Kick Off: RSL's Kreis still believes in Supporters' Shield
Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis is not giving up on the Supporters’ Shield.
As his team prepares to host the Chicago Fire tonight (9 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), they have 10 points to make up in order to catch the league-leading LA Galaxy. And with four matches left after tonight and a head-to-head confrontation against LA set for this weekend, Kreis says the Galaxy are still within reach.
"I still think looking at the points standings and the math, the Supporter's Shield is still there for us, and I'm willing and ready and able to fight for it," Kreis said.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Fire, who are still hopeful that Sebastián Grazzini can overcome a hamstring ailment, know that a victory at Rio Tinto Stadium will take them just three points away from the 10th and final wild card berth occupied by the New York Red Bulls.
RSL’s chances are helped by the return of fan favorite Javier Morales, who will return to action tonight after nearly five months of recovery from a broken ankle. The Argentine playmaker expects to get anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes and claims that he feels like a rookie again: “I remember when I played my first [professional] game, almost 10 years. Now I have the same feeling.”
In Real Salt Lake's camp, they have begun campaigning for Kyle Beckerman as a potential MVP candidate during what has been a difficult season for RSL despite their position in the standings. “I don’t know if any player has been more valuable to his team,” midfielder Will Johnson said.
An equally massive match-up takes place tonight at Livestrong Sporting Park where both Sporting Kansas City and the Columbus Crew know that a win will take them to the top of the Eastern Conference with three matches remaining (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
SKC manager Peter Vermes, who expects a speculative Columbus Crew side tonight, wants his club to maintain its sense of urgency in the chase for the playoffs: “I just don’t feel like we’ve accomplished anything. We’ve got four games left [including tonight], and a lot can happen in four games. So we have to be prepared for it all.”
Congratulations to the Seattle Sounders, who become the first MLS team to clinch a berth to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League next year after a 2-2 tie against Comunicaciones in Guatemala. Osvaldo Alonso was the hero with a brace including a last-minute equalizer. "Even though [Alonso] doesn't score most the goals, he's our most valuable player," says Tyson Wahl. "I think if you ask anyone else, they would say that."
FC Dallas are in Panama tonight as they face Tauro in a match that could send them top of the Group C standings (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer).
Regardless of what happens in Panama tonight, Dallas (7 points) will be preparing for an all-MLS showdown for a quarterfinal berth in their group finale against Toronto FC (7 points), who could only draw 1-1 against visiting Pumas UNAM last night.
TFC manager Aron Winter admitted being “a little bit disappointed” but remained upbeat: “Of course we still have control in our hands. Dallas is not going to win easy away against Tauro. Everybody underestimates Tauro but they are a good team.”
Goal scorer Peri Marosevic, an ex-FC Dallas player, is relishing the chance to eliminate his former club in the final group game: “I’m glad that it’s coming down to Dallas.”
While Dallas can afford themselves a misstep in Panama, the LA Galaxy are in must-win territory against Morelia tonight (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and TeleFutura). Manager Bruce Arena wants nothing less than three points: “I expect to win this game and be alive for game six. We're going to put [refereeing controversies] all past us. ... We've got to win. We know that. It's must-win, and we're well-aware of it.”
Arena had a lot to say about the officiating in CONCACAF ahead of the match with memories of the loss at Morelia, where LA feel they scored a legitimate game-winner: "There are too many phantom calls in this competition. It hasn't been good. I don't know how else you can explain it, but it hasn't been good.”
The Colorado Rapids took a controversial stance for its match in El Salvador tonight against Metapán (12:30 a.m. ET, Fox Soccer tape delay), sending a reserve squad which will be coached by assistant Steve Guppy. Manager Gary Smith is staying back although he says “the squad that is going down to Metapán is very capable.”
Houston’s Geoff Cameron has been very capable at manning the central defender position for the Dynamo and helping his team to the top of the Eastern standings. Much has been written about the tactical shift and the Houston Chronicle dedicates another article to the move.
Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli is looking ahead to Sunday, when his club opens BC Place. He hopes to use the occasion against the Portland Timbers to break his scoring drought that has lasted for seven weeks. “He gets frustrated and that turns into negative energy and that's not what we need from him. He's got to keep trucking away,” said his manager Tom Soehn.
Hassli will be trucking on the new stadium turf at BC Place which is also used by Liverpool, Bayern Munich and two French clubs. Find out more here.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, results from a vote regarding a potential strike by workers at BC Place. Sunday’s MLS opener will not be affected.
While Vancouver get set to debut their new home field, there’s a report about a potential new stadium that is being studied for Chivas USA in Santa Ana, Calif., and a six-month negotiation period that’s being denied by the club.
Speaking of stadiums, for D.C. United fans out there, here’s a retrospective look at the history of RFK Stadium by the Washington Post as the building turns 50 years old this week. (PHOTOS)
D.C. United's Andy Najar was not called up by the Honduran national team for the upcoming FIFA fixture date, including a match against the USA in Miami. MLS players Marvin Chávez, Roger Espinoza and Carlo Costly will be there. (SPANISH)
Many think that Dwayne De Rosario is the good luck charm for D.C. United? Wrong. When manager Ben Olsen starts Stephen King, the team has a 3-0-4 record.
An interesting statement is made by a New York Cosmos official in this report by the Sporting News: “I think the league will want to make an announcement about the 20th franchise by the end of the year. We’re doing everything we possibly can to secure that franchise.”
After a thrilling finish on Tuesday night at Old Trafford and another Carlos Tévez controversy at Manchester City, the UEFA Champions League returns this afternoon with Valencia vs. Chelsea (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer), Arsenal vs. Olympiakos (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus) and BATE Borisov vs. Barcelona (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes). Also, Brazil faces Argentina in the second leg of the Americas Superclasico after a 0-0 draw in the first match (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes).
In other international soccer news, Thomas DiBenedetto was officially named new president of AS Roma on Tuesday, ending a long-winded takeover process.
Lastly, Peru has formally asked the US Department of Justice for its assistance in capturing David Sánchez-Manrique, one of those who allegedly caused the tragedy that occurred in Peru over the weekend when a fan lost his life after clashes between Universitario and Alianza Lima. Sánchez-Manrique apparently flew to the USA after the match. (SPANISH)
Talking Tactics: The evolution of Dwayne De Rosario
MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings for Week 28
The #OldSchoolMLSfans contest taking place on Twitter
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