Kick Off: Expansion Timbers as good as mighty Red Bulls?

Kick Off - Portland Timbers, NY Red Bulls

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Yes, it’s true. The numbers don’t lie: The expansion Portland Timbers have as many points as the mighty New York Red Bulls with eight games to play in the season.

Another home game, another set piece and another victory at JELD-WEN Field, 1-0 over Chivas USA, which sees manager John Spencer’s team joins the thick of the postseason chase. Watch the highlights first and then view the photos from the match, including the one that shows how Eric Brunner outleaps everyone for his header goal. (VIDEO / PHOTOS)

The images are photographic proof of the size advantage that the Timbers capitalized on against Chivas USA. It was part of the game plan, according to Spencer: “They gave up two goals from crosses against Colorado [last weekend]. I thought we matched up size-wise. I just felt we had a slight advantage height-wise in the box.”

Eljah Miller, who pens the Climbing the Ladder column, explains how the Portland Timbers have the second easiest schedule down the stretch. But they will have to find a way to win on the road to stay in contention, according to one Portland writer, beginning in DC this weekend.

For their part, Chivas USA were hamstrung by two first-half injury substitutions and the fact that manager Robin Fraser decided to leave Juan Pablo Ángel at home.

Fraser and Chivas USA will have the chance to go younger at forward should they decide to pick up striker Sammy Ochoa, who has signed an MLS contract after five seasons in Mexico. Here’s what Fraser had to say about this at the end of this article.

At least they played in Portland. The CONCACAF Champions League group match between FC Dallas and Toronto FC had to be abandoned Wednesday night because of rain and lightning at BMO Field. Here’s the play-by-play of what went down in Canada.

Vancouver Whitecaps fans will remember the exact scenario which impacted the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Like the Whitecaps, FC Dallas will see their 1-0 first-half lead erased by the full-match replay later this morning at 10:15 a.m. ET.

It makes for the perfect day to call in sick this morning. In addition to the morning treat of an all-MLS CONCACAF Champions League match, there’s the UEFA Champions League group-stage draw at 11:30 a.m. ET. Then there’s some Carling Cup action between Scunthorpe and Newcastle United at 2:30 p.m. ET (Fox Soccer Plus) followed by an all-Brazilian matchup in the Copa Sudamericana (7 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes).

The TV highlight of the day will be the LA Galaxy’s second straight home match in the CONCACAF Champions League against Costa Rican champs Alajuelense (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). He’s only been in LA for just a few days and Robbie Keane is not afraid to admit that he doesn’t know much about Alajuelense or Costa Rican soccer.

This is what awaits Keane while in LA. Some “boogie boarding” with David Beckham perhaps? The Englishman shows how it’s done while at a beach in Malibu with his sons. (PHOTOS).

In Seattle they’re still celebrating the Sounders’ famous win over Monterrey in Mexico. It has even inspired a Top 10 list of greatest Sounders wins in their barely three-year existence. See if you agree.

While MLS teams are 6-0-1 in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage thus far, a fourth Mexican club has gone down to defeat. Isidro Metapán of El Salvador embarrassed Santos Laguna of Mexico with a 2-0 win in Group B, which will have Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith doing fist pumps. (VIDEO)

Staying in Central America, just a couple of days after confirming on FutbolMLS.com’s Tiro Libre that he wanted to stay in MLS, Houston Dynamo forward Carlo Costly told fans that he would love to wear the jersey of Mexican giants Club América. (SPANISH)

In other news surrounding another Honduran international in MLS, FC Dallas midfielder Marvin Chávez is reportedly taking his former club, Marathón, to court for outstanding payments. A team official merely claims there’s been a bank mix-up. (SPANISH)

As we await final word on whether George John’s transfer to Blackburn Rovers will be finalized today, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas gives English fans his take on what John can accomplish in the English Premier League.

But they don’t come any more intimidating in MLS circles than Jámison Olave, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year. Read what his teammates have to say about his impending return: “Once you have a big guy out there, a lot of players are like, ‘Alright, I'm not going into that [play].’”

Olave is the kind of player that new Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie will have to gameplan against beginning next year. But he does things very differently from Olave. It’s more about the psychological than the physical for Rennie.

A 5-3 final result and two bench-clearing incidents? That was the report from the “friendly” match between the Philadelphia Union and their affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders on Wednesday night.

Will the most heated clashes in the EPL be broadcast on over-the-air TV in the USA? That’s according to one report, which claims that Chelsea vs. Manchester United will be broadcast on Fox’s network channel on Super Bowl Sunday.

Lastly, in an excellent piece by Whitecaps beat writer Marc Weber of The Province, he takes us on a road trip with an unlikely collection of Vancouver fans from all walks of life who leave everything behind — including pregnant wives — to make sure they’re in Portland for the Cascadia rivalry.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Updated MLS postseason standings: A snapshot of the playoffs if they started today

North American Soccer Almanac: The revolution is being televised

RSL’s Jason Kreis stands by his heated comments after latest loss


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