Kick Off: Aftershocks in wake of Seattle's thrashing of LA
This one meant a lot.
Just ask the season-high 60,908 fans who packed CenturyLink Field for a chance to see how this year’s Seattle Sounders matched up against their bogey team, the defending champion LA Galaxy. This time the Sounders showed they are for real this year, with a 4-0 trouncing that will reverberate around the league (watch the highlights here).
Just days before they play the US Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City, Seattle annihilated the defending MLS Cup champions and manager Sigi Schmid called it a statement game: “This is the potential that we can achieve. It's about ourselves getting confidence in our ability to take on big games."
It was Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson connecting again on the game’s all-important first goal. The dynamic duo has one Seattle columnist comparing them to the best partnerships in Seattle sports history: “Dave Krieg to Steve Largent, Matt Hasselbeck to Bobby Engram, Gary Payton to Shawn Kemp. Or deadly batteries like Randy Johnson to Dan Wilson.” Huh?
If you watched the game you noticed LA manage Bruce Arena taking issue with the referee. Here’s why: “I think it was a little unfortunate, because if a few calls went our way, it could have made a difference," he said.
It was a banner day for Sounders fans as the Portland Timbers stayed anchored to the bottom of the Western Conference after a 1-1 home draw against FC Dallas (watch the highlights here). But Portland manager Gavin Wilkinson sees it as a step in the right direction after going down 1-0: “Everything that we have gone through, I think it's a tremendous sign — we didn't give up."
FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman still can’t stomach the fact that his team went down to 10 men just moments after they had scored the opener: “You guys all know I can only really say so much, but if you could read my mind I think there’d be a few dirty words in there.”
Yesterday’s matches helped as a distraction from the sad news that hovered over every MLS fan’s Sunday: the sudden passing of rookie Kirk Urso of the Columbus Crew. An autopsy will be conducted today and the cause of death is still unknown. But there is no doubt as to how he will be remembered by those who knew him: “He was a kid that I would certainly point to and tell my son, ‘That’s the kind of person I want you to be,’” said Crew GM Mark McCullers.
A very different story wrote itself in Saturday night’s Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup clash between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids. Joseph Nane, a marginal figure on the Colorado Rapids over the last year, came up with the game-winning goal to end the Rapids’ six-game losing streak (watch the highlights here). His last shot on goal in an MLS match came in May 2011: "I've been waiting for this for a long time — I was wondering when it was ever going to come," he said.
Montreal beat the Philadelphia Union 2-0, but the talking point there was the Nelson Rivas head butt and the ensuing double ejection for Rivas and Philly’s Jack McInerney, who shoved the Montreal defender to the ground (watch the play here): “You cannot tell me that a head butt to the nose and cheekbone, and a player going to push another player, [are] justifiable for equal punishment," said Union manager John Hackworth.
The Houston Dynamo are sitting in first place in the East after their convincing 2-0 win over New York on Friday night (watch the highlights here) and they just got that much stronger as Ricardo Clark officially joined practice. Here he is in an orange jersey again.
But Sporting Kansas City are right there, tied on points with Houston atop the East. Sporting captured a 1-0 road win against the New England Revolution, whose manager Jay Heaps didn’t appreciate the physicality of the match, with 21 fouls called against SKC: "I felt like every time we got around the ball there was a foul. It was just a disruptive game all the way around," Heaps said (watch the highlights here).
Speaking of Kansas City, yesterday we found out from ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas that two Premier League teams and one Spanish La Liga club have already come knocking on the door for Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza after his stunning display at the London Olympics.
But what about Espinoza? What does he think of a move? Read this in-depth discussion that veteran soccer writer Michael Lewis had with him after Honduras’ 3-2 quarterfinal loss to Brazil: "My contract is almost up, but I have to talk to my team, Kansas City. They are the ones who have the first option since I've been there for my whole career and they've taken care of me."
The Chicago Fire took care of Toronto FC, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to win thanks to a late Austin Berry game-winner on a free kick (watch the highlights here). "We really needed that win, especially this second half of the stretch all being against Eastern Conference teams in this push to get into the playoffs," Berry said.
D.C. United also kept up with the race in the East, downing the Crew on Saturday night 1-0 (watch the highlights here). The goal was scored by Chris Pontius, but the plaudits go to rookie Nick DeLeon, who created the goal (watch his run here). “I just heard the sideline saying, ‘Go at him, go at him!’” DeLeon said. “He gave me a little space toward the line and I went at him.”
The Vancouver Whitecaps were idle this weekend but there was news about the club’s new DP Kenny Miller: He wasn’t called up to the Scotland national team that will take on Australia on Aug. 15.
The US women’s national team takes on Canada today in an Olympic semifinal (2:45 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) that has been marked by accusations of “dirty play” by Canada’s coach against the Americans.
We leave you with a highlight of pure Real Madrid class: The Spanish champs are so good that they score goals with their mugs. It’s the only way they were able to beat Santos Laguna Sunday night. (VIDEO)
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.