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What’s New for Season 17: This Week in MLS – March 6, 2012

 • What’s New for Season 17
• Last Man Standing
• Commissioner Garber Media Teleconference on Thursday, 4 p.m. ET
• CCL Quarterfinals on Wednesday
• Quotables & Sweet Tweets
• 2012 Club Media Guides

Major League Soccer is set to kick off its 17th season March 10.

In 2012:
• MLS welcomes the Montreal Impact as its 19th club. 
The Impact kick off their inaugural season against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, March 10, broadcast live on TSN and RDS.  Under the direction of former MLS midfielder Jesse Marsch who played 14 seasons before retiring to coach, most recently as an assistant for the U.S. Men’s National Team, the Impact will look to both veteran players and MLS newcomers to put together a successful 2012 campaign.

• NBC Sports joins the MLS broadcast family this season.
Fans can watch the first NBC Sports broadcast this Sunday, March 11 at 3 p.m. ET as Brek Shea and FC Dallas host Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas Stadium on the NBC Sports Network. NBC recently announced that former MLS midfielder Kyle Martino will join play-by-play voice Arlo White as the “Between the Benches” analyst on NBC Sports broadcasts. Robbie Earle, a former member of the Jamaican National Team, who played 19 years professionally in England, will serve as a pre-game, halftime, post-game and game analyst throughout the season.

In addition to the NBC Sports Network match, the following MLS games will be televised nationally this week:
ESPN2: Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union on Monday, March 12 (9:30 p.m. ET)
Galavision: Chivas USA vs. Houston Dynamo on Sunday, March 11 (7 p.m. ET) 
TSN & RDS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday, March 10 (6 p.m. ET)

• MLS Cup site will be held at a competitively determined location.
For the first time in history, MLS Cup is guaranteed to be held at the home venue of a participating team.  The club with the higher regular-season points total will host MLS Cup 2012.

• 15 MLS teams to play in stadiums built with soccer in mind.
Fourteen stadiums have been built or renovated for soccer since 1999 (10 since 2005). In 2012, MLS will welcome BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston (May 12) as well as Stade Saputo in Montreal (June 16).

Last Man Standing: San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales

Of those who played in the inaugural 1996 MLS season, only one remains active on an MLS roster -- San Jose Earthquakes captain Ramiro Corrales. Back in 1996, Corrales was playing in a Bay Area men’s league, was discovered at an open tryout, and became the League’s youngest player at the time at the age of 19.

He played 11 regular season games and started one playoff match for San Jose during the inaugural season.

His 17-year career unfolded with less fanfare than pillars such as Cobi Jones, Jaime Moreno, and Steve Ralston, but his resume includes two MLS Cup rings, an Olympic semifinal berth with the United States in 2000, and a championship in Norway’s first division. Corrales, who turns 35 on March 12, has a unique perspective on the League’s development during the past 16 years.  For more information on Corrales, CLICK HERE for a recent MLSsoccer.com article.

Commissioner Don Garber Teleconference, Thursday at 4 p.m. ET

MLS will hold the annual State of the League teleconference with Commissioner Don Garber this Thursday, March 8 at 4 p.m. ET. Commission Garber will address the media and then take questions from journalists.

Call-in:                         (877) 391-5953
Conference ID:             2861487

CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Play

In April of 2011, all of MLS was captivated by Real Salt Lake’s run to the finals of CONCACAF Champions League. 

MLS opponents offered words (and tweets) of encouragement as RSL faced off against Monterrey of the Mexican Primera Division for the regional crown and a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup.
After traveling to Mexico and tying Monterrey 2-2, RSL had the dream scenario of playing in their fortress, Rio Tinto Stadium, before a packed house. The team only needed a tie but it wasn’t meant to be as Monterrey scored a late first-half goal and held onto the clean sheet for the rest of the game.  Monterrey was crowned CCL Champions in front of a stunned Salt Lake crowd.

Three MLS clubs are focused on getting that same chance at glory and all three will take the field for quarterfinals of the tournament this week.

The first leg of the home-and-home CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series will take place on Wednesday, March 7 with Toronto FC hosting the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC hosting Mexican side Santos Laguna. The return leg will take place on March 14 with the Galaxy and Santos Laguna hosting.

Wednesday, March 7
• Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy, 8 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer)
• Seattle Sounders FC vs. Santos Laguna, 10 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer)

First Kick Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods (Week 1) Previews

(Home team listed first; all times Eastern)

Saturday, March 10

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Montreal Impact, 6 p.m. (TSN/RDS)
• Bienvenue Montreal: The league’s 19th team – the Montreal Impact – makes its MLS debut. The two Canadian clubs have a 20-year rivalry between them from lower divisions.
• Whitecaps Win Openers: The Whitecaps are unbeaten in home openers since 2001 (including lower-level leagues). Vancouver Whitecaps FC recorded a 4-2 win against Toronto FC in their inaugural MLS match last year.
• Early indications: The Impact concluded their inaugural MLS preseason with a loss and two draws in the Disney Pro Soccer Challenge, including a 3-0 defeat against Vancouver just 15 days before the season opener.

Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew, 6 p.m.
• Rapids turn to Pareja: Oscar Pareja, former FC Dallas assistant and veteran of eight MLS seasons as a player,  makes his debut as an MLS head coach with the Rapids, replacing Gary Smith.
• Playoff foes: The teams have met in each of the last two MLS Cup Playoffs; the Rapids advanced on both occasions. In 2011, an Omar Cummings goal was the difference as Colorado won 1-0 at home in a wild-card match.
• Rapids add Rivero: Colorado’s new signing – Argentinean attacking midfielder Martín Rivero – joined the club in time for its preseason finale Saturday, a 4-0 win against local college Colorado School of Mines. Rivero joins two experienced Colombians in winger Jaime Castrillón and defender Luis Zapata – both added by Pareja.
• Young Vet for Crew: At age 25, Eddie Gaven might be the Crew’s eldest starting midfielder; other candidates include Olympic hopeful Dilly Duka (22), Ben Speas and Tony Tchani (both 21).

D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m.
• Revamped United: Having missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs for four consecutive years – the longest run in the storied club’s history – United have added Argentine defender Emiliano Dudar and Albanian Designated Player forward Hamdi Salihi to fit in alongside re-signed 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario. The Black-and-Red also hope to have a healthy DP in Branko Boskovic for a full season.
• Challenge Cup Champs: For a third consecutive season, United won the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup, defeating the Chicago Fire and the USL Pro League’s Charleston Battery. The final match against Columbus, scheduled for last Saturday, was canceled due to inclement weather.
• Young Talent: Sporting rode a wave of young talent – and the opening of sparkling new Livestrong Sporting Park – to within 90 minutes of reaching MLS Cup for the first time since 2004. MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong could lead the attack, along with Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara (each with nine goals).

San Jose Earthquakes vs. New England Revolution, 10:30 p.m.
• Heaps of praise: After failing to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2010 and 2011, the Revs have a new coach for the first time since 2002. Jay Heaps – an 11-year defender in MLS – takes over for Steve Nicol. Heaps played eight-and-a-half of those seasons with the Revs.
• Wonderful Wondo: San Jose has added experienced attackers to accompany Chris Wondolowski, who has scored 34 goals over the last two seasons (which ranks eighth most all-time for goals in a two season time span), finishing atop the league goal-scoring table both years. Colombian Tressor Moreno will pull the strings and Turk Sercan Guvenisik will look to finish.
• Earthquakes have the recent history: The Earthquakes won both meetings in 2011, 2-1 victories both at Buck Shaw Stadium (May 21) and at Gillette Stadium (Oct. 8).

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.
• Western Conference Final rematch: The Galaxy claimed the Western Conference Championship with a 3-1 victory over Real last year at The Home Depot Center. The clubs split their regular season meetings, each winning on home ground.
• Mo’ Javi: Real hope to have midfielder Javier Morales healthy for the entire year. The fulcrum of the RSL attack, Morales played just 10 games in 2011 after suffering a fractured leg in May.
• Designated Trio + Buddle: – Landon Donovan (12 goals), David Beckham (15 assists) and Robbie Keane (three goals after joining LA) have been bolstered by the return of Edson Buddle. Buddle scored 17 goals in 2010 for LA before heading to Germany for a year-long stint.

Sunday, March 11

FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls, 3 p.m. (NBC SN)
• Wild matchup: The teams last met in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, goals from Joel Lindpere and Thierry Henry giving the Red Bulls a 2-0 victory in a wild-card match at FC Dallas Stadium on Oct. 26. FC Dallas haven’t defeated New York since a 2-1 win July 4, 2009 in Frisco.
• Rafa still seeing red: The Red Bulls will be without Mexican international Rafael Márquez for the match as he begins the first of his two-game suspension levied in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs series vs. the LA Galaxy.
• Brek up top: Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman has indicated that U.S. international Brek Shea could feature as a striker in the season opener, partnering Panamanian international Blas Perez.
• 2011 Best XI: Shea is one of two members of the 2011 MLS Best XI – along with Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry – expected to play prominent parts in the game. Henry led New York with 14 goals last season and stayed sharp during a two-month loan to Arsenal in the English Premier League.

Chivas USA vs. Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m. (Galavision)
• Road Warriors: The Dynamo will open the season with a seven-game road trip while their new stadium in downtown Houston is being completed. BBVA Compass Stadium opens May 12. The Chicago Fire also opened with nine games on the road to start the 2006 season while TOYOTA Park was completed. Sporting Kansas City holds the record for longest road swing at the start of a season with 10 games on the road before LIVESTRONG Sporting Park opened to MLS play on June 9.
• Back at The HDC: Just 113 days after playing for MLS Cup, the Houston Dynamo return to The Home Depot Center, the site of their 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the title match.
• Broken Curse: Chivas USA defeated Houston 3-0 in their second meeting last year, July 23 at The Home Depot Center, the Red-and-White’s first league victory against the Dynamo since 2006 (a span of 12 games).
• Ching is Forever Orange: The Dynamo once again have talismanic striker Brian Ching. The club's all-time leading goalscorer was reacquired from Montreal after he was selected in the expansion draft.

Monday, March 12

Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2/Deportes)
• Boyd to bolster Timbers: The game could be the MLS debut for Portland's new signing, Designated Player Kris Boyd, the Scottish Premier League’s all-time leading goal scorer. Boyd scored the lone goal in Portland’s preseason finale win against Sweden’s AIK on Sunday.
• Timbers Territory: Timbers look to capitalize on an amazing home atmosphere again this season. Last year, the Timbers won their first five home games – outscoring opponents 10 goals to seven – and completed the season with a home record of 9-5-3.
• Sophomore Sparks: Two of the most exciting rookies in 2011 -– Portland’s Darlington Nagbe and Philly’s Michael Farfán -– will look to provide a spark for their team.
• Narrow Margin: The Timbers won 1-0 in the first meeting ever between the clubs, May 6 at Jeld-Wen Field. They played to a scoreless draw at Philadelphia in the second  meeting.

Quotable

"I think we're about as ready as we can be, short of being able to be eight games into our season."
-- Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, to the Seattle Times, in advance of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg vs. Mexico’s Santos Laguna

“The preseason’s been nice, but now you want to play games that really matter, with points, the fans ... the whole shebang, if I can call what comes with playing that. We’re optimistic and happy to now be really working for a game that’s going to be official.”
-- Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier to The Montreal Gazette

“For our first [home] game the objective is to break the record that we’ve had at the Olympic Stadium in our soccer history. In 1981, the [Montreal] Manic played Chicago and drew a little more than 58,000. We’re playing Chicago for our opening game again, so we want to rewrite history and break that record. The opening game is a major event in itself. It sends a very strong message. So that goal of beating the record is quite important to us.”
-- Montreal Impact executive vice president Richard Legendre to the Sports Business Journal

"He's not going to be that guy that's going to drop a shoulder and dribble by four people and put the ball in the back of the net. He's going to be that guy (who's) a fox in the box and if you get the ball in there, he's going to get on it nine times out of 10."
-- Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer to The Oregonian on new signing, Designated Player Kris Boyd, who scored the lone goal in the Timbers’ victory in their final preseason game

“I know exactly what to expect [in MLS]. How the game is played here – I obviously got a feel last year [but now I am] going into games knowing a bit more about the people you're playing against and things like that, and getting used to the travel and stuff like that. I believe it's going to be a big season, certainly for me.”
-- LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Sweet Tweets

@MLS_Insider -- March 5
Can I get an encore, do you want more?! “@timbersarmy: You're singing the national anthem http://timbersarmy.org/youre-singing-the-national-anthem #rctid”
 
@MerrittPaulson -- February 29
February. 39 degrees. Pre-season. 16,000+ supporters packing the stands of JELD WEN Field. Pretty special #rctid

@3dimes (Scott Riddell - MLSsoccer.com)
Checking in with two @MLS homies between games in Orlando @Omaresalgado @BrekShea… Our road to #FirstKick continues http://pic.twitter.com/Bkm9DNSF

@GrantWahl -- March 4
Back in Seattle and Portland this week. Soccer kicks off here again with Concacaf Champions League quarters and the start of MLS 2012.

@ArloWhite – March 5
Congrats to my new work buddy @kylemartino. Really looking forward to working with you on @NBCSports in 2012!

2012 Club Media Guides
Please click on the name of the club below to download their 2012 Media Guide:

• Chicago Fire
• Chivas USA
• Colorado Rapids
• Columbus Crew
• FC Dallas
• D.C. United
• Houston Dynamo
• Sporting Kansas City
• LA Galaxy
• Montreal Impact
• New England Revolution
• New York Red Bulls
• Philadelphia Union
• Portland Timbers
• Real Salt Lake
• San Jose Earthquakes
• Seattle Sounders FC
• Toronto FC
• Vancouver Whitecaps FC

 

www.MLSsoccer.com