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Kick Off: Angel-Chivas negotiations still under way for '12

Kick Off, March 2, 2012: Juan Pablo Angel

Photo Credit: 
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Deal or no deal?

Both Juan Pablo Angel and Chivas USA are adamant a new contract will happen. When exactly? That's less clear. “It's a possibility,” Chivas USA GM Jose Domene said when asked if Angel could be unsigned come opening day. JPA, however, did play a half against Portland yesterday, though. “If we were far away [on his contract], he wouldn't be here,” Domene said.

This uncertainty might make Angel a risky choice for your team in the brand-new MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager game, released on Thursday. But the risk could be worth it, because the winner will get a VIP trip to the 2013 MLS All-Star Game.

If Angel does consider leaving Southern California, he may want to get some perspective from former Goat Michael Umaña. The defender has described his move to Guatemala as a “backwards" one. (SPANISH)

In Chivas's match against Portland, the teams drew 1-1. The Timbers goal was scored by Supplemental Draft pick Ryan Kawulok, whose goal celebration doubled as a celebration of his making the club. "I used a swim move and got behind their defender. I think I hit [the ball] left-footed," Kawulok said.

Portland striker Kris Boyd isn't fit enough to play yet. In fact, he's still trying to adjust to the Timbers' green color scheme. (Boyd scored 101 goals for Rangers, whose main rival is green-and-white Celtic.) But at least the weather is the same as in Scotland. “It was lashing rain when I got on the plane in Glasgow and it was lashing when I got off in Portland,” he said.

In other preseason action, Toronto rolled Dallas 3-0 to set up an all-Canadian final of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Vancouver await. As always, MLSsoccer.com has you covered with highlights. (VIDEO)

For FCD fans who want to distract themselves from that loss, what better than the new 2012 home jerseys? There are, fittingly, a lot of hoops.

And in the third stateside preseason game involving an MLS team yesterday, San Jose drew 0-0 with Sweden's AIK in the Portland Timbers Tournament. Jed Zayner was ejected on the hour mark.

This may interest Zayner: US Soccer and MLS have reportedly created the Professional Referee Organization to oversee referees in the US and Canada. The financially independent PRO will also work to develop young referees.

Of course, all the officiating training in the world doesn't help some situations. During a 'friendly' in Costa Rica, Philadelphia's game broke out into a mass brawl and was called off. Belen, who were two goals ahead, accused the Union of “anti-football” on their website and posted highlights. (VIDEO)

Danny Cruz has his own ideas about anti-football. Rough tackles in a friendly against the Charleston Battery left both his ankles bruised and swollen, though thankfully not fractured as feared. “I’ve never been tackled like that before,” Cruz said.

Cruz will be out for a while, with his return date is unknown. Conor Casey's, however, is becoming clearer. “I’m hoping to be back training in a couple weeks,” he said. That still means he won't be ready once First Kick rolls along.

Chicago Fire attackers Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko, meanwhile, is raring to go. They made their international debuts with Ghana and impressed none other than AC Milan midfielder Sully Muntari. “I hope [Oduro] will continue to contribute to our national team. He is getting to be well known, because he is a very good player," Muntari said.

Nyarko tried to soak up the experience. “I was kind of star-struck when I joined the team. I saw Sulley, I saw Derek Boateng. I grew up watching those guys play, and to be on the field with the national anthem was being played, that was the most special moment in my life. I just stood there and wondered if this was a dream.”

Nyarko may have another player to admire from up close if Frank Klopas gets his wish. The Chicago Fire coach confirmed that the club is chasing out-of-contract German international Arne Friedrich.

If he keeps up like this, even a defender like Friedrich won't bother Thierry Henry. The Frenchman scored against the Galaxy in the Desert Diamond Cup and has carried his Arsenal form into preseason. "This is probably the best I've seen him since he arrived to us," Hans Backe said.

Former Red Bull Stephane Auvray has popped up with a possible new home. He's training with Columbus after the Crew reached out to him.

As Auvray chases an MLS contract, Junior Flores has reportedly turned one down. According to Inside NoVA, the 15-year-old rejected three separate approaches by Major League Soccer and has now signed with an unknown team overseas. 

Flores has to wait six years before he can drink legally, but when he can, he might want to check out Redhook's latest beer. It's a Sounders-inspired brew, made in conjunction with the Emerald City Supporters. The Free Beer Movement already has pictures.

That's not all that's new around Seattle. Former captain Kasey Keller has a new job. In addition to his Sounders commentary gig, he'll work part-time as an analyst for ESPN.

Maybe Keller can get Sigi Schmid to open up about Herculez Gomez. The Santos Laguna forward stoked tensions ahead of the upcoming CCL match with Seattle by discussing his time with Schmid at the Galaxy, questioning Schmid's man-management. Schmid isn't playing into any supposed feud. "I don't quite understand it. I don't know,” the manager said.

Sometimes talented players leave clubs. Just ask Martin Rennie, who released Lee Nguyen from the Whitecaps yesterday. “We feel like he's similar to other players we have on our squad and we had to make a decision based on that,” Rennie said.

One of the midfielders with similar attributes is Michael Nanchoff. Now that he's finally fit and gearing up for the season, he was asked to describe his general feeling lately. His reply? “Awesomeness.”

Nanchoff played 137 minutes last year. Former Whitecap Terry Dunfield, now with Toronto FC, hopes he tops that number by far, despite sitting behind Designated Players Torsten Frings and Julian de Guzman in the central midfield position. “Our plan this year is to play in 50 games, and Torsten and Julian can’t play every game,” said Dunfield.

Returning to Southern California, the Galaxy might have another Home Grown Player lined up. CSU Bakersfield forward Gyasi Zardes has decided to stay in college for his final year instead of joining LA, but still plans to make the jump next season. "He stayed to finish his degree, nothing else," coach Simon Tobin added. "He loves the Galaxy — he is a Southern California kid."

Lastly, from the adorable department, Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta hit the streets asking strangers for autographs, pictures and hugs.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

The Throw-In: Heaps has hardest job in MLS history

Road trip 1v1: Dwayne De Rosario

ExtraTime Radio podcast: D.C.'s Ben Olsen and possible Orlando expansion


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