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Kick Off: Ream says Galaxy are RBNY's first test

Philadelphia Union and Houston Dynamo fans will likely object, among other teams.

That’s because New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream says “we haven’t played the best yet.” Ahead of the highly anticipated matchup against the LA Galaxy on Saturday night (11 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes) the US national team center back calls the game against the West leaders “our first test against one of the best.”

But first things first. While LA vs. NY is the final matchup of the weekend slate, things get underway tonight with Philadelphia Union forward Danny Mwanga hoping to open his 2011 scoring account against the Portland Timbers on Soccer Night in America (10:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer).

A local star from his high school and collegiate days in Portland, last year’s No. 1 SuperDraft pick admits that controlling his emotions will be a challenge in tonight’s match, which will see him start. He already has his hands full trying to develop chemistry with new Union striker Carlos Ruiz.

The Union felt hard done by on the ejection of left back Jordan Harvey in last weekend’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Philly manager Peter Nowak says he can’t wait until the day video review is instituted in soccer for critical plays.

Nowak’s counterpart in Portland, Timbers manager John Spencer, makes a rare move himself. He gives out the lineup before the match.

As they look to become the first road team to come away with a regular season point from JELD-WEN Field, the Union underwent some special preparation for the turf and field size that awaits them.

Will tonight’s match represent another step in the emergence of Philadelphia’s 20-year-old holding midfielder Amobi Okugo? He’s taken full advantage of an injury to a starter to establish his credentials.

Meanwhile, Colorado Rapids manager Gary Smith has confirmed that Omar Cummings’ ankle injury will prevent him from participating in this weekend’s match against the New England Revolution. The extent of the damage is still unknown.

Vancouver Whitecaps defender Mouloud Akloul did some serious damage to his ankle last year and it forced him out for an entire year. When he scored the decisive goal against Montreal in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, his first thoughts went to his physiotherapist.

Real Salt Lake admit they have not been focused on MLS league action, except for scores and standings, since the season started and they are just getting into the regular season groove.

But success for RSL in league play means scoring goals and the club’s scorers are distant from their best form.

One writer makes the case for one player who could help Toronto FC’s fortunes in league play: Ecuadorean draftee Joao Plata, who was a sparkplug in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

Sporting Kansas City are idle this weekend, a great opportunity to analyze the club’s center back pairings. Here is the full comprehensive list under manager Peter Vermes and how they have fared.

Also this weekend the winners of the 2011 edition of Sueño MLS will be announced on Univisión’s Republica Deportiva on Sunday. There are 18 finalists and only five will survive.

Take the name Alex Del Piero off the list of international stars who will be coming to MLS this summer. He just signed a one-year deal to stay with Italy’s Juventus for the opening of their new stadium.

Even if it’s been a few years since he left MLS coaching circles, former Galaxy manager Ruud Gullit only recently sold his Hollywood home. (PHOTO)

Take me out to the ballgame. That’s what Greek and Ecuadorean fans will be saying when they head to baseball’s Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., for the June 7 match between Greece and Ecuador. It’ll be transformed into a soccer field.

When it comes to international soccer, several verdicts could be handed down around Europe this weekend. Manchester United host Chelsea on Sunday in what essentially amounts to the EPL decider. Barcelona could capture the La Liga title with a win in the derby against Espanyol. In Italy, AC Milan need only a draw against Roma to take their first scudetto since 2004.

On Sunday, American defender Oguchi Onyewu could claim the Dutch Cup in the final against Ajax Amsterdam.

Giuseppe Rossi and Villarreal could not pull off the miracle, and Porto advanced to the Europa League final in Dublin, where they will face another Portuguese side, Sporting Braga.

CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey, who were on life support before defeating Real Salt Lake for the CCL trophy, are on the verge of advancing to the Mexican playoff semifinals after a convincing 3-1 first leg win over Pumas UNAM.

In Mexico they’re also celebrating Jaguares de Chiapas advancing to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores on away goals. They will next take on Cerro Porteño of Paraguay. The other three matchups: Peñarol (Uruguay) vs. Universidad Católica (Chile), Once Caldas (Colombia) vs. Santos (Brazil) and Libertad (Paraguay) vs. Vélez Sarsfield (Argentina).

Lastly, some rare footage from last night’s Copa Libertadores. Halfway through this video clip see how the Jaguares starting goalkeeper reacted to being substituted during the course of the match immediately following a gaffe that nearly cost his Mexican club the berth to the quarters. He goes right after his own coach. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Hans Backe and Omar Gonzalez talk #LAvsNY on Thursday’s edition of ExtraTime Radio

The Throw-In: Why MLS needs Ray Hudson back in the league

FC Dallas midfielder Eric Avila doing his homework to replace the league’s MVP

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