Here are the Top 15 stories we’re following on the soccer scene today:
1. GALAXY HEAD HOME HAPPY
A scoreless tie away from home in any cup competition is usually a good result, and LA will be more than happy with their efforts in Costa Rica against Herediano on Thursday night. Man of the moment Mike Magee struck the woodwork just after halftime and the Galaxy had to survive a barrage of efforts from the hosts, who hit the post twice including a missed PK. Check out the HIGHLIGHTS
2. HENRY: “MLS IS WAY HARDER TO WIN”
Thierry Henry hasn’t tasted success in his first two years in MLS with the Red Bulls, and it sounds like he’s not banking on it anytime soon. Henry told SI.com’s Grant Wahl in a magazine piece, “[In Europe] I didn’t have to tell Robert Pires or Patrick Vieira what to do. I’m not having a go at anyone; I’m just saying that it’s easier to have guys who know exactly what it takes.”
3. JUNINHO OUT AS RED BULLS GO WEST, AGAIN
Red Bulls creative midfielder Juninho will miss his side's trip to San Jose against the Earthquakes on Sunday. (10 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) The Brazilian has a calf strain ahead of New York’s trip, with both teams still looking for their first win of 2013. A big loss for Mike Petke’s men?
4. INDOORS AT THE ROGERS CENTRE, OUTSIDE IN THE COLORADO SNOW
The thermometers have barely dipped above freezing for some time now in Toronto. But inside the Rogers Center TFC fans have every right to be feeling a lot warmer about their team's prospects under rookie head coach Ryan Nelsen. New players and solid defense is a start – check out six things to look forward to here – as a big crowd is expected indoors for the home opener on Saturday against Sporting KC. (1:30 pm ET, TSN/RDS2) The Rapids, meanwhile, probably wish they could play indoors on Saturday as they host Philadelphia with a potential “blizzard” on the way. (6 pm ET, Watch on MLS Live) At least their fan groups have all merged together to cheer on the Rapids at DSG. Welcome, Centennial 38.
5. VALERI OR HIGUAIN?
Diego Valeri is already a big hit up in Portland, but how does he compare to his Argentine counterpart in Columbus, Federico Higuaín? Whatever you think, Valeri has a chance to impress the Timbers Army further as Montreal comes to town on Saturday. (10:30 pm ET, Watch on MLS Live) The Impact will be hoping to leave Cascadia with two wins to open the season. Can they do it?
6. HAMID HANKERING FOR MOVE ABROAD
D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid gave a pretty open and honest interview with Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner ahead of this weekend's home opener. Hamid harbors ambitions to follow in Andy Najar’s footsteps to Europe. Ben Olsen knows that, too: “As long as that keeps on going according to plan [playing well], we won't have him for that much longer. He's that special.”
7. CAPTAIN KENNY?
With Jay DeMerit out for the foreseeable future in Vanoucver, the captain’s armband looks to be heading Kenny Miller’s way. The EPL, SPL and Scottish international veteran could be leading his side out against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. (7:30 pm ET, Watch on MLS Live) Miller called it ”a privilege and an honor” to wear the armband in DeMerit’s absence last weekend and during preseason.
8. INDY BACKING SOCCER, BIG TIME
When the NASL announced a new franchise would arrive in Indianapolis for the 2014 season, many stood up and took notice. Now check this out. Former Chicago Fire GM Peter Wilt announced the club is “blowing expectations out of the water” as season ticket sales have already hit the 2,500 mark. And Wilt believes selling “6,000 to 7,000 season tickets” is achievable.
9. BBVA MAKING ITS MARK
This intriguing piece popped up in The New York Times, as they look at how the Houston Dynamo have become the hottest ticket in town since BBVA Compass Stadium opened last season: “You’ve now got a professional soccer team in Houston with a larger season-ticket base and a higher average attendance than the Astros and the Rockets.” Wow, impressive. Of course Houston, LA and Seattle aren’t action this weekend due to CCL commitments.
10. NEW STADIUMS IN ATLANTA & BOSTON?
Stadium news: We love it, you love it, and it just keeps coming. Today news broke about the Atlanta Falcons striking a deal to build a new stadium, with loose plans for a MLS franchise supposedly built into the blueprint. While up in New England, the Revs are still on the hunt for an urban area where they can build their own soccer-specific venue. Revolution president Brian Bilello: “We think having it in a greater Boston, urban location on the T [subway system] is critical to the organization.”
11. REPPING ANDREW FARRELL … ALL SEASON LONG
No. 1 SuperDraft pick Andrew Farrell is set to make his MLS debut this weekend as New England face the Chicago Fire (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). And to mark the occasion, every player in the Highland Youth Recreation Soccer league (where Farrell got his start in the game) will wear a special commemorative badge on their jersey sleeves this season. “We thought it was a nice way to honor a hometown boy [who] does good. … He’s just a super kid,” said HYRS director Leslie Gross. Bravo.
12. RUIZ TALKS PHILLY, D.C. UNITED AND MORE
Farrell was a guest on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio, as was D.C. United’s new striker Carlos Ruiz, who will be hoping to make his debut on Saturday vs. RSL. (7 pm ET, Watch on MLS Live) El Pescadito is no stranger to MLS and spoke openly about his short spell at Philadelphia and played down their chances compared D.C.: “I don’t think Philly is in the same as D.C. in history and players right now.”
13. FRIEDEL’S STILL GOT IT
In from the wilderness of the bench, veteran American ‘keeper Brad Friedel recorded a shutout and came up big in the second half with some great saves, as Tottenham defeated Inter Milan 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie.
14. “BORDER WAR” SHOWDOWN?
One Los Angeles Times columnist has dangled a tempting carrot in front of LA and Club Tijuana: “It's time for you guys to get together and work out a date to play a real game against one another.” Citing the team's close proximity, just 120 miles apart, and they’re both reigning champions of their respective leagues, Kevin Baxter wants to see the best against the best. Galaxy vs. Xolos, US vs. Mexico. ... Bring it on.
15. AND FINALLY…
How this game went ahead in Kazakshtan is beyond us. A puddle the size of, well, a small lake, appeared around the corner flag. That lead to a tanker being brought in to pump water away during the game and these humorous scenes as one team tried to take a corner kick in ANKLE-DEEP water. Maybe Chris Pontius (D.C.’s newest weatherman) could’ve helped them out?
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