There's no question it's the big match of the weekend.
Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host their Western counterparts Real Salt Lake in the battle of the teams with the best records in MLS (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). RSL are already aware that they may need to change their identity to get a result out of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park: “We like to knock the ball around, like to have possessions in long stretches," said manager Jason Kreis. "And against a team like Kansas City, that may not be possible."
Sporting KC may be the ones carrying the perfect 5-0-0 record coming into this match, but right back Chance Myers reveals an Achilles heel: “We still have to work on things defensively.”
It’ll be No. 2 vs. No. 2 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. The New York Red Bulls will have to do without influential central defender Wilman Conde for their match against the San Jose Earthquakes (7 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). The Colombian could miss up to a month after reaggravating a groin injury and manager Hans Backe is concerned “it will keep going like this the rest of the season” with Conde
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls are reportedly reviving their plans for a training center in Hanover Township, N.J. with the mayor saying that “if approved they could have the field possibly ready by the fall.”
Former Red Bulls forward Luke Rodgers still refers to NYRB as “we” in this New York Times interview. He was also surprised to learn how Red Bulls fans set up a web site for supporters to contact US government officials about the player’s US visa situation.
The NBC Sports Network Game of the Week sees the Philadelphia Union hosting the Columbus Crew on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET) and Union star midfielder Freddy Adu is ready to contribute again: “I have to bring it to help this team out," Adu told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "This team did pay a lot of money to get me here and, obviously, I need to get out there and help the team get wins."
The first visit by Colorado’s Brian Mullan to Seattle since the Steve Zakuani tackle is all the talk ahead of Saturday’s match between the Sounders and Rapids (4 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). But Zakuani has come out and asked fans to “let it go.”
If you’re not familiar with the fairytale of Sounders forward David Estrada, here it is again. But with Eddie Johnson chomping at the bit, will Estrada get a chance to keep his dream run alive against the Rapids?
One more report involving the Sounders: Apparently a Marca reporter claims that legendary Spanish striker Raul has opted for Qatar and has passed on an offer from the Seattle Sounders. (GERMAN)
Could Seattle perhaps go the route of Romanian striker Adrian Mutu? His representative in the USA claims that multiple clubs have expressed interest with an eye toward a summer move. (FRENCH)
More transfer rumors: We told you a few days ago about the Honduran Olympic team right back that is in the crosshairs of FC Dallas and D.C. United. Now defensive midfielder Arnold Fabian Peralta is reportedly in advanced discussions with an unidentified team. (SPANISH)
Unidentified is the D.C. United starting XI ahead of their match against the New England Revolution (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE). With Bill Hamid, Andy Najar, Brandon McDonald and Marcelo Saragosa all back and available for selection, can they bounce the incumbents who tied Seattle last weekend? "The coaches don't know exactly who they're going to put in,” says Najar.
Toronto FC get set to host Chivas USA on Saturday (4:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and although fans may be down on midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield, Canadian national team manager Stephen Hart has them in his national team pool: “Those (guys) are good players and at some point they'll find their rhythm and get themselves playing at their best."
Speaking of TFC, this report from Spain claims that the club is eyeing Spanish defender Oscar Sanchez as well as Osasuna left-footed midfielder Javier Calleja, who is out of contract on June 30. “The truth is I didn’t expect it. It was a surprise for me when this person told that there existed the possibility to play in Canada,” Calleja said. (SPANISH)
Chivas USA fans are going to want to read this feature piece on their left back Ante Jazic, who is confident that the Goats will make the postseason: “We’re close to turning the corner to being a decent team — definitely a playoff team.”
While the Montreal Impact face a difficult road test at FC Dallas on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy claims that the expansion club is making a strong push for Juventus legend Alex Del Piero in a deal that would allow the Italian to rejoin Juventus in the offseason for Serie A and UEFA Champions League action. (ITALIAN)
An intriguing matchup between the two bottom clubs in the Western Conference – the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers – will wrap up the MLS action on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “Boyd Out To Dump Becks” is one headline you can attach to it.
Will recent LA acquisition David Junior Lopes be thrown into the lineup against Portland? The bigger question is how he feels about being called a “solution for the short-term” by Galaxy manager Bruce Arena.
The big question for the Chicago Fire, who get ready to host the Houston Dynamo on Sunday (7 pm ET, Galavision): Will Frank Klopas give the starting goalkeeper job back to Sean Johnson or will Italian Paolo Tornaghi hold on to it?
The Vancouver Whitecaps, who are idle this weekend, hired a season ticket holder as the club’s new chief executive: John Furlong, the former head of the Vancouver Olympics committee, is a lifelong soccer fan and remembers watching the 1966 World Cup final on a color TV in Dublin, Ireland. “I stopped and watched the World Cup final in a store-front window in Dublin … I remember the game like it was five minutes ago.”
In more off-the-field news, it was interesting to read the reports following the first formal MLS visit to the Triangle led by league president Mark Abbott, who said: “It wasn't a sort of checklist-type of exercise on the road to making an expansion decision,” Abbott said. “It was an opportunity to learn more about this community.”
The Raleigh News Observer’s Luke DeCock had a different takeaway. He believes that “the first hurdle to clear” is for the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks to reach 10,000 fans a match: “Once that’s accomplished, when the Triangle starts talking again, MLS might be willing to listen,” writes DeCock.
A separate piece that appeared in The Cary News talks about how “a stadium in downtown Raleigh might make more sense” than WakeMed Soccer Park for a future expansion team.
The Herald-Sun from Durham, N.C., quotes NASL commissioner David Downs as stating that: “There’s no doubt of the soccer passion in this community, and the number of people in this community would be more than enough to support an MLS team someday.”
Another aspect of the trip that emerged: How do MLS and the NASL plan to work together moving forward? While Abbott says “it’s too early to predict,” an NASL official was clear about one thing: “We are not interested in being a reserve league.”
Heading to Europe, German side Schalke 04 is the latest club planning a trip to the USA after the conclusion of the Bundesliga season in May. They will reportedly spend six days in New York and also play the Philadelphia Union in an exhibition. Apparently Union manager Peter Nowak knows Schalke’s coach from their 1860 Munich days. (GERMAN)
Didn’t American forward Clint Dempsey score five minutes ago? It seems that way with the number of goals he has scored for Fulham in the EPL, a season which SI.com’s Grant Wahl ranks as No. 1 all-time in a list of the Top 15 European performances by Americans.
Meanwhile, an American based abroad, Hoffenheim’s Joe Gyau, has prolonged his stay at the German side through 2015. (GERMAN)
The best TV match of the day may come from England’s second tier where a top-of-the-table clash between Southampton vs. Reading awaits (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus). In Friday’s traditional Bundesliga match, Stuttgart battle Werder Bremen (2:30 pm ET, GolTV) and the Friday night Mexican schedule has a double dose of matches including Jaguares vs. Joe Corona’s Tijuana (9 pm ET, ESPN Deportes) and Estudiantes taking on DaMarcus Beasley’s Puebla (9 pm ET, Univision Deportes).
Lastly, former Oasis man Noel Gallagher must not have good advisors. The Manchester City fan is in Mexico to promote a new album, but dared call national idol Javier “Chicharito” (Little Pea) Hernandez a “little idiot.” Gallagher’s album will clearly be flying off the shelves South of the Border. (SPANISH)
Quest for the Shield: Which city is the best between Kansas City and Salt Lake City?
Philadelphia’s Peter Nowak and Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando join the ExtraTime Radio crew
The Odd Couple: Childhood pals Valentin, Wenger crack wise in Montreal
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