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Kick Off - Clint Dempsey

Kick Off: USMNT star recounts his emotional rollercoaster

What a difference a game makes.

After an unconvincing win against Guadeloupe to close out the CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage, the USA’s dominating 2-0 quarterfinal win over Jamaica has everyone believing again.

The most emotional story of the afternoon at RFK Stadium belongs to Clint Dempsey, who arrived into Washington at 2 a.m., started the match and scored. On Saturday he was in Nacogdoches, Texas, for his sister Crystal’s wedding and he was there when they placed the bouquet at the headstone of his late sister’s grave.

Then there was Jermaine Jones, whose salute following his opening goal on Sunday was “my way of giving my father a Father’s Day gift, a sign of respect.”

The loss was tough to swallow for the Reggae Boyz who feel the game changed on the golden opportunity presented to them in the fourth minute of the match. That being said, Jamaica manager Theodore Whitmore was especially harsh on his stars: “I think some of our better players never played today.”

The USA now head to Houston for the semifinal doubleheader and one report indicates that the event will likely sell out Reliant Stadium today, a little more than 48 hours before the Wednesday matches.

The MLS weekend, which provided plenty of talking points, ended with a bang: a 3-3 tie at JELD-WEN Field between the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls with a stoppage-time penalty kick by Dwayne De Rosario giving the tie to the visitors on Sunday night.

In the Portland locker room, Jack Jewsbury was apologizing, Rodney Wallace did not believe he committed a PK offense, Troy Perkins was asking “if someone wants to help us pick up our heads” and manager John Spencer spoke of dominating the Red Bulls in the second half: “We ran them ragged. We outplayed them. We outran them. We were better than them in every department.”

In case you missed it, it’s definitely worth watching the goal by Portland defender Kevin Goldthwaite, who gave Portland the momentary 2-1 lead. The ex-RBNY player uses a heel flick that would make any forward proud. (VIDEO)

One of the major discussion topics of the weekend came from the penalty kick won by Charlie Davies on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. It was a play that RSL’s Chris Wingert, who was deemed guilty of the PK foul, called “almost laughable.” Watch the play yourself and then see what the referee had to say after the match. (VIDEO)

With all the talk of wedding scheduling, here’s a player whose nuptial plans seem to avoid any possible soccer conflicts: RSL’s Will Johnson.

Although the LA Galaxy clearly didn’t need David Beckham, as they extended their undefeated streak to nine games with a 3-1 win at the defending champion Colorado Rapids, one Denver sports columnist won’t let Beckham forget that he missed out on the trip to DSG Park, citing the fact that the team did not even list him in on its injury report.

The best line from the article has to go to Rapids managing director Jeff Plush: “Clearly you want him for the crowd. I personally wanted him here because I think they are a less athletic team [with Beckham in the starting XI]."

The best line of the weekend may go to Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak, whose team dropped to second in the Eastern Conference after a 1-0 road loss against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Western Conference’s last-place team. “We’re dropping points like a charity right now — giving life and points to other teams,” he said.

Columbus Crew rookie Bernardo Anor will surely be making a run at the Player of the Week award after netting a goal and assist in his first start as the Fighting Canaries won for the first time ever in Houston. Manager Robert Warzycha provides the formula for beating the Dynamo: “We possessed the ball … We limited Houston to a couple of set pieces — they live and die by set pieces.”

One of the interesting trends from the weekend’s matches is Vancouver’s ability to gradually improve their possession game from match-to-match under new manager Tom Soehn. The players believe that the secret is getting the ball to the Italian with the “mouthwatering Maserati.”

The other Canadian team has very different things to ponder after losing 1-0 to visiting Seattle Sounders while sporting an extra man on the field. TFC manager Aron Winter is blunt: “It’s clear that once the window opens, we will have to get some players because we need them. We don’t have enough quality.”

Speaking of quality players, speculation is rife about the future of Julian de Guzman. While Dwayne De Rosario was back with his New York Red Bulls team and scored the final equalizer in a 3-3 tie, de Guzman was nowhere to be seen last weekend for Toronto.

Here’s a potential hint at the reinforcements that Winter may be referring to: A report from Europe indicates that Toronto could become the new home for former German international of goal-line handball fame, Torsten Frings. (GERMAN)

Another player who brings back bad World Cup memories for US national team fans could be destined for Seattle. The Sounders are looking for a prince, according to this Ghanaian report: Prince Tagoe.

Here’s something a little unexpected coming from a newcomer to MLS: The Revolution’s Rajko Lekic tells a Danish paper that if the opportunity presented itself, he’d be open to joining Brondby. (DANISH)

On the international soccer scene, it seems that Chilean international Alexis Sánchez is ready to be named Barcelona’s newest star signing. Meanwhile, the up-and-coming star in the coaching ranks: Porto’s Andre Villas-Boas looks set to take over the hot seat that is Chelsea FC.

Lastly, they’re calling it “theatre” in England. But it’s really Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne sharing stories on a stage in front of 1,000 people. He shares one anecdote of a letter he still has from Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson with not-so-kind words when he declined to join the Red Devils.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Armchair Analyst: Tactical switch pays dividends for USA

Panama expect complicated rematch vs. USA in Gold Cup semifinals

Photo from San Jose Earthquakes match wins Fathers Day Twitter contest

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