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Califf: Portland will be “crazy.” It’s raining previews & predictions. More news.

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union

Danny Califf says of Monday’s game, “It’s always really exciting every time the games come around,” said Califf, who will be 32 on March 17. “It’s the first one, especially when things are buzzing. Portland — the place is going to be crazy. They’re going to be flying. It’s going to be 100 miles an hour.”

In this excellent season preview, Califf also talks about the the transition of all of those new faces into the locker room. “I was worried with the amount of transition we had. That was a big issue for me last year because I really did think we had a tremendous locker room. But coming in and seeing these guys and meeting them and seeing their personalities, I’m definitely not nearly as worried as I was coming in. I think the guys coming in are quality individuals and will make our team stronger. I’m excited about it.”

It’s raining preseason predictions! Here’s a roundup of the latest with their predicted Top 4 East Coast finishers:

The Boston Globe has the Union coming in fifth in the East. “It will be difficult to replace goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.” (Houston, New York, Kansas City, Columbus)

Vancouver’s The Province has the Union finishing fourth. “Replacing Sebastien Le Toux, traded to Vancouver, is a tall order. Freddy Adu must step up. (Kansas City, Houston, New York, Philly)

The Mercury News has the Union finishing fourth. “Hoping Panamanian international M Gabriel Gomez and Costa Rican international F Jose Martinez make up for loss of Le Toux and Justin Mapp.” (Kansas City, Houston, New York, Philly)

ISportsWeb has the Union finishing fourth. “[U]nless they make some transfer window moves, Philadelphia will not have enough fire power to go deep in the playoffs.” (New York, Kansas City, Chicago, Philly)

The entire MLS season has already been played out in simulation by EA’s FIFA 2012. According to the simulation, the Union finish sixth. (New York, Columbus, Kansas City, Houston)

In the latest power rankings, SB Nation has the Union at 11th.

Opposing Views has Roger Torres at No. 3 in their list of the Top 5 young stars to watch. “The bottom line: Torres has certainly been effective when used by Union coach Piotr Nowak, but in order to take the next step in his career Torres will need more playing time in 2012.” Yep.

New signing Cristhian Hernandez, who says, “I’m kind of like the little brother in the group,” wanted to play in one place only: “There was no way I was going anywhere else. Philadelphia was my choice.”

In a post about how ESPN and NBC Sports will do their MLS game broadcasts (NBC Sports coverage “adds a little spice and a lot of cachet to the league’s national television landscape”), Goal.com’s Kyle McCarth says of ESPN’s broadcast of Monday’s season opener, “Expect the typical big game, flood-the-zone treatment for Philadelphia’s visit to Portland on Monday.”

Former Union and new NBC Sports color analyst Kyle Martino will be between the benches rather than in the booth, something NBC already does with its hockey coverage. “This is not a gimmick,” says Martino.

The Union is hosting three First Kick viewing parties.

This First Kick trivia preview notes that former Union players Toni Stahl and David Myrie are two of seven former MLS players who’s only league appearance for their club was on opening day.

Union v Portland watch

Look for the Philly Soccer Show podcast with guest John Spencer, coach of the Portland Timbers, later today. Not sure if he’s asked about his thoughts on bell bottoms.

Spencer talks about preparing for the Union and gives an injury update in this video from OregonLive.com:

Spencer tells the AP, “If we don’t get to the playoffs this year there’s no excuses. We didn’t do it last year by saying `Oh, we’re only an expansion team, or `We’re only this or that,’ I think we’re a good team. We have quality ownership, We have quality players and there’s no reason we can’t make the playoffs.”

Central defender Futty Danso is out four to six weeks with a fractured left foot.

Mike Chabala and Rodney Wallace have been competing for the starting spot at left back.

Want to see another example of why the Portland Timbers marketing department is the best in the league? They just ran a tattoo contest on their website.

MLS

Don Garber says, “We feel really good about the developments over the last 10 years and I feel really bullish about the future.” He will be holding a conference call you can watch live from 4pm at MLSsoccer.com Channel 1.

ESPN has an extensive Q&A with Garber.

Goal.com says the timing of the start of the MLS season is terrible.

The league will be introducing a new Red Card Review system this season. Clubs will post a bond to participate in the system and must submit evidence of what they believe to be an egregious red card within 24 hours of it being given. A three-member panel made up of representatives from US Soccer, the Canadian Soccer Association, and new referee organization PRO will review the evidence and issue a ruling within 24 hours. If the panel cannot make a decision in that time they will reject the appeal. Clubs can have two rejected appeals before they are no longer able to participate in the review process for the resat of the season.

Chicago Fire have signed German defender Arne Friedrich, who has “82 caps for the German national team since his debut in 2002, making 13 World Cup appearances in Die Mannschaft’s 2006 and 2010 campaigns.” More on what the signing means here. Das ist ein massiver Unterzeichnung!

The Yanks Are Coming has a list of preseason winners and losers. All things considered, I guess I’m OK with the Union not making either list.

Seattle’s Redhook Brewery has released “No Equal Lager…a sessionable beer brewed specifically for Seattle Sounders fans.” PBC, Yards, Victory—I’m looking at you. Yes, my arms are crossed and I am tapping my foot.

CONCACAF Champions League

LA came from behind to draw 2–2 in Toronto in front of 47,658 streamer throwing maniacs. In Seattle, the Sounders topped Santos Laguna 2–1 in front of 23,433.

Jonathan Tannewald reports from the Seattle game on how Herculez Gomez, who scored for Santos, and Eddie Johnson, who came on for Seattle in the 78th minute, looked.

Women’s Pro Soccer

Former Philadelphia Independence striker Laura Del Rio will be playing for Bristol Academy in England. Unless its a headline error, it looks like she’s just going by “Laura” now.

Soccer Banter has a new guest blog by “Player W,” described as “a current professional women’s soccer player.” In her first post, she writes, “Professional soccer is not as glamorous as people think it is…I would not trade my experiences playing professionally for anything in the world…But it is time to share the dark side. The three years that I have played professionally and the four years I have played semi-professionally, my teammates and I have dealt with corruption-filled drama, greedy backstabbing, and gluttonous egos…This is not just about the ball.”

US

The Bleacher Report has six young players who will be in place for the 2014 World Cup and, gadzooks, the list does not come in the form of a slideshow!

Elsewhere

Lionel Messi became the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match in Barcelona’s crushing 7–1 display against Bayer Leverkusen.

Speaking of the Champions League, this just in from the Department of Awesome’s Beer Section:

Neymar scored a hat trick on Wednesday in the 3–1 Santos win over Internacional in the Copa Libertadores. Goal.com looks back to Oct. 29, 2011 when Messi scored a hat trick and Neymar bagged four.

Great, just great. Liverpool’s Glen Johnson is stoking the Suarez/Evra racism controversy coals.

One Comment

  1. Arne Friedrich is a great signing for Chicago.

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