Kick Off: Date with destiny awaits Seattle and DC
The biggest weekend of the season so far is about to kick off, with two monumental comebacks needed by D.C. and Seattle on Sunday, if they’re going to make MLS Cup 2012.
Seattle have the biggest task on their hands as they try to overturn a three-goal deficit at home against LA (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Robbie Keane, believes LA have to switch off from the Sounders' partisan crowd but admits the occasion will be something to savor: “It gets no bigger than this. It should be something we should be looking forward to even though we are the away team.”
The stats, meanwhile, favor LA. No team has ever comeback from a three-goal deficit after the first leg in MLS playoffs.
Sigi Schmid’s side has a chance to rewrite the history books and Brad Evans is confident Seattle can turn the tie on its head, but urged fans to remain patient: “That’s going to be the most important thing, if we can get one early and put them on the back foot. I think we’re going to find ourselves getting chances, but we have to bide our time.”
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle focused on Mike Magee’s playoff heroics, as the Galaxy star struggled to explain why he comes good at the business end of the season.
"I've got nothing," Magee said with a shrug. "Absolutely nothing."
While Seattle’s head coach Schmid had plenty so say when he caught up with the lads from ExtraTime Radio yesterday, after a week of preparing for LA.
“The guys are focused and motivated," Schmid said. "We know what the reality is; we’re not living in an illusion. We know we are three goals behind, but the guys are focused.”
While LA’s players are focused on the here and now, reports of David Beckham potentially joining an Australian A-League franchise have been surfacing over the past 24 hours. But on Friday morning, Beckham’s representatives moved to quash rumors about a potential loan move during the MLS offseason.
And in the nation's capital, meanwhille, D.C. United face a mammoth task if they’re going to reach their first MLS Cup since 2004. Only two teams in playoff history have overturned two-goal deficits after first leg defeats (San Jose in ’03 and Kansas City in ’04). United are hoping to make that three when they face Houston on Sunday (4 pm ET, NBC Sports, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Ben Olsen is confident his side can put in one more huge performance at RFK, to seal home field advantage for MLS Cup: “If we’re in good shape toward the end of this game with a lead, I like our chances.”
While Houston know another solid defensive display will see them through to a second-straight MLS Cup, they expect a D.C. onslaught. Will Bruin and the boys are battening down the hatches.
"We know how much D.C. is going to attack," Bruin said. "This is the last attempt, the last game for them to throw numbers forward. We’ve got to be ready for it.”
And don’t forget to watch ExtraTime Radio After Hours on Sunday, as MLSsoccer.com’s editors break down each game right after the final whistle. Simon Borg’s top-quality suspenders may steal the show once again…
With playoff news dominating the press, you may have missed the list of MLS 2012 award finalists we released yesterday. Don’t fret, here they are. The awards include MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and plenty more. See if your favorites made the list.
And speaking of coaches, the only American coach plying his trade in Europe, Greg Berhalter, reflects on a successful first season in charge of Hammarby IF in Sweden. Read more here.
Closer to home, The Salt Lake Tribune spoke with Will Johnson as he reflected on RSL’s season, as players head away from Utah to enjoy a well-deserved break.
Back over in Europe, some MLS players aren’t having a break at all, as Montreal recorded the latest win on their postseason tour of Italy. This time the Impact defeated Fiorentina 1-0. See the goal and what trialists turned out as Montreal now head back to Canada.
Someone heading in the opposite direction is Juan Agudelo, with Soccer By Ives reporting the US youngster will spend a training stint with Scottish Premier League champions Celtic.
Staying over in Europe, Jozy Altidore has been lighting up the Dutch Eredivisie this season for AZ Alkmaar. Some European giants are apparently circling around the New Jersey native in search of his signature. See who, here.
While one player who is no stranger to European super clubs, Kaká, spoke out again about one day playing in MLS: “I have some friends that are playing now here, so they say a lot of good stuff about MLS. One day, I hope I can play here.”
With New York one of his most likely destinations, there’s plenty of room for Kaká to come in now after options were declined on several players' contracts.
The same happened in Toronto yesterday; see who won’t be returning for TFC next season, here.
And Thursday marked a big day on the College soccer scene as the 2012 NCAA Tournament began. Check out all the latest news and results from the first round, as the tournament ramps up a notch at the weekend when the top seeds arrive.
We know the Pacific Northwest are crazy about their soccer. But buying shares in a club in financial peril 300 miles north of Madrid, really? Find out why a Portland fan who has never been to Spain, now has a tattoo of Real Oviedo’s badge on their arm. The New York Times takes up this intriguing story.
And finally, ever thought of putting two ‘keepers in at once? Sure, we all have. But in a lower league game in Argentina, it actually happened. Watch this crazy video, as San Martín's sub ‘keeper warming up behind the goal made a superb stop … after his own goalkeeper had already been lobbed by Belle Ville’s striker. Worse still, Belle Ville then failed to score from the subsequent indirect free kick. Classic.
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