Kick Off - Brian Mullan and Steve Zakuani (July 7, 2012)

Kick Off: Weekend brings closure for Zakuani and Mullan

It was the moment everyone had been waiting for, and Steve Zakuani and Brian Mullan did not disappoint.

Zakuani made his first league appearance for the Seattle Sounders since his leg was broken on a Mullan tackle last year, and it happened to come against the Rapids and Mullan. But images of the horrific injury have now been replaced by a jersey exchange that captured headlines and hearts in the American soccer community.

“I have said from day one that I do not have any issues with him,” Zakuani said. “I forgave him a long time ago, but I think it is good for the public to see, for closure. Now I think that he can go on with his career and I can start to do the same. I have a lot of work to do to play consistently well. He took my shirt home and I am taking his shirt home and I think that chapter is closed now.”

Mullan was pulling for Zakuani to get in the game: “It was actually harder than it was last time [we played here], knowing that Steve was here on the roster and hoping he was going to play," Mullan said.

The match finished 2-1 in favor of the Sounders, thus bringing a halt to their nine-match winless run (watch the highlights here). Forward Eddie Johnson came up big once again, but it happened with Fredy Montero starting on the bench.

Sounders manager Sigi Schmid revealed that subbing Zakuani on late was not necessarily the best thing for his team at the moment: “Tactically, was it the right decision? No," he said, "but I wanted to get Steve Zakuani on the park and get him some minutes ... because it's been a long time and it's good for that to happen for him."

The Sounders are still chasing the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes, who registered a 0-0 draw at FC Dallas on Saturday (watch the highlights here). The Quakes, who had Ramiro Corrales sent off late, came close to scoring on two goal-line clearances. “I think we probably deserved to get more from the game,” said San Jose manager Frank Yallop.

Who cares it was 0-0? Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant was pretty stoked to be there. He was the official "scarfer" on the day. (VIDEO)

Dallas extended their winless streak to 13 matches, but they can take hope from the fact that David Ferreira went a full 90 minutes in his first start since the 2011 injury that sidelined him for nearly 15 months: “As a team, we’re making progress, getting people a little bit healthier,” FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We played a very good team tonight, and I thought it was a 50-50 game.”

At Gillette Stadium on Sunday, it worked out exactly how New England manager Jay Heaps drew it up. Just a few days after signing, new Revs Designated Player Jerry Bengtson scored the clincher in a 2-0 blanking of the New York Red Bulls (watch the highlights here). “Those are his kind of goals, and we need someone to put those away,” Heaps said.

It’s now 10 years and counting that New York have not beaten the Revolution on the road. But manager Hans Backe has a decent excuse this time. “We are without six regulars, so I can’t expect much more from these guys. They did what they could do in a way with the work rate and the energy they showed in the second half but of course we’re too shorthanded.”

Sporting Kansas City drew level with D.C. United for top spot in the East with a 0-0 draw against visiting Houston on Saturday (watch the highlights here). The result was not reflective of the match, according to Sporting manager Peter Vermes: “What you can’t do is mistake performance for what the result is at the end of the day. Our performance was excellent,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was the Freddy Adu show during the Philadelphia Union’s 3-0 blanking of Toronto FC on Sunday (watch the highlights here). It was arguably his best game in a Union jersey and he knows why: “When I did get the ball, I was aggressive," he said. "That's what I felt like I haven't been the past few games: aggressive."

What a way to celebrate your birthday: Designated player Robbie Keane, who turned 32 on Sunday, got both goals for the LA Galaxy in a 2-0 road win over Chicago (watch the highlights here). But Landon Donovan, who came off the bench, thinks LA won the game on the other side of the ball: “I thought our defending as a whole was great, our individual defending was great and our mentality was good.”

Even in the most tidy of victories, the Galaxy still can't avoid a little controversy. This weekend, it was David Beckham's appearance at the Wimbledon final with his wife. while serving his disciplinary suspension.

Although the Fire players seem to believe it, manager Frank Klopas refuses to accept that Sebastian Grazzini’s absence has anything to do with the flat performance by his team: “Alex is an attacking midfielder, Rolfe is an attacking midfielder, we have [Rafael] Robayo who's very good with the ball,” he said. “We have players that can create."

Note how Klopas didn’t include Marco Pappa. Apparently the Guatemalan is in Wigan Athletic’s crosshairs, and the “Latics will try to agree a fee in advance” of his MLS contract expiring in December.

At halftime of the Fire-Galaxy match the MLS First XI for the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, as selected by the fans, was unveiled on ESPN. Check out the names of the stars who convinced fans they’re deserving.

English midfielder Frank Lampard will likely be at PPL Park for the All-Star Game, but he won’t be wearing MLS colors. He downplayed reports of a possible move, clearing up his appearance at the LA Galaxy match last weekend.

Someone who could be arriving in MLS during the summer transfer window, according to reports: Senegalese center back Mor Diouf. The club making the push for the player is not yet known.

Get in line. Former Celtic captain Stephen McManus is the latest Scotsman hoping to join a team in MLS.

Not all three points are the same. Just ask Montreal Impact manager Jesse Marsch, who watched his side make a late comeback from 1-0 down at home to beat the Columbus Crew (watch the highlights here): “The guys were determined out there and the result was a desperate three points,” he said.

Marsch’s counterpart, the Crew’s Robert Warzycha, wasn’t mincing words when it came to the game-winning penalty kick converted by Montreal’s Patrice Bernier: “The second goal was probably a gift by the referee.”

They could have used some controversy in the 0-0 draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Chivas USA on Saturday night (watch the highlights here). The Goats were shut out for the third time in four league matches, and manager Robin Fraser knows the missing ingredient: “In the first half things were too slow. ... The urgency we saw in the second half is something we need to see more of.”

On the other side, Vancouver manager Martin Rennie already has a keen eye on the standings: “[The 0-0 result] also keeps the gap between us and Chivas quite large at the moment,” he said after his team’s road draw. Ten points separate them.

The standings may have something to do with this: The Portland Timbers are apparently closing practice entirely to media on Monday with no interviews following the session.

The move comes on the heels of another road loss for the Timbers, Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake (watch the highlights here), who look like they’re one of the best teams in the league again after Alvaro Saborio’s hat trick. "We were able to control the game for a full 90 minutes,” says captain Kyle Beckerman.

RSL manager Jason Kreis was relieved for his Costa Rican hat-trick hero: “I think this is the guy, for me, that has just had a lot of injustices lately," Kreis said. "Perhaps we can all feel better about where he stands, and where we stand."

Finally, US national team captain Carlos Bocanegra is still figuring out where he stands. For the second straight year, he was spotted at the MLB All-Star Celebrity softball game, where he revealed that he was returning to Glasgow Rangers … for now. He wants to speak face-to-face with Rangers manager Ally McCoist before deciding on his future. And he was not ruling out a move to MLS. Musts

Postgame Video: Arena and Klopas on Galaxy’s 2-0 win

All-Star First XI highlight reel: The people’s vote

Food Week: The importance of being hydrated


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