The flash of intent to the rest of the league was clear.
Seattle Sounders FC won a third US Open Cup on the trot, beating the Chicago Fire 2-0. For captain Kasey Keller, who will retire at the end of the season, it was just the first of a hopeful further trophy haul. “We're not done yet,” the 41-year-old said.
The goalkeeper led the celebrations, dumping champagne on coach Sigi Schmid during the postmatch press conference. The excitement of the team was palpable. Erik Friberg called it "probably the funnest game I've ever played."
Besides the trophy and glory, Seattle made $100,000 from the win, in which Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso scored the necessary goals. Chicago collected half that.
A few hours earlier, on the other side of the country, the New York Red Bulls beat the LA Galaxy by the same scoreline, 2-0. The win solidifies the Red Bulls' playoff position, with Theirry Henry scoring his 14th goal of the season. "Maybe it's coming back," the Frenchman said of New York's form.
The New York victory prevented the Galaxy from clinching the Supporters' Shield. With Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Sean Franklin all missing out, David Beckham was forced to marshal a midfield amid a weakened lineup. “We've got a few players that are beat up,” the Englishman admitted after the match.
Beckham also responded to interest from Europe, including Paris Saint-Germain, who will reportedly meet with Becks in California tonight to offer an 18-month deal. "I'm flattered," Beckham said. "But I live in Los Angeles and I'm a Galaxy player."
New York's win means the San Jose Earthquakes and Chivas USA cannot make it into the playoffs. He may not be involved in this year's postseason, but Michael Lahoud still has a pretty cool job. “I always believed I could do something pretty special in my life,” the Goats utility man says.
Someone else doing something special in his life at the moment is Sébastien Le Toux. The Philadelphia Union striker was named MLS Player of the Month for a series of scintillating displays. The Frenchman has scored seven goals in his last six games.
The next MLS match pits Real Salt Lake against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday. RSL are struggling to find fit bodies for the jaunt up to Canada for the rescheduled fixture. "We’ll see if we can get 18 players on the roster," coach Jason Kreis said.
Though Vancouver may not have much to play for as a team, each player certainly does. Pete Vagenas pointed out that, for the sake of the fans and each player's future, they need “to go out there and fight and claw and scratch and not throw in the towel."
One guy familiar with fighting to the bitter end is Andrew Jacobson. The FC Dallas midfielder's battling displays have earned him comparisons with captain Daniel Hernandez by coach Schellas Hyndman. For a four-day break later this week, Jacobson just plans to heal from nagging injuries. “I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’m just going to sit on my couch.”
That's probably also what FCD's much-traveled Brek Shea could use, but he'll be with the US national team instead. His club coach, Schellas Hyndman, reveals the real secret behind Shea's rise to the national team and the MVP conversation this season: “He went from 9 percent body fat to 4.3."
If anything, the Portland Timbers are trying to shake a gritty perception. Coach Jon Spencer bristled at suggestions from Whitecaps coach Tom Soehn that his side is blue-collar. “To get to 40 points in this league, you have to have a little bit of quality as well," Spencer said. Meanwhile, Spencer's boss, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, tweeted out a request to the voting panel for the weekly MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings.
The Timbers are one of 10 teams still fighting for one of the seven available playoff spots. Four points ahead and in another conference are the Columbus Crew, who won the 2008 MLS Cup. Eddie Gaven knows the next few matches will define the season. “It’s all about getting hot at the right time,” he said.
One player who won't be playing in the postseason, despite the fact that his club has gotten hot recently, is Toronto's Torsten Frings. The German vet gave some insight into MLS to the media back home, including the struggles of long-distance travel and the language barrier. (GERMAN)
With a crucial playoffs berth in mind, Andre Hainault made the tough decision to skip Canada's game against Puerto Rico on Oct. 14. Stephen Hart responded by not selecting the Houston Dynamo defender for the match against St. Lucia on Friday. “He's making a tough decision, one that few players would have the guts to make," captain Brian Ching said of Hainault.
A day after the Canada game, the US will play against Honduras. Jurgen Klinsmann and the team trained in Florida on Tuesday, with the German continuing to preach slow, positive growth. “We don't want to shake up the group every time we get together too much,” Klinsmann said.
There was a recall for former Chicago Fire winger DaMarcus Beasley. The 29-year-old scored for Mexican side Puebla on the weekend and Klinsmann appreciated the move from Europe to earn minutes. “I think you see a far more mature DaMarcus Beasley now than you have seen probably a couple years ago.”
Meanwhile, Honduras will be without midfield enforcer Wilson Palacios. A right knee injury will rule Palacios out of the matches against the US and Jamaica. The Stoke City midfielder is Stateside to receive treatment. (SPANISH)
Recently returned from injury, Rio Ferdinand is back in the Manchester United lineup. However, with injury and age catching up to the 32-year-old, one report from England claims the Chicago Fire could lure Ferdinand to join MLS as a Designated Player.
Don't expect to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic on this side of the Atlantic, however. The Swede says he's already started losing interest in soccer. “It even takes a great deal of effort for me to play football with my kids in the garden – I now leave it to the babysitter,” the AC Milan star said.
Ibrahimovic will retire a millionaire, but even he has nothing on these guys. FourFourTwo magazine has released an English Premier League rich list, including all the billionaire owners you've come to know and begrudge.
Lastly, Pelé just might suit up again. Santos would like to include the iconic striker, now 70, in the roster for the Club World Cup taking place in December.