Kick Off: Chicago Fire finally off the schneid, while New York Red Bulls wonder what's wrong
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. FIRE DOWN RED BULLS
After another defeat, is it time to panic in New York? After just one win from their opening five games, Mike Petke’s side isn’t clicking. Yes, a new manager and some new players will take time to settle, but late collapses have cost the Red Bulls dear already. “I’m very disappointed,” Petke said. “If I’m with a team in a rebuilding stage, with players who are rookies in the league, how mad could I be? But I’m with guys who are capable of so much more.” Jack Bell from The New York Times dissects RBNY’s disappointing performance in the 3-1 defeat to Chicago.
2. COMEBACK KIDS HEAD TO MEXICO
Been there, seen it, done it. Too many times the Seattle Sounders have dug themselves a hole in the first legs of MLS playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds. But this one may be the deepest yet. With Obafemi Martins out and Brad Evans questionable, can it be done? “We believe in ourselves and we believe in our ability to do a difficult thing,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Like I’ve said before, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible.” On Sunday it was announced Eddie Johnson will make the trip, giving the Sounders a timely boost ahead of a grueling task.
3. GOMEZ: “I WAS PROUD TO BE A SEATTLE SOUNDER”
Herculez Gomez’s nomadic career brought him to Seattle for a few brief months in 2003. And the Mexican-American striker holds his time with the Sounders close to his heart. “It was probably one of the best summers that I have ever had," Gomez told the Seattle Times. The USMNT forward enjoyed his return with Santos last week. "[Seattle's] fans were pretty appreciative. They let me know how they felt, and that was pretty special."
4. JUNINHO FIT AS GALAXY PREPARE TO HEAD SOUTH
LA’s task is perhaps even more daunting than Seattle’s. After their late collapse at the Home Depot Center last Wednesday, the Galaxy trail the reigning two-time CCL winners Monterrey 2-1 heading into the second leg. Galaxy midfielder Juninho returned to training on Sunday and believes his team can turn the tie around: “If we score early, then it’ll be comfortable for us and we only need one more goal, so let’s try.” Meanwhile, Monterrey rested their star players this past weekend for Wednesday.
5. DOUBLE SHOE CHANGE COSTS THE QUAKES
One of the most bizarre incidents in recent MLS history cost the San Jose Earthquakes all three points on Saturday. Víctor Bernárdez and Alan Gordon both decided they needed to change their cleats … at the same time. Vancouver's Corey Hertzog duly scored the equalizer with the Quakes down to nine-men and that’s how it finished. Also, Nigel Reo-Coker flipped Sam Cronin high into the air, but was it even a foul?
6. DEFIANT TORONTO
Ryan Nelsen was a player who had a "never say die" attitude. It seems as if that mentality is translating to his players. Down 2-0 to FC Dallas with five minutes to go on Saturday, the Reds fought back with two late strikes, including Darel Russell’s injury-time howitzer, to snatch a point. “We are very close to being a very good team,” Nelsen said. “We just need a bit more belief and as you saw that second half, we can compete with anybody.”
7. PORTLAND GRAB PORTER HIS FIRST WIN, RESERVES BEAT TAMPA
Breathe a huge sigh of relief Caleb Porter; you’ve got your first "W" in MLS. Thanks to two Ryan Johnson strikes, the Timbers deservedly beat Houston 2-0 on Saturday night, with Portland's new head coach believing his side have found their identity. “I thought it was a comprehensive performance on both sides of the ball,” Porter said. “And it really looked like what we want our identity to be here with the Portland Timbers.” Meanwhile, the Timbers reserves grabbed a win over VSI Tampa in the first MLS-USL Pro Interleague fixture.
8. RETRO SOCCER SHIRTS … 'NUFF SAID
A craze swept the UK last week, as the BBC asked fans to tweet in with pictures of their first ever soccer jerseys. The response was overwhelming. So in related news, Chris Gibbs of Union La and JP Plunier of Feal Mor talk vintage soccer jerseys and how some shirts in the modern era will join them. Enjoy. (Warning: Strong Language)
9. GUZAN’S VILLA ON A ROLL, HOLDEN STARTS
Brad Guzan won the battle of the USMNT stars in the EPL, as his Aston Villa side recorded a dramatic 3-1 win over Geoff Cameron’s Stoke City. The Villans now sit just one point and one spot behind Stoke in the EPL standings, as Cameron and Brek Shea brace themselves for a relegation scrap. In the Championship, Stuart Holden started in Sheffield Wednesday's 3-2 win over Blackburn.
10. LAMPARD WAITING ON MOURINHO
Rumors continue to persist about Frank Lampard heading to the LA Galaxy this summer. But new reports suggest the England midfielder will put his plans on hold until he finds out if José Mourinho will return to manage Chelsea.
11. KLINSMANN TO STAY ON AFTER 2014? BRADLEY MAKES THE BIG SCREEN...
After the incredible centennial celebrations in New York City on Friday — see a recp of all the action here — US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann discussed the future. Specifically his. "It all depends on results," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I want to be measured by the outcome of your work, and the outcome of your work is Brazil 2014.” While one of Klinsmann's star players, Michael Bradley, stars alongside Francesco Totti in this Volkswagen commercial in Italy. Bellissimo!
12. US YOUNGSTERS SHINE
Beginning their U-17 World Cup qualifying campaign, the US youngsters comfortably defeated Haiti 3-0 in Panama City in their opening match of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. New York Red Bulls Academy product Chris Lema struck twice as Richie Williams’ side grew stronger as the game went on. The US continue their qualifying tournament on Thursday, when they face Guatemala (6:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer). And, oh yeah, they have a mystery man from Boca Juniors who is quite special…
13. UNSUNG HEROES TAKE THE LIMELIGHT IN MLS FANTASY
If, like me, you loaded your MLS Fantasy: Soccer Manager squad with expensive forwards and midfielders, you had a pretty rough weekend of it. But plenty of unheralded players more than made up for that. Take a look at our MLS Fantasy review and see which gems you’re missing before you make transfers this week. A must read.
14. GOALS, GOALS, GOALS — BUT SHOULD THERE BE MORE?
There were quite a few crackers scored this weekend. Darel Russell’s long range effort to snatch Toronto a point, Dominic Oduro’s thunderbolt and Claudio Bieler’s dramatic late winner for Sporting KC are all worth reliving in the Goal Timeline. But Soccer America wants more goals. They also want MLS to “look beyond the marketing.”
15. MANCHESTER DERBY
Make sure you tune in to watch the Manchester Derby this afternoon, as Manchester United host rivals Man. City in a clash that never disappoints. The action begins at 2:30 pm ET, live on ESPN2. And if you are at work you can watch along on ESPN3.com … while you’re pretending to be busy. Simple. And for the rest of the action live on the tube this week, Soccer America has compiled this lovely list. Cheers guys.
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