Kick Off: 'Caps manager not ready to crown SKC as best

Kick Off - Martin Rennie

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“They are the favorites.”

Those are the words of Vancouver Whitecaps forward Sebastien Le Toux as his team gets set to welcome Sporting Kansas City and their perfect record (6-0-0) at BC Place tonight (10 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE).

But despite the fact that Sporting have steamrolled the competition to start the 2012 regular season campaign, Vancouver manager Martin Rennie refused to call them the best team in the league: "Kansas City are the form team at the moment. We find out who the best team is in quite a few months.”

Sporting Kansas City still remember the pain of giving up a two-goal lead on the road in Vancouver last year as the Whitecaps stormed back for a 3-3 tie. This year’s Sporting say they have learned from those 2011 experiences: “We expect to lock it down every game. Things are going very well right now, and when you play with confidence you usually get the result,” said SKC defender Matt Besler.

Vancouver forward Eric Hassli promises that the Whitecaps are “not scared” of facing Sporting KC but goalkeeper Joe Cannon does have his reservations: "We just have to match their intensity and get our crowd into it," he said. "If they keep the crowd out of it like the last [home game against D.C. United], it will be hard for us to go on adrenaline alone."

It’s worth noting that the Whitecaps will be playing at the same time that the NHL Vancouver Canucks face the LA Kings in a must-win playoff hockey game for the defending Western Conference champs.

“With the way things are going for the Canucks, we want to be not a team to lean on, but a team fans are able to look at and cheer for,” says Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit.

One last piece to get you riled up for this match: A lengthy feature on Young-Pyo Lee in which you will see a side of a soccer player that is rare, to say the least. He’s a deep thinker: “The picture from behind is so truthful," he says about a photo somebody took of him from the back. "Somebody can control the front. For example, somebody can put on makeup. To see from behind is more honest.”

In the other MLS midweek match D.C. United host the expansion Montreal Impact at RFK Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). United manager Ben Olsen has big decisions to make with his starting XI – he won’t say whether Joe Willis or Bill Hamid will get the nod tonight – and he knows D.C.’s hands are full against Montreal: “They’re certainly a better team than their record [1-5-1] indicates. They lost a couple late that they deserved more out of.”

There’s no surprise that the Impact have publicly stated they will be keying in on D.C. United playmaker Dwayne De Rosario: “He's the guy that makes their team tick,'' said Montreal manager Jesse Marsch. ''We have to make sure we identify him and make it hard for him.”

It wasn’t hard for San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas to forgive New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Marquez for the incident which will require surgery to be performed later today to repair Salinas’ broken left clavicle.

We’ll see if word comes down today on a potential suspension for Marquez from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. “What I’ve heard is they’re going to review four incidents,” said Red Bulls GM Erik Soler. “There are clearly incidents where they could take some action. We’ll see when the review comes. I suppose I’ll hear something.”

Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis gave his review of the play which resulted in the injury to Salinas: “Horrible. I don’t know how the referee doesn’t see that as a foul. … There’s four referees on the field. Four.”

Five. That’s the number of consecutive losses for Toronto FC to start 2012, but there’s still great optimism coming out of TFC’s camp ahead of their upcoming match against Chicago: “In MLS, you win back-to-back games and you’re back in it again,” defender Adrian Cann said. “Ultimately, this game Saturday is crucial for us to get back into the thick of things.”

We’re 100 days from the London Olympics and the list of candidates in the running for a spot on the Great Britain Olympic soccer team has been whittled down from 191 to 80, and LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham survived the cut. It’s likely he survives future cuts as well, given some of the names being considered.

Although suffering through a four-match losing streak, tomorrow is a big day for the Portland Timbers, who will inaugurate a new training center in Beaverton, Oregon.

Recent Timbers trialist Brett Evans has returned to his South African club Ajax Cape Town in anticipation of word from Portland: "I enjoyed my time at Portland Timbers, now I'll wait on their response."

Columbus Crew manager Robert Warzycha is not waiting any more and he’s potentially looking at shuffling his formation to give a jolt to his team after their recent run of disappointing results: Rookie Ethan Finlay was at forward in yesterday’s practice and Eddie Gaven played at attacking midfield in place of Milovan Mirosevic.

Newly acquired Chris Rolfe makes his first appearance at Chicago Fire training today and will speak to media following the session. In the meantime, read what Kyle McCarthy thinks of the impact he'll have on the Fire's lineup.

For your podcast fix today, the latest Capital Soccer Show talks to DC manager Ben Olsen ahead of the Montreal match, QuakesCast have an exclusive chat with Shea Salinas, the North of 49 podcast interviews Toronto FC’s Adrian Cann and the Goats Talk Podcast talk Chivas USA.

Speaking of the Goats, they may get some good news tomorrow regarding the availability of star striker Juan Pablo Angel, who hopes he’ll be able to pass the league’s concussion protocol and be available for selection this weekend.

Chivas USA hope to have found their next JPA in the person of Jose Erick Correa, who was acquired this week from Colombian side Boyaca Chico: “He's definitely one of the very promising forwards in Colombia,” says Chivas manager Robin Fraser, who gives an assessment of the player here.

Correa adds to the healthy foreign contingent in MLS. It turns out that the total number of countries represented in MLS (60) blows away the other American pro sports leagues by comparison.

Honduras Under-23 Olympic goalkeeper Jose Mendoza wants to add to the Honduran contingent, claiming to have offers from MLS and Sweden. He says his future will be determined in May. (SPANISH)

Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero reveals how being out of contract on June 30 “scares me a little bit.” But he will use his experience playing video games to help him: "I cannot imagine my future, it is a huge change … But I will live this challenge as I did when I was playing a video game as a kid - this is a new level to overcome."

MLS All-Star opponents Chelsea FC will have to overcome a new level if they are to get by FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semifinal series, which gets underway with the first leg this afternoon (2:30 p.m. ET, FX and Fox Deportes).

Meanwhile, before yesterday’s 2-1 Bayern Munich victory over Real Madrid in the other UEFA Champions League semifinal, Cristiano Ronaldo apparently had three pairs of boots stolen from the club’s locker room at the Allianz Arena. And he wasn’t the only one.

In Champions League action from CONCACAF, tonight will see the final’s first leg take place between Mexican clubs Monterrey and Santos Laguna: “It won’t be an easy series for either team,” said Santos Laguna’s American star Herculez Gomez. “But it definitely isn’t going to be a boring one either.” (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Telefutura)

Another Mexican side, Cruz Azul, are also in action tonight against Paraguay’s Nacional in a Copa Libertadores match (9 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes).

Former US national team manager Bob Bradley continues Egypt’s unbeaten run, which has now reached eight matches after a 0-0 tie yesterday.

Lastly, thanks to Soccer America, we bring you this rare goal scored in a U-15 match in New York. A back heel that leads to a bike? Worth the watch. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Power Rankings: DC United are on the move

Vote for one of five goalkeepers in the latest MLS Save of the Week

Opta Spotlight: What makes Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper so lethal?


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