Kick Off: SJ vs. LA joins list of best MLS matches in history

Try topping that.

The California Clasico became the latest MLS rivalry match to live up to its billing and the 4-3 comeback win by league-leading San Jose over defending champs LA Galaxy will go down as one of the greatest games in MLS history. It had it all: seven goals, multiple lead changes, referee controversy, a back-heel goal, a stunning David Beckham free kick, a scuffle and more than a few memorable celebrations (watch the highlights here). All in front of a sold-out crowd of 50,000.

MLS Golden Boot leader Chris Wondolowski, whose back heel goal gave the Quakes the lead for good, knows his favorite moment from the match: celebrating with US military members after his goal: “It's a memory I'll always have with me," Wondo said. "With July 4 just around the corner, and what those guys do for us and sacrifice, it's amazing. I truly appreciate what they do. It was pretty special to be able to celebrate with them."

The favorite moment for the British tabloids? Their headline that claims that Beckham was scuffling with San Jose’s mascot, “a blue Elmo-type character.” (PHOTO)

The frustrations are mounting for the Seattle Sounders, who were caught in second-half stoppage time on a goal by the New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez and were forced to settle for a 2-2 tie at Gillette Stadium (watch the highlights here). Seattle’s Marc Burch did the mea culpa for the Fagundez equalizer which saw Seattle stretch their winless streak to eight matches.

It turns out Revs manager Jay Heaps was prophetic when bringing the teenager into the match with 10 minutes remaining: “The first thing he said was, 'You go in there, this is your night. Let's get the first goal this year, right now,'" Fagundez said after the match.

It was a tough result to swallow for the Sounders, who got two headed goals from forward Eddie Johnson to go up 2-1. They questioned the referee’s decisions on both Revolution goals: "You feel hard done when they score on an offside goal,” Schmid said of Saer Sene's header. “And you feel hard done when the referee doesn't call a foul and he doesn't explain it, that would have prevented their last attack."

It was a feat that they even played the match in Columbus, where the Crew downed Real Salt Lake 2-0 (watch the highlights here). Kickoff was delayed an hour after the damage inflicted on the city by a fierce Friday storm that had the Crew’s Julius James, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, on his toes: “In my whole lifetime, I’ve never been in a storm as bad as the one [Friday],” he said. “I don’t want to say I was scared, but I was pretty worried because I had no idea what to expect.”

It was the third loss in a row for RSL, who have not experienced such a stretch since July 2007. “It puts us in a position we’re not familiar with, we’re not comfortable with,” said manager Jason Kreis. "I still believe in this group. They’ve got to believe in themselves."

It’s also been a long time since we’ve seen the Colorado Rapids’ dynamic duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, who led the club to its MLS Cup 2010 triumph. They were on the field together for the first time since July 2011 and it showed in the result as the Rapids trounced Portland 3-0 (watch the highlights here). "It's important for us. We haven't really done that yet this year, a full 90 where we competed for the whole time," Casey said.

Portland, who admit their performance was “not good enough,” are in for another tough one on Tuesday when they host league-leading San Jose. Said Timbers GK Troy Perkins: "If we don't get points in this game, we're in a really bad spot."

A spot kick with mere minutes remaining helped the Houston Dynamo earn a 2-1 home win over the Philadelphia Union (watch the highlights here). Brad Davis, who usually takes PKs for Houston, handed the game-winning shot to veteran Brian Ching for his first goal at BBVA Compass Stadium: "He insisted, so I was like, 'OK, that's fine, I'll take it.' The good thing is it went in and we got the win."

There could be big news coming from Philadelphia today with reports claiming that sporting director Diego Gutiérrez and youth technical director Alecko Eskandarian are apparently parting ways with the club.

Nobody won in Toronto, where TFC and the New York Red Bulls exchanged early goals and tied 1-1 (watch the highlights here). It stretched Toronto’s undefeated streak to four matches under new manager Paul Mariner and the Reds earned praise from NYRB’s Thierry Henry: “It was a great unit, difficult to find some space at times to break them down,” said the Frenchman.

The big story following the match was talk of Toronto fan favorite Joao Plata leaving the club this week to return to his native Ecuador. FutbolMLS.com spoke to the player who says, “It’s a done deal, I’m leaving Toronto.” That declaration did not make Mariner happy: “[Is he going] on holiday, a vacation? … Maybe he wants to be the manager so he can tell me what’s going on. I love it when 19-year-old kids come in and tell the press what’s going on.”

D.C. United took advantage of the NYRB’s misstep to claim sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact (watch the highlights here): “It was a pretty complete performance,” said manager Ben Olsen. “You have to take advantage of teams down on their luck, and we stepped on them.”

Montreal Impact manager Jesse Marsch felt the match officials didn’t help their cause: “I thought the ref was terrible. This was one of the most one-sided reffed games I’ve seen. We look at ourselves any time, but the ref did us no favors.”

That Impact player you saw screw himself into the ground on the Chris Pontius goal? It’s rookie Callum Mallace, who took the defeat and the play to heart: “I look at myself and feel like I let myself down and the team."

Speaking of the Impact, they have apparently nipped former Italian World Cup champion Alessandro Nesta away from Toronto FC, according to reports in Italy. The main factor? Compatriot Marco Di Vaio convinced him. (ITALIAN)

The other major hot stove items involved Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who is reportedly “giving serious thought to making a sensational move to Major League Soccer,” specifically the LA Galaxy.

A few of Lampard’s teammates wouldn’t mind joining him in MLS. They were at a charity event in LA, where one of them said: “I'd be very pleased to join one of the teams in MLS.”

The Chicago Fire are still basking in the glow of Friday’s impressive 1-0 win at Livestrong Sporting Park over Sporting KC (watch the highlights here) but the Sebastián Grazzini situation is still not resolved: “Things are not easy,” the Argentine told media yesterday.

You can still vote Grazzini into the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game. Today’s the last day to cast your online ballot. Do it now.

Five American cities are holding out hope they can move one step closer to a future in MLS. Phoenix, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Diego and Sacramento are the markets being considered for NASL expansion.

Later today we’re expecting to hear from Team Great Britain manager Stuart Pearce and his reasons for excluding LA’s Beckham from the Olympic squad.

What was Beckham’s former England teammate Wayne Rooney doing this weekend? He was living it up with other EPL players, posing for photos with Timbaland and Trey Songz in Los Angeles. (PHOTO)

Meanwhile, remember the German fan we saw in the semifinals with the tear rolling down her cheek after one of Italy’s goals? Well she has exposed UEFA, which is now coming under fire for Euro broadcasts.

UEFA’s security department might also be in the crosshairs today after this video emerged of a party-crasher during Spain’s trophy celebration. He was right there alongside Iker Casillas. (VIDEO)

Lastly, here’s a hot potato of the political variety: FC New York are set to wear jerseys that feature US presidential candidate Mitt Romney as sponsor. (PHOTO)

MLSsoccer.com Musts

AS Roma set to bring Bradley into the fold

Canada Day: 11 great Canadian moments in MLS history

Armchair Analyst: What we learned from Week 17

 


Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.