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MLS Newsstand - July 9, 2011

on Tue, 07/12/2011 - 15:13
MLS  Newsstand—July 9, 2011
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m. ET (Galavision)
1. Sporting KC’s Bravo popular in the Hispanic community (Kansas City Star)
2. Chivas USA looks for winning streak (The Associated Press)
3. Sporting aims to continue unbeaten streak against Chivas (The Sports Network)
4. Goats understand what works (
5. Chivas USA look to avoid letdown against Sporting KC (
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C United, 7:30 p.m. ET (MLS Direct Kick Package)
6. Red Bulls’ Dax McCarty expects awkward encounter with former D.C. United teammates (Washington Post)
7. Red Bulls face Dwayne De Rosario not long after trading him (The Star-Ledger)
8. Red Bulls looking to build momentum (Bergen Record)
9. N.Y. and D.C. rekindle rivalry at RBA (The Sports Network)
10. Improved DC eager to make amends for Red Bulls' rout (
Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m. ET (MLS Direct Kick Package)
11. TFC faces tough task in Texas (Toronto Sun)
12. Homestretch pivotal in playoff quest (Houston Chronicle)
13. Toronto faces Houston, still searching for first road win (The Sports Network)
14. Dynamo have no time to rest with home swing looming (
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 9:00 p.m. ET (MLS Direct Kick Package)
15. Green Mountain grad Brovsky blends soccer career with compassion (Denver Post)
16. Rochat welcomes new teammate and return to 'normalcy' for versatile Whitecaps' defender (Vancouver Sun)
17. Thin Rapids, 'Caps squads aim to end winless streaks (The Sports Network)
18. Whitecaps FC-Rapids Preview (FOX Sports)
19. Cannon relishes trip to old stomping grounds in Colorado (
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, 9:00 p.m. ET (MLS Direct Kick Package)
20. RSL plays host to red-hot Dallas (Salt Lake Tribune)
21. On-field success has FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake rivalry percolating (Dallas Morning News)
22. Dallas a good test for Real Salt Lake (Deseret News)
23. RSL welcomes red-hot FC Dallas to Sandy (Standard-Examiner)
24. Shea leads Dallas into clash with RSL (The Sports Network)
LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire, 10:30 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer)
25. Galaxy tries to overcome Fire, injuries in defense (The Sports Network)
26. Fire face tough road test at Galaxy (
27. When best isn't good enough (
28. Chicago (2-4-12) at Los Angeles (9-2-9) (Yahoo! Sports)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union, 10:30 p.m. ET (MLS Direct Kick Package)
29. Short-handed San Jose Earthquakes have to change lineup vs. Philadelphia Union (San Jose Mercury News)
30. Union-Earthquakes Preview (The Associated Press)
31. Can Union turn around their West Coast woes? (
32. Philadelphia (7-4-6) at San Jose (5-6-6) (Yahoo! Sports)
33. Earthquakes look to break out of recent skid vs. Union (
(Additional articles for consideration can be submitted directly to Lauren Brophy of MLS Communications at
1. Sporting KC’s Bravo popular in the Hispanic community
By Pete Grathoff
Kansas City Star—June 8, 2011
Sporting Kansas City doesn’t condone stealing, but the team was thrilled about a rash of thefts earlier this year.
And it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what was happening.
Before the season, Kansas City’s resident Major League Soccer club placed posters of star player Omar Bravo at small Mexican businesses around town as part of an advertising blitz.
“A lot of marketing toward the Hispanic public is molded around Omar,” said Sinhue Mendoza, the team’s Latino marketing manager. “We put them in Mexican bakeries and laundromats, taquerias, small taco joints. They have Omar Bravo with our schedule. Believe it or not, they were stolen.”
The pilfering of the posters speaks to the popularity of Bravo, who is a household name in Mexico.
“I think that’s a good thing,” Mendoza said. “People ripped them down and took them home, and that shows (he) is really popular. People know he’s here and they think it’s really cool.”
Bravo isn’t overpowering at just 5 feet 7, but he has stood tall as a goal-scoring forward. He netted 106 career goals with Mexico’s Chivas Guadalajara, the parent club of Chivas USA, which plays Sporting Kansas City at 6:30 tonight at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Bravo has scored 16 times in 65 appearances with Mexico’s national team, including twice at the 2006 World Cup. He also scored two goals at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
But Bravo’s popularity transcends the soccer field. He has appeared on cereal boxes and video games in Mexico and the United States, and his likeness, along with those of fellow international soccer stars Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho, graced the cover of the “FIFA Soccer ’06” video game.
Yet Bravo can walk the streets unnoticed in many parts of Kansas City. Imagine being in Mexico City and running into Matt Cassel. He might be anonymous to the locals, but many Kansas Citians would be quick to pick out the Chiefs’ quarterback in a crowd.
That’s what it’s like for Latino fans when they spy Bravo. He has been greeted at restaurants and other establishments since the start of the year, when he arrived in Kansas City.
Bravo attended Fiesta Kansas City in May at Crown Center, and despite being sidelined at the time because of a sports hernia injury, he signed autographs for more than two hours. Since his return to the field, fans in green Mexican national team jerseys or sombreros have dotted the stands at Livestrong Sporting Park.
“I’ve been received very well since I got to Kansas City,” Bravo said. “The fans have been good to me from the beginning and I am comfortable here. … I am grateful for the support and patience I got from the fans, my coach and the front office after my surgery.”
Fellow Mexican star Cuauhtémoc Blanco drew huge crowds at home and on the road when he played with the Chicago Fire. That included CommunityAmerica Ballpark, which served as Sporting Kansas City’s temporary home for the last three seasons while the new stadium was being built.
Bravo may not boast Blanco’s star power, but he’s not far off.
“Anytime you wear that Mexican soccer jersey, you’re automatically put at another level,” Mendoza said. “The Mexican soccer team is followed in a Yankeelike status in America. Then (Bravo) also played for Chivas in Mexico, which also creates a kind of Yankees status in Mexico.”
In a way, Bravo has brought peace to the Navarro family.
Maria Navarro, who works at Abarrotes y Tortilleria Mexico on Southwest Boulevard, said her husband and three sons are all soccer fans. However, two of the boys root for Chivas Guadalajara, while the other two pull for Club America, Chivas’ archrival in Mexico.
“I have a problem in my home,” Navarro said through interpreter Amanda Horner.
Perhaps, but there’s one thing everyone in the family can agree upon: All of the Navarros, including Maria, are pulling for Bravo to succeed in Kansas City.
“My husband and I are very big soccer fans,” Navarro said. “We love it. It’s a beautiful, wonderful sport.”
That sentiment was echoed by many of Navarro’s fellow Spanish-speaking Kansas Citians.
“It’s really beautiful that he’s here,” Julio Corrollo Rodriguez said as he sold cigarettes on Independence Avenue. “I would like to attend more (Sporting) games.”
For fans like Rodriguez, Bravo’s reputation preceded him in the Midwest.
“I know Omar Bravo from when he was playing with a Mexican team,” said Rosa Duran, who works at Olivares Auto Repair on Independence Avenue. “And he is good.”
Duran attended a couple of Sporting games before this season, when the team was known as the Wizards. She plans to see more at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Raul Tapia, who was making tacos at Carniceria Camecuaro in Kansas City, Kan., has attended Sporting games in the past and is inclined to see more because of Bravo.
“I liked him when he played for Chivas, and I’m glad that he’s here,” Tapia said through the interpreter. “We really know him from before and we’re excited to see him. We’re glad that he’s here.
“And (that Bravo is from Mexico) gives me something else to enjoy.”
The outpouring of Mexican pride does not surprise Jacob Prado, the Mexican consul in Kansas City.
“Everyone knows him (Bravo) very well,” Prado said. “Sporting Kansas City, they have an excellent player to make sure the Spanish community, particularly from Mexico, will become followers and fans of Kansas City.”
The team knows this and is trying to reach out to Hispanic fans in ways other than its popular posters. Mendoza noted that Bravo jerseys have sold well and said that Bravo has been featured in local Spanish-language publications.
The team has a Facebook account and Twitter feed in Spanish, its website has portions in Spanish, and its games are broadcast on Spanish television and radio.
“You don’t really, I don’t want to say cater, but you’ve got to speak to them in their language,” Mendoza said. “I speak fluent Spanish. … If you understand what they like, you can really get them involved. The Hispanic fan for the most part is one of the biggest fans MLS as a league has in general.”
In general, Major League Soccer has struggled to capture the fervor that Latino fans reserve for the Mexican national team. Even for bland exhibition games, appearances by the Mexican national team draw huge crowds to NFL stadiums across the United States.
“There are a lot of people who were born in the U.S. that are Mexicans that will always follow the Mexican national team, because it’s just ingrained in them as a kid, because that’s their team,” Mendoza said. “Unfortunately, that makes it harder.
“A lot of people who are here that are Mexican have never been to a Mexican national soccer team game because they’re not from Mexico City. And if you notice that when Mexico plays, for the most part, they play in Mexico City. So they’ve never had that opportunity until they see them in the United States. For some, it’s a dream come true.”
And for others, watching a former Mexican star is the next best thing to seeing Mexico play.
Even Prado, who is not a soccer fan, is excited that a national soccer treasure of Mexico now plays right here in the City of Fountains.
“Everybody is happy to have such a good player, one of the stars of Mexican soccer here in Kansas City,” Prado said. “He is a real ambassador of Mexico in the city.”
2. Chivas USA looks for winning streak
The Associated Press—July 8, 2011
Chivas USA is hoping it's finally heading in the right direction, but earning consecutive wins for the second time this season might prove difficult.
That's because Chivas will next face Sporting Kansas City, which will try to add to a nine-game unbeaten run Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park.
After three consecutive one-goal defeats and a draw, Chivas (5-7-6) earned a 2-0 victory over San Jose on Wednesday night. Ben Zemanski scored his second career goal in the second half and Nick LaBrocca followed with his second in as many games.
"We've played well enough to get results in the past, but this is part of our learning experience because it's not good enough to play well. You have to play well and play effectively over 90 minutes," coach Robin Fraser told the league's official website.
"I think that for us, it's a good milestone, especially coming off the last few games where we've scored quite a few goals but have also given up quite a few as well.
Fraser's team scored twice in its season opener against Kansas City on March 19, but also allowed two goals in the opening half. Omar Bravo's second score of the game then won it for Kansas City in the 74th minute.
Kansas City went 0-6-1 following that 3-2 victory, but enters this matchup 4-0-5 in its last nine and 2-0-2 in its first four games on its new home field.
"It's really fun and special what we've got going right now, and it never gets old. It's really unbelievable," midfielder Graham Zusi said.
Sporting KC (5-6-6) nearly missed earning another home win Wednesday night, when three of its shots against Colorado hit the goal posts. Zusi scored in the second half to help his team escape with a 1-all draw.
With the tie, Kansas City matched its nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3) from June 5-July 24, 2004. Another win or draw would move Sporting KC within two games of the longest unbeaten streak in franchise history. Then known as the Wizards, Kansas City started 10-0-2 in 2000, en route to its only MLS title.
"I'm proud of the fact that were able to get the goal," coach Peter Vermes said. "We had a lot of great chances ... At the end of the day, when we are at home, we want to win."
Vermes' club couldn't win at home last season against Chivas, falling 2-0 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on July 10. Justin Braun scored both goals, each after a poor clearing attempt.
The win snapped Chivas USA's 0-4-1 drought at Kansas City, which claimed a 2-0 victory at the Home Depot Center on Sept. 19 as Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury scored second-half goals.
3. Sporting aims to continue unbeaten streak against Chivas
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Kansas City, KS - Sporting Kansas City will be hoping to extend its unbeaten streak to 10 games on Saturday when the team welcomes Chivas USA to Livestrong Sporting Park.
Kansas City has been on a great run recently having won four of its last six games to move to within seven points of Eastern Conference leaders Red Bull New York.
Sporting will feel a bit unlucky not to have claimed all three points against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, but defender Matt Besler continues to focus on keeping the unbeaten streak alive, which Sporting did with a 1-1 draw.
"It would have been great to get the three points," Besler said. "I think we probably deserved it, but in the grand scheme of things we played well, we're still undefeated at home and we still have the unbeaten streak intact, so those are positives."
Kansas City is 2-0-2 in its new digs so far, but maybe more than a comfortable new home is the fact that the Sporting defense has been downright stingy during the team's unbeaten streak.
Over the past nine games, Kansas City has allowed just five goals total, with no team scoring more than one.
Chivas USA's recent form was not in the same class as Sporting over the past month, but the Goats snapped their poor run of play with a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday, a big result according to coach Robin Fraser.
"Win No. 5, in our opinion, has been a long time coming," said Fraser after the match. "We've played well enough to get results in the past, but this is part of our learning experience because it's not good enough to play well. You have to play well and play effectively over 90 minutes, and I think that for us, it's a good milestone, especially coming off the last few games where we've scored quite a few goals but have also given up quite a few as well."
One of the things that most pleased Fraser was the play of his team defensively, with San Jose managing to get just three shots on goal over the course of 90 minutes.
"The teams that play well are the ones that don't get involved in shootouts," he said. "You need to be disciplined defensively and find good opportunities, so I feel that tonight was a good building block for us."
4. Goats understand what works
By Scott French
Chivas USA's decision last week to test some tactical alternatives -- and then discard them before trying them out in a game -- could prove to be a masterstroke by rookie head coach Robin Fraser.
His Goats, he says, are "starting to form an identity," and by demonstrating that he was willing, at the very least, to consider trading in that identity -- as a possession team that, when things are going right, can run foes off the park -- for something less attractive, possibly less satisfying but maybe more effective might have been enough to shake them from a growing stupor.
Chivas (5-7-6) offered two impressive and dynamic but far from complete performances last week while ending two skids -- first of three losses and then of four games without a win -- and head into Saturday's Major League Soccer match at Sporting Kansas City (5-6-6) feeling pretty good about themselves.
But not too good.
"I think at times when we weren't playing great on the field, we recognized that," defender Heath Pearce said after Wednesday night's 2-0 triumph over San Jose at Home Depot Center. "We didn't try to force our way out of it. We played smart, we played safe. ... We were able to build into our kind of flow. When we kind of get off pace, we start trying too hard to keep that style of play. We were able to recognize that early [in the victory] and kind of go through the ebbs and flows of the game."
Learning how to manage the game is a big part of the process Chivas is undergoing as it grows into the side Fraser envisions. On occasion, the Goats get it right, and when they do, it's Nick LaBrocca -- acquired from Toronto FC during preseason -- at the reins. He's playing atop the midfield diamond, and his class on the ball and ability to finish, seen with goals in last weekend's 1-1 draw against Chicago and to secure the win over San Jose, have provided a needed dimension, especially with Blair Gavin and Paulo Nagamura missing so much time through injury.
The elements of Chivas' game are simple but difficult. They prefer to move the ball, to play keep away as they bear down on the opponent's box, and it all stems from their defensive play, which was solid last week after mistakes doomed earlier efforts.
"We're at our best when instead of putting out the fire, we avoid fires altogether," Pearce said. "I think at times we compound our mistakes along the way, where we don't kill the game when we're supposed to, and the next play the next player arrives late, and now they're through and they have a chance to score.
"I think we did a good job of killing everything at the root of the problem [against the Earthquakes], which gave us more space going to other way, and we won balls in good positions, and once we started stringing passes together, I think the team did well to create two goals. And that's all you need."
WORTH NOTING: Kansas City captured the first meeting this season, in a March 19 opener, with Omar Bravo scoring twice in a 3-2 triumph. ... Chivas has won just once in seven games at K.C. -- last July 10, with Justin Braun getting both goals in a 2-0 victory. The Goats picked up a point, in a 1-1 draw, on their 2009 trip. ... Sporting surrendered multiple goals in five of its first seven games, but no more than one in the 10 games since. ... Twelve of 23 goals Sporting has conceded have come in the final 15 minutes of halves, half of them from the 75th minute on. ... K.C.'s top five scorers (C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi, Omar Bravo, Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara) all have three goals and either two or three assists. ... Former University of Michigan forward Soony Saad, who went to Sporting in a weighted lottery Tuesday, is eligible to make his MLS debut.
MISSING: Alejandro Moreno is with Venezuela at Copa America, South America's nations championship, with Venezuela's national team. ... Jimmy Conrad (concussion) is officially doubtful, but he will not play. ... Defender Ante Jazic (calf strain) and midfielder Paulo Nagamura (quad strain) have been downgraded from questionable to out.
Head coach
Peter Vermes was a forward for the U.S. at the 1990 World Cup, and he nearly made the 1998 team as a defender. He played in Hungary, Holland, Spain and with four MLS clubs, finishing his career in 2002 with the Kansas City Wizards.
Three key players
Longtime Guadalajara star Bravo's craftiness and ability in and around the box, which fueled his two-goal performance at the 2006 World Cup with Mexico, is key to the Wizards' attack.
Bunbury, another product of the University of Akron's soccer factory, is a rising U.S. national team star after choosing the country he grew up in over his native Canada. His dad, former Canadian national-teamer Alex Bunbury, finished his career 11 years ago in K.C.
Sierra Leone-born winger Kamara, a refugee who played college ball at Cal State Dominguez Hills, combines tremendous strength, speed, athleticism and skill to add an at-times devastating dimension to Sporting's attack
Current form/prospects
Sporting has been sensational since its stadium opened a month ago, extending its MLS unbeaten streak to nine games (and vaulting from ninth, or last, to fourth in the Eastern Conference) with four wins in its last six -- while advancing to a favorable matchup in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. There's tremendous speed and athleticism on the flanks and up front, and the emergence of reigning MLS Player of the Month Zusi and rookie forward Sapong -- and Thousand Oaks' Chance Myers finding fine form -- has helped to make K.C. one of the league's most dangerous sides.
Local connections
Kamara played at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Myers at Thousand Oaks High School and UCLA. ... Midfielder Luke Sassano's rights belonged to the Galaxy for a few hours in December, when he was taken in the re-entry draft and promptly traded for Frankie Hejduk's rights.
Captain Davy Arnaud, a central midfielder, is out after sports-hernia surgery, and so are midfielder Craig Rocastle (sprained knee) and defender Seth Sinovic (hamstring strain). ... Rookie forward Konrad Warzycha -- son of Columbus Crew head coach Robert Warzycha -- is out for the year with a preseason knee injury.
5. Chivas USA look to avoid letdown against Sporting KC
Rojiblancos hoping to carry over midweek form to beat Zusi & Co.
By Adam Serrano—July 8, 2011
CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA's season has been a total seesaw of results: letdowns after impressive victories, and wins when they find themselves struggling.
After a big 2-0 midweek win against the San Jose Earthquakes to snap a four-game winless streak, the Rojiblancos are, needless to say, hoping to retain their good form.
Led by a strong defense and energetic midfield to get the much needed win at home on Wednesday, Chivas USA now travel to Livestrong Sporting Park to take on a motivated Sporting Kansas City side on Saturday. The match is the third in eight days for head coach Robin Fraser's side, who believe that the win over San Jose can serve as a catalyst for a run of good results.
"[Sporting are] a tough team who are on a bit of a hot streak right now," midfielder Nick LaBrocca (pictured above) told "They're going to be feeling good about themselves because of their new home, so it'll be a tough game, but hopefully an exciting one."
"Exciting" benefits the fast-paced game of LaBrocca, but the Rojiblancos will be eager to slow the game down and shut down Sporting stars Graham Zusi and Teal Bunbury. Throughout the season, Chivas USA have struggled playing in shootouts against other teams.
When the Rojiblancos head east, the goal will be to not just stop the chances Sporting genrate, but to prevent the chances before they happen.
"We're at our best when, instead of putting out a fire, we avoid fires all together," said defender Heath Pearce. "We did a good job of killing things at the root of everything against San Jose and now we face a team that we can beat. Our confidence is high and hopefully we can use that momentum to get a result."
Chivas USA will be keenly aware that the crowd at Livestrong Sporting Park will be against them, but the energetic LaBrocca is confident of the Goats’ abilities under pressure.
"We are a very stubborn team and when things aren't going our way, we're just going to keep pounding it out until we get our way," quipped LaBrocca.
6. Red Bulls’ Dax McCarty expects awkward encounter with former D.C. United teammates
By Steven Goff
Washington Post—July 8, 2011
It’s going to be awkward, Dax McCarty admits, when he arrives at Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening and sees his former D.C. United teammates for the first time since clearing out his locker at RFK Stadium less than two weeks ago.
“Weird, for sure,” he said.
He’ll shake hands and offer hugs, trade sarcastic barbs with close friend Chris Pontius and share stories of his abrupt relocation. And then the 24-year-old midfielder, who was named United’s captain before the opener and entrusted with orchestrating the attack, will try to punish a team that, just three months into his first campaign in Washington, dealt him to the New York Red Bulls for Dwayne De Rosario.
McCarty isn’t bitter about the trade, and in fact was introspective during an interview this week.
“I’m not going to be asked to be as much of a leader. There are a lot of older guys here, and in D.C., I was one of the more veteran guys,” he said. “I wanted the responsibility [with United] but maybe wasn’t ready for it. I tried to do too much, put a lot of pressure on myself, and I don’t think I played my best, which is too bad because I loved the team and the organization.
“Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit, and maybe it’s a better fit in New York.”
Two matches into his spell with the Red Bulls (6-3-10), McCarty seems more comfortable in a supporting role. In Wednesday’s 5-0 victory over visiting Toronto, he effectively distributed the ball from a deep central position and exhibited the form that helped propel FC Dallas to an MLS Cup appearance last fall.
“The expectations here, he had a little too much on his plate and he tried to do too much,” Pontius said. With New York, “he’s been given much more of a free role to do his thing.”
The trade has also paid off for United (4-5-7). In his debut last Saturday, De Rosario assisted on Josh Wolff’s goal during a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union and, with a strong presence in attacking midfield, diversified United’s attack.
In essence, the deal was consummated because neither player fit perfectly into the previous system: The blue-collar McCarty had been asked to become an influential attacker, while De Rosario, acquired by New York from Toronto FC in April, occupied space that French star Thierry Henry required to operate as a withdrawn forward.
With the Red Bulls, McCarty has partnered with Finnish midfielder Teemu Tainio in deeper positions and yielded roaming rights to Henry. With United, De Rosario is the fulcrum of an attack that lacked a true playmaker.
“Dax is a good soccer player, and if they are going to have the ball that much, he’s going to be a good fit for them,” Coach Ben Olsen said.
Last fall, after serving as United’s interim head coach, Olsen encouraged the front office to pursue McCarty, a player with many of the same qualities that Olsen possessed during his distinguished career: tenacity, inspiration and courage.
Olsen, however, couldn’t turn McCarty into something he wasn’t: a primary attacker. Although United has been much better with the ball this year — it needed just 15 games to match last season’s MLS record-low total of 21 goals — the absence of a forceful central midfielder hindered the larger aim.
“My role in New York is going to be two-way [defense and attack] but I won’t be relied upon to create as many opportunities,” McCarty said. “I’m a guy who likes to be more defensive and link up with the attack. I have the freedom to move around, but I’ll be more disciplined.”
McCarty’s personality and convictions provided leadership for United, but with him gone, Wolff, 34, and De Rosario, 33, will guide a lineup that has leaned on four rookies, plus 20-year-old goalkeeper Bill Hamid and 18-year-old wing Andy Najar.
United will need to show maturity Saturday after a pair of deflating draws at RFK Stadium. In both matches, United yielded a late equalizer and dropped valuable points. In the past five games, D.C. has recorded four ties and a loss.
The Red Bulls (5-1-3 at home) are atop the Eastern Conference (a point ahead of Philadelphia and Columbus) and lead the league in scoring with 34 goals.
Henry’s nine goals are best in MLS and Luke Rodgers has scored six. Juan Agudelo, 18, an emerging U.S. national team forward, has added four goals, despite serving in a reserve role most of the season.
In the first meeting with United, Henry struck twice as New York stormed to a 4-0 victory April 21 in Washington.
“We are a much better team now,” Olsen said. “We understand ourselves and how we approach games. Hopefully, that will be enough to get some points.”
7. Red Bulls face Dwayne De Rosario not long after trading him
By Frank Giase
The Star-Ledger—July 9, 2011
Prior to Wednesday night’s match against Toronto FC, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said he never liked playing against players he traded because they always seem to perform very well against their former team.
As it turned out, the players he was referring to — Danleigh Borman and Tony Tchani — had little impact on the game. Borman got hurt in a collision with Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards late in the first half and was replaced at halftime, and an ineffective Tchani was subbed out in the 57th minute with Toronto down by three goals.
Tonight, however, should be a different story.
When the Red Bulls take on D.C. United at Red Bull Arena it will mark the return of All-Star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who was traded to D.C. June 27 for midfielder Dax McCarty.
“It’s strange,” Backe said. “In one week you play a guy you had on your team, but that’s the way it is. He’s a very professional guy. It was a very difficult decision to make that kind of trade.”
While De Rosario wasn’t with the Red Bulls very long — he was the player acquired from Toronto April 1 for Borman and Tchani — he is a dangerous attacking player who will have to be accounted for every minute.
“De Ro is the type of player who can make a team better,” Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry said. “You have to respect the guy. He’s won four MLS championships. That type of guy is always going to help a team. They definitely have a player who can set up goals and they have a player who can score goals.
“(With) his awareness and the way he can make his team tick we’re going to have to make sure they don’t find him on the field and that he won’t be able to hurt us. It will be difficult.”
D.C. United (4-5-7) has been struggling this season. Sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, the club hasn’t won since May 29 and is 0-1-4 in its past five games. With the Red Bulls (6-3-10) moving into first place Wednesday night, Backe believes a victory tonight could spark the team toward a strong second half.
“If we can win this game and we go up to 31 points, then we can be in for a really good run,” he said.
Forward Luke Rodgers, who missed four games with plantar fasciitis, returned Wednesday, scored a goal and brought some much-needed energy to the team. To guard against aggravating the injury he only played 56 minutes, but he trained yesterday and will start tonight.
The only issue against D.C. United will be the loss of midfielder Teemu Tainio, who will sit out due to a yellow-card suspension. Tainio, a candidate for the Red Bulls’ MVP this season, will be replaced by Mehdi Ballouchy.
Backe has the option of playing Ballouchy or Joel Lindpere in a central role, with the other wide left.
Lindpere, who had three goals and six assists last season when he was named the club’s MVP, has five goals and five assists this season and was named MLS Player of the Week last week. He has four goals in the past three games, including a goal and two assists against Toronto.
8. Red Bulls looking to build momentum
By Tim Leonard
Bergen Record—July 9, 2011
LITTLE FALLS – Dax McCarty remembers what it was like to be on the other side.
The midfielder has been on the field for both of the Red Bulls' biggest wins of the season. McCarty, in just his second game with his new team, played a strong game Wednesday, when the Red Bulls crushed Toronto FC, 5-0. Prior to that, he was on the wrong side of a 4-0 thumping against D.C. United.
McCarty might be the only player from that night not looking for retribution tonight, when D.C. United comes to Red Bull Arena for a match that could help the Red Bulls gain a foothold on first place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
The midfielder played for D.C. United the last time the Red Bulls devastated an opponent. The 4-0 margin April 21 at RFK Stadium was the Red Bulls' largest win ever over United. Now that he's come to the Red Bulls in a trade for Dwayne De Rosario, McCarty wouldn't mind a repeat performance.
"It was kind of an empty feeling. We didn't feel we played that badly," McCarty said. "They just finished their chances and we didn't. We hit the post and the crossbar two or three times."
The result could have been less lopsided, but the Red Bulls were in the middle of a four-game show of dominance. That impressive showing was replaced by a recent 11-game skid in which the Red Bulls were mistake-prone and lacking in concentration at key moments.
All that disappeared against Toronto, as the Red Bulls put together as complete a performance as they've had all season. Now comes the hard part, doing it again. A similar game tonight would allow the Red Bulls to see something that has been absent for a couple of months: momentum.
"The thing I liked about the [Toronto] game is not that we scored five, but we conceded zero," said Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry, who scored two of his league-leading nine goals April 21. "The only thing we didn't do that we have been doing is make mistakes."
The Red Bulls must play tonight without defensive midfielder Teemu Tainio, who is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards. Tainio received his fifth yellow card of the season in Wednesday's match. Red Bulls coach Hans Backe will go with either Joel Lindpere – who has four goals and two assists in his last three games — or Mehdi Ballouchy in Tainio's defensive role, but could switch them during the match. Despite being without Tainio and defender Rafa Marquez (hamstring), Backe would like to see what he saw on Wednesday.
9. N.Y. and D.C. rekindle rivalry at RBA
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Harrison, NJ - Red Bull New York will aim to build on Wednesday night's impressive win when it faces local rival D.C. United Saturday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls are coming off a 5-0 midweek drubbing of Toronto FC, a much needed confidence builder after going 0-3-1 in Major League Soccer action during a two week road trip.
New York displayed a great deal of flair in the match against Toronto, perfecting the possession style of play that had eluded the club in previous weeks.
"Everybody wanted the ball. I saw a lot of the same things I saw earlier in the season," defender Jan Gunnar Solli told "We were all over them with the passing game."
The Red Bulls will be without their midfield linchpin, Teemu Tainio, who is suspended for Saturday's clash due to yellow card accumulation.
Meanwhile, D.C. United has drawn its last three matches and has managed just one win in its last six MLS contests. They will be eager to get a victory and avenge its 4-0 loss to the Red Bulls at RFK Stadium in April.
The match marks the first time D.C. and New York have faced each other following the blockbuster trade on June 27th which saw playmaker Dwayne De Rosario shipped to D.C. United in exchange for Dax McCarty.
With the trade, D.C. United forward Chris Pontius believes his side is better equipped in this edition of the Atlantic Cup.
"It's obviously a more defensive move by [New York] to put [McCarty] and Tainio in the middle," Pontius told "And for us, it's more offensive to have Dwayne running out in the midfield, so it should be interesting to see how things play out on Saturday."
McCarty feels that the Red Bulls can come out on top if they are able to continue their dominating passing play.
"It’s a mentality, we're going to keep the ball, keep possession, dictate the play," the midfielder told "When we create as many chances as we did [Wednesday], we're going to be tough to beat."
New York has a chance to distance itself from the Philadelphia Union at the top of the Eastern Conference, albeit momentarily as the Union will kick-off at 10:30 Saturday night.
10. Improved DC eager to make amends for Red Bulls' rout
United head up I-95 with revenge on their minds after loss in April
By Travis Clark—July 8, 2011
WASHINGTON — For the third time this season, D.C. United are preparing for a second meeting against a club that dealt them a heavy loss earlier in the year.
Such is the case when United head to Red Bull Arena to take on archrivals New York on Saturday, with memories of New York’s 4-0 romp at RFK Stadium in April still fresh in their players’ minds.
“It’s obviously a revenge game for us,” midfielder Chris Pontius said. “It’s a rivalry game, Eastern Conference opponent and they’re ahead of us in the standings.”
Despite the 4-0 score line this spring — which included two goals and an assist for New York forward Thierry Henry — United still took positives away from the match.
“I thought we put out some very good stuff in that game,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “It was an entertaining game — we turned off four or five plays and every time we turned off, they punished us.”
Coping with the formidable forward duo of Henry and Luke Rodgers was something they failed to do back and April, and it’s something they need to deal with this weekend. Both players scored in New York’s 5-0 romp over Toronto FC on Wednesday.
“When Thierry comes back into midfield and they have time to face you, they’re very, very dangerous,” Olsen said. “I think Rodgers changes them up, he’s a handful, and he’s a big piece of why they’ve been successful this year.”
Still, the fact that New York won so heavily and in such impressive fashion earlier this week doesn’t faze DC.
“It’s good to play a team coming off a win like that,” midfielder Clyde Simms said. “A lot of times they might think they’re a little bit better than they are, a little more confident than they normally would be.”
DC are also inspired by the fact they’ve been playing better since the loss back in April. Thought they’re winless in their last five, they’ve only lost once in that stretch.
“I think we’re a much better team,” Olsen said. “We’re much improved, we understand ourselves and how we approach games better and I think hopefully that’ll be enough to get some points.”
11. TFC faces tough task in Texas
By Ryan Wolstat
Toronto Sun—July 8, 2011
TORONTO - The numbers might tell a different story, but realistically, unless Toronto FC can upset the Houston Dynamo in Texas on Saturday night, the season is toast.
Still winless on the road with five losses and four draws, the Reds sit second-last in 18-team Major League Soccer.
Though the playoff field has been expanded to 10 teams this year and Toronto is only four points out of a playoff spot, every team hanging in range of the last two slots has played at least two — and as many as four — fewer games than the Reds.
In other words, having given away a host of points in a variety of comical ways so far, now would be an ideal time to pick up a rare three points against a middling opponent.
It’s not an impossible task — the team handled Houston 2-1 back on May 7th, Houston has not won in three games and imposing target man Cam Weaver is expected to be unavailable.
Though Seattle Sounders blog recently gave the Reds just a 16.2% chance of qualifying for the post-season (based on the expectation 43-44 points would be needed to get in), Houston was given just a 22.7% shot.
That said, TFC has one league victory since beating Houston and anybody who sat through Wednesday’s humiliating 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls must feel that a result against even mediocre Houston, while not impossible, has to be considered improbable.
Thanks to a lack of depth and injuries, the back line is a disaster. Ty Harden and Dan Gargan have not shown the required skill or smarts to earn starting roles and Richard Eckersley, while game, is not suited to the centre back role due to his roving nature.
While Gargan blamed “simple mistakes” for all of New York’s goals, it is more than that. Yes, there were some mental mistakes made by Toronto defenders, but physical limitations were just as influential in the outcome.
Simply put, TFC can’t match top MLS squads talent-wise at the moment. Particularly at the back.
With Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora and Dicoy Williams unavailable because of injuries, Aron Winter has turned to veterans. It is time to go with youngsters like Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan until the transfer market opens up next week and maybe even after that. Yes, they will make rookie mistakes, but they can’t possibly be much worse. New York’s imposing forwards and midfielders were allowed to wreak havoc, basically unmarked for the bulk of Wednesday’s debacle.
Sure, Toronto traded chances with the Red Bulls early and could have opened the scoring, but why was TFC going mano a mano with the most high-powered offence in MLS in the first place?
Isn’t that the type of team you try to grind it out with and limit opposing chances?
While Houston doesn’t have the talent to light up the scoreboard like New York, the Dynamo is a solid defensive outfit.
Keeper Tally Hall is coming off of a shutout and has made MLS team of the week three times, more than any other keeper this season.
With midfielder Julian de Guzman ruled out again because of injury, Brad Davis, one of the best creators in MLS history and leading the loop in assists again could have his way in the middle of the park.
Even minus Weaver, Houston still has a big man in Will Bruin that Davis can pick out.
This will be the final game before new designated players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans are eligible to suit up for the Reds.
Their debut can’t come quickly enough.
12. Homestretch pivotal in playoff quest
Dynamo look to get key points on their own turf
By Jose de Jesus Ortiz
Houston Chronicle – June 9, 2011
Winless on the road this season, the Dynamo can't afford to continue to drop points at Robertson Stadium.
Since their opening-day loss to the Philadelphia Union at home, they are 4-3-2 at home, which is better than their 0-3-6 record on the road but not nearly up to the club's expectations.
Beginning with tonight's contest against Toronto FC, Brian Ching and Co. are adamant about cleaning up their home play because they will play three of their next four regular-season Major League Soccer games at Robertson Stadium.
"I think at the halfway point we're disappointed with the results at home," Ching said. "A lot of the home games we need to get more out of it. We need to be winning. To be frank, we haven't done a good job of defending our home turf. That's something that's on our mind as we go into tomorrow's game against a team that hasn't been playing their best."
Toronto struggles
Coming off a 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls, Toronto (3-8-9) is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points.
The Dynamo are fifth in the Eastern Conference, but only two points ahead of Toronto.
Although they lead Toronto, the Dynamo's confidence is somewhat buoyed by Toronto's recent struggles.
"Toronto is a team that obviously if you look at their last game, they're coming off a 5-0 loss in New York," Brad Davis said. "Things aren't looking too great.
"I feel like this is definitely a team we should take advantage of. I said if we think we're going to do anything this year and get into the postseason it has to start now."
Both teams would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today.
The top three teams in each conference are guaranteed playoff spots, and the remaining four teams with the top records will finalize the 10-team postseason field.
"If you're not getting points on the road you need to be getting points at home," Davis said. "It should be a tough place to play whenever another team comes in and plays at your place in front of your home crowd and in front of your fans. They expect you to win. We expect to win. We have to start accumulating some points because we have the next three out of four at home."
The Dynamo have suffered a pair of embarrassing losses at home this season, including a 2-1 loss in which they committed a pair of costly defensive blunders late against the Colorado Rapids.
The Dynamo also suffered a 2-0 loss when they were flat against the Columbus Crew.
The last thing Dominic Kinnear wants is for his team to be overconfident against Toronto.
Never underestimate
"I think for us if we take them lightly we're asking for a heck of a lot of trouble because they're still professional soccer players and their coach has high demands on what his players do, I'm sure," Kinnear said. "We have to make sure they come out with the right attitude. And for me that's trying to get on top of them right away."
• When/where: 7:30 p.m.; Robertson Stadium.
• TV/radio: KHOU 11.2; 790 AM and 850 AM in Spanish.
• Dynamo (4-6-8) update: The Dynamo are likely to start the same lineup for the third consecutive game, giving rookie right back Kofi Sarkodie and center back Jermaine Taylor another look in the starting 11. Forward Cam Weaver, who is tied for the team lead with four goals, should be available on the bench despite recent hip problems.
• Toronto FC (3-8-9) update: Leading scorers Maicon Santos (six goals) and Alan Gordon (four goals) are questionable, as is designated player Julian de Guzman. Toronto will look to bounce back after suffering a 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in its previous match.
13. Toronto faces Houston, still searching for first road win
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Houston, TX - Toronto FC will attempt to rebound from Wednesday night's horrific 5-0 loss to Red Bull New York as it travels to Robertson Stadium to face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Toronto will want to put a stop to its road woes, as the club is still searching for its first road win in what will be its 10th Major League Soccer match away from BMO Field this season.
After a few great displays from Toronto defenders Richard Eckersley and Ty Harden against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the center back pairing was given the runaround by a potent New York forward line. Eckersley recognized that Toronto faced one of the premier attacking forces in the league Wednesday night, and stressed that the team will need to defend better as a unit in the future.
"I think it wasn't just defensively, or just the back four. When we're defending, we need to do it as a team," said Eckersley. "If one player runs off their man, they're going to pick us off. They've got good players, and obviously we paid the price [Wednesday]."
It has been almost a month since Houston last recorded a victory in MLS; it defeated Chivas USA 2-1 on June 11th at Robertson Stadium for its only win in its last 11 matches. In their last three contests, the Dynamo have gone 0-1-2, earning two road draws while losing a disappointing home match 2-1 at the hands of the Columbus Crew.
But Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear is gaining confidence in a particular center back pairing for his team despite the duo's few appearances together.
Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault debuted together in defense on May 28th against FC Dallas and have shown that they can be quite effective. Both players participated in the Gold Cup, Taylor representing Jamaica and Hainault representing Canada.
The two center backs started in Houston's scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, showing how productive they can be when paired together.
"They're both internationals and are coming off a good Gold Cup where they showed they're both strong and physical," Kinnear told "I think they do need to talk more, but I think Jermaine showed some good pace, and Andre's very confident on the ball and plays 100 miles an hour the whole time, which is good."
Toronto and Houston met earlier this season on May 7th at BMO Field. A well organized Toronto side defeated Houston 2-1 behind a Joao Plata penalty and a Maicon Santos strike which turned out to be the game-winning goal. Lovel Palmer pulled back a consolation goal for the Dynamo in the 87th minute.
14. Dynamo have no time to rest with home swing looming
Houston try to bolster record at Robertson, eye redemption vs. TFC
By Darrell Lovell—July 8, 2011
HOUSTON — July signals the arrival of the dog days of summer in MLS, and while the customary steamy summer temperatures have arrived, the Houston Dynamo simply don't have the time to sit back and enjoy the weather.
The Dynamo have 20 points and find themselves one point out of a three-way tie for the third wild card playoff spot. Starting with their home match against Toronto FC on Saturday, they have an opportunity with three of their next four July league matches at home to turn their fortunes in the race for the postseason.
“What’s behind us is behind us,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “If you look at the schedule, it’s a good chance to make a run. Kansas City has gone past us and Toronto is right behind us, so these are important games.”
Toronto got the better of Houston at BMO Field on May 7, riding Joao Plata’s strong play to a 2-1 victory. Now playing under what is sure to be the blazing Texas sun, the Dynamo are looking to start taking advantage of their home field this weekend.
But that’s been easier said than done this year. Heading into the weekend, the Dynamo sport an underwhelming home record of 4-3-2.
“The home record isn’t where we want it, and the last time [we played] at home we walked off the field disappointed,” Kinnear said, referring to Houston’s 2-0 loss to Columbus on June 18.
Defender Kofi Sarkodie (pictured above) is confident the Dynamo can turn their home troubles around.
“I think at this point we’ve been searching for three points and we haven’t been able to get that back,” he said. “If we can go in there and use our fans as a 12th man and use their energy in the match, [we can] get three points.”
Taking advantage of their home field is important for a Houston team that has been treading water in the standings the past two months. With Eastern conference foes Columbus and Sporting KC climbing their way up the table, the Dynamo find themselves trying to keep pace.
“It’s the second half of the season and teams are starting to make moves,” Sarkodie added. “New York won Wednesday and Philadelphia’s in a good spot, so now it’s time for us to make some moves.”
15. Green Mountain grad Brovsky blends soccer career with compassion
By John Mayer
Denver Post—July 9, 2011
Jeb Brovsky's first exposure to soccer came when he was an infant, strapped to his father's back while dad roamed the sidelines coaching the Colorado Rush. Brovsky grew up a fan of Rapids stars Marcelo Balboa and Carlos Valderrama, and one of his youth coaches was Rapids great Paul Bravo.
So the thought of playing against the Rapids in his hometown tonight is a little overwhelming for the Green Mountain High School grad, an MLS rookie out of Notre Dame who has gotten considerable playing time with the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps.
"I couldn't be more excited," Brovsky said. "To have my friends and family in the crowd, to have 20,000 watching me play ... I can't wait."
His father, John, is thrilled his son's childhood dream of playing pro soccer has come true. He may be more proud of his son's other passion, though.
While at Notre Dame, Brovsky founded a not-for-profit organization called Peace Pandemic that uses soccer to promote peace and nonviolence around the world. For that work, Brovsky was named the MLS humanitarian of the month for June.
"We couldn't have asked for more," said John Brovsky. "He's graduated, he's got his own nonprofit. He's really a go-getter. I'm so proud of him."
Peace Pandemic organizes youth soccer camps in North America, then uses funds generated to put on other camps in areas overseas that are affected by conflict, human rights abuses and poverty. In November, he's going to Tanzania with some teammates.
"It really meshes my passions of international peace and soccer," Jeb Brovsky said. "Kids are funding other kids' camps. Kids (overseas) get the chance to write letters and thank you notes to the kids who funded their camps. They create friendships across the world."
A youthful dream
Brovsky got his sense of social responsibility from his parents. His attraction to nonviolence also was shaped by the Columbine tragedy, which happened when Brovsky was 10.
"I really started to internalize a lot when I was little," Brovsky said. "I started to look outward and say, 'Why am I on this earth? Why are we here? What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want your life's message to be?'"
Founding a nonprofit while playing soccer and majoring in business and peace studies at a major university may have been exhausting at times, but Brovsky was driven.
"I have this passion, I have this idea," Brovsky said. "I'm not the type of person to wait for something. I think if you have a dream, if you have something you want to do, there's no better day than today to do it. It's just my passion and my life's goal."
So is soccer. He had a couple tough years just before high school, when he was coming off a badly broken leg and was the smallest kid on the team, but he was determined to succeed.
Bravo, now the Rapids' technical director, coached Brovsky when he was ages 12-14.
"He had a great passion for the game," Bravo said. "He always had a great work ethic, and even when things weren't going his way, he was always very positive. We always felt that once he grew into his body, he was going to be a pretty darned good player.
"He was always around the ball. He was always the first one to practice, the last one to leave, always looking for any sort of insight into how he could make himself a better all-around player."
In Vancouver, Brovsky is rooming with teammate Bilal Duckett, a defender who played with him at Notre Dame. From the 24th floor of their apartment building in downtown Vancouver, they had a bird's eye view of the rioting following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
"My apartment was one of the apartments that was quite vandalized, windows were shattered," Brovsky said. "Bilal and I were on our balcony watching the whole thing. It was a crazy but sad scene to see. Most of those people weren't from Vancouver, yet they were trashing a beautiful city."
Ups and downs
Brovsky has been Vancouver's most effective rookie, starting nine of the team's 19 games in midfield, including four of the last five.
"It's been a whirlwind," Brovsky said. "I look back on the past six months and it's been just a dream. Coming in as a rookie your whole psyche is, 'I'm going to do anything to make this team.' Then, 'I'm going to do anything to get into the lineup.'"
Brovsky was happy to be drafted by an expansion team, believing he'd have a better chance to earn a spot on a team without a set lineup. But the Whitecaps have won only two games and are on their second coach.
"It's been a rough battle all year," Brovsky said. "We're learning a lot about what it takes to win, especially on the road, in this league. But I feel great, because it's almost as if the team and I are learning together."
John Meyer: 303-954-1616 or
Brovsky bio
Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 170 pounds
Born: October 3, 1988
High School: Green Mountain (2007), where he played soccer, football (wide receiver, safety, and kicker) and basketball. Also was a standout on highly successful Colorado Rush U-18 teams.
College: Notre Dame (2010), graduated in 3 1/2 years; All Big East first team selection his senior season. As a senior, won ND's Christopher Zorich Award, which recognizes contributions to the university and the community, and the Byron V. Kanaley Award, given to senior athletes who have been most exemplary as students and leaders.
Drafted: First pick in the second round (19th overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
16. Rochat welcomes new teammate and return to 'normalcy' for versatile Whitecaps' defender
Vancouver plays Saturday in Colarado
By Bruce Constantineau
Vancouver Sun—July 8, 2011
A new kid on the Vancouver Whitecaps block probably creates a new home on the field for talented defender Alain Rochat.
The Caps strengthened their back line this week by acquiring dependable left back Jordan Harvey from the Philadelphia Union for allocation money.
Rochat has owned the Whitecaps starting left back spot this season, playing brilliantly there at times in his first Major League Soccer season. But the versatile 28-year-old former FC Zurich regular has also been an effective central defender for the Caps when injuries forced roster changes.
With Harvey on his way to defend the left side, a more permanent shift to the centre of the field seems likely for Rochat – especially with captain Jay DeMerit's injury issues and the seemingly imminent departure of centre back Mouloud Akloul.
Rochat is fine with the likely move.
“I don't have a preference [on the back line],” he said after training Friday, noting that his “real” position used to be midfield. “I've played more on the left so I guess I have more practice at that position. But I've already done this [played centre back] so it's never a problem.”
Harvey joins his new team in Denver on Saturday when the Whitecaps play defending MLS Cup champions Colorado Rapids at 6 p.m. (Snet One, Team 1410) at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The 27-year-old Californian spent four seasons with Colorado before Philadelphia grabbed him in the 2009 MLS expansion draft. He made 46 appearances for the Union the past two seasons and and was a starter this year on a back line that gave up just 16 goals in 17 matches.
Whitecaps midfielder Shea Salinas, a teammate of Harvey's in Philadelphia last year, said the Caps are getting a great ball tackler who's very physical -- something like a left-footed Jonathan Leathers.
“He's a solid player and a hard worker with a great left foot,” Salinas said. “He's really good at whipping balls in on the attack. I played with him a bit on the left side last year and he's great at picking his times to go forward.”
Whitecaps head coach Tom Soehn said Harvey is an MLS-experienced defender with a lot of playing minutes to his credit.
“We still want to get better at having guys with MLS experience who know what the league is about, what you're up against every week and what it's like playing in other environments,” he said.
Soehn said the addition of Harvey makes the Caps roster more competitive and gives the squad more flexibility with Rochat.
“You have to love Alain's experience and his ability to play out of the back,” he said. “He's been stout defensively and does all the things you want out of a centre back.”
Soehn will decide if Harvey plays against his old team today after meeting him in Colorado.
The 5-5-9 Rapids have had a mediocre 2011 campaign since starting with three consecutive victories. They're winless at home the past seven games -- with two losses and five draws at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the past three months.
But the dynamic striking duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings has been reunited recently after injuries to both kept them from playing together for most of this season.
The pair combined to score 27 of Colorado's 44 regular-season goals last year.
“Conor is a guy that will beat you up and Omar can get in behind you so we're going to have to account for that,” Soehn said.
He also noted the Rapids have experienced players on the flanks, while midfielder Jeff Larentowicz is also dangerous on the attack.
“He breaks up a lot in the middle and can hit a ball from the outside,” Soehn said. “We'll make sure our guys know what their strengths are.”
SIDE KICKS: Striker Eric Hassli's bruised foot, which prevented him from training all week, will keep him out of Saturday's game but Soehn feels the big Frenchman will “surely” be back next week.
“We just want to make sure we don't reaggravate it,” he said. DeMerit and midfielder/forward Davide Chiumiento are also out with injuries but midfielder John Thorrington -- out almost all year with various injuries -- could be available next week if he continues to progress well, Soehn said.
17. Thin Rapids, 'Caps squads aim to end winless streaks
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Commerce City, CO - The Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps FC squads are both looking very thin ahead of their tilt at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.
Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni was questionable for Saturday's match against Vancouver after picking up a knee injury against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, but the midfield stalwart will have to sit out to serve a one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
It is uncertain what roles Jamie Smith and Brian Mullan will play in Saturday's match against the 'Caps. Smith (calf) and Mullan (back) did not travel to Kansas City for Wednesday's match in an attempt to better recover from their ailments.
Wells Thompson and Ross LaBauex are likely to shoulder much of the workload in the midfield, while Joseph Nane looks like the direct replacement for Mastroeni.
"Every time I sit on the bench I look at Pablo and Jeff [Larentowicz] and watch the way they play, so it's easier for me when I get in," Nane said after Wednesday's game. "I already know what they have been doing and I just try to replicate that."
The Whitecaps will likely be without captain Jay DeMerit (groin), Designated Player Eric Hassli (foot contusion), and playmaker Davide Chiumiento (hamstring), while midfielder Shea Salinas is a certainty to miss the match after receiving a red card against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday.
Vancouver has lost its last three Major League Soccer matches. In its most recent outing, it suffered a heart-breaking 1-0 home defeat to Columbus by way of a late Jeff Cunningham header.
Despite a tough string of results recently, there is some optimism surrounding Vancouver, as it acquired Jordan Harvey from the Philadelphia Union this week for allocation money.
Harvey appeared and started in 16 of a possible 17 matches for the Union this season, reaching a level of consistency that the 'Caps feel can help right their ship. While it is uncertain whether he will play on Saturday, Harvey is available for selection.
This is the first competitive encounter between the Whitecaps and the Rapids, although the teams did meet in preseason on March 12th. The Rapids earned a 1-0 victory in the friendly at Empire Field in Vancouver.
18. Whitecaps FC-Rapids Preview
FOX Sports—July 8, 2011
Having their two top forwards in the starting lineup wasn't enough to boost the Colorado Rapids to a much-needed victory earlier this week, but a visit from the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps might help.
The Rapids will try to snap a franchise-worst, seven-game winless streak at home when they face the Whitecaps for the first time Saturday night.
Conor Casey and Omar Cummings - MLS' top goal-scoring duo in 2010 - were on the field together for just the third time this season Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City.
Casey gave his team an early lead with his third goal in as many games, but Colorado had to settle for a 1-all draw. The reigning MLS champion Rapids (5-5-9) had to survive three shots that went off goal posts to earn that point.
"It was a battle," defender Drew Moor told the league's official website. "There were a lot of fouls, a lot of stoppages and we were under a lot of pressure. The first 50 or 60 minutes, we played like the champions we are. After they scored, I think we showed fantastic character in not giving them a second (goal)."
The Rapids are 2-5-9 since a franchise-best 3-0-0 start and have one win in their past 11 games.
They're also 0-2-5 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park since beating D.C. 4-1 on April 3.
The Rapids, however, will get to face a Whitecaps club that's 0-7-3 on the road, has one victory since its inaugural contest and is on a franchise-worst three-game losing streak.
Vancouver (2-9-8) has scored one goal during that slide and been shut out in consecutive games. Midfielder Terry Dunfield had a chance to end those skids but missed a penalty kick in the 73rd minute of Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Columbus.
"It's obviously very disappointing," coach Tom Soehn said. "We have to reward ourselves. You've got to bury (penalty kicks). Those are opportunities that you have to take advantage of and we didn't."
Vancouver played a man down over the final 13 minutes after a red card to midfielder Shea Salinas, who will have to sit out this game. The Whitecaps might also be without captain Jay DeMerit (groin), leading goal scorer Eric Hassli (bruised foot) and midfielder Davide Chiumiento (hamstring).
The Rapids won't have captain Pablo Mastroeni, who injured his knee Wednesday, because of yellow card accumulation.
Joseph Nane could be Mastroeni's midfield replacement. Nane, who played for Toronto FC in
2010, has appeared in four games this season.
19. Cannon relishes trip to old stomping grounds in Colorado
'Caps GK notes high-octane Rapids, unlike his old D-minded squad
By Martin MacMahon—July 9, 2011
VANCOUVER, B.C. — For Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon, traveling to Colorado on Saturday (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online) won't just be a chance to face the defending MLS Cup champs. It's also a trip down memory lane.
The veteran netminder enjoyed four successful seasons in a Rapids kit, in which he picked up his second MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2004 and earned a nomination for Major League Soccer’s MVP Award that same year.
“We were a team that couldn’t score many goals, but we had a grit about us,” Cannon recalled to at training on Thursday. “The guys on our back line — Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford and Antonio de la Torre, guys that, except for Nat, aren’t in the league anymore — they were a good group. Our strength was defending. Guys that could close down and make it difficult for the other team. It made my job a lot easier when I was there.”
As for this season’s edition of the Rapids, Cannon is well aware that it's their attacking players that form their current strength, and playing at a higher elevation could be a challenge for his side.
“The altitude is an issue at times for teams that come in,” Cannon said. “It’s a wide field, so there will be a lot open play. Hopefully our line won’t be too high. They have a guy, Omar Cummings, who’s very good, gets behind you, and Conor Casey, who holds the ball up well. They work very well together. In midfield, watch for Jeff Larentowicz taking shots from distance; he’s got a really good shot. “
Whitecaps head coach Tom Soehn is focusing on the Rapids’ offensive threat as well, and rightfully so — Casey has scored five goals in his last six games.
"You've got Casey, who's a big target guy who works hard,” Soehn said. “You've also got Cummings, who can open up the back and get in behind, so you'll always have to account for those two and they play off each other well.”
Ultimately, Cannon says his current side should use this game as a learning experience, and should try to incorporate some of the Rapids qualities into their own game.
“They’re a dangerous team all-around,” Cannon explained. “Very blue-collar, a team we should look at and try and emulate ourselves. No stars, just a good group of guys. They’re coming off a cup last year, and here in Vancouver, we’d like to do the same.”
20. RSL plays host to red-hot Dallas
By Michael C. Lewis
Salt Lake Tribune—July 9, 2011
Sandy • Scoring goals has been a challenge for Real Salt Lake for most of the season, amid injuries and absences that decimated the attacking corps and a schedule that hasn’t given them many breaks.
But things might just be looking up.
With first-choice strikers Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola starting to regain their top form, RSL is coming off back-to-back multi-goal games for the first time in three months as it prepares to meet nemesis FC Dallas at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday in the first of two meetings in a four-day span.
“For a regular-season game, this is about as big as it gets,” defender Chris Wingert said.
That’s because the Hoops are the hottest team in Major League Soccer at the moment, even without injured most valuable player David Ferreira, having lost only once in their last 13 games to emerge as perhaps the new favorite to win the Supporters Shield regular-season title. What’s more, they stunningly eliminated RSL from the playoffs last season, and claim one of the league’s brightest young stars in goal-scoring midfielder Brek Shea.
But both teams are caught in the unusual position of meeting again on Tuesday, in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup tournament.
The winner of that tournament will earn a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, and RSL coach Jason Kreis has said he will put “massive emphasis” on getting back to the international tournament his team nearly won earlier this year. Whether that means resting some regulars at home against FC Dallas so they’re fresh for the must-win game on the road in a stadium where RSL has never won, he wouldn’t specifically say.
“We definitely need to consider rotation of players,” he acknowledged.
21. On-field success has FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake rivalry percolating
By Andy Friedlander
Dallas Morning News—July 9, 2011
FRISCO — If, as is said, familiarity breeds contempt, FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake are becoming the best of enemies.
And that seems to be exactly what is happening.
“Yeah, it kind of feels like there’s a bit of a rivalry growing here,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “It seems like the games are starting to take on a little more meaning than just another regular-season MLS game, and that’s a good thing to have in our league.”
It’s a rivalry born on the field, where FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake are far from strangers. Beginning Saturday night in Salt Lake City, the clubs will meet twice in three days — first in an MLS regular-season match, then in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal in Frisco. This after having played May 22, twice during last season’s playoffs and in the next-to-last game of the 2010 regular season.
That adds up to six games since Oct. 16, most with something tangible on the line, be it playoff seeding or a shot at the MLS Cup. And that adds up to a growing intensity for every game.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on on the field, bickering back and forth,” FCD midfielder Brek Shea said. “I think that’s a rivalry. Every time we play each other now, it’s a big game because both teams have had a lot of success lately.”
There’s no denying that. RSL won the MLS Cup in 2009, finished second in the Western Conference last season, advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League final and is 7-3-6 this season. FCD made it to the league title match last season and is the only MLS team with 10
victories in 2011.
There has long been something simmering between the clubs because RSL had lost every game it had played at FCD until a 0-0 draw this season. But the ante was raised considerably when FCD knocked Real out of the playoffs in November.
“We advanced and they didn’t,” FCD defender George John said, “and I think they’re still probably a little upset about that.”
There’s also a bit of a personal aspect to the matchup. In his playing days, Kreis was an icon for FC Dallas, then known as the Dallas Burn, leaving as the club’s career scoring leader with 91 goals. While he said that is no longer a big deal to him — “It used to be but it’s so long ago now I can hardly remember even playing there,” he said — there was obvious relief in his voice when his team managed to get out of Pizza Hut Park with a tie in May.
“It would be a natural thing for him to personally say, ‘I want to beat Dallas,’” FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. “The success we’ve had this past year and a half adds to that.”
So do the teams’ contrasting styles. Real Salt Lake likes to play from the middle of the field and thrives on possession, while FCD strikes quickly on the counterattack, and its firepower is on the wings, where Shea and Jackson Goncalves have been unstoppable lately.
But that pair will find the going tough against RSL’s league-leading defense, especially in front of the hostile crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium, where Real had a 29-match unbeaten streak until a May 28 loss to Seattle.
“If you just look at it from the surface, the first advantage you see is altitude,” Hyndman said of RSL’s home success. “You see a lot of teams go in there and have difficulty late in the game with oxygen. Then they have a tremendous fan base that’s right on top of you. You go some places, like, say, Portland, and they’ll chant and sing the whole game, but they’re not attacking you with their chants. [Real Salt Lake’s] fan base is very protective of their team, and they try to help them win by upsetting the opposition.”
Briefly: Striker Marvin Chavez sat out practice this week after taking a hit to the ribs in last week’s victory over Columbus, but Hyndman said he is expected to play. Midfielder Daniel Hernandez also sat out during the week with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. He is also expected to play. … Midfielder Eric Avila was back with FCD this week after a proposed loan deal to Mexico’s Club Atlas fell through. He’s played a total of 15 minutes since May 22. … Goalkeeper Richard Sanchez has started every game for Mexico during the Under-17 World Cup. Host Mexico reached the tournament final with a 3-2 victory over Germany on Thursday and will face Uruguay for the championship Sunday.
22. Dallas a good test for Real Salt Lake
By James Edward
Deseret News—July 9, 2011
SANDY — Tonight is the midway point of the MLS season for Real Salt Lake, and coach Jason Kreis admits it's time to start looking at the standings.
"It's time to start … figuring out what we need to do to make sure we get ourselves a playoff spot, challenge for Supporters Shield and challenge for the Western Conference title," said Kreis.
That push begins tonight against visiting FC Dallas in what Kreis called the biggest regular season match to date.
Dallas has vaulted to the front of the Supporters Shield conversation with three straight victories and a 9-1-3 record since a disappointing opening month of the season. It sits on 34 points in the standings, just two behind Los Angeles which has played two more games.
RSL occupies the third spot in the West with 27 points, but it's played four fewer games than the Galaxy and two fewer than Dallas.
"This is a six-point game. If we can get a win tomorrow, then we're three points closer and we still have two games in hand," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman.
With a 1-1-4 record in its past six games, RSL knows it needs to start winning some of those games in hand to keep itself in the hunt for the league's best record.
"We're just going to keep try and improving. Our record, we're still all right. We're still in the hunt for everything we set out to get except for the CONCACAF, so we just have to keep improving," said Beckerman.
RSL will be without center back Nat Borchers, who is suspended because of Monday's red card against New England. The timing of the absence is less than ideal as Dallas comes into the match with the second-highest scoring attack in MLS, with Brek Shea leading the way with eight goals. The rising star has scored in four straight and will be a handful for an RSL defense that still leads the league with only 12 goals allowed.
"They've been playing at a high level for a couple years now. It's exciting," said midfielder Will Johnson. "These are the kind of games you want to play in. You want to play against good teams and test yourself against good opposition."
Johnson said the team has done a good job refocusing since Monday's disappointing result, but admits it's been tough.
"Things keep going against us. It's kind of a weird feeling, kind of like is this going to happen all year to us or are we going to catch a break every now and again," said Johnson.
This is the first of two meetings between RSL and Dallas, with the second coming in Dallas on Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match.
Both are equally as important, but Kreis said he can't concern himself with the latter just yet.
"Right now we just stay completely focused on (Saturday) night's game, and immediately when that's over we start concerning ourselves with Tuesday night's game," said Kreis, whose team is 0-9-1 all-time in Dallas.
To get the result it desperately needs at Rio Tinto Stadium, Kreis said RSL needs to play with the same fighting spirit that vaulted it into the conversation as best MLS team ever just three months ago. Otherwise, Dallas will stroll right in and steal the points.
23. RSL welcomes red-hot FC Dallas to Sandy
By Justin Johnson
Standard-Examiner—July 9, 2011
SANDY -- The season has been going for months, a bruising stretch of matches against three separate competitions.
For Real Salt Lake, it's time to dig in its heels and make a critical push forward if it wants to stay in the hunt for Major League Soccer's Supporter's Shield.
The MLS season hits midpoint for Real tonight, when its hosts FC Dallas in a crucial Western Conference battle at 7 p.m. inside the confines of Rio Tinto Stadium.
FC Dallas rolls into Sandy sporting a three-match winning streak and is 10-1-3 in its 14 outings, sitting just two points behind MLS leading Los Angeles with two matches in hand on the Galaxy.
RSL is unbeaten in five matches (1-0-4), including Monday's wild and controversial 3-3 draw with New England. Real Salt Lake has 27 points from 16 matches, trailing the Hoops by seven points with two matches in hand.
That alone makes tonight's contest critical, even with half the season to play. A full-value Dallas result would push the lead to 10 points, with no more MLS meetings scheduled between the teams.
Real will be shorthanded on the backline, missing starting defender Nat Borchers, who was sent off in the third minute after a hotly-disputed foul that led to New England's first goal of the game.
RSL thrived against New England, even with the man-disadvantage and rallied to tie the match at 3-3.
Dallas, led by star Brek Shea, will present a far stiffer challenge than RSL's cellar-dwelling opposition of the past month.
The Hoops own an 11-6-2 advantage all-time against RSL, with Real holding a 6-3-0 mark in matches held in Utah.
The two squads will meet again in short-order following tonight's matchup, tangling on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
24. Shea leads Dallas into clash with RSL
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Sandy, UT - FC Dallas was a finalist in the MLS Cup last season, so the fact that the Hoops find themselves near the top of the Western Conference table shouldn't be a surprise as they get set to visit Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Schellas Hyndman's team has won its last three games and four of its last five to become the first team in MLS to reach 10 wins on the season, but what is surprising is that this has been accomplished for the most part without last season's most valuable player, David Ferreira.
Ferreira suffered a serious leg injury in Dallas' sixth game of the season against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but the club has managed to go 8-1-3 since he went down, with a lot of the credit belonging to Brek Shea.
Shea began the season as a center back because of injury issues in the Dallas defense, but he has been moved up to play on the left side of midfield and flourished, scoring eight goals so far this season, including one in each of the past four games.
"The better you play, the more confidence you get," Shea said after Dallas' latest win, a 2-0 triumph over the Columbus Crew. "You just get on a roll. I am just on a good roll right now."
Hyndman added a little more when discussing what Shea has meant to the team so far.
"Think about him being the team's leading scorer despite how many games he played at left back and center back before we got ourselves healthy," Hyndman contemplated. "It is not just the goals he scores, he gets some good balls and he keeps the defense under a lot of pressure."
Salt Lake had its key playmaker in midfield, Javier Morales, also go down to a devastating injury early in the season. But despite the fact that RSL is riding a five-game unbeaten streak, the club has been held to draws in four of those matches and needs to start collecting three points at a time.
RSL had been busy competing in the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this season while also losing a number of players to Gold Cup duty recently.
But through all the injuries and absences, Jason Kreis' team has remained tough to beat, with RSL losing just three of its first 16 matches.
The latest result was a wild 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution in a match that saw Salt Lake defender Nat Borchers sent off after just two minutes.
The Revs took a two-goal lead after 16 minutes of play and were up a man, but Kreis was extremely pleased with how well his team battled back to claim a point.
"My take away from the match is that I'm really, really proud of our guys," Kreis said. "To get to 2-2 and then have another disappointing decision and a free kick goal scored off of that, and then fight back again to get to 3-3 is a huge credit to our group."
Borchers will miss Saturday's match through suspension, but Salt Lake has made a habit out of getting by with whomever is in the lineup.
25. Galaxy tries to overcome Fire, injuries in defense
The Sports Network—July 8, 2011
Carson, CA — The Los Angeles Galaxy has had to deal with a number of absences due to injury, international duty and bizarre circumstances in recent weeks.
Leading scorer Landon Donovan missed significant time in June while away on international duty with the United States in the Gold Cup, while David Beckham has been battling a back injury that has forced him to miss games.
Starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts went down with an arm injury, and in the same game, second-choice keeper Josh Saunders was sent off, leaving midfielder Mike Magee to play in goal for the second half of the match.
But as the Galaxy gets set to host the Chicago Fire on Saturday at The Home Depot Center, the club still brings an 11-game unbeaten streak into the match despite all of its issues.
The latest came on Monday as rookie Brian Perk made his MLS debut against Seattle Sounders FC and stopped a penalty kick en route to a clean sheet and a 0-0 draw.
Saunders will return in goal on Saturday after serving his suspension, but there is concern about the defenders in front of him after both A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez left the game on Monday with injuries.
DeLaGarza was accidentally kicked in the face by Seattle's Fredy Montero while Gonzalez left with a hip injury, leaving the status of both players in doubt.
"I think it's always difficult losing players, especially when it's defenders," Beckham said after the Seattle match. "I think we adapted in the right way, in the way that we needed to.
"When things are down and when players miss (playing time) through either suspension or injury it's how the squad reacts. We've reacted well. We reacted really well in San Jose and obviously tonight losing a couple of players again."
Chicago's biggest issue this season so far has been a lack of wins, with the team claiming just two victories in its first 18 contests.
But the team sits just 10 points back of Eastern Conference leaders Red Bull New York with a game in hand because they have been able to earn 12 draws.
The Fire has drawn seven of its last eight games, but remains unbeaten under interim coach Frank Klopas, who is 1-0-6 since taking over for Carlos de los Cobos on May 30.
26. Fire face tough road test at Galaxy
By Charlie Corr—July 8, 2011
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire return to The Home Depot Center for a second straight week, but this time around they face the team that has dominated in that stadium this season -- the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Fire and Galaxy square off Saturday, and Chicago (2-4-12) is coming off a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA the previous week. The Galaxy enters the weekend in first place in the Western Conference with a 9-2-9 record, posting an impressive and unbeaten home mark at 4-0-5.
"It's a different game than the Chivas game," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "We know the field. It's a little bigger field than ours [at Toyota Park], as far as the length of it. It's probably the biggest in the league, if I'm not mistaken. It's good that we played on it, but we have to play a better game than the last one."
The last match was a fourth straight draw, and Chicago leads MLS with 12 of them. The Fire prepare for their toughest road test since Klopas took over Carlos de los Cobos' coaching duties. So far under Klopas, the Fire are 1-0-6.
"You just need one win to get the ball rolling," Fire forward Dominic Oduro said. "Hopefully it will come and everything will fall into place."
A road victory would be a tall task against the Galaxy, headed by Landon Donovan and his team-leading eight goals.
"They're a very well organized team," Klopas said. "They stay very compact, they pressure the ball and they get after guys. With Donovan's pace, obviously their strength is in the midfield, and everything goes through Juninho, who's good with the ball but is also very good to join in late runs."
The Fire have defended well on set pieces during Klopas' coaching tenure. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (back) could be a question mark for Saturday. But if Beckham does play a part in the weekend match, there is no question that Chicago's set-piece defending has to be in top form.
"We've got to limit the number of opportunities on that and make sure we defend very well and stay compact," Klopas said.
The Galaxy has not posted a loss since a 2-1 defeat on May 1 at FC Dallas, and its 11-game unbeaten run is the longest current stretch in MLS.
Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk made his MLS debut last week, saving a penalty kick and eventually earning a scoreless draw against Seattle Sounders FC. Perk had to step in because of regular starter Donovan Ricketts' forearm injury and backup Josh Saunders' suspension.
Oduro and midfielder Marco Pappa lead the Fire with five goals apiece this season. The Fire have not posted a multi-goal game during Klopas' coaching duties.
27. When best isn't good enough
By Scott French—July 9, 2011
The Galaxy have not so quietly put together Major League Soccer's longest, and among its least impressive, unbeaten streaks this season, one game shy of a dozen heading into Saturday night's Home Depot Center clash against the Chicago Fire.
They're 5-0-6 since a May 1 loss at FC Dallas, but their once-commanding lead in the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference races has been whittled to just two points by the Hoops, who have two games in hand.
It has been a difficult stretch for L.A. (9-2-9), even if the results fail to illuminate that. Injuries and international duty have tested depth all over the field, and if that depth has been solid, the need to use it has thwarted the Galaxy from developing an attacking rhythm as they look to transition from a counterattacking team into a possession side.
They've got seven starters of one stripe or another on the injury list this week, including most of the first-choice defense -- and several key backups in the back, too -- and David Beckham, who has a spinal fracture that cost him two games and limited him to short time in Monday's scoreless draw with Seattle.
"If you put together the number of games that key players have missed, and at the end of this we're still the team with the most points in the league?" Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said this week. "It ain't that bad. Is it perfect? No. What're you gonna do? ...
"[Our depth] hasn't been perfect, but it's been good. There's been plenty of teams in the league that have had to deal with the same things. It goes in ebbs and flows throughout the season. There's good periods, there's times when you're flat and times when you're down. I don't think we're down, but we could have grabbed a few more points in the first 20 games this season. We know that."
One thing restricting the Galaxy has been the amount of time Beckham and Landon Donovan, their two most important players, have spent on the field together. Beckham has been slowed by several injuries, none of the rest as potentially serious as his current affliction, and Donovan was away for a month with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup. Both were on the field for 23 minutes plus stoppage against Seattle, Donovan's first game since the U.S. defeat to Mexico at the Rose Bowl.
"When you're playing games at home and you're tying, it's difficult," said Donovan, noting that L.A. has drawn its last three games at HDC. "And more importantly, it's not the results, it's the way we play. We haven't played well. We need to get back to playing the way we play, and when we do that, we're successful. If we do that, the results will take care of themselves."
Said Beckham: "We're happy we haven't lost [during this stretch], but we're also not happy that we haven't finished teams off when we feel we should be finishing teams off. ... We know what we're doing wrong, it's just about putting it right."
BECKHAM'S BACK: Beckham isn't certain he'll be available against Chicago -- it all depends on how his back feels. He said it was "a little bit sore, a little bit stiff" after Monday's game but that he feels "strong enough now to possibly start the game" if he can go.
The injury, a slight fracture, affects his ability to twist and turn, and "that's probably something that, unfortunately, I do every time I kick the ball or I run or I turn."
"Everything else feels great. It's just the back," he said. "Obviously, it is a major concern when you get back injuries, but I've not got to have surgery -- that was the lucky thing that came out of it -- but I have to be careful. If I continue to push it when it's not right, then surgery will be out there."
Beckham, 36, has dealt with so many ailments lately, none more debilitating than the Achilles' tendon rupture that sidelined him most of 2010. "The last few years, I've had injuries I've never had before in my career," he said. "I suppose that's a sign of getting old."
WORTH NOTING: Chad Barrett and Omar Gonzalez tallied as L.A. won, 2-1, on April 17 at Toyota Park. ... The Galaxy is 18-17-5 all-time against Chicago and 9-7-3 in So Cal. ... Beckham will be suspended with his next yellow card. He missed the first game against Chicago while serving a suspension for yellow-card accumulation. ... Former Cal State Northridge star Daniel Paladini is available after missing Chicago's draw last week at HDC with Chivas USA. ... Cristian Nazarit scored a hat trick and Woodland Hills' Orr Barouch added two goals as the Fire destroyed FC Dallas, 5-0, in an MLS Reserve League game Tuesday.
MISSING: Donovan Ricketts is out because of a broken arm. ... Center backs Leonardo and Sean Alvarado are out for the season with torn knee ligaments. ... Beckham, Barrett (sprained knee), Gonzalez (hip pointer) and defenders A.J. DeLaGarza (head/face trauma), Sean Franklin (hamstring strain) and Frankie Hejduk (ankle inflammation) are questionable.
Head coach
Greek-born Frank Klopas, 44, a gifted forward during his playing days, spent more than a decade with the U.S. national team and was part of the 1994 World Cup squad. He played with his hometown Chicago Sting indoors starting at 17, eight years in Greece and wrapped his career with stints in MLS with Kansas City and the Fire. He became Chicago's technical director in January 2008 and took over as interim coach when Carlos de los Cobos was dismissed at the end of May.
Three key players
Guatamalan midfielder Marco Pappa, 23, quickly emerged as one of MLS's most skilled and dangerous attacking midfielders upon joining the Fire in 2008. He's scored five goals this yerar.
Speedy Ghanaian forward Dominic Oduro, 25, has been in MLS since 2006, and he's just starting to tap into his potential, with five goals and a couple of assists in 18 games since arriving in a trade from Houston right after the MLS openers.
Uruguayan-born, Argentine-raised forward Diego Chaves, 25, scored in his first three games with the Fire. He's quieted down since, but remains dangerous in their attack.
Current form/prospects
The Fire (2-4-12) feel a lot better about their chances since Klopas took charge, and they're playing with a lot more joy since the change. It's not led to as many points as they'd like, but they're riding an eight-game MLS unbeaten streak and have lost just once in their last 13 while setting a league record with six successive draws at home and moving within two ties of the league single-season mark, 14, set last year by FC Dallas. They've got the tools for a dynamic attack, with Pappa, Oduro, Chaves and winger Patrick Nyarko -- and with Barouch and Nazarit taking on expanded roles -- and appear capable of making a move if they can get all the pieces working together.
Local connections
Paladini starred at St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, and he played for the Galaxy's reserve side in 2006-07 and was with Chivas USA in 2008. ... Barouch played at El Camino Real High School and for West Valley Samba and Real So Cal and in Chivas USA's youth academy. ... Colombian defender Yamith Cuesta was with Chivas in 2009-10 and opened camp with the Goats this season. ... Backup goalkeeper Jon Conway was on Chivas' roster in 2009. ... Rookie defender Jalil Anibaba was born in Fontana, but he grew up in Davis.
Midfielder Mike Banner and defender Steven Kinney remain out with Achilles injuries, and midfielder Marko Maric is out with a deltoid sprain.
At Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK-AM/1150, English) and ESPN Deportes (KWKW-AM/1330, Spanish)
Referee: David Gantar
28. Chicago (2-4-12) at Los Angeles (9-2-9)
By Alan Ferguson
Yahoo! Sports—July 8, 2011
The Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Chicago Fire in April despite the absences of Landon Donovan and David Beckham.
The Galaxy are hoping both stars will be on the Home Depot Center field for the rematch Saturday night, though goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts will remain sidelined as his team tries to extend an 11-game unbeaten run.
Donovan was out with an inflamed right knee and Beckham was serving a suspension when the Galaxy won 2-1 at Chicago on April 17.
Donovan, whose eight goals are tied for second in MLS, admittedly wasn’t sharp when he returned Monday in a scoreless draw with Seattle after missing four games because of the Gold Cup. Beckham, whose seven assists are tied for second most in the league, has a stress fracture in his spine but played 21 minutes, his first action in three games.
Although he’s suffering from fatigue, Donovan is expected to play Saturday while Beckham is listed as questionable.
“We’re probably better with them,” coach Bruce Arena told the team’s website. “It’s not got to be something that happens overnight were we get them both back and we get them playing 90 minutes together.”
Los Angeles has an MLS-best 36 points despite enduring a number of key absences this season. The club is now dealing with another one, as Ricketts is out of the lineup for three to five weeks.
The 2010 MLS goalkeeper of the year had surgery for a fractured left forearm sustained June 25.
In Ricketts’ place, the Galaxy (9-2-9) got an admirable effort from Brian Perk in his league debut Monday as he stopped an early penalty kick. Perk might be on the sidelines for this game, though, with Josh Saunders eligible to return from a red-card suspension.
Whoever is in goal will try to help the Galaxy end the Fire’s eight-game unbeaten streak, their longest since a 5-0-6 start to the 2009 season.
Chicago (2-4-12), though, has one win in that stretch and recorded its second straight 1-all draw last Saturday. Dominic Oduro scored in the 26th minute against Chivas USA, but the Fire allowed the equalizer just after halftime.
“We have to stay focused for 90 minutes,” defender Cory Gibbs said. “We had lapses against Chivas. If we do that against a team like the Galaxy, we’ll lose.”
The Fire’s defeat to Los Angeles in April was their third straight. They’ve gone 1-1-11 since.
Chicago has given up three goals in seven games since Frank Klopas took over as interim coach for the fired Carlos de los Cobos.
Donovan scored twice in Los Angeles’ last home game against the Fire on Aug. 1, but Chicago had built a 3-0 lead in the first 19 minutes and hung on for the 3-2 victory.
Los Angeles hasn’t gone unbeaten in 12 straight since a 10-0-2 start to last season.
29. Short-handed San Jose Earthquakes have to change lineup vs. Philadelphia Union
By Elliott Almond
San Jose Mercury News—July 9, 2011
At least the Earthquakes have defender Bobby Burling back.
When San Jose plays host to Eastern Conference-power Philadelphia on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium, it will roll out a re-jiggered lineup because of injuries and suspensions.
Bobby Convey and Ike Opara still aren't available while recovering from injuries. And the Quakes (5-6-6) lost two more starters Wednesday night while losing at Chivas USA.
Second-leading scorer Steven Lenhart received a one-game suspension for getting his fifth yellow card this season. Steven Beitashour, the team's assists leader, suffered a right leg injury at the end of the first half, forcing the season debut of fullback Tim Ward.
Burling didn't play at Chivas USA after getting ejected for the first time in his career last weekend against the New York Red Bulls. The center back got two yellow cards in the last 13 minutes.
He also accidentally deflected in New York's game-tying goal in the 85th minute.
"It was an unfortunate six-minute stretch for me," said Burling, who otherwise has enjoyed a stellar season. "I've been playing since I was 4 years old. I had never been thrown out of a game."
The Earthquakes will need Burling against the Union, the third elite Major League Soccer team to visit the Bay Area in successive weekends. While San Jose ended with ties against the Los Angeles Galaxy and then the Red Bulls, it hopes for more Saturday after failing to win in a month.
“ When you haven't won in four games, you want to get back and win," coach Frank Yallop said Friday.
Burling, who started the season fourth on the depth chart, is ready after watching from the sideline vs. Chivas.
"I go into it with the same mind frame as I have all season: Be tough to breakdown and don't shy away from any tackles just because I got my first career red card. I go in with a clean slate and a fresh state of mind."
His teammates might need to adopt the same philosophy vs. Philadelphia (7-4-6), which has allowed a third-best 16 goals this season in MLS. The Union also presents a difficult challenge for San Jose's back line with Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz, Sebastien La Toux and Danny Mwanga.
Ruiz is "very cheeky," Burling said. "He'll drift off your shoulder, drift out of sight, and then the next thing he scores a goal off you."
Burling's return gives Yallop one less headache. He has more holes to fill than a Chicago street repair crew.
English striker Simon Dawkins will replace Lenhart up front, joining Chris Wondolowski, while rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong is expected to start on the right side of the midfield. Chris Leitch, who replaced Burling at center back, will slide over to his natural right fullback slot in place of Beitashour.
Whether the lineup will score is anyone's guess. The Earthquakes have been shut out in three of their past four games after scoring 13 goals in the previous five matches.
Yallop doesn't sound overly concerned.
After a slow start, "we're where we should be," he said. "We're not the New York Yankees of the league. We've got to make sure we try to win as many games as we can to get into the playoffs."
San Jose signed Rafael Baca, a former Loyola Marymount midfielder who met Quakes coach Ian Russell at the funeral service of Cupertino's David Kucera. Baca's former teammate died in January of a heart condition.
The Mexican native had spent months resolving visa issues before he could sign with MLS. "It has been a long road," Baca said Friday. "I'm just glad this is done with. It was a challenge."
30. Union-Earthquakes Preview
The Associated Press—July 8, 2011
The Philadelphia Union are one point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They'd likely be in first place if they fared a bit better out west.
The Union again look to shake their road woes against teams on the other side of the continent when they face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
Philadelphia (7-4-6) is right on the heels of East-leading New York, thanks to an MLS-best 5-0-4 home record. The Union haven't had as much success on the road, however, going 2-4-2, and they've yet to earn a point in the Pacific time zone.
Philadelphia has lost all three games out west this season - to Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver - by 1-0 scores. It went 0-3-1 in the Pacific time zone as an expansion team last year.
"We can't use travel as an excuse," midfielder Amobi Okugo told the Union's official website. "We've been traveling all of our lives as soccer players. We just have to come out with the right mindset and not be scared to play on the road.
"We did well on the road against D.C., so we hope to get a point or three if we can."
Philadelphia opened a three-game road swing with a 2-all draw against United last Saturday.
Carlos Ruiz helped the Union salvage a point by scoring his fifth goal in the 84th minute.
"It feels good for us to go down twice and have the character to come back out and tie the game up," defender Danny Califf said.
Philadelphia's mettle will be tested again Saturday, as it must move forward without a key defender that has helped the club surrender a conference-low 16 goals.
The Union traded Jordan Harvey to the Whitecaps on Thursday in exchange for allocation money. Harvey had played in 16 games and was sixth on the team with 1,241 minutes.
The new-look Union defense will get its first test against a San Jose team that has been shut out three times in its last four games. The Earthquakes (5-6-6) lost 2-0 on the road to Chivas USA on Wednesday and fell 1-0 at Philadelphia on April 30.
San Jose had few offensive chances Wednesday and finished with three shots on goal, its lowest total since recording three in a 2-1 win over New England on May 21.
"It's frustrating when you lose and you're a forward and you don't get many," said Chris Wondolowski, who has a team-best six goals. "We just need to connect those passes. We need to try to do the little things a lot better."
Adding to the misery, San Jose lost right back Steven Beitashour to a right leg injury Wednesday, and he's uncertain for this match. Forward Steven Lenhart won't play due to yellow card accumulation.
Lenhart has been one of the few bright spots on offense for the Earthquakes, tallying five goals in his last six games.
31. Can Union turn around their West Coast woes?
By Ryan Bright—July 9, 2011
CHESTER, Pa. -- The West Coast hasn’t exactly been kind to the Union. With an 0-3 road record on the sunny side of the country in 2011, the Union have had their share of underwhelming performances, the latest coming in a 1-0 loss to the lowly Vancouver Whitecaps on June 18.
Yet, with prior trouble in the Pacific timezone, the Union understand exactly what they are getting into when they face the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday.
“We have to make sure we’re ready to play,” said midfielder Amobi Okugo, who earned the key penalty kick in the Union’s 1-0 win over the Earthquakes on April 30. “There’s no excuses on the road, we have to grind out points.
“We’ve been doing well on the road the past couple games. Traveling the long distance, we have to take special care of our bodies – eat right and try to get as much rest as possible.”
For coach Peter Nowak, the key to grinding out vital road points in a hostile environment is not limited to his team’s blazing start, but more so to stop the opposition from getting off to one as well.
"The most important thing is just getting a good start, not giving up anything cheap,” Nowak said. "In Vancouver, 10 minutes in we just backed off. We defended and they countered. We need to realize that we're playing on the road.”
Adding incentive to breaking their slide on the coast is the suddenly cramped Eastern Conference standings. Once holding a grip on the top spot in the East, the Union, with four draws in their last six games, including a 2-2 tie to DC United last Saturday, are now one point behind the New York Red Bulls and are tied for second place with the Columbus Crew at 27 points. The Union have a game in hand against the Crew and two against the Red Bulls.
“We’re heading into the second half the season and others teams are going to work to catch up to us,” said Okugo. “We have to bring it every game, home or away.”
With four results, two wins and two draws, in their last six games, the Earthquakes have slowly began to turn their season around. Now holding a 5-6-6 record and approaching the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, the 'Quakes, coming off a short week and 2-0 loss to Chivas USA on Wednesday, are a formidable offensive force led by forward Chris Wondolowski’s six goals. The team’s second-leading scorer, forward Steven Lenhart, has five goals but will miss Saturday’s contest because of yellow card accumulation.
“They are a team that’s doing well right now,” said Okugo. “Wando’s back and they are going to want to get revenge against us.”
Coming off a road draw against the United, the Union, now 7-4-6, are staying afloat atop the conference with the help of shaky road results. The second-year team is 1-1-2 in its last four road games and are riding a two-game goal scoring streak from leading scorer Carlos Ruiz.
“We have a good squad,” said Okugo. “If we can figure it out and fix the little details, we can turn those ties into wins and that will help us a lot in the standings and even more for our confidence.”
New-look back line
The Union will take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday with a new look to their defensive back line. Characterized as one of the best defensive teams in the league, the Union curiously traded away steady left back Jordan Harvey on Thursday to the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money.
Without a true back replacement, it’s likely that coach Peter Nowak will post Gabriel or Michael Farfan – or even Keon Daniel in Harvey’s spot. A veteran rear guard, Harvey was known primarily as a defensive defender with little offensive prowess. With him out of the lineup, the Union, at least until the July 15 transfer window opens, will undoubtedly serve up more offensive punch from their back end.
32. Philadelphia (7-4-6) at San Jose (5-6-6)
By Matt Becker
Yahoo! Sports—July 8, 2011
The Philadelphia Union are one point out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They’d likely be in first place if they fared a bit better out west.
The Union again look to shake their road woes against teams on the other side of the continent when they face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
Philadelphia (7-4-6) is right on the heels of East-leading New York, thanks to an MLS-best 5-0-4 home record. The Union haven’t had as much success on the road, however, going 2-4-2, and they’ve yet to earn a point in the Pacific time zone.
Philadelphia has lost all three games out west this season - to Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver - by 1-0 scores. It went 0-3-1 in the Pacific time zone as an expansion team last year.
“We can’t use travel as an excuse,” midfielder Amobi Okugo told the Union’s official website. “We’ve been traveling all of our lives as soccer players. We just have to come out with the right mindset and not be scared to play on the road.
“We did well on the road against D.C., so we hope to get a point or three if we can.”
Philadelphia opened a three-game road swing with a 2-all draw against United last Saturday. Carlos Ruiz helped the Union salvage a point by scoring his fifth goal in the 84th minute.
“It feels good for us to go down twice and have the character to come back out and tie the game up,” defender Danny Califf said.
Philadelphia’s mettle will be tested again Saturday, as it must move forward without a key defender that has helped the club surrender a conference-low 16 goals.
The Union traded Jordan Harvey to the Whitecaps on Thursday in exchange for allocation money. Harvey had played in 16 games and was sixth on the team with 1,241 minutes.
The new-look Union defense will get its first test against a San Jose team that has been shut out three times in its last four games. The Earthquakes (5-6-6) lost 2-0 on the road to Chivas USA on Wednesday and fell 1-0 at Philadelphia on April 30.
San Jose had few offensive chances Wednesday and finished with three shots on goal, its lowest total since recording three in a 2-1 win over New England on May 21.
“It’s frustrating when you lose and you’re a forward and you don’t get many,” said Chris Wondolowski, who has a team-best six goals. “We just need to connect those passes. We need to try to do the little things a lot better.”
Adding to the misery, San Jose lost right back Steven Beitashour to a right leg injury Wednesday, and he’s uncertain for this match. Forward Steven Lenhart won’t play due to yellow card accumulation.
Lenhart has been one of the few bright spots on offense for the Earthquakes, tallying five goals in his last six games.
33. Earthquakes look to break out of recent skid vs. Union
After ugly loss at Chivas USA, SJ will try to bounce back vs. Philly
By Geoff Lepper—July 8, 2011
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The last time the San Jose Earthquakes turned in a road performance of comparable listlessness as their 2-0 defeat Wednesday against Chivas USA, it was a 3-0 wipeout at New York on April 16.
San Jose followed up that Red Bulls mugging with a dreadful, come-from-ahead 2-1 loss to Chivas that drew boos of derision from the Buck Shaw Stadium faithful.
That’s why the Quakes are so set, heading into their home match Saturday against Philadelphia (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), on making sure this sequel doesn’t have the same ending.
“That is the worst we’ve played in nine games,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told on Friday. “You’ve just got to let it go. You can’t dwell on what’s gone by.”
You can learn from it, however, and it’s illustrative to check out San Jose’s recent strength of schedule. The Quakes, who currently hold 21 points from 17 matches, hoisted themselves up from last in the Western Conference table with a six-game unbeaten streak that covered all of May and into June. But all but one of those sides currently sit behind San Jose in terms of points per match.
Since then, San Jose have faced two teams who essentially stand even with San Jose (Sporting Kansas City also have 21 points from 17 matches; Chivas USA have 21 from 18) and the respective conference leaders (LA and New York). The Quakes are winless in those four matches, with more shutouts suffered (three) than goals (two).
So it bears asking: Is sitting tied for sixth in the West, and tied for 10th overall, about where the Quakes belong?
“We don’t spend money on players outside of our salary cap,” Yallop said. “I’d like to be 17-0 right now, but it’s a realistic position we’re in. We’re not the New York Yankees of the league.”
Facing the Union, who sit second in the East but have two games in hand on the Red Bulls, San Jose have another opportunity to recast themselves as a team with a higher ceiling.
To do that, the Quakes will have to figure out a new offensive scheme. Bruising forward Steven Lenhart will serve a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation, so San Jose will go without a target man for only the second time in 18 matches.
Without Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski and Simon Dawkins (pictured above) will partner up top. They’ve started together in six matches, but in those previous instances, one man was tasked as an underneath forward floating behind either Lenhart or Ryan Johnson and the other played further back in a central midfield role.
“Maybe we’ll just have to change up our style of play,” midfielder Khari Stephenson said. “We’ll have to keep it on the ground, pass and move. We’ve shown many times we can do it.”
Dawkins is returning to the lineup after sitting out initially at Chivas USA before coming on at the half for Joey Gjertsen. Stephenson also is back as an attacking midfielder after suffering an ankle injury against New York.
The addition of two of San Jose’s best playmakers will, the Earthquakes hope, outweigh the absence of Lenhart and allow them to control the middle of the pitch.
“Simon and I are very comfortable on the ball,” Stephenson said. “We don’t get flustered when we have it and we like to go forward. Both of us like playing through the middle, and at times, that’s what you need in a game. You can always go wide and get a cross, but sometimes you need to try to penetrate through the middle, and that’s what both of us are good at doing.”