This is a big week for LA Galaxy fans.
Their club has already qualified for the postseason. But they host Mexican side Morelia in a decisive match in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday and then face Real Salt Lake on the weekend in a match which Landon Donovan says could clinch another major trophy.
“Our focus now is on Wednesday,” Donovan said. “Put everything into Wednesday. It's a must-win game, and then a big one against Salt Lake. And we think if we can win that game Saturday, the Supporters' Shield is ours.”
The Galaxy are in this spot after a 1-0 victory in Columbus on a late Chad Barrett goal that allowed LA to escape with the full three points despite not fielding their starters.
The LA Galaxy gave veteran right back Frankie Hejduk the captain’s armband for his return to Columbus, where he played for eight years: “I'm really thankful to Bruce [Arena] for doing that for me. To step on with the captain's armband brought back some great memories.”
The Seattle Sounders have already claimed some silverware this season. They hoisted the Cascadia Cup after a 3-1 win league win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. “I don't know what the top-of-the-line favorite beverage is here in Vancouver, but I'm sure it'll be filling the Cup tonight," Sounders manager Sigi Schmid said on Saturday night.
Sounders part-owner Drew Carey was on hand for the trophy ceremony as were more than 500 Seattle fans, who made more noise than the Whitecaps faithful, according to the end of this report.
It marked the final match at Empire Field for the expansion Whitecaps, who get set to move into a new stadium. And the players won’t miss it much after a series of matches in which they dropped points in 2011: “Good riddance to Empire and on to BC Place,” says Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
Clipping at the heels of the Seattle Sounders for the second seed in the Western Conference are Real Salt Lake, who probably witnessed a potential run at the Supporters’ Shield go up in flames following a heavy 4-1 defeat at D.C. United.
Dwayne De Rosario’s fastest hat trick in league history launched D.C. to a 4-0 halftime lead against an RSL side featuring a few reserve players. All RSL and manager Jason Kreis could do was tip their cap to him, while DeRo’s teammate Josh Wolff, who has been around the block says: “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that in my 13 or 14 years.”
But Kreis’ decision to field several back-ups in the match may have been the spark for DeRo and company, according to D.C. manager Ben Olsen: “I was surprised when I came in and saw [Real Salt Lake’s lineup change]. But that was their choice. Is it disrespectful? I guess you could look at it that way. I think the players looked at it that way and maybe that charged them up a little more.”
Olsen also addressed his club’s plans for DeRo long-term: "Oh, we'll keep him around. I've talked to my owner, Will Chang. He's not going anywhere."
Speaking of Chang, in the last paragraph of this article, he says there could be some news forthcoming on the stadium front with The Washington Post identifying a preferred spot in Washington: “I hope we can announce soon, but I can’t give a commitment on when I can announce.”
FC Dallas fans will not be thrilled with this news. Manager Schellas Hyndman suggests there’s a possibility that reigning MVP David Ferreira may not return from his injury this season.
If FC Dallas feel they haven’t been getting the bounces going their way in three consecutive shutout losses in league play, the San Jose Earthquakes have had that feeling all season after a 1-1 tie in Colorado: “I don't know what it is, something this season we're not getting many breaks," says manager Frank Yallop.
The Rapids sound pretty confident of making the postseason judging by this statement from captain Pablo Mastroeni after the 1-1 tie against San Jose: “We have two home games coming up against two big rivals [FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake], and getting good results against those two teams will really give us the confidence that we need going into a playoff round.”
It will be another interesting week in Red Bulls camp as they figure out how to fit Rafa Márquez back into a lineup which won without him against the Portland Timbers. Based on manager Hans Backe’s comments, it would seem that Márquez will be reinserted in central midfield in order to leave Stephen Keel in the back: “Central defense in MLS is kind of a cleaver. You need that — a guy going for headers.”
Meanwhile, Márquez, who watched his team’s 2-0 win over Portland from a suite, went on Sunday’s Republica Deportiva on Univisión to clear the air on his comments about his teammates. He says they were provoked by the fans booing him at Red Bull Arena. (VIDEO / SPANISH)
The Red Bulls may have caught a break. Reports from Ireland indicate that Robbie Keane will join his national team the day before the Galaxy are supposed to play the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on October 4.
As far as Portland are concerned, Timbers veteran goalkeeper Troy Perkins made a not-so-subtle suggestion after the loss at Red Bull Arena which saw Kalif Alhassan sent off for a disputed hand ball near the goal line: “Something's got to be done with referees and the way they approach games in New York.”
Staying with Portland, soccer fans will find the debate that is ongoing in Oregon downright baffling: high school soccer officials don’t want to see the Timbers academy ask kids to decide between club soccer and high school soccer. Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson is left to wonder: “I thought the whole reason to go to high school is to graduate and go to college?”
The Chicago Fire are not giving up on the playoffs and helped their cause with a 3-2 home win over the equally desperate New England Revolution on Sunday. The all-Ghanaian strike force continues to be productive but there is concern over the health of playmaker Sebastián Grazzini. “I don't know the extent or how serious the [hamstring] pull is but we'll have to see how he feels [Monday],” admits Fire manager Frank Klopas.
Chivas USA are still believing after a 3-0 blanking of Toronto FC at The Home Depot Center. They have three matches remaining – all at the HDC: “We're mathematically still alive, all of our games are at home, so there's no reason why we can't win every game,” says Chivas defender Ante Jazic.
In Toronto they’re not only lamenting seeing Juan Pablo Ángel score two more goals against the Canadian club (he has 10 all-time). The media is also second-guessing Aron Winter’s decision to use a first-team lineup on the road with a critical home match against Pumas UNAM looming on Tuesday in the Champions League.
Another Canadian side is now 100 percent fully focused on MLS. After missing out on qualifying for the second division playoffs for the first time since 2001, the Montreal Impact have their sights set on preparing for their debut MLS campaign next year. Manager Jesse Marsch will have an “evaluation camp” beginning October 3 and Marsch and club brass are currently in London, England to “meet with a couple of players, see their personalities and motivations toward coming to Montreal.”
In addition to Vancouver, another stadium where visiting fans made themselves heard was Pizza Hut Park, where the Houston Dynamo took a 1-0 victory over FC Dallas on a late Geoff Cameron goal. Although the Dynamo needed the help of the woodwork on three occasions – Bobby Boswell did a “crossbar dance” in each half, according to Dynamo GK Tally Hall – Houston forward Brian Ching still delivered the postgame zinger: “Was that a road game?”
The two most talked about events from the weekend on the international level is the stunning hat trick by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in his team’s plastering of Atlético Madrid. Also, former Atlético striker Fernando Torres continued his star-crossed season with a sending-off just minutes after scoring for Chelsea. (VIDEO)
Here’s one goal that not even Messi could score. At least we’re pretty sure. It’s the craziest goal from the weekend and it comes from Norway by Odd Grenland's Jone Samuelsen. (VIDEO)
In off-the field news, Real Madrid unveiled a new remodeling of their Estadio Santiago Bernabéu which will ensure no one flying over the city can miss it. Skip to 2:51 of this video to see for yourself. (VIDEO)
The lone televised match on Monday comes from the EPL as Norwich City host Sunderland in the Monday afternoon Game of the Week (3 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes).
Lastly, we’ve heard of referees cracking down on simulation by players. But who’s policing simulation by the refs? Yes, it happened in Brazil. (VIDEO)
Playoff Verdicts: Seattle and RSL are in while one expansion club is officially eliminated
MLS Cup Playoff Standings: Six clubs within four points in the Eastern standings
American Exports: Bradley leads charge by Flying Donkeys and Altidore goes tops in the Netherlands
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