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Kick Off: NY's Backe backs Henry, Benny's team

The talk surrounding Thierry Henry’s exchange of words with New York Red Bulls supporters won’t die down.

When they found out about some of the fan taunts that were directed toward the Frenchman before his goal against San Jose, manager Hans Backe and MLS Player of the Week Luke Rodgers did not approve.

Speaking of Henry, the Designated Player has apparently yet to be fouled a single time in seven matches, according to ESPN.

Like Backe, Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was not mincing words either when it comes to his team’s mission in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League final first leg (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer and TeleFutura).

In speaking to Mexican press corps on Monday, Kreis said that, “To be honest, a tie would be very good and to win would be spectacular.”

Preparations for the match continue on Tuesday and will have wall-to-wall coverage from Monterrey of both finalists as they get ready for the massive showdown at the Estadio Tecnológico.

It seems there’s a monkey on the back of every MLS team that faces a Mexican team in Mexico: that 0-19-2 all-time record. Real Salt Lake say they know what it takes to avoid becoming victim No. 20.

However, being back at home is always better. Just ask EPL midfielder Stuart Holden, who returned to his former stomping grounds at Robertson Stadium last weekend. Despite being on crutches, Holden hobbled his way to the Dynamo supporters’ section to be with the fans.

Today is D-day for Benny Feilhaber as he awaits to find out if Chivas USA, positioned No. 1 in the allocation rankings, will be signing him or passing on him. Three other Americans playing abroad could be next to follow the Brazilian-born US national teamer to MLS.

US goalkeepers have proven to be one of the country’s most successful exports with a steady pipeline of talent in MLS and abroad. But is that supply drying up? One writer warns of a potential goalkeeping crisis.

A sizeable crop of future Canadian stars will be formed in Toronto, as TFC make one of the most significant investments ever seen among MLS clubs. Julian de Guzman says that so many soccer players who he says were better than him during his childhood in Toronto, today won’t slip through the cracks any more.

Speaking of facilities, the Florida Marlins’ new ballpark will reportedly be designed to handle soccer matches.

Manchester United, who will feature in both the MLS All-Star Game and the World Football Challenge this summer, could make a decisive move to claim another English Premier League title if the Red Devils can win at Newcastle United (2:45 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

The televised action today also features American-owned AS Roma hosting Inter Milan in an Italian Cup semifinal (2:45 pm ET, GolTV). Then beginning at 7 pm ET on Fox Deportes, a pair of Mexican clubs hit the road in their Copa Libertadores group stage finales as they seek to cement their place in the knockout rounds.

Staying in international soccer, is it possible the New England Revolution have a sister club in the Israeli Premier League? Owner Robert Kraft says he’s keeping the door open.

From American owners to American players, we’ve seen the USA take an increasingly influential role in international soccer. But this is a new one: an American soccer club officially listed on a German stock exchange?

A New Yorker explains to USA Today how Stoke City advancing to the FA Cup final in England is the end of a curse that pales in comparison to the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs. He says it’s like making the Super Bowl.

Two Americans based in Europe scored for their respective clubs on Monday. Giuseppe Rossi netted a decisive penalty kick as Villarreal moved to fourth place in La Liga with a 1-0 win over Zaragoza, while Alejandro Bedoya scored a nice goal for Örebro in a loss for which Bob Bradley was apparently in attendance. (VIDEO)

American Maurice Edu found out this morning that he has a well-connected teammate. A Glasgow Rangers star professes to being good friends with Libyan leader Gadaffi and his son.

You have to watch what you say in soccer. One national team coach in Africa was fired after telling a lie involving cows.

You also have to watch out for your appearance in some countries. Apparently a beard is the equivalent of a red card in Tajikistan.

In Spain, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is on trial in soccer circles for taking a shot at Real Madrid fans – literally – in last weekend’s edition of the Spanish Clásico. Watch what he did here. (VIDEO)

Lastly, after correctly predicting a draw in last weekend’s clash of giants in Spain the octopus named Iker says that Real Madrid will defeat Barcelona in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final. (SPANISH) Must-Reads:

British invasion of ExtraTime Radio with Portland’s John Spencer and NY’s Luke Rodgers

Toronto FC unveil their massive investment in youth academy program

Benny Feilhaber reveals how whirlwind transfer deal to MLS materialized in a mere 72 hours

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