Kick Off: Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy take center stage on Monday, New York Red Bulls down Arsenal
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. REAL MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
For the Supporters' Shield frontrunning Seattle Sounders, this stretch of the season will likely prove pivotal in their grand scheme for silverware. The Sounders have eight games over the next month, starting with Monday’s clash against the LA Galaxy (10 pm ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, TSN2 in Canada, match preview). But at the time of year when Bruce Arena’s squads usually start to kick into gear, Seattle face a real test to their first-place credentials.
2. TIMBERS FELL IMPACT
Caleb Porter said he wanted his team to claim three points against the Montreal Impact, and that’s just what the Portland Timbers did. Diego Valeri’s winner in the 82nd minute was the difference in the Timbers' 3-2 win (watch highlights here), capping an enthralling game at Stade Saputo. Ironically, this was Montreal’s best display in weeks but, they were handicapped by defensive slackness once again.
3. THE HAND OF "OH, GOD!"
Maybe even Carlyle Mitchell doesn’t know why he decided to leap in front of his own goalkeeper and raise his hands to bat away a FC Dallas cross in the teams' 2-2 draw on Sunday (watch highlights here). The gaffe, as mystifying as it was, demonstrated the defensive frailties the Whitecaps will have to overcome if they are to make the playoffs. For FC Dallas, meanwhile, it was a gift they were happy to capitalize on.
4. SPIRIT OF 2013 LIVES ON FOR SPORTING KC
You know what you get with a Peter Vermes team. One of Sporting Kansas City’s strongest character traits is their steadfast, sheer refusal to ever pack it in. That was key in their championship run last year, when they went behind in all but two of their playoff games. Against Toronto FC, SKC showed that same kind of resolution, going a goal behind, losing Matt Besler to a red card, and still emerging 2-1 winners (watch highlights here).
5. IN NEED OF A REVOLUTION
Their 2-1 weekend defeat to the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here) means the New England Revolution have now lost eight games in succession; their five-game win streak from April and May is nothing more than an ever-fading memory. But at least Horse Guy brought his "A" game on Saturday.
6. FINAL GO-AROUND FOR THIERRY HENRY?
It was almost a Thierry Henry testimonial game. The South Ward held up a tifo in tribute to the Arsenal and Red Bulls man ahead of Sunday’s exhibition between the two teams, and his new club got the best of his old club, 1-0 (watch highlights here). Could this be Henry’s swan song? RBNY global director Gerard Houllier suggested that the striker could retire at the end of the year. At the very least, we’ll always have #Henry memes.
7. ALL EYES ON ZELALEM
While Henry hogged the spotlight on Saturday, Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem was more of a novelty. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., the 17-year-old Zelalem's international future (he is eligible to play for Germany, Ethiopia or the US) had already been much discussed, but he let his play do the talking for 45 minutes, with a lot of pressure and mixed reviews.
8. FRIENDLY FIRE
Only five league games were played over the weekend, with several teams taking the opportunity to play high-profile friendlies against touring European sides. The Chicago Fire went down to Harry Kane and Aaron Lennon goals in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur (watch highlights here), while the Houston Dynamo were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa (watch highlights here) and did not debut either of their new signings. UEFA Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid were held to a goalless draw by the San Jose Earthquakes at Candlestick Park.
9. THE OTHER TORRES; YOU KNOW, THE ONE THAT SCORES
On a weekend lowlighted by a GIF of Fernando Torres jumping the shark and missing the most open of open goals, the other Torres – Gabriel – inspired the Colorado Rapids to a 3-0 win over Chivas USA (watch highlights here). Having last started on May 7, the Panamanian made up for lost time by involving himself in all three of the Rapids’ goals, scoring one himself. A rainbow literally shone down on Colorado’s DP.
10. AQUILANI TO NYCFC?
New York City FC and Manchester United have become transfer rumor fodder this summer. There’s barely a player that hasn’t been linked with one of the two clubs. Now former Liverpool and Italy midfielder Alberto Aquilani has been linked with a move to the Manchester City-owned expansion club. Jason Kreis and Claudio Reyna sealed up their second DP spot last week with the signing of Frank Lampard; are they about to fill their third spot?
11. ORLANDO DP JUST WARMING UP
Life in São Paulo may not have started well for Kaká from a team perspective, as hometown club São Paulo FC, where he is on loan prior to joining Orlando City next season, lost 2-1 to Goias. But the World Cup winner netted São Paulo’s only goal, finishing from close range with his left foot. Get ready MLS.
12. FULL NELSEN
No Jermain Defoe, no party. At least, that was the story for Toronto FC, who fell to a 2-1 home defeat to Sporting Kansas City with their top scorer suspended for yellow-card accumulation. Ryan Nelsen took the chance to moan about the treatment Defoe receives in MLS.
13. M'BOLHI TO THE UNION?
He was one of the faces – literally – of the 2014 World Cup. Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi’s facial expressions in Algeria’s Round of 16 loss to Germany sparked a string of memes, but the CSKA Moscow No. 1 also showed how good a shot-stopper he is. Will M’Bolhi be joining Philadelphia for a six-figure transfer fee (FRENCH), and what would his arrival mean for Zac MacMath?
14. LAMPARD ON TOUR
The Australian press seem unsure of whether Lampard will spend the second half of 2014 on loan at affiliated club Melbourne City alongside fellow NYCFC signing David Villa. It’s a long way to go to get a game.
15. INVISIBLE SUPERSTAR
In Mexico, Vicente Sanchez is a rock star. Having spent eight years playing for two of the country’s biggest clubs (Toluca and Club América), the Uruguayan forward is a well-known face in the land of El Tri. But in Colorado, he enjoys walking the streets in peace.
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