Kick Off: Andrei Arshavin reportedly targeted by LA Galaxy
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. ARSHAVIN TO LA?
Reports in Europe on Easter Monday have Arsenal’s Russian international attacker Andrei Arshavin moving to LA Galaxy. The 31-year-old Russian captain has fallen out of favor at the Emirates and a move to MLS is on the cards at the end of the EPL season. Reports from France, Russia and Italy are all citing the Galaxy’s interest in the player who shone as player of the tournament at Euro 2008 and during his early years with Arsenal. So is the wait for LA’s third Designated Player over?
2. DONOVAN: “I FELT LIKE I WAS A LITTLE KID TODAY”
Back sooner than most expected, Landon Donovan arrived for the last third of LA’s date with Toronto at BMO Field on Saturday. Donovan helped the Galaxy to a late come back and admitted afterwards his break from the game has had the desired effect. “That's the feeling I want back. I was excited to be out there. I was engaged, I was aware and sort of in the moment,” Donovan said. “I'm excited to be back and help this team.” Goal.com takes a closer look at Donovan’s return.
3. LA TICKING OVER, TORONTO FRUSTRATED
Without all three DPs on the pitch for the start of Saturday’s 2-2 tie against TFC, the Galaxy performed admirably well. NBC Sports tipped its hat to Bruce Arena for shuffling his squad with consummate ease. Meanwhile Ryan Nelsen believes his players shouldn’t be too disappointed with the late lapse that cost them three points against the defending MLS champs: “Yes, we are all disappointed that we didn't walk away with three points. The big picture is that the MLS champions came here and we did extremely well.”
4. HOUSTON’S STREAK EXTENDED TO 34
The Dynamo extended their unbeaten run at home to 34 games with a win against San Jose on Saturday, tying the all-time MLS record in the process. But head coach Dominic Kinnear isn’t too focused on the streak. “You don’t get anything for it,” Kinnear said. “You don’t get a T-shirt or a hat or a ring for it. In the end it goes down in a statistical record book.” As for the Quakes? They never get going at all.
5. SOUNDERS STRUGGLING
So just how concerned are the Seattle Sounders fans with the team's start to the MLS season? Very, according to a poll on the Seattle Times website. While head coach Sigi Schmid admitted he was disappointed with himself and some of his players in the 2-1 defeat to RSL. Then he came out with this on Seattle’s slack form: “It’s a disease right now that’s infecting all of us, and we’ve got to take a major antibiotic.” Next up is Santos Laguna at home on Tuesday in the CCL semifinal first leg, Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer sent Herculez Gomez this gift.
6. EVERYTHING IS “BEAUTIFUL” AT CHIVAS
OK, we all knew José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá was a character who’d bring some life to Chivas USA, but it turns out most people overlooked his managerial credentials. The Goats recorded their third straight win over the weeken against Vancouver and Chelís was waxing lyrical. “How beautiful they play at times,” Chelís said. “During a span I was telling myself, ‘I’m leaving. I already sold what I needed to sell.’ But I warm up to it and want more of those sequences. And they can do it.”
7. SPORTING BACK TO THEIR BEST AGAINST MONTREAL
Without a win in three games, you knew that Sporting KC would come out with a point to prove against the team leading the way in the East. And, boy, did they do just that. Claudio Bieler’s early goal left the Montreal Impact on the back foot for most of the game and Graham Zusi finished them off late in the game. So how will the Impact react to this? Sporting’s high-pressure approach returned thanks to their midfield trio and Peter Vermes hopes it’s here to stay: “It takes a lot of hard work. It's different from any other team in the league. Those guys, they were very, very good in the middle of the midfield.”
8. TIMBERS' RALLY STUNS RAPIDS
Just when the Rapids thought their luck was changing, the Portland Timbers came surging back to grab a draw after being 2-0 down. Will Johnson grabbed both goals as Caleb Porter’s men continue to fight against adversity. “We’ve proven we can come back in games, and we know that we can dig deep and get the result,” said Portland’s captain. Colorado's Oscar Pareja was disappointed with a bad PK call for Portland’s equalizer.
9. DALLAS ON A ROLL
With a late win against New England on Saturday, FCD stayed top of the pile in the West. Schellas Hyndman is delighted with the team's resurgence and being able to bring a player like Blas Pérez off the bench to grab the game winner. The Revs have to be “better from start to finish”, according to head coach Jay Heaps.
10. MISS HENRY, POWERS OR VILLARREAL STUNNERS?
A delicious right thigh control and left foot volley from Thierry Henry to win the game against Philadelphia was exactly what New York needed to record Mike Petke's first win in MLS as a head coach. But which goal do you prefer, Henry's cool finish or a scissor kick equalizer with less than two minutes left from LA Galaxy youngster Jose Villarreal? Which was your favorite goal this weekend in MLS? Watch all the goals here on the MLS Goal timeline.
11. USL PRO BEGINS
The USL Pro season began this weekend, with the league’s two new franchises squaring off. Phoenix FC beat VSI Tampa 1-0 in front of a sellout crowd. Meanwhile, in Orlando City's final preseason tuneup, they got the better of the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies in a 2-1 I-4 derby victory.
12. TOP 3 PERFORMERS?
Who was the top performer this weekend? Plenty of stunning goals, saves and displays were on show in a bumper MLS weekend. Will Thierry Henry, Graham Zusi, Luis Gil or Will Johnson make your top 3? Vote here.
13. MIXED FORTUNES FOR EXPORTS
It was an up-and-down weekend for USMNT stars who made the long trip back to Europe. Jozy Altidore’s AZ Alkmaar had a great win, while Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa side remained in the relegation zone after defeat to Liverpool, but Tim Howard was back for Everton in their win over Stoke. In Mexico, DaMarcus Beasley scored against Jose Torres’ Tigres UANL, but Puebla lost. And staying in Mexico, Ex-Red Bulls defender Rafa Márquez is apparently in a legal battle with his ex-wife over the custody of his children.
14. KAMARA HEADING BACK TO SKC?
It looks like Kei Kamara’s spell at Norwich City has ended early and he will be returning to Sporting KC, after he posted this tweet and a photo of his passport and plane ticket to KC:
15. …APRIL FOOLS, HERE ARE SOME MORE
But of course that wasn’t true, Kamara had you all fooled, didn’t he? Today is perhaps the most dangerous day to write the Kick Off, April Fools Day sees thousands of errant rumors and stories flying around the internet. Extending the size of the goals in England, releasing a 125th anniversary edition of Football Manager, FC Dallas signing a mascot and Don Garber announcing MLS’ 20th franchise … Kentucky Football Club, or KFC for short.
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