Kick Off: US Olympic coach guarantees win vs. El Salvador

Kick Off - Caleb Porter

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US Soccer

The US Olympic team knew they’d have at least one must-win game during CONCACAF qualifying. But they didn’t think it’d come this early.

Saturday’s shock 2-0 loss to Canada in Group A qualifying sets up today’s do-or-die match against El Salvador (9 pm ET, Universal Sports and mun2). Anything but a win and the USA can kiss London goodbye.

At least manager Caleb Porter is confident: “Players are confident we can get the job done. There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to get the result.”

Before the US Olympic team plays, you can watch what is expected to be a Canadian win against Cuba for a place in one of the semifinals in Kansas City (6:30 pm ET, Mun2).

Porter’s U-23 group hopes they can bounce back as effectively as the Red Bulls did in MLS play. New York jumped all over a depleted Colorado Rapids side with two goals in the opening six minutes en route to a 4-1 win on Sunday (watch the highlights here). “I wouldn’t say this was a must-win, but almost,” Red Bulls Coach Hans Backe said. “Confidence-wise, the players were a little shaky.”

Look who was at the Red Bulls’ match: Spike Lee, who had time for one important Red Bull player. (PHOTO)

Sporting Kansas City are the only team with a 100 percent record on the season, registering their third straight win to start the campaign, 2-1 against FC Dallas on Sunday night, thanks to a late goal by Kei Kamara, who missed a penalty earlier in the second half. Watch the highlights here. Defender Aurélien Collin sums up his team’s performance: “Confident. Fighting, but not crazy. The cold blood.”

Aside from the goal conceded at the very end of the first half, the big blow suffered by an already decimated FC Dallas team was the injury to playmaker Ricardo Villar which forced him out during the break: “Not having him out there, I felt that if we could come away with a point, it would have been a good accomplishment,” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman said.

Sporting Kansas City fans didn’t have to miss out on the Kansas Jayhawks’ victory that sent them to the Final Four. This report says the basketball game was being shown on the big board, with the updated score of the NCAA game posted on the scoreboard during player intros.

Chivas USA registered the most sensational win on Saturday, winning at Real Salt Lake 1-0 (watch the highlights here). The Goats’ game plan was no secret: defend and frustrate RSL, whose manager Jason Kreis was still confident in the postgame press conference: “Not talking about the result, Watch the highlights here. I am pretty pleased with the performance again. We created a ton of chances. … On a different night, we win that game by multiple goals."

As ESPNLosAngeles.com beat reporter Scott French points out, “In three games, Chivas has created only seven true [scoring] opportunities,” but manager Robin Fraser will take it: “When times got tough tonight, our guys dug in and dug deep and defended like nothing else mattered,” he said.

A 3-0 home loss to the San Jose Earthquakes (watch the highlights here) doesn’t bode well for Toronto FC ahead of its first leg CONCACAF Champions League semifinal against Santos Laguna on Wednesday. "You can lose a game, but not the way we lost the game today,” said TFC manager Aron Winter.

Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly identifies what he believes to be one reason for the loss: the performance of Designated Player Julian de Guzman.

Chicago media hailed the Fire’s Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi and his two big saves near the end of a narrow 1-0 win over the visiting Philadelphia Union in Saturday’s home opener (watch the highlights here). “I came here and can help,” Tornaghi said after the win.

But the bigger story is the fact that the Philadelphia Union have three losses to start the season and a match-up with Sébastien Le Toux and Vancouver looming next weekend. “It's never easy to look at the standings after the game, it's not easy for the guys in the locker room, and it's not easy for the guys on the coaching staff,” Union manager Peter Nowak said.

An undermanned New England Revolution side, featuring midfielder Shalrie Joseph playing along the back line, used the eighth fastest goal ever from the start of an MLS match to win 1-0 against the Portland Timbers (watch the highlights here). Revs manager Jay Heaps may have to deal with another loss of a starter after right back Kevin Alston took a bicycle kick to the face: “Kevin’s nose is crooked,’’ Heaps said. “It’s not pretty. He’s got to get a second [mask] fitted because this one, his nose is so the other way now.”

Portland manager John Spencer acknowledged that his Timbers have to start matches better after falling behind for a third straight match to start the season: “If you come out and you’re sloppy and you’re lazy and you don’t close the ball down, you’re going to get punished, and that’s certainly what happened today.”

The Columbus Crew also rewarded the home crowd with a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday (watch the highlights here). For a glimpse at the color and energy brought by the Crew supporters for the home opener, check out this video.

Everyone is talking about the Crew’s newcomers but how about the performance from long-serving Columbus back-up goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who came up with several big saves. As regular starter William Hesmer works his way to recovery, Gruenebaum is not ready to give up the spot: “Hopefully, it’s my job to lose.”

The Vancouver Whitecaps have yet to concede a goal this season but it’s their attack that is the concern after a 0-0 home draw against D.C. United (watch the highlights here). "Offensively, we didn't play good," midfielder Davide Chiumiento told The Province. "It's good we're disappointed. We have to improve a lot to be a really good team."

The Seattle Sounders’ 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Friday night is still being talked about today (watch the highlights here). It’s not about a play that took place on the field but something that was said to a ball kid by Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark. Here’s a column by John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News on the subject.

The best goal of the weekend by an American based abroad was scored by you know who: Santos Laguna’s Herculez Gomez finds the top corner with this header and then, not to be outdone in Mexico, DaMarcus Beasley’s gets Puebla’s equalizer against Cruz Azul here. (VIDEO)

Former New England Revolution center back Michael Parkhurst also registered a goal in Denmark for Nordsjaelland. (VIDEO)

The biggest match this weekend for an American based abroad comes later this afternoon when Manchester United battle Fulham and American Clint Dempsey at 3 pm ET on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Can the US international influence the English Premier League title race?

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Philadelphia feeling pressure after Chicago loss: “We need three points more than ever”

US Player Ratings: Canada exposes more than handful of deficiencies

Find out more about your big chance to live out your “MLS Dream”


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