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Kick Off, August 3, 2012: Ricardo Clark
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Kick Off: Ricardo Clark return to boost surging Dynamo

Winners of four in a row, the Houston Dynamo are the hottest team in MLS right now. And they’re only about to get better.

On Thursday, rumors became truth when the Dynamo confirmed that midfielder Ricardo Clark, who starred for the Dynamo from 2006-09, will re-join the club after a few years in Europe. “We never wanted to lose Ricardo in the first place,” club president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com.

Clark won’t officially join the Dynamo until outgoing star Geoff Cameron realizes “one more of his lifelong dreams” by completing his move to Stoke City, pending next Wednesday's work-permit hearing.

Meanwhile, the second-place Dynamo -- who have allowed only one goal in their last six matches -- will put their winning streak on the line on Friday night against East leaders New York (8 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). The Red Bulls will be without several starters, including the suspended Dax McCarty, but will start Tim Cahill and Teemu Tainio in the midfield.

Rookie Connor Lade might also get another start for New York. On the latest edition of the Seeing Red podcast, the diminutive midfielder who started at right back against Tottenham Hotspur revealed that he hadn’t played there since his sophomore year in college.

Another rookie Andy Rose started and starred in the midfield for the Seattle Sounders in their CONCACAF Champions League opener against Caledonia, a 3-1 win at CenturyLink Field. Rose notched a goal and two assists in “a pretty impressive first half.” Watch the highlights.

The Sounders now have a quick turnaround before hosting the LA Galaxy, the side coach Sigi Schmid has long-called the club’s “bogey” team (Sunday, 9 pm ET, ESPN2). The Sounders won last time they met at the Clink, in May, but that Galaxy team was struggling and missing Robbie Keane, who was yesterday named Player of the Month for July.

Player of the Month or not, Keane couldn’t do much to stop Real Madrid in the Galaxy’s friendly in the Herbalife World Football Challenge on Thursday night. The MLS Cup holders were thumped by the La Liga champions, 5-1, in front of a record crowd of 30,317 at the Home Depot Center. Watch the highlights.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was completely nonplussed about the loss, and said it could’ve been worse. “In La Liga, they beat teams by bigger margins,” he said. And his counterpart, Real Madrid’s José Mourinho, was respectful of LA’s performance, saying, “Galaxy is the kind of team that is not worried about losing 4-1 or losing 1-0. They are just worried about playing and playing well.”

David Beckham's swerving free kick set up the Galaxy's lone goal, and after the match, Mourinho expressed his confusion over Team GB’s snub of Beckham for the Olympics. “The Olympic Games are in London because of him. ... He was the most important face of that project. I don't understand why he's not playing.”

OK, let’s get to the Saturday slate in MLS. The first match of the night pits the Montreal Impact vs. the Philadelphia Union (7:30 pm ET, watch live online). The Impact will be without one of their biggest stars, Marco Di Vaio, who is in Italy for a court hearing regarding his role in a match-fixing scandal. He faces a six-month ban, which would appear to apply to MLS as well.

Di Vaio says he hasn’t done anything wrong, but his teammate and countryman Matteo Ferrari indicates that doesn’t always matter. “Sometimes in Italy we are so strange, so I don't know what's going to happen,” he said.

Next up is a tantalizing clash between faltering D.C. United and the ascending Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET, watch live online). Losers of three of their last four, United’s starting lineup could include Long Tan for the first time. While the Crew, riding a two-game winning streak, will again look to new goal hero, Jairo Arrieta, who explained why he’s having so much success.

Speaking of Crew heroes, coach Robert Warzycha was on the ExtraTime Radio podcast on Thursday, and he did nothing to deflect any comparisons between his new Argentine DP, Federico Higuaín, and former star Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

The Revolution will begin the post-Shalrie Joseph era by hosting Sporting KC (7:30 pm ET, watch live online). Things didn’t get off to the best start with the news emerging that French attacker Saer Sene had been arrested last week after a driving incident.

Things got even punchier at Revs training on Thursday when boxer Danny O’Connor showed up with Micky Ward for a promotional gig ahead of O’Connor’s fight on August 12 at Gillette Stadium. The bout will follow the Revs’ match with the Montreal Impact that night.

Is there going to be a fight over the holding midfield position at Joseph’s new club, Chivas USA? The Goats are off this weekend, but the arrival of the MLS living legend raised some questions about Oswaldo Minda’s position. Not that he’s concerned. (SPANISH)

The Rocky Mountain Cup rivalry between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake is renewed in the late game on Saturday (9 pm ET, watch live online), but considering Colorado’s troubles — six losses in a row — it seems to have lost some of its luster. And the Rapids have no explanation for their slide. “To give you an accurate answer at this point is difficult,” head coach Oscar Pareja said.

RSL, meanwhile, arrive in Denver coming off their CCL loss in Costa Rica. And head coach Jason Kreis is as wary of the Rapids as ever: “This is an opponent with their backs against the wall,” he says.

The other matches on the weekend: Chicago-Toronto (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, watch live online) and Portland-Dallas (Sunday, 7 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). After the POR-DAL match, NBCSN will debut MLS 36, an in-depth look at San Jose marksman Chris Wondolowski.

Which MLSer made it into the Bleacher Report’s Top 10 players in the Olympic quarterfinals?

US captain Carlos Bocanegra isn’t sure where he’s going to be playing next season, but it looks less likely that it will be with an MLS side.

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