Kick Off: Spotlight shines on Montreal in first MLS bow

Kick Off - Jesse Marsch

Photo Credit: 
ImpactMontreal.com

The moment Montreal has been waiting for is finally here.

All eyes will be on the Olympic Stadium tomorrow, when close to 60,000 fans will watch the expansion Impact play their first ever MLS home game against Chicago on Saturday afternoon (2 pm ET, TSN). Here’s a photo gallery from the open training session that drew over 2,000 to "The Big O" yesterday. (PHOTOS)

Interesting reaction from Impact right back Jeb Brovsky from the open practice: “We all looked up in awe, like we were gladiators in the Coliseum or something,” he said.

The newest Montreal Impact signing, Italian forward Bernardo Corradi, says that he’s available for this weekend’s opener: “If they need me for 90 minutes to 5 minutes I will try to do my best. Then we’ll see.” (VIDEO)

Impact manager Jesse Marsch will be facing a club in the Chicago Fire which he led to an MLS Cup title in their 1998 expansion season. Marsch’s counterpart on Saturday is Frank Klopas, who is Mr. Fire: "He truly bleeds Chicago Fire red," said captain Logan Pause said. "He loves this organization with all his heart."

Real Salt Lake showed plenty of heart in their sensational First Kick victory in LA. On Saturday they will look to keep the momentum going when they host the New York Red Bulls (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The big question is whether RSL rookie Sebastian Velasquez will get another start.

The NBC Sports Network game this weekend features the Philadelphia Union taking on the Colorado Rapids in their PPL Park opener on Sunday (4 pm ET). For a preview of the match, Union captain Danny Califf joined NBC SportsTalk. (VIDEO)

Chivas USA host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but they will be without a host of starters and the latest name on the injured list could be that of Juan Pablo Ángel. The club will be evaluating concussion symptoms experienced by the Colombian.

Meanwhile for Vancouver, Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie is slowly convincing his target striker Eric Hassli to use his head more. It turns out the Frenchman is a reluctant header of the ball after spending a week in the hospital following an incident as a teenager.

Another Vancouver forward is just eager to play. No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick Darren Mattocks is not shy about about it: "To be honest, it is frustrating," Mattocks said. "I know I can do really well, even though I'm a first-year rookie. … I'm not cocky. It's just natural for me to be really confident."

The LA Galaxy will look to recover from CONCACAF Champions League elimination when they face D.C. United on Sunday night (7 pm ET, Galavision). But the postmortem of the midweek CCL loss against Toronto FC is still ongoing and ESPNLosAngeles.com points to the issues that date back to preseason.

D.C. United will be without starters Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid, who are currently in US Olympic camp. Manager Ben Olsen has confirmed his new starting goalkeeper against LA.

Just 24 hours after their CONCACAF Champions League ouster, the LA Galaxy were busy hauling in more silverware. Captain Landon Donovan accepted the “Moment of the Year” award on behalf of his team for the Galaxy’s MLS Cup 2011 triumph at the LA Sports Awards last night.

Two other teams still convalescing from their CONCACAF Champions League participation will meet on Saturday (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE) when Toronto FC travel to face the Seattle Sounders, a club that is being linked with a failed move for Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic.

In related news, TFC announced yesterday that their CCL semis home leg against Santos Laguna will be played at BMO but that the club could be back in the Rogers Centre for a potential final against Monterrey or Pumas UNAM.

Who knew that Toronto FC Designated Player Torsten Frings was nicknamed “dummy”? US national team assistant coach Andy Herzog, a former teammate of the TFC sweeper, explains the origins.

The Portland Timbers will look to make an impression in their first road contest of 2012 when they meet FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Timbers midfielder Eric Alexander will be facing his former team for the first time: “I want to try and be a difference maker and have a big effect in the game."

Timbers backup goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is closer to becoming a London Olympian. He helped New Zealand’s U-23s to a 1-0 win over Papua New Guinea in Oceania qualifying.

Salvadoran Under-23 midfielder Jaime Alas, who is preparing for Olympic qualifying with his national team in Houston, is still holding out hope that the San Jose Earthquakes will sign him up before the close of the current transfer window. (SPANISH)

The Quakes have a second straight home game to start the season against the Houston Dynamo. The match will be played as part of a doubleheader at AT&T Park on Saturday (5 pm ET, MLS LIVE) that will also feature the Mexican Under-23 national team battling their counterparts from Senegal.

On the international scene, US national team midfielder Jermaine Jones showed the instincts of a forward in the penalty area, scoring a crucial goal for Schalke 04 in the Europa League in a successful comeback over Twente. (VIDEO)

It’s Hoffenheim taking on Stuttgart in Bundesliga action this afternoon on ESPN Deportes (3:30 pm ET). It’s also a Mexican league Friday on the tube today with Estudiantes Tecos facing Monarcas Morelia (10 pm ET, Galavision).

Speaking of Mexican soccer, Pumas UNAM drilled Isidro Metapán 8-0 in Mexico City yesterday to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semis against fellow Mexican side Monterrey. Watch the goal fest here. (VIDEO)

A Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Champions League final in Europe is still a possibility after the draw conducted earlier this morning.

Some nice words about MLS uttered by Monterrey manager Víctor Manuel Vucetich, who leads the defending CCL champs. He claims the Champions League has grown in stature partly because MLS “has grown in an extraordinary way” and that Mexican soccer should pay careful attention to their US counterparts. (SPANISH)

In addition to watching MLS matches this weekend, many will be busy shopping for the newest iPad. For those of you who do get your hands on it, here’s the list of top 50 must-have, Retina-ready apps and MLS Matchday 2012 is on the list.

In potential expansion news, MLS officials are set to visit the “Triangle” in the Carolinas. Curt Johnson, president of the Carolina RailHawks, says: “We’re one person’s decision away from [the Triangle] being an MLS marketplace, where the right person says this is a market I want to invest in.”

Lastly, the Vancouver Whitecaps players want to get a new “Whitecap Title Wave” started at BC Place when they next play at home. So what better way than the players themselves to illustrate how it’s done? (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

TSN’s Luke Wileman and Chicago’s Dominic Oduro on the latest ExtraTime Radio

An American defender jumps to the top of the first 2012 MLS Castrol Index

The Throw-In: It was a Bloody Wednesday for MLS teams in CCL


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