Starting XI: Lions, Goonies, dogs, Chipotle & everything you need to know heading into Week 4
Still catching up on what to watch for this weekend in MLS? Here's everything you need to know ahead of Week 4 (get the complete match schedule here):
I. BRADLEY OR BECKERMAN? That's the question that's proven to be the topic of the week in MLS circles thanks to RSL veteran Nat Borchers, who claimed Kyle Beckerman's the better player (LISTEN to the Borchers declaration at 10:00 here). A bold statement given that Toronto FC's Michael Bradley is a big-money DP and a USMNT starter, while RSL's Beckerman is arguably one of the most underrated players in MLS. While the numbers tell their own story, the field is the ultimate arbiter and will render judgement on Saturday night when the two go head-to-head (9:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE and TSN2).
II. LION'S OUT OF THE CAGE: That's how one Montreal media member described the return of Montreal Impact top scorer Marco Di Vaio (20 goals in 2013) after serving a three-game suspension (WATCH: Playoff incident that got Di Vaio suspended). The Impact lost all three matches Di Vaio sat out and they hit the road to face a Philadelphia team (Sat., 4 pm ET on MLS LIVE) that will have the Italian's mouth watering like a real famished lion at the sight of their young center-back pairing. What's the over/under on the minutes needed for Di Vaio to get his first of 2014?
III. TO CELEBRATE OR NOT AGAINST YOUR EX-TEAM? Defenders don't usually have to worry about these things because they don't score. But Seattle Sounders center back Chad Marshall is that good in the air and he says he's already wondered how crazy he might get if he scores against the team he served for a decade (LISTEN to his conclusion on ExtraTime Radio). The Sounders host the Columbus Crew in the Chad Marshall Bowl on Saturday night (10 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com's FREE STREAM OF THE WEEK), but Marshall is already at a disadvantage. He can't find a place in Seattle that serves his Floridian French toast breakfast pregame meal!
Finally a later game so I can get my first watch on. I love you Floridian French toast. pic.twitter.com/QtttUEDe
— chad marshall (@ChadMarshall14) April 21, 2012
IV. BIKE RACK INJURY COSTS 'CAPS: It will go down as one of the most bizarre injury mishaps in soccer history. Nigel Reo-Coker apparently wasn't looking while walking the streets of Vancouver and tripped on a bike rack, cutting his face and hitting his head (see below). The incident has forced him to miss training all week, which should help the still-perfect Houston Dynamo (2-0-0, 6 pts) in Vancouver (Sat., 7 pm ET on TSN2 and MLS LIVE). Remember, the Whitecaps were also the team that had forward Darren Mattocks suffer burns in a home-cooking accident in his 2012 rookie season.
— Irfaan Gaffar (@IrfaanGaffar) March 27, 2014
V. HUNGRY GOONIES: You know the saying. There's no keeping the Goonies down for long. So after a winless first two matches of the season and heartbreaking CONCACAF Champions League elimination, the San Jose Earthquakes have their sights set on a win at home against the New England Revolution (Sat., 10:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE), who are also winless but haven't even scored a goal after three games. The Quakes will rely on captain Chris Wondolowski for their goals and he's in a happy place: He recently got free Chipotle for a year.
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) March 25, 2014
VI. LOOK OUT, UNITED ARE ANGRY: You'd probably be as well if you're still in last-place after one of the worst seasons in MLS history in 2013. D.C. United have two losses and zero goals scored after revamping their team in the offseason and combine that with a little snow during the week in the D.C. area and they're all fired up to receive the Chicago Fire (Sat., 4 pm ET on NBCSN), where the big story is Chris Rolfe's search for a new owner for his dog. Know anyone? Oh, and reigning league MVP Mike Magee is still trying to find his feet in 2014. In the meantime he's making sure that the young guys respect the crest.
Chris Ritter's a true bro but the flawless #cf97 fine system is gonna cost him more than his Northwestern education
VII. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS: Colorado Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni has been an MLS coach for just two matches, but he wants to infuse a new mentality into his club and he did it with a major proclamation this week: "We want to win. We want to be champs. I don’t want to be a small-market team. And we definitely don’t have a small market mentality.” You want to be the champs? Beat the champs. And the Rapids will get the chance when they face Sporting Kansas City (Sat., 6 pm ET on MLS LIVE). But you know who else talks a good game? SKC's Benny Feilhaber. And he now he even has his own show (watch below).
VIII. TINKER, TAILOR, SOCCER PLAYER, COACH: Making adjustments is the name of the game for both FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers when they square off at Toyota Stadium (Sat., 8:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE). FCD's midfield has been devastated by injuries to Andrew Jacobson and Adam Moffat and a suspension to Hendry Thomas. "It's a beautiful opportunity for the youngsters," says coach Oscar Pareja. Paging Victor Ulloa! The Timbers, meanwhile, will replace suspended goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts with (gasp!) former Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Andrew Weber.
Watch what Ricketts did to earn his suspension (CLICK HERE) and then the image below will make plenty of sense.
— Tim Hamilton (@muffintopmodel) March 27, 2014
IX. WAIT! CHIVAS USA HAVE TWICE AS MANY POINTS AS THE RED BULLS? Yes, it's true. While the Red Bulls are buzzing about a recently announced friendly with Arsenal, the Goats come to town (Sun., 3 pm ET, UniMas) with a better record than the defending Supporters' Shield winners. Actually, that shouldn't strike anyone as odd: Chivas USA have the better record all-time against the Red Bulls:
Doesn't #RBNY have an all-time losing record against Chivas USA? Is it wrong to be a little proud of that?
— K. (@FriendlyFAUX) March 28, 2014
X. WHERE IN MIAMI IS DAVID BECKHAM? It's the new game that residents of the prospective MLS expansion city are playing these days that is sure to continue through the weekend. That's because Beckham is truly embedding himself in South Florida and "has grown to truly love our city," according to the Miami Herald's veteran soccer writer. He's made trips to meet lawmakers (see this selfie shot by the governor of Florida), visits to local colleges (he stopped by Florida Memorial University this week) and stops to bring some cheer to kids in hospitals. Surely, one of the topics of conversation is the plan for the new stadium that he's hoping to build for his new club right on the water. The images are more jaw-dropping than his H&M commercial spots.
David Beckham surprises Florida Memorial University's very own soccer team after a evening scrimmage pic.twitter.com/OqLGGggj45
— Jeany_Seven (@Jeany_Seven) March 26, 2014
XI. WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: The LA Galaxy have a bye weekend – so what does a player do to take advantage of the rare break? If you're Omar Gonzalez, you get married! The Galaxy Designated Player and USMNT starter was even nice enough to share some pictures. We hope this doesn't mean his underwear-playing saxophone days are over!
And you know how Gonzalez capped his wedding day off? With a live John Legend concert and a personal Twitter message from the celebrity himself. Which musical artist or band would you want (or would have wanted) to serenade you on your wedding day?
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) March 27, 2014
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) March 27, 2014