MLS couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
The current edition of the CONCACAF Champions League is shaping up to give the US top-flight its best shot yet at winning the CCL title for the first time. Tonight, the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy could become the second MLS team to qualify for the quarterfinals if Isidro Metapán lose to the Puerto Rico Islanders in Group 5 play (8 pm ET, Univision Deportes).
The Galaxy would join the Seattle Sounders, who were the first team to clinch a ticket to the quarters. And fellow MLS clubs Houston Dynamo, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC are still all in with a chance to qualify to the knockout round in their final group-stage match. Should they succeed, it would make for an unprecedented five MLS clubs among a total of eight quarterfinalists.
What’s even better is that the Mexican clubs, who have proven the toughest opposition for MLS clubs, are struggling this year. Aside from defending CCL champs Monterrey, who have already qualified to the quarters, the other three participants are yet to advance and are actually in danger of elimination.
Chivas Guadalajara were only able to tie W Connection 1-1 last night and now face a must-win at home against Guatemalan side and Group 8 leaders Xelajú. Also, Costa Rican club Alajuelense won to push Mexican side Tigres UANL into second place in Group 6 and set up a showdown between the two teams in the final matchday (see the standings here).
Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis was talking CONCACAF Champions League and he revealed his ideal result against Costa Rica’s Herediano when the two clubs meet on October 23 in their CCL Group 2 decider: "I’d like to be 3-0, and make it really easy," he said.
Will Seattle play recently acquired reserve ‘keeper Marcus Hahnemann in their last CCL group match? Seattle manager Sigi Schmid provided an update on the former US international: “You have to let him get three weeks under his belt, at least, and then you can start looking at things.”
There are a few people who have questioned the Sounders’ decision to actually follow through with that GM election that will either confirm Adrian Hanauer in the post or oust him. Here’s how part-owner Drew Carey justified it: “The fans know if somebody isn't doing a good job. Everybody knows. … I told Joe [Roth, Sounders majority owner], that phrase I used was, 'The fans will do your dirty work for you.'”
Roth and the club’s brass are working on a potential new jersey sponsor partner in 2014. Will Xbox return? “They’re not out of the running,” Roth said. “They’ve just had a very unimaginative conversation over the course of the past year. They see things differently than we do.”
The Chicago Fire Confidential blog believes the Eastern Conference standings will look a little differently than they do now. Ahead of Friday's huge 1-v-2 clash against East-leading Sporting KC (8:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), the writer sees the Fire eking out first-place by season’s end. Here are his projected point totals.
The future, at least the immediate one, is not looking great for Freddy Adu. Right when you thought he had broken out after recent controversies following his two goals in the win vs. Houston, news comes in that his quad injury “is coming along slower than we would have hoped” and that “he’s a little behind where we thought he’d be,” according to Philly head coach John Hackworth.
Another one of the league’s stars, LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, is not 100 percent, but he’s still gunning for Sunday’s match in Colorado: “Still a little bit of discomfort [in the injured left ankle], but it's good to be back on the field. … I hope [I can play in Colorado]. I hope so.”
The Portland Timbers are hoping these days – to one day land a penalty kick in their favor this season. Outside of the US Open Cup defeat to Cal FC, they have not benefited from a spot kick and GM Gavin Wilkinson has a hunch as to one reason: "I think referees never want to be seen as being intimidated by the home fans or the environment [at JELD-WEN]. I think that plays into it a lot."
Patriotism plays into national team decisions. Former Real Salt Lake striker and current Krasnodar forward Yura Movsisyan reveals he could have played for the US national team. “Definitely, I did have a chance to play for the US, it was a matter of time,” Movsisyan said. “But I just decided I wanted to play for Armenia, just because I like to represent my country, and I think Armenia could use help.”
Could anyone else out there use Benny Feilhaber’s help? Former USMNT and MLS legend Cobi Jones says this about Feilhaber’s position in New England: “He’s definitely got to look at his options. You’ve seen it with some other players in the league that make moves to get somewhere else.”
D.C. United are getting places these days thanks to MacGyver, otherwise known as Ben Olsen. Black & Red United explain.
Staying in the East, the talk in Houston Dynamo camp is how they can avoid tripping up against teams below them in the standings. Portland and Toronto gave them the biggest problems at home this year and recent strugglers New England, Montreal and Philadelphia are now set to visit BBVA. “You can't look at the teams as weaker teams," is what Houston manager Dominic Kinnear is preaching.
Dynamo veteran Brad Davis takes it a step further and says that the three home games against the Eastern Conference’s bottom half of the table “all have to be wins.”
Speaking of the Dynamo, there’s a report that indicates that current part-owner Gabriel Brenner is the favorite to emerge with sole ownership of the entire club. (SPANISH)
Former Dynamo forward Chris Wondolowski has bigger things on the horizon: a Golden Boot and a potential new single-season goal-scoring record. Here’s how he has fared against the Quakes’ final four opponents with six goals needed to break Roy Lassiter’s record.
Speaking of goals and scorers, look out everyone. US national team striker Jozy Altidore has his own personal site coming online soon.
We understand Altidore is a big FIFA 13 gamer. But did you know that the MLS All-Star squad is one of the teams you can select in the game?
It’s just not fair. We always hear about the next Lionel Messi that Barcelona is producing but it’s hard to argue when there’s video evidence. Meet 14-year-old Lee Seung Woo.
Slide show time: The Bleacher Report has the 10 best soccer commercials of all-time.
Stand by for news from one of the greatest players of all-time. Former New York Cosmos legend Pelé is participating in a news conference held by the New England Revolution later today.
Lastly, we leave you with US Soccer star Alex Morgan dancing “Call Me Maybe” with who else but Conan O’Brien. (VIDEO)
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.