Kick Off: Latest USMNT loss offers plenty to chew on

Kick Off - US national team (vs. Ecuador)

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MLSsoccer.com was all over the US national team’s latest match against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena last night. Watch the highlights of the 1-0 loss here. (VIDEO)

It’s becoming increasingly clear which players manager Jurgen Klinsmann is counting on five matches into his reign. Midfielder Michael Bradley is not among them, at least for now.

New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream, who has been the culprit on some costly mistakes for both club and country this year, saw another error become the chief storyline of Tuesday night’s match. He also got the lowest of all the player ratings handed out by Greg Seltzer for the match.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber was at the match and provided an update on a possible expansion team in New York: He revealed that the New York Cosmos are not involved and that “they have some things they have to work out in their ownership group.”

There are two massive matches in the MLS Cup playoff race that will have the entire league watching as D.C. United travel to face Vancouver (10 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) and the Chicago Fire host FC Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET) knowing that only a win will do to keep their postseason hopes alive. FCD are looking to snap a streak of four straight shutout losses and clinch a spot in the postseason with a win.

The latest reports claim that D.C. star Dwayne De Rosario will not be making the trip to Vancouver after playing 90 minutes last night for the Canadian national team in a disappointing 0-0 World Cup qualifying home draw against Puerto Rico.

DeRo couldn’t help Canada break through an astute Puerto Rico side which traveled to BMO Field to defend: “They came here with a plan and their plan worked. … At times we kind of played into their hands.”

Back in DC, manager Ben Olsen realizes that his team is on the outside looking in and although they have four matches left, they are going to have to win back-to-back games eventually. “We’re not in panic mode, but there is a sense it’s time to grab some points,” says veteran Josh Wolff.

It will be interesting to see what Tom Soehn does with his Vancouver lineup. Designated Player Eric Hassli is back from suspension but Camilo and Long Tan impressed at forward against Real Salt Lake. But is Hassli preparing for a bench role against D.C. with these comments: “Long Tan and Camilo did a great job. I love him [Tan]. He works hard all the year and he deserves it. It's important for young players to play, for experience.”

Whoever takes the field for the Whitecaps should expect to play with the retractable roof opened at BC Place. That’s the preference of club president Bob Lenarduzzi, although he says: "We need to figure out what happens if we open the roof and it is raining. Do people get wet?" There’s a 40 percent chance of rain tonight.

FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire face a similar predicament to D.C. United’s when they face off at Toyota Park. USMNT star Brek Shea is rejoining FCD in Chicago but few expect him to play, especially after these comments by Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman: “I still see a tired player. I think we’ve all seen his performances here be stagnant.”

Two of Chicago’s best players may not figure into the match tonight. Top scorer Dominic Oduro is coming off a 105-degree fever, while Marco Pappa is returning from international duty for Guatemala.

Lest we forget that the Brimstone Cup is on the line between Chicago and Dallas. The trophy has resided in Dallas since 2002 but the Fire are in position to finally reclaim it.

Another MLS club is in action tonight as Sporting Kansas City host Chivas Guadalajara in an international friendly that will see Chivas legend Omar Bravo face his old team for the first time. (9 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes)

Bravo is glad to be in Kansas City. An indication of the love he’s been shown from the local Mexican community comes from this anecdote from a KC restaurant. One of the cooks left her post and “she sat down and talked to me for an hour. She didn’t care if she got fired,” Bravo says.

Staying in the restaurant business, did you know that one Portland midfielder is looking to score in the food business with an Italian food cart?

We finally get some closure on the Jason Kreis food poisoning situation last week in Vancouver. It was a case of bad clams.

Speaking of food, after the US national team and the New York Red Bulls, forward Juan Agudelo is the latest addition to Team Kellogg’s.

Here’s a piece of news which may come as a surprise: Former FC Dallas manager Colin Clarke is apparently in the running for the Northern Ireland managerial post after their elimination from Euro 2012 qualifying.

Meanwhile, drama seems to follow Ali Gerba around. After he was kicked out of preseason training by Toronto FC’s Preki last year, he was told he would not be invited back for the Montreal Impact’s new expansion season. "I was surprised, definitely. ... I think the decision that was made is because the situation was a little bit more complicated than that. I can't really say anything more about it right now.”

Staying in Canada, Toronto FC broke ground on their new academy facilities and manager Aron Winter is impressed: “You could say it’s nicer than Ajax.”

In South American World Cup qualifying matches yesterday, Venezuela shocked the world with a 1-0 win over Argentina – the Vinotinto’s first ever win over Argentina. Meanwhile, the surprise in Euro 2012 qualifying was provided by Denmark, who defeated Portugal to win Group H, while Sweden came from behind to beat the Netherlands and qualify as the best second-place team.

We leave you with a story that ties soccer with the real world: Will ex-soccer superstar George Weah finally become president of Liberia, six years after losing in a runoff?

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Referee Week: What are the five toughest calls to make in a game?

MLS Cup Top 50 Moments: No. 40 Call Him The Eraser

Recap of MLS players in international action: Keane is through, Purdy scores


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