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Kick Off: Sounders keen on measuring themselves vs. LA

That didn’t take long.

Shortly after defeating the Chicago Fire with a 2-1 road win on Saturday night at Toyota Park (watch the highlights here), the Seattle Sounders revealed that they are already looking ahead to Wednesday’s matchup against the LA Galaxy (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE): “We want to measure ourselves against Los Angeles — they are the defending MLS Cup champions," said Seattle manager Sigi Schmid. "They've got all the star power. … They've got a good team and they've got quality. But our team has quality as well. It's going to be a great match."

The Chicago Fire are not letting the loss go that easily, pointing to questionable calls by the referee: “I just feel that at times the referees have to make the right calls and don’t let it get out of hand,” said Fire manager Frank Klopas. He also wants refs to look out for his creative player: "You look at [Sebastián] Grazzini, who's a playmaker. … He gets kicked the most and never gets a call."

Back to the Sounders, an interesting revelation by Fredy Montero in this Q&A with a Colombian newspaper: “I’ve had several proposals from overseas but [Seattle] doesn’t want to let me go and for me it’s a matter of pride that this happens. … For now, it would be difficult to be in a better situation elsewhere.”

It’s a good situation at D.C. United, where they won a second game in a row for the first time in three years with a 3-2 win against the Houston Dynamo (watch the highlights here): “Losing the lead twice and then coming back shows a lot of spirit,” D.C. manager Ben Olsen said. “There is something to this team. They’ve got a little bit of chutzpah.”

Here’s something to salvage from the trip for a Dynamo side that saw Will Bruin score another two goals: Reserve forward Calen Carr made the Hollywood gossip pages on the team’s flight back home through a simple tweet.

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry captured the headlines once again in 1-0 win over the New England Revolution with another game-winning goal, a celebration in which he broke the corner flag and an early departure with a hamstring injury that leaves his club debilitated (watch the highlights here). But our favorite Henry story has to be the one involving Revs forward Saer Sene, who met Henry at the age of 12: “I still have it at home. I [went] to school with the shirt, I [went] to church with the shirt, I even trained in it,” he said.

“This is of course a disaster for us,” said RBNY manager Hans Backe about Henry's injury. But the Swedish manager was lavishing praise on the reserve players who stepped up and secured the shutout.

Three backups combined for the LA Galaxy’s stoppage-time equalizer against FC Dallas at The Home Depot Center (watch the highlights here). But the story here was the penalty kick miss by Robbie Keane when Landon Donovan has taken all of LA’s PKs since 2007: “I just told Robbie I wanted him to take it,” Donovan said. “Just to get him going. It's been a little while since [the forwards] have hit the net. … I thought it would help them a little bit.”

Toronto FC need help and fast. They’ve now matched the record for the longest losing streak to start a season, dropping their seventh consecutive match in heartbreaking fashion, 3-2 at Real Salt Lake on a stoppage-time Jonny Steele goal (watch the highlights here). "It kills us, man, it really does," Toronto’s Eric Avila said.

"In the end, we needed to get at least one point,” said TFC manager Aron Winter. “If you watch the game, if you’re going to compare the chances that we had with they had, we had the better chances. We had the penalty, hit the crossbar. We got a lot of opportunities. That’s football."

Real Salt Lake are doing all they can to keep up in the Western Conference with the high-flying San Jose Earthquakes, who used two goals from substitute Steven Lenhart (watch the highlights here). "There's no trick to it. It's just soccer," Lenhart said. "Sometimes the ball comes to you. Sometimes it doesn't. A couple of times tonight it did."

The Vancouver Whitecaps are up there in the West as well after capturing another three points on the road with a 1-0 win at Columbus (watch the highlights here). “Absolutely it’s an ugly win, but good teams win ugly,” admitted captain Jay DeMerit to the Vancouver Sun.

While the Crew were left baffled by the final result after playing their “best game during the season,” Vancouver think it’s a sign of great things to come: "It seemed like the god above was with us tonight,” added Whitecaps GK Joe Cannon. “It's wins like this that hopefully will transform us from a team that's fighting to a team that will be in the thick of it this year.”

Vancouver next face an Amway Canadian Championship match against Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium on Wednesday. You think the bitterness has worn away from last year’s final replay due to weather – the Whitecaps were leading Toronto 1-0 in the second leg? Not a chance: “Hopefully this year we’ll get a fair shot at it and win it,” Atiba Harris told The Province. “It’s an important step for the club.”

It was an important step for the Colorado Rapids, who won 4-0 against Chivas USA on Saturday night (watch the highlights here). Conor Casey made his first appearance since his Achilles injury and Rapids rookie Tony Cascio scored the goal of the match: “We are very happy with [Cascio]. … He has a good instinct for the goal,” says Rapids manager Oscar Pareja.

What are the Goats left to do? “We just need to start focusing on winning our home games and, obviously, scoring goals,” Chivas USA’s Nick LaBrocca tells ESPNLosAngeles.com. Forward Juan Pablo Ángel admits he needs time to help in that department: “It's going to take a few more games just to get the match fitness and the sharpness.”

Not sharp at all was the performance by the Portland Timbers who lost 2-0 at the Montreal Impact (watch the highlights here): “I'm disappointed ... having to come out here and speaking to you guys, having to explain another average or below-average performance on the road," Timbers manager John Spencer said.

But that’s not to say that the Scotsman didn’t think a couple of calls went against his team in the match. First, he thought Sanna Nyassi should have been sent off for his challenge on goalkeeper Troy Perkins that knocked him out of the match (“I thought it was a red card,” says Spencer) and then he felt Montreal’s opening PK goal should not have been called: “I don’t think it was a deliberate handball,” Spencer said.

His compatriot Kris Boyd was more adamant: “There wasn't really much in the game until the referee makes, what I felt was a horrendous decision. For him to go and check with this linesman to make a decision and he didn't give him a decision. Then go to his fourth official and they couldn't make a decision. Then go and give the penalty. It may have been a penalty, but he's still got to be clear in his mind before he does anything. It took three men to make the decision. I don't think they got the right decision."

Meanwhile, Montreal manager Jesse Marsch is celebrating his most convincing win as a coach in the Impact’s expansion season: “No disrespect to Portland, because they do a have a good team despite their slow start – it was a pretty good performance and a dominant performance from start to finish.”

No team is expected to dominate the match that the world will be watching later today. In a contest that will likely decide the English Premier League title, Manchester United travel crosstown to face rivals Manchester City (3 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

Find out more about the history of this rivalry, one which earns high praise from a former player, who says: “I’ve played in the World Cup and honestly, this match is up there.”

FoxSoccer.com’s Jamie Trecker calls the Battle of Manchester “the closest thing that the Premier League has to a Super Bowl.”

Staying in England, Tottenham Hotspur executive director Darren Eales has declared that Simon Dawkins’ loan move to San Jose has encouraged the club to have more follow in his footsteps: “To send one of our young players out there and he came back a better player, there's a real feeling at Tottenham Hotspur that the MLS is a credible league and we're looking forward to loaning [more] players to the league because it's good at helping young players develop their games.”

In expansion news, who would have thought that the plan for MLS expansion in Minnesota would be one of the discussion points as a stadium deal for the NFL’s Vikings works its way through the legislature? Check out this article that details the talk around the reported five-year “exclusive rights” window for the Vikings ownership to bring an MLS expansion team to the new stadium.

Should the Sun Bowl at the University of Texas in El Paso, Texas, be the testing ground for an MLS team in the city before a soccer stadium is built? That’s a question brought up by this article.

Lastly, we leave you with this creative goal-scoring celebration that left at least one person at the famous La Bombonera in Argentina a little “groggy.” And the goal wasn’t that bad either. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

The Playback: Watch the extended highlights of the best match of Week 8

The Sideline: The Gus Johnson soccer call that was featured by Deadspin.com

Was it luck or did he mean it? Young-Pyo Lee’s game-winner for Vancouver causes a debate

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