California Clasico

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Major League Soccer’s Week 3 preview: Surprising strugglers, Cali Clasico and more

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Every team has a bad week and, given the unpredictable nature of Major League Soccer, most teams will experience back-to-back clunkers at some point in a season.

But three? Three usually leads to panic (at least a little).

Several teams with promising offseasons are scratching their heads after two weeks of MLS 2016. As Week 3 takes hold on Friday, which ones might have to worry if their struggles trend into a third week?

[ MORE: Man Utd-Liverpool recap | 3 things | Europa roundup ]

New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps are all 0-2. All could remain winless after the weekend, though it’d be shocking if the first two fail to get at least a point from their matches.

Two of those teams square off, headlining our Week 3 preview.

Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

Washington will be the venue for this pair of Cascadia Cup rivals, both hoping to halt tough runs to start the season. While the ‘Caps lost to 3-2 Montreal and 2-1 to Sporting KC, Seattle has scored just one goal in season-opening losses to KC and Real Salt Lake.

It’s been a bit of baptism by fire for Jordan Morris, who is shouldering more responsibility than expected after the departure of Obafemi Martins. He’s looked lively, but has yet to dent the score sheet.

As for Vancouver, they sent mercurial attacker Darren Mattocks packing this week and will hope that’s a bit of addition by subtraction. Both teams know a rivalry win could trigger the good vibes they so badly want to reclaim. The visiting team in this series went 3-0 last year. We’ll be watching to see if that improbable trend continues, or if Carl Robinson will be further vexed by his charges.

Prediction: 2-2.

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Get multiple screens ready, or at least your recording device, as the California Clasico takes its first strides in 2016. L.A. is smarting after a shocking road defeat to Colorado that set them back to 1-1, while Dominic Kinnear’s Quakes are feeling good with a 2-0 start to the season.

On paper, the Quakes will like their chances after beating the same Rapids team that topped the Galaxy last weekend, but not only does this match carry rivalry stakes, L.A.’s massive star and veteran qualities should have them raring to get back on the home — or any — pitch.

Prediction: Galaxy 2-1

Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler, left, vies for the ball with Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore as Sporting KC's Jimmy Medranda, right, chases during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. (Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press via AP)

Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC7 p.m. ET Sunday

Through two weeks, this bad boy looks like an MLS Cup final preview. KC has beaten a pair of decent opponents in Seattle and Vancouver, while TFC cruised past New York Red Bulls before picking up a point at Yankee Stadium.

Both of those came without Jozy Altidore, and Toronto may have to live life without the big USMNT striker again this week (though he’s expected to be named to the U.S. roster for this month’s World Cup qualifiers).

TFC is again dealing with stadium expansion, and this is match three of an eight-match road swing to start the season. This one would have tough night written all over it in the past, but their veteran additions — especially goalkeeper Clint Irwin — could hold sway here.

Prediction: 1-1.

The rest
New York City 2-1 Orlando City
Chicago Fire 0-2 Columbus Crew
New York Red Bulls 2-0 Houston Dynamo
FC Dallas 2-2 Montreal Impact
Portland Timbers 1-0 Real Salt Lake
Philadelphia Union 1-1 New England Revolution
DC United 3-1 Colorado Rapids

Galaxy rip referee after Cali Clasico loss: “A referee who thinks it’s all about him”

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The California Clasico did not go the way of L.A. on Friday night, as an 18th minute goal from Shea Salinas lifted San Jose to a much needed win at Avaya Stadium.

But the Galaxy feel deprived of the best chance to come back, thanks to a dicey 47th minute red card dealt out to Leonardo that condemned L.A. to 10 men.

[ VOTE: Did Mitrovic deserve red vs. Arsenal? ]

Leonardo got tangled up with Quincy Amarikwa on a San Jose counter, taking the Quakes man down. It was ruled that Leonardo was the last man back, a red card offense. Galaxy boss Bruce Arena thought Omar Gonzalez was on the scene.

And Robbie Keane tore into head ref Jose Carlos Rivero after the match with a familiar refrain: the ref was making it all about him.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“[The officials] didn’t tell us anything,” Arena said. “I think the entire officiating crew didn’t do a good job, I don’t even know if it’s a foul, and he’s not the last player — Omar’s there — and it’s a bad piece of officiating.

“If you’re going to give a yellow card, I’m going to maybe say OK, but I don’t even think it’s a yellow card.”

Keane, who struggled to leave an imprint on the game — as did fellow Designated Players Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos — also wasn’t happy with Rivero.

“I do have a problem when you’ve got a referee who thinks it’s all about him instead of actually all about the players,” the Galaxy captain said. “The referee should never be mentioned in the game. Never. That’s the sign of a good referee. Never ever be mentioned in the game. Just concentrate on his own job instead of trying to be the center of attention.”

It’s far from the most egregious red card we’ve ever seen… and perhaps it’s even not controversial if not for the comments of Keane and Arena. Rivero certainly doesn’t have the best reputation, but is that the right call for Keane to use to make his point?