Union promise hard-nosed home opener
Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak vows his club will exhibit the kind of soccer that will likely endear it to Philly fans when Union play their first home game on Saturday evening at Lincoln Financial Field against D.C. United (6 p.m.; FSC/FSE). The game will kick off what could become the expansion’s team fiercest rivalry.
“This is a physical game all over the world and we plan to be a competitive team,” Nowak said. “… We played tough, hard-nosed football. We’re going to go at people. Get used to it.”
Festivities leading up to Union’s first home game include a pep rally at Philadelphia’s City Hall on Friday. The club has asked its supporters to fly team flags – and leave them throughout the area. For more, click here.
MLS Week 2 rewind
While it was a light schedule in the League’s second week, there was no shortage of heroes. MLS Player of the Week Kenny Mansally came off the bench and scored twice to lead New England to victory at D.C. United. Edson Buddle continued his hot start with a pair of goals to lead the LA Galaxy to a SuperClasico win. Brad Davis scored twice – both from the penalty spot – as the Houston Dynamo canceled out Javier Morales’s third goal of the year in defeating defending MLS champion Real Salt Lake. Mac Kandji’s goal gave the New York Red Bulls their first road victory in nearly two years. For all the highlights of Week 2, click here.
Record-setting day approaches
The most MLS games ever played in one day – eight – take place this Saturday with all 16 clubs in action. Eight-game slates also occur on Saturday, May 1 and Saturday, June 5. Prior to this year, the most MLS games played on any one day was six (on multiple occasions).
“I was sitting on the bench and I was saying nobody is testing the goalkeeper, we can get more shots on goal. So when I came in I tried from far away and the next one I got a goal. In practice I’ve been scoring like two or three, or four goals. I wanted to get a hat trick but I couldn’t. So, maybe next time, next home game.”
— New England Revolution forward Kenny Mansally, to The Boston Globe
“We talked about it and we said it has to stop right now. We did just like we practiced and I think that’s why we were so successful.”
— New York Red Bulls forward Mac Kandji, on ending the club’s long road winless streak
“Coming out at halftime (against Real Salt Lake) was the most embarrassing and disappointing thing that has ever happened in my career, and this is my 11th year. I don’t think it was warranted.”
— San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Bobby Convey, to the (San Jose) Mercury News
Previewing Week 3: April 10, 2010 (all times ET)
New York Red Bulls at Chivas USA, 4 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* The Red Bulls traveled to Qwest Field over the weekend and came away with their first road victory since May 10, 2008. The span of 29 league games without a road victory (0-21-8) was a league record.
* New York has opened the season 2-0 for the first time since 2004. The club has never started a season with three consecutive wins.
* The Red Bulls have defeated Chivas USA only once over the past three seasons, that a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium on June 5, 2008. Chivas have won three of the five remaining contests, with two draws.
* Chivas USA have started a season with back-to-back shutouts for the first time in club history.
* Chivas USA rookie Blair Gavin had never played in a professional soccer game until last Thursday when he went the full 90 minutes.
D.C. United at Philadelphia Union, 6 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* The expansion Union will play their first home game at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Eagles). The club’s new soccer stadium, PPL Park is set to open June 27.
* Philadelphia’s Sons of Ben supporters group gets its first chance in full voice in what may become the club’s most fervent rivalry. Union coach Peter Nowak led United to the 2004 MLS Cup title during his three-year tenure in charge.
* D.C. United have been shut out in their first two league games for the first time since the inaugural season of 1996, when they lost to San Jose (0-1) and Columbus (0-4).
Toronto FC at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* New England coach Steve Nicol seeks the 100th regular season victory in his MLS career.
* Toronto FC have defeated New England just once in seven meetings all-time – a 3-1 victory last May 23 at BMO Field.
* The Revolution have not allowed a goal in 174 minutes. The New England defense has featured a rookie (Seth Sinovic), two second-year players (Emmanuel Osei and Kevin Alston), and two players obtained in the offseason (Preston Burpo and Cory Gibbs).
* Kenny Mansally’s two goals off the bench marked the 38th time in MLS history a substitute has scored a pair of goals. The MLS record for goals by a sub is three, achieved on four occasions.
San Jose Earthquakes at Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* Since the Earthquakes returned to the league in 2008, they have not defeated the Fire, who have won two of the four meetings with a pair of draws.
* Fire rookie Kwame Watson-Siriboe played the entire match in central defense in his professional debut, in place of the injured Wilman Conde.
* It will be the home opener for the Fire, who are looking to put aside their Toyota Park form of 2009. The Fire won just five home games (tied for second-fewest in the league) and lost the Eastern Conference Championship in Bridgeview.
* The Earthquakes last week signed Jon Busch, the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, after he was released by Chicago. Incumbent Joe Cannon remains San Jose’s starter, although he recently suffered a left wrist sprain.
Columbus Crew at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The teams split their two meetings in 2009, with each winning at home.
* The all-time series is almost even, with each club having won 15 of the 36 meetings, with six draws. Dallas has scored 51 goals; the Crew 50.
* During the off week, the Crew won a pair of friendlies against college competition, defeating Marshall University and Michigan State University by 5-0 scorelines.
* FC Dallas also played a practice match, defeating the USSF D-II Austin Aztex 4-1.
* FCD center back Ugo Ihemelu was sidelined for the opener with a hamstring injury, but could be ready to return for the Columbus match. His replacement against Houston, Kyle Davies, suffered a broken arm in the loss and could miss eight weeks.
LA Galaxy at Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The teams met in the Western Conference Championship a year ago, the Galaxy claiming a 2-0 victory.
* The Galaxy last scored a goal at Robertson Stadium in 2007. The Dynamo won 3-0 in 2008; their Houston encounter last year ended 0-0.
* Houston forward Brian Ching suffered a hamstring injury in the 31st minute against RSL, an injury that could cost him a place in the U.S. World Cup squad. There is no timetable set for his return.
* The Galaxy have opened the season with consecutive shutouts as goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has been called upon to make only three saves in wins against New England and Chivas USA. The Galaxy concluded the 2009 regular season with seven shutouts in their last nine games, then recorded shutouts in two of four games in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Colorado Rapids at Kansas City Wizards, 8:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Rapids’ last win in Kansas City came Sept. 14, 2002. The Wizards have gone 6-0-3 in the nine home meetings since with Colorado.
* For the second consecutive season, Omar Cummings has scored goals in each of the Rapids’ first two games. A year ago, he didn’t score his third until the 11th game of the season
* Conor Casey scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot, after scoring four a year ago among his 12 goals (second in MLS behind D.C.’s Jaime Moreno with 6).
* The Wizards defeated USSF Division II side AC St. Louis 2-1 on in a friendly on Saturday, while the reserves defeated the University of Evansville 5-0 – as new Indian signing Sunil Chhetri scored a hat trick. During the week, the Wizards defeated the University of Tulsa, with Chhetri netting another goal.
Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The teams split their meetings in Seattle’s inaugural season, each winning at home. They also met in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match, won 4-1 at home by Seattle.
* In the 1-0 loss to New York at home on Saturday, Sounders FC had a club record 12 corner kicks and also recorded 17 attempts at goal. “If you look at last season, Nate [Jaqua] scored almost all our goals on set pieces because he’s the big boy we can hit and we don’t have that target right now,” said forward Freddie Ljungberg. “It’s hard when we don’t have players like Nate or someone who’s extremely good in the air.”
* RSL defender Jamison Olave will be happy he does not have to play at Houston’s Robertson Stadium again this season (unless it’s in the MLS Cup Playoffs). Olave conceded two penalty kicks within a four-minute span in RSL’s 2-1 loss to the Dynamo last Thursday; he was sent off in both of RSL’s games at Houston last year.