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Kick Off: Is Wednesday's Seattle-LA matchup a rivalry?

Kick Off, May 2, 2012: Seattle-LA

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Is Wednesday's matchup between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy a rivalry? 

That's a question many fans and even players have been considering these past few days ahead of the game at CenturyLink Field (10 pm ET watch LIVE online). Considering the Galaxy have had the upper hand almost from the get-go between the two teams, LA midfielder Mike Magee says it plainly: “I wouldn't say it's one of the bigger [rivalries].”

The Sounders, meanwhile, have stuck to the script all week about the importance of tonight’s matchup.  Head coach Sigi Schmid told the media again on Tuesday that the club will use the Galaxy matchup as a measuring stick, and he’ll do the same as a head coach.

One player new to the rivalry is Seattle striker Eddie Johnson, who found himself slightly lighter in the wallet on Tuesday. That’s when the MLS Disciplinary Committee came down with an undisclosed fine for Johnson’s postgame gestures towards fans after the Sounders’ 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire last Saturday at Toyota Park.

Despite the fine, however, there’s little concern that Johnson has been a solid addition to the Sounders so far this season. The Seattle Times looks back at his career and what’s ahead, with Schmid insisting that Johnson has been "great in the locker room.”

One particular guy won't be in the LA locker room: David Beckham.
 

The decision presumably alters the plans of Great Britain Olympic soccer coach Stuart Pearce, who last week said he would be in Seattle to watch Beckham to determine if Beckham will be included on the Olympic roster.

The battle in Seattle isn’t the only MLS matchup on Wednesday. In fact, there are two more on the MLS docket and two in the Amway Canadian Championship, where we find Toronto FC struggling to find some traction early in 2012.

But is head coach Aron Winter concerned about the first leg of the team’s semifinal matchup against the Montreal Impact in Olympic Stadium (8 pm ET, Rogers Sportnet in Canada)? It doesn’t appear so. Check out the confidence emanating from TFC camp, despite an 0-7 start to the regular season.

The matchup poses a bit of a trap for the Montreal Impact, meanwhile, and head coach Jesse Marsch knows it. That’s why he was more than willing to let a familiar face into the locker room this week to prep the Impact players on the importance of the tournament and clinching Canada’s berth in the CONCACAF Champions League this summer.

It looks like Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, however, might not get the start on Wednesday night. That makes room for MLS veteran and Canada native Greg Sutton.

The Vancouver Whitecaps take on NASL side FC Edmonton in Alberta on the other side of the bracket (10 pm ET, Rogers Sportsnet in Canada), but the ‘Caps won’t travel with the entire first team. Check out who didn’t make the trip.

Back to the MLS docket, where the upstart San Jose Earthquakes host D.C. United at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) with plenty on the line. The San Jose Mercury News takes an in-depth look at the career of Quakes head coach Frank Yallop, who looks back at his ill-fated time with the LA Galaxy with a simple diagnosis: "In the end, all the weight of the club was on me.”

D.C. United head west with one of the hottest streaks in the league and the second spot in the Eastern Conference standings. But that didn’t matter much last week to midfielder Danny Cruz, who recently visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and came away with a new appreciation for his father, a veteran of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids will also tangle on Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium (8 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but not everyone initially expected will be in attendance. Rapids striker Conor Casey did not travel with the team as he continues to work his way back to fitness.

Remember that postgame scuffle from over the weekend between the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders? Jalil Anibaba certainly does. But the Fire defender was still wondering on Tuesday how exactly he got a red card in the match, or what he got it for, thanks to a bit of a communication snafu.

Both Anibaba and head coach Frank Klopas will miss the team’s game against Chivas USA on Friday night as a result of their actions in the Seattle game, and both have declined to appeal the league’s decision.

Let’s head down to Houston, where the countdown is on for the Houston Dynamo’s christening of BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12. The traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony was held there on Tuesday, with Houston Mayor Annise Parker dubbing the new digs a “truly fine venue.”

The news out of Chivas USA these days is good, despite the team’s flop last weekend in Colorado. That’s because there’s help finally in camp in the form of Colombian youngster José Erik Correa, and the word that veteran striker Alejandro Moreno has come off the injury list after suffering a recent concussion.

The word out of the Rose City isn’t quite as, well, rosy. That’s because there’s some question about the health of goalkeeper Troy Perkins after he took a boot to the face last time out against the Montreal Impact, and it’ll be an interesting call to see if he can suit up this weekend against Columbus.

And what did soft-spoken Timbers head coach John Spencer say about the play that left Perkins bloodied and bashed? Not much. Just that Sanna Nyassi's tackle was a "stone cold red card."

The Crew kept busy on Tuesday when they made their return to the Connor Senn Memorial match after missing the event last year. The event drew a hardy, rain-soaked crowd, with all eyes on raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest.

The injury-riddled New York Red Bulls return to action this weekend at the LA Galaxy, and they got at least a little bit of good news on Tuesday. After word was confirmed that striker Thierry Henry will indeed miss a month of action with his hamstring injury, head coach Hans Backe revealed that youngster Juan Agudelo could see some minutes in LA while continuing his recovery from the knee injury he sustained last month.

Staying in New York, The New York Times "Goal" blog offers some insight into the strategy behind YouTube's new soccer channel, KickTV.  

Looking quickly across the pond at some international action, US international Clint Dempsey was back at it with Fulham on Tuesday in a 1-0 win for the Cottagers against Liverpool. Dempsey missed his chances at individual glory, but here’s the big picture: The win was Fulham’s first ever at Anfield.

And count former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli as one of those in Dempsey’s corner. He says he wouldn’t be surprised if a big club makes a move for the former MLS star this summer.

And finally, David Beckham showed up near the top of the Kick Off. He might as well show up near the end, too. After all, Wednesday marks his 37th birthday. So how did he and wife Victoria celebrate? By taking in a Lakers game, of course.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Team of the Week, Week 8: Move aside, superstars

Rookie Rankings: Rapids' Cascio on the rise

Gaudette steps in admirably for Galaxy


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