Kick Off: Sporting KC open stadium to rave reviews, PK controversy

Kick Off - LIVESTRONG Sporting Park fans

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Fans were sipping champagne at this soccer tailgate.

It was a momentous occasion in Kansas City soccer history as the doors of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park were opened on Thursday night. MLSsoccer.com has all the best coverage from the event: from a time lapse of the stadium opening to an exclusive interview with Chad Ochocinco (VIDEO).

As far as the match between Sporting and the Chicago Fire was concerned, Sporting Kansas City perhaps didn’t get the home calls they may have been expecting. Watch the full match highlights here.

After goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was shown red, 10-man Sporting had a chance in the box with four minutes to go but a reckless tackle on forward Omar Bravo was not punished with a penalty kick call by the referee. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes was beside himself after the match: “It was 100 percent a PK … I’m extremely upset for the organization, the fans and our team.”

There was a goal scored in the match and it was converted by a someone dressed in a spotted cow suit. For this and for news of the Weimaraner roaming around LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, check this article.

More news out of Kansas City. With Sporting KC’s Craig Rocastle, Roger Espinoza and Stephane Auvray missing to international duty, local press were wondering if it’s time for a summer break. Here’s what MLS commissioner Don Garber had to say about it: “We are very close to doing something about the season.”

MLS action continues tonight with the nationally televised match between the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution (8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). The Red Bulls, who have five ties and one loss in their last six games, are not necessarily all toeing the party line. Austin da Luz says he’s “sick of tying games” and Thierry Henry says “we need to win,” while manager Hans Backe is perfectly content with draws given the numerous player absences: “I would be happy if we perform OK and pick up some tie games.”

What are the Revolution concerned about? In the words of manager Steve Nicol: “Possession. Absolutely. Aye.”

Tonight's match will mark a reunion for Frenchman Didier Domi and his compatriot Henry in New York. They’ve known each other since they were 15 and Domi tells the story of how Henry left him tickets for the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil.

So it turns out Columbus Crew forward Andres Mendoza also broke his wrist during the midweek match against Real Salt Lake but that’s the least of his troubles. Manager Robert Warzycha and technical director Brian Bliss both have admonished Mendoza for his attitude toward the fans: “Somewhere there is a tipping point. I'm not sure where it is, but I'm sure we're getting close."

It’s “back to basics” in Vancouver as they prepare for a match at Qwest Field against the Seattle Sounders (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). The Whitecaps are hoping that this Cascadia rivalry match gives them “a result to turn around our season.”

Among the Sounders, they’re quick to point out that this match-up does not carry the same kind of “venom” as the series against the Portland Timbers. Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller draws comparisons with derby matches around Europe.

With three goals in his last two games, many are expecting Philadelphia Union forward Danny Mwanga to once again be a difference maker for his club as they get set to host Real Salt Lake on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).

On the eve of the match, the Union coaching staff is still getting dogged with questions about "Candy Gate" in which three players were fined for missing a team flight in order to stop at an airport candy store. Mwanga was reportedly in that group.

When the LA Galaxy host Toronto FC (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), they will have to do it without their Gold Cup absentees as well as Brazilian midfielder Juninho. It led manager Bruce Arena to say: “That's life, you know? What are you going to do? I think brides in Brazil like June weddings.”

The Portland Timbers are taking it easy on No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick Darlington Nagbe, who’s been hampered by a groin injury. As they get set to welcome the Colorado Rapids on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), manager John Spencer says “we just don’t want to push him too much.”

Geoff Cameron agrees with teammate Brian Ching about what the Houston Dynamo are lacking this year: “killer instinct.” We’ll see if they get it back when they host Chivas USA on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).

Mexico’s dominating 5-0 Gold Cup win against Cuba Thursday night will not be enough to rid them of the specter of a new doping scandal to rock El Tri. Meanwhile, El Salvador had three points in the bag but allowed a stoppage time goal to Costa Rica for a 1-1 tie in Charlotte, N.C.

Have a laugh at the expense of this Charlotte-based reporter who does his share of clowning around while interviewing fans at Bank of America Stadium including one who says “We bring more fans than the [NFL] Panthers!” (VIDEO)

As the USA and Canada hold their final practice at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Group B continues play tonight at Florida International University in Miami. Jamaica faces Guatemala (6:30 p.m. ET, Telefutura) while Honduras are expected to get the win against Grenada (9 p.m. ET, Galavision).

There’s another Mexican squad, the Under-22 squad, that is preparing to face Venezuela tomorrow at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Chivas USA forward Alejandro Moreno is listed in the vinotinto’s squad. (SPANISH)

In other international soccer news, the New York Cosmos may not be part of MLS quite yet but they are going where no MLS club has gone before. To Old Trafford for a match against Manchester United in the Paul Scholes testimonial on August 5.

Staying in Europe, FC Brugges midfielder Junior Diaz is reportedly contemplating a move to Major League Soccer. (DUTCH)

A Brazilian forward is being linked with an arrival to Major League Soccer. His name is Fernandão and although reports indicate Palmeiras are interested in him, he apparently wants to be in the USA for the sake of his family. (PORTUGUESE)

Gary Neville was in the USA for the sake of promoting the Manchester United match against the Chicago Fire. So he threw out the first pitch at yesterday’s Chicago White Sox game and nearly took out three ladies in the process. (VIDEO)

Another world champion in soccer was crowned on Thursday in Los Angeles. Only here a 16-year-old came away with the only prize and $20,000 in cash.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

El Salvador await CONCACAF’s decision on Mexico doping results

Pair of University of Virginia strikers are on trial in Sweden

Four days with Robin Fraser: Part three in the video series


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