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May 3, 2007

New and notes from around MLS

Award Attacking Soccer

New England's Taylor Twellman leads the league with four goals but the 2005 MVP should have five. Twellman's 54th minute goal was incorrectly disallowed in the Revs 1-0 week 4 win at FC Dallas. Revs Director of soccer and former U.S. international Mike Burns placed a call to the office of Joe Machnik, the deputy commissioner for on-field competition, on Monday morning to voice the clubs' displeasure with the ruling.

However, Machnik didn't need any persuasion as he told me, "The Twellman goal should have been allowed. We must give the benefit to attacking soccer."

Reunion: Vol. 2?

First it was Clint Mathis and Bruce Arena. Now could it be Carlos Ruiz and Sigi Schmid?

There are growing rumblings that the Crew could make a move to pry Carlos Ruiz away from FC Dallas. Ruiz has been substituted in two of the past three matches by first-year head coach Steve Morrow and that hasn't sat well with the FCD captain.

Ruiz and Schmid were a very successful pairing in 2002 leading the Galaxy to their first MLS Cup after three previous championship-game losses. And to say Schmid has a place in his heart for Ruiz is an understatement. The Crew are quietly unbeaten and seem to be only a proven goal scorer away from making noise in the East.

An MLS coach told me this week, "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense the way they're [Dallas] playing tactically right now in that formation. To be playing Ruiz up top by himself and Cooper out wide really hurts them quite a bit." Stay tuned.

Comeback kids?

Don't call it a comeback! Okay we won't. Playing with the lead has never been more important in the MLS. So far this season no team in the league has come from behind to win a game.

Oh the places he will go

Pablo Richetti has been willing to go the extra mile to quickly begin his FC Dallas career. Now that the Argentine midfielder, who signed a contract April 5, has finally gotten his P-1 visa from the U.S.

Government, Richetti gets the chance to prove what great lengths he's willing to go to play as soon as possible.

Richetti flew to Argentina on April 27 for a 9.30 a.m. appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires on April 30. There he submitted his approved documents and underwent an interview. Upon conclusion, he left his passport so that the government could attach the P-1 visa. Since it's a different department that attaches the visa, he must wait roughly 48 hours to receive his passport with visa attached back. Tuesday was a national holiday in Argentina and the 48 hours will likely extend to at least May 3. After receiving his passport back earlier today, Richetti along with his wife and three sons have a scheduled 9 p.m. flight from Buenos Aires to Dallas. I guess he is willing to go the extra mile(s).

Richetti will occupy a vacant senior international slot, so the team will have to open a roster spot on its 18-man senior roster in order to add Richetti and his valuable experience. In FCD's 1-0 loss to New England, the average age of the 10 field players who finished the game was 22, while the four bench players who did not play against the Revs had never appeared in a regular season MLS game before.

A Dirty Business

Only 15 goalkeepers in English Premier League history have kept more clean sheets than Shaka Hislop (58). The FC Dallas starter ­-- former incumbent Dario Sala has just completed his six-game suspension -- has yet to record a clean sheet this season.

Inhospitable

Before this past week's games, road teams had recorded a meager two wins in 19 tries. The road teams got some revenge this past round, winning five of the seven games.

The K.C. Wizards and Colorado Rapids became the first MLS teams this season to win away games while keeping clean sheets. K.C. crashed Toronto's housewarming party with a 1-0 win at BMO Field. The Rapids took round one of the Rocky Mountain Cup 2-0 over RSL.

Service Industry

Going into last week, the Red Bulls delivered more crosses and corners than any other team, 35. Steve Ralston completed a league-high 26 crosses.

Dallas, in contrast, has the worst cross-completion rate so far this season, with only 10 percent of wide deliveries finding a teammate.

Allen Hopkins covers Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer for ESPN and ESPN.com. Look for Allen patrolling the sidelines during MLS Primetime Thursday on ESPN2. He can be reached at studiosports@yahoo.com.