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Kick Off: Sounders "whining" when they should be winning

We’ll skip the obligatory “fireworks” or “light the fuse” puns here on Independence Day and get right down to it: The Seattle Sounders are a bunch of whiners.

At least, that’s what Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelly says in his latest column, which takes the club to task for their recent struggles and an eight-game winless streak in league play heading into tonight’s showdown at Real Salt Lake  (10 pm ET, MLS Live).

After suggesting the Sounders “are playing without any fire, or any discipline” and “have been intimidated by bigger and stronger teams like Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City,” he takes on head coach Sigi Schmid.

“It is a team that is as psychologically fragile as it is physically soft. It's whining when it should be winning, and that whining started at the top.” Read the rest of the article here.

The Seattle-RSL game is perhaps the best on the MLS docket this July 4, with both teams looking to find their mojo after some tough recent results. The Sounders will miss suspended midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and injured goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, while Real Salt Lake are preaching that their veteran lineup should help the team through some tough times.

Says midfielder Will Johnson: "We understand what the business is about — results over a season and not over a week or two. We’re trying to stay positive and together. We’ve got each other’s backs, and that’s the most important thing."

The first game on Wednesday night pits the host Montreal Impact against Sporting Kansas City (7 pm, TSN in Canada and MLS Live in the US), and there will reportedly be a special guest in the audience at Stade Saputo. The club has flirted with and even offered a contract to Italian great Alessandro Nesta in recent days, and this report in the Journal de Montreal says that Nesta will not only attend the game, but he’s also accepted an 18-month deal to join the club. [FRENCH]

The New York Times, meanwhile, takes a look at the goings on in Montreal and sites a local reporter who offers some insight into the mind of the fans in the city: “People in Montreal love soccer, they really do. But they also love an event. They love to be part of a buzz.”

Sporting Kansas City are far more focused on themselves heading into the match, and they haven’t forgotten the last time the teams met up. SKC aren’t looking to repeat that disaster this time around.

The biggest news surrounding Toronto FC in recent days has been the actions of mighty-mite forward Joao Plata, who seems intent on returning to his native Ecuador to play for Liga de Quito. The Reds travel to face FC Dallas on Wednesday (9 pm on TSN in Canada and MLS Live in the US), but they’ve got some things to sort out with Plata, who stuck to his guns and was a no-show to TFC practice on Tuesday.

The camp reports are decidedly better for FCD, who could finally see the return of 2010 league MVP David Ferreira tonight at FC Dallas Stadium.

There will also be a buzz at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids host the Vancouver Whitecaps (9:30 pm ET, MLS Live) before their annual fireworks show on the outskirts of Denver. The biggest question is whether or not new Whitecaps Designated Player Barry Robson will start or appear of the bench in this one.

The last game on the schedule tonight is a Fourth of July tradition: fireworks at The Home Depot Center. That’s where the LA Galaxy host the Philadelphia Union (10:30 pm, MLS Live) without the suspended David Beckham and with rumors of a Frank Lampard courtship swirling.

But here’s something a bit more certain: Omar Gonzalez is healthy again. So much so that the Galaxy have taken him off the disabled list and made him available to face the Union.

Here’s a quick look at the match from the side of the Union, who face the daunting task of stopping a suddenly simmering partnership of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

And in other Galaxy news, former LA striker Adam Cristman announced his retirement on Tuesday after six years in the league.

If you missed the action from Tuesday night, then you missed a proud moment for Danny Mwanga, the Portland Timbers forward who’s now playing in front of his hometown fans in the Rose City. His goal helped push the Timbers past the San Jose Earthquakes in a Western Conference upset [HIGHLIGHTS], and head coach John Spencer calls Mwanga “a different kind of animal” when it comes to his prowess in the penalty box.

Despite the rare loss, the news wasn’t all bad for the Quakes. Winger Shea Salinas made his first start since suffering a broken clavicle back in April, and he has no worries about the injury anymore.

The Chicago Fire and host Houston Dynamo also suited up on Tuesday night, but neither found the final touch in a scoreless draw at BBVA Compass Stadium. [HIGHLIGHTS]

Here are two quick injury notes for this weekend’s matches, both surrounding an I-95 tangle between the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution. RBNY defender Heath Pearce is out, and so is New England midfielder Kelyn Rowe.

The story isn’t quite done for US international midfielder Michael Bradley or his potential suitors AS Roma, but it appears Bradley likes all the recent attention. Bradley’s agent tells the media that his player is excited by the interest from Roma and was flattered by a call from Fiorentina.

Former MLSer, US international, you know the rest Eric Wynalda made his debut as the interim head coach of the Atlanta Silverbacks on Tuesday night, but evidently it simply wasn’t enough for his new club. They fell to the Carolina RailHawks.

The new FIFA world rankings are out, and there are some moves of note. England, who were bounced from Euro 2012 in penalty kicks by Italy, moved up to No. 4, ahead of teams like Portugal and the Azzurri themselves, and the US came in at No. 36, down eight spots and suddenly below the likes of Algeria, Peru and Hungary.

And last but not least, if you’re looking for some beach reading on this July 4, a former MLSer has the answer. Jason Garey, who has played for both the Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo and now suits up for the Carolina RailHawks, has written a 230-page fictional novel that he says is “one-sided toward economic libertarianism.”

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