Kick Off
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Kick Off: RSL try to beat the heat, Revs protest

Real Salt Lake are already in Monterrey, Mexico this morning after a charter flight on Sunday took them to their destination for Wednesday’s massive CONCACAF Champions League final first leg against the defending Mexican league champions.

RSL co-owner Dell Loy Hansen, proudly bearing a scarf in hand, greeted the throng of Mexican media with some Spanish-language statements. (VIDEO)

Jason Kreis’ group encountered temperatures in the 90s when they arrived and RSL are already taking measure to combat the effects of heat and potential humidity ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League final first leg.

The RSL players give their first impressions on the Monterrey side they’re about to face for the first time in team history. The attacking ability of “rayados,” as they are nicknamed, clearly stands out.

Meanwhile, Monterrey star Humberto Suazo played 72 minutes on Saturday in league action and was back in full training on Sunday, even bringing his kids out for a run. (PHOTO)

Back in the US, the Portland Timbers made it two-for-two at JELD-WEN Field with a 3-2 win over FC Dallas on Sunday. Timbers owner Merritt Paulson also had time to address the comments made by ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption contributor Bob Ryan, who called the Timber Army’s rendition of the national anthem a “civic joke.”

Staying with the Timbers Army, here’s an inside look at the making of their opening day tifo display and an education for what goes into it.

FC Dallas may have lost to the Timbers on Sunday, but they beat Spanish giants FC Barcelona, too. Find out where and how in this article.

The Columbus Crew could have an Argentine playmaker once again running the show for them after Guillermo Barros Schelotto led the club on its most successful run in team history. The big difference this time around is that the new face joining camp is only 20 years old.

Playmakers are hard to come by. Just ask the Chicago Fire, who suffered their third loss in a row 2-1 on Sunday to a heavily depleted Galaxy side. In the last line of this article, manager Carlos de los Cobos confirms the team is still searching.

LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena will probably be in the market for a new defender after he suggested that center back Leonardo is likely done for the season after picking up an injury in the 2-1 win at Toyota Park.

One defender experiencing a very different existence is Crew center back Julius James. Find out why they’re whistling the Old Spice jingle every time he passes by.

Just one week after saying that he was not necessarily interested in 5-0 victories, Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak is singing a different tune. He wants his team to score more than one goal and the fact they can’t is “annoying” Seba Le Toux.

It’s not annoying to Vancouver Whitecaps designated player Eric Hassli that he has received at least a caution card in every MLS match he has played in. His reaction on successfully escaping the match without seeing red? “Not bad.”

The reports that Andriy Shevchenko is a target of MLS clubs is nothing new. However, the fact that he’s being linked with the Vancouver Whitecaps is. (UKRAINIAN)

Designated players or not, having the right players fit into a playing system is critical. One writer contends that Toronto FC are struggling with that very issue.

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry had been struggling to score, but he finally got off the schnide on Saturday with a goal that did not come without controversy. Reports are that the Frenchman had words with the Red Bulls supporters.

As upset as Henry may have been, the New England Revolution today are perhaps even more. Manager Steve Nicol, goalkeeper Matt Reis and defender Ryan Cochrane make the case for why the Houston Dynamo’s late goal should not have counted in Sunday’s 1-0 loss.

Even Dynamo scorer Hunter Freeman admits the ball may have hit his hand on the play, but Houston say that the game-winner was justice.

The Dynamo get right back at it on Monday, with a press conference to announce an international friendly this summer. The Houston Chronicle has the scoop.

In other international news, the American flags were out in full force at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where fans celebrated the arrival of a new American owner, Tom DiBenedetto. See the 22-page photo gallery here. (PHOTOS)

An American playing overseas today is Giuseppe Rossi, who leads his Villarreal side against Real Zaragoza (3 p.m. ET, GolTV) in a La Liga match-up.

There's also a chance to watch what will be the newest English Premier League side as Queens' Park Rangers take another step toward automatic promotion with a match against American-owned Derby County (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

Lastly, as far as photo ops are concerned, there was a unique one this weekend. Philadelphia Union forward Carlos Ruiz meets his namesake with the Philadelphia Phillies. (PHOTO) Must-Reads:

NYRB manager Hans Backe: Thierry Henry had his best performance for the club

Toronto FC’s Aron Winter ashamed of club’s performance against D.C. United

The player responsible for the Portland Timbers’ recent surge? Kalif Alhassan.