Thank goodness it's Friday. The Seattle Sounders are on the east coast this weekend to play a much improved Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Last year the Union had one of the most inconsistent defenses in the league. Things have changed this year as Piotr Nowak reworked the defense. The Union now look like a classic Nowak team with tough stifling defense and inconsistent offense. The Sounders will need to be clicking offensively to get a full three points out of this match-up.
Hurtado Getting Back On Track: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado missed most of last season with a torn ACL. He has done a remarkable job coming back from an injury that has ended many a professional sports career. However, in the first two games of the season it was clear to Sigi Schmid that the young center-back was not in the same place mentally. Giving Hurtado a two game break seems to have worked as the defender looked a lot more confident against the Chicago Fire. Here's hoping to even more improvement tomorrow against the Union.
More links from around the league after the jump:Philly Feeling Confident: A good start to the season and a spot at the top of the Eastern Conference has Union fans feeling confident. Some would say overconfident. Philly Union Talk is calling for Nowak to trot out some of the B-team since the Sounders are such an easy team. Oh, and they have a stray ferret that can predict soccer games. That must be the source of his overconfidence! In other news, PPL Park might soon be expanded to accommodate the University of Villanova football team.
Beckham Rips Refs: David Beckham decided to take up the issue of referees after a disappointing 0-0 tie against Toronto FC on Wednesday. In a post-game interview he did his best to shuffle the disappointment off the evening's tie and a lackluster start by the LA Galaxy onto the officials. I think it was more of a reaction to Beckham receiving his fifth yellow card in six games. I've seen all of the Galaxy's games so far this year and Beckham's problem isn't the referees. Beckham is slow and has resorted to overly physical play and bad studs up tackles when he gets beat by younger, faster players. Aside from his patented set-pieces...the Galaxy will probably look much better this Sunday with him watching from his luxury box.
Date Set for CONCACAF Draw: Next week Real Salt Lake faces Monterry in the first leg of the 2010-2011 CCL final. About half the teams for the 2011-2012 CCL tournament have been selected including the Seattle Sounders. On May 18th the participating teams will placed in groups and the game schedule set. The Group Stage will kick-off on August 16th and include six rounds, concluding October 18-20. I'm really looking forward to finding out who will be in the Sounders group. Hopefully we don't end up in the group of death with Monterry like last year.
Agudelo on Atletico's Radar: The play of Juan Agudelo has been a bright spot for the USMNT and the New York Red Bulls in the early weeks of the season. It's becoming clear to most of us watching his performances that the young striker will be Europe bound at some point in his career. The real question is how long should the young striker remain in MLS. The big money offers will probably start to roll-in during the summer transfer window. The word on the street is that Atletico Madrid is interested and they have a history of developing young talent. However, Steve Davis argues that the young striker would be better served staying in the U.S. for a few more years.
Moves Made Before Transfer Window Closes: The Houston Dynamo have signed Spanish forward Sergio Contreras Pardo (aka Koke) and Jamaican midfielder JeVaughn Watson. Sporting KC, a team wracked by injuries, has added center-back Aurélien Collin from Portuguese side Vitória FC. Toronto FC has brought in 22 year old right back Richard Eckersley on a loan from Burnley FC. Oh, and the Timbers have signed their first ever designated player. Colombian midfielder Diego Chará joins the Timbers from Deportes Tolima where he played with Timbers striker Jorge Perlaza.
Portland Wins First MLS Home Game: Jeld-Wen field was a soggy mess last evening as the Portland Timbers defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 in their first MLS home game. It was a scrappy game with plenty of ugly plays which ultimately fitted the Timbers style of play much better than the possession oriented Fire. The most memorable play was probably the 'Hand of Wood' where striker Kenny Cooper used both hands to wrest the ball away from keeper Sean Johnson (go to the 7th minute for the replay). Props to reader LordIceman for coming up with the moniker in last night's game thread here at SAH. In a continuation of giving respect where respect where respect is due, the national anthem and tifo display by the Timbers Army was pretty cool.
Portland Hearts Moustaches: David Horst is one of many new Portland Timbers players. The center-back hasn't seen too much time on the field due to an ankle injury. However, while Horst has been laid up, his moustache (called the horstache by the Timbers faithful) has become a fan favorite. Currently the horstache is in negotiations with the Timbers Army to make some shirts and do some events for charity. So, if you go down to Portland for a game, and see a shirt with a giant moustache on it, just remember it's for a good cause. And wearing a moustache is an infinitely better idea that getting a moustache tattooed on your finger.