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Kick Off: TFC can make it 5-for-5 for MLS in CCL openers

It’s up to you Toronto FC.

MLS sides can go a remarkable five-for-five in their opening group matches in the CONCACAF Champions League should Toronto FC secure a victory on the road at Tauro in Panama tonight (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer), although they will have to do it without Torsten Frings and Eric Avila.

One win that few were expecting was FC Dallas’ conquest of Mexico, where they emerged with a 1-0 win over Mexican champions Pumas UNAM last night, the first victory by an MLS club on Mexican soil in 25 tries. Marvin Chávez scored the goal and Kevin Hartman provided the goalkeeper heroics. Here are the full match highlights.

The result compelled FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman draw comparisons with Roger Bannister, the man who broke the four-minute mile.

CONCACAF Champions League matches are special because they’re so unpredictable. Take what happened at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park where Salvadorans Isidro Metapán took the lead twice, only to go down to 10 men after a red card and watch the Rapids overturn the result for a 3-2 win.

The turn of events even caught Rapids manager Gary Smith off-guard: “I was very surprised at some of the quality, the understanding from some of their guys. … It was a very, very good win for us.”

Many will be surprised if they wake up tomorrow morning and see the New York Red Bulls on the outside looking in at the MLS playoff table. That could happen if D.C. United defeat the Chicago Fire tonight in a nationally televised match (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). United will like their chances given they practically have a full squad of healthy players.

Ahead of the match, Chicago Fire midfielder Pável Pardo reveals that he eventually wants to become head coach of the Fire, according to this article on ESPN Deportes. (SPANISH)

Also, Fire midfielder Marco Pappa and manager Frank Klopas spoke for the first time regarding reported European interest in the talented Guatemalan international, who has one more year on his Fire contract.

The two league results from Wednesday night ensured that the race for the playoffs in the East will continue to be heated as two chasing teams collected points. First, the Houston Dynamo got a last-minute goal at Gillette Stadium to pick up a point in a 1-1 tie against New England.

Houston’s Bobby Boswell canceled out a goal by Revs defender and ex-Dynamo player Ryan Cochrane, who had planned to celebrate this way: “I was going to hop over the boards and sit next to Dom [Kinnear, Dynamo manager]. It didn’t work out. It’s probably for the best. I don’t think Dom would have been too pleased with that.”

If you pick up the paper in Kansas City this morning, the lead from the game report in the Kansas City Star has nothing to do with the events that led to a 3-1 victory by Sporting Kansas City over the Portland Timbers. Instead, it focused on the Omar Bravo bobblehead that struck goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the face.

Sporting Kansas City is a good team to play for these days if you like birthday cakes. Graham Zusi, who scored the team’s first two goals, turns 25 today while Soony Saad, who netted the third, celebrated that first MLS goal on his 19th birthday. Portland Timbers manager John Spencer must have known it was Zusi’s birthday, calling him “one of the best strikers of the ball in the game."

Portland Timbers manager John Spencer was left dumbfounded by the manner in which his team gave up the first two goals in the loss. One resulted from a poor Timbers defensive clearance while the other came off a rebound in the box. "I cannot fathom, in the professional game, why attacking players always react quicker in the box than defenders," Spencer said. "It's absolutely incredible."

One defender who usually reacted quicker than attackers is former World Cup defender Jimmy Conrad, who will announce his retirement today with Chivas USA. While many have made the assumption that he will jump into broadcasting, he’s actually becoming an assistant coach for Robin Fraser.

Is there still a deal to be made for forward Eddie Johnson to make an MLS return after negotiations fell through? It sounds dubious based on this statement from MLS’ executive VP for player relations and competition, Todd Durbin: “We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

A current MLS forward, No. 1 SuperDraft pick Omar Salgado is seemingly growing restless after not seeing MLS action in the past month for the Vancouver Whitecaps. While manager Tom Soehn says “everybody has to earn the right to play … it doesn't matter what your title is or when you were drafted,” Salgado is craving experience. “I hate it when they tell me I'm just 17 or I can't play because I'm 17,” he said.

As they get set for an Eastern Conference top-of-the-table showdown with the Columbus Crew this weekend, Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak reveals that his club may not be done wheeling and dealing: “At the end of the day, we’re happy to add Freddy Adu, but we’re still looking.”

Some good news for Real Salt Lake heading into their match at Robertson Stadium in Houston: All-Star defender and reigning Defender of the Year Jámison Olave could be back into the lineup.

In yanks abroad news, just a day after French club St. Étienne indicated it had no interest in transferring American Carlos Bocanegra, the US national team captain is a member of Rangers and could play in their Europa League matchup tonight against Maribor.

Back on this side of the world, there’s a story that indicates that perhaps the political infighting and accusations at CONCACAF are not past the governing body just yet.

Lastly, Friday will mark a historic day in soccer: first ever soccer match to be streamed live on Facebook and it will be an FA Cup preliminary match from England. Find out the details here.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

The Playoff Race: Who would make the postseason if the playoffs started today

Climbing the Ladder: Strong possession game is no guarantee of results

Former Galaxy teammates wish Ángel the very best

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