Kick Off: For Portland Timbers fans, there's no preseason

To paraphrase the immortal words of that wannabe soccer player Allen Iverson: Preseason?

Don't talk about preseason to the fans in Portland. More than 16,000 of them showed up for a preseason doubleheader at JELD-WEN Field on Monday night. 

“It’s incredible,” coach John Spencer said. “I still think I’ve got the best job in the country.”

After a 1-1 draw with San Jose, Portland are still unbeaten in 2012. The Timbers are taking these games seriously, if a shoving match with the Quakes is anything to go by. "We don't get to show that aggressive side [often], but we definitely have it,” Lovel Palmer said. “San Jose brought it to us and we responded." Check out highlights and reactions from that match. (VIDEO)

Earlier in the Portland Timbers Tournament, Sweden's AIK beat Chivas USA 2-0. So how do the Goats turn those results into wins? “We have to really embrace the philosophy that we have to work every minute of every game,” Robin Fraser said. “That's how this league works.”

The preseason action continues today at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Catch Toronto versus BK Häcken (6 pm ET) and FC Dallas against Orlando City (8 pm ET). Both will stream live on MLSsoccer.com Channel 2.

The league also works to maintain the safety of fans. That means, at times, it has to come down hard on some other fans, such as the Houston Dynamo supporters groups, whose transgressions during the playoffs and MLS Cup last year have brought on sanctions, including banning flags, banners, confetti and drums. Read MLS' letter to the Dynamo supporters explaining the decision.

No nead to explain why CenturyLink Field got a makeover. The worn-down turf at the Seattle Soudners' home field was seemed unplayable last year, but it's gone now, replaced by new turf that should bounce truer and slow the ball down more organically. (PICTURES)

The Sounders club also went out and acquired two of most popular soccer players in America. In the upcoming season, the Sounders Women will feature both Hope Solo and, fresh off her Sports Illustrated bodypaint photo spread, Alex Morgan.

Speaking of forwards, Montreal Impact manager Jesse Marsch has picked up another one: Andrew Wenger. Instead of playing the No. 1 overall draft pick as a defender, as expected, Marsch will likely pencil the versatile Duke product in up top. “I look at him as an attacking player and primarily as a forward," Marsch said.

One of Wenger's new teammates, Jeb Brovsky, was with Vancouver last year, and he had a flashback to his time in Western Canada when he was bowled over by the Whitecaps' Eric Hassli during a recent friendly. "It was a nice reminder of training last season," said Brovsky. Presumably the new Impact fullback won't bring Hassli with him next offseason when he plans to visit Guatemala to teach non-violence and empowerment.

Hassli is sure to start for Vancouver in 2012, but the Whitecaps expect far bigger contributions from the second string this time year than they got last year. "There is some depth there," said new head coach Martin Rennie.

Meanwhile, depth could be an issue for the Red Bulls this season, particularly at the forward position. With Luke Rodgers' visa issue keeping him out of the country and Juan Agudelo involved with international duty, the de facto starters up top are Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper. After one match together, Henry says the relationship could use some work. “We need to develop that partnership,” he said.

Partnership seems to be the underlying force behind many of the recent changes for the LA Galaxy. The MLS champions restructured their front office this offseason, and some details are trickling through: The newly created AEG Sports will oversee all 11 teams AEG owns, across a variety of sports. That means that Tom Payne, the Galaxy's recently let-go president of business operations, won't be directly replaced. Instead, new AEG Sports COO Chris McGowan will manage several teams. “Essentially, the key areas of running a sports franchise are now vertically aligned,” he said. His first job? “Dramatically” increase ticket sales for the Galaxy.

We don't know if D.C. United's signing of former Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra will help sell tickets, dramatically or otherwise, but it is good for the local kid's family life. “I know it means a lot to my family that I'm staying in town." 

US international Stuart Holden finds himself in a town in Delaware these days, many miles from where he wishes he were: Bolton, England. The Wanderers midfielder will miss the remainder of the season with cartilage damage. Check out Kick's "No Holden Back" series (VIDEO), then read Leander Schaerlaeckens' article and you'll have a better idea of what he's going through in rehab. "People throw out the word 'injury-prone,'" Holden says. "But if you look at my injury list, they all came from tackles. I think I'm unlucky."

The man who gave Holden his international debut, former US boss Bob Bradley, kicked off his newest coaching appointment. His Egypt side thrashed Kenya 5-0 despite missing several key players. Not a bad start by any stretch.

Over in England, former Toronto FC draftee Mike Grella signed with Bury FC.

Lastly, John Terry really is trying to avoid the limelight lately. Can you spot him? (PICTURE)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

What Ever Happened To ... Youri Djorkaeff?

ExtraTime Radio podcast: Aurélien Collen, Hans Backe and Nat Borchers

Countdown to First Kick: 12 Zusi takes next step


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