Kick Off: Timbers feel the heat after JELD-WEN collapse

Kick Off - Lovel Palmer

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The pressure is mounting in Portland.

With three straight losses, including two at home, Timbers right back Lovel Palmer is taking the latest defeat against Chivas USA to heart.

Second-half sub Ryan Smith burned Palmer on crosses for both Chivas USA goals as the Goats won at JELD-WEN Field, 2-1, on Saturday night. “People probably blame me for the goals,” Palmer told The Oregonian. "You have to look at yourself in the mirror. You have to be fair with yourself. I'm a hard judge of myself, and I definitely need to step up.”

What more motivation to step up than to see another fullback brought into Timbers camp for a one-week trial. His name is Brett Evans, and he has played for the South African national team.

Watch this video of Portland manager John Spencer, who even in his “no comment,” displays an interesting reaction when asked about possible lineup changes against the LA Galaxy. (VIDEO)

Staying in Cascadia, Alex Morgan finally donned her rave green Seattle Sounders kit for the first time (see photo here) as the Sounders Women took the pitch at Starfire for a 5-0 Monday night exhibition win over Seattle Pacific. "With the WPS, we were lucky getting a crowd like this," Morgan said. "This was maybe a crowd we'd get directly after the World Cup."

Meanwhile, the Sounders men's side hasn’t given up a goal since Jeff Parke was reinstalled in the back line in place of the injured Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Parke previously expressed his displeasure at being left out and was asked about manager Sigi Schmid’s reaction to his return: “I don’t know if he had much of a choice though, because Kennedy got hurt and I’m the only guy right there," Parke said. "I think it was just kind of fortunate, and [Sigi’s] probably just shaking his head a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Sounders defender Marc Burch is still dwelling on the stoppage-time opportunity he had against his former club, D.C. United, last weekend. His header finished against the right post: “[D.C. midfielder Chris] Pontius said he didn’t think he would have ever played again if I would have scored because I was his man [on the play],” Burch told media.

Expect Sounders forward Eddie Johnson to see action in tonight’s Reserve League match against the Portland Timbers: “We need to continue to build his competitive minutes," Schmid says.

It’s a rivalry day in Reserve League action on Tuesday. In addition to Seattle vs. Portland, Sporting Kansas City welcome the Chicago Fire and FC Dallas host the Houston Dynamo.

For MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager players out there, here’s an article which attempts to handicap what the Houston Dynamo midfield will look like in Chicago next weekend given the absences of three starters, including the injured Brad Davis.

Fantasy players that have FC Dallas winger Brek Shea on their team should keep him in the lineup. This article shows how Shea’s performance has improved from one week to the next. But here’s the real question: Does he play better when Zach Loyd is the fullback on his flank?

Keep an eye out for this transaction: Toronto FC have reportedly signed a new backup goalkeeper from their academy to replace the injured Stefan Frei.

The hype for Saturday’s Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake matchup between the two conference leaders continued on the radio show “On Frame” yesterday. Catch interviews with SKC’s Kei Kamara and RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. (AUDIO)

There’s a new twist to the potential move to MLS by Honduran Under-23 star Wilmer Crisanto. He is convinced that his contract with his Honduran club expires at the end of the current Honduran league season, but it has emerged that he has two years remaining. He still wants out, with D.C. United and FC Dallas reportedly in the running for his signature. (SPANISH)

Mexican soccer is featured in The New York Times, which has a story about the return to the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez by the reporter who was once embedded with the now-defunct Indios soccer team and wrote a book about them. Read about what he saw in his return to the city.

Also on the international stage, former US international Gregg Berhalter won his first game in charge of Swedish second-division club Hammarby last night.

Apparently Hammarby passed on the opportunity to sign current Colorado Rapids forward Kamani Hill, who trialed with the team in November 2011 before Berhalter took over. “They said they were going to invite me back in January, but then they changed their coach and I never heard anything,” Hill said.

Coaches have a lot of information at their disposal these days about their players. Take the heart monitors used around MLS. In this feature piece, one athletic trainer scoffs at how some players chafe against the monitors: "Those players are afraid of us looking at the numbers and saying, 'You need to run a little bit more, because the numbers show you're not working very hard.'"

They’re working hard all across Europe, where the league schedules never seem to stop. Today’s action has Blackburn hosting Liverpool (3 pm ET, Fox Soccer) from England, while Michael Bradley and Chievo Verona could impact the Italian Serie A title race when they host second-place AC Milan (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Deportes). Barcelona host Getafe in La Liga (3 pm ET, ESPN Deportes), and the afternoon kicks off with the Bundesliga match between Mainz and FC Cologne (2 pm ET, GolTV). In the evening there’s a Copa Libertadores tripleheader on Fox Deportes beginning at 5:30 pm ET.

There were plenty of Americans in action on Monday. If you missed Clint Dempsey’s 16th English Premier League goal against Chelsea yesterday, here it is again in the highlights. And here’s a recap of how the other yanks abroad fared.

Lastly, you’ve probably heard about the Easter Egg Roll held at the White House. This year three MLS clubs were represented.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

ExtraTime Radio: Captain Jack on what’s gone wrong in Portland, Hans Backe on NYRB

Opta Spotlight: Sporting Kansas City’s pressure is the key

Goal of the Week: Vote for the best finish from Week 5


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