at Mullan. A decision is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In other disciplinary matters, Sporting Kansas City are appealing the red card suspension for new defender Aurelien Collin. They believe there was a case of mistaken identity in the referee’s decision at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

Back in Seattle, Sounders forward O’Brian White says that although he has played for Jamaica in a match, it did not prevent him from switching allegiances to Canada in the future.

The allegiances are not necessarily obvious in the Rochat family. Vancouver Whitecaps’ defender Alain Rochat wants to beat the Montreal Impact in Wednesday’s Nutrilite Canadian Championship opener to stick it to his cousins.

While American soccer fans await the final match of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, the UEFA Champions League is playing catch-up with its first leg semifinals. The hostilities begin when Schalke 04 host Manchester United (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes). South America’s Copa Libertadores kicks off its Round of 16 beginning tonight (9 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes).

For those who like a good old relegation battle, there’s the EPL match between Stoke City and Marcus Hahnemann’s Wolverhampton (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

It was a busy Monday for Americans playing overseas with numerous matches held across Europe. Here’s the American Exports rundown, which includes more Robbie Findley news.

Lastly, read about the Manchester United player who quit Twitter just two hours after signing up. Also, there’s a new Red Devils star who is joining the tweeting fray.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Rivalry between Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact has plenty of history

Will the San Jose Earthquakes be ringing in the changes?

Key NY Red Bulls player misses Monday practice with knee injury


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