Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1) OH SO CLOSE, BUT OH SO FAR
Seattle pounded on Santos Laguna's door, applying the late-game pressure that Mexican sides normally use to crack their MLS opposition, but couldn't quite break through on Tuesday night. Capturing a 1-1 draw in Torreón is an admirable result for Sigi Schmid & Co., but it wasn't enough as Santos booked a trip to their second straight CCL final with a 2-1 aggregate win. Not even a little bit impressed by the short-handed Sounders' effort? Check out the highlights from just the second game in 21 CCL home matches that Santos have failed to win.
2) WHAT IF?
What if Obafemi Martins had been available? What if Eddie Johnson was 90-minutes fit? All Seattle needed was one measly goal to go through on away goals, but their finishing simply wasn't there, especially in the first half when Johnson, Shalrie Joseph and Steve Zakuani all missed chances. To fall short hurts, and Seattle know they must avoid as much of that sort of pain as possible as they jump back into MLS play. They're the lone team yet to win a game, but Schmid hopes the strong performance against Santos can jump start Seattle's season. Something has to change.
3) HERC PAYS HIS RESPECTS
Herculez Gomez is nothing if not honest, and he was frank about Seattle's effort on Tuesday night. Santos may have moved on, but the Sounders didn't go down without a fight.
“Credit to them, they made it difficult,” Gomez said. “They pressed, they got their goal, they definitely took it to us in the second half. … I said it before, you give a team like Seattle confidence and they’re going to cause problems, and that was the case.”
4) MEANWHILE, IN MONTERREY...
LA are still alive and they've got nothing to lose as they attempt to reverse a 2-1 aggregate deficit of their own doing against Monterrey tonight in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The Galaxy simply couldn't hold onto their 1-0 lead at the Home Depot Center, and now they know they must score at least two goals to have an chance of playing in the final. The odds of Bruce Arena's side doing that aren't good, though. Since Víctor Manuel Vucetich arrived in Monterrey, that's only happened five times in 106 home games (SPANISH).
5) WHAT ROLE WILL LANDON PLAY?
Juninho is back, which is certainly good news, but the biggest question for LA is whether Landon Donovan starts against Los Rayados. The Galaxy could sure use him, and Donovan says he'll have to be thrown into the fire at some point. He just isn't sure when that will be. One player who certainly won't see any time on the field is Monterrey 'keeper Jonathan Orozco, who says he's healthy but won't even be on the bench for the hosts. (SPANISH)
6) WILL OMAR BECOME THE NEXT GALAXY DP?
LA center back Omar Gonzalez is out of contract after this season, and the Galaxy are understandably looking to hold onto their star defender. That could mean dishing out some serious cash and a Designated Player tag. Clearly, LA want the MLS Cup MVP to stay and, according to ESPN's Alexi Lalas, the sentiment is shared. In case you missed it, here's a Los Angeles Times piece on Gonzalez's links to Monterrey ahead of tonight's match.
7) LA LIGA PLAYERS PUSH BACK
The “Gentlemen’s Pact” is an unwritten rule in Mexico, an agreement between the clubs that essentially eliminates free transfers. Out of contract and free to move to any Liga MX club you wish? Hardly. That's why players such as Rafa Márquez and Cuauhtémoc Blanco are pushing back. Tom Marshall explains why the pact is under fire yet again.
8) PETKE TAKES THE BLAME FOR RED BULLS' FAILINGS
New York head coach Mike Petke's got the players to succeed. Now it just comes down to giving them better direction, or so he says. After yet another late-game collapse saw the Red Bulls lose to the Chicago Fire, the rookie head coach shifted the blame from his players to himself on Tuesday.
“We have to go over more time in practice, go over late-game situations, up a goal, down a goal," Petke said Tuesday. "I can’t put that on the players. I take this upon myself."
9) JACK MAC ISN'T SHY ABOUT GOALS
Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney isn't shy about scoring or setting goals, and he addressed both on Tuesday. His target? The MLS Golden Boot. The 20-year-old striker has three goals already this season and sees no reason why that sort of production won't continue. You can watch him go for No. 4 on Saturday against Toronto FC in the MLS Stream of the Week presented by El Jimador (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
10) ANOTHER YOUNG GOAL POACHER IN KC?
Soony Saad didn't score last weekend, but he did set up Claudio Bieler's game-winner. Don't be surprised if that's just the beginning for the former NCAA top scorer, either. Saad has taken his time acclimating to the MLS game, but he's a terrific finisher and understands his current role as Sporting's spark off the bench. The goals? They're coming, says C.J. Sapong: “I foresee him as somebody who scores a lot of goals in this league"
11) MLS RANKINGS GALORE
Where does your side stack up after six weeks of play? Is there a new No. 1? Take a peek at the most recent MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings. Then see if your team's rookies make the grade in 2013's first edition of the Rookie Rankings. Colorado fans will certainly be happy. Finally, goalkeepers dominated the Castrol Rankings, but the top spot may not have gone to who you think.
12) BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!
OK, so Monty Python doesn't apply here, but there are still some lingering injury concerns in Houston and Chicago ahead of Week 7. The Fire hope Arne Friedrich, who is feeling "better and better," can return this weekend to help spoil the Dynamo's home unbeaten streak. Meanwhile, Houston are playing the waiting game with Will Bruin and Boniek García. Neither player's status is certain for Sunday.
13) DORTMUND'S WILD COMEBACK HIGHLIGHTS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERS
There are miracles, then there's Borussia Dortmund's CL victory against luckless Málaga on Tuesday. The game started with this insane tifo from the Dortmund supporters and ended with two goals (one of which was certainly offside) that sent the German side through to the quarterfinals and had Málaga's owner fuming. Meanwhile, Didier Drogba's brilliant backheel strike wasn't quite enough to keep Real Madrid from moving on despite some nervy moments.
14) BECKHAM'S BACK FOR PSG VS. BARÇA?
Lionel Messi's status is still uncertain for today's quarterfinal second leg between PSG and Barcelona, but David Beckham appears set to play at least some role once again for the Parisians with suspensions rocking the visitor's midfield. You can watch both Barca vs. PSG (Fox Soccer) and Juventus vs. Bayern Munich (Fox Soccer Plus) at 2:45 pm ET.
15) NEVILLE HEADED TO LA? MAYBE?
Phil Neville's time with Everton is coming to a close, but he wants to keep playing for at least one more year. Could that be in MLS? Well, maybe. In typical fashion, the LA Galaxy are linked with the Everton captain via a previous training stint at the club and his relationship with Landon Donovan.
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