With temperatures set to be in the lower 20s on Saturday in Kansas City, tonight’s playoff contest from Sporting Park will set records.
Temperature an hour before kickoff (7:30 p.m. on NBC SN) was 23 degrees. Brrrr!
According to Major League Soccer, it will be the coldest match since 2003, at least. It’s quite possible that no match has been held in colder conditions … the league only began recording game-time temperatures 10 years back.
(UPDATE, 6:54 p.m. ET: MLS executive vice president of communications Dan Courtemanche just messaged me via Twitter; he says he is confident this is, in fact, the coldest match in league history. But he’s double and triple checking, etc.)
The previous coldest recorded league match was early in the 2011 season, when Toronto FC and Portland met in Canada; kickoff temperature at that one was 26 degrees.
As for big games, temperature at kickoff of the 2009 MLS Cup match in Seattle (Real Salt Lake over the LA Galaxy) was 45 degrees. And raining, no less!
Wednesday’s friendly could be a Copa America quarterfinal preview, as Ecuador and the United States tangle in Texas.
The Yanks’ goal of a deep tournament run could go through La Tricolor if one wins its group while the other finishes second. That would require either the U.S. topping Colombia or Ecuador finding a way over Brazil.
The two sides last met in Oct. 2014, with Mix Diskerud and Enner Valencia trading goals in New Jersey. The U.S. and Ecuador have an even 2-2-2 record all-time.
Ecuador has wins over Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay in the last year, but went winless in a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.
Espanyol striker Felipe Caicedo has been the side’s most dangerous attacker in recent action, scoring in four of six, while West Ham’s Enner Valencia join Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia and Swansea City’s Jefferson Montero as pivotal members of the attack. FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo is also on the roster.
La Tricolor has four defenders in camp with 36 or more caps, including Walter Ayovi (111). The Monterrey back will become the second most capped Ecuadorian with his next appearance for the national team.
As for the United States, there are a number of directions Klinsmann can go to test his Best XI ahead of June’s tournament. And he’s not exactly tipping his hand, but did mention players in a Q&A with the US Soccer web site:
“We are excited about John Brooks proving now that he matured, that be became stronger. Christian Pulisic is coming through the Dortmund system in a Champions League team and breaking through, so we want him to confirm that and we give him all the help to do that. Darlington Nagbe, who became part of the National Team after waiting so many years for that opportunity. Bobby Wood, who broke out last year. DeAndre Yedlin who became a consistent starter in the Premier League, and so on and so on.”
Many eyes will be on Wood, who showed that rare quality of an American striker in form for both club and country with a strong performance against Puerto Rico. He’s the sort of player who could shake up Klinsmann’s plans in both selection and formation.
Will Matt Besler or Steve Birnbaum get a look alongside John Brooks, as Geoff Cameron is widely considered to be the best center back in the bunch? Cameron/Brooks seems predestined given their seasons abroad.
Is Clint Dempsey seen as a difference maker for Klinsmann, especially now that Jozy Altidore is out, or will he truly have to compete for his place? The 33-year-old Texan rang up 9 goals for the U.S. last year, but has just two goals in 10 MLS matches for the struggling Sounders.
And how far advanced with Michael Bradley be? Jermaine Jones? Honestly, we’re nearly as excited for the lineup card as the match itself.
Those are answers we may get in the next two friendlies, before the real arrows start flying in the Copa America opener against Colombia on June 3. All we’ll say for Wednesday is our expectations are not a clean sheet for either side.
Joey Barton, 33, will wear No. 8 for Rangers next season as the Scottish power rejoins rivals Celtic in the Scottish Premiership. He has manned the midfield as a part of three PL promotion campaigns since 2010 and was named in the Team of the Year for his work with Burnley this season.
The combustible midfielder says he’ll work for his place in the team, and wasn’t assured anything.
“Rangers Football Club doesn’t need me to raise its profile. It is a huge establishment and is one of the powerhouses of British football, regardless of what has happened in recent history – that’s irrelevant and when you have hundreds of years of history as this great club has, you don’t need someone on social media raising its profile.”
As competitive as the Premier League has been, it’s hard to imagine Mourinho won’t take United to the next level. He has won the league within two seasons at every stop between Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
In Chelsea’s case, he’s done it twice.
Manchester United negotiations with Jose Mourinho’s camp progressing well – announcement could be tomorrow or Thursday #MUFC