By now you’ve probably seen the news: no Sunday MLS action this weekend because of Hurricane Irene. The two league matches — New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy and Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution — have been rescheduled.
And for Galaxy manager Bruce Arena, who was originally scheduled to travel with his team to the east coast this morning, that suited him just fine. The postponement meant he was able to start David Beckham and Omar Gonzalez in a 2-0 blanking of Costa Rica’s Alajuelense in what was a tougher CONCACAF Champions League matchup than the scoreline would suggest. Watch the highlights here.
Beckham, Gonzalez and Sean Franklin, who all factored in the scoring, were going to be saved for the match in New York: “Not having the New York game kind of helped us put the first team out there and everyone showed well.” Gonzalez said.
Despite the victory, the Galaxy players did not have good things to say about the officiating of Mexican Marco Antonio “Chiqui-Dracula” Rodríguez. Beckham, who’s still confused about his yellow card, used the word “disgrace” a few times and Robbie Keane blamed the referee for the game being “a bit dead.” Rodríguez's ejection of Juninho in the closing stages is sure to help Mexican side Monarcas Morelia in the next match.
LA’s Landon Donovan will now look ahead to joining the US national team in his hometown of Los Angeles after the call-ups made by US manager Jurgen Klinsmann on Thursday. But the name that has generated the most buzz from the squad is that of German-American Fabian Johnson, who before a few weeks ago was not in the USMNT discussion. If you’re still getting caught up on Johnson, here’s a piece by MLSsoccer.com’s Greg Seltzer.
While some question why Donovan’s teammate, Gonzalez, did not make Klinsmann’s squad, another prominent MLS name that didn’t make the cut is the Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis, who is being mentioned as an MVP candidate during this MLS season. He’s not lost hope: “I definitely hope that day comes.”
Sounds like Kyle Beckerman will be skipping the Costa Rica match to remain with Real Salt Lake for their league match next weekend, one of only two matches on the Labor Day weekend slate. He appreciates Klinsmann’s flexibility.
If you thought Klinsmann oozes positivity, try another MLS coach on for size. Despite a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League loss to FC Dallas in a rescheduled match yesterday morning at BMO Field, Toronto FC manager Aron Winter was upbeat: “If you watched the condition of the play ... it was very good. We forgot to score.”
That all-MLS match accounts for the only loss thus far in Champions League play for an MLS team. That’s an 8-1-1 record for MLS teams in the opening two matchdays of Champions League play.
While Toronto FC host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), FC Dallas next head to Livestrong Sporting Park to take on Sporting Kansas City, arguably the hottest team at the moment (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). Although it has more to do with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs than with FC Dallas, this feature on FCD owner Clark Hunt is revealing nonetheless.
Another top-of-the-table clash will be held at CenturyLink Field, where the No. 2 in the West, Seattle Sounders, welcome the No. 1 team in the East, the Columbus Crew (4 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). And in news out of Seattle, it appears Steve Zakuani will not play another minute in 2011 while the Sounders negotiate a new contract which contemplates a raise for Argentine Mauro Rosales.
Think the last-place Vancouver Whitecaps, who host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, TSN2 and MatchDay Live in USA), have nothing to play for these days since they’re a long way from the playoffs? They need another win to avoid an MLS record of futility: “That's maybe painful to say because it's not where you envisioned yourself being when the season started and it stings on so many levels.”
The Dynamo and manager Dominic Kinnear are under pressure to make the playoffs as they get set to open a new stadium next year. But the expectations may be unrealistic, according to Kinnear who spoke on Glenn Davis’ Dynamo All-Access show: “I know a lot of fans have been doubting, but they're not fans to me. I'm sick of this. … Some people aren't educated. We had great success for two years, a great team for four … some fans just don't get it.”
Chivas USA are also in a playoff scramble and they will host Real Salt Lake in one of the most attractive matches of the weekend (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). Meanwhile, the Goats have a decision to make today about whether to add Sammy Ochoa to their roster via allocation.
The Colorado Rapids unearthed a few gems of their own in a CONCACAF Champions League match in Honduras earlier this week. Manager Gary Smith had special words for goalkeeper Steward Ceus, but it will likely be Matt Pickens returning to the pipes on Saturday at the Chicago Fire (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), a team with a 3-7-15 record that one Denver paper calls “almost ridiculous.”
It may have been a productive trip to Honduras in CCL play beyond the point that was won against Real España. Reports from Honduras indicate that Smith approached Alfredo Mejía to ask about his interest to join an MLS club. With Mejía’s contract up in December, Smith apparently wants to make a deal. (SPANISH)
Saturday afternoon will also see the Women’s Professional Soccer finale as the Philadelphia Independence battle Marta and the Western New York Flash. Here’s a preview.
Later today it will be FC Barcelona vs. FC Porto in the European Super Cup as the Catalan side seeks its second title of the early season (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). Competing for eyeballs at the same time will be the German Bundesliga, where Hertha Berlin face Stuttgart (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes).
Lastly, the enthusiasm is understandable. After going a long stretch without scoring league goals, Jozy Altidore is on fire for AZ Alkmaar. One site celebrates his five goals for his new club by showcasing each and every strike. (VIDEO)
FC Dallas admit Euro squads have their eyes on Brek Shea
The latest episode of ExtraTime Radio with LA’s Robbie Keane and Seattle’s Mauro Rosales
Gringo Report: Mexico’s dark side through the eyes of an American playing South of the Border
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