Kick Off: Howard calls match vs. Mexico a "blockbuster"

Kick Off - Tim Howard

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A blockbuster. That’s what US national team goalkeeper Tim Howard calls tonight’s clash with Mexico just weeks removed from the rollercoaster Gold Cup final the two teams contested in which El Tri came out on top.

But today is not just any USA vs. Mexico, with Jurgen Klinsmann takes his first bow as USMNT manager. One of the surprise call-ups, DaMarcus Beasley, is bullish about what the new manager has in store: “I’m definitely sure that the era under Klinsmann is going to be a great one.”

Whatever the final result, tonight’s match promises to be entertaining if Klinsmann’s squad holds true to the manager’s plan that “we’ll take risks and put the opponent under pressure.”

One of the story lines is former Philadelphia Union defender and USMNT call-up Michael Orozco Fiscal making his return to the city where he made a surprise exit, according to him: “I'm not going to lie, it was a shock the way it all went down.”

MLSsoccer.com has a team of reporters covering the events. In case you missed it, read about how Landon Donovan felt sad for Bob Bradley, Claudio Reyna chimes in from US training, Heath Pearce talks about his surprise at being called up and a there’s also a video recap of Klinsmann’s pregame press conference.

The special occasion will be televised live by ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET) and Univisión (8:30 p.m. ET) from Lincoln Financial Field. ESPN celebrates the match by having Taylor Twellman sub for Colin Cowherd alongside Michelle Beadle for a special edition of SportsNation from Lot K at 4 p.m. ET.

A few days after unveiling their new logo, the Montreal Impact are ready to name a new coach ahead of their debut MLS season in 2012. But just hours before the announcement, it was still unclear what direction they were going: Jesse Marsch, Brian Bliss or perhaps Colin Clarke?

Well, here’s potential clue. A source tells the Montreal Gazette that the winning candidate “has some knowledge of French.” Hmmm.

The Vancouver Whitecaps snatched one potential candidate from under Montreal’s nose when they named Martin Rennie manager. He will still be very much involved in the Whitecaps’ moves despite heading back to finish the NASL season with the Carolina RailHawks. In fact, he’ll have final say on all personnel decisions in Vancouver, according to this report.

This article looks at what the hiring of Rennie means for current manager Tom Soehn, who said: “The club made a decision to bring in an aspiring coach.”

What do the players think of the unconventional move of hiring a coach before he can actually take over? "It's an awkward situation for all of us, including him,” says Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit.

One writer believes that Rennie may turn out to be the Scottish Arsène Wenger, more in the mold of a David Hume than a Braveheart.

Rennie and Montreal’s new coach will be able to take advantage of new technology adopted by Major League Soccer — the first of any professional sports league — to help track player health and injuries. If it goes according to plan, it will “help reduce overall time missed due to injury.”

Is an injury crisis about to derail the progress made by Sporting Kansas City after a 14-game unbeaten streak that was only snapped this past weekend? The club is thin at central defense after the latest setback.

Nothing is going to get Portland Timbers John Spencer down. He says he has the best job in MLS but admits that the ups and downs with the expansion Timbers “can make you a very negative person at times.” Nothing he can’t overcome, however. After all, he tells the story of the death threats he received and the people spitting at him when he was only 12.

If Spencer has experienced the low of the lows in soccer, Real Salt Lake’s Luis Gil is on the opposite end of the spectrum after scoring his first MLS goal last weekend. But his manager Jason Kreis believes there’s more where that came from: “Luis’ potential is skyscrapers above where he’s at right now.”

Kreis and Real Salt Lake received another dose of good news regarding another young up-and-coming prodigy, who has had his fair share of trouble with injuries because he “has never been in a first-class, top-division professional program like Real Salt Lake.”

The San Jose Earthquakes could use a spark for their attack. What better than an Italian No. 10 who has played in the Serie A? This article says he’s in for a tryout. (SPANISH)

Chivas USA say they are also in with a chance at an attacking player before the transfer window closes and that Thursday represents the deadline as to whether the deal will get done.

Here’s a rumor regarding another Italian player that may help explain the trade made by the Philadelphia Union that sent left back Jordan Harvey to Vancouver and Carlos Ruiz to Mexico. This article claims that the Union are eying a move for fullback Fabio Grosso, who is reportedly close to an exit from Serie A side Juventus. (ITALIAN)

Here’s a name to keep in mind if you’re a Union fan: Frank Tweneboa. He’s a 20-year-old native of Ghana who has slept in train stations to pursue his dream of playing for the Union. He’s also a former New York Red Bulls Under-23 player, according to this report.

Speaking of the Red Bulls, their recent Bundesliga signing, goalkeeper Frank Rost, will miss Saturday’s match against the Chicago Fire, which opens the door again for Bouna Coundoul.

Another New York team is in the news. The New York Cosmos announced that their plan to be part of Major League Soccer means they will be forego their Cosmos Academy West program.

In addition to USA vs. Mexico later tonight, there are a slew of internationals on this fixture date even without the England vs. Netherlands matchup cancelled due to London riots. Germany take on Brazil (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes) and France face Chile (5 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes). ESPN3.com and FoxSoccer.tv feature other matches online.

In the Under-20 World Cup, yesterday’s second-round matches set up the first two quarterfinals featuring Mexico vs. Colombia and Argentina vs. Portugal. Hosts Colombia needed extra time to down Costa Rica, while Portugal got past Guatemala on penalty kicks. Today ESPNU will showcase two more second-round matches with Spain vs. Korea (5:45 p.m. ET, ESPNU) and Brazil vs. Saudi Arabia (8:45 p.m ET).

Lastly, there goes Barcelona losing by three goals again. After a 4-1 loss to Guadalajara in the World Football Challenge, tack on a 3-0 loss to rivals Espanyol in the Copa Catalunya on a hat trick by French forward Thievy Bifouman. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Union’s Farfan twins undecided on US and Mexico loyalties

Ex-RSL forward Robbie Findley nets his first goal for Nottingham Forest

The latest edition of the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week


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