VANCOUVER, B.C. — Jay DeMerit was first out of the tunnel for the Vancouver Whitecaps’ first pregame warmup of the 2014 season. He jogged around the perimeter of the field briefly, clapping to salute the fans, and the sparse early crowd at B.C. Place reciprocated with hearty cheers.
It was a year ago, at the start of the 2013 season, that DeMerit ruptured his left Achilles tendon, leaving his season and career in jeopardy. However, the U.S.’s 2010 World Cup starting center back seems to have put it behind him, recovering more quickly than expected and signing a contract extension in January.
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando is almost assuredly going to Brazil with the U.S. men’s national team for the World Cup this summer, and for good reason.
As reliable as they come in MLS, Rimando denied Landon Donovan a chance at history and then preserved a win over the LA Galaxy with a stoppage-time penalty save of Robbie Keane in a 1-0 result at StubHub Center Saturday night.
With Donovan being played through perfectly by Keane in the 38th minute, Rimando held his ground and turned away a short-range curler, which was earmarked for career regular season goal No. 135 for Donovan and would have made him MLS’ all-time leading scorer. Continue Reading
Sebastian Fernandez, welcome to MLS.
On loan to the Vancouver Whitecaps from Uruguay’s Boston River, Fernandez announced his debut with authority, firing a rocket by New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles to score in the 49th minute as part of the ‘Caps’ 4-1 victory over the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners at BC Place. Scottish DP forward Kenny Miller accounted for two goals, while new Chilean DP Pedro Morales capped the scoring against a Red Bulls side that was playing without top defender Jamison Olave and Thierry Henry (turf precaution).
On a counterattack, Fernandez took a pass from Darren Mattocks, cut centrally while new Red Bulls defender Richard Eckersley failed to close down space and let a right-footed blast fly to the upper right-hand corner. Fernandez is certainly not shy at displaying his range, as he almost beat Robles toward the end of the first half as well. His blast from about 35 yards had to be parried over the bar. Note to future Whitecaps opponents: Don’t yield Fernandez that much room.
Watch Fernandez’s debut goal below: Continue Reading
Is there any doubt that Oribe Peralta is the Mexican national team’s top forward at the moment?
The Santos Laguna and El Tri star was at it again Saturday night, turning in a spectacular effort to help his side overcome a 2-0 deficit en route to a 4-2 victory over Club America. With the game level at 2-2, Peralta put Santos Laguna ahead to stay in the 84th minute, receiving a pass inside the center of the box, using some tremendous footwork to maintain control while splitting two defenders as his momentum took him away from goal and then quickly firing by Tri teammate and helpless America goalkeeper Moises Munoz.
The goal was Peralta’s second in as many league matches and third in five matches overall for Santos, including the game winner over Argentinian side Arsenal de Sarandi in the Copa Libertadores on Feb. 11. It was also an important strike for Santos’ Liguilla (playoffs) hopes, with the club leaping into eighth position and the final playoff spot with the win.
Watch Peralta’s golazo below: Continue Reading
The seemingly inevitable happened again.
For the fifth time in their all-time series, Seattle scored a stoppage-time winning goal to defeat Sporting Kansas City, with the latest edition handing the Sounders a 1-0 win over the defending league champion to open the 2014 MLS season. Following a scrum in the box off a Sean Okoli cross, Chad Barrett poked home a late winner from the doorstep after Clint Dempsey’s header clattered off the crossbar and his follow up scissor kick nudged the ball into Barrett’s path.
The foul-laden match — Seattle suffered a club-record 25 fouls, while committing 15 of its own at Century Link Field — also had two players narrowly avoid being sent off. Both Aurelien Collin and Osvaldo Alonso had potential second-yellow offenses overlooked by replacement referee Alan Kelly, who otherwise avoided controversy with the spotlight squarely on his shoulders following Friday’s referee lockout.
Dempsey, fresh off 90 minutes with the U.S. men’s national team in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Ukraine and a loan stint with Fulham, came off the bench in the 57th minute, and he nearly set up Obafemi Martins for a would-be goal in the 85th minute, but Martins was a step offside before finishing. As for some of the other individual standouts: Continue Reading
There can be no doubt: Aron Jóhannsson is THE in-form American striker of the moment. The AZ Alkmaar man proved as much with a pair of classy finishes against Heracles today.
MLS’ 19th season will commence Saturday with plenty of anticipation. It’s a World Cup year, and MLS has quite a stake in the summer’s tournament, with players like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Julio Cesar, Jermain Defoe and a host of others potentially starring on the world’s stage. The need for replacement referees on the eve of First Kick certainly casts a shadow over the opening weekend, but the games will go on regardless.
Sporting Kansas City is the defending champion. The New York Red Bulls hold the Supporters’ Shield. Millions of dollars were shelled out to bring quality from overseas and keep quality on North American soil. So how will the 2014 season pan out? Our expert panel, consisting of Grant Wahl, Brian Straus, Alexander Abnos, Liviu Bird and Avi Creditor, takes a stab at predicting the future.
Without further ado (Edu? Adu? Oduro?), here is a Best XI of prediction questions and answers for the season ahead: Continue Reading
Major League Soccer plans to kick off its 19th season with replacement referees.
On Friday morning, the Professional Referee Organization, which manages officials in the U.S. and Canada in cooperation with the two national federations and the pro leagues, announced that match officials have been locked out “following a rejection by referees of a no strike/no lockout agreement.”
PRO and the Professional Soccer Referees Association have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for months. But with no deal in place, MLS games now will go ahead with “a highly-qualified pool of replacement officials all of whom have officiated at the professional level,” according to PRO.
That replacement pool includes foreigners with FIFA certification now living in the U.S., former MLS refs and minor league officials “who PRO believes are qualified to officiate at the MLS level.” PRO put them through their paces at a training camp last week. Continue Reading
MLS is back and with it comes either brand-new primary, secondary or alternate uniforms and sometimes a combination of those for all 19 clubs. For the second straight year, MLS and kit provider adidas teamed up to hold a festival of uniforms, dubbed Jersey Week. But this year everyone got into the mix.
While some changes were subtle and others had a bit more pop — and by pop we mean how Sporting KC went all rugby on us and Portland offered up one of the best retro looks you’ll ever see — we’ve run down what’s new and all of what you’ll see on the field in 2014.
Take a look below: Continue Reading
Before he was a Ballon d’Or winner and one of the best to ever play the game, Lionel Messi was just a kid. Exactly 10 years ago, at age 16, that kid played his first game with Barcelona B.