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USA vs. Mexico, Club Edition - This Week in MLS

April 2, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

USA vs. Mexico, Club Edition: CCL Semifinals

An elusive regional title and a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco are within sight for two MLS clubs: This week the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC host Mexican clubs in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series.

Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, the Sounders take on defending CCL champions Santos Laguna at CenturyLink Field. On Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, the Galaxy face Monterrey at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., Both games will be televised on Fox Soccer, as will the second leg matches April 9 and 10.

The burden will be on the MLS teams to win at home and put goals on the board because return legs in Mexico have historically not gone well. At home against Mexican teams in CCL, MLS teams have gone 15-15-9 with a minus-5 goal differential. But in Mexico, they are just 2-23-4 and have been outscored 83-28. In last year's quarterfinal round, the Sounders defeated Santos 2-1 at CenturyLink, but suffered a 6-1 defeat in Torreon; this year "Los Guerreros" overturned a 1-0 defeat in Houston with a 3-0 win in Torreon.

For related news, check out the special CCL sections of LAGalaxy.com HERE and SoundersFC.com HERE, including info graphics about both Santos Laguna and Monterrey.

An MLS team has not won the region's top club competition since the Galaxy won in 2000, when the competition was known as the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Dynamo's Calen Carr Named MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Month

Growing up in California's Bay Area, Calen Carr had a many mentors during his upbringing. From his mother, who is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, to outside influences, Carr's benefitted from having people around to help him navigate life's choices.

Now Carr is returning the favor, working with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program at Rusk Elementary, a school near the Houston Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium. Through his fundraising efforts, Carr and others have raised $5,000 to jump-start the program and they have encouraged involvement from Dynamo president Chris Canetti and 15 members of the Dynamo staff as mentors in the program.

For his efforts, Carr has been awarded the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Month for April.

Week 6 National Broadcasts

Saturday, April 6

Toronto FC vs. FC Dallas, 4:00 p.m. ET (TSN)

Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:00 p.m. ET (Univision Deportes)

Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC SN)

Sunday, April 7

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Quotables

"Our big challenge...explain why the Champions League matters. This is an extremely important competition. We need people to know, 'Look, if we win this thing, we can go to the Club World Cup and play a club like Barcelona in a meaningful game. That thought alone gives me goosebumps."

Sporting KC vice president of development David Ficklin on the importance of the CCL

"I am itching to represent my country again and be part of it. I also understand very clearly that some decisions I have made are going to make that a difficult task. But I'm excited to take them on."

Landon Donovan on his desire to rejoin the USMNT

"I had never met (El Chelis) before, but he's brought great energy and expectation to the group. He really drives the group forward."

Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy on coach El Chelis

''We're operating on the basis that this team is going to improve. You always have contingency plans, but the basis of our operation at this moment is that we're going to improve. We feel, again, that we had a difficult start partially explained by the number of setbacks that we had with injuries.''

Chicago Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon remaining optimistic despite slow start

"If you look at all the goalkeepers around the world, nobody just walks into their spot. Something big always happens and that's when a two becomes a one ...You can make an amazing save and push it out for a corner and then let one through your legs because you're so excited, but you just have to kind of keep cool and not say anything about it, just keep doing the same thing over and over."

Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik on gaining the team's starting position

"I want to win the MLS Cup. The team, the organization, the fan base, the city want that. We are built for a championship this year."

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper and captain Jimmy Nielsen's expectations this season

"We're so happy for (Petke) because he works at it night and day and takes his work home with him, as we do as well. And out of everyone I think he deserves it. You can tell he's passionate for it, and for us as players we'll do anything to get the result for him."

Tim Cahill on Mike Petke's first win as New York Red Bulls head coach

"... I'll never back down from anyone. I don't care if it's Olave or (New York defender) Connor Lade."

Philadelphia Union's Conor Casey back playing against the New York Red Bulls

Sweet Tweets

@kaustin01 - March 30

Only two @MLS players have multi-assist games in 2013: @SportingKC's @gzusi (3/2 at PHI) and now @b_feilhaber22. Playmakers.

‏@KylePorter19 - April 1

It's a beautiful day... A fresh start to a New Month... New week and New goals to achieve! Have a Bless day everyone

‏@dwaynederosario - April 1

Looking forward to participating in the #eastereggroll at #whitehouse today! #letsmove encouraging #health & #fitness. See u there...

@Alexprus - April 1

About to start enrichment soccer program for Arthur School in Cedar Rapids, IA.My part of giving back to the community.It feels good.

@PeterHirdt - April 1

ICYMI, @HoustonDynamo make history, remain undefeated at BBVA Compass Stadium. http://bit.ly/125UbV9

‏@wingert17 - April 2

That was the most fans I've ever seen at a reserve match! Thank you guys for all the support, we appreciate you! #RSL

MLS Week 6 Previews

(Home team listed first; all times Eastern)

Friday, April 5

Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m.

- Shutout: Sporting recorded a third consecutive shutout in their 2-0 win against Montréal last weekend, handing the Impact their first defeat of the season. They have gone 339 minutes without conceding a goal, since a 2-1 loss at Toronto FC on March 9.

- Well-rested: D.C. United return to action after a week off aiming to snap a two-game winless run, dropping a 2-1 decision at home to Columbus last time out, the lone goal a stunning long-range blast from Designated Player Rafael.

- Winning streak: Sporting KC have a four-game winning streak alive vs. D.C. United. The last D.C. victory in the series came May 5, 2010 at RFK Stadium.

- DC winless: United have not won in Kansas City since 2007. In the seven visits since, Sporting have won four games with three ties; that includes two wins and two draws in four meetings all-time at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, and victories in both meetings at Sporting Park.

Saturday, April 6

Toronto FC vs. FC Dallas, 4 p.m.

- Continue the streak: FC Dallas won for the third game on the trot as Blas Perez scored a late winner for a 1-0 win vs. New England on Saturday. The three-game winning streak matches FCD's longest over the past four seasons; they haven't won as many as four in a row since Sept. 26-Oct. 17, 2009.

- Designated Scorer: Robert Earnshaw continued his record of scoring every goal for TFC this season, netting his and the team's fourth to pull the Reds level with the LA Galaxy, before Jonathan Osorio scored his first professional goal as the teams eventually ended in a 2-2 draw Saturday.

- One-sided: In league play, FC Dallas have not lost to Toronto FC since 2007 - the first meeting ever between the clubs. FCD has won six of the 10 regular-season encounters since, with four draws, including a 4-0-2 record all-time in Frisco.

- Superstitious: FC Dallas saw a three-game winning streak vs. Toronto FC snapped in their 1-1 draw last July 4, their only meeting in 2012. That was the first goal scored by TFC vs. FCD since July 24, 2010.

Columbus Crew vs. Philadelphia Union, 5 p.m.

- Ready to play: The Crew return to action after a weekend off, after Homegrown Player Ben Speas scored his first professional goal to give his team a 2-1 win at D.C. United.

- Surprise scorer: The Crew's leading goalscorer this season? Fullback Josh Williams, who netted his second in the victory against D.C. at RFK Stadium.

- Looking to rebound: Union had their two-game winning streak snapped last weekend in a 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls, as Conor Casey scored his first goal since coming to the club during the offseason.

- Home advantage: The Crew have won all three meetings lifetime vs. Union at Crew Stadium, including a 3-2 victory in their final encounter a season ago. The Crew won the final two meetings between the teams last year.

Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

- Round two: The teams are already meeting for the second time this season. On March 16 at Rio Tinto Stadium during Rivalry Week, Deshorn Brown gave Colorado a first-half lead, but Álvaro Sabório netted an 80th-minute equalizer to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw.

- Home help: The home team has not lost in the Rocky Mountain Cup series since 2007, when RSL knocked off Colorado 1-0 in Commerce City to close out their playoff hopes.

- Double-edged sword: Real put an end to a three-game winless run in emphatic fashion over the weekend, knocking off Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 at home. Robbie Findley scored his first MLS goal since 2010 before he was forced to leave before the game was 15 minutes old with an injury.

- Powers: The Rapids saw their season-opening winless streak ended to five games as the Portland Timbers overcame a two-goal deficit for a 2-2 draw, a match highlighted a tremendous blast by rookie Dillon Powers for his first professional goal.

Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo, 10:30 p.m.

- Undefeated: The Timbers have yet to defeat the Dynamo since coming into MLS. A year ago, the teams played to a scoreless draw at BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston won both meeting in Portland's inaugural MLS season of 2011.

- Double dip: Will Johnson scored two goals in a game for the first time in his MLS career, in 124 career league appearances, leading the Timbers back for a 2-2 draw with Colorado on Saturday.

- Penalty drought: Johnson's second goal came from the penalty spot, Portland's first penalty kick goal since Oct. 22, 2011 - a span of 37 league matches. The streak between penalty attempts is the fifth-longest in MLS history.

- In the records book: The Dynamo matched Real Salt Lake's all-time streak with their 34th match in all competitions without a loss at home in their 2-0 win against San Jose. The Dynamo last lost a competitive match at home on June 18, 2011.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m.

- Home advantage: After going winless in the first three meetings in the series all-time, Whitecaps FC won the final two matchups last year, both at BC Place. Whitecaps FC have not lost to the Earthquakes in Vancouver; the Quakes have not lost to Vancouver in their two home matches.

- Streak ended: The Earthquakes saw their three-game undefeated run come to an end last weekend in a 2-0 loss at Houston, a third consecutive loss to the Dynamo.

- History made: Ramiro Corrales - the last active player in MLS to have played in the inaugural season of 1996 - became the 18th player in league history to reach 300 league appearances in the loss in Houston.

- Road woes: Whitecaps FC are coming off a second consecutive loss on their three-game road trip, a 2-1 defeat at Chivas USA. Both of Vancouver's wins this season came at BC Place; they are 0-2-0 on the road.

Sunday, April 7

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)

- First win: The Red Bulls gave Mike Petke his first victory as a head coach on Saturday, Thierry Henry netting his first goal of the season in the 81st minute for a 2-1 home win against Philadelphia.

- Long awaited goal: The Fire return to action coming off a 4-1 home defeat by Chivas USA two weekends ago. Patrick Nyarko scored for Chicago, its first goal of the season, ending a 334-minute goalless drought to start the year, the third-longest streak in MLS history.

* Long history: The Red Bulls have never won at Toyota Park. In nine all-time meetings in Bridgeview, the Fire have won six, with three draws. New York's last road win vs. Chicago came May 31, 2005, when the MetroStars posted a 3-1 victory at Soldier Field.

- Revenge factor: The Fire won the final meeting between the teams last season, a 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 6, their first away win in the series since the 2009 season.

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