Chicago’s Jalil Anibaba Opens Professional Account with Golazo

This footage is slightly out of focus, but worth wading through in its entirety to see Chicago Fire rookie Jalil Anibaba hit the net from 45 yards to beat the Colorado Rapids in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup play-in game.

And that first Fire goal, created by new strike partners Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari, reinforces our hunch that the two Uruguayans are going to be the league’s best foreign signings of 2011. (It also provokes a non-sequitur Seinfeld reference out of one of the announcers, that’s how good it is.)

U.S. U-20s Crush Suriname

Clearly, Suriname’s best players are in the Netherlands: the U.S. U-20 team demolished their CONCACAF rivals 4-0 in the opening game of the regional championships on Tuesday.

In addition to the four goals, the American team—which includes 16 professionals (eight from MLS) on its 20-player roster—hit the woodwork three times in the rout. Highlights here:

The U.S. plays Panama on Saturday (6:00 p.m. EST, ESPN Deportes, as it continues its quest to qualify for an eighth consecutive U-20 World Cup.

The four semifinalists of the 12-team CONCACAF event will earn berths in the U-20 World Cup, which kicks off in Colombia on July 29.

The March Friendlies: Player Ratings

While Backpost was away on vacation, the U.S. played two international friendlies, pulling out a flattering 1-1 draw with Argentina on Saturday night, then following that up with a more balanced performance but a 1-0 loss to Paraguay on Tuesday.

These were the last two games for the U.S. before the Gold Cup kicks off in June. The winner of the Gold Cup gets a berth in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, a dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup.

Here are the highlights from the Paraguay match, followed by the Backpost U.S. player ratings for both games:

Tim Howard, 9—A handful of stops—including a spectacular kick save on Leo Messi—kept the scorline respectable against Argentina. The former MetroStar is just a fantastic goalkeeper.

Marcus Hahnemann, 6—Nothing he could do on Paraguay’s goal, and was solid otherwise, including on a double save late in the first half.

David Yelldell, 5—Not a very hectic 45 minutes of action against Paraguay; claimed a few crosses. Was beaten—as any keeper would have been—by Marcelo Estigarribia’s cannon shot from 30 yards, which banged off the post.

Jonathan Spector, 4—Maybe the recent lack of playing time, and the shift to midfield, at West Ham have hurt him. Looked uncomfortable and was overwhelmed a couple of times before being taken off for Timothy Chandler at halftime vs Argentina. Came on for ten minutes at the end of the Paraguay game.

Timothy Chandler, 7—Along with Juan Agudelo, sparked the U.S. to life in the second half against Argentina, and showed attacking ability in both matches. Was also caught out of position a few times in both games.

Jay DeMerit, 5—His hard work and athleticism boosted the U.S.’s emergency defending in the first half against Argentina, but had a couple of scary giveaways in the back. Came off at halftime of Paraguay game with groin strain.

Tim Ream, 7.5—Excellent positioning and pinpoint passing out of the back. Also showed speed—which some critics say he lacks—chasing down a Paraguayan attacker in the corner. Lost his footing on the corner kick that led to the goal.

Carlos Bocanegra, 5—Rebounded from a very shaky first half against Argentina to help set up U.S. goal with header. Came in for DeMerit vs Paraguay and did no harm.

Jonathan Bornstein, 5—Completely mis-hit a cross against Paraguay after being sent in to the box by Landon Donovan. Beaten in the air early, then shored up his defensive game later.

Eric Lichaj, 6—Brings a lot of energy and some surprising confidence to the U.S. backline. Positioned well defensively and picked his spots to get forward in a second-half appearance vs Paraguay. His long throw nearly created the equalizer when it fell for Donovan at the back post.

Oguchi Onyewu, 3.5—Hard to believe he’s playing outside back for FC Twente. At centerback for the Yanks, seemed too lumbering and clumsy on the ball to deal with speedy wing play. Made a few bad giveaways. Gooch hasn’t been himself since injuring his patella tendon back in Oct 2009. DNP vs Paraguay.

Maurice Edu, 5—Was perhaps the most hampered by the U.S.’s 4-5-1 first-half formation vs Argentina, and the overcrowded central midfield it produced. Did much better when the Yanks went to a 4-4-2, and had a solid showing on both sides of the ball against Paraguay.

Michael Bradley, 5.5—Did some frantic defending against Argentina but was also overwhelmed and out of sync with his central midfield partners, until the U.S. changed it up. Did much better vs Paraguay and nearly hit a late equalizer on a 25-yard crack that produced a highlight-reel save from Paraguay keeper Ricardo Villar.

Jermaine Jones, 5.5—Played a half in each game; looked utterly lost vs Argentina (some day coach Bob Bradley will shelve the idea of playing Edu, M. Bradley, and Jones—nearly identical players—together in the center of the field. We just know it), but pretty sharp vs Paraguay. Nearly tied it at the end with point-blank tracer that Villar stymied.

Landon Donovan, 5—Others disagree, but we thought LD donned his invisibility cloak for much of these two games. Nearly (and should have) scored late against Paraguay but missed the target, and was just not enough The Man for the U.S. in both games.

Clint Dempsey, 7—Savviest U.S. player on the field vs Paraguay. Clever, subtle first touches got him out of midfield traffic, tested Paraguay’s Villar with a long looping shot, and headed Chandler’s cross just over the bar. Not as effective against Argentina but still a calming veteran presence.

Jozy Altidore, 5—Completely stranded up top in the first half against Argentina, and subsequently tried to do too much (like going 1 v 4 on the Albiceleste backline). Did better when Agudelo came on in the second half, but his game dropped vs Paraguay with poor touches and no coordination with teammates in attack.

Juan Agudelo, 8—He has scored two goals and drawn a penalty in four games for the U.S. (also appeared to have drawn one against Paraguay but it was not called). His exciting start papers over some of his errors, like not getting the ball off his feet quickly enough, but he shows a ton of confidence and some welcome ideas in the attacking third. Future’s so bright, he … should open a Sunglasses Hut franchise.

Sacha Kljestan, NR—Thirteen-minute cameo vs Paraguay; we thought young Mix Diskerud would get out there, but it was Sacha and his ’stache, which are settling in fairly well at Anderlecht.

US-Argentina Preview

The U.S. will debut its natty new red kit (photo-shopped above onto defender Carlos Bocanegra) when it faces Argentina tomorrow night at the New Meadowlands Stadium (7:00 p.m., ESPN2).

They’re going to need all the mojo the new threads can provide, because the two-time World Cup champion Albicelestes are bringing a formidable mix of rising young players and established superstars for the match.

Led by reigning World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, the Argentine roster also includes veterans Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Mascherano along with up-and-comers Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore.

Mancester City striker Carlos Tevez and Atletico Madrid forward Sergio Aguero were both left off the roster, but the team is lethal nonetheless.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley called 24 players to training camp in Cary, NC, a week ago, but after Steve Cherundolo, Zak Whitbread and Stuart Holden went down with injuries, he summoned Eric Lichaj to bring the total to 22. Eighteen of those players will travel to the game.

Holden’s injury—a 26-stitch gash to his knee courtesy of Man U defender Jonny Evans’s studs—is certainly the lead talking point for the Yanks in the run-up to this game. He’d been in the form of his life for Bolton all season long and would have been a huge asset in the U.S. midfield.

Bradley is certain to call on his veterans to lead the way against this visiting world power, so we’re not expecting any surprises at the opening whistle. For instance, as well as they’ve done in their brief national-team careers, Red Bulls Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo are not likely to start this one (provided they both travel), and neither is German-American newcomer Timothy Chandler.

Here are the 22 players Bradley has to choose from:

GOALKEEPERS: Marcus Hahnemann (Wolves), Tim Howard (Everton), David Yelldell (Duisburg)

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres), Timothy Chandler (Nuremberg), Eric Lichaj (Leeds [on loan from Aston Villa]), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United),

MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Mikkel Diskeruud (Stabaek), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)

FORWARDS: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt)

We’re betting his starting XI looks like this:

—————- Buddle             Altidore

Donovan            Edu            Jones                        Dempsey

Bornstein            Gooch            DeMerit            Spector


Agree? Disagree? Think there’s no way Michael Bradley doesn’t start? Let us know in the comments.

The U.S. has done surprisingly well against Argentina in recent meetings, blanking them 3-0 at the 1995 Copa America, 1-0 in a 1999 friendly at RFK Stadium*, and drawing the Albiceleste 0-0 in 2008, at the old Meadowlands stadium. In the 2007 Copa America, a U.S. B-team lost to Argentina 4-1.


* We attended that game, after watching a friend’s band in DC late into the night before. We overslept on game day, and ran into a massive parade en route to the stadium (on the other end of DC from our hotel, of course). Who knew it was Gay Pride day in DC that day? Not us.

We arrived at RFK just in time to see Kasey Keller stop a penalty for the U.S., then took our seats—right in the heart of the Argentine fan section, thank you Ticketmaster—and watched Joe-Max Moore win it for the Yanks, taking a nifty backheel from Earnie Stewart and burying it in the Argentina goal.

Our sky-blue-and-white-clad neighbors did not appreciate our response to this development. One of them let us know with a high-volume vuvuzela blast approximately five centimeters from our right ear. This in no way dampened our delight in the 1-0 U.S. victory.

MLS Weekend Preview: International Call-Ups Thin the Ranks

There is probably no team with more of a desire to see MLS conform to FIFA’s International Fixture dates than the Red Bulls.

When New York kicks off in Columbus tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 (MSG +/Direct Kick/MatchDay Live) they will be without five starters and a backup keeper due to international call-ups.

Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo will be with the U.S. as it faces Argentina, Rafa Marquez will play for Mexico, Dane Richards will suit up for Jamaica, Roy Miller got called in by Costa Rica, and second-string netminder Bouna Coundoul was tapped by Senegal.

Add the fact that Thierry Henry will miss the game with a hamstring strain (here we go again with that guy), and you are going to see a very … interesting lineup take the field for New York tomorrow afternoon.

We have no idea how they’re going construct a backline in the absence of three defensive regulars (Miller, Ream and Marquez), and with substitute Chris Albright rehabbing from surgery. Teemu Tainio will probably move from midfield to outside back, but coach Hans Backe will have to make multiple other adjustments as well, all over the field.

The other teams hit hardest by call-ups are Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, both of which had three players tapped for international duty.

Kansas City visits Chicago on Saturday (4:00, TeleFutura) without Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone), Stephane Auvray (Guadeloupe), and Shavar Thomas (Jamaica).

Real Salt Lake hosts Los Angeles on Saturday night (9:00, DK/MDL) while missing Will Johnson (Canada), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador*), and Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica).

The Week 2 schedule kicks off tonight when Seattle welcomes Houston to Qwest Field (Fox Soccer Channel, 10:00 p.m. EST). Both clubs will be looking for their first win of the season after Seattle started with consecutive 1-0 losses to Los Angeles and New York, and Houston was surprised at home by the same scoreline when Danny Califf poked home a rebound for Philadelphia last Saturday.

Following tonight’s tussle in Seattle, there are eight games on Saturday. In addition to the matchups mentioned above we have (home teams listed first):

Toronto FC vs Portland, 2:00 p.m., TSN (Canada), MDL

The Reds face an expansion team for the second straight week to start the season, and, as their 4-2 loss to Vancouver showed last week, that’s probably for the better. Toronto is still working out the kinks as they try to implement new coach Aron Winter‘s system. Portland began its MLS existence with a 3-1 defeat to defending champion Colorado last week, and should welcome the chance to measure themselves against the struggling Reds.

Philadelphia vs Vancouver, 4:00 p.m., MDL/DK

Both teams started the season with a bang last week, the Union upsetting Houston on the road and Whitecaps FC overwhelming Toronto at home. The Sons of Ben will be out in force for the home opener at PPL Park. Philly will want to keep tabs on Vancouver playmaker Davide Chiumiento, whose midfield brilliance was somewhat overshadowed by new DP Eric Hassli‘s two goals last week.

New England vs DC United, 4:30 p.m., MDL/DK

Charlie Davies brings his magic to the Big Razor to face a New England team that narrowly escaped rainy Los Angeles with a 1-1 draw last week—and will play without Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi, both of whom were called to the Gambian national team, this week. CD9 scored two to lead the Black-and-Red to a 3-1 win over Columbus last Saturday.

FC Dallas vs San Jose, 9:00 p.m., MDL/DK

The Hoops will be without centerback Brek Shea, who was red-carded in last week’s 1-1 tie with Chicago. San Jose hopes to make up for last week’s tough home loss to Real Salt Lake, a game in which they created but failed to convert several good chances.

Chivas USA vs Colorado, 10:30 p.m., MDL/DK

It doesn’t get any easier for Robin Fraser‘s rebuilt squad: they welcome the defending champs one week after a 3-2 home loss to high-flying Sporting Kansas City. The Rapids will be without international call-ups Sanna Nyassi (Gambia) and Omar Cummings (Jamaica), but they’ll still present a stiff challenge for the Goats.

*Alvarez was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and represented the U.S. at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels, but chose to play for his parents’ native El Salvador at the senior level.

Qatar Suggests “Artificial Cloud” to Cool 2022 World Cup Games (Really)

Faced with the problem of staging World Cup matches in 105-degree temperatures, Qatar/Cutter 2022 organizers have offered a series of potential solutions since winning the right to host last December.

First, they suggested stadiums would be air-conditioned. Then they entertained the idea of moving the entire tournament to the winter months. Now, though, we can all rest easy, because the problem has been solved: a Qatar University engineering department group has unveiled designs for  ‘artificial clouds’ to hover above stadiums and cool them during match play.

The ‘clouds’ will be constructed of light carbon materials, filled with helium, and come equipped with four solar powered (insert no end of jokes here) engines that will enable them to move by remote control between sun and pitch to provide shade.

Now, it’s the end of a long day here at the BP World HQ, so our judgment may not be at 100% capacity right now, but this is absurd, right? If it’s 105 degrees in the sun, how much relief will some artificial cloud cover provide? It’ll knock it down to a refreshing 101, at best.

Also, what if one of the things failed during a game and crashed down on the field? One result could be, as a commenter over at The Spoiler put it, “Then England’s chances to win the World Cup slightly improve.” But others could be catastrophic, obviously.

Then again, it might be futile to question this or speculate about it; we wouldn’t be surprised to wake up tomorrow and find out it was all a clever hoax.

Read more about it here.

Dempsey Sets Record, Holden Hurt: Yanks-In-England Weekend Wrap

You may have seen the clip of the studs-up challenge from Manchester United defender Jonny Evans that gashed Stuart Holden’s knee on Saturday. (See it here.) The play sent Holden to the hospital for 26 stitches and will sideline the American midfielder for up to six months.

To us it seemed like Evans came in a little too hard and with his studs up, but Holden also crashed into the 50-50 tackle. It was a case of neither player wanting look like he was ducking out of anything, and unfortunately, Holden is going to miss the rest of the Premier League season—which includes an FA Cup semifinal for Bolton—along with this summer’s Gold Cup, because of it. Holden was scheduled to depart today to join the U.S. national team ahead of its March 26 friendly against Argentina.

It’s a tough blow, and it’s the second consecutive March that Holden has suffered a serious injury. (Last year, Dutch defender Nigel de Jong fractured Holden’s leg with a reckless tackle.)

One name that hasn’t been much mentioned in this is that of Holden’s Bolton teammate Lee Chung-Yong, an excellent player whose overly weighted pass led Holden into the clattering challenge with Evans. We had a coach who called passes like that ‘hospital balls.’ Lee’s was a textbook example.

In better news, U.S. attacker Clint Dempsey set a record for most goals in a Premier League season by an American when he scored his 10th of the year in a 2-1 loss to Everton on Saturday, zipping one past U.S teammate Tim Howard in the Everton goal (click here for highlight).

Dempsey surpassed the record of former U.S. international Brian McBride, who twice scored nine goals in a Premier League campaign.

At Villa Park, veteran U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel started and went the distance in Aston Villa’s 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton. American midfielder Michael Bradley dressed but did not play for the Villans. Ditto U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann for Wolves.

The loss keeps Villa in the thick of the extremely crowded relegation fight with 33 points. Wigan sits in last place with 30, and there are currently eight teams with 33 points or fewer, with eight games to play.

U.S. defender/midfielder Jonathan Spector did not dress for West Ham’s 0-0 draw with Tottenahm at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

American-German midfielder Jermaine Jones played the full 90 in Blackburn’s 2-2 tie with Blackpool.

The quote of the week comes from ever-reliable Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, after his team’s win at Aston Villa, in which the home manager Gerard Houllier heard it from the crowd:

“You didn’t have to be the brightest light on the Christmas tree to recognize there was some tension amongst the crowd. I don’t like to hear any manager get hostility towards them but I would prefer it to be him or 18 other managers rather than me! It comes with the job.”

Watching this Interview May Cause Dust Levels to Rise in Your Immediate Vicinity

New DC United striker Charlie Davies spoke to regional Washington network CSN following his sensational MLS debut on Saturday:

Davies entered the game in the 52nd minute and scored two goals to lead the Black-and-Red to a 3-1 win over Columbus in their home opener at RFK.

For a full recap of Major League Soccer’s opening weekend, check out our column over at the MLS site.

Preview: 2011 MLS Opening Weekend

The 16th season of Major League Soccer kicked off on Tuesday night, as the Los Angeles Galaxy clipped Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 on a rainy, chilly night in Seattle.

LA midfielder Juninho hit the winner, a knuckling 20-yard strike in the 58th minute that temporarily silenced the raucous sellout crowd at Qwest Field. (Complete highlights here.)

This weekend the rest of the league joins the party. There are eight games on Saturday, one on Sunday, and about 3,206 storylines as the league kicks off what should be its best season yet.

Let’s take a look at some of the juiciest matchups (home teams listed first; times EST):

Game Canada!

Matchup: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC, Saturday, 6:30 TSN (Canada; also available on Direct Kick and Match Day Live)

Backstory: The Whitecaps are one of two expansion teams—the Portland Timbers are the other—that swell the league’s ranks to 18 this year. They will be a part of the MLS Cascadia rivalry with Seattle and Portland, but first, they host the Canada derby vs the revamped Reds.

While Vancouver is an expansion team, Toronto is practically one, having turned over most of their roster after failing to make the playoff for the fourth straight season last year.

Rivalry? For the past few years, Toronto, Vancouver and the Montreal Impact (who will join MLS next season) have been contesting the Nutralite Canadian Championship, the winner of which gets a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. Now, they bring that tussle to MLS.

Key Players: Vancouver—D Jay DeMerit, US international; F Eric Hassli, French designated player. (No. 1 draft pick F Omar Salgado has not been cleared to play before he turns 18 in September.)

Toronto—MF Dwayne De Rosario, Canadian international and perennial MLS all-star; F Maicon Santos.

Atmosphere: Expect lots and lots of white at Empire Field.

“Char-Lee Day-Vees!”

Matchup: DC United vs Columbus Crew, Saturday, 7:30, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live

Backstory: Charlie Davies returns to Washington, the site of the horrific car accident that nearly killed him in October 2009. He’s made remarkable strides since then and has looked good in the preseason. His potential MLS debut on Saturday is the dramatic storyline of the new season.

Rivalry? They’re longtime Eastern Conference foes, and both teams are in the midst of major rebuilding projects, loaded with new faces.

Key Players: DC—F Davies, MF Dax McCarty; F Chris Pontius, back from injury; D Perry Kitchen, No. 3 overall draft pick who’s expected to start.

Columbus— F Andres Mendoza, newly minted designated player; F Jeff Cunningham, who enters the game one goal shy of the all-time MLS lead; and MFs Robbie Rogers and Eddie Gaven.

Atmosphere: DC has one of the worst facilities in the league (RFK Stadium)—but one of the best fan bases. You can bet they’ll be out in force for Davies.


Matchup: New York Red Bulls vs Seattle Sounders FC, Saturday 7:30, MSG, DK, MDL

Backstory: The Red Bulls are starting the season with marquee DP’s Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, along with U.S internationals Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, and the expectations are sky high. They have a stiff challenge in their opener, though, as reigning US Open Cup champs Seattle come to town, with high expectations of their own for 2011.

Rivalry? Believe it or not, Seattle fans make a good showing at Red Bull Arena, despite the continent separating the two teams.

Key Players: New York—F Henry, D Marquez; new Finnish signing MF/D Teemu Tainio; MF Joel Lindpere.

Seattle—F Fredy Montero, MF Osvaldo Alonso.

Atmosphere: Red Bull Arena is the best stadium in the league, and fans want a title this season.

Meet the Champs, Newbies

Matchup: Colorado Rapids vs Portland Timbers, Saturday, 9:00, Fox Soccer Channel

Backstory: The expansion Timbers will start former (and future?) U.S. international Kenny Cooper up top alongside superfast new signing Jorge Perlaza. Add recently acquired veteran midfielder Jack Jewsbury and former U.S. U-20 star Sal Zizzo, and Portland looks like a team that can compete. They’ll need to be, because they kick off their MLS experience against the defending champion Colorado Rapids. Only two expansion teams have won their first MLS games—Chicago (1998) and Seattle (2009). Both finished the season with winning records, and the Fire won the ’98 MLS Cup.

Rivalry? Not yet.

Key Players: Portland—the above-mentioned group, and goalkeeper Troy Perkins. (No. 2 draft pick F Darlington Nagbe is out after sports hernia surgery.)

Colorado—F Omar Cummings, F Conor Casey, MF Jeff Larentowicz, and new striker Caleb Folan.

Atmosphere: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has always had a good, not great, environment. Look for that to improve with a defending champion now in the house.

Buck Shaw Showdown

Matchup: San Jose Earthquakes vs Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 10:30, DK, MDL

Backstory: San Jose, coming off a surprise run to the conference finals last year, meets a Real Salt Lake team fresh from an impressive win over Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League. Having played three meaningful games already, RSL is further ahead in terms of match fitness, but could they be ripe for a letdown after the pressure-filled CCL encounter? Also, can San Jose—and 2010 breakout star Chris Wondolowski—keep it going in 2011?

Rivalry? Salt Lake crushed the Quakes 3-0 in their season opener last year, a game from which San Jose midfielder Bobby Convey was pulled, calling it the most embarrassing experience of his professional career. The Quakes managed to right the ship, but you can be sure they want to avoid a similar start this year.

Key Players: San Jose—F Wondolowski, MF Convey, DF/MF Ramiro Corrales.

RSL—MFs Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, and Andy Williams; Fs Alvaro Saborio, Fabian Espindola.

Atmosphere: Quakes fans are encouraged by their team’s late run last season. They should fill the cozy confines of Buck Shaw.

The rest of the opening slate:

Houston vs Philadelphia, Saturday, 8:30 , DK, MDL. Dynamo Rookie F Will Bruin had a productive preseason. Will he get time up top alongside veteran Brian Ching? Philly could trot out former MLS Golden Boot winner F Carlos Ruiz.

FC Dallas vs Chicago, Saturday, 8:30, DK , MDL. Look for erstwhile winger Brek Shea to start at centerback for Dallas, which could also start recently signed 18-year-old Fabian Castillo to fill out its thin forward ranks.

Chivas USA vs Sporting Kansas City, 10:30, DK, MDL. Chivas tests its total-rebuild project after gutting its front office, coaching staff, and roster following last season. SKC will be without rising forward Teal Bunbury (dislocated elbow) but has bruising Kei Kamara and Mexican DP Omar Bravo to pick up the offensive slack.

Los Angeles vs New England, Sunday, 8:00, TeleFutura. The Galaxy will look to build on their impressive away win this past Tuesday, while New England wants to get off on the right foot after missing the playoffs last year.

Training Bib Completely Shuts Down Mario Balotelli

We have a five-year-old son and, not to brag on our own kid, but he’s got some talent on the pitch. He can handle a number of basic skills very well, but he struggles mightily in one department: When handed a pinnie to put on for practice games, he cannot make head or tails of it, and always requires adult assistance to get the thing on.

Turns out he’s got a lot in common with Manchester City’s talented youngster Mario Balotelli:

Fortunately for young Backpost, you can get all the way to the highest level without mastering that particular skill.