Watch out FC Dallas, the Cascadia clubs are coming…

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As FC Dallas recorded yet another win to stay top of the Western conference on Saturday, the pack behind them continues to jostle.

Led by sides from the Pacific Northwest, an assault on the Texas table-toppers is on the way.

The Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers all recorded hugely impressive wins in Week 11, with resounding scorelines matching their excellent performances.

But will the three clubs from Cascadia be Dallas’ biggest rivals for the Western conference title?

The jury is still out on that one.

Firstly, let’s start with Seattle. The offensive outburst that has been threatening to happen all season arrived on Saturday, in some style. A 4-0 hammering of the San Jose Earthquakes sent out a huge message to the rest of MLS, not just the West. ‘Watch out people, the Sounders are back!’

(More: Best week for Seattle Sounders since … hmmmm)

Sigi Schmid’s team have found their feet in recent weeks but they have some way to go to catch the Portland Timbers. Caleb Porter is enjoying a sterling start to his MLS coaching career. The former Akron University head coach has translated his success at the collegiate level seamlessly to the pros. He has assembled a squad full of attacking flair and grit — Will Johnson, Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace are having breakout seasons —  that is unbeaten in nine games and sits second in the West, six points behind leaders FCD.

(More: FC Dallas enjoying the luxuries of personnel options)

Then there is Vancouver, perhaps the weakest out of three Cascadia sides, but still, on their day — as they proved against LA with a superb 3-1 win — they have the individuals who can defeat any side in MLS. If they get hot then not many teams will leave BC Place with points in their back packet. With a key Amway Canadian Championship final against Montreal coming up, the ‘Caps confidence is burgeoning at the right time.

So with Vancouver and Seattle getting there act together, in the next few weeks we will be able to see just how close they are to matching the top two teams in the West. The Whitecaps face Portland at BC Place this Saturday, May 18. While Seattle get the chance to show everyone just how good they are, when FC Dallas roll into town on Saturday night.

(More: Oh, good grief! Another ball boy incident in MLS?)

I believe Seattle will surge up the table, with goals coming thick and fast and their back line looking steady and solid, the early season jitters will soon disappear in the Emerald City. As for the Rose City, Portland’s good form should continue but they have plenty of tricky games ahead. But Porter has been a revelation, surpassing many people’s expectations already. Merritt Paulson has performed a masterstroke.

This time next week we will have a better idea just how good the Cascadia sides are in 2013. Until then, let the speculation commence… Seattle, Portland or Vancouver? Take your pick.

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.

Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

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Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.