Kick Off: Full steam ahead as #RivalryWeek springs into action

Kick Off: Rivalry Week, RSL vs COL

Photo Credit: 
USA Today sports

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:

1. CASCADIA CUP RETURNS

The Portland Timbers have no intention of giving up the Cascadia Cup they won in 2012. Just ask Caleb Porter. “It’s a game certainly that I’ve had marked on the calendar because of the importance of it,” the Timbers coach said. “It’s something that means a lot to myself, our team, to the fans certainly.” Sunday’s showdown in Seattle (8 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) promises an electric atmosphere. Seattle hails Eddie Johnson as the current "King of Cascadia" but what about Roger Levesque's role? Sidenote: The Timbers look set for friendlies against a Liga MX and EPL side this summer.

2. CLASH OF STYLES IN QUEBEC

Montreal vs. Toronto could be renamed the Italians vs. the British. Both teams lean heavily on the two European nations for players, coaches and general style of play. Saturday’s game (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US) will be a clash of cultures, rivals and two teams desperate to grab bragging rights. With 4,500 TFC fans making the trip to Montreal, a record MLS traveling support, it’s sure to be a wild atmosphere at "The Big O.” Here's a reminder of how "Rivalry Day" will work and where you can watch all the games back to back.

3. FRIENDSHIP? WHAT FRIENDSHIP?

Mike Petke and Ben Olsen go way back on the field. Off it, Saturday’s Atlantic Cup clash between New York and D.C. United (12:30 pm ET, NBC, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) is the first-time the friends of nearly 20 years lock horns as head coaches. Olsen spoke of the advice he gave Petke when he got the RBNY job: “I told him, ‘Don’t forget that you’re not the center of the universe, and smile every now and then.’” Whoever wins on Saturday will be smiling a lot more, that’s for sure.

4. CHELIS’ FIRST SUPERCLASICO

Outspoken Chivas USA coach José Luis Sánchez Solá will get his first taste of the SuperClasico on Sunday (5 pm ET, Watch live on UniMas). Remarkably, he’s been pretty low key in the build-up to this clash, mind games perhaps? LA boss Bruce Arena isn’t worried about what Chivas say or do, Arena has his "own way of doing things." While Goats ‘keeper Dan Kennedy believes his side don’t need to emulate the Galaxy. “I don’t think we need to conform to anything they’re doing to be successful,” the All-Star said. “We need to do it our way.” El Chelís will make sure of that.

5. RAPIDS DETERMINED TO OWN THE ROCKIES

Colorado are desperate to kick start their season, and who better to do it against than your biggest rivals away from home. “There’s some other atmospheres in MLS – Seattle, Portland – that are fantastic, but for some reason when we go to Salt Lake, that place is as loud as any place we play,” defender Drew Moor said. While RSL have been distracted in the lead up to the game, with Abdoulie Mansally suspended by the Disciplinary Committee and Álvaro Saborío fined. Also has anyone seen or heard from Rapids lottery pick Charles Eloundou? One Rapids fan asks if the club is getting “Teo’d.”

6. CHELSEA PENCIL IN US TOUR?

Some news breaking this morning from English tabloid The Sun is that Chelsea have lined up a tour to the US, alongside Manchester City, just two days after the EPL season finishes on May 19. The venues for a “four-team tournament” are rumored to be NYC and Dallas. Your thoughts on the Blues making a potential trip across the pond? 

7. NEW ENGLAND READY TO SCRAP

From England to New England, and after success against Chicago in game one, can Jay Heaps build the Revolution into a side that’s tough to beat? “I don’t want to take away from our technical work because I think we're really good,” Heaps told ESPN. “But if the game calls for a fight, we have to step in there and fight." The Revs face Philadelphia on Saturday (5 pm ET, Univision Deportes, Watch live on MLS Live) at PPL Park, expect a slugfest in Rocky’s hometown.

8. NIELSEN QUITS

Don’t let the headline scare you: Sporting KC’s All-Star ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen isn’t going anywhere. He’s just kicking a habit he’s had for a while. “It's never something I was proud of,” Nielsen said. “That's why it was something I would sneak out to do.” Nielsen is talking about how he’s quit smoking … of course. With SKC’s captain facing a personal battle, his side battle a injury hit Chicago this Saturday (3 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) at Sporting Park. 

9. "EL CAPITÁN" ON THE LINE

"It’s a shame we don’t get to play [Dallas] more often,” Dynamo stalwart Brian Ching said. And with the one and only Texas Derby of 2013 commencing on Sunday (1 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), both teams have to make it count. Blas Pérez is back for FC Dallas after injury and he’s making a bold statement: “I’m very positive we’re going to come out with the win.” Meanwhile, FC Dallas’ Peruvian international ‘keeper, Raúl Fernández, spoke to FIFA.com about Peru’s slim chances of making the World Cup in Brazil.

10. USMNT HEADING TO CLEVELAND

It’s official, Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad is heading to the shores of Lake Erie. US Soccer announced on Thursday that Belgium are the opponents on May 29 at the FirstEnergy Stadium. It will be the first time since 2006 the USMNT have visited “the rock and roll capital of the world.” Time to crank up the volume and pack out the stadium. Also, a rumored friendly with Germany on June 2 is yet to be confirmed. Make sure you check out these neat stats put together by the guys at US Soccer. It’s simple for Klinsmann’s men in World Cup qualifying: Win your home games and you're in.

11. FONSECA LEADING THE CANUCKS

Staying on the international scene, Canada announced a 21-man squad for their games against Japan and Belarus in Doha, Qatar. Four MLSers made the squad, which will be managed by new interim coach Tony Fonseca, as the Canucks continue to search for a new manager.

12. FREIDEL, SPURS MAKE IT TO QUARTERS … JUST

Brad Friedel hasn’t got much hair, but his few remaining follicles turned a deeper shade of grey on Thursday night. That’s because his Spurs side almost threw away a three-goal advantage from the first leg against Inter Milan at the San Siro. But, somehow, Tottenham still booked their spot in the quarterfinals of the Europa League after extra time. Spurs will now face FC Basel of Switzerland. Check out the full draw for both the Europa League and UEFA Champions League quarters here. PSG vs. Barcelona is the pick of the ties.

13. LEIWEKE OUT IN LA

Surprising news broke in LA yesterday: Tim Leiweke is out. Phillip Anschutz announced on Thursday that he is halting the planned sale of AEG and that Leiweke will be leaving by “mutual agreement.” The Galaxy’s long-time CEO has been a pivotal role in the club’s rise over the years. The Los Angeles Times reflect on his immense impact on sports in the City of Angels.

14. GET YOUR FANTASY TEAMS READY FOR RIVALRY WEEKEND

It’s a big weekend for supporters across North America . ..you’re busy putting the finishing touches to Tifos, picking out a jersey and scarf and making plans where to meet before the game. But don’t neglect your fantasy team. You’ve been warned.

15. AND FINALLY…

Watch on in disbelief as Raja Casablanca’s Hamza Abourazzouk misses an open goal … twice. This makes Kei Kamara’s miss a few years back look a whole lot better! And where does this rank in the most embarrassing misses?

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio: Kyle Martino on the "crazy" Atlantic Cup, Cascadia Showdown

Scouting Report: Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC

WATCH AND WIN: Rivalry Day contest


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