Kick Off: Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio hit hat tricks; Robbie Rogers makes history
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. KEANE DOWNS SEATTLE WITH SUPERB DISPLAY, HAT TRICK
Robbie Keane demolished the Seattle Sounders on Sunday evening, setting up Sean Franklin’s opening goal and then scoring three of his own, in 20 first half minutes, to seal a 4-0 win for LA against Seattle. “One, two, three or four doesn't really matter,” Keane said. “As a striker, your job is to score goals, so it's of course great to score a hat trick, but I think the most important thing is getting the three points.”
2. ROGERS RETURNS
Robbie Rogers made his long-awaited return to soccer on Sunday night in Carson. In the 77th minute, Rogers replaced Juninho, becoming the first openly gay male athlete to compete in a major league in the US. Afterward, the 26-year-old reflected on the historic moment: “Perfect, really perfect. The first training session the Galaxy ever had on the Home Depot Center pitch, I was here training. Sigi was coach. I've kind of been on this huge journey to kind of figure out my life, and now I'm back here, I think kind of where I'm supposed to be.”
3. AN HISTORIC NIGHT FOR SOCCER & US SPORT
Rogers' appearance made huge headlines across the sporting world, as he returned to the sport he’s played his entire life. Goal.com calls him a “great role model.” The New York Times calls it a “milestone for gay athletes” and ESPN has this video of Rogers's first steps back on the soccer field, to a rousing reception from the entire Home Depot Center crowd. And is Rogers now a psychic? His pregame comments certainly seem to prove that: “I’m hoping I can come on and it’s 4-0 and can just enjoy myself.” That was exactly what happened.
4. PETKE: “I HAVE MY CHECK BOOK OUT AND I’M READY FOR MLS TO FINE ME”
The New York Red Bulls scored a stoppage-time equalizer on Sunday to tie Columbus 2-2 at Red Bull Arena. An injury-hit Crew side looked to be heading home with three vital points, but Jamison Olave scored late. Red Bulls coach Mike Petke wasn’t happy with a second-half PK call. “In my estimation, [the referee is] a guy who’s probably getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend. … Hand balls, fouls happen two feet in front of them and they don’t even see it!”
5. DI VAIO LEADS THE WAY
We already mentioned Keane’s hat trick, but Marco Di Vaio also hit a first-half treble on Saturday to take his tally to nine for the season, as Montreal downed Philadelphia 5-3 in a thriller at Stade Saputo. Di Vaio’s bizzare cake-eating celebration made his day all the more memorable. But the Italian got a yellow card for his peculiar celebration. “The referee wanted some, and he saw that I was eating the cake by myself,” Di Vaio said.
6. DYNAMO STOP THE ROT, REVS ON THE RISE
An entertaining game at Sporting Park saw SKC fight back to tie 1-1 with Houston, with the Dynamo under intense pressure late on. However they could’ve won the game after several good chances. A draw was probably a fair result. While New England definitely deserved to beat Toronto, with Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo grabbing the goals in the 2-0 win on Saturday. The Revs are now up to a tie for sixth in the East, after two wins in a row. In the end, 27 goals in MLS this weekend. Watch them all here on the MLS Goal Timeline. And then choose your top 3 performers of the weekend.
7. MEANWHILE, IN MEXICO...
In what some are calling the best Liga MX final in recent memory, Cruz Azul fell to Club América after seemingly having it all wrapped up. Los Azulinos held a 3-2 aggregate lead over América in stoppage time at the rain-drenched Estadio Azteca. But then Moises Muñoz scored a diving header in the 94th minute, forcing added time and then penalties, which América won, 4-2. What has people talking today is not only the game, but also América manager Miguel Herrera's unbridled celebration.
8. BRADLEY LOSES CUP FINAL, BOYD FINISHES ON A HIGH
It was Coppa Italia heartbreak for Michael Bradley on Sunday, as AS Roma lost to Lazio 1-0 in the first-ever Rome Derby in the showpiece final. A 71st-minute strike from Lazio’s Senad Lulić proved to be the winner. But at least Terrence Boyd finished his season with a goal, scoring his 17th for Rapid Vienna. Check out the top list of US scorers abroad.
9. MAGEE SHOWS CLASS IN TRADE TO FIRE
Of course we mentioned Rogers’ debut for LA last night. But that meant somebody had to leave. That somebody was Chicago native Mike Magee, who is heading home to play for the Fire. Magee penned an open letter to LA in a classy move: “I love my teammates and coaches and there are not enough words to truly express that and the thought of them brings me to tears, I'll just say that I’ll talk to you guys soon and we did it.” The Armchair Analyst breaks down the trade and tells us why everyone is a winner. No, seriously.
10. OH ... SO NOW US SOCCER IS SERIOUS?
According to CNN, US soccer is now “being taken seriously” as the recent huge crowds for Manchester City and Chelsea friendlies and formation of NYCFC show. But this piece also mentions other aspects as to why soccer’s popularity is on the rise. Check it out.
11. CITY BEAT CHELSEA AT YANKEE STADIUM
Another hugely entertaining friendly played out between these two at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. City won again, this time 5-3, with Samir Nasri stealing the show. Check out this nifty picture gallery from the home of the Yankees … and possible temporary home of New York City FC. While check out Sergio Aguero’s vacation snaps from his time Stateside. Enjoy.
12. NEYMAR HEADING TO BARCELONA
Brazilian star Neymar is finally leaving Santos after several years of rumors linking him with Europe’s biggest clubs. Barca have won the race to sign the tricky forward for around $42 million, but are they right to rest all their hopes on the youngster? Neymar was certainly emotional last night, as he said goodbye to the only club he has ever known.
13. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REACTION
The favorites Bayern Munich won the Champions League final on Saturday ICYMI ... just. Arjen Roben’s last-minute goal broke the heart’s of Dortmund’s terrific fans, as Munich won the UCL trophy after two final defeats in the last three years. Hilarious celebrations ensued in after-parties in London. Check out Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes.
14. SOCCER’S RICHEST GAME, CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF FINAL
BTW, Happy Memorial Day everyone. You can celebrate it by watching the Championship playoff final from Wembley Stadium, as Crystal Place and Watford (10 am ET, beIN Sport) square off for the final place in next season’s EPL. The game is worth a guaranteed $145 million in TV, league and sponsorship money next season. No pressure, lads.
15. HEAPS HAS A CHUCKLE AT REPORTER’S MOM
After beating TFC on Saturday, Jay Heaps was in a pretty good mood in the postmatch press conference. Then this happened, and the Revs coach had a little fun. The mother of Boston.com reporter Julian Cardillo got more then she bargained for when she called her son, who was actually using his iPhone to record Heaps's postgame comments. Classic. (VIDEO)
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