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Kick Off - David Beckham, Eric Alexander (July 14, 2012)
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Kick Off: They're still talking about Timbers-Galaxy match

They’re still talking about this one.

David Beckham and the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy once again featured prominently in another match that many are calling one of the best the league has ever seen: a 5-3 victory over the Portland Timbers that was seen by a national television audience (watch the highlights here).

The Oregonian says the Galaxy “conducted a goal-scoring clinic” after going down 1-0 on a superb finish from Portland Designated Player Kris Boyd. That’s when the Galaxy’s three DPs turned up the heat and answered with four goals in the span of 10 minutes, leaving Portland “a bit blurry.”

The world hadn’t seen a goal like Beckham’s first since 2002. Beckham said so himself, harkening back to a near identical UEFA Champions League strike against Deportivo La Corunña. Compare for yourself.

The Timbers “turned the House of Pane into, well, the House of Pain,” says one columnist. And this time it was interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson’s turn to explain a Portland loss: “I think we had some key players not play as well as they could. … I’ll take the blame for this one, there’s been a lot happening in the last week.”

Beckham and the Galaxy may grab the headlines, but the San Jose Earthquakes are the best team in all the land. They made that much clear with an emphatic 5-0 win against Real Salt Lake (watch the highlights here). Even RSL, who also had to contend with the controversial expulsion of captain Kyle Beckerman, admitted as much: “[This game] made a statement that San Jose is a much better team than us,” said RSL manager Jason Kreis.

Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski continues to amaze. His hat trick in the rout means he has a league-leading 17 goals in 18 matches. Eleven more strikes and he has a new MLS record, but he’s not taking any of the credit: “It was definitely a team effort. I thought our midfield won the game for us.”

US women's soccer legend Brandi Chastain had the call on Wondolowski's first goal of the night. And, no, she was not doing play-by-play at Buck Shaw. (VIDEO)

San Jose have been so good in 2012 that it should come as no surprise that they have a total of three players on the 18-man All-Star gameday roser which was finalized and announced yesterday. But after Wondo and right back Steven Beitashour, the other Quakes player selected may surprise you.

One of last year’s All-Stars, Houston’s Geoff Cameron, has been rumored to be close to a move to EPL side Stoke City, but a Houston Chronicle report claims the sides are $1 million apart on a deal. The financial details of the negotiations have also leaked into the English press. Here’s The Mirror’s wonderfully headlined report.

Knowing an injury could have jeopardized his move abroad, Cameron played anyway for his Dynamo as they thrashed D.C. United 4-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday night (watch the highlights here). “It was a great way to end it here, especially if it was my last game,” Cameron said. “Can’t thank the Dynamo fans enough.”

The game in Houston turned on the early ejection of D.C. 'keeper Bill Hamid and the conversion of the ensuring penalty kick by Dynamo star Brad Davis: “A big apology to my teammates and the fans,” Hamid said after the match. “Maybe I shouldn’t have stuck my leg out there or left my feet.”

It’s a good thing MLS All-Star defender Carlos Valdés stuck his leg out in stoppage time as the Philadelphia Union earned a dramatic victory over the Montreal Impact in a wild 2-1 finish (watch the highlights here). It turns out the Colombian defender had a premonition about how Saturday’s game would go.

The Union next face EPL side Aston Villa in midweek and the Villans are already looking forward to the matchup.

While the Union continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings, the weekend’s results saw Sporting Kansas City emerge as the new leaders after a comfortable and efficient 2-0 win against a new-look Columbus side (watch the highlights here). “It’s huge for us to be in first place right now,” said SKC forward Teal Bunbury, who got one of the two goals. “It maybe wasn’t the prettiest win maybe, but we’ll take it.”

Don’t look now but the Chicago Fire have already won as many games as they did in all of 2011 after their 1-0 win on Saturday over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Pável Pardo made like Beckham on a free kick and the Fire took all three points despite a controversial red card to Chicago’s Arne Friedrich (watch the highlights here). ‘‘It’s amazing the calls that are called against us,” says Fire manager Frank Klopas.

Ex-Whitecap Sébastien Le Toux scored on his debut for the New York Red Bulls, but Seattle’s Fredy Montero got the last laugh in a 2-2 tie at a hot and muggy Red Bull Arena on Sunday (watch the highlights here). Sounders right back Adam Johansson, who registered two assists on the night, called it the “hottest game I’ve ever played in.”

The big question for Sounders fans: Is Montero turning into the perfect super sub? Manager Sigi Schmid is actually keeping count of his goals off the bench, but the Colombian is pretty clear: “The players don't dictate who starts, that's up to the coaching staff and the head coach, and he made the decision. I would've liked to start but that wasn't the case.”

Hans Backe is the man making the calls for the Red Bulls, but NYRB’s tactical switch to a flat 4-4-2 on Sunday was someone else's idea. These are the words of superstar Thierry Henry: “I went to see the boss and decided to go back to a 4-4-2 and then we were in better shape I thought.”

The Sounders don’t play another MLS game until July 28, but they open the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge on Wednesday night against European champions Chelsea, who held their first practice in the area on Sunday afternoon. There are already more than 49,000 tickets sold for the event.

They were counting the injured bodies at Gillette Stadium, where Toronto FC won another match under new manager Paul Mariner, the latest one against his old club: the New England Revolution. Rookie Luis Silva scored the lone goal, but everyone’s thoughts were with designated player Danny Koevermans, who went down with a knee injury. “We all devoted this win to one person,” said TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic (watch the highlights here).

Colorado Rapids manager Oscar Pareja also faced his former club, FC Dallas, but the result was very different. FCD ended their 13-match winless streak with a 2-1 road win (watch the highlights here), as Fabián Castillo enjoyed a stellar day in front of his former mentor Pareja, whom he wanted to impress.

“It’s pretty damn embarrassing,” Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens told reporters after his team lost its fifth match in its last six. “This is the toughest stretch I’ve ever been on as a soccer player. But you can’t do anything but get back on the field and keep working.”

Work paid off for one American soccer player who has just signed a six-figure contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain. Find out who it is here.

Speaking of player transactions, it sounds like it’s a formality that Scottish national team captain Kenny Miller will join the Whitecaps: “I told Kenny all about the club and he is excited about coming. He just wants to get started now,” says fellow Scot Barry Robson, who just joined Vancouver.

We started this article talking about one DP and we’ll end it on another: a side of Thierry Henry you’ve never seen before as recounted by The New York Times’ Sam Borden, who reveals how Titi’s love for New York started with “an abiding affection for the rap group NWA and an emotional connection to a shiny coat.” Read the full article here.

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