Kick Off: MLS rookie Mattocks wants a piece of the USMNT
One of the frontrunners for MLS Rookie of the Year wants a piece of the USA.
The Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jamaican forward Darren Mattocks is praying for a crack at the US national team when they visit Jamaica in World Cup qualifying on Friday:
"I hope I can get a shot on Friday against the US to do what I know I am capable of doing, which is scoring goals,” he said. "I know that the fans expect a victory and so we have to go out there and give it our best shot, and once we execute well then everything should take care of itself on the field."
Organizers are doing their part to make sure everything goes smooth at "The Office" in Kingston, Jamaica, this Friday. Check out this advisory distributed to fans ahead of the match: “The Police are advising supporters … that no firearms, knives, drugs, ice picks, machetes, glass bottles or any other items that can be used to cause serious harm or injury, will be allowed inside the venues.”
It’s called “The Office” for a reason. After Whitecaps midfielder Dane Richards enlightened us a couple of days ago on the background of the nickname, here’s a rival explanation from manager Theodore Whitmore: "When you go into any business, the boss is in charge, so that is how we got the name 'The Office.'"
If that explanation from Whitmore doesn’t sit well with you, how about this rationale for why Jamaica will get points out of the match against the USA: “I'm very confident of a positive result because the players have assured us of that and we have seen it in the training sessions as well," Whitmore said.
Stay tuned later today for reports from MLSsoccer.com’s own Charles Boehm, who is on the ground in Jamaica for the USMNT’s arrival later today. In the meantime, here’s a scene-setter from the Caribbean country courtesy of Steven Goff of The Washington Post.
Chicago Fire and USMNT goalkeeper Sean Johnson has close ties to Jamaica and even carries a Jamaican passport. At one point, he nearly played for the Reggae Boyz and was a regular visitor: “Up to high school, I went two or three times a year, usually during summer and Christmas holidays," he said.
Moving to MLS action, one of the storylines heading into Wednesday night’s New England vs. Columbus matchup was the absence of attacking stars Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson for the Revolution. But it turns out they didn’t need them as Diego Fagundez and Dimitry Imbongo combined to form a lethal forward combination in leading the Revs to a shock 2-0 win (watch the highlights here).
The Revs victory brought an end to their 10-game winless run and the Crew’s four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt. More importantly, New England may have given the rest of the league a formula to stop the red-hot Columbus Crew: “[Jairo] Arrieta and [Federico] Higuaín couldn't get the ball,” said Revs manager Jay Heaps. “That was our focus. If they did get the ball, we wanted a guy on them quickly.”
One play that had people talking from this match came on the Revolution’s second goal – an own goal – when experienced Crew defender Chad Marshall didn’t chase down the ball at the goal line. Replays showed he may have had a chance at clearing it (watch the play here), but it’s Crew GK Andy Gruenebaum who takes the fall for his captain.
The Portland Timbers took the fall again … on the road. The club remains winless away from the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field after a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Colorado Rapids. (watch the highlights here).
The result allowed the Rapids to leapfrog the Timbers out of the Western Conference cellar and believe it or not, Colorado are still gunning for a playoff spot even though they are eight points out with six games to go: “It's there," manager Oscar Pareja said. "For the fighters, it's there. For the people who want to push, the opportunity is in the taking still. The MLS is like that. Sometimes you have to believe."
Forwards Andre Akpan and Tony Cascio were the stars on Wednesday night for the Rapids. Akpan started against the Timbers in place of veteran Conor Casey, but Pareja warns that no one should be surprised if Akpan is in the starting XI again: “I think he’s a very legitimate option right now for us,” Pareja said.
US Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin was having a blast at the Rapids match and even came away with a personalized jersey. (PHOTO)
The Timbers feel they deserved more from the match given the opportunities they created, but the loss ensures that their winless road record this year (0-10-3) will continue to be an ongoing story: “I think we came here and our game plan never worked,” Timbers defender Steven Smith said. “There’s something that’s maybe dragging us down a little bit, the form on the road, and we’ve got to get a result somewhere.”
Real Salt Lake have not enjoyed much success on the road of late – their last away win came in mid-June – and tonight they’ll attempt to be the first team to get a win at BBVA Compass Stadium against the Houston Dynamo (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
History is not on RSL’s side for this one: They are 0-7-1 all-time in their visits to Houston and winless all-time in their Texas travels (0-17-3). "[The heat] just causes some fatigue and lack of focus," says RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "We've been in a lot of good positions down there, played really well and then made some critical errors.”
Both teams will be missing four starters each due to World Cup qualifying duty, but RSL were at least able to hold on to Nick Rimando, who will join the US national team after Thursday night’s match: “We would never ask that favor if we thought Nick was going to be first or second [choice for the USMNT], but from the look of it, it looked like he'd be third," said Kreis.
This might be the right time to catch the Houston Dynamo, who are in the midst of a four-game league winless streak and admit to having “lost our way a little bit." Forward Will Bruin tells the Houston Chronicle that the issue has been defensive complacency when the ball turns over.
Veteran Brian Ching wants a greater sense of urgency: “We have seven games left and we’re a team that feels we’re better than having to play off to get into the playoffs. It’s a difference between an entitlement feeling and going out there and proving it and putting the work in to be one of the best teams.”
The Seattle Sounders are among the teams that Ching references. And they could get a lot better fast. International soccer veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen has joined the club for training (watch the video of him during Wednesday’s session) with a view to an immediate signing: “We brought him in because we think there's a chance we could do something this year,” said GM Adrian Hanauer.
Steve Zakuani is doing something today. The Seattle fan favorite will be participating in a chat at 4 pm ET (1 pm PT) on the Seattle Times website.
Toronto FC had to face some tough news that designated player Torsten Frings is out for the rest of the season. There’s even a chance the former German international may have played his last game for TFC: "With the rigors of [MLS], it's basically a decision he'll have to make whether he thinks he can do it,” manager Paul Mariner told the Toronto Sun. “We're expecting him to be back and we're expecting him to be fit but it's his body."
Staying in Toronto, the Canadian national team continues its preparations for the match against Panama. Watch these videos featuring MLSers Julian de Guzman and Patrice Bernier. (VIDEO)
The MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy were thinking international after signing Swedish national teamer Christian Wilhelmsson on Wednesday. Find out how he fits into the Galaxy lineup in this analysis by MLSsoccer.com’s Scott French, who follows the Galaxy’s every move.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy has made his share of moves in his career and his story is detailed in this feature piece: “Mehdi’s story is the ultimate in MLS,” said his brother.
We told you earlier this week about Indonesian star Andik Vermansyah, who is set to trial with D.C. United, partly owned by Indonesian magnate Erick Thohir. But did you know that Vermansyah is known as the “Indonesian Messi?”
Could the Chicago Fire be landing a player as fast as Dominic Oduro? Orlando City speedster Dennis Chin is reportedly on trial with the MLS club in hopes of a loan deal given Orlando City’s USL season has come to a close.
Could Frank Klopas’ Greek connections also be at work in Chicago? Speculation in the Greek media is that ex-Panathinaikos star Giorgos Karagounis could be set for a move to MLS or Australia. (GREEK)
We leave you with two goals scored last night by another one-time rumored MLS target: Clarence Seedorf netted a brace to go with an assist for Botafogo against Cruzeiro in Brazil. You’ll like the jingle when a goal is scored. (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.