Kick Off: San Jose get the news they were hoping for
Bust out the champagne and the hardhats.
The San Jose Earthquakes' proposed $60 million stadium will break ground this year after clearing the last legal hurdle, overcoming an appeal by six votes to none. Apparently, the San Jose Planning Commission didn't think that potential noise complaints would be an issue for the airport-adjacent stadium.
More than 300 'Quakes fans showed up to the meeting, many of them turned away at the door. Check out the reaction as the votes became official. (VIDEO)
The club has searched for a permanent home for over a decade. Former San Jose winger Bobby Convey knows just how unforgiving the Bay Area housing market can be. “It was tough to focus on playing when you have to coach kids in the afternoon to make rent,” the Sporting Kansas City signing said.
As he settles in KC, Convey may turn to teammates for advice. One of them is so good at dishing wisdom that he started a web series solving life problems for his co-workers. Watch to find out who anointed himself “Sporting Kansas City's most fashionable and most desirable player.” (VIDEO)
Sporting beat FC Tucson 5-1 in a preseason friendly back on Valentine's Day, with rookie Dom Dwyer scoring a hat trick. The English forward recently received his green card and won't take up an international spot on Peter Vermes' roster. “Dom is a little Sherman tank,” Vermes said. “The guy’s a bull."
You can watch Sporting KC as well as every other team in the league this season on MLS Live, which is available for purchase starting today. Formerly known as MatchDay Live, MLS Live offers high quality, HD streams in Flash that will be available across multiple devices; one subscription will allow you to access more than 230 games via computer, iPad, iPhone, Roku and Panasonic TVs for $59.99.
Nobody would blame Stuart Holden if he was a little down as he recovers from his second major injury since moving to Bolton. No need to feel too sorry for Holden, though, as the US midfielder seems to have no problem finding reasons to smile. Check out the first episode of No Holden Back, a web series that chronicling Holden's quest to get back on the field. (VIDEO)
The preseason matches played on Wednesday didn't feature much smiling, though. Chivas USA's 5-2 loss to Club Tijuana featured 36 fouls, seven yellows and one ejection. “There's no such thing as a friendly game,” coach Robin Fraser huffed.
And the match between FC Dallas and the US U-23s was no different, with two red cards handed out. One of the players ejected, Brek Shea, won a penalty and scored the game-winning goal before being sent off against his club side. “I got a little rough out there,” Shea admitted.
Kofi Sarkodie was the other to see red. Caleb Porter has plenty of work ahead of the Olympics, despite the 2-1 win. "The game, a lot of times, is won and lost psychologically,” he said.
While Sarkodie is with the national team setup, his Houston Dynamo teammates are in preseason training. No one is relaxing, not even All-Star goalkeeper Tally Hall, who says he needs to improve his footwork and vocal presence to stave off competition for his place. The Dynamo signed Erich Marscheider, 19, to push Hall.
There will also be competition for the goalkeeper spot with the New York Red Bulls. Former Dallas net-minder Ray Burse has joined the club on trial, with Hans Backe preferring to add experience. “If we’re going to find a third one it has to be one with a little more experience,’’ the RBNY coach said.
“Because it can be a little bit boring on the road for a month,” Backe has organized activities for his players, including a Phoenix Suns game, a zip-line facility in Mexico and some golf.
But if there's any player eager to just get back on the field and play, it's Designated Player Rafa Márquez. He was suspended last season for comments about his teammates. But 2012 is a new year. "What happened, happened," Márquez said. "It's time to turn the page." The Mexican international didn't feature last night in a reserve-heavy roster that lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake.
Different players have different methods for dealing with the preseason. For Joe Cannon, it involves reaping the rewards of working out and yoga throughout the offseason. Donovan Ricketts is trying to adjust to the weather change from California to Canada. And Danny Koevermans is just delighting in a trip to Orlando: “It’s February and I already have a tan!”
Florida might see more of MLS than the combine and odd friendly in coming years. Commissioner Don Garber is set to meet with Orlando's mayor as well as potential owners in the area in March. In the lower leagues, only MLS-bound Montreal topped Orlando City's average attendance of 5,500 last year.
As the Impact transition into the league, they're keeping an eye on recent history as well. Simon Gatti will oversee the U-14 Academy side. The 31-year-old retires after exactly 100 starts spanning a six-year career spent exclusively at Montreal.
Another one-club player provides the feel-good story of the day. Logan Pause was at camp in Ave Maria, Fla., when his wife's water broke. Read the account of how he made it back to Chicago in four hours to witness the birth of his daughter.
In less uplifting Fire news, the club cut ties with youth league Chicago Fire Juniors for breaching a licensing agreement.
The Seattle Sounders are having some organizational issues of their own. The club showed up in Mexico for a friendly only to find the venue had been moved to a training field and the opponent would be a weakened Atlante team. Sigi Schmid is hoping for better from the Sounders' next opponents: "Our expectation is certainly that Jaguares de Chiapas is not going to do that — [that] they're going to be professional.”
In other preseason news, the New England Revolution beat the LA Galaxy 3-2 in the Desert Diamond Cup opener. Edson Buddle scored his first goal since rejoining the Galaxy after a stint in Germany. Benny Feilhaber stole the show, though, with a brilliant bicycle kick to open the scoring.
Robbie Keane will return from his loan with Aston Villa shortly to help Buddle with the goalscoring load. However, Villa boss Alex McLeish suggested he may make a summer bid for the Irish striker. “I think Robbie’s had a good influence on the place.”
Meanwhile, Chris Birchall won't return to the Galaxy. He's rejoined Port Vale after six years and suited up for 84 minutes with the reserve side in a match against Walsall.
Another former MLS midfield destroyer on the move is Ricardo Clark. The US international joined Norwegian outfit Stabaek on loan through July.
MLS fans can't watch Clark or Birchall consistently anymore, but they will be able to see Columbus Crew games in high definition. The club signed a deal with Fox Sports Ohio which will see each game broadcast in HD, owner Clark Hunt revealed.
The season is 16 days away. Fans can attempt to appease their MLS appetites with preseason games. New York take on Pumas UNAM at 8 pm ET, which will be shown on MSG+ and ESPN Deportes. Three hours, later the Colorado Rapids take on Yokohama FC in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational (ESPN3.com).
Check out this clip of Flamengo striker Deivid shanking his shot into the upright from two yards out as Vasco won 2-1 in the semifinal of the Taça Guanabara. It's the miss of the year thus far, hands down. (VIDEO)
Lastly, Porto failed to see the funny side of the chants of “you're not incredible” aimed at star striker Hulk by Manchester City fans and will file a complaint with UEFA. It surely has nothing to do with Man. City reporting racial abuse aimed at two of its black players from the first leg. Not a chance.
Climbing the Ladder: MLS teams & USMNT representation
Countdown to First Kick: 17 Another MLS candle lit
Postcard from Europe: Terrence Boyd "definitely USA"
Get the The Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.