Kick Off: Galaxy bow out as MLS quest for CCL title continues

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

1. LA OUT, AS MLS CCL TITLE DROUGHT CONTINUES

It was a brave and dignified effort from the Galaxy, but it wasn’t enough. LA fell 1-0 in Monterrey on Wednesday to lose 3-1 on aggregate and bow out of the CONCACAF Champions League at the semifinal stage [watch the highlights here]. Bruce Arena was philosophical afterwards. “There are a lot of positives [we can take],” Arena said. “Our team played pretty well in this competition and this series and we learned that maybe 10 minutes [in the first leg] might have sealed our fate.”

2. THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CCL EXITS

Reflecting on yet another frustrating CCL campaign, Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle believes the next big hurdle for MLS clubs is to win the elusive title:. “Right now, they're saying MLS teams will never win a CONCACAF Champions League title. Let them. MLS has come a long, long way in two decades, and it just so happens that the CCL is the next hurdle.” Target forwards, improved performances and poor finishing is all discussed.

3. GONZALEZ SHINES ONCE AGAIN

Another thing we learned from last night is that Omar Gonzalez’s stock continues to rise. The towering defender put in a great performance, but Landon Donovan was disappointed the offense wasn’t firing to take advantage of that. “I thought Omar was fantastic, and that’s what we needed from him and unfortunately we didn’t do our job on the other end of the field,” Donovan said. “But I thought he was great.” Is that DP contract for Omar growing ever closer?

4. ALL ABOARD THE BANDWAGON

So for new fans of MLS, or fans who just can’t make their minds up on which team to support, this should help you out. ESPN’s Alexi Lalas and Roger Bennett published this team-by-team guide to MLS. Columbus get compared to Glee, New York to the Kardashians and FC Dallas are similar to Slurpees… Only in Grantland. Choose wisely folks.

5. LA MAN GIVEN STAR TREATMENT BY MOURINHO AND REAL MADRID

Abel Rodríguez is 41 years old and waxes floors in LA. But now he’s known by many as Real Madrid’s lucky charm. SI.com’s Grant Wahl takes up the story: When Real Madrid have visited LA for preseason the past seven summers, Rodríguez would take his "two weeks vacation" to act as an unpaid helper for José Mourinho’s staff on the training field. Urged by his family, he took an impromptu trip to Madrid to watch El Clásico and visit Mourinho and his staff … but Rodríguez had no contact details for them, or a hotel or a ticket for the game. Luckily, Mourinho saw Rodríguez sitting on the sidewalk outside Madrid’s training complex and recognized him. The rest of the story is like a dream come true. Enjoy.

6. COLLEGE NIGHT AT RFK, 'CAPS NUMBERS KEEP RISING

Leave the beer pong tables alone, put down those philosophy books and get on down to RFK Stadium. That’s the message D.C. United is sending to college students in the nations capital for Saturday’s Atlantic Cup clash with New York (or something like that). Elsewhere, The Province sat down with Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi and he believes more fans, more big events and perhaps more DPs are heading to BC Place.

7. GRADING MLS’ NEW MANAGERS

OK, so after the first six weeks of the season, how have the new guys done? ESPN’s Jason Davis analyzes the jobs Ryan Nelsen, "El Chelís," Caleb Porter, Mike Petke and Marco Schällibaum have done so far. Petke’s GPA won’t be too high if he keeps up this "D" average, while Schällibaum and Chelís are top of the class.

8. REVS LINK UP WITH PDL SIDE REAL BOSTON RAMS

Is this the sign of things to come? With the newly restructured MLS-USL Pro reserve league in place this season, the United Soccer Leagues and MLS have a burgeoning partnership. And on Wednesday, the New England Revolution announced a partnership with PDL side Real Boston Rams to become their official PDL affiliate.

9. USMNT ON THE RISE, GOLD CUP ROSTER?

Some good news for US national team fans this morning, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side moved up the FIFA World Rankings. The US moved up five spots to 28th and were the biggest climbers in the top 30, alongside Denmark and Croatia. Onward and upwards. And with the Gold Cup taking on extra importance this summer, who will Klisnmann select to the roster? Goal.com takes a look at who Klinsi will pick as the US aim to clinch some silverware on home soil.  

10. USA U-17 SIDE FACE GUATEMALA

The aim is clear. Win and move on. After Haiti’s loss on Tuesday, the US Under-17 national team is in the CONCACAF U-17 World Cup qualifying quarterfinals with tonight's match against Guatemala determining their spot in Group C (6:30 pm ET, delayed on Fox Soccer at 7 pm ET). As long as they make the semis, the US will be going to the U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

11. RAPINOE DOING THINGS HER WAY

Staying on the national scene, USWNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe is doing things a little differently. The New York Times caught up with the tough-tackling midfielder in Lyon, where she is starring for the French powerhouse as her USWNT teammates prepare for the start of the new National Women's Soccer League. The topics: speaking “busted French,” playing salaries, plans to return to the US, and more.

12. CHICHARITO TO ATLÉTICO?

Rumors continue to persist in the UK press this morning, as Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is reportedly on his way to Atlético Madrid in a swap deal involving Radamel Falcao. Manchester United are said to be offering Chicharito plus $41.5 million, as the Mexican international has found minutes hard to come by at Old Trafford this season. And ICYMI, the American “Chicharito” is playing for the Union, but Jack Mac isn’t having any of that.

13. DEMPSEY, SPURS ON EUROPA BRINK

Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel are in Europa League action this afternoon, (2 pm ET, Fox Soccer) as Tottenham Hotspur face FC Basel in their second leg quarterfinal in Switzerland. The sides draw 2-2 in last week's first leg, and the US duo must help the North Londoners fight back to make the semis. For all the soccer action on the tube today, Soccer America has you covered.

14. REPORTS: HAWK-EYE WINS EPL GOAL-LINE TECH RIGHTS

The English Premier League is set to announce that British company Hawk-Eye will be behind the league’s goal-line technology next season. All 20 EPL chairman met in Central London to ratify the new rules and the new technology is set to be implemented in the 2013-14 season. Hawk-Eye brought its pioneering technology to both cricket and tennis in the past. Is MLS next?

15. MLS STAR SEARCH

One team has stolen the show at the globally recognized Dallas Cup. And they’re not even a real team. As XI Quarterly explains, Alianza de Fútbol were hastily put together by Alianza (who put on tryouts for youngsters in several US cities) and practiced together for the first-time two days before the tournament started. The players hailed from across the nation and the Alianza group has been putting on tryouts for potential young players to impress Mexican professional teams since 2004, with many going on to Liga MX teams. Now MLS is in on the act. Great story.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

March to the Match: The silver lining for Seattle (PODCAST)

Analyst: It's hard to see now, but MLS is getting closer in CCL

Monterrey end LA's CCL dreams, 3-1 on agg.


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