Kick Off: Real Salt Lake lead the way, but LA Galaxy set their sights on Supporters' Shield
Here are the Top 15 Soccer stories we’re following today
1. RSL AND TIMBERS IN ANOTHER SIX-GOAL THRILLER
Can these two play each other every week? That would have been the thought crossing the mind of many fans as Real Salt Lake played their way to a 4-2 victory over the Portland Timbers (watch highlights here). RSL managed to score four goals for the second week in a row, a fact they credit to an improved attitude. For the already depleted Timbers side, a “humbling” result was made worse when Diego Valeri limped out of the game early and Ben Zemanski was issued a red card for a studs-up tackle.
2. PETKE’S CHANGES VINDICATED BY RESULT
After Thursday's high-profile training ground dispute, which Mike Petke described “like a tornado meeting a volcano”, the Red Bulls' head coach established just who was in charge of the team by leaving Thierry Henry on the bench. His decision was justified by a 2-1 victory over rivals DC United (watch highlights here). Lloyd Sam opened the scoring with a clever chip over Bill Hamid before Nick DeLeon’s good work levelled things up. Tim Cahill, perhaps inspired by his son performing the national anthem, scored what would prove to be the winner as Dwayne De Rosario missed a penalty.
3. GALAXY AND KEANE DOMINATE CALIFORNIA CLASICO
”When they’re on form, they’re the best team in the league” Quakes head coach Mark Watson said of the LA Galaxy and they were again on form Saturday night as they beat rivals San Jose 3-0 at the StubHub Center (watch highlights here). It was another night dominated by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, the latter scoring two goals as he makes a late surge for the Golden Boot. While the Galaxy now have one eye on first place, fans will no doubt be cursing the international fixtures that will steal away their two attacking superstars.
4. SPORTING REMEMBER HOW TO SCORE
It reached 213 minutes. That’s how long it had been since Sporting Kansas City had scored in league play. A stunning Benny Feilhaber strike put an end to that streak and a late Graham Zusi winner helped SKC to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids (watch highlights here). For Zusi, the result signals things to come: “This will get our confidence back up and we’ll finish the season strong.”
5. SEATTLE, JOHNSON MAKE A STATEMENT
A lone goal from the Sounders Eddie Johnson was all it took for 10-man Seattle to beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 (watch highlights here) in front of a sell-out crowd. The Sounders had defender Leo Gonzalez sent off after only six minutes, but Johnson helped his side take the lead shortly after, once again heading home a Mario Rosales free kick. After scoring, EJ seemed to indicate he is hoping for a raise, repeatedly rubbing his fingers together and mouthing “pay me." Next up for EJ: World Cup qualifying with the USMNT.
6. CHIVAS FOILED AGAIN IN STOPPAGE TIME
While Erick Torres is singlehandedly doing his best to turn around Chivas USA’s season, his two goals against the Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t prove to be enough thanks to a stoppage-time equalizer from Tommy Heinemann, which leveled the score at 2-2 (watch highlights here). It was a disappointing result for both teams. Vancouver missed a chance to take back a play-off place ahead of three games on the road while Chivas let a lead slip for the seventh time in nine games.
7. FIRE, DYNAMO MISS OPPORTUNITY
With both the Philadelphia Union drawing 0-0 against the Montreal Impact (watch highlights here) and New England held 1-1 by Toronto (watch highlights here) there was a chance for a new team to leapfrog them into the play off places. Fortunately for those two, neither the Chicago Fire nor the Houston Dynamo were able to capitalize when they faced each other in a 1-1 tie on Sunday afternoon (watch highlights here). With Chicago unable to take advantage of their chances, Mike Magee believes “the soccer Gods have a way of punishing you” and punish the Fire they did, as Adam Moffat let loose with a, now trademark, powerful drive from distance to tie it.
8. INJURY PROBLEMS FOR THE USMNT?
Jurgen Klinsmann mixed things up this time around and let us have the roster for the upcoming qualifiers early, which certainly makes things more interesting when selected players go down injured. Brad Evans left the Seattle Sounders match early with a calf strain and has been replaced by Michael Parkhurst but, perhaps more worrying, is the news that Jozy Altidore did not make Sunderland’s squad at the weekend, apparently nursing a hamstring injury. The forward will still report to camp for an assessment.
9. ANOTHER QUALIFIER, ANOTHER SELLOUT
By the time the USMNT face Jamaica at Sporting park on October 11, there’s every chance they will already have qualified for the World Cup. That hasn’t stopped fans from wanting to be there though. Not only has the game sold out, it apparently did so in five minutes. Could that Jamaica squad one day feature a potential rookie of the year? That’s the dream according to Colorado's Deshorn Brown.
10. ONYEWU HEADING HOME?
While a former MLS player continues his bright start at Sporting Lisbon, one player who’ll play no further part in it is US defender Oguchi Onyewu. After being released from his contract, the 31-year-old center back is free to find another club. Where will he go? Would DC United be a good fit for the World Cup veteran?
11. KAKA TO STAY IN EUROPE, FOR NOW
One player whose future is decided is Kaka, the 31-year-old former world player of the year has returned to his old club, AC Milan, on a free transfer after a largely unhappy spell at Real Madrid. The Brazilian signed a two-year contract which will see him through to 2015 when, theoretically, if Orlando City should make it to MLS, he could then become their first Designated Player. Does Taylor Twellman know something about that move we don’t?
12. IS CONSISTENCY KEY?
Every successful MLS team is going to need depth. Doesn’t matter how strong your starting XI is. Over a long season injuries, international call ups and suspensions will take their toll. While it would seem obvious that being able to field the same starting XI consistently builds cohesion and understanding which in turn leads to results, is any of this really true? One More Soccer Blog runs the numbers.
13. TOUGH LESSONS AHEAD FOR TORONTO FC YOUNGSTERS
Now that Ryan Nelson knows his job is safe for 2014 he has been able to start planning for the future. A big part of that will involve turning some of TFC’s promising youngsters into first team regulars, capable of holding their own. How? Well, Nelson has a plan “It Is just about getting hardened and learning the environment” Nelson said of his plan to send players out on loan over the offseason. Which players might end up departing?
14. GIVE YOUTH A CHANCE
With youth soccer more popular than ever, the development system is still not foolproof. That’s according to Leander Schaerlaeckens at Fox Soccer who tells a story of super clubs and winning-at-all-costs mentalities. However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
15. PORTLAND CELEBRATE SOCCER SUCCESS IN NWSL
Portland have won their first trophy. Unfortunately for Caleb Porter and the Timbers, they weren’t the ones to win it. This victory belongs to Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and the rest of the Portland Thorns, winners of the inaugural NWSL with a 2-0 victory over Abby Wambach’s Western New York Flash. Need further proof that Portland loves its soccer? This is what was waiting for the Thorns as they returned from Rochester.