Major Link Soccer: Beasts of the East

USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC records fifth-straight shutout to take over first in the Eastern Conference

Sporting Kansas City scored early and then put on show of muscle and defense as it beat New York 1-0 Wednesday night in Harrison, New Jersey. The game was mighty rough - MLS-style, I guess. Sporting scored on an early corner set piece and then centerbacks Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler locked down (kansascity.com). One reporter says the loss, and New York's "offensive ineptitude," are building pressure on first-year coach Mike Petke (Goal.com).

Sporting started the season slowly as the squad adjusted to the replacement of Kei Kamara with new DP striker Claudio Bieler, but they are now back atop the MLS Eastern Conference with 14 points in seven games. Meanwhile, it is possible Kamara could come back, with Norwich City having not told Sporting whether they plan to extend Kamara past his current loan, which ends May 6 (Sky Sports).

When Sounders and Galaxy both lost in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, MLS supporters lamented the salary differences for squads on either side of the border. Longtime American soccer journalist Kyle McCarthy takes a deeper look at the discrepancies and discovers that MLS has higher-paid players, in many of its DPs, than any in Mexico. It's the middle of the rosters where MLS falls short (Goal.com).

Speaking of money, the latest Forbes rankings show Real Madrid is now the most valuable club in the world, surpassing Manchester United this year (Forbes). No, there aren't any MLS squads on the list.

From the seedier side of the money-in-sports ledger comes some heroic news. DC United's oft-maligned striker Carlos Ruiz is set to receive a big award from CONCACAF for his role in ratting out match-fixers in Guatemala (MLSSoccer.com).

The injury bug that has hampered the Sounders is starting to take a toll on other teams. Chivas USA, the surprise side of the early-going, has lost holding midfielder Daniel Atunez indefinitely with a torn meniscus and sprained ligaments. The native of Santa Ana, Calif., only started earning regular playing time when Ecuadorian midfielder Oswaldo Minda went down. Now the team may have to depend on a 20-year-old El Salvadoran Marvin Iraheta to help cover in front of its three-man backline. (MLSSoccer.com)

Finally, a personal word. After my first post Tuesday some wondered who I was, especially since I'm identified only as "scott47a" on this website. My name is Scott Ayers. I spent 18.5 years as a journalist at The Bellingham Herald, leaving in early 2011. I was a reporter, city editor, and spent the final eight years as "opinion and special projects editor," which meant I was in charge of writing all of the paper's editorials, as well as editing columns, letters to the editor, and yes, monitoring online commenting. I worked in marketing for a non-profit for the past two years before giving it all up on a whim and moving to Austin, Texas. I got here March 3.

In terms of my soccer background I started to love the sport way back in the 1970s when KCTS used to broadcast a highlight show called "Soccer made in Germany." I followed the NASL Sounders, though none of my family did, so I never made a game. I bought season tickets to Sounders FC as soon as they went on sale and sat the past four seasons in Section 146. I used to hang a sign in the north end that said "El Corazon" and had Alonso's number on it. I still think Ozzie is the heart of the Sounders. I also played (poorly) in an adult rec league the past couple years, mostly as a defender.

I'm on Twitter: @scott47a

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