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This Week In MLS -- August 16, 2011

This Week in MLS – August 16, 2011
·       
  • CONCACAF Champions League kicks off
  • Commissioner to participate in Philadelphia Union Supporters Summit
  • Socio MLS expands to five markets in 2011
  • Quotables and Sweet Tweets
  • According to Elias: Hartman on the verge of history
  • Week 23 match previews
 
CONCACAF Champions League kicks off
Early this year, Real Salt Lake turned heads as the team made a run to the 2010/2011 CONCACAF Champions League Finals.  A victory would have meant a significant payday for the club as well as a coveted spot in the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in Japan in December. After eliminating Saprissa of Costa Rica in the semifinals, Salt Lake earned a tie on the road against CF Monterrey in the first leg of the finals before conceding a goal to the Mexican side at home in the second leg and falling 3-2 on aggregate.
 
Five Major League Soccer teams will begin their fight for continental glory as they start play this week in the group stage of the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League.
 
The LA Galaxy are in Group A, along with Motagua of Honduras, Alajuelense of Costa Rica and Mexico’s Monarcas Morelia. The defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids are in Group B, along with Isidro Metapán of El Salvador, Real España of Honduras and Santos Laguna of Mexico. FC Dallas and Toronto FC were put into Group C together, along with Tauro FC of Panama and Mexico’s Pumas UNAM. Seattle Sounders FC were placed in Group D, with Comunicaciones of Guatemala, Mexico’s Monterrey and Herediano of Costa Rica.
 
These clubs will be looking to advance by finishing in the top two of their respective four-team group.  Each group winner will face a runner-up from one of the other groups. The draw which establishes the quarterfinal pairings also determines the potential semifinal matches.
 
This week’s schedule(all games broadcast on FOX Soccer):
Tuesday, August 16
LA Galaxy vs. CD Motagua (HON), 10 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders FC vs. CSD Comunicaciones (GUA), 10 p.m. ET
Wednesday, August 17
Pumas UNAM (MEX) vs. FC Dallas, 10 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids vs. AD Isidro Metapán (SLV), 10 p.m. ET
Thursday, August 18
Tauro FC (PAN) vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET
 
MLS Commissioner to participate in Philadelphia Union Supporters Summit:
MLS Commissioner Don Garber joins Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, Team Manager Peter Nowak and captain Faryd Mondragón on Wednesday, August 17, as the group will meet for the first-ever Philadelphia Union Supporters Summit. Garber and Club officials will answer questions about a variety of topics, including but not limited to: the League schedule, gameday experience, ticketing, stadium expansion, single table alignment and playoff structure.  For complete details,click here.
 
Socio MLS expands to five markets in 2011
Socio MLS, a membership program which has worked hand in hand with leagues in Los Angeles and Houston in the past year, will now be also available in New York, Dallas and Washington DC for its third edition this summer. The program offers first-hand access to coaching (through the National Soccer Coaches Association of America), referee clinics and certifications (through the United States Soccer Referee Federation), as well as professional youth scouting by the local MLS clubs. Through partner support from adidas, Allstate, Castrol, Gatorade, The Home Depot, Makita, Pepsi Max and Volkswagen, the program reaches nearly 40,000 athletes across 2,200 teams and 25 participating Socio MLS leagues.  Socio MLS will also provide individual players and coaches with exclusive partner offers, discounts, and soccer gear. Some of the highlights of the program include:
-       National Soccer Coaches Association of Americawill provide Youth Level II Diploma courses, free of charge for participating leagues, giving direct access to top-tier coaching education from the largest soccer coaches’ organization in the world.
-       Under the auspices of the U.S. Soccer Federation and their local state associations, these clinics provide referees of the participating leagues the ability to become certified to officiate U.S. Soccer games at the youth and amateur level.
-       Socio MLS will continue to evaluate and identify referees for placement into state associations' Advanced Referee Program, which in turn prepares candidates for the opportunity to develop their refereeing skills to officiate at higher levels in the United States.
-       Socio offers unprecedented access to professional MLS club scouts who will attend Socio MLS league games in search of top talent. 
 
Quotables
 
“We’ve never played this. It’s like it came out of the blue.”
-- Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic, after the team plays a 3-4-3 system in a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake
 
“As it looked today, definitely yes -- absolutely this is a playoff team. And if we reach the playoffs, I am absolutely sure we will be very dangerous.”
-- New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe after the 2-2 home draw with FC Dallas
 
“When I’m happy, I play my best soccer. And right now I’m really happy to be here.”
-- Freddy Adu, after making his debut with Philadelphia Union
 
"He has had way too much to do at points throughout the year. But he has done the job superbly. As I watch him, he gets better and better, and his confidence gets better. And that breeds confidence. But we have to get to the point where Dan is the last person we talk about."
-- Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser, on goalkeeper Dan Kennedy
 
"I let my parents drive in the morning so I can sleep an extra hour on the way in. On the way back, I'll drive."
-- New England Revolution Homegrown Player Diego Fagundez, to ESPNBoston.com
 
Sweet Tweets
 
@Kylesheldon– August 9
A very unique path to MLS for Martin Rennie: PDL > USL-2 > NASL > MLS. It just doesn't happen like that very often. http://bit.ly/nHBQVv
 
@AllenAHopkins– August 10
Energy picked up big time at Linc. USA chants! Said it before, will say it again Brek Shea has best chance to flourish under Klinsmann.
 
@FreddyAdu11– August 12
Just met my teammates and finished my first training with the team. Big game tomorrow against Dallas. Who's coming??? #Aduit
 
@AdeHealey(Adrian Healey) – August 13
#PhiladelphiaUnion v #FCDallas absolutely corking 1st 45 mins. Best football i've seen all day..and I mean ALL day. #doop #mls
 
@PeterHirdt– August 14
Did you notice, 5 draws in first 8 EPL matches—three of them 0-0. If this were #MLS, the Europhiles would be outraged.
 
 
According to the Elias Sports Bureau: Hartman on the verge of history
Kevin Hartman, the all-time MLS leader in shutouts, saves, and victories by a goalkeeper, can become the league leader in career games played when FC Dallas hosts Seattle on Saturday. Hartman, who debuted with a shutout victory for the Galaxy on his 23rd birthday in 1997, would pass Steve Ralston if he is in goal against Sounders FC.
 
Ralston was the sole holder of that record from the time he caught and tied Chris Henderson in 2007 until he was tied by Hartman on Saturday. Besides Ralston and Henderson, the only other players to hold sole possession of the mark, from recent to distant, were Mark Chung, Jason Kreis, Jeff Agoos, and Steve Trittschuh.
 
Week 23 match previews: Aug. 17-21, 2011 (all times ET)
Wednesday, August 17
Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m.
·         Sporting Kansas City return to action after going down to defeat for the first time ever at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, a 2-1 loss to Seattle on Aug. 6 that ended their club-record 14-game unbeaten streak.
·         Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury returned to the lineup after a two-match absence and scored his single-season career-best seventh goal in the loss at Houston. Jewsbury scored 14 goals total in his first eight MLS seasons.
·         For the second time this season, Matt Besler recorded an assist from a long throw-in on SKC’s goal vs. Seattle. The first came in the first meeting with Portland. A Besler long throw has played a part in three Sporting goals this season.
·         C.J. Sapong and Aurelien Collin scored early to lead Sporting to a 2-1 victory in the first meeting between the teams, July 2 in Portland.
 
New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m.
·         Houston’s Brad Davis took sole possession of the MLS lead in assists with 11, starting the sequence that led to Brian Ching’s goal vs. Portland on Sunday.
·         The Revolution saw their winless streak reach four games in the 3-1 loss at Columbus over the weekend. New England has won just once since mid-May.
·         Hunter Freeman’s 86th-minute tally was the only goal of the game as the Dynamo won the first meeting this season, April 17 at Robertson Stadium. It was Houston’s first home win ever vs. New England.
 
Thursday, August 18
Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
·         Since coming to D.C. United from New York, Dwayne De Rosario has six goals and three assists, playing a part in nine of the 12 goals United have scored in that time.
·         The Fire played to their 14th draw of the season with Saturday’s 2-2 result in New York, matching the MLS record set last season by MLS Cup finalist FC Dallas.
·         Rookie Joe Willis made his professional debut and recorded a shutout in United’s 4-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
·         The Fire haven’t defeated D.C. United at home since Sept. 17, 2006, a 1-0 victory at Toyota Park. United have won on three of their last five visits to Bridgeview, with two draws.
 
Saturday, August 20
Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.
·         The Crew extended their lead ahead of Philadelphia to three points atop the Eastern Conference with their win against New England, the club’s third victory in the last four games.
·         Sebastien Le Toux scored twice from the penalty spot in the 2-2 draw with FC Dallas. Le Toux was the leading scorer for Union a year ago with 14 goals; all three of Le Toux’s goals this year have been penalties.
·         Freddy Adu made his Philadelphia Union debut the day after signing with the club, starting and playing 62 minutes in an underneath striker role.
·         The Crew won both meetings in the Union’s inaugural season last year, a 2-1 win at PPL Park and a 3-1 win at Crew Stadium.
 
New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
·         Thierry Henry took over the lead in the MLS Golden Boot standings with his 12th goal of the season, a curling long-range effort in the 2-2 draw with Chicago.
·         Henry’s last two goals have both come on strikes from outside the penalty area. He has three goals from distance this season.
·         League pool goalkeeper Chris Konopka became the fifth goalkeeper to start a game for the Red Bulls when he played vs. Chicago. Five teams in MLS history have used five different goalkeepers in one season; the most recent was Toronto FC in 2008.
·         An own goal and a Thierry Henry strike sent the Red Bulls on their way to a 2-1 victory in the first meeting between the clubs, June 10 at Red Bull Arena.
 
Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m.
·         Real Salt Lake have never won at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo have won six of the seven meetings all-time in Houston, with one draw.
·         RSL also never has won at Toronto, and they’ve been shut out in all five MLS games at BMO Field (0-3-2). The 1-0 loss to Toronto over the weekend was their third shutout in their last four games.
·         For the first time in more than a year, Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis used the same starting XI in back-to-back games, doing so against New York and Toronto. It had been 48 games in all competitions ( last July 31-Aug. 7) since RSL had the same starters in consecutive matches.
·         The teams played to a scoreless draw on May 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium in their first meeting this season.
 
Colorado Rapids vs. Chivas USA, 9 p.m.
·         The Rapids are riding a three-game winning streak, matching their longest of the season. They began defense of their MLS Cup 2010 title with three wins in their first three league games this season.
·         Chivas USA have played three games of their five-game road swing, with a win, a draw and a loss, including the scoreless result at Seattle on Saturday. The trip concludes with a visit to Portland on Aug. 24.
·         Quincy Amarikwa’s goal in the 31st minute was the only one of the game in Colorado’s win March 26 at The Home Depot Center, the first meeting this season between the teams.
·         The Rapids have won the last four meetings between the teams, all by shutouts. Chivas USA has not scored vs. Colorado in 391 minutes.
 
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 9 p.m.
·         Sounders FC have still lost just once in league play since the end of May, going 7-1-4 in their last 12 games after the scoreless draw with Chivas USA last weekend.
·         After recording an assist in his FCD debut, Maicon Santos scored his first goal for the club in the 2-2 draw with Philadelphia, his first since coming over from Toronto FC on Aug. 2.
·         Both teams will be coming off midweek games in the CONCACAF Champions League. FC Dallas travels to Mexico City to face Pumas, and Sounders FC host Guatemala’s Comunicaciones.
·         Brek Shea scored in the 18th minute to lead FC Dallas to a 1-0 victory in the first meeting this season on May 25 in Seattle.
 
Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m. (FOX Soccer)
·         Long-time rivals in the North American Soccer League, the A-League and USL, the Timbers and Whitecaps FC face each other in MLS for the first time.
·         The Timbers return home for the first time since a 3-0 win against the LA Galaxy on Aug. 3, their first win at Jeld-Wen Field since May 21.
·         Whitecaps FC matched their MLS record with four goals allowed in the loss to D.C. United – the second time in three games they’ve allowed four goals (also July 30 vs. LA Galaxy).
·         It’s the first time expansion teams will face each other in MLS since 2005, when Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA played four times. The home team won on every occasion.
 
LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m.
·         The Galaxy return to league play after a weekend off. Their last match was a 3-1 home win against FC Dallas on Aug. 6, their fourth win in five MLS games.
·         David Beckham recorded two assists in the win vs. Dallas, giving him 10 assists for the season, matching his MLS single-season career-high (2008). Beckham last had two assists in a regular season game on April 19, 2008 when he set up a pair of Landon Donovan goals in a 2-2 home draw with Houston.
·         The Earthquakes saw their league winless streak stretched to 11 games in the 2-1 home loss to Colorado, setting a club record. They had last gone 10 games without a win from Sept. 8, 2004-April 16, 2005.
·         The clubs played to a scoreless draw on June 25 at Buck Shaw Stadium in their first meeting.
 
Sunday, August 21
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m. (Galavision)
·         After putting out his team in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 tactical scheme, TFC coach Aron Winter saw his team’s six-game winless streak come to an end in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake.
·         Making his first MLS start, 18-year-old Toronto FC Academy graduate Matt Stinson was credited with an assist on Joao Plata’s goal in TFC’s win vs. RSL.
  • Chicago’s Dominic Oduro celebrated his birthday in style Saturday, scoring his career-best and team leading seventh goal of the season in the draw vs. New York.
·         Goals by the Fire’s Marco Pappa and Orr Barouch overcame strikes from TFC’s Joao Plata and Maicon Santos, as the teams reached a 2-2 result in their first meeting this year on May 14 at BMO Field.
 
Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m.
·         The visit by United will be the sixth game in Sporting’s nine-game homestand. SKC does not play on the road until their Sept. 17 trip to Real Salt Lake.
·         Chris Pontius scored two goals in a game for the second time this season in the 4-0 win against Vancouver, also doing it on April 16 vs. Toronto. He has three multiple-goal games in his career.
·         The visiting team has not won in the series since 2007, when both D.C. and Kansas City won at the other’s stadium. The teams split their two meetings last season.