Kick Off: Are Galaxy regaining that championship feeling?

Are the LA Galaxy back?

A win over a last-place club wouldn’t normally mean much more than three points, but the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Sunday brought back a little bit of those old feelings. “I’m not going to make the statement that it looked like last year yet,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “If it looked like last year, we’d have a few more wins under our belt. It’s progress and hopefully we can move forward.”

Todd Dunivant got the goal on a cross from David Beckham. But the star of the night was LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who made his return from a personal absence and earned the Galaxy’s first shutout of the season. “[Josh] looks like he has some clarity in life,” Landon Donovan said. “He looks humble, he looks calm.”

On hand for the match was Great Britain Olympic coach Stuart Pearce, scouting Beckham. Pearce spent the night chatting with USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Everton stars Tim Cahill and Phil Neville.

On the Portland side, the explanation was simple enough from striker Kris Boyd: “It’s just been bad finishing.”

In Sunday’s other match, the Chicago Fire got an early goal from Patrick Nyarko and cruised to a 3-1 win over New York. The Red Bulls were missing both Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez, but Chicago fans finally got to see Chris Rolfe back in a Fire uniform. And after he scored, they gave him a scarf.

Some people have questioned MLS’ decision to take a two-week break during the international dates, but Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney is all for it. “It gives everyone – players, executives, coaches, fans – a chance to reassess and revise.”

One team that seemed particularly re-energized by the break was Supporters Shield leaders Real Salt Lake, who, according to their manager, “are champing at the bit” after beating Chivas USA 3-0 on Saturday.

Vancouver will surely breathe down RSL’s neck all season. The third-place 'Caps, who got a 1-0 win over Colorado on Saturday, owe a lot of their success to center back Jay DeMerit. The former US mainstay revealed to the Sporting News’ Brian Straus that he had some very big expectations after the 2010 World Cup.

Up in Montreal, they’re still buzzing after the Impact christened Stade Saputo with a 4-1 win over Seattle. Center back Shavar Thomas, who came on for the injured Matteo Ferrari, is wondering why he isn’t getting the call for Jamaica.

Montreal’s new DP Marco di Vaio was in attendance for the game. He is one of several players who will be eligible to play for their new MLS clubs soon, including Whitecaps midfielder Barry Robson. He will be presented to the media on Monday.

How about a rundown of the latest MLS transfer rumors? First up, Guatemalan international Jairo Arreola said he will join Slovak Super Liga club SK Slovana Bratislava, but the club says no contract has been signed. He reportedly spoke to Colorado and Dallas. (SLOVAK)

Honduran international Henry Thomas would like to join Wigan Atheltic, but says a move to MLS is in his future.

Danish defender Per Kroldrup, currently with Serie A side Fiorentina, is being linked with a move to Toronto FC. (ITALIAN)

Uruguayan winger Mateo Figoli, currently in limbo after the Mexican dispersal draft, says he’s headed either back to his homeland or to an MLS. (SPANISH)

The reports of Andriy Shevchenko’s desire to come to America could be upended if Spanish club Real Betis have their way and make their “dream” come true. (SPANISH)

Regardless of whether any of those deals materialize, Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry believes there are more Europe-based players on the verge of coming to the league.

But one European, Philadelphia’s Kai Herdling, appears headed back home when his loan deal ends at the end of the month.

Speaking of Philadelphia, no word yet on where recently dismissed manager Peter Nowak will end up, but Polish legend Jerzy Podbrożny thinks his former Chicago Fire teammate could be a good option to take over the Polish national team. (POLISH)

Staying in Europe, the final matchday of the Euro 2012 group stage continues on Monday, as Group C reaches its conclusion. Group leaders Spain and Croatia face off (ESPN, 2:45 ET), while Italy take on Robbie Keane and Ireland (ESPN2, 2:45 ET). Keane is pleased that the Irish will wear black armbands to commemorate the 18th anniversary of Loughinisland massacre, but his countryman Roy Keane says the Galaxy striker shouldn’t even start the final match.

Lastly, have you ever wanted to own part of Roy Keane’s former club, Manchester United? You might have a chance soon.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

The excellence of Espindola

"12th player" key to Montreal success at Stade Saputo

GOAL: Le Toux's stunning one-time volley


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