Kick Off: Potential Eddie Johnson game-winner flagged offside as US, Mexico draw 2-2 in friendly
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. HONORS EVEN IN GLENDALE AFTER CONTROVERSIAL OFFSIDE CALL
In an entertaining and at times breathtaking 90 minutes, the US and Mexico played to a 2-2 tie Wednesday night (highlights) in front of 59,066 fans in Glendale, Ariz. Michael Bradley scored and provided an assist as the US took a 2-0 lead in the first half but Mexico mounted a comeback early in the second, with Rafa Márquez, of all people, scoring El Tri’s first before Alan Pulido got the equalizer. The US should have had a late winner, but Eddie Johnson's fine goal was ruled out when he was incorrectly flagged for offside, infuriating Americans everywhere and producing a memorable reaction from coach Jurgen Klinsmann. What lessons were there to be learned from the encounter and how did the players rate?
2. 18-YEAR-OLD GREEN PLAYS FINAL 30 MINUTES
This was the last match before the preliminary World Cup roster is announced and, while Klinsmann insists he won’t make his decision until as close to the deadline as possible, has his policy of split squads over these past friendlies been a positive or a negative? Before the match, 18-year-old Julian Green talked some more about his ultimate goal with the national team, and he then made his first appearance for the US, coming on for the final 30 minutes. While Klinsmann was happy with Green's debut overall, do we need to lower our expectations of the young Bayern Munich player for now?
3. GONZALEZ THE NEW POSTER BOY?
It’s turning into quite the week for Omar Gonzalez, what with his wedding, a US-Mexico match and then a rivalry game against Chvas USA. Yet this summer could eclipse all that (apart from maybe the wedding) as Gonzalez looks set to play a pivotal role in his first World Cup campaign, both on and off the field. Meanwhile, the defender's LA Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan started Wednesday's international friendly as a substitute, a decision Jurgen Klinsmann explains was due to the fact Donovan "didn't train well; he had no tempo," with the US head coach also indicating that Donovan has been struggling with a knee injury.
4. BIG D PLAYMAKER KIND OF A BIG DEAL IN MARCH
After debuting for FC Dallas last August, Mauro Díaz seems to have this Major League Soccer thing figured out. After producing two goals and an assist and helping FC Dallas to a 3-0-1 start, the 23-year-old playmaker was voted Etihad Airways Player of the Month for March. Díaz beat out some household names to earn the award, besting US national-teamers Nick Rimando and Michael Bradley, Columbus playmaker Federico Higuain, and Houston goalscorer Will Bruin.
5. SIMMS IN NEED OF KIDNEY TRANSPLANT
Clyde Simms, a nine-year MLS veteran, was forced to retire in February due to a kidney disease, and the former US international is now in need of a kidney transplant. While the typical wait is four years, Simms hopes to use his predicament to help raise awareness about the illness. To find out how you can help, visit the Our Friend Clyde page on the Revolution website.
On another important, but unrelated, topic, a new study suggests that one in four soccer stars show the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
6. MLS TRADE WINDS SEND ROLFE TO D.C.
D.C United caught many people by surprise on Wednesday when they acquired Chris Rolfe from the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money. With the emergence of young talents such as Quincy Amarikwa up front and Benji Joya and Harry Shipp in the midfield, the 31-year old midfielder/forward had fallen down the pecking order in Chicago; trade talks reportedly began after Saturday's 2-2 draw between the teams at RFK Stadium. Despite Rolfe's haul of only four goals last season, D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper believes his club's new signing “plays with a high soccer IQ and will give us more options in our attack.”
7. PONTIUS RETURN DELAYED
One reason for the acquisition? D.C. United were looking for attacking midfield help, with Luis Silva out for a while after picking up an injury in the game against the Chicago Fire and the latest prognosis on Chris Pontius suggesting the midfielder is expected to miss at least another two months. Rolfe may be more of a goalscorer than a playmaker, but he should have a chance to play right away. Despite the absences, United can look to a bright spot playing slightly deeper in the formation, as Perry Kitchen continues to look more and more assured in the team’s midfield.
8. MLS WITHIN 5 YEARS? DETROIT AIMS HIGH
Following the news that Detroit could be gaining a USL PRO franchise as early as 2015, prospective team owner Dan Duggan, chairman of the PDL's Michigan Bucks and the brother of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, has been talking some more about his ambitions regarding the team. With the stated aim of reaching MLS, Duggan believes he can get a stadium built within 60 days of approval and, from there, it’s simply about showing that the city supports professional soccer, physically and commercially, because, as Duggan puts it, “MLS is not going to have a failure.”
9. BRINGING DOWN THE CURTIN
Philadelphia Union assistant coach Jim Curtin spent seven season with the Chicago Fire during his career, becoming a fan favorite along the way. So, when the Fire host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (5 pm ET, MLS Live), Curtin will be in the unique position of coaching one team while ceremoniously retiring from the other. As for Curtin’s current club, do sports fans in Philadelphia need to have a little patience?
10. CALDWELL SUSPENDED, MOOR FINED BY DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE
While Toronto FC’s Steven Caldwell may have thought a yellow card was sufficient for his tackle on Ned Grabavoy last weekend, the MLS Disciplinary Committee clearly felt otherwise, handing down a one-game suspension to the defender for “serious foul play that endangers the safety of an opponent.” Caldwell was not alone in punishment though, as Drew Moor was fined for an incident involving Claudio Bieler.
11. RAPIDS ADDING SOME D
The Colorado Rapids may not be losing Drew Moor to suspension, but they will definitely be without Marvell Wynne following the defender’s red card against Sporting Kansas City last weekend. As such, the Rapids are looking a little light at the back, and so Pablo Mastroeni has added defensive signings, with the club picking up Austrian right back Thomas Piermayr and expecting to add John Neeskens, son of former Dutch great Johan Neeskens, at some point this week.
12. EXTENDED LIFE-SPAN
Orlando City’s USL PRO squad may have gotten a little bit stronger on Wednesday, after they acquired FC Dallas midfielder Cobi Span on loan for the rest of the 2014 season. Span only joined Dallas in January after the MLS club won a weighted lottery for the 22-year old, but having failed to break his way into the Texan team so far, this loan spell could allow him to gain valuable minutes on the field. Despite being one of the few MLS teams to still field a reserve squad, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja sounds like he may loan out several other players to US minor-league teams.
13. REO-COKER'S BIKE-RACK INCIDENT "EMBARRASSING"
For Nigel Reo-Coker, his first year in MLS was a learning experience, but this year the English midfielder wants to go a lot further. New head coach Carl Robinson seems to be just the man to take him there, with Reo-Coker insisting, “I truly believe in him and his philosophy on football and what he’s looking to do and achieve.” Reo-Coker has also been reflecting on his recent absence following his "embarrassing" incident with a bike rack.
14. THE SPIRIT OF THE SOUNDERS
This weekend marks the first clash of the season between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers (Saturday, 3 pm ET, NBCSN). Sounders players are suitably fired up ahead of the clash, with Sigi Schmid suggesting that, “If we have to motivate a Seattle player for the Seattle-Portland match, then he hasn’t really identified with the spirit of the club.” This encounter will be marked by a few extra issues facing each club, though, and some Timbers players have been sharing their feelings on the important fixture.
The American Outlaws were in fine voice again on Wednesday night and, as Jozy Altidore suggests, “You need that extra push, that extra energy they give you.” With the World Cup just around the corner, that support isn’t likely to disappear any time soon either, as the organization's numbers continue to grow and grow.
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