BY MIKE DONOVAN
When Matt Pickens fractured his arm in a mid-March match against Real Salt Lake, no one would have imagined the 31-year-old might lose his starting job while recovering. But his replacement, Clint Irwin, might not relinquish the spot after an exceptional run that has seen him shut out opponents in three of his last five matches.
Irwin, who played for the USL’s Charlotte Eagles last season, is 3-2-2 in his seven starts this season. Pickens, on the other hand, has started 118 matches for Colorado since being acquired from the Chicago Fire prior to the 2009 season. In his tenure with the Rapids, Pickens has won the MLS Cup and holds the club records for wins and shutouts by a goalkeeper.
Here are some more news and notes from around the Western Conference heading into MLS Week Eleven action:
Miller Bolanos, who hadn’t played since sustaining a ankle injury on March 10, saw the field for the first time in eight weeks when he came on as a sub in Chivas USA’s 4-0 loss to Sporting KC on Sunday.
The Ecuadorian had a standout preseason for the Goats, scoring six goals in the buildup to the 2013 season. After playing the entire second half against SKC, Bolanos could get the start when the club takes on the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Despite just one goal this season before Wednesday’s penalty kick vs. Portland, Kenny Cooper has made his presence felt in 2013 for FC Dallas. After spending the last four years with four different teams, Cooper returned to Dallas, where he was a prolific scorer from 2006-2009.
With only a goal from the run of play on his tally, some might wonder about Cooper’s play. But his header led to an own goal against Vancouver on Saturday and his contributions have helped Dallas stake out to its first-place spot in the Western Conference standings.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The LA Galaxy Reserves gained their first win of 2013, holding on for a 4-3 victory against the USL Pro LA Blues Tuesday night. Hector Jimenez led the way with a goal and two assists as the Galaxy Reserves shot to a 4-0 after 50 minutes of action.
The Blues did not go down easily as they rallied to score three consecutive goals, but were unable to come all the way back. Michael Stephens, Chandler Hoffman, and Gyasi Zardes also scored goals for the Galaxy. The two teams will play each other again on June 15.
Portland has become the second MLS team to partner with StubHub to provide a fan-to-fan ticket marketplace. The Timbers will join the LA Galaxy as MLS clubs that have joined up with StubHub to provide an online secondary marketplace.
REAL SALT LAKE
Jeff Attinella has become the second RSL player to get loaned out this month after the club announced the backup goalkeeper will be heading to the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Attinella joins Enzo Martinez as players who have been loaned to lower-division sides. The University of South Florida product was expected to be RSL’s second-string goalkeeper when he signed with the club, but lost the spot when the club signed Josh Saunders.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Three-and-a-half years after his last first-team appearance, Marcus Tracy finally saw the field again, playing the last 14 minutes of San Jose’s 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact. Injuries had derailed the career of the 2008 Hermann Trophy winner, but his return marks a huge step back for the Wake Forest product.
Tracy was awarded to the Earthquakes after a three-year stint with the Danish club, Aalborg. When his contract was not renewed in 2012, Tracy signed a MLS contract and went to San Jose after they won a weighted lottery.
The MLS player salaries were released for the first time since the Seattle Sounders signing of Nigerian International Obafemi Martins and the release confirmed what many had thought at the time of his signing- Martins is the highest-paid player in franchise history. Martin’s salary surpasses Freddie Ljungberg as top earner in Seattle’s history and also puts him as the fourth-highest paid player in MLS.
Honduran International Johnny Leveron made his MLS debut Saturday, going the full 90 in a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake. And despite the result, head coach Martin Rennie was happy with Leveron’s performance in his debut.
“I thought he was composed, he defended pretty well, won his headers, helped us in the build up,” Rennie told the Province. “I thought he just looked pretty comfortable. For his first MLS game, I was impressed.”
The 23-year-old has 20 caps and signed with Vancouver in the offseason after playing for Motagua in Honduras for his first four professional seasons.