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Kick Off: Santos Laguna's Benjamin Galindo and Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson, April 4, 2012

Kick Off: TFC's win sets up another Santos grudge match

The mission is clear.

After capturing a 3-0 road win last night against CD Águila in El Salvador (watch the highlights here), Toronto FC can qualify to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a win at Santos Laguna by at least two goals on Oct. 24 (see the latest CCL standings here).

Midfielder Terry Dunfield was the hero with two goals. Here’s what manager Paul Mariner had to say about the 30-year-old: “His energy level is unbelievable, he’s defying his years.”

Real Salt Lake also found out what they need to do in their final group match on Oct. 23 vs. Herediano after the Costa Rican side won its match against Tauro yesterday.

Meanwhile, defending Champions League title-holders Monterrey advanced to the quarterfinals last night and joined MLS club Seattle Sounders as the only two qualifiers to date.

Back in MLS, the buzz continues to grow for Friday night’s Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire – a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference on NBC Sports Network (8:30 pm ET). The Fire are especially pumped up: “You’re playing for first place. You don’t need to say much about games like that.”

The Fire will meet a Sporting Kansas City team that will soon be reinforced by the addition of veteran winger Bobby Convey, who has missed most of the season due to injury: “There are four games left. It's time to come back,” Convey said.

Meanwhile, the SKC Reserves were downed 2-0 by their counterparts from FC Dallas last night. This article recaps the salient points of the match.

The stretch run of 2012 should be interesting for Seattle Sounders fans: Not only will their team be involved in the MLS Cup playoffs, but they also have an election to hold, unique to any pro sports club in America: Will they retain the GM of the club? Early indications are that Adrian Hanauer has the vote of confidence from fans. But in the meantime, he’s busy explaining the reasons behind the changes to the season ticket packages.

Sounders star forward Eddie Johnson looks like he’s getting a vote of confidence from Jurgen Klinsmann. The very end of this report indicates that manager Sigi Schmid has had conversations with the USMNT boss. But it’s about a possible call-up in February 2013!

The NFL might have its regular officials back by then. Maybe. And if the President is having his say on that controversial call in the Seahawks-Packers NFL game, so can the Seattle Sounders. Some were actually on the field for the game and the Seattle Times’ Joshua Mayers summarizes the reaction here.

Here’s what massive Packers fan Jay DeMerit had to say about his team coming out with the short end of the stick: “It was a hard pill to swallow.”

MLS players are NFL fans and even international designated players join in the fun. New York Red Bulls attacker Tim Cahill reveals that he plays NFL fantasy football and has already been to a Jets and Giants game since arriving in New York.

The place to be in MLS this weekend is BC Place, which will be rocking for between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders: Only 700 tickets remain before the Cascadia Cup match is declared a sell-out.

Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie, who saw his DP signing Kenny Miller score his second league goal over the weekend against Colorado, is asking for patience for the Scottish international forward: “He needs time to settle. Some people settle in instantly. Other people, it takes them a little more time, and I think he needs a little more time.”

Hope you have time for the massive amount of soccer matches on the tube today. In addition to Copa MX action on Univision Deportes, there are CONCACAF Champions League matches on Univision Deportes 2 (W Connection vs. Chivas Guadalajara at 8 pm ET) and Galavision (CD Marathon vs. Caledonia at 10 pm ET).

The Capital One Cup features a dandy between Manchester United and Newcastle (2:30 pm ET, beIN Sport) and the Bundesliga is on GolTV when Stuttgart take on Hoffenheim and their Americans (2 pm ET). And Fox Deportes has CONMEBOL’s SuperCup (6 pm ET) and Copa Sudamericana action (9 pm ET).

Ronaldinho is apparently going to need the help of Brazil’s special police force – 180 members of the Gepe – when he makes his return to his former club Flamengo while wearing the jersey of Atletico Mineiro.

Speaking of the international game, many have attempted to explain the success that Mexican soccer has enjoyed over recent years. Here’s the view of someone who has seen what has occurred in Mexico and the USA and he states: “Maybe in Mexico we have a little bit better grip on things. Because historically [in the USA] you have all these factions –  colleges, high schools, enemies, politics.”

More in-depth analysis was provided by NBC Pro Soccer Talk’s Steve Davis, who takes The New Yorker to task when he spots an article on its site entitled “Why don’t New Yorkers watch soccer.”

In case you hadn’t heard, the new FIFA13 was released yesterday in the US and if your Twitter timeline is jammed with people talking about playing the EA Sports game, here’s an article to help you understand the phenomenon in this country.

The phenomenon of Lingerie Football is coming to the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park beginning next year. The team is going to be called the Philadelphia Passion.

Remember former MLS player Demetrius Omphroy? Turns out he was busy making multiple appearances in Justin Bieber’s new video “Boyfriend.”

Talking about getting ahead of things: Honduras have already named their squad for their final two World Cup qualifiers before the Hexagonal: Six MLS players are on the list, but no Andy Najar. (SPANISH)

New England Revolution midfielder Ryan Guy made his debut for Guam yesterday. Find out how his team did against the Philippines.

Back in the US, veteran San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Mark Zeigler outlines a brief recap of San Diego’s MLS expansion history. But he says the city now belongs to Mexican side Tijuana: “This is Xolos country now. Beware of the dogs.”

Finally, check out this story about a beer that cost one Croatian international over $100,000.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Instant Replay: Reviewing the most controversial calls from the weekend

MLS Power Rankings: Week 29

Team of the Week: Supporters’ Shield in view


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