Kick Off: Union's Adu "emotional" for first match vs. DC

Kick Off - Freddy Adu

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Tonight, the spotlight will be shining squarely on the Philadelphia Union’s Freddy Adu.

The Union host D.C. United in an Eastern Conference playoff battle and the match at PPL Park will mark the first time Adu has ever faced his former hometown club (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). “There is a bit of emotion there,” says Adu, who is recovering from an ankle injury. “I had an amazing [experience] with D.C. United. I grew up watching D.C. United and also having a chance to play for D.C. United. … Definitely emotional for me.”

Philly manager Peter Nowak was working so hard at preparing for the match that he arrived 30 minutes late to his weekly press conference because of a video session. “This game can change a lot of things for us,” he says in this report, which also claims that right back Sheanon Williams will be fit to start.

Both teams are now chasing a new first-place team in the East as Sporting Kansas City launched themselves to the top of the standings with a 2-1 home victory over the Columbus Crew last night. The game-winner came off an own-goal by the Crew’s Julius James on a throw-in from Matt Besler. “A lot of things didn’t go our way at the beginning of the season," says Kei Kamara. "So if this is the time where some of those things go our way, we’ll take it."

While Columbus manager Robert Warzycha is critical of his team losing on a penalty kick and an own goal, Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers believes that the PK for Sporting should never have been called: “If you watch the replay, it for sure wasn’t a penalty,” he said.

There was no disputing the 3-0 road triumph by the Chicago Fire against Real Salt Lake. A jam-packed Rio Tinto Stadium endured a red card to captain Kyle Beckerman and a hat trick from Chicago’s Marco Pappa in a result which catapults the Fire into the playoff chase. “We’re on a bit of a roll and it certainly feels good,” says Chicago’s Dan Gargan.

RSL manager Jason Kreis was furious with his side and he summed it up with three words: lack of discipline. “I’m really aggravated," he said. "Every dangerous chance that was created in the first half was [due to a] lack of discipline, lack of discipline, lack of discipline. Kyle’s ejection, a complete lack of discipline.”

The only positive for RSL is that Javier Morales saw his first action since breaking his ankle. The large crowd gave one of the loudest ovations for the emotional return: "Unbelievable,” Morales said, attempting to explain goosebumps. “I don’t know how you say it in English, but my skin, you know? ... That was my best feeling in my career."

But the most dramatic match of the night took place at the Home Depot Center, where a stoppage-time strike from Juninho kept the Galaxy’s qualification hopes alive in a 2-1 win. Veteran Todd Dunivant was in an offside position on the game-winner and the Galaxy, who have been on the short end of a few ref calls int his tournament, were fearing the worst: “I stared at him [assistant referee],” Donovan said. “I turned and was just waiting for him to put up [his flag], but, thankfully, he didn't.”

In other Galaxy news, a report from Le Parisien in France claim that Paris St. Germain have already made contact with LA Galaxy star David Beckham, who missed Wednesday’s match due to suspension, about a possible move when his contract is up at the end of the season.

CONCACAF Champions League matches somehow always find a way to include unexpected twists and turns and the drama is always guaranteed. Take FC Dallas and their 5-3 loss in Panama to Tauro FC, who had not won a game in the tournament to this point. Watch the highlights for all the action, including two red cards received by the MLS side. (VIDEO)

No one saw this coming: The Rapids reserve side go into El Salvador and come away with a 3-1 win against Isidro Metapán to keep their Champions League hopes alive. “This is a historic result,” says Steve Guppy, who served as the head coach on Wednesday night. “What the players have done is truly remarkable.”

Here we are in the middle of the MLS playoff and CONCACAF Champions League races, and we’re already getting our first announcement regarding one of the 2012 preseason showcases in Tucson, Ariz. A press conference will be held today with MLS officials revealing details of the Desert Cup 2012.

As the Vancouver Whitecaps prepare for their “second home opener” against fellow expansion side Portland Timbers at new BC Place, they are more than super motivated to put a dent in the playoff hopes of John Spencer’s squad. "You get a lot of joy out of ending other people's seasons, especially rivals," says one 'Caps player. "It will be great to dim their chances."

Spencer and the Timbers have set the point target they need to reach to make the playoffs after the recent weekend action: “The 43-, 44-point mark is going to get you in there,” he says.

There was no planning for this: US soccer fans were stunned yesterday to learn about Stuart Holden undergoing a surprise surgery to the same knee that was surgically repaired earlier this year following a tackle by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans. It’s another six months on the shelf for the ex-Houston Dynamo player.

Several Americans will be involved in Europa League action today. When it comes to televised matches, French side Rennes host Atlético Madrid (1 p.m. ET, GolTV), while Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting Clube de Portugal welcome Lazio of the Italian Serie A (3 p.m. ET, GolTV). The South American equivalent of the Europa League plays a doubleheader on Fox Deportes beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

And the LA Galaxy will be watching intently what Alajuelense do in their second-to-last match of the group stage when they host Honduran side Motagua (10 p.m. ET, Galavisión) in the final CONCACAF Champions League fixture this week.

Finally, former Chicago Fire playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco offers some advice to the New York Red Bulls’ Rafa Márquez: “You can’t speak badly of your teammates. Before anything else, you owe them respect because it’s your second home. You share every moment with them.” (SPANISH)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Dutch star Edgar Davids trains with the New England Revolution

Climbing The Ladder: Fastest to three on the road

Fantasy Forecast: Preparing fantasy players for Week 29


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