ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.
MONTREAL IMPACT: I do understand that professional soccer players are not intimidated easily. And expansion Montreal has some quality men. Italian striker Bernardo Corradi and veteran center back Matteo Ferrari got skills and smarts, for instance. But a visit to Hell in the Heartland, a.k.a. Livestrong Sporting Park, has yet to be an easy trip for anyone. Plus, SKC is well rested and looking to vent a little Eastern big dog frustration from the season’s first setback. If an early goal goes in, the pack could seize upon the weak and the wounded – and at that point, well you know … panic!
Panic quotient: “What do you mean the credit card didn’t go through? Run it again. Please.”
JOHN SPENCER: Who doesn’t love the fans in Portland? (OK, check that. Let’s make it, “Who outside of Seattle doesn’t love the fans in Portland?”) They stand in line for hours – probably in the rain; it is Portland, after all. They sing. They scream until their Stumptowns are sore. They dote on their Timbers. So when the jolly Jeld-Wen brigade starts turning on the coach, even just a little bit, dark clouds are gathering. Long story short on this one, the fans say “world-class soccer” would be a bonus. For now, just lay it all out there with a little more world-class effort and a little more world-class late-game management.
Panic quotient: Happy hour. Good times! Heading home … Flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror.
L.A. GALAXY: Well, that was nice while it lasted. A couple of wins had the Galaxy express moving school zone speed, which is better than its previously stalled state. But a draw at home and a loss in Seattle has exposed gaps galore. And it’s getting very “Donald Rumsfeld” up in the house. Let me explain: We knew all along about the known unknowns around Galaxy Manor, the Gonzalez Gap and David Beckham’s noted distractions, etc. But are there more unknown unknowns afoot? It’s starting to smell like it. (When you find Donald Rumsfeld mentioned with your favorite MLS outfit – quite possibly a first-ever – you know the Panic Quotient must surely be rising.)
Panic quotient: The day is sunny and life seems fine when you spot your loving wife eating lunch at a local spot. And comparing notes – with your girlfriend.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi left the field with a back injury in the second half of a 1-0 victory over Honduras in a friendly Friday night.
The Argentine team captain and Barcelona star was hit on an apparently inconsequential play and immediately went to the locker room. He was replaced at the 62-minute mark by Sevilla midfielder Ever Banega and never returned to the field.
“Messi suffered a trauma to the left side of his lower back and rib cage,” the Argentine Football (Soccer) Association said in a statement, adding that doctors were looking at the injury.
[ MORE: Hull City snares last PL spot for 2016-17 ]
Messi is not a player who leaves the field with minor injuries like he did Friday at San Juan’s Bicentenario stadium.
“I would not dare to venture a diagnosis,” said a concerned Argentine manager, Gerardo Martino.
Gonzalo Higuain, who scored for Argentina, said it “was an important win and here’s hoping that what happened to Leo is nothing.”
Messi was scheduled to fly to Spain to resolve a tax issue and then rejoin the team in Santa Clara, California.
Mohamed Diame was the hero on the day for Hull City, as the Tigers gain promotion to the Premier League next season.
The Senegalese attacker sent Sheffield Wednesday packing on Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium after hitting a scorching long-distance effort past goalkeeper Kieren Westwood in the second half.
After an initial back-and-forth spell of chances over the opening half hour-plus, Sheffield was drastically taken out of the match as Hull began to gain their composure on the ball.
Hull City will join Championship winners Burnley and Middlesbrough in the Premier League in 2016-17 after being promoted. Relegated clubs Newcastle, Norwich City and Aston Villa will take their place in England’s second flight.
After their devastating defeat two seasons ago, Atletico Madrid looks for revenge and their first UEFA Champions League title on Saturday against Real Madrid.
Milan will be the site for the action, as Zinedine Zidane and Real are seeking their 11th title in the competition and have the opportunity to knock Atleti out in the title match for the second time in three seasons.
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Real Madrid: Navas, Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Carvajal, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema Subs: Casilla, James, Nacho, Lucas Vasquez, Jese, Isco, Danilo
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Filipe Luis, Godin, Savic, Juanfran; Gabi, Fernandez, Koke, Saul Niguez; Griezmann, Torres. Subs: Moya, Tiago, Correa, Hernandez, Thomas, Ferreira-Carrasco, Gimenez.
With Atlanta United FC set to make their MLS debut in 2017, the club is reportedly set to make a major splash with one or possibly two Mexican stars.
[ MORE: Agent: Zlatan Ibrahimovic may not join Man United ]
ESPN FC‘s John Sutcliffe reported from the team’s future home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, on Friday, saying that the team is targeting both Andres Guardado and Carlos Vela.
[ MORE: Edgar Castillo to replace Timmy Chandler for USMNT ]
Guardado, who currently plays for PSV Eindhoven, has long been a staple of the El Tri midfield, making 124 appearances for the Mexican national team.
While Vela wasn’t included in Mexico’s Copa America Centenario roster, the Real Sociedad striker has every bit of talent you’d want from a future Designated Player, which is likely what either Guardado or Vela would be.
Atlanta currently has three players on their roster. Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tabakis, Junior Burgos and Jeffery Otoo currently round out the squad.
The potential addition(s) of an Andres Guardado or Carlos Vela would prove to be not only big for Atlanta but for MLS as a whole, more so with Vela though. MLS’ growth over recent years has brought young DPs like Sebastian Giovinco and Giovani Dos Santos to Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, respectively.
Another league addition who is in the prime of their career will only continue to build the league’s reputation, and immediately put Atlanta on the map next season.