Kick Off: Toronto FC exude confidence ahead of Mexico trip

Kick Off - Milos Kocic

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Rarely has a home loss sparked this much confidence.

As they travel to Mexico today ahead of Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League second leg semifinal against Santos Laguna (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer and TeleFutura), Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic says the team’s showing in a 1-0 loss to Columbus last Saturday bodes well: “Now defensively we look pretty good. If we keep that shape in Mexico, we shouldn't have any problems,” he said.

TFC manager Aron Winter is making sure his team is mentally prepared for the trip to Mexico: “You can expect everything,” he said. “That happens in those countries and you can't change it. It's a pity that you can't change it but they're going to try everything.”

The Dutch manager went as far as comparing matches played in Mexico to games he played in Turkey. Forward Ryan Johnson says the Santos players even promised “war” as they were leaving the field last week. And there was plenty of other language that the Jamaican international could not even bring himself to repeat.

Toronto FC supporters received some good news ahead of tomorrow’s massive clash: Experienced defender Adrian Cann will be traveling and he says he’s available to the manager.

Meanwhile, fans around the league are already looking forward to this Saturday’s battle between Sporting Kansas City, a perfect 4-0-0 this season, and the defending MLS Cup champs LA Galaxy on ESPN (4 pm ET). Galaxy supporters should know this: Sporting are 8-0-0 all-time when C.J. Sapong scores a goal. “We probably haven’t played to our fullest potential yet,” says last year’s Rookie of the Year.

FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman whipped out the “Tunnel of Love” drill to get his team ready for Thursday’s match against the New England Revolution. The good news in Dallas is that Fabián Castillo and George John, who missed last Friday’s match in D.C., went through practice without a hitch.

We’re getting to know some more about one of Real Salt Lake’s heroes from Saturday night’s dramatic 3-2 win in Portland, Jonny Steele. He was offered a contract by Real Salt Lake back in 2009 but declined it to play in the minor leagues. “You learn from your mistakes,” he says.

As thrilling as the win was for RSL fans, it was as devastating for their Portland Timbers counterparts. Yesterday, Portland manager John Spencer was still busy explaining a key substitution that some feel influenced the final outcome.

The Chicago Fire, who will have a bye weekend coming up, are still kicking themselves over the 2-0 loss in Colorado: "That game was there for the taking," captain Logan Pause said. "It was really an unfortunate result.”

The Washington Post highlights the fact that two D.C. United players wore hoodies during team photos before Friday’s match against FC Dallas, a gesture that has been widely used to protest the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. (PHOTO)

Are the LA Galaxy set to sign a local SoCal youth soccer star who reportedly did well at tryouts with La Liga club Sevilla and EPL side Manchester City?

The Galaxy took on Chivas USA in a Reserve League match and Cesar Romero put forth his candidacy to help Chivas USA end their goal-scoring troubles with a hat trick in a 4-2 win: “He makes good runs in behind, and if he continues to do that, I think he'll score goals in this league,” says manager Robin Fraser.

For your podcast fix today, we submit to you the Nos Audietis show from Seattle, who are already previewing their next match in D.C., the Yanks Abroad podcast is out and North of 49 had Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie.

Rennie’s starting goalkeeper, Joe Cannon, believes his recent Save of the Week victories have come as a result of getting “the old man votes” now that ex-Sounders ‘keeper Kasey Keller has retired. Check back on MLSsoccer.com to vote for this week’s Save of the Week candidates.

Speaking of the Whitecaps, the Vancouver Sun created a map showcasing the origins of all their players: 17 different countries and seven different languages. How does the club make sure they all come together seamlessly? Find out here.

This is salt in the wound for American soccer fans who are still grappling with Olympic elimination: An American scored the game-winner for Mexico in extra time as they came from behind to beat Honduras in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying final. Watch the highlights here. (VIDEO)

The Honduran side is already thinking about the Olympics. Their manager says he wants an overage player in each sector of the field and that Roger Espinoza of Sporting Kansas City is an option. (SPANISH)

Staying with international soccer, read about the American-born former MLS player who is now trying to rebuild his career in the Colombian first division.

Let’s talk fantasy soccer. A different type of fantasy soccer, like the article that says the sport in America needs a Premier League team to move to New York to succeed.

Speaking of New York, the Giorgio Chinaglia memories are still pouring in. Here are two long-time writers with their personal memories of the man who was larger than life: Paul Gardner of Soccer America recalls his interviews with the ex-Cosmos forward, George Vecsey compares Chinaglia to New York’s most “headstrong” stars, while David Hirshey packages some of the absolute best Chinaglia one-liners.

Back in Europe, the attention turns to the UEFA Champions League which will determine its first two semifinalists today. Barcelona host AC Milan after a 0-0 first leg in Italy (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes), while Bayern Munich have a 2-0 advantage as they face Olympique Marseille (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus). Later tonight Fox Deportes features the Copa Libertadores match between Deportivo Táchira and Cruz Azul (9 pm ET).

Win or lose, that AC Milan side has a date at FedEx Field on July 28, according to this report by Steven Goff of The Washington Post. AC Milan will apparently face Chelsea FC in a doubleheader that will include D.C. United battling a yet-to-be-named Italian side.

Here’s a ball boy incident that will bring a smile to your face: He jumps onto the field to stop a goal against his team and then promptly gets back to work. (VIDEO)

This is a gentleman’s game and San Jose Earthquakes forwards Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski are proof of it. It earned them a spot in the heart of Kickette. (PHOTO)

Lastly, many have yet to see it: David Beckham’s new Burger King commercial. Watch it here. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Revolution boss Jay Heaps and Santos Laguna’s American forward Herculez Gomez on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio

American midfielder captures league championship in Europe

KickTV showcases the Top Goals in MLS and the best strikes from around the world


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