Kick Off: Rivalry Week doesn't disappoint as late goals, heated clashes steal the show

Montreal fans, Kick Off

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USA Today sports

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

1. MONTREAL MAGNIFIQUE

Another weekend, another win for the Impact. With another sturdy display against Toronto FC, Montreal made it three wins from three to sit alone at the top of the standings. A huge crowd of almost 40,000 packed into the Olympic Stadium to see the two Canada rivals clash in a fiery encounter, with Montreal proving a bit too strong for the Reds. Patrice Bernier and Marco Di Vaio were the game-winners as Marco Schällibaum lauded yet another victory to start off his reign in Quebec in supreme style.  

2. CHIVAS HALT GALAXY LATE ON

Down to 10 men for over half the game and conceding a goal to go 1-0 behind with seven minutes to go, José Luis Sánchez Solá got to see exactly what his Chivas side is made of. Turns out it's strong stuff.  “We earned a point, but in respect we earned 100,” Sánchez Solá said. “In that respect, we were the winning team.”

3. EL CHELÍS RAMPS UP THE SUPERCLASICO RIVALRY

And El Chelís wasn’t finished there, churning out more quotes journalists dream of: “Our adversary was magnificent. They are by far the best team in the league. I respect what they do, but they are New York’s team. They are the team of the New York office. … That sort of team exists in Spain with Real Madrid and Argentina with Boca Juniors. There is a team in every country. Galaxy is that team here.”

4. GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY DEBATE RUMBLES ON

It seems only appropriate after that to head to the Big Apple, as a wintry Atlantic Cup clash at RBA saw late goal-line drama. D.C. ‘keeper Bill Hamid sprung into action several times but New York just couldn’t find a way past him. In stoppage time, Hamid thwarted RBNY once again with many believing the ball crossed the line in a goalmouth scramble.

“It bobbled around,” Hamid said. "It ping-ponged, but I got there before it went over the line. Meanwhile, Mike Petke looked on in disbelief as he still awaits his first win as a head coach in MLS: “What the hell do you have to do to get the ball into the net?”

5. TIGHTLY CONTESTED TIES

Many teams echoed that sentiment after tense affairs during Rivalry Week. Some stunning moments were produced, but predictably plenty of ties ensued as six of the weekend’s nine clashes ended honors even. Seattle vs. Portland was one of those games, as Rodney Wallace’s last-minute equalizer grabbed the Timbers a point. Oh yeah, Obafemi Martins finally made his Sounders debut, too.

Check out all the goals from Saturday and Sunday in the MLS Goal Timeline. Which was your favorite?

6. CONCACAF HANGOVER?

The guys over at NBC Sports may be on to something. With Houston, Seattle and LA all giving up crucial goals in or around the 90th minute this weekend, did a hangover from CCL action play its part? That said MLS Commissioner Don Garber is already one step ahead, as he spoke at halftime of the NY-DC clash about trying to give LA and Seattle more time to prepare for their CCL semifinal clashes.

7. GARBER ON NYC2, ORLANDO

The commish also spoke words that will warm the hearts of fans of Orlando and soccer in the Southeast: “We are more focused in Florida than we’ve ever been in the past.” Garber went onto mention meetings held with New York City and State officials this week about NY2. “I’m confident we’re going to get this done,” he added. “It’s a big one for us and a legacy project for the league.”

8. PICKENS BREAKS ARM IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN CLASH

The Rapids are staking an early claim for the league’s unluckiest side this season. Just four minutes into Saturday’s 1-1 tie with RSL, ‘keeper Matt Pickens suffered a broken forearm after colliding with Kwame Watson-Siriboe. Pickens joins Pablo Mastroeni, Martín Rivero and Jaime Castrillón on the treatment table in Colorado. While rookie goalkeeper Clint Irwin stepped up big in his first MLS appearance, only allowing Álvaro Saborío’s late equalizer to sneak past him.

9. USMNT ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT LOOMS

The waiting will be over later today, with Jurgen Klinsmann expected to name his USMNT roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico. He’s already stated Brad Guzan will start in goal and good news for the US is that Clint Dempsey made his return from injury yesterday for Tottenham. Stay tuned to MLSsoccer.com for all the latest news for the national team camp when it breaks.

10. CLASSIC “EL CAPITÁN”

If you’re only going to play your biggest rivals once this season, you might as well make it a classic. That was certainly the case in Dallas, as Kenny Cooper’s controversial late strike gave FCD a 3-2 win over Houston after the Dynamo had rallied from being 2-0 down with 10 minutes to play. Cooper seemed to have handled the ball before scoring the game-winner, and Houston’s head coach Dominic Kinnear certainly wasn’t impressed: “Some teams play hard, some guys cheat. Sometimes the cheaters win.” Ouch. Cooper pleaded ignorance when asked about the possible handball. All in all, it was a pulsating Texas Derby that Dallas won to grab “El Capitán” for the first time since 2010.

11. RENNIE: “SQUAD STRONGER THAN LAST SEASON”

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie spoke to the Scottish press over his side's busy bye weekend, as he discussed the playoff aims for this season and the new additions to his squad: “We’ve had good results so far. We managed to reach the playoffs last season and I think our squad is stronger than it was last season. We’ve got more players now.”

12. MIXED BAG FOR EXPORTS

Guzan once again stole the show for the American Exports, being named in several EPL teams of the week for his stunning display as Aston Villa defeated QPR 3-2 in a huge relegation battle. Jozy Altidore continued his record-breaking season in the Netherlands, but his goal wasn’t quite enough as struggling AZ fell to league-leaders Ajax. Down in Mexico, Jose Torres’ Tigres UANL stay top of the Liga MX, despite a 1-1 tie with Chivas.

13. KAMARA MARKS ST. PADDY’S DAY WITH A JIG, AGAIN

Last year Kei Kamara did the "Riverdance" jig alongside SKC teammate C.J. Sapong after scoring against New England on St. Patrick’s Day. Wind the clock forward a year and Kamara was doing exactly the same, only this time with a real Irishman, in the EPL and celebrating a crucial assist in Norwich’s battling 1-1 tie away at Sunderland. Kamara took to Twitter: “Wes told me we'll 2 do the Irish jig when he scored 2day so I made sure he did ;) & I had the pleasure 2 do the jig wit an Irish Man #Dreams” His film-screening in Norwich on Friday attracted more than 200, too.

14. RELIVE #RIVALRYWEEK, VOTE FOR TOP PERFORMERS

Recap all the action in #RivalryWeek, presented by Windows, with all of the images, tweets and videos you collected here. And don’t forger to vote for your top 3 performers.

15. AND FINALLY…

One of the UK’s most respected newspapers, The Times, issued a stunning apology on Sunday evening after a story it ran concerning the proposed “Dream Football League” in Qatar turned out to be false. The original story was huge news last week, but turned out to be fabricated after one of the UK’s top sportswriters was tricked by an outside source. 

MLSsoccer.com Musts

El Chelís: "“We earned a point, but in respect we earned 100."

Garber talks about NYC2 and expansion in Florida

Dominic Kinnear: "Sometimes the cheaters win."


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