Kick Off: All-Stars revealed, wishes fulfilled, USMNT heroes stay close to home in Week 19
Here are 15 top soccer stories we’re following today:
1. DREAMS COME TRUE ...
The Seattle Sounders hosted a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon, and while the game itself finished in an entertaining 3-3 draw (watch highlights here), the real story was Xander Bailey, the 18-year old who made his Sounders debut during the game and almost scored a goal. If only someone had given Brad Friedel the script. Here's a video look at Bailey's day.
2. ... FROM COAST TO COAST
Just like in Seattle, the best part of Sunday night's D.C. United-Chivas USA match may have come from a newcomer, as 12-year-old Jordan Johansen was a major part of D.C. United's day. Johansen helped inspire United and Eddie Johnson, who rose to the occasion and helped his side to a 3-1 win over Chivas USA (watch highlights here). The defeat marks Chivas USA’s first loss in six games and, as such, their captain doesn’t see any reason to worry.
3. TIMBERS SWITCH-UP LEADS TO WIN
The Portland Timbers grabbed a much needed 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Friday (watch highlights here) thanks in part to a thunderbolt of a shot from Diego Valeri. It was just the Timbers' second home win of the season and came behind a smart double substitution from coach Caleb Porter. Still, despite the loss, the Rapids see reasons to stay positive.
4. BESLER AND ZUSI STAYING PUT
During halftime of that very same game, ESPN was joined on air by Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who confirmed that, having both just signed Designated Player contracts, they would be staying with Sporting Kansas City for the foreseeable future. A move which, according to SKC president Robb Heineman, means “we’re the greatest in MLS." The afternoon got even better for Sporting Kansas City fans, as their side beat the LA Galaxy 2-1 (watch highlights here), and while SKC celebrated their double triumph, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was less convinced about the legitimacy of their win.
5. HEY NOW, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR
The halftime announcements weren’t done either, as ESPN revealed Caleb Porter's full roster for the MLS All-Star Game during halftime of the Sporting Kansas City-LA Galaxy game. There were no huge surprises, but one or two eyebrows may have been raised by the omission of Dom Dwyer.
6. CREW STAY POSITIVE
Josh Williams was the latest member of the Columbus Crew to be sidelined after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot but, despite this, the Crew found their spirits lifted following a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact (watch highlights here), a result that Impact coach Frank Klopas is taking full responsibility for.
7. GOING HOME AGAIN
It was an emotional return to New Jersey for San Jose Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez, who did enough to keep his side in the game against the New York Red Bulls and help them earn a 1-1 draw (watch highlights here) on the back of a woeful defensive error from the home side.
8. PERFECT PENALTY?
Frank Yallop was not a happy man following the awarding of a penalty kick he described as “one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen” in the Chicago Fire’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union (watch highlights here). Sebastien Le Toux stepped up to take it, and the Frenchman remains perfect from the spot in his time with the Union.
9. DIFFERENT PATHS
It was a tale of two teams on opposite trajectories following the New England Revolution's 2-0 loss at FC Dallas (watch highlights here). While the Revs' worrying slide now extends to seven consecutive MLS defeats, FC Dallas are now unbeaten in eight.
10. THINGS TO IMPROVE
While Houston Dynamo defenders were left to rue another blown lead, Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen also had reasons to grumble but was happy enough to come away with a point following a 2-2 draw down in Texas (watch highlights here).
11. RIVALRY RISES
Following the second draw of the year between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake, this time finishing 1-1 (watch highlights here), Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson believes the two sides now have a rivalry going. RSL, on the other hand, are still more concerned with trying to get things right on the pitch.
12. BUILDING BLOCKS
While Claudio Reyna talked about the process of building a team from scratch, New York City FC have declined to comment on reports in England over the weekend that suggest Frank Lampard will indeed be joining NYCFC, with the England international apparently set to put pen to paper sometime this week.
13. AMERICANS (NOT) ABROAD
With Matt Besler and Graham Zusi staying put and the DeAndre Yedlin to AS Roma deal thought to be dead, who will be the next American abroad for us all to get overly excited about? Well, it could still be Yedlin, but how about a 14-year-old former New York Red Bulls youth system player?
14. LOOKING DOWN
While Orlando City’s owner has confirmed that the team is in talks with Robinho, it seems the Sacramento Republic are hoping to emulate Orlando City’s path to MLS. Elsewhere in the lower leagues: A new attendance record was set in the NASL and could a new USL PRO team be coming to Salt Lake City?
15. CHANGING THE GAME
College soccer often winds up the whipping boy of conversations about developing elite soccer talent, and college coaches appear poised to do something about it. This report citing West Virginia University athletic director (and former Houston Dynamo president) Oliver Luck and Mountaineers head men's soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc as supporting a proposal for college teams to play a 25-game schedule split between the fall and spring, increasing training time, virtually eliminating midweek games and culminating with the College Cup in June.
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