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Kick Off - Sigi Schmid (Seattle)
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Kick Off: Seattle's Schmid eyes LA, criticizes Colorado

As one of the winningest coaches in MLS history, Seattle Sounders manager Sigi Schmid has earned the right to speak his mind.

And he did that in the lead-up to his team’s tilt against the New England Revolution on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) when asked to react to Rapids head coach Gary Smith’s decision not to travel with his team for the CONCACAF Champions League group game in El Salvador. He didn’t hold back.

“For me, not traveling with the team I think would be disrespectful to the competition that you're competing in and to the opponent that you're playing," he said. A Rapids reserve team still beat Isidro Metapán 3-1 in Group B action on Wednesday.

Schmid was not done. In this interview with SI.com’s Grant Wahl, he says that Seattle still harbors ambitions for the regular season title despite a seven-point gap from the top. "I think the Supporters’ Shield at this stage is probably the most difficult one to get, just because of the amount of points we're behind the Galaxy. But it's certainly nothing we've given up hope on."

Honesty in the coaching ranks is always welcome. After Thursday night’s thrilling nationally televised match at PPL Park – a 3-2 win by the Philadelphia Union over D.C. United – Philly manager Peter Nowak praised his team in “one of our better efforts lately,” while United manager Ben Olsen admits that “we probably deserved to come out on the short end.”

In addition to the Union’s Sébastien Le Toux, who scored another two goals against D.C. United and celebrated with the AT&T dance, the Union’s other star was Michael Farfan, who provided the game-winning goal and an assist. But the Rookie of the Year candidate was self-critical on the defensive side of the ball: “It feels good after I made a couple of mistakes in the back and gave them two goals basically. I’ve got to do a better job there.”

Of particular concern for D.C. United fans coming out of the Thursday night match is the injury that forced Dwayne De Rosario out of the match. His exit had D.C. president Kevin Payne demanding that referees look out for his playmaker: “He’s the best player in the league and he doesn’t get protected. He gets kicked every game, every time the ball is played to his feet and plays it forward, he gets fouled.”

Zac MacMath made his fifth straight start in goal for Philadelphia and it’s a good thing he’s getting to see the field. In this feature MacMath’s dad confesses that “Zac was reaching the point of the season where he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.”

D.C. United are next in action this Sunday in Columbus (4 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) while Philadelphia is in Los Angeles against Chivas USA on the same day (8 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).

We’ll see if the Chicago Fire can continue with their late playoff push in what has become an unpredictable race in the Eastern Conference. On Saturday they travel to face the Houston Dynamo (4 p.m. ET, TeleFutura), who are also looking for three points to virtually lock up a playoff berth.

Fire forward Dominic Oduro has a chance to exact his revenge against Houston manager Dominic Kinnear and his former team which offloaded Oduro earlier this year, just days after he missed a key scoring chance. "Every team is different. The style of play here [in Chicago] is more conducive to my style. I've been given the liberty to use my speed more as compared to Houston. Here they give me the freedom to use my speed instead of the structure in Houston. I can move to the left or right."

The MLS Cup champions Colorado Rapids will look to get back on track in league play after their massive CONCACAF Champions League victory when they host FC Dallas in a rematch of MLS Cup 2010 on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). Here’s why the Rapids' manager, Smith, thinks the game is critical: “We've got to be able to show that not only can we compete but that we can put doubt in their mind and say: 'When you come here, there's a chance you're going to get beat.'”

Colorado fans will surely find The Telegraph’s interview with owner Stan Kroenke an interesting read as he talks about Arsenal and Arsène Wenger: “We didn’t invest to come in and control the club. I thought that we needed a strategic alliance with one of the big clubs. We did have lots of different opportunities presented to us to invest in European football. I didn’t have the motivation to do it until Arsenal.”

Ahead of the opening of their new stadium against the Portland Timbers on Sunday (4:30 p.m. ET, TSN2), reports from Vancouver indicate that the Whitecaps will not be able to squeeze in any training sessions on the new Polytan playing surface before the match at BC Place.

The San Jose Earthquakes host Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) with manager Frank Yallop threatening to clean house after a disappointing 2011: “I’m actually excited about that, to clean out some people. They can go on with their careers and we can move on as a club.”

Meanwhile, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas has chosen his MVP of the season in his blog for the Mirror. Here’s one of the factors he considers: “I think a league MVP should be on a successful team and be inextricable from the team’s success.”

As the international call-ups begin to roll in ahead of the next double FIFA fixture date, one of the surprises is Canada’s summoning Toronto FC left back Ashtone Morgan for World Cup qualifying matches.

US manager Jurgen Klinsmann made his selections, calling up three new faces for matches against Honduras and Ecuador.

Colombia are back to calling MLS players in their national team squad as Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara earned the call by ex-MLS midfielder Leonel Álvarez, who serves as Colombian manager.

Lastly, it was revealed yesterday that six MLS clubs will make Tucson, Ariz., their home for preseason training beginning in February with four of them participating in the 2012 Desert Cup.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Grant Wahl talks LA Galaxy and Dominic Oduro targets Dynamo revenge on ExtraTime Radio

Seattle’s Mauro Rosales targets a return for USOC final on Tuesday

Altidore scores again for AZ while Dempsey and Fulham keep rolling in the Europa League

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