Roll out the red carpet.
That’s what LA Galaxy fans did when Robbie Keane got off his flight at LAX on Thursday night. He’ll participate in his first practice on Friday followed by a press conference and MLSsoccer.com will have all the coverage from LA ahead of his debut against the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
Keane spoke briefly upon his arrival yesterday, accompanied by his wife Claudine: “I hope that they will throw me in the deep end and let me show what I can do.”
In England, they say Claudine and Keano are the next Posh and Becks and judging by the paparazzi at the airport and the Daily Mail coverage of their arrival, they may not be far off. (PHOTOS)
Keane arrives to MLS during a week in which the league experienced its best run ever in CONCACAF Champions League play. Toronto FC made it a clean sweep for MLS sides in CCL group stage openers — five wins in five matches — with their 2-1 win in Panama against Tauro last night. Don’t look now, but Toronto are 4-0-2 in their last six matches in all competitions. (VIDEO)
Toronto will hope to continue this run in league play on Sunday night, when they visit the Chicago Fire (7 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), who were also in action on Thursday.
The Fire now own the dubious record for most draws in a season after last night’s 1-1 tie against D.C. United. While manager Frank Klopas criticizes the referee for missing an offsides call, he has another issue to deal with: Grazzini-Gate.
While the Fire’s head coach told media he wanted his goal scorer, Sebastián Grazzini, to play more minutes — “he told me that he needed to come out," Klopas said of his 72nd minute substitute — the player claims that the substitution was not prompted by him: “The coach had told me he would take me out so I'll be available for the next match [vs. Toronto FC].”
Klopas only brought on his final two subs with just a few minutes left in the match, including Orr Barouch, who is a call-up to the Israeli national team’s Under-21 side.
D.C. United will happily take the draw after admittedly not playing well. Manager Ben Olsen: “When you come back and tie a game, it always feels OK. … We were lucky — very lucky — to be 0-0 at the half. The game probably could’ve been over at that point.”
The equalizing goal from D.C. came from ex-Chicago Fire forward Josh Wolff, who was around during the 1998 inaugural season in which they won the double. Wolff is only one of two original Fire players still playing in MLS: “We’re the last of the Mohicans,” he said.
In case you missed it, Wolff’s teammate Andy Najar was called up by the Honduran senior national team for two matches, including one that will be played at Red Bull Arena. (SPANISH)
The biggest match in the Eastern Conference takes place on Saturday night when the first-place Columbus Crew host the second-place Philadelphia Union (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). As Union defender Danny Califf calls it: “It’s a big game, a six-pointer.” The explanation? A Union win and the teams are even, a loss and Philly drops six behind Columbus.
One Philadelphia writer calls it the first big game in the Philadelphia Union’s brief history since coming on as an expansion team in 2010.
An equally massive match in the West is the one between FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders (9 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), both involved in the CONCACAF Champions League during midweek.
The Sounders are the first fellow MLS team to tip their cap after FC Dallas registered the first MLS win in Mexico on Wednesday: “At the end of the day, it’s good for US soccer. I think it’s probably a little insulting to feel [Pumas UNAM] could field an Under-20 team and beat a pro team from up here.”
One of the developing stories in Dallas camp is the story linking central defender George John to English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers.
The nationally televised match this weekend comes at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday night, when the Portland Timbers host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Fox Soccer.
In Whitecaps camp, manager Tom Soehn says that Designated Player Mustapha Jarju still has a ways to go to be ready to contribute goals. Jarju doesn’t necessarily disagree: “He's the boss and if he feels I'm not there yet, I'll keep working hard until he says I'm ready.”
The New York Red Bulls’ Designated Players will be asked to carry their team this weekend as they meet the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET). Now in a dogfight for a playoff spot, Red Bulls defender Tim Ream doesn’t mince words in this interview: “Playing pretty soccer isn't winning us games, so we just have to dig deep and do the dirty stuff now.”
Forget about his defensive abilities. Losing center back Jimmy Conrad to retirement, also means losing one of the most quotable personalities in American soccer. All you need to do is read the host of lines he dished out at his retirement press conference.
Conrad’s club, Chivas USA, takes a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a Saturday night match against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
As Sporting Kansas City get set to host D.C. United on Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), details emerged regarding the identity of one of the persons allegedly involved in the bobblehead-throwing incident on Wednesday night. His dad spoke to the Kansas City Star.
Deadspin.com did not just glance over the one-liner from Sporting KC broadcaster Callum Williams in reference to Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen getting hit in the eye by the bobblehead: “one-eye Jimmy.”
While Sporting Kansas City get to enjoy a slew of home games to end the season, Real Salt Lake are facing more road games. Captain Kyle Beckerman knows that their ability to gain points on the road — they’ve collected just nine thus far — will determine where they finish in the standings: “We’re going to have to step up and start getting results on the road.” It starts on Saturday at Houston against the Dynamo (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).
Lastly, did you know that boxing promoter Don King and legend Muhammad Ali were part of a consortium which attempted to lure an NASL team to Montreal back in 1977? Check the timeline in this article.
ExtraTime Radio with FC Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez and ESPN’s Tommy Smyth
Top MLS goalkeeper: Sporting KC’s Jimmy Nielsen takes the lead
Postcard from Mexico: How an Orlando kid landed at South America’s most storied club
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