Kick Off: Seattle, Dallas win to advance in CCL
And then there were five.
Five MLS sides in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage for the first time ever, that is.
Not that it was easy. A day after Toronto FC downed Real Estelí in Nicaragua, the Seattle Sounders hosted Panamanian side San Francisco FC at a raucous CenturyLink Field. Álvaro Fernández scored the match-winner, then set up a Nate Jaqua extra-time goal to earn Sigi Schmid's side the 2-1 aggregate victory and a place in the CCL group stage.
Seattle dominated much of the match, which led Sigi Schmid to lament his side’s finishing. But he said he’ll take the result nonetheless.
The Sounders boss might also be unimpressed with a report coming out of the Netherlands that Ajax are interested in one of his marquee players.
The marquee players didn’t show up for FC Dallas against Alianza FC, but they didn’t need to, either. With the thermometer reading 107 degrees at kickoff, road-weary Brek Shea struggled to find the game. But centerback Ugo Ihemelu knocked in a corner kick to give FCD a 1-0 win, and a 2-0 win on aggregate.
For head coach Schellas Hyndman, beating Alianza and advancing to the group stage of the CCL was “historic.”
It wasn’t all about the CCL. There was lots of MLS action on Wednesday night.
At JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Timber Joey had more than a few reasons to get his chainsaw revved up as the Timbers routed the LA Galaxy, 3-0, ending the Galaxy’s 14-game unbeaten streak.
The Timbers have struggled of late, but after this result coach John Spencer urged everyone connected with the club to “be very, very proud.”
From the Galaxy side, one of their biggest names was “embarrassed” by the result. While head coach Bruce Arena said his team was “beat all over the field.”
One of the Timbers’ LA-slayers was recently acquired Jamaican midfielder Lovel Palmer, who reveals in this story that soccer wasn’t even his favorite sport when he was growing up.
Fútbol was obviously Pável Pardo’s favorite sport, and the new Chicago Fire midfielder showed it when he scored in his debut, a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union. Not that the Mexican legend was particularly pleased.
Sporting Kansas City were more than pleased after thumping Real Salt Lake, 2-0, to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games. Most importantly for goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, they stopped doing “stupid things.”
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman might take issue with Nielsen on that point, though. Beckerman had a few choice words for SKC’s Roger Espinoza, who was ejected in the 56th minute.
RSL coach Jason Kreis, whose side has now lost two games in a row, sounded like a doomsday prognosticator after the match.
Doomsday might have been an apropos thought in Miami, where the sunny sky turned dark for FC Barcelona. The Catalan giants, who lost to Manchester United in their Herbalife World Football Challenge opener on Saturday, were thumped 4-1 by Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara in front of a record crowd on Wednesday. The star on the night was midfielder Marco Fabián, who struck two stunning goals in what he called “a dream.” Watch them here.
With the MLS season approaching the two-thirds mark, it’s time to start thinking playoffs. What are the odds the Colorado Rapids can repeat as MLS Cup champions? Not very good, according to one writer.
The rumors of Carlo Costly’s imminent arrival to MLS continue to resound, as this Honduran paper reports they saw the striker at the Houston Dynamo offices. (SPANISH)
Lastly, Jurgen Klinsmann is expected to announce on Thursday his first roster as US national team coach, set to take on Mexico next week in Philadelphia. How MLS-heavy will his side be? ESPN’s Alexi Lalas doesn't know, but he thinks MLS will have a big role in “Klinsmania.”
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