Kick Off: Triumph and tragedy as Seattle Sounders top Real Salt Lake
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today ... don't forget 24 Under 24 kicks off with players No. 24 through 21 at 11 am ET!
1. SEATTLE RISE TO THE TOP
It took the Seattle Sounders less than three minutes to take the lead against Real Salt Lake on Friday night, and while the final score eventually finished 2-0 (watch highlights here), the heroics of RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando kept it from finishing much worse. Playing in front of more than 55,000 fans, the Sounders took control of the Western Conference and, inspired by the crowd, they took it with both hands. Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, knew they were well beaten: “Tonight was the best of Seattle” accepted RSL head coach Jason Kreis, although he admitted, "it wasn’t the best of Real Salt Lake.”
2. SOUNDERS FAN STABBED, KILLED
A tragic footnote to report to the game in Seattle, where a Sounders fan was fatally stabbed and his girfriend seriously wounded when the two were attacked by an assailant after the match on Friday night. Troy Wolff, the 30-year-old chair of the English department at nearby Shoreline Community College, was killed near Third Avenue South and South Jackson Street, close to the King Street railway station. A 44-year-old man was arrested.
3. MONTREAL UNDONE BY THE CREW
With only five games remaining, the Columbus Crew kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to a stunning 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact (watch highlights here). “We’ve put some pressure on some teams that are slightly above us,” interim boss Brian Bliss said. For Montreal, who now have just one win in six meetings with the Crew, head coach Marco Schällibaum summed it up best, even dropping in a bit of French: “I think every team has a bête noire … for us, it’s Columbus."
4. NEW YORK PUSH PAST TORONTO
The New York Red Bulls took advantage of Montreal’s slip to move three points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference after a 2-0 win over Toronto FC (watch highlights here). It was the third win in a row for the Red Bulls since the training ground dispute between Mike Petke and Thierry Henry, and the players and manager have expressed a change in attitude since that day. Toronto, on the other hand, were left to lament a relatively strong performance after being undone by what manager Ryan Nelsen called “a couple of soft goals.” Even if one of those may have defied several mathmatical laws.
5. CHICAGO FINALLY ARRIVE
The Chicago Fire twice came from behind to beat the New England Revolution, 3-2, on Saturday night (watch highlights here) and move back into a postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. While the Revs were left to rue a disallowed goal and some poor defensive play, Fire hero Mike Magee shared his joy: “After all the work we did … to get into a top five spot was amazing.”
6. HOUSTON EDGE PHILADELPHIA
You won't see the game on ESPN Classic, but the Houston Dynamo went back to a formula that had stood them in good stead for a long time, grinding out a 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union (watch highlights here). With both teams pushing for a playoff place, it was an important game which, following the result in Chicago, put the Union in sixth place with only five games left.
7. GALAXY HELD IN DC
With D.C. United legend Jaime Moreno being honored at halftime the current crop of United players rose to the occasion and held the LA Galaxy to a 2-2 drew (watch highlights here) in front of 16,233 fans. The Galaxy had held the lead twice but, in what Landon Donovan called “the same old story,” they twice let that lead slip thanks to some defensive errors. The Galaxy came away with other problems as well, though, with Donovan himself suffering a “left ankle injury” while A.J. DeLaGarza dislocated his elbow.
8. INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE ARENA
Before Saturday's game against D.C. United, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena answered some questions from Steven Goff of The Washington Post, including a number of subjects affecting the game today and the use of turf fields: “They are disasters. The only one that is somewhat acceptable is Portland. The others are all terrible.”
9. RAPIDS DOWN DALLAS
For all the talk of the Colorado Rapids' extremely talented rookies, Saturday night’s 2-1 result against FC Dallas (watch highlights here) belonged to Vicente Sánchez. Sanchez The 33-year-old spent the evening toying with the Dallas backline, as well as scoring an incredible goal, leaving head coach Oscar Pareja to put it clearly: “That’s why Vincente is here.” FC Dallas now sit outside three points outside the playoffs and head coach Schellas Hyndman isn’t giving up: “What we need to do now is keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
10. VALUABLE POINTS IN PLAYOFF PUSH
While Seattle ride high, Saturday was a mixed night for the other two Cascadia teams and their playoff ambitions. Portland still look good to secure a postseason spot, but they missed a big chance to move into third following a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA (watch highlights here). Vancouver watched that red line get slightly further away, as did opponents San Jose, following a 0-0 draw (watch highlights here). Martin Rennie is still left searching for answers on where things have started to go wrong for the 'Caps, and one solution might be to ban this guy from away games. The return of Jay DeMerit, however, will likely provide a boost.
10. EGYPT DRAW TOUGH FOE
What's the reward for world's only perfect record in World Cup qualifying so far? Bob Bradley and Egypt learned on Monday: Ghana. The Pharoahs and Black Stars will start their two-game series to decide a trip to Brazil in roughly a month, with the second leg played in mid-November. Ghana – who reached the World Cup quarterfinals in 2010 after dumping Bradley's US squad in the Round of 16 – won the teams' last meeting 3-0 in a friendly in Abu Dhabi in January.
12. US TO PLAY SCOTLAND
U.S. Soccer has officially announced the expected friendly against Scotland on November 15 at Hampden Park in Glasgow. With MLS in the midst of the playoffs at that point, expect the US team to be made up of mostly European-based players. Though the last meeting ended 5-1 in the US’ favor down in Jacksonville, Fla., under new manager Gordon Strachan, this Scotland side could present a much tougher opponent. The USMNT will be playing a second friendly a couple of days later, but will not announce an opponent until after the World Cup qualifiers next month. Austria are currently deemed the favorites.
13. COSTA RICA UNDER INVESTIGATION
Costa Rica could be in trouble. Let's start with an alleged incident involving their fans booing and drowning out the US national anthem during the recent World Cup qualifier. The Costa Rican federation has said it will pay the fine for that one but that other countries are just as guilty as it is. The far more important action is the one against forward Joel Campbell, who could face up to three games on the sidelines and potentially miss the first game of next summer’s World Cup. In other FIFA news, USSF top dog and ExCo member Sunil Gulati plans to take his time considering a possible winter World Cup.
14. IS MIAMI READY FOR MLS?
A lot of recent reports place Miami as one of the three supposedly “spoken for” expansion teams, but is Miami really ready for another crack at MLS? The Huffington Post has a closer look. Elsewhere, how about MLS in Louisville, Ky.? That’s the idea behind this extremely grassroots campaign.
15. A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM KEI KAMARA
Fans in Kansas City are going to miss Kei Kamara, not only for his play on the pitch but for his attitude, his heart shaped hands and his love of free Chipotle. Well, guess what, turns out he’s going to miss them, too.