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Kick Off: How should Sounders fans receive Rapids' Mullan?

Kick Off - Brian Mullan

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It’s one of the chief story lines heading into the weekend of MLS action.

How will Seattle Sounders fans receive Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan on his first game at CenturyLink Field since causing the injury that still has fan favorite Steve Zakuani on the sidelines?

One Seattle columnist suggests that Sounders fans turn the other cheek: “The better thing would be to maintain a silence at his introduction, sight or ball possession. The best thing would be polite applause,” writes Art Thiel. “Grudges only inflame contempt. Nothing good comes from belligerence toward an unintentional, albeit ghastly, moment that is severely regretted, and already forgiven.”

Will Sounders fans take his recommendation?

Another Cascadia team that will have the eyes of the league on them is the Portland Timbers, who travel to face the LA Galaxy after three losses on the trot. Manager John Spencer is confident his team will come out of the funk: “There will come a time in the season when we look back on this month and say, 'My God, that was a [expletive] month.”

Meanwhile, on the heels of the performance by Lovel Palmer against Chivas USA’s Ryan Smith in a 2-1 home loss over the weekend, the Timbers are reportedly pursuing a new right back with news of Austrian Andreas Dober flying to Portland today to conduct negotiations.

Another new arrival is Harrison Henao, who joins the Colorado Rapids. This blog post has a four-minute video of the former Once Caldas player. From the highlights, it looks like the Colombian is a ball-winner. (VIDEO)

Many have criticized Rapids manager Oscar Pareja for moving center back Drew Moor to central midfield for the turnovers that occurred but the Colombian head coach doesn’t want to hear it: "I thought Drew was one of the best players on the field," Pareja said. "I don't do it just because I want to make an experiment. I do it because I see the game and I analyze what we want. The plan in Salt Lake, I would do it again. And they may see it again."

In preparation for Saturday’s clash of conference leaders in Kansas City, here’s an ESPN.com feature on Sporting KC defender Aurélien Collin, who despite his style on the field, has style: "He brings out the flavor, I give him credit for that,” says teammate Kei Kamara. “He's coming out really GQ wherever he goes, and he makes you want to go into your closet and bring out something good.”

Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis is trying to downplay the significance of the match against Sporting: "It's a big game as far as the records we both have, but it's still worth only three points, last time I checked," he said.

RSL defender Nat Borchers has been singing SKC’s praises since last year: "I remember seeing them play," Borchers said, "and seeing how many numbers they push forward, how dominant they are at home, and how physical they are, and thinking, ‘Wow, this is a good team.’”

The LA Galaxy were the most recent victim of Sporting KC’s dominating run. The Galaxy’s slow start to 2012 has one writer questioning whether it will cost star midfielder David Beckham when it comes to his dreams for this summer’s Olympic games in London.

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli is also dreaming … of scoring. It’s been 14 games without a goal for the Frenchman and he’s desperate to find the back of the net: “I just want to score, even if it's with my butt,” he says.

Do the Whitecaps have the next Brek Shea on their hands? Manager Martin Rennie is hoping last year’s No. 1 overall pick Omar Salgado can do it. He’s been playing at left wing in recent practices: "If Omar learns more about the position and his fitness keeps getting better, then he could be really good in that position [left wing] because he's quite active," Rennie said.

In Montreal, they’re just happy to see that experienced defender Nelson Rivas is almost back from a hamstring injury that he suffered during preseason. There’s even a specific timeline nowadays: "Hopefully by the next home game [against Portland on April 28], or the one after that, he can start being available,” says Sporting Director Nick DeSantis.

The Impact are getting set to face FC Dallas and Schellas Hyndman is aware of Montreal’s style, which he feels is characterized by their league-leading foul total: “I think that’s because they’re hungry and it’s the coaching mentality. Jesse Marsch is a guy that’s always been a battler, very courageous, a fighter. A lot of times your team will reflect the coach.”

Another Canadian team is in the news. This report says that Toronto FC were actively shopping goalkeeper Stefan Frei before he suffered a long-term injury.

It sounds like it’s former German World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich who’s set to take the place of the injured Cory Gibbs in the Chicago Fire back line: "Arne's definitely fit to do the job," said central defender Jalil Anibaba. "Cory's an irreplaceable asset to this team, but Arne's a person a lot of guys on the team can learn from with his leadership and work ethic."

The Fire’s Pável Pardo is pretty confident in his team’s ability to beat the Houston Dynamo this Sunday at Toyota Park even without Gibbs: “If we play our game, and we’ve always played well at home, I think that we won’t have any difficulty [to win.]” (SPANISH)

Young midfielder Rafael Baca has not had much difficulty becoming a key part of the San Jose Earthquakes midfield. But the team almost passed up on him like several other MLS sides: "It was like, 'OK, he's a foreign player with visa issues to get through,'" Yallop said. "'Is it worth our time and efforts?'” Find out Baca’s immigration story here.

It was a question of migration for Paolo Cardozo – from one end of the hallway to the other – after being traded from the LA Galaxy to another LA-based club, Chivas USA. It was his first taste of a trade which rarely occurs in other leagues: “It's weird because it only happened here,” Cardozo said. “One moment you're a player with one team, and then the next moment you're with another team.

New England’s Shalrie Joseph says that the one-game suspension he received for his tackle on Ricardo Villar left a “hole in his chest” and he disagrees with the Disciplinary Committee ruling. But the league’s VP of competition sticks by the group’s decision: “It’s from behind, it’s late, it’s not on the ball. It’s through the man, and his trailing leg also wraps around the trail leg of the attacking player, crumpling that leg inside of Joseph’s body and leg. And the mere result that the player was injured in and of itself almost makes it reckless.”

Get your podcast fix today with Seeing Red and their interview with goalkeeper Ryan Meara and the Nos Audietis preview of the Colorado matchup. Meanwhile, the Midnight Ride talks about the Shalrie Joseph suspension.

This report from Peru says that Luis Advíncula, nicknamed “Bolt,” will not be coming to MLS after all. But the report mentions the name of the MLS side that was pursuing him: the Houston Dynamo. (SPANISH)

After their 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew players are expecting a lineup shake-up ahead of the NBC Sports Network match in Philadelphia (3:30 pm ET). There were early signs in practice yesterday: “I’m sure there will be some changes before Philly,” said defender Eric Gehrig.

Crew fans have a reason to cheer. Forward Olman Vargas scored last night in his debut for the Costa Rican national team in a 1-1 exhibition tie against Honduras. (SPANISH)

There is La Liga action from Spain on GolTV beginning with Villarreal vs. Malaga (2 pm ET) and Sevilla vs. Real Zaragoza (4 pm ET). ESPN Deportes is carrying Racing Santander vs. Mallorca (3 pm ET). Italian Serie A action features Bologna vs. Cagliari (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes) and a Copa Libertadores doubleheader featuring two Brazilian clubs beginning at 6:30 pm ET on Fox Deportes.

Some more international talk related to the US national team. ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas didn’t like that technical director Claudio Reyna was on the bench alongside Caleb Porter during the Olympics: “When it comes to Claudio Reyna and his role with US Soccer, either he's a coach or he's a technical director. So I don't like to see him on the bench. I think that was wrong and inappropriate.”

We leave you with a few goals made in the USA: Jozy Altidore scored twice for AZ Alkmaar and Daniel Williams also got on the board in the German Bundesliga. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Anatomy of a Goal: Kei Kamara’s goal against the LA Galaxy

WATCH: The MLSsoccer.com Not Goal of the Week

Between the Lines: The Armchair Analyst with a closer look at the near-post run


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