Kick Off: Keane and Claudine feel right at home at HDC

Kick Off - Robbie Keane celebration

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All eyes were on Los Angeles this weekend for the debut of the newest LA Galaxy Designated Player. And he didn’t disappoint.

Robbie Keane didn’t just deliver the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, but he also showed he's capable of delivering memorable one-liners. Take this quote from the Irishman following his debut match in which he rolled out his patented goal celebration: “Is that the first time you've seen it? I've been doing that for 14 years. You don't watch TV?”

It’s not the first time Claudine Keane has seen it, as she cheered her husband from the family box at the Home Depot Center. (PHOTOS)

Keane was not the only designated player to get on the scoring sheet. Juan Pablo Ángel, the man he replaced, also struck in his first game for Chivas USA in Colorado. Both David Beckham and Bruce Arena reacted to his goal with a diplomatic Arena pointing out how “both of our local clubs have benefited this week by the acquisition of players.”

No one was happier for the Colombian’s goal than Chivas USA manager Robin Fraser, who watched his team come back for a 2-2 road tie against the MLS Cup champs. Rapids iron man Drew Moor, who set a new record on the day, says his fellow teammates “all leave here feeling like we were defeated.”

Revs DP Milton Caraglio netted two goals and did a lot more than score as New England got out to a 2-0 lead against New York, only to watch the Red Bulls equalize late: “I’m upset,” Caraglio said. “It was an easy match.”

The two goals by Colombians Jorge Perlaza and Diego Chara, Portland’s first DP in club history, resulted in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps which had Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury serenading the two with “Viva La Colombia” after the match.

It’s clear from the atmosphere at JELD-WEN Field this year that Portland is crazy for its Timbers. But 10,000 fans at a Sunday reserve league match? That’s taking soccer fandom in America to new heights.

Meanwhile, Vancouver are still winless on the road and remain anchored to the bottom of the Western Conference with 11 fewer points than Portland. It’s not often you hear a player admit that his own teammates “play without personality.” Davide Chiumiento did not hold anything back and he blames 10 extra pounds he’s carrying for his inability to impact Saturday’s match.

This weekend was not just about Designated Players, however. Houston’s 21-year-old academy product Alex Dixon scored his first-ever MLS goal and made it a memorable one in a 3-2 stoppage time win over Real Salt Lake. It even made his mother cry in the stands.

As far as Real Salt Lake are concerned, some players may have played their way off the team if you go by the comments of manager Jason Kreis: “Quite frankly, a lot of [the players given the opportunity to play] have not gotten the job done. … There will be a lot of difficult decisions to make at the end of the season.”

Houston’s win has them further entrenched in the battle royale that the Eastern Conference has become. It was made all the more interesting when leaders Columbus downed the Philadelphia Union 2-1 with the game-winner coming on an Andrés Mendoza PK. But Union manager Peter Nowak believes it was “physically impossible to see” for the referee.

Arguably the biggest win of the weekend was Seattle’s 1-0 triumph on the road in Dallas, the club’s first-ever win in Texas. You know how they say things even out by the end of a season? That’s how Sounders manager Sigi Schmid feels given his side’s 1-0 home loss to Dallas earlier this season: “That was a game we were unfortunate to lose while tonight was a game we were fortunate to win.”

According to reports in England, Blackburn’s bid for FC Dallas central defender George John has been accepted and the Greek-American has flown across the pond for a medical today.

In addition to John, there is another defender in the crosshairs of an EPL club. Red Bulls GM and sporting director Erik Solér confirmed that Arsenal are following Tim Ream “regularly and have done for a while.”

Ream is not the only US-based player Arsenal is after. The father of 14-year-old Washington area resident Gedion Zelalem confirms that a plan is in place with Arsenal for the German-born US green-card holder to join the Arsenal set-up in January 2013.

Admitting a little bit of luck — Toronto FC struck the post twice — the Chicago Fire defeated Toronto FC on Sunday night for their first home win since … their March 26 home opener. Forward Dominic Oduro, who missed a few chances on Thursday night against D.C. United, got the game-winner: "He told me he was going to score three — he only scored one, but that's OK," manager Frank Klopas said.

Despite the loss, Toronto FC midfielder Matt Stinson still believes Chicago are “a team we should beat.”

Talk about turning up the heat. Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes brandished all of his attacking artillery in a 1-0 home win against D.C. United on Sunday that lifts Sporting to second in the East: Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong and Omar Bravo all got the start: “We’re putting teams under pressure offensively and putting teams back on their heels a little bit.”

American forwards were putting team under pressure this weekend with Jozy Altidore netting a brace in his first start, while DaMarcus Beasley and Herculez Gomez also found the back of the net in Mexico. (VIDEO)

American Brad Friedel should make his first league start for Tottenham Hotspur today as they get set to face Manchester United in the EPL Monday night football game of the week (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

At 6 p.m. ET, there’s also the annual “Trofeo Gamper,” which serves as Barcelona’s traditional unveiling to their home crowd despite the fact that they’ve already bagged a trophy this month. They face Napoli tonight (6 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes) with a European Super Cup match looming.

For those keeping tabs on the USA’s heated rival in the CONCACAF region, Mexico finished in third place at the Under-20 World Cup, just a few weeks after winning the Under-17 event on home soil.

But that’s not even the most pressing matter on the minds of Mexican soccer fans. Especially not after the drama that unfolded outside Santos Laguna's stadium, where a match against Morelia was suspended after a shootout took place. See the photos of fans taking cover as chaos erupted in the stadium. (PHOTOS)

In other international soccer news, it’s not everyday that we get to say there’s a new “highest-paid player” in world soccer. It’s a name you likely will not be expecting.

Expect a similar debate happening in Newark, N.J., to take place in other cities around the US over the course of the next several years: Did Newark bet on the wrong sport by going with a minor league baseball stadium over a soccer stadium? “Probably the best thing to do would have been a soccer stadium,” admitted the original owner of the Newark Bears.

Lastly, the video of the day comes from the Dutch second division, where FC Oss drops a home match to Almere City and the referee comes under attack by an elderly Oss fan who runs him over with his wheelchair. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Playoff Standings: The postseason picture after the latest weekend of MLS action

Tim Howard and Everton stumble in EPL opening match to promoted side

Same old story for NY Red Bulls with another set of back line miscues


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