It’s now or never for Toronto FC.
But can Aron Winter’s club stop squabbling at practice and get down to business in the final leg of the Amway Canadian Championship tonight (8 pm ET, Sportsnet One in Canada)? That remains to be seen.
The Reds were back in the news on Tuesday when striker Danny Koevermans stuck to his guns about his recent assertion that the club is the “worst team in the world.” When asked about the comments on the eve of the all-important Canadian Championship, he asserted it again: "There's not one team in the world who's lost nine times in a row. It is true. You can't say I'm wrong."
The comment understandably got under the skin of head coach Aron Winter and some teammates, most notably defender Adrian Cann. He backed his fellow players and fired back: “If you’re going to say something like that, then do something about it.”
Thing are a bit calmer on the other side of the card for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are vying for their first Canadian Championship and subsequent berth in the CONCACAF Champions League later this summer. The only issue with head coach Martin Rennie’s club appears to be how best to use striker Eric Hassli: as a starter or a sub?
Here’s more on the Hassli debate, with word from the French big man himself: “We play soccer to win titles. I won a [league] championship in Switzerland and I want to win something in Vancouver.
The Canadian Championship is just one of a number of games involving MLS teams on Wednesday night, including a possible return for one of the league’s stars in New York. All eyes will fall on Thierry Henry and whether or not he makes his return tonight for the red-hot Red Bulls against Chivas USA (7 pm ET, Univision Deportes) after a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month.
Henry spoke to the media on Tuesday and said that although head coach Hans Backe has cleared him to play, his availability will be a game-time decision.
Defender Wilman Conde also spoke to reporters at Red Bulls training, saying that he’s excited to finally return from a groin injury and eager to put his recent arrest behind him.
As for Chivas USA, new Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce offered some insight on what to expect from his former club: “They’re going to come out flying.”
One player who won’t suit up tonight is Chivas USA striker Juan Agudelo, who’s on duty with the US national team. His absence, however, hasn’t stopped former teammate Henry and current one Juan Pablo Ángel from agreeing the move to send Agudelo to LA was a good one.
The Chicago Fire are back in midweek action on Wednesday against FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) in the only Brimstone Cup matchup this year, but they’re still missing a vital cog. That’s because Chris Rolfe will once again sit this one out, instead eyeing a potential return from his nagging ankle injury on Saturday against Columbus.
FC Dallas winger Break Shea, meanwhile, will serve the second of his three-game suspension by missing the Chicago matchup. He’s apologized again to fans for the recent incident with an assistant referee that led to the suspension, and shed some light on his emotions surrounding the entire episode: “It sucks to be suspended for three games.”
On to Seattle, where the Sounders and Crew re-ignite an interesting rivalry tonight (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online) that dates back to Sigi Schmid’s infamous departure from Columbus for greener pastures in the Emerald City. Here’s a quick primer on the rivalry to get fans ready.
The Crew, meanwhile, are sick of the talk surrounding their struggles against Seattle. Goalkeeper Andy Guenebaum, who was so impressive in the team’s draw last weekend against San Jose; puts it bluntly: “That’s so far in the past.”
There’s another rivalry matchup on the West Coast, this one between the San Jose Earthquakes and hosts LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). But there’s some serious star power lacking in this one without US call-ups Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski and Ireland hero Robbie Keane.
But there’s always David Beckham and Bruce Arena, the latter of which said that the absences of two of his biggest stars won’t matter much at all.
Meanwhile, at least one columnist is fired up again about the prospect of Donovan heading back to Europe someday.
And in some good news for the LA Galaxy, goalkeeper Josh Saunders returned to workouts this week and spoke with the media, insisting the recent personal issues that kept him off the field had more to do with stress and his family than anything else: “It’s unfortunate that people were taking it and blowing it out of proportion before they got a chance to talk to me.”
As for that LA-San Jose rivalry, here’s a quick look from a man who’s seen it from both sides: Quakes coach Frank Yallop.
The Portland Timbers are also in action on Wednesday night, but not on the league docket. They’re hosting an international friendly against Spanish side Valencia.
Speaking of the Timbers, they’re one of three MLS teams who flipped the script on their third-round US Open Cup date next week. Thanks to some dealings between the MLS teams and their opponents, the Timbers, Sounders and Real Salt Lake will all host games next week instead of traveling.
In other USOC news from Tuesday’s second round, keep an eye on Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Cal FC, who routed the Wimington Hammerheads 4-0. Thousand Oaks are coached by former MLS star and current Fox broadcaster Eric Wynalda.
Here’s a full list of results from Tuesday’s action.
Moving on to the US national team, who are inching closer to Saturday’s tuneup against Scotland in Jacksonville. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann spoke with Fox’s Ives Galarcep on Tuesday and touched on the subject of Timothy Chandler and his recent snub of the US call-up: “Down the road, when he gets little older and a bit more mature, there will be this decision to make on what you want to do with your life and with your career.”
And here’s an inside look at the goings on at US camp in Orlando, courtesy of the latest in the “Behind the Crest” video series [VIDEO]
Still steaming about that US-Guatemala matchup you’ll have to watch on pay-per-view next month? Check out this article that examines the situation and the news that the man in charge is receiving regular e-mails from furious fans.
One player who will have plenty of time to watch games on TV is D.C. United midfielder Danny Cruz, who is slated to miss four weeks of action with an injury.
And here’s a must-read for Colorado Rapids fans and historians alike. ESPN columnist Rick Reilly catches up with new Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja, and there’s quite an amazing story to tell.
Looking abroad, the big news on Tuesday was the expected word that Champions League hero Didier Drogba is officially on his way out of Chelsea. But for those hopeful that Drogba might be on his way to MLS next, it appears he has another suitor that appears more likely.
Drogba also revealed that had Chelsea not won the Champions League final, he would have stayed on with the club.
So what exactly is the deal with star players moving to China? Here’s an interesting look that helps explain the trend.
And speaking of Chelsea, Kei Kamara and his Sporting Kansas City teammates were recently palling around with some of their favorite four-legged friends, and Kamara revealed where the name for his pooch came from [VIDEO]
Get the The Kick Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.