They’re calling it “a big home game” in San Jose.
The Western Conference lead will be on the line when the San Jose Earthquakes welcome Real Salt Lake (10:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE), but SJ will be without three of their best players: the injured Shea Salinas and Victor Bernardez and the suspended Marvin Chavez.
And the Quakes are not happy about it.
Team GM John Doyle does not agree with the one-game ban issued by the MLS Disciplinary Committee to Chavez and the three-game suspension to NY’s Rafael Marquez for the incident which injured Salinas last week. “I’m disappointed for our fans,” Doyle said.
San Jose manager Frank Yallop takes it a step further when arguing against the Chavez suspension on his tackle of NY’s Roy Miller: "We must allow tackling in the game. It's like taking tackling out of American football. I don't think anybody will watch it."
But MLS' so-called Discipline Czar Nelson Rodriguez, speaking about the Marquez suspension on ExtraTime Radio podcast, explained how the Disciplinary Committee works and what the committee expects from players. "If we remain consistent, [the players] will adjust their behavior."
On the field, the match-up between San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski and the Real Salt Lake defense looks tasty: “When I look at Wondo, I think … that could be me," says left back Chris Wingert. "He’s not overly athletic or does anything crazy, but let’s give the guy some credit.”
Sporting Kansas City and their 7-0-0 record are receiving lots of credit lately and on Saturday night they head to Portland to face a Timbers team that have lost four straight (10:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). “We’ve also had a lot of bad luck and I’m not going to point fingers to bad calls or injuries or that kind of stuff,” says Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. “When it comes, it comes. This is a sport that moves in cycles and we got our bad play out of the way early.” (VIDEO)
One player who has been inspired at times for the Timbers is Eric Alexander. Timbers manager John Spencer has received trade requests from two MLS teams in the last two weeks: “I had another team after the Salt Lake game ask me about [a trade], and I turned them down."
The defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy visit the Colorado Rapids (9 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE) and Colorado manager Oscar Pareja is not backing down: “Going forward we need to beat L.A.," he said. “We need to be more dangerous and create options to score. At the end of the day, that's going to give you points.”
As FC Dallas travel to face the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 p.m. ET MLS LIVE), a teenager was a surprise inclusion in the FCD travel squad. Find out who made the cut and the road it took him to get there.
As for the Whitecaps, expect manager Martin Rennie to make a few changes, including possibly sitting Eric Hassli: “We've given quite a few guys a good run of games and a good chance to show what they can do," I think that with the games being close together like this, it might be an opportunity for some other guys to take their chance.”
We’ll see if Houston forward Will Bruin can follow up his goal from last weekend in Chicago. This week the Dynamo are in Columbus (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE): "You could just see in my reaction it was kind of a big stress off my shoulders," Bruin said about his goal vs. the Fire. "People talk about sophomore slumps and everything, and that wasn't something that I was going through.”
The Crew are still celebrating the hiring of club legend Frankie Hejduk, who will work for the club as an ambassador in a variety of roles. Hejduk himself celebrated by taking a sip of Guinness during his press conference yesterday: “I think I can make a huge difference in the community,” he says.
The ESPN2 game of the week airs on Sunday (6 p.m. ET) and features the D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls Eastern Conference rivalry. As an appetizer for the match, read this Q&A with NYRB goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who carries a resemblance to NBA legend Larry Bird: “In the locker room, I get more ‘What’s up, Larry?’ than ‘What’s up, Ryan?’” he says.
Toronto FC host the Chicago Fire in the NBC Sports Network game of the week on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET). The match will showcase one gritty defender who dabbles in painting and has two oil creations being showcased in a local gallery. The name might surprise you.
Here’s another surprise: a former Toronto FC preseason trialist is heading to England to try to win a contract with Manchester City. (SPANISH)
Saturday will also prove a reunion for two former German internationals in TFC’s Torsten Frings and Chicago’s Arne Friedrich. See what they say about one another in this story.
The match at BMO Field will likely see Frings’s return to the Toronto lineup. “We have the roster to be very competitive in this league,” says midfielder Terry Dunfield, despite his team’s 0-5 start to the season.
Chivas USA are winless in 2012 … at home. They will hope to reverse the trend when they host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE). Will the Goats have to face the new-look Union attack? It sounds like Danny Mwanga could get a look with newly acquired Kai Herdling: “To me [Herdling] is more like an attacking midfielder, which is great. We played a little together and he will be great for our team," Mwanga says.
The Guatemalan national team has called up Marco Pappa ahead of an April 25 exhibition against Paraguay. We’ll see if he’s released by the club. (SPANISH)
This article from France says that Major League Soccer clubs are hot on the trails of 21-year-old Mexican midfielder Christian Diaz, who grew up in the Atlas Guadalajara system. But they have competition from Lille in France and Deportivo La Coruna in Spain. (FRENCH)
Meanwhile, a former Italian international player who played for FC Barcelona is convinced that Alessandro Del Piero will wind up in Major League Soccer this summer. (ITALIAN)
But it seems that rejuvenated Chelsea forward Didier Drogba is looking at China with this report claiming he is nearing an $11 million-a-year with a side from Shanghai.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press Sports Editors, MLS commissioner Don Garber said the league would be interested in bringing Spanish legend Raul to MLS. He also talked about a “near auction” for a potential 20 expansion team in NY and his openness “to using goal-line technology as soon as it is made available.”
At the same meeting, Garber reportedly indicated that the New York Mets owners could be back in the picture regarding a stadium solution in Queens, speaking of “interest with Mets to re-open talks.”
Mexico and Germany never fail soccer fans when it comes to Friday matches. The Bundesliga offers up Mainz vs. Wolfsburg (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes) and it’ll be Morelia vs. Atlante (9 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes) in Mexican league action.
That annual Forbes list is out listing the world’s richest clubs. Turns out that Manchester United are No. 1 and the Red Devils are considered more valuable than the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys.
Staying in England, a former English national team scoring legend, Gary Lineker, says that LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham should not be selected to the Great Britain Olympic team as an overage player.
Lastly, don’t miss Jimmy Conrad’s exclusive interview on Kick TV later today with Beckham’s teammate, Landon Donovan. But don’t wait for the video, subscribe to the Kick TV YouTube channel now.
MLS discipline czar Nelson Rodriguez and Chicago’s Chris Rolfe on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio
WATCH: The ultimate MLS highlight reel cut to music – it’s 90 Plus
The Sideline: So you think you know David Beckham?
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