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Kick Off: Galaxy's CCL quest could begin without Donovan

It doesn’t seem so long ago that the LA Galaxy were set to carry the hopes of Major League Soccer into the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and potentially bring the league its first continental club crown.

Then Toronto FC bravely crashed that party, ending LA’s run at the title and putting their dreams on hold. Until tonight.

The Galaxy are the final of five MLS teams to dive into the CCL waters, and they’ll do so at home on Thursday night against Salvadoran side Metapan (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer).

The big question (aside from just exactly who Metapan is, if you’re some Galaxy players) is whether or not Landon Donovan will appear as he continues to recover from the injury that plagued him for the US national team’s game in Mexico last week. Here’s the report.

The Houston Dynamo, meanwhile, made their debut in this year’s tournament on Wednesday, and, despite leaving several starters at home, pulled out a win over FAS in El Salvador. The key to Houston’s win? Size and flank play. Check out the video highlights from the match here. [VIDEO]

Four teams were busy on the league schedule on Wednesday night as well, with plenty of playoff positioning on the line in the Eastern Conference. D.C. United made the most of their night with a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium, fueled in part by goals from Dwayne De Rosario -- his 99th career goal -- and the first tally from Lionard Pajoy since he was dealt from Philly.

Check out the highlights here. [VIDEO]

But the real star of the show? It was winger Andy Najar, who just might be the right winger of the future in DC, according to head coach Ben Olsen.

The Fire failed to keep up after De Ro’s early goal and struggled mightily without Logan Pause in the lineup. Here’s a reaction from the Windy City side of things.

Meanwhile in Columbus, the Crew received further proof that new star Federico Higuain was worth every cent they spent when they signed him this summer. The Argentine assisted on Eddie Gaven’s goal and then scored his own to finish off Toronto FC. [HIGHLIGHTS]

Toronto’s side was far less rosy. Here’s head coach Paul Mariner’s reaction to another loss for the Reds.

There’s big news in Montreal, where suspended defender Hassoun Camara was in an apologetic mood on Wednesday and Marco Di Vaio reacted to news that he’s in the clear surrounding the lingering match-fixing scandal back in Italy.

Moving down to New York, head coach Hans Backe could be without promising young goalkeeper Ryan Meara for the rest of the season. Once considered a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, Meara will undergo surgery to deal with a nagging hip injury.

There’s an interesting plot line in Philadelphia, too, where Freddy Adu and interim head coach John Hackworth are trying to sort out just exactly how many minutes the midfield star should get for the Union.

The news in Dallas is promising, considering how well the Hoops have played recently even without their star striker, Blas Pérez. But it looks like the Panamanian import is ready to return to the fold as early as this Sunday against LA.

The Vancouver Whitecaps return to action on Saturday against the Portland Timbers, and it appears both teams are feeling a bit defensive these days. Here’s Whitecaps boss Martin Rennie disputing the idea that his club has a discipline problem, and here’s Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson’s take on weathering a storm of discontent in the Rose City.

Either of those Cascadia teams would trade places in the standings right now with the Seattle Sounders, who’ve endured their own bit of turmoil this season when it comes to their talented forwards. But Fredy Montero is back in form, and here’s proof.

Have you taken a good look at the Chivas USA roster lately? Here’s a piece that examines the Goats and just how much consistency they’ve had over the past few seasons. (Hint: not much.)

Out in Colorado there’s a new midfielder in the mix. Honduran star Hendry Thomas joined the team’s workouts this week, and’s Kyle McCarthy says that in the wake of Pablo Mastroeni’s injury issues, the signing makes a ton of sense.

Did you know Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen’s wife was a pop singer in Denmark? She has the gold record to prove it.

Switching to international action, former MLSer Sacha Kljestan was in action in the first leg of Anderlecht’s UEFA Champions League play-off against Cypriot side AEL Limassol on Wednesday, and it didn’t go well for the Belgian champs. The second leg is next week back in Belgium.

A number of US internationals begin their  Europa League quest on Thursday, including red-hot striker Jozy Altidore. Here’s a preview of the action.

The latest Clint Dempsey news is out, but what to make of it? Looks like Liverpool could be clearing some room for the US international to make his much-rumored move.

The next time you see Dempsey in a US uniform might be that World Cup qualifier in Jamaica on Sept. 7, and you won’t be forced to watch the game on Pay-Per-View. The network beIN SPORT announced Wednesday that it has secured exclusive rights to televise away games for the US men’s national team in qualifying rounds for the 2014 World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican federation is rattling the sabres ahead of the match in Kingston. The new slogan: "No way, USA!"

And last but not least, US women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo has been in the news since the London Olympics, and she’s big in the book stores as well. Turns out that her new memoir enjoyed the best debut of any soccer book we’ve seen so far. Musts

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