Kick Off: RSL vs. Sporting boils over, Bolton to USA

Who said preseason matches were supposed to be “friendly”?

Last night’s Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City ended with what is being reported as a bench-clearing brawl triggered by a hard foul.

The reserve teams of both clubs are supposed to square off later this morning in Phoenix. As of now, the match is still on.

Today will also mark the kickoff of the Atlanta Pro Soccer Challenge as the Columbus Crew take on New England. For the Crew, the big story may be the return of defender Chad Marshall who says he once considered retiring from post-concussion symptoms.

Fans can also catch the second day of the Carolina Challenge Cup with live streams of the matches beginning with D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire at 5 pm ET, followed by Toronto FC taking on the Charleston Battery. Here’s the latest news from DC camp.

Another match in a jam-packed Wednesday comes from Seattle with the Community Shield between the US Open Cup champion Sounders and the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids (10 pm ET). As one Sounders player puts it: “It’s the last chance to get it right before LA [First Kick on March 15].”

The New York Red Bulls played a high-profile preseason match on national television on Tuesday night, tying Mexican club Atlas 1-1 in Arizona. Rafa Márquez, formerly of Atlas, got a goal.

After the 2011 Gold Cup groups and matches were announced on Tuesday, expect the USA vs. Canada match in Detroit to be extra special to the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan. He is half-Canadian (his father’s from Nova Scotia) and grew up playing hockey, as he explains near the end of this article.

The Gold Cup will determine the best team in CONCACAF. US fans will hope this summer’s competition will just reiterate what the latest FIFA World Rankings hold to be true.

The USA will also be playing at new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., which is earning plaudits for a naming rights partnership that has never been seen in US sports circles.

In addition to the 2011 Gold Cup, here’s another date to book on the summer calendar: the 2011 Kicking & Screening soccer film festival.

Yesterday’s Barcelona vs. Arsenal clash in the UEFA Champions League proved to be some great theater. While Arsène Wenger says his club would have won the game had it not been for the Robin van Persie red card, FC Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola says the only reality is that the English club “couldn’t put three passes together.” (SPANISH)

Today’s featured match in the UEFA Champions League is Tottenham Hotspur hosting Italian Serie A leaders AC Milan, who have to make up for a 1-0 first-leg loss (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel). Germans Schalke welcome Spanish club Valencia in the second match that will also determine another quarterfinalist (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

Do you think AC Milan’s former Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho is missing the chance of playing a UEFA Champions League elimination game? Think again. This photo gallery is proof that the Flamengo man is living it up during carnival time in Brazil. (PHOTOS)

The Whitecaps’ new Designated Player is being compared to an AC Milan star: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Read who dishes out the high praise.

There’s no way Vancouver part-owner Steve Nash is missing out on his club’s MLS debut on March 19 even though he has NBA games on either side of that date. There’s also a club anthem he’ll be helping to launch.

Lastly, the Houston Dynamo are ahead of the game in scheduling European opposition during the summer. In the next 10 days we’ll know if Stu Holden will be heading back to Houston to play his ex-club.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Top 5 all-time best MLS tifo displays in league history

Seven days to First Kick: special 7s in MLS history

Road Trip to First Kick: a stop in Soccer Heaven


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