Russell Teibert may by only 18 and stand 5-foot-7 but he made the biggest statement of Vancouver's preseason
Bob Frid / Vancouver Whitecaps

Kick Off: Teibert fuels rivalry, Nkufo's future

Russell Teibert, considered one of the most talented prospects to ever emerge from Canada, is still waiting to be signed by the Vancouver Whitecaps. But the 18-year-old has been one of the stars of the club’s preseason and has already won a spot in the hearts of Whitecaps fans.

Teibert was once a member of the Toronto FC academy and left them to join Vancouver. Now he says: "I've been at TFC and Vancouver is definitely the best place to be in Canada … In all aspects.” Vancouver’s March 19 season opener against Toronto just got a lot more intense.

Another rival of Vancouver’s, the Portland Timbers, earned their first-ever win as an MLS team yesterday. Find out what happened in the match against the Montreal Impact.

For Portland manager John Spencer, he won his first “football” match with the Timbers. He refuses to apologize for not calling the sport soccer.

Spencer has no problem communicating, including with the Spanish-speaking Colombian forward that the Timbers have in camp.

Like Teibert, a young player who has already made an impact for his MLS club is Houston’s Kofi Sarkodie. Here’s why his own coach says he will have a long MLS career.

The preseason focus shifts to Orlando, Fla., today where two matches take place, including the start of the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Both matches at 6 pm ET (FC Dallas vs. Orlando City) and 8 pm ET (Toronto FC vs. Houston) will be streamed live on Earlier in the day, the San Jose Earthquakes face the Leicester City reserve team in England while the Seattle Sounders will take on the University of Central Florida in Bradenton.

Seattle still have a fair share of questions to answer during this preseason, according to manager Sigi Schmid. These have to do with formations, finishing and finding a way to defend set pieces.

Speaking of the Sounders, we now know that one of the club’s three Designated Players won’t be returning in 2012.

In the case of another DP, the Chicago Fire’s Nery Castillo, his head coach reveals an interesting tidbit about his move to Greece which may give an indication as to the Mexican’s future in MLS.

The New York Cosmos have their minds set on the future as they will be sending two of their biggest names to promote the club in Asia.

Leaving a mark in its own way at RFK Stadium in September will be college football. A football game set for RFK has D.C. United officials concerned.

The sport of hockey may also have something in common with soccer soon enough. This report says that the NHL wants to create the hockey version of the Champions League.

MLS may be reclaiming one of its own from Europe as another report out of England will fuel the speculation of a summer return for goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

Staying in Europe, Thursdays mean Europa League action and spots in the second knockout round are at stake as Giuseppe Rossi’s Villarreal host high-flying Italians Napoli (3 pm ET, GolTV) while Liverpool take a first leg scoreless tie to Anfield Road against Sparta Prague (5 pm ET, GolTV).

Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake fans will want to tune into Galavision at 8 pm ET for a glimpse at the teams that one of the MLS teams will be facing in the CONCACAF Champions League semis: Saprissa or Olimpia.

There is also a tripleheader of live Copa Libertadores action on Fox Deportes featuring Independiente battling Peñarol (5 pm ET), Argentinos Juniors hosting Mexicans Club América (7:30 pm ET) and Colombian side Junior Barranquilla welcoming Brazilian club Grêmio (9:30 pm ET).

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League matches featured a single goal and the goalkeeper who gave it up was inconsolable: He left his car at the stadium and went home by walk. (ITALIAN)

It’s become an annual event at the world-famous Estadio Azteca in Mexico: Graffiti artists do their thing on the walls of the stadium. (SPANISH)

Read about the former English Premier League player, who is now getting set to help fight in Afghanistan.

Rarely do we cite news items from Bulgaria and when we do, they are usually bizarre. The latest: A high ranking first-division team sacrificed a lamb on the field and painted the goal posts in its blood in a religious rite aimed at bringing better fortunes. Must-Reads:

Video reactions from NY Red Bulls and Chicago Fire following preseason draw (VIDEO)

The lifelong Rapids fan who is set to earn a contract with the club (VIDEO)

Extensive interviews with Crew’s Emilio Renteria and Fire’s Gastón Puerari on Tiro Libre podcast

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