Kick Off: Not so fast on those Copa America plans
Hey man, got a minute? Just got a quick favor to ask.
We’re CONMEBOL, your South American brothers in soccer, and in a few years we’re going to put on a huge 100-year anniversary of Copa América, this absolutely epic soccer tournament. It’s gonna be a huge, huge bash. You’ll love it.
Only one problem here, man. We need a place to do it. Your house is cool, right?
Not quite, it appears. One day after the governing body for South American soccer dropped the news that it intends to stage the 2016 Copa America on US soil, the governing bodies for both CONCACAF and US Soccer fired back with statements that, as expected, clearly implied that yeah, they should have asked first.
"While the idea of a Centennial tournament with some of the best teams in the hemisphere is certainly intriguing, it is not something we have agreed to host or participate in at this time,” US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “As CONCACAF stated, there are still a number of discussions that need to take place with CONMEBOL.
“US Soccer would also need to be involved in discussions about hosting the tournament. We're looking forward to those discussions in the near future."
Said the crew at CONCACAF: "This is an idea we are hoping to materialize, but we are still evaluating and discussing before it becomes official but the intention is definitely there."
So for now, it appears, the house party is on hold. Keep circling the block.
On to MLS, where the regular season wraps up this weekend with nine games, including five with serious postseason implications and one with a storied record hanging in the balance.
We’ll start in Chicago, where the Fire and D.C. United rekindle one of the league’s oldest rivalries when they clash on Saturday at Toyota Park (4 pm ET; NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). This one is largely a battle for the second and third seeds in the Eastern Conference, but there’s a very real chance the loser could drop into the dreaded Knockout Round game next Wednesday.
And that’s a fate that D.C. United certainly don’t want any part of.
The match also features one last chance to take your pick among the top two contenders for the MLS Rookie of the Year: Chicago’s Austin Berry or DC’s Nick DeLeon.
And keep an eye on Fire forward Chris Rolfe, who’s noticed in recent games that teams have found a way to make him less of a factor in the offensive third. Says a Fire teammate: “He’s too important not to get the ball.”
On to Philadelphia, where the host Union wrap up a disappointing season against the playoff-bound New York Red Bulls on Saturday (1 pm ET; NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com ). While the postseason is far out of reach for the Union, they can still play party-crashers to their I-95 rivals and possibly condemn them to a road game in the Knockout Round next week.
As for the Red Bulls – who could move up as high as the second seed if the cards fall their way – perhaps that Knockout game might not be so bad. So says striker Thierry Henry, who hints that one more postseason game might get some of the team’s veterans some valuable minutes.
The Houston Dynamo carry the fifth spot in the East into the weekend, but a win in Colorado on Saturday (9 pm ET; MLS Live) might help change that. The Dynamo slumped on the road last year before picking up steam at the end of the regular season, and it carried them all the way to MLS Cup. Can they do it again this year?
On to the West, where all five teams have booked their tickets to the postseason and the only issue left to resolve is whether Real Salt Lake or Seattle will serve as the No. 2 seed.
RSL are up first on Saturday night against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps (9 pm ET, MLS Live), and while there’s some concern in the air after RSL were dumped from CONCACAF Champions League earlier this week, MLSsoccer.com’s Jonah Freedman says that at least now RSL can focus on one last task with their aging core group: winning MLS Cup.
As for the Whitecaps, keep an eye peeled for rookie sensation Darren Mattocks, who insists that he loves playing on the road and he’s ready to play his part as the ‘Caps look to build momentum for their postseason debut against LA on Nov. 1.
The Galaxy are locked into the fourth spot in the West heading into their finale on Sunday night against the Sounders (9 pm ET; ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), but they didn’t learn their fate in the CCL until late Thursday night. A dramatic road win over Salvadoran side Isidro Metapán was the final piece of the puzzle for next year’s quarterfinal matchups, which are laid out here.
One other bit of news from Galaxy camp involves defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who has officially agreed to be named to Guam’s 30-man roster for the upcoming East Asian Cup semifinal round tournament in Hong Kong in December.
As for the Sounders, who can clinch the No. 2 seed in the West this weekend for the second consecutive season, keep an eye on Steve Zakuani, who continues to regain his form and could be as dangerous as ever when 2013 rolls around.
On to Portland, where all eyes will be fixed on the efforts of San Jose Earthquakes hero Chris Wondolowski and his pursuit of Roy Lassiter’s single-season scoring record on Saturday (6 pm ET; NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) . Wondo needs one goal to tie the mark and two to break it, but can he do it?
Lassiter himself has some doubts, as he told the guys on ExtraTime Radio on Thursday.
The Montreal Impact wrap up their inaugural MLS season on Saturday against the New England Revolution (2 pm ET; MLS Live), and the stage could be set for an emotional goodbye to a franchise favorite. But will veteran Eddy Sebrango get his moment in the sun at Stade Saputo?
The Columbus Crew and Toronto FC wrap up their season at Crew Stadium on Sunday (4 pm ET; MLS Live), but don’t expect to see everyone healthy for the Crew. They’re missing at least three key players for this one.
As for the Reds, could they still be steaming after they extended a coaching job to Orlando City manager Adrian Heath? Here’s the latest from TFC head coach Paul Mariner, who goes all George Costanza on us: “We had a pact!”
And coaching changes are the topic of discussion for Chivas USA as well, as the Goats wrap up their disappointing season in Frisco against FC Dallas on Sunday (7 pm ET; Galavision). Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and veteran forward Alejandro Moreno appear to be firmly in head coach Robin Fraser’s camp going forward.
If it’s the end of October then year-end awards must be looming in MLS. Brian Straus of the Sporting News takes a shot at guessing the nominees for each category this season, with a list heavy on names from San Jose and Sporting Kansas City.
How about biggest Homer Broadcaster of the Year? Goal.com’s Zac Lee Rigg takes some announcers to task in this article, including an interview with reformed Sounders man Arlo White.
News breaking from Europe on Friday, meanwhile, indicates that Brazilian striker Grafite has in interest in coming to MLS after his contract with Al Ahli Dubai expires next year. Grafite won a Bundesliga title and was the league’s Player of the Year while with Wolfsburg in 2009.
Speaking of Europe, here’s a weekend preview of Americans abroad, and a look at what appears to be a fairly raucous gathering between Arsenal shareholders and the top brass on Thursday, including some strong statements from former MLS man and current Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
In other news, former Red Bulls midfielder and noted celebrity little brother John Rooney has found a new home after hopping around the ranks in the US, and the funeral for slain Red Bulls youth coach Michael Jones will be held on Friday in England.
And quickly to the women’s game, where the nominees are out for the Ballon d’Or, and US fans might recognize a few of the names on the list.
And last but not least, the Kick Off offers up the latest insight into the political season in Ukraine, where the array of candidates for the parliamentary election on Sunday include a scantily clad pop star and rumored former MLS target Andriy Shevchenko.
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