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Major Link Soccer

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Welcome back to the latest and greatest episode of the new series Major Link Soccer. Last weekend the young Sounders Academy teams swept Arsenal of California. This week the senior team took on the best XI of both Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew during preseason training games. Both teams are preparing for a CCL quarter final match on February 22nd at Crew Stadium. How did the Sounders do?

Young Sounders Hold Off RSL Starting XI: In the first match against RSL the Sounders started the game with a very young group of trialists that dominated the best XI of RSL. Lamar Neagle scored the first goal in the 3rd minute while RSL tied it up later on a Morales free kick. In the 3rd period the Sounders brought in more starters while RSL put in the subs. The goals came quick for both sides as the game ended with a 3-3 tie after three periods. Video highlights are available here and here. Denz at RSL Soapbox has the view from RSL on his blog.

Rebuilt Columbus Crew Beat Sounders: Jeff Cunningham, in his late career return to the Crew, fired up the offense to lead the Crew to a 3-0 win over the Sounders. Andres Mendoza scored a blast past Keller in the 1st period to give the Crew the early lead. Cunningham came in the 2nd half and immediately provided pressure on young keeper Bryan Meredith, but the young trialist was up to the task. However, Cunningham scored and pressured Zach Scott into an own goal in the waning minutes of the 3rd period. Video highlights and interviews are available here.

More from around the soccer-sphere after the jump:

MLS Schedule is Finally Out: After months of delay the MLS schedule is finally out and Jeremiah Oshan has the Sounders schedule up on SAH. Luckily, we had pages of tweets from #MLSScheduleIsLateBecause to keep us all entertained during the wait. Leading the list by my count are jokes about David Beckham's wavering commitment to the LA Galaxy.  However, Denz is not amused that just under half the nationally televised games will showcase just three teams. 

Break Out the Steel Drums for Houston: Dominic Kinnear has set up a pipeline to Jamaica and is bringing in the talent. Jamaican journeyman center-back Jermaine Taylor is coming to Houston on trial. Other Caribbean trialists braving the unseasonably cold weather in Houston include young striker Steven Morrissey (Jamaica) and midfielder Lester Peltier (Trinidad). They'll join fellow Jamaican midfielder Lovel Palmer.   

Sideshow Lenhart in High Demand: Young MLS forward and Sideshow Bob impersonator Steven Lenhart was apparently in high demand during draft day. UZ at the Burgandy Wave writes that Colorado was also in trade talks for Lenhart leading up to the draft. On a personal level it seems like San Jose is a better fit for the young striker. As I learned from this awkward local network interview with Lenhart his two favorite pass-times are surfing and crochet. There are no waves in Colorado, but I do believe they have yarn. 

Good News for Eric Lichaj: Eric Lichaj finally exited Aston Villa's manager Gerard Houllier's doghouse via a loan to Leeds United. Leeds United is currently fighting for promotion to the EPL and need someone to fill-in immediately for injured right back Paul Connolly.

Better News for Agbossoumonde: Gale Agbossoumonde's long struggle to leave the clutches of the Traffic Sports USA appears to be paying off. Djurgardens IF in Sweden is ready to sign the U.S. U-20 national team defender on a six month loan from Traffic USA/Miami FC. Djurgardens will have an option to buy Agbossoumonde for a fixed price in August.

USL Timbers Snake-Bit: It's a bit early to tell...but it seems members of the former USL Timbers are a bit cursed. On Monday Bright Dike underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. A day later Steve Cronin  broke his wrist in training camp and will likely be out for the start of the season. I would be very concerned if I was Ryan Pore.

DCU Facing Goalkeeper Shortage: The injury to Steve Cronin puts DCU in a goalkeeping quandary since Bill Hamid is still recovering from shoulder surgery and may be out another month. That leaves DCU with an third round draft pick Joe Willis and an unsigned trialist as goal-keeping options to start the season.

Cody Arnoux Enters Lottery: Three years ago Cody Arnoux was a ripping up defenses in the ACC for the Wake Forest Demons. He signed with Everton rather than MLS and never went beyond the reserve team. After being released the Whitecaps signed Arnoux in an attempt to get around the endless lotteries in the MLS. No luck, as MLS had determined that Cody Arnoux will enter another weighted lottery in which the Whitecaps have among the worst odds. DCU have the best odds, but might bow-out yet again to preserve their ability to sign Charlie Davies.    

The Union in Formation:  For those of you interested in tactics and formations we have two articles for you on the Union from The Philly Soccer Page. Last year Nowak's team had trouble generating scoring opportunities and left gaping holes in the midfield in their unbalanced 4-2-2-2. The authors first look at a 4-2-3-1 formation which would allow the Union to better utilize the wealth of defensive midfielders on their roster. The second article, a look at the 4-3-3 formation, would build on the Union's defensive midfielders and utilize Kyle Nakazawa as a CAM feeding passes to a trio of forwards (Le Toux, Mwanga & McInerney).  

Do You Remember the 80s? Fortunately neither do I. However, if you wish to be reminded, there's an awesome video of Jay DeMerit rocking it shirtless in full 80s style. Now that the Rick-rolling fad is over can we Jay-roll people? Full credit to Odeen Domingo at Soccer by Ives for unearthing this little gem for his article on DeMerit's return to soccer after five months of inaction.