The MLS season is nearly two-thirds complete, and this week brings some interesting matchups that should help clarify the pecking orders in each conference.
• Leading the way is the LA derby match (or the SuperClasico, as the league bills the seven-year-old rivalry) between upstart Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Chivas is fresh off a 3-2 stunner over East leaders New York, a win that lifted the Goats to .500 (3-3-3). Los Angeles (5-2-5) is coming off its best performance of the year, a 4-1 drubbing of Sporting Kansas City in which all three Galaxy designated players (Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel, and David Beckham) found the back of the net.
Robin Fraser’s men say they’re for real; this is a chance to prove it.
• Second-place Real Salt Lake, still adjusting to life without midfield catalyst Javier Morales, takes on FC Dallas, the team that knocked RSL out of last year’s playoffs.
Dallas is also dealing with the loss of its most creative player, 2010 MVP David Ferreira, but has won its last two games, both by shutout.
• In the East, the Red Bulls travel to Houston looking to rebound from last week’s loss to Chivas, but may have to do it without star striker Thierry Henry, who has swelling in his knee and is questionable for the game. Houston is 3-3-4, two points behind the 4-2-3 Red Bulls.
• Second-place Philadelphia hosts Chicago tonight in what should be a good one. The Fire have only one win this season but are unbeaten in their last four, and, after tinkering all season long, may have found the right formula with Corben Bone in midfield.
• Columbus pays a visit to arguably the league’s toughest venue, Portland’ JELD-WEN Field, to take on the Timbers, who are unbeaten (4-0-0) at home this season. The Crew look to rebound from last week’s surprising 3-0 loss to San Jose.
And speaking of Portland …
Towels and Tissues
Before addressing the Columbus game, Portland coach John Spencer had a few things to get off his chest regarding the aftermath of the historic Timbers-Sounders tilt the week before.
Spencer was not pleased with some of the comments coming out of the Seattle camp following the game. Here’s some of what he had to say to reporters after a Timbers training session this week:
“I’m disappointed with their assessment of the game. But then that’s their prerogative. I think if it is too wet up there for them to play soccer then they may want to move that franchise because it pisses down rain nearly every time I’ve been in Seattle. Obviously to say that the conditions suit us more than they suit them just blows me away. It seems to me they had 50 excuses before the game written down as to why they never beat us three- or four-nil at home.”
And a little more:
“The next time we go up there we’ll take plenty of towels for them so we can dry off the field before the game. Maybe take plenty of tissue paper so they can dry their eyes after the game.”
That is some Scottish ire right there. Click here and scroll down for video of the rant.
Pires to MLS? Non. And definitely not to Philadelphia.
So Robert Pires is out of contract at Aston Villa and he recently told reporters that his pal and former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry had asked him to come play in MLS, for the Red Bulls.
To which Henry replied, in the New York Post:
“I’m glad you’re asking me that because I don’t know why he said that. Robert likes to talk, maybe because they’re not offering him another contract in Villa or whatever the problem is for him, but I didn’t speak to him about him coming. I would like you to put that CLEAR over there and I don’t know why.
“I spoke to him yesterday and said why did you have to mention my name? If you wanted to say something—I think he’s 37 soon, he should be able to talk as a grown man.”
(Bonus points to Dylan Butler for the Run-DMC clip in that link.)
Pires has been linked with MLS before, and you may recall it didn’t end well. Last spring, when rumors circulated that Philadelphia was interested in him, he told L’Equipe:
“It does not please me to (go to Philadelphia). I do not want to be difficult, but if I had to take my family away, I’d rather do it in a beautiful city. Otherwise, I will put an end to my career.”
We enjoyed that “I do not want to be difficult.” We get the idea that Pires can’t help but be difficult. He sounds like the Blanche DuBois of international midfielders.
Donovan to Roma?
One international midfielder not going anywhere anytime soon is Galaxy and U.S. attacker Landon Donovan, who became linked with a move to the storied Italian club when a source close to its new owner, Boston native Thomas DiBenedetto, told the Boston Globe that the club would set aside $14 million for a transfer bid for LD.
Donovan’s response to the report was succinct: “Don’t waste my time with that,” he told reporters. “Don’t waste my time, guys.”
Beckham to Old Trafford?
In a way, yes: Donovan’s Galaxy teammate David Beckham will return to his old stomping grounds next week to participate in a testimonial match for his former teammate and BFF, Gary Neville.
The only problem—he’ll miss LA’s game against Houston the following day as a result.
Guess that’s just David being David again.
Enjoy the games.