Kick Off: Timbers promise to be "nasty" in DC showdown
It’s the last chance saloon for D.C. United and the Portland Timbers tonight at RFK Stadium (8 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
Well, the Timbers have a little wiggle room but will not want to gamble on anything but a win. It makes the match a must-watch: “I don’t think it’s going to be a real defensive game. People have to score goals. It should be an exciting game, it should be a game that is high energy and high stakes,” says D.C. manager Ben Olsen.
Olsen says “people have to score goals,” but that’s not been happening for a D.C. attack that has been stagnant of late. Veteran Santino Quaranta is well aware of the offensive troubles: "We have to play more loose and free. We're not creating as many chances as we should at home, in the position that we are, where we need to score goals. I think we're sitting back a little bit."
The rhetoric from the Portland locker does not refer to goals and creating chances. It’s simply about fight. Manager John Spencer says his team needs to be more physical and goalkeeper Troy Perkins takes it a step further: “You've got to become that nasty person, that mean person. ... If [our game plan] is not going to work, then we're just going to throw the gloves off and we'll go bare knuckles to bare knuckles and fight this out.”
If you’re wondering where all this stems from in Portland, you can point to left back Mike Chabala and how no one stuck up for him on a nasty challenge by Houston’s Danny Cruz in a 2-0 home loss last Friday. “It was disappointing," Chabala says. "If it had happened to somebody else on my team, I'm getting in somebody's face."
Whether they make it to the playoffs or not, the Timbers have unconditional love from their fans. The season ticket renewal rate is at 97 percent and the season ticket waiting list is at 5,000 and counting.
Portland say they want to put pressure on the New York Red Bulls by winning in D.C., but Red Bulls manager Hans Backe does not need to make the postseason to save his job. GM and sporting director Erik Solér says “Hans is the head coach next season, regardless.”
Solér also took the opportunity yesterday to clear up the Dwayne De Rosario trade which continues to come up as the Canadian guns for the golden boot title in D.C. He says that DeRo and Thierry Henry cannot co-exist: “[Henry is] a guy that needs the ball to do magic with the ball and he does it. And a little smaller scale, DeRo is the same. ... I don’t think it’s anybody’s mistake, it just didn’t work out here. ... We hoped he could try as a natural No. 10. But for us, it didn’t work out.”
Another Red Bulls reporters lamented the fact that Thierry Henry still won’t talk about the red card received in Kansas City and his vice-captain Rafa Márquez also refused to talk to English-speaking media on Tuesday. But Solér commented on the red card: “For me, it's not a red card. ... I tried to [say] something about a red card earlier this season and I won't do that again. It cost me $25,000. I won't have an opinion on it.”
FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman has a strong opinion about what he saw on Tuesday night, when his club was outplayed and ousted from the CONCACAF Champions League after a 3-0 loss to a more determined Toronto FC side: “For us, it’s a real shame. I just don’t think we were as committed to this game as they were. ... They were completely terrorizing us.”
Not the type of match you want to play if you’re hoping to leave an impression on NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki, who attended the match and wore Dallas colors. Here’s a video of him in one of the suites and he has some words about Brek Shea and Jurgen Klinsmann. (PHOTO and VIDEO)
The match at Pizza Hut Park was Toronto FC’s season after they missed the MLS playoffs. Joao Plata had two goals and an assist but manager Aron Winter was ecstatic for the team effort: "I think we played a very good game, we gave nothing away. I'm very proud of the performance of the players on the pitch. It's also a great day for TFC.”
The Seattle Sounders had already qualified for the CCL quarterfinals but failed to clinch first place in Group D after dropping a 2-1 home result to tournament champs Monterrey. The game-winner for los Rayados came on a Sounders turnover: “We had the assist,” says manager Sigi Schmid. “I'm not happy with the goals we gave up, and they heard that from me.”
The main takeaway from the match for Sounders fans is the fact that Fredy Montero wore the captain’s armband and scored his 11th goal in 11 matches across all competitions. Watch the highlights here. (VIDEO)
In another Champions League result from Tuesday, Pablo Gabbas scored on another amazing left-footed shot (watch it here), but Morelia came from behind to defeat Alajuelense 2-1 to advance in Group A. That means that the LA Galaxy have to win at Motagua on Thursday to advance but it doesn’t look good for Landon Donovan, who spent Tuesday in the training room instead of the training field: “If I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”
Meanwhile, Galaxy forward Robbie Keane reportedly claims he will be ready in time for the LA Galaxy’s playoff run.
Tonight the Colorado Rapids will look to become the third MLS team to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals when they travel to face Santos Laguna in a must-win situation. Their efforts will be helped by the fact that Santos will not field a first-choice lineup tonight (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer).
C.J. Sapong is the Kansas City Star's first choice for the MLS Rookie of the Year award and one writer says: “I don't think there's even a debate that Sapong is the rookie of the year.”
The Sporting News feels that Houston’s Brad Davis is “in pole position to lay claim to the league’s highest individual award.” Brian Straus handicaps the MVP field here.
Another MLS player is in the spotlight this morning. FC Dallas’ Greek-American defender George John, who was pursued during the summer by Blackburn Rovers of the EPL, is now reportedly being targeted by EPL outfit Wigan Athletic.
In this long magazine feature in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Union’s star midfielder Freddy Adu confesses that he wanted to make a move back to MLS all along, but he had to time his return because of Benfica.
They’re already focused on next year at Chivas USA, where manager Robin Fraser was trying out a new Frenchman during a reserve match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He’s a former teammate of assistant coach Greg Vanney when he played in France.
D.C. United’s Charlie Davies was still playing in France when he was involved in the accident that cost him a chance at the 2010 World Cup. Now he has filed a $20 million lawsuit in relation to what transpired that night in October 2009.
The Houston Dynamo will be thinking about the future and their upcoming playoff participation when Sunday’s home game against the LA Galaxy rolls around. Dominic Kinnear says that he’ll determine whether to rest players or not on Sunday morning after learning the other MLS results and whether the Dynamo will be in position to improve their playoff seeding.
In other news, Cuauhtémoc Blanco is back in the United States. Today he’ll be playing in Atlanta in an exhibition against the Silverbacks.
The war of words between Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner continues, with Blazer responding the Warner’s letter in Trinidadian paper The Guardian.
Lastly, the lineup of UEFA Champions League matches today features the following tripleheader on the tube: Marseille vs. Arsenal (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer), Chelsea vs. Genk (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus) and Barcelona vs. Vikotira Plzen (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes).
Talking Tactics: Are MLS coaches going conservative with playoff pressure dialed up?
MLS Cup Top 50: #33 Pat Onstad becomes a Revs nightmare with this save in 2007
New York’s Hans Backe claims he hasn’t watched Thierry Henry’s red-card foul
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