It was a long time coming. On Thursday night, Vancouver Whitecaps striker Long Tan made his first start since May 14. "Long time, no start," the Chinese striker said. It was worth the wait as the 'Caps dispatched Real Salt Lake, 3-0, to halt a three-game losing skid for the hosts and extend to four games RSL's own losing run. (HIGHLIGHTS: Vancouver 3, RSL 0)
In a match postponed by heavy rains nearly three months ago, Whitecaps attacker Camilo scored a pair of penalties to take his goal-tally to 11 for the season. The Brazilian's impressive form has attracted attention from across the Pacific, with teams in Japan and Kuwait allegedly interested in quadrupling Camilo's current salary. (PORTUGUESE)
RSL coach Jason Kreis complained the day before the match that his side's losing streak made him "nauseous," but on game day, it was the real thing: Food poisoning kept him from the sideline. A seventh ejection of the season for his side won't have helped his gastrointestinal health, either, especially since Real didn't see a single red during the 2010 regular season.
Collen Warner earned the red against Vancouver for handling the ball in the area. He'll protest his innocence, but not as emphatically as Miguel Comminges is doing. The Colorado Rapids fullback was cautioned during his team's 1-0 win over FC Dallas last weekend for delaying the game after he took a sip of water on a throw-in: "I didn't think it took like more than one second. Very crazy."
The Rapids are the reigning MLS Cup champions, so they know what to expect come the playoffs. So does Danny Califf, who won the 2002 and 2005 MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy and is now trying to lead the Philadelphia Union to a franchise-first postseason berth. "You will feel a palpable difference in the locker room," Califf said of what the late stretch of the season will add.
Seattle Sounders FC have already qualified for their third straight postseason. Now the team is aiming for the Supporters' Shield. They are currently seven points behind LA with three matches to play, including a match in hand. "We know we're still in it," Osvaldo Alonso said.
After Seattle host Philly on Saturday, they will host San Jose in their regular-season home finale. Already 55,000 tickets have been sold for the Oct. 15 matchup. Will star midfielder Mauro Rosales be ready by then? Coach Sigi Schmid is playing it cautious.
While the Sounders chase the Galaxy, LA look toward a record. Should the Galaxy earn four points in their remaining two matches, they'll come second in MLS history for points-per-game in the regular season (adjusted so that shootouts from the late '90s count as draws).
A major part of LA's searing form this year has been David Beckham and his league-leading 15 assists. The Englishman has also been in good form off the pitch as well. His personal endorsements rose 30 percent, up to $23.9 million in 2010.
If only D.C. United could post those sorts of numbers. The club, realizing that a new stadium may not present itself in the near future, is looking to try to make RFK Stadium more manageable to stay in. CEO Kevin Payne was blunt: “From an expense standpoint, we have the worst stadium deal in the league."
Speaking of makeovers, United striker Charlie Davies has a few personal grooming tips: pedicures. During a recent appointment, he chatted about how he accidentally became a soccer star. He thought the flier he had grabbed was for the other football.
Impact coach Jesse Marsch is sure he didn't make a mistake in signing Nelson Rivas as Montreal's first player. Marsch pointed to a history of Colombians performing well in MLS. “There is a grittiness, a toughness to growing up in Colombia,” Marsch said.
Revs rookie center back A.J. Soares showed his own grittiness by playing through a hurt left ankle for a while this year. The defender underwent surgery this week to fix the problem, and he'll miss the rest of the season.
The decision to undergo surgery was made with the Revs out of postseason contention. The Portland Timbers still have that possibility in their sights, though. The team is targeting two wins out of the last three matches, which would go a long way to seeing the Timbers into the playoffs in their inaugural MLS season.
Things are not so optimistic down in St. Lucia, where the goalposts at the Beausejour Cricket Oval were not up to snuff ahead of the island nation's World Cup qualifier against Canada on Friday. The local organizers have had to weld new frames, while the Canucks were forced to train with improvised mini-goals. "I might have liked to have done a bit of shooting," Canada manager Stephen Hart said.
On Saturday, the US will square off against Honduras. Boss Jurgen Klinsmann has taken some flak recently for not calling in MLS stalwarts George John or Omar Gonzalez in defense. Both are eligible to play for other nations, and Gonzalez admitted that if Mexico came calling, he'd consider the option. Klinsmann, meanwhile, defended his decisions. “I can only call in 18 to 22 players for a game,” he said.
As the German gets settled into his role, CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer is on the way out. After 21 years in the job, he will step down in December, saying he felt it was time to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. “We've been through a little bit of a stagnation period," Blazer said, who oversaw an increase in revenues at CONCACAF from $140,000 to $40 million.
Finances and soccer mix often. Former MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis has made a career out of the intersection. Now as Arsenal chief executive, he says the Gunners would be sound financially even if they don't qualify for the UEFA Champions League: "It would be very foolish to build a business model that relied on being in the Champions League for perpetuity.”
On TV, Euro 2012 qualifiers are back en masse, starting on Friday. The marquee match up is the Czech Republic vs. Spain at 2:40 pm ET (ESPN Deportes). There are also a handful of international friendlies, including Costa Rica against Brazil at 10 pm ET (ESPN Deportes).
Lastly, England boss Fabio Capello claims winning justifies any celebration, even to “drink or go with women.” The Three Lions have a better chance of winning with Wayne Rooney involved. The Manchester United forward was a concern ahead of England's qualifier vs. Montenegro after his father and uncle were arrested, then released on bail, over betting irregularities.
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