Kick Off: Heated rivalries the talk of MLS this weekend

Kick Off - MLS rivalries (July 20, 2012)

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Rivalries have taken center stage in MLS in 2012 and this weekend fans will once again have their fill.

It all starts at Red Bull Arena, where the New York Red Bulls host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon (2:30 pm ET, ESPN). New York's Sebastien Le Toux took the occasion to give his feelings on the firing of his ex-Philly coach Peter Nowak – “I think it was the perfect thing to do” – while also revealing that the Red Bulls acquired him “to play more as a forward.”

The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake come into their encounter at Rio Tinto Stadium on a Rocky Mountain low (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE). RSL lost 5-0 in their last outing, while Colorado dropped their fourth straight in Toronto during midweek. But there’s no panic, at least in Salt Lake: "I don't think we need to do anything differently,” RSL’s Jason Kreis says. “We need to do what we can do better." Here’s a primer on the rivalry.

No match-up is quite like the derby that is LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA (10 pm ET, TeleFutura) and the Goats can use the match to move to within a point of their Home Depot Center roommates in the West: “We’re fired up,” says Chivas defender and ex-Galaxy player Danny Califf. “We’re the red-headed stepchild. It’s probably not as big a game for them as it is for us. Actually, I’m almost certain of that, but we use that as motivation.”

We’ll see if there are any repercussions for FC Dallas star winger Brek Shea after sharing words on the sideline with his manager Schellas Hyndman during a midweek loss in San Jose. In the meantime, Shea is the subject of an in-depth feature with several interesting nuggets. Shea and FC Dallas host Portland on Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

Find out why San Jose Earthquakes left back Justin Morrow, who will be taking the place of NYRB’s injured Heath Pearce in the MLS All-Star Game, was busy apologizing to a teammate. Morrow and the league leaders travel to Vancouver on Sunday night (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

The Houston Dynamo host Montreal at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE and TSN) but the story continues to be the transfer of Geoff Cameron to Stoke City. It’s a done deal, according to reports and the club’s chairman says the EPL club is already trying to “get international clearance for him.”

What might be concerning for Cameron is to hear a Stoke assistant say he can be used at fullback.

D.C. United will be using a new starting fullback and goalkeeper given the injury to Robbie Russell and the suspension of goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Two roommates will be their replacements when D.C. travel to Columbus on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

In Columbus, there is a rookie who is growing really restless. A report in The Dispatch claims that Ben Speas “seems to have fallen out of the team’s plans and apparently isn’t happy about it … his agent said that they don’t like the way he is being treated by the coaching staff.”

Earlier Saturday Toronto FC will face Liverpool FC in the second of nine Herbalife World Football Challenge matches at Rogers Centre (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer). While one goalkeeper is looking to use the occasion to make a case for the No. 1 job at the English club, another was busy ruing the fact that he left last night’s Red Sox match early. And they missed a good one.

As Paris Saint-Germain get set to face Chelsea on Sunday in the first-ever match at the new Yankee Stadium (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Univision Deportes), here’s how they welcomed new Italian teenage signing Marco Verratti. Just a little rookie hazing in the PSG ranks. (VIDEO)

Speaking of the World Football Challenge, Seattle manager Sigi Schmid provided an update regarding the injury suffered by midfielder Brad Evans during the 4-2 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday. It’s not as bad as it looked.

Will Evans perform to his usual standard after the injury? Schmid will be able to find that out easier than ever after a groundbreaking announcement made yesterday which one writer says will make MLS “perhaps the most high-tech sports league in the world.”

Back to the Sounders, who are idle this weekend. Schmid was asked about whether it’s true that Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson had a punch-up in practice recently. His answer: "They're probably not the only ones who had a punchup at practice."

Meanwhile, it sounds like a deal has been concluded for Chicago Fire midfielder Rafael Robayo to return to Millonarios in Colombia. Check out this report which says that Robayo could rejoin his old club this weekend. (SPANISH)

Wait a minute! If this is really LA Galaxy star David Beckham, he probably shouldn’t be riding a motorcycle, right? (PHOTO)

Tell me he didn’t just say that. Chelsea FC midfielder John Obi Mikel says facing Beckham in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday will be one of the highlights of this summer’s US trip. But he also sprinkled in this comment: “I am doing my best to be bigger than Beckham now.” Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Moving on to bigger news and the story that a mayor in a city near Sacramento confirms that he has held talks about the possibility of bringing an MLS team to the area. "Without going too much in-depth, there have been discussions,” he said.

Lastly, we end Kick Off on a sad note. The son of US soccer legend Claudio Reyna passed away at age 13 after a battle with cancer and an outpouring of affection and sympathy came Reyna’s way as the news spread. Even English Premier League champions Manchester City paid Jack Reyna homage via the official club website and Glasgow Rangers also extended their condolences.

And Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney shares one very special memory of Jack Reyna.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

The Throw-In: Lassiter is rooting for Wondo in record chase

ExtraTime: Analyzing Shea’s frustrations at FC Dallas

Rookie Rankings: Vancouver’s star moves into pole position

 


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