Photo by Greig Cowie/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
Lost in the shuffle amid the announcement of Manchester's United's full U.S. schedule Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City announced a friendly against another English Premier League club with plenty of tradition — Newcastle United.
Sporting KC will host the Magpies at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on July 20. It will be the second international event at the new venue after Gold Cup doubleheader in June. Kansas City will try to replicate its international friendly success from 2010, when it picked up a 2-1 win over Manchester United at Arrowhead Stadium.
Here is some more news from around the Eastern Conference:
Chicago's players are already getting excited for July's friendly against Manchester United, announced Tuesday, but they'll be directing their attention to a much more modest stage tonight when they host the Colorado Rapids in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier.
It's a tough draw for the Fire, who got matched up with the defending MLS Cup champion after Colorado's seventh-place finish in the 2010 regular season caused it to just miss out on an automatic berth in the Open Cup proper.
When Emilio Renteria missed his second straight match Saturday due to a hamstring injury, Columbus coach Robert Warzycha switched from the two-forward alignment that struggled in a 3-1 loss to D.C. United the week before and instead went with Emmanuel Ekpo as an advanced midfielder playing beneath lone striker Andres Mendoza against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Despite Columbus settling for a scoreless draw at home with a depleted Red Bulls squad in that match, Warzycha said he liked what he saw, telling MLSsoccer.com, "If you look at the two games, we definitely had more success with one striker and Ekpo behind him." With Renteria on the verge of returning, Warzycha said the club will continue to try both the 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations.
Conspicuously absent from United's lineup in its first two matches this season has been designated player Branko Boskovic, who has been left as an unused substitute in both games. General Manager Dave Kasper told The Washington Post the 30-year-old arrived for preseason out of shape and is "just now getting his fitness."
A left-sided midfielder with the Montenegro national team who played centrally for United last season, Boskovic has slid down the depth chart with the return to health of winger Chris Pontius and the offseason acquisition of box-to-box midfielder Dax McCarty. During a 2-1 loss at New England on Saturday, coach Ben Olsen used Fred and Santino Quaranta as his two midfielders off the bench.
Speedy striker Calen Carr, acquired from the Chicago Fire in exchange for forward Dominic Oduro, participated in his first full training session with Houston on Monday as he works his way back from a concussion.
When healthy, Carr will join Houston's crowded forward corps and compete for time up top with Brian Ching, who himself just returned from injury, as well as Jason Garey, Cam Weaver and first-round pick Will Bruin.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Making sure the franchise finds a accessible venue in an urban environment remains the focus of New England's quest to build a soccer-specific stadium, according to a Boston Globe report that includes comments from owner Jonathan Kraft and commissioner Don Garber.
"I don't think anybody questions that this is a fantastic soccer market," Garber said. "The question is how to bottle all that up, harness all that passion and convert that passion into support for the Revolution."
NEW YORK RED BULLS
After claiming the starting job in goal from incumbent Bouna Coundoul for New York's season opener against Seattle, Greg Sutton suffered a concussion in training last week that knocked him out of the Red Bulls trip to Columbus. With Coundoul on Senegal national team duty, New York had to rely on third-stringer Alex Horwath.
While the timetable for Sutton's return remains unclear, he understands his injury didn't exactly come at the best possible time. "It's all about timing in sports, isn't it?" he said to MLSsoccer.com. "Obviously, you always want to play if you can, but you have to look at it from another perspective, too. If I rush back, I can hurt myself worse and also hurt the team with how I play."
The Union might consider itself lucky to have walked away with a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday after seeing this Philly.com review that concludes Carlos Ruiz's game-winner easily could have been called back for offside.
The win stands either way, though, and the Union can partially thank the contributions of teenage substitutes Roger Torres and Jack McInerney, who helped turn the tide in Philadelphia's favor.
Toronto's lineup should receive a boost soon from Canadian internationals Nana Attakora and Julian de Guzman, who are both training with the team and appear set to return soon.
After going 90 minutes in the season opener at Vancouver, Attakora missed Toronto's 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers with a minor knee ailment. De Guzman, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
Do you think Kansas City will defeat Newcastle? Is Carr the right player to partner with Ching in Houston? Did Ruiz's goal against Vancouver look offside to you?
Share your thoughts below.