Kick Off: USOC scuffle ignites Seattle-San Jose rivalry

Kick Off - Eddie Johnson (June 24, 2012)

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Those people who come up with nicknames for rivalries are getting busy this morning coming up with one for the San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders.

It’s hard to believe the two clubs will soon forget Tuesday night’s fracas at the end of a US Open Cup quarterfinal victory for visiting Seattle at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Cordell Cato, who unsuccessfully trialed with San Jose, scored the lone goal (watch it here). "It did get a little out of hand, but that is just a sign of the passion to win," Cato said.

“I think there’s always a rivalry between us and Seattle,” said San Jose manager Frank Yallop. “We got to look forward to that.”

The Seattle Times reports “three rounds of melees” between the Quakes and Sounders and the match concluded with a bench-clearing brawl which saw Sounders forward Eddie Johnson front and center (watch the video here).

"All the reports that I heard is that [Johnson] was celebrating in front of our bench and yelling at our fans, and [Quakes reserve defender Jed Zayner] told him just go do it over on his side," says San Jose star forward Chris Wondolowski. "And he took a swing and hit Jed in the eye."

San Jose was also enraged by the lack of a penalty kick call for what they believed was a Seattle hand ball in the dying moments of the match: "Guy made a last-ditch effort just to save the goal, and it was a great save. I think it was a save that [Quakes goalkeepers Jon] Busch or [David] Bingham would be proud of," Wondolowski said.

Now after proving to the rest of MLS that they can win on the road in the Open Cup, the Sounders will return home to host Chivas USA in the semis on July 10. The Goats got another dramatic stoppage-time goal to down the Charlotte Eagles 2-1 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif.

Forward José Erik Correa was the hero for Chivas, scoring both goals, including the 94th-minute winner which came mere minutes after visiting Charlotte had scored a late equalizer. But there’s a curious story behind the Correa game-winner.

“I was arriving at that ball with not a lot of strength, and [teammate Juan Pablo Ángel] pushed me from the back with a lot of strength,” Correa told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The next thing I know, he yells, 'Goal!' and then I turn around. Practically, the whole strength on that goal was from him. He pushed me.”

Sporting Kansas City got a boost from C.J. Sapong, who scored two goals in a comfortable 3-0 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions to advance to the USOC semis. They next face Philadelphia on July 11 at PPL Park, where they lost 4-0 in league play over the weekend: “I don’t think we need much motivation going back up there,” said SKC veteran Matt Besler. “We got embarrassed on Saturday and the stakes are going to be high next time we go up there.”

The Harrisburg City Islanders were closing in on another miraculous comeback from 3-0 down against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Tuesday night but the MLS team held off their minor league affiliate for a 5-2 quarterfinal win, which interim manager John Hackworth says was “a lot tougher than a 5-2 [score line]." Watch the highlights and postgame reaction here.

The USOC trophy would be the first ever trophy for a Philadelphia Union side that is still getting the lingo down: “We want some silverware in that cabinet, for sure,” Hackworth said. “Wait, did I say silverware? I meant hardware, silver. Whatever. … We want it.”

After a tough start to the season the Union’s fate sure has turned around like night to day. Boosted by yesterday’s allocation signing of Bakary Soumare, a confident club is gearing up for a playoff rematch against Houston on Saturday: “I know a couple of the guys here want to get them back," says central defender Amobi Okugo.

No reason to wait for the weekend for MLS regular-season action. A dandy is expected tonight when the Montreal Impact host rivals Toronto FC at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Impact manager Jesse Marsch is expected to give Designated Player Marco Di Vaio his first start on the first day he is eligible to play: "Everyone wants me to score tomorrow, [and] so do I,” says the Italian forward.

Toronto FC manager Paul Mariner admits having some tricks up his sleeve to contain Di Vaio in tonight’s “401 Derby,” but he also is focused on bringing in his own reinforcements with today’s opening of the secondary international transfer window. “We need a bossman. Someone who can patrol that back line,” Mariner told the Toronto Sun.

Speaking of the opening of the transfer window: The Houston Dynamo’s big-name acquisition Oscar Boniek García is photographed with his bags packed at the airport as he embarks to Texas to join his new MLS club. (PHOTO)

The question in Chicago is whether Guatemalan international Marco Pappa will be packing his bags this summer. This report from the Fire star’s native country says that three European clubs, including Wigan Athletic, and a South American side are interested in his services. (SPANISH)

Pappa is already rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite, appearing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba in this commercial campaign. It’s a cool clip. (VIDEO)

The campaign for a second New York MLS expansion team seems to have taken a decisive turn with The Wall Street Journal reporting that “Major League Soccer officials have zeroed in on a run-down section of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens as their preferred site for the league's first New York stadium.”

In other off-the-field news, check back later today at 11 am ET, when FC Dallas are set to make a major sponsorship announcement which this report speculates could be tied to a new jersey sponsor.

Nearby Plano, Texas, is second on the list of soccer cities in the USA, according to this report. Some of the names on the Top 10 might surprise you.

Meanwhile, Euro 2012 returns later today with a semifinal match between Iberia rivals Spain and Portugal (2:30 pm ET, EPSN and ESPN Deportes). Will Cristiano Ronaldo spoil it for his fellow Real Madrid teammates who are hoping to defend their European crown?

Did you know that ESPN’s Euro 2012 analyst and USMNT legend Alexi Lalas had to walk on at Rutgers University?

Also tonight is the Copa Libertadores final first leg being played between two legendary sides as Boca Juniors and Corinthians square off at La Bombonera (8:30 pm ET, Fox Deportes).

It’s the hottest soccer pick-up game in America: Steve Nash’s “Showdown in Chinatown” will be played tonight with the likes of Thierry Henry, Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou, NBA star Grant Hill and KickTV’s Jimmy Conrad.

Speaking of Conrad, the US World Cup veteran has the latest installment of his Euro trip 2012 where he somehow makes it on the Oranje Dutch bus. (VIDEO)

Lastly, find out what D.C. United’s Hamdi Salihi and American TV star Regis Philbin have in common.

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