The big weekend is here as the Portland Timbers are traveling up I-5 to take on our own Seattle Sounders in a much anticipated rivalry match. The supporters groups are ready to cheer and shout for a full 90. The Timbers Army has 10 buses of supporters coming up for the match (and have helpfully put together a travel guide to Seattle). The Emerald City Supporters (ECS) are setting up a huge block party outside Fuel to get fans revved up before the march to the match. You can get revved up for the match now with some vintage pictures from the USL derby games. Come downtown early as the area is going to packed with activities.
The Sounders reserves edged out Chivas USA on Monday 3-2 to remain undefeated in the reserve league. Mike Fucito, Lamar Neagle and Miguel Montano produced goals for the Sounders while Chris Cortez scored both goals for Chivas. Unfortunately, no Sounders academy players participated since they are wrapped up right now playing against each other in high school soccer. However, in other academy news, midfielder Aaron Kovar was named Washington State soccer player of the year by ESPN.
Mondaini Suspended: The league has suspended Marcos Mondaini for four games and fined him $1,500 for his reckless challenge on Javier Morales. Morales is still recovering after successful surgery this week to repair the ankle broken by Mondaini. The punishment for Mondaini is significantly less than the one handed down to Brian Mullan just last week so expect some blow-back on the message boards against Sounders fans since many already view the Mullan suspension as the league caving into a vocal fan-base. The lighter punishment for Mondaini will likely reinforce that viewpoint.
More news after the jump:
LA Hosts MLS Cup Again: The influential Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) strikes again as the MLS Cup goes back to the Home Depot Center for 2011. It's hardly a surprise as Ted Leiweke, CEO of the LA Galaxy, leaked the news back in March. An odd decision considering the site's supposed to be neutral, yet the LA Galaxy are one of the favorites to compete for the cup. So, there's only one thing fans of fairness can do...hope that the Seattle Sounders knock LA out of the playoffs early!
Toronto's Winter of Discontent: Toronto FC lost 1-0 this Wednesday to Dallas FC on a soft penalty in the box. Aron Winter was quick to blame the inconsistent refereeing in MLS for his clubs woes. The poor referring is little absolution for a club that's been widely inconsistent and frankly lacks the talent to compete against the better teams in MLS. It looks like a race in Toronto between Winter's frustration with the league, widespread fan discontent and the lengthy rebuilding process Toronto needs to build a competitive club.
Caps Draw: Chris Wondoloski looked dangerous in a 1-1 draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Caps midfield was a shambles for most of the game and were lucky to score an equalizer late off a cross/shot by Davide Chiumiento. The best news for the Caps from the game was the return of Jay DeMerit from injury.
4,200 Premier Packs Sold: The Sounders front office is testing the demand for seats this season by packaging two regular league games with the upcoming Manchester United Friendly. The package includes the Manchester United game along with regular season games against the New York Red Bulls and the San Jose Earthquakes for a reasonable $99 price tag. So far, 4,200 of the premier packs have been sold. However, more important than the total number of packages sold, is seeing those newly opened sections packed with Sounders fans for the two league games.
Cummings Out & Casey In: The Colorado Rapids are hip deep in injuries to their striker core. Omar Cummings will miss 2-4 weeks due to an ankle injury sustained during a game last Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo. Luckily for the Rapids, striker Conor Casey appears to have recovered from a recurring hamstring issue and will be available to start this weekend when the Rapids face DC United.
Dawkins Undergoes Surgery: The prospects of the struggling San Jose Earthquakes took another blow this weekend when dynamic attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins underwent surgery on his legs to fix something called compartment syndrome. He'll be out 4-8 weeks to recover. Figures...I had just added him a couple weeks ago to my ESPN fantasy team. My apologies to anyone who followed my advice!
MLS in Minnesota: Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, has been talking MLS again as he pushes for a new home for his throwball club. The German-born owner of the Vikings has been pushing a plan for a new retractable roof stadium that could also host a soccer club. Wilf certainly has the funds and the experience to attract interest from MLS, but probably not in the latest round of expansion. The MLS seems set on New York as the site for its 20th team.
Japan Drops Out of Copa America: Japan officially dropped out of the Copa America tournament this week after some dithering on the issue. The country's football teams and players are still recovering from the devastating quake and tsunami. The damage forced the J-league to push their schedule back into July which would jeopardize availability of Japanese players for the Copa America tournament. Costa Rica will likely be named as Japan's replacement today.
Blattergate Continues: Six FIFA Executive Committee members have been accused of corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup. To the surprise of absolutely no-one, CONCACAF President Jack Warner is one of the six accused of soliciting millions of dollars in bribes during the bidding process. At least he wasn't caught asking for a royal knighthood. Lord forbid he rub shoulders with the likes of David Beckham at the royal wedding!
Blanc Cleared of Wrongdoing: French National Team coach Laurent Blanc has been cleared of charges of racism in an attempt by members of the French Football Association to implement a quota system. Frankly, Blanc gets off on a technicality since he only discussed implementing a racist quota system rather than actually implementing said racist quota system. Still, the axe might still fall on Francois Blaquart, the country's technical director, and the brainchild of the 30% quota system. He has been suspended while he awaits judgement.