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Saturday, October 6, 2007
Reyna a disappointment in his first MLS season

Allen Hopkins

Beckham back for playoff push?

With David Beckham returning to training this week, the chances are steadily improving that the England midfielder will be fit for the final one or two games of the Galaxy's season.

"David did okay in training Thursday, we will know more in the next couple of days, see if there's a reaction or a setback," said Galaxy assistant coach Trevor James late Thursday evening. Incredibly, the Galaxy season could come down to the very last MLS regular season game on the schedule as the Fire host the Galaxy on Oct. 21 for what could be a make-or-break game for both teams.

Emilio happy in D.C.

Luciano Emilio continues to make the strongest case for league MVP after becoming the league's first 20-goal scorer in five seasons. However, during the late summer it seemed the Brazilian was angling to use the equity he's earned this season into a new deal with a new team. Emilio has already played for clubs in Germany, Brazil, Honduras and Mexico. However, the club isn't worried about the Brazilian's future in the nation's capital.

"The club has Emilio's option for next season and we plan on having him back next season. Emilio continues to say both publicly and privately he's very happy with the club and with his life in the D.C./Virginia area," said a D.C. United front office executive. If you need further evidence Emilio is settling in just fine, he has learned more than enough English to now comfortably conduct interviews in English.

MLS Cup 2007

Speaking of D.C., RFK stadium is already under full makeover mode as they prepare to host MLS Cup 2007. With the Washington Nationals no longer playing baseball -- I use that term loosely -- at RFK, the unsightly foul poles, cables, mound and the entire baseball field have been removed.

The new field to be installed is a combination of real grass and synthetic field-turf similar to the surface at Denver's Invesco Mile High Stadium -- considered one of the best playing surfaces anywhere in the country. Ticket sales (20,000-plus) have been strong for RFK's first MLS Cup since 1997 and if D.C. books its ticket to the MLS Cup Final on Sunday Nov. 18th (ABC, Noon ET) expect a raucous pro-D.C. United house and sellout crowd.

Razov's revisionist history

Wrongly considered by many as much more of a compiler than an upper-echelon goal scorer for most of his career, Ante Razov is proving to be one of the league's all-time best. Razov is rewriting the MLS record books this season. He's not only moved into second place in goals all-time with 109 (Jamie Moreno leads with 112), but Razov also now holds MLS records for the most game-winning goals (32) and multi-goal games (22). Of his 109 goals only 13 have come from penalties as compared to 33 for Moreno who has put up his impressive Hall of Fame numbers in 29 more games than Razov.

One and done?

Could Claudio Reyna's first MLS season be his last? Word around MLS' inner circle is Reyna has been the least productive and most disappointing of MLS' inaugural Designated Player class. Reyna has appeared in 21 matches and has yet to score. NYRB head coach Bruce Arena told me, "I haven't talked Claudio at all about next season. That's a talk we will after the playoffs." If Reyna does retire and with Juan Pablo Angel better than advertised expect NYRB to be very aggressive in acquiring another top DP for 2008.

New/Old sheriff in town

New San Jose GM John Doyle has already gone well out of his way to indicate former teammate and childhood buddy Dominic Kinnear isn't a candidate for the Earthquakes coaching post. However, that doesn't mean Kinnear or the Earthquakes aren't interested. Kinnear's very strong Bay Area ties and close connections to the club are big reasons why Houston, if they want to remain one of the league's elite clubs, should lock up the Dynamo coach with a new multi-year deal in the neighborhood of five seasons. Keeping Kinnear is critical as the Dynamo continue to gain traction with fans in America's fourth largest city and potentially eye a move into a new downtown soccer-specific stadium.

From the 'Now you Know' file

Juan Pablo Angel is the best MLS forward by far in the air; however, the New York Red Bulls have been the most susceptible to headed goals this season allowing 11. Chicago has only allowed one goal via a header, lowest in MLS.

Twenty-two different Toronto players have been shown yellow cards this season, more than any other club. TFC has also received 5 red cards, also tops in the league.

Starting fast has been the key for D.C. United this season. D.C. has scored 10 goals in the first 15 minutes of matches this season and 13 in the first quarter hour after halftime, both easily the most in the league.

Defending champions Houston Dynamo have shut the door on their opponents in the second half of matches better than any other team, allowing just 8 goals after halftime.

Allen Hopkins covers Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer for ESPN. Look for Allen patrolling the sideline during "MLS Primetime Thursday." He can be reached at studiosports@yahoo.com.




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