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Kick Off: Toronto fans are the big winners in CCL draw

It will be remembered as arguably the greatest moment in Toronto FC’s brief history.

Despite the action between the lines, it was the nearly 48,000 fans that sold out the Rogers Centre for the 2-2 CONCACAF Champions League tie between TFC and LA Galaxy that put on the real show yesterday. Just look at the tifo display that will go down among the best ever by an MLS supporters group. (PHOTO)

This is how much Toronto FC forward Danny Koevermans enjoyed the experience: “How can you not like playing in front of 40,000 people? If you ask me we should make BMO bigger – or, move here.”

As far as what happened on the field (watch the highlights here), Toronto is ruing the fact they allowed a two-goal lead to slip away: “We were unlucky and we were the better team,” said Toronto manager Aron Winter. (VIDEO)

LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan will choose to differ with Winter: “It would have been a little bit cruel leaving there losing, 2-1. We had a number of chances and on a different night could have scored four or five goals.”

With more on the epic Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy matchup, soccer writer Nick Green used Storify to capture the other side stories, including David Beckham holding up a beer can in the middle of the match.

In case it wasn't obvious by watching the TFC-LA match, Beckham was annoyed by the streamers when he took corner kicks: "I think the streamers were a terrible idea during the game,” he said. “Before the game, a great idea. Little bit difficult taking corners like that.”

In the late CCL quarterfinal yesterday, Seattle took an all-important advantage by beating Santos Laguna 2-1. Watch all three goals from CenturyLink Field here, including one by Herculez Gomez. (VIDEO)

A tie will now be good enough for the Sounders to advance on aggregate goals when they travel to Mexico next week: “Nobody’s scared of going down there, that’s for sure,” Seattle goal-scorer Brad Evans said.

To think that Seattle nearly had to shuffle their starting lineup at the last minute when four starters were stuck in traffic on I-90 caused by a highway accident: “It was more stressful before the game than in the game,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who made his Sounders debut in a competitive match.

Santos Laguna go home feeling they were shortchanged by a referee decision, or lack thereof, at the end of the match on what they believe to be a hand ball in the box by a Sounders player: "[The referee] said that it was the last play so he couldn't call it,” Santos manager Benjamín Galindo. “If he had said that he didn't see I understand, but claiming it was the last call ... that's not acceptable.”

Back in MLS, fans get the news they've been waiting for: The new Apple and Android apps were released late yesterday and one fan was so emotional about it, he shed a tear.


It’s D-Day today for the New York Red Bulls as they await word on the US embassy visit that will determine whether Luke Rodgers will be able to travel to the USA and play for the club ahead of First Kick on Sunday (3 pm ET, NBC Sports Network).

In the meantime, the Red Bulls believe fans will see a new side of Rafa Márquez in 2012: “He wants to come back and show everybody what the real Rafa is and we want him to do it,” New York sporting director Erik Solér said. “I’m absolutely convinced you’ll see a very different Rafa Márquez.”

The Chicago Fire received a boost with the signing of Arne Friedrich, a World Cup player for Germany who can play at center back or right back: "He's a world-class player. The level that he’s played and the experience he brings to the team, the attitude. He's got a mentality that can push the group,” head coach Frank Klopas said. 

With just 48 hours until First Kick, presented by Dick's Sporting Goods, the season previews are beginning to roll out. Here’s New York Times veteran soccer writer Jack Bell with his five things to watch.

Also MLS Commissioner Don Garber participated in a Q&A with ESPN.com’s Jeff Carlisle in which he addressed several topics surrounding the league, including expansion.

The commissioner will also participate in a conference call today at 4 pm ET. You can listen live on MLSsoccer.com Channel 1.  

Real Salt Lake have set ambitious goals for 2012 and made those clear from the outset: They want nothing short of the MLS Cup title and qualification to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds. “If we achieve those, we succeed,” said GM Garth Lagerwey. “If we don’t, we fail. Very black and white this year.”

“It’s great to play good soccer and it’s great to have people write nice articles about you,” Lagerwey continued. “We don’t care. Doesn’t matter anymore. Doesn’t matter who’s hurt. Doesn’t matter who’s healthy. We gotta win.”

It’s that ambition that perhaps has RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando saying that: “There’s a lot of teams in this league that want to be Real Salt Lake.”

Maybe that’s not the case with FC Dallas, where club president and CEO Doug Quinn is seeing his vision slowly become a reality: “We tripled season tickets last year, we’ll double season tickets this year, we’re already up 40 percent over last year and that was a week ago. … In the next two to three years, my vision is sold out 18 games and a waiting list and there’s no reason we shouldn’t have that with the size of the soccer market in Dallas.” Check out the rest of the interview with BigDSoccer.com.

Quinn and several FCD players showed just how focused they are on their local community at this event, where they left a permanent mark on the lives of a whole neighborhood of kids. (VIDEO)

One of the storylines for Sunday’s first match on NBC Sports Network (3 pm ET) is the return of New York Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper, who calls Dallas home. He’ll have about 100 members of his family and friends in attendance.

Interesting to read the takeaway for FC Dallas defender George John after his loan spell at West Ham United: “I’m 24 years old. I’ve only been a professional for three years and guys over there that are 24, they’ve been professionals for seven, eight years. I’m playing catch up, Americans are playing catch up. That’s what I learned.”

The San Jose Earthquakes are eager to learn more about the roster they’ve built. Manager Frank Yallop is eager for the First Kick opener against New England: “It's kind of a Cup final for us," he says. “We want to come out and show the fans the Quakes are serious about winning.”

In one of the best preseason features you’ll find out there, the Boston Globe’s Frank Dell’Apa tells the story of the career dilemma Jay Heaps faced before he was given the reins to the Revolution. It also details the changes he has made to the team just by having a closer relationship with ownership.

There may be issues for the Colorado Rapids ahead of their home opener against the Columbus Crew: This report claims that two starters may not be eligible to play because of a lack of an ITC.

Here’s a look at what the Columbus Crew lineup is looking like based on yesterday’s practice. You may be surprised by a couple of the names.

While many may still be caught up in Lionel Messi’s five goals for FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, all eyes turn to the Europa League today for Atlético Madrid vs. Besiktas (1 pm ET, GolTV) and Jozy Altidore’s AZ Alkmaar taking on Italian side Udinese (3 pm ET, GolTV). (VIDEO)

The final CONCACAF Champions League first leg quarterfinal takes place tonight as Salvadoran side Metapán host Pumas UNAM (8 pm ET, Galavision). There’s also a Copa Libertadores tripleheader on Fox Deportes beginning at 5:30 pm ET.

Lastly, EA Sports’ FIFA Soccer 12 has already played out the entire 2012 MLS season and came up with the following standings and MLS Cup verdicts. Look away if you’re a Portland Timbers fan.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Colombians in MLS: Seattle’s Montero considered a pioneer among his compatriots

Check out MLSsoccer.com’s new history section dating back to 1996

MLSsoccer.com’s 2012 Season Preview built by The Home Depot: MLS’ Top Young Players

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