Kick Off: Sounders venture into the unknown in CCL

Kick Off - Jeff Parke

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The Seattle Sounders want to make a much better impression in their second run at the CONCACAF Champions League after last year’s last-place finish in the group stage. The adventure starts with a match against Guatemala’s Comunicaciones tonight at CenturyLink Field (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer).

Comunica who? "I haven't heard about them or know too much about them, so it's a bit difficult," Sounders defender Jeff Parke told the Seattle Times in light of the fact that the players have had just two days to prepare for the match.

If there’s one team who knows what a lack of preparation can mean in this competition it’s the LA Galaxy, who host Honduran champs Motagua at the Home Depot Center tonight (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer tape delayed at midnight ET). Manager Bruce Arena watched his team lose 4-1 at home to the Puerto Rico Islanders in the preliminary stage last year as he juggled All-Star duties. At the end of this article he looks back on last year: “I should have basically ignored the whole All-Star Game thing and had our team more ready for that game.”

New DP forward Robbie Keane will not be suiting up for LA against Motagua after the club announced his acquisition only yesterday. But what do other MLS managers think of the Galaxy’s move? Watch the New England Revolution’s Steve Nicol on this ESPN.com Press Pass video: “The rich are getting richer and the strong are getting stronger. It’s tough to compete with that.” (VIDEO)

Now that Keane has put pen to paper on a Galaxy contract, the next story becomes the fate of Juan Pablo Ángel, who has a DP contract but only three goals to show for it. Chivas USA’s part-owner, Antonio Cué, says: “I heard [Ángel] is available. … Hopefully, we’ll know by Thursday.”

Ángel’s old club, the New York Red Bulls, are teetering on the brink of the playoffs with nine matches left in the season. That position leads one ESPN.com writer to project how failure to make the postseason would transform RBNY into the biggest flop in American soccer history.

No flops here. FC Dallas winger Brek Shea could turn into the youngest MVP in league history at the rate he’s playing. He’s performed well enough to attract significant European interest, according to his agent, including from the English Premier League.

The defending Western Conference champions have reportedly made a move for a defender which has yet to be announced. Found out who he is here.

Meanwhile, yesterday the San Jose Earthquakes did not acquire just any old forward in Ecuadorean Edmundo Zura: He celebrates his goals by donning a Spider-Man mask. He’s also auditioning for a potential Designated Player contract at season’s end.

The Philadelphia Union’s Freddy Adu, who made his team debut over the weekend, is known for his attacking qualities but there’s one area of his game he needs to get better at according to his former coach at Rizespor: “He has to work on his defensive soccer. He is weak at that.”

Just because the transfer window has closed, doesn’t mean that acquisitions of players of the likes of Adu can’t continue. Out-of-contract players are fair game, including the likes of Owen Hargreaves, who is still being pursued by the Vancouver Whitecaps, according to reports in Vancouver.

Outbound transfers are also possible. Like the one being rumored in the Dutch press involving FC Twente, who are in action today in the UEFA Champions League. Bryan Ruiz’s possible departure from the Dutch club to the EPL is rumored to open the door for the arrival of Chicago Fire midfielder Marco Pappa. (SPANISH)

In Kansas City, they’re hoping that influential central defender Aurélien Collin recovers from a back injury in time for his Sept. 28 bobblehead night. Turns out Omar Bravo is suspended for his bobblehead night on Wednesday night vs. Portland.

Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear is not going to make it easy on fantasy players this weekend. He’s promised to shuffle the starting lineup with a road match on Wednesday and a home game against Real Salt Lake on the weekend.

Fantasy soccer is still the rage in Europe where teams continue to wheel and deal ahead of the close of the European transfer window just 15 days away. The action also involves US captain Carlos Bocanegra, who is reportedly being pursued by Scottish champions Rangers.

After suffering a preliminary round elimination, Rangers will not be involved in the UEFA Champions League playoffs which begin today. The most interesting match has Arsenal going up against Udinese (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes). Other live action includes FC Twente vs. Benfica (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

A former member of the Americans abroad legion, Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller, chimes in on the debate about the merits of playoffs vs. the regular season: “I would love to win the Supporters' Shield, because winning the Supporters' Shield for me is winning the league.”

Mohawks are all the rage in MLS right now. From Eric Hassli to Joel Lindpere, everyone’s doing it. But few can compare with the one sported by LA Galaxy right back Sean Franklin. David Beckham has even complimented him on the hairdo the Galaxy locker simply calls “The Sean Franklin.”

Lastly, in case you missed Ray Hudson’s call of David Villa’s goal against Real Madrid, it’s worth a listen or a read (transcript included).

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Grading the moves by MLS clubs during the summer international transfer window

Bouna Coundoul likely to return as the No. 1 goalkeeper for Red Bulls

Mohawks in MLS: Hairdo has roots with MLS legend


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