Kick Off: Fire, D.C. United open preseason hostilities
The first time is always special.
D.C. United and the Chicago Fire played the first match pitting MLS teams in this 2012 preseason yesterday in Florida. The result finished 0-0 but it was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 1,800. You can hear them ooohing and aaahing in the the video highlights here and there’s also a photo gallery. (VIDEO / PHOTOS)
Fans did not get to see Dwayne De Rosario in action but they did see a very influential Pável Pardo: “When we were able to find Pável in the first half, we were a very good team because he was able to dictate the tempo very well,” says Frank Klopas.
But more than anything, it was the atmosphere that struck a chord with the Fire manager: “It reminds me of the old days playing in Europe where the fans would come out for the first preseason games.”
In today’s preseason action, the New England Revolution have an intra-squad scrimmage at 7 pm local time at Grande Sports World in Arizona. Manager Jay Heaps, who is in talks to add a striker, is fairly upbeat in the early stages of his tenure. This is what he says about No. 3 overall pick Kelyn Rowe: “There's no question about it, he'll be an impact player this season.” No pressure.
That forward that the Revs are chasing will not be named Rajko Lekic. The ex-New England forward has reportedly signed on for relegation-threatened Lyngby in Denmark. It’s too bad. We missed out on a nickname he has in Denmark which we only picked up on now: Psyko-Rajko. (DANISH)
Do you think Spanish legend Raúl has a good nickname? He wants a new two-year deal instead of the one-year contract being offered by the Bundesliga club and if they don’t give him what he wants, reports say he’ll be headed to MLS or Qatar. (SPANISH)
Might midfielder Tobias Grahn be the latest Swedish player to join an MLS club. He’s apparently on the outs at Mjällby AIF and MLS is an option. He says there will be a decision made in the next couple of days. (SWEDISH)
And it’s official: MLS teams dreaming of landing Italian striker Luca Toni have lost out to Al-Nasr, the club coached by former Revolution player-coach Walter Zenga.
Back in MLS, the Philadelphia Union get their preseason underway today. They will be in Philly this week before moving to Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 5.
Despite reports linking Salvadoran defender Víctor Turcios to Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids over recent weeks, it turns out he’ll be showing up at Vancouver Whitecaps camp, according to this article. (SPANISH)
Another Salvadoran player, former Real Salt Lake winger Arturo Alvarez, is set to join Portuguese side Rio Ave. He was picked up by Chivas USA in the Re-Entry Draft but will play abroad instead.
There are some Chivas USA fans that apparently are not thrilled that the team has signed a symbol of the LA Galaxy for nearly a decade. But new Goats midfielder Peter Vagenas does not begrudge them: “That’s how it should be,” he tells ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Vagenas was lucky enough to land on his feet again in MLS. But what about players who are still waiting for another contract like ex-Chicago Fire left back Mike Banner? Some are playing indoor soccer to stay in shape: "Indoor is always a good opportunity to get fitness in terms of sprints up and down the field."
There might be a few more players looking to join Banner at the indoor game with the Seattle Sounders expected to announce a few cuts to their roster ahead of the next stage of preseason in Arizona.
The cuts will hope that they don’t have to sit out for a whole season like Real Salt Lake hopeful Leone Cruz did in 2011 after he went unsigned by Seattle: "It was very character-building throughout that year. But regardless of it all, you're a professional and take it as a professional.”
From trialists and player cuts to the big money players: the Designated Players. There were two MLS DPs on the field on Sunday when Arsenal hosted Aston Villa in the FA Cup. The LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane went a full 90 for the Villans, who saw a 2-0 halftime lead vanish in a 3-2 loss. Arsenal and New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry had a chance to add insult to injury but missed a chance after coming on in the 89th minute. (VIDEO)
What a start for ex-Rapids manager Gary Smith as Stevenage recorded a 1-0 win over Notts County in the same competition and now have a date with Tottenham in the Round of 16.
The San Jose Earthquakes and Cal Odyssey reportedly have a date for an announcement this week that even made the local newscasts. Odyssey are apparently the No. 1-ranked club team in California. (VIDEO)
California native Alex Morgan was the hero for the USA with two goals and two assists last night in the Americans’ 4-0 triumph over Canada in Vancouver for the CONCACAF Olympic tournament title as the USWNT outscored their opponents by a combined 38-0. Watch Morgan in this video as she also answers the question: “Why baby horse?” (VIDEO)
After hosting a successful CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, will Vancouver and BC Place get a Canadian men’s World Cup qualifier next? Not happening, according to Canadian Soccer Association general secretary Peter Montopoli: “Our coaching staff and players prefer grass.”
GolTV has today’s live soccer action from La Liga with Osasuna hosting Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid (3 pm ET).
Today at 10 am PT, tickets go on sale for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match between the Seattle Sounders and Santos Laguna, who yesterday took the top spot in the Mexican Clausura after a 3-1 road win over Tijuana. Even manager Benjamín Galindo recognizes what he has on his hands: “They’ve been playing with each other for years and this makes things easy. I have a great squad.” (SPANISH)
In other Mexican soccer news, Cruz Azul’s equalizer this weekend has received a great deal of attention after Emmanuel Villa admitted to the media and the referee that he scored it with his hand. Watch the 40-second mark of this clip. There’s no doubt. (VIDEO / SPANISH)
It’s time for the videos and for those of you who like to watch referees take a tumble, we’ve got a good one here: An assistant referee gets tripped up by Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela in La Liga. He’s the first to get up. No surprise there. (VIDEO)
Lastly, a spectacular scorpion kick golazo by Gastón Mealla of Nacional Potosí was enough to prove his club were the strongest against The Strongest. Here’s the match report and this is the sensational video. (VIDEO)
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