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Kick Off - Paul Mariner, Toronto FC
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Kick Off: TFC's Mariner lets fly in epic rant after latest loss

Paul Mariner must feel at least a little better this morning. The Toronto FC manager got a lot off his chest last night.

The 2-1 home loss to the Chicago Fire at BMO Field formalized what has seemed inevitable since that nine-match losing streak to start the year: Toronto FC won’t be in the postseason for the sixth straight season (watch the match highlights here).

And Mariner is taking this one to heart. Carrying a seven-match winless streak into the game against the Fire, the Englishman expected a lot more from his squad: “We haven’t won in two months and that’s the type of performance that you give as a group? There is absolutely no excuse for that first half,” he said.

Oh, Mariner wasn’t done: “If you're not fighting for your own personal pride, first and foremost, that's a problem," Mariner said. "You want to be the best you can possibly be in your field of work. I don't see that from some of the players on Toronto Football Club. The mentality will change, starting tomorrow morning."

More Mariner: “If that is the lads showing what they can do, then we are going to have a serious issue.”

Here’s what the halftime team talk was like with Toronto FC down 2-0 to Chicago: “My first statement out of my mouth was that we were [Chicago’s] best player,” Mariner said. “If you want to give teams a two-goal start, then carry on."

It’s a Toronto team that has its fair share of extenuating circumstances, starting with two Designated Players who are lost for the year and a handful of international absences: “Well, there’s your chance ... If I were playing in front of this city, in front of this crowd with this backdrop, I’d be ripping it up,” Mariner said.

The manager believes that some players struggle with the pressure of playing under the microscope in a big city: “I was brought up in an environment where you were dying to get your opportunity to play at such a great place as BMO or Old Trafford or Highbury,” he said. “Privately, I’ve been likening this place to other big-time cities because there’s a lot of media attention and other people looking at us. Maybe some players can’t handle it.”

Darren O’Dea clearly has no problem calling out players on his team even though he’s only recently arrived at the club: “For large parts of that game we were poor to say the least .… The run we’re on at the moment is so far off anyone’s standards it’s incredible,” he said. “When you’ve got on or two players off the pace you can carry them through at times. But when you’ve got five, six, seven, eight players, you’ve got no chance.”

Mariner’s outburst overshadowed a critical three points for the Fire in their quest for a playoff berth. In fact, the win takes them into second place, just three points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City (see the updated standings here), with a weekend match looming against the dangerous Montreal Impact.

Meanwhile, reports claim that Guillermo Franco is in negotiations with the Fire and the player wants to make it happen. (SPANISH)

The Chicago Fire will hope for more positive news this morning. They are one of eight clubs in the running for the rights to Marcus Tracy when a weighted lottery takes place at 10 am ET. The New England Revolution have the best shot at landing the former Hermann Trophy winner.

Should the Philadelphia Union land him, it would be an acquisition focused on next season: “He would be someone we look toward for the future, more so than an immediate impact,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “Right now, understanding where Marcus is at, I think he still has a ways to go to get back to being 100-percent healthy.”

We’ll see how much time Dwayne De Rosario needs to be 100-percent healthy for D.C. United after the injury he suffered on Tuesday in Panama while playing for Canada. The MRI is happening today, according to this Washington Post report.

Branko Boskovic sure doesn’t sound too confident about De Rosario’s absence. The Canadian international is expected to miss at least one match vs. New England: “We are a different team when he's on the field," Boskovic said. "We have also good players in the group, but he is the leader."

Another casualty of the international matches: The league-leading San Jose Earthquakes will apparently lose influential winger Marvin Chavez for this weekend’s match at Chivas USA. The player says a muscle strain suffered while on national team duty with Honduras will keep him out. (SPANISH)

Despite their struggles this year, the Portland Timbers are really looking forward to winning a cup this weekend – at home – when they host the Seattle Sounders. Here is all you need to know about the Cascadia Cup, which by the way is also heading to Portland for the match.

Vancouver Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie isn’t revealing who his starting goalkeeper will be for one of the biggest matches of the season when the ‘Caps travel to face FC Dallas on Saturday. Vancouver’s “Schwam” doesn’t even know the answer and he knows his sports: "I'm pretty intelligent when it comes to sports," said ‘Caps goalkeeper Brad Knighton "Fantasy football, baseball, basketball. I've probably got the stats for it."

The Columbus Crew travel to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night and they’re up for this match. They actually always are based on this statement by Crew president and GM Mark McCullers: “We’re the second-smallest market with an MLS team. And that’s what makes it sweeter when we beat the big-market teams.”

The Crew are thinking big, however. This report on the state of the club outlines “the team’s vision is for a 12- to 20-field facility on 60 to 120 acres that would cost $20 million to $30 million.”

Injured Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer is learning to manage big money these days. While he recovers from microfracture surgery on his hip, Hesmer is interning at wealth management firm in Columbus. “It took us probably a day or two to get over the idea that we’ve got the starting Crew goalkeeper coming into our office driving in a Mercedes Benz rather than some [intern driving a] campus junker,” said one company executive.

Staying in the business realm, when people said that beIn Sport would be making waves in soccer TV in the United States, they weren’t kidding. At least that’s what GolTV thinks after they were yanked from DirecTV. This is what they said in a statement cited by the Associated Press: “As a result of DirecTV's new relationship with the Emir of the State of Qatar and founder of Al Jazeera, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, DirecTV intends to remove GolTV from its Sports Pack effective Sept. 13."

We recently called out Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder, who dared cite his actress wife as the reason he’d come to MLS. Well Djibril Cisse isn’t doing himself any favors when he states: “I would not mind finishing my career in the United States. I’m really attracted to this country.”

Now almost 48 hours after that memorable World Cup qualifier in Columbus, USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann is starting to receive some of the praise for the turnaround from that loss in Kingston: “You have to give Jurgen tons of credit because I’ve been with coaches who just, for whatever reason, won’t change and they’ll stick with theirs,” Herculez Gomez told the Sporting News. “He really wants what’s best for this team. It’s not about him.”

If you noticed that the ball kids at Crew Stadium were getting the ball back into play in record fashion, that was Klinsmann’s doing as well, according to this report.

Klinsmann’s team won over everyone in Columbus. Read how Crew head coach Robert Warzycha, a former Polish national team player nicknamed “The Polish Rifle,” talks about the USMNT: “Just the woodwork stopped us from scoring a goal. Then we scored in the second half and did what we were supposed to do and win.” Note the terms “we” and “us.”

What national teams are supposed to do is notify club teams when there’s an injured player. That’s what New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe believes and he has Costa Rica in mind following a setback suffered by his left back Roy Miller. “Yeah, it is surprising,” he told the New York Post. “We haven’t heard anything from them.”

There’s plenty of communication among world authorities when it comes to match-fixing investigations. That’s how it emerged that the lower-level Canadian Soccer League was a target of one of the global syndicates, according to this report by the CBC. Yes, lower level matches in Canada are apparently available for bets: "A game in Canada may not be of any particular interest to a domestic audience," said one person who monitors sports betting. "But actually, abroad in Asia, in Europe, in other parts of North America, maybe in South America there may be an interest in that game because it is being offered live and there is an activity on it on the betting side.”

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