Kick Off: Kei Kamara returns to Kansas City after EPL loan ends; Are Sporting now MLS Cup favorites?
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. KAMARA’S OPTIONS
Kei Kamara is heading back to MLS and Sporting Kansas City. So what's next? The striker excelled at Norwich City in the EPL, starting the majority of games during his loan spell. But despite becoming a fan favorite, it was revealed over the weekend that Kamara’s loan would not be extended and a permanent deal isn’t in the offing. Sporting believe offers may start flooding in. Watch this space, SKC could be growing even stronger in attack as the club's leading scorer returns to the fold this week.
2. ROGERS RULES OUT ONE CITY FOR COMEBACK
Another player returning to MLS is causing a scramble for his signature, with plenty of teams in for Robbie Rogers after the midfielder eluded to a return. The Chicago Fire hold his rights, and they plan to meet with Rogers soon. “That's my expectation after speaking with his agent; we're talking about doing something [this] week,” club president Javier Leon said. Meanwhile, Rogers himself says he doesn’t want a move to Chicago. "I don’t want to go to Chicago," Rogers told the Soccer Today podcast. "I think if it comes down to, 'You can only play in Chicago,' then I probably won’t go back.”
A report from The Guardian newspaper in the UK this weekend stated that up to eight soccer players in England have admitted they are gay, but do not want to come out publicly. Rogers’ decision to open up about his life outside soccer was huge news across the sporting world, and the British soccer community is trying to help others follow the American's lead.
3. TOTTI EYEING MLS SHOULD ROMA CAREER END?
The answer is yes, according the man himself. Francesco Totti's contract with Roma runs through 2014, but he seems to prefer an MLS over a Paris Saint-Germain or Middle East move in the off chance he doesn't retire with the capital club.
"If I do not finish my career here at Roma, I will move abroad. I will definitely not play for another Italian club out of respect for Roma and the fans," Totti told L'Equipe. "I would be open to an experience somewhere far away like the United States. Qatar is too hot for my liking. Paris Saint-Germain? They already have more than enough talented players..."
4. SEATTLE SCRAP IN PHILLY, HACKWORTH HACKED OFF
A fiery match down by the Delaware River ended in an enthralling 2-2 tie between Philadelphia and Seattle and showed just how much both teams needed the points on Saturday. Union boss John Hackworth wasn’t happy with some of the decisions, to say the least, and Sheanon Williams shined some light onto his red card following a scuffle that broke out: “The referee said we both headbutted each other. I never headbutted [Lamar Neagle]. He never headbutted me.”
5. REVENGE FOR HOUSTON IN MLS CUP REMATCH
Houston prevailed in the rematch of the MLS Cup final from the past two years. In the team's only meeting of 2013, the Dynamo defeated LA thanks to an Andrew Driver goal. The big news, though, was Landon Donovan missing a first-half penalty, and LA struggling to get going. Will the next time these two meet be a MLS Cup final three-peat?
6. SPORTING ROUT 10-MAN CHIVAS USA
Whether or not Kamara stays put at Sporting KC remains to be seen, but Peter Vermes' side is flying high without him. A 4-0 win against Chivas USA on Sunday, who had Dan Kennedy sent off, has Sporting joint-top of the East. With Kamara back, SKC’s attacking options are endless and Vermes’ ruthless approach seems to be rubbing off on his team: “They wanted to keep going, and I'm glad that they had the mentality to do that.”
7. THE REAL CHIVAS USA?
Nobody expected Chivas to start off as well as they did, but now they seem to be unraveling a little bit. El Chelís’ side have not won since March and a hammering away to Sporting on Sunday, even though they had their ‘keeper sent off, highlighted plenty of weak areas. Steve Davis over at NBC Pro Soccer Talk looks at if this weekend saw the “real” Chivas side show up for once. Could be a hard slog over the summer months for the Goats.
8. SAN JOSE THWART MONTREAL LATE … AGAIN
Some things never change. Another Saturday game at Buck Shaw Stadium, more late-game heroics from the San Jose Earthquakes. This time Sam Cronin was the hero as his stoppage-time equalizer saw the Quakes battle back from 2-0 down to snatch a tie against Montreal. The Impact now travel cross-country to New York on Wednesday, while San Jose host Toronto.
9. UTAH REFEREE DIES AFTER ATTACK
Extremely sad news broke from Salt Lake City on Sunday after Ricardo Portillo died following serious head injuries he suffered while refereeing a local game in Utah. The 46-year-old was allegedly punched in the head by a teenage player, and tragically died from his injuries. Our thoughts are with his family in the midst of what is a sad day for the entire US soccer community.
10. RSL DEFEAT 'CAPS, RENNIE DEMANDS MORE
Staying in Utah, Real Salt Lake have been struggling for goals recently, but Joao Plata popped up and created two to down the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Salt Lake had scored just seven in their previous nine games and, with Álvaro Saborío out, the attacking impetus must come from elsewhere. On the flip side, Martin Rennie was far from happy with his Vancouver side: “They need to apologize to the fans.”
11. NARROW WINS FOR NEW YORK, COLORADO
Both the Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids recoded narrow 1-0 victories on Saturday. Tim Cahill struck his second game-winner in a row for RBNY against Columbus and a late gaffe from Toronto FC let Edson Buddle scored the winner for Colorado. The Rapids were delighted to see their new striker get his first goal: “We know he's in the process of getting back to the team. We wanted to have that presence in the box and fortunately, he worked well."
12. AT&T MLS ALL-STAR GAME LOGO REVEALED
During Sporting KC’s win over Chivas on Sunday, Major League Soccer revealed the logo for this summer's All-Star Game. The AT&T MLS All-Star Game will take place on July 31, with kickoff scheduled for 9 pm ET. You can watch it on ESPN2 and Univision in the United States and TSN and RDS in Canada. Up next: the All-Star opponent. Keep an eye out for that.
13. DWYER ON FIRE IN USL ACTION
Sporting KC’s affiliation with Orlando City of USL Pro is bearing fruit for Dominic Dwyer, as the young English striker scored a hat trick this weekend to push his tally to eight for the season. Elsewhere, D.C. United loanee Conor Shanosky leveled late for Richmond in a wild 3-3 tie with Charlotte on Saturday.
14. EPL 'KEEPERS PREVAIL
It was a good weekend for USMNT ‘keepers in England, as Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa recorded yet another win to pull clear of the relegation zone and Tim Howard recorded a clean sheet in a Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool. Clint Dempsey’s Tottenham side kept their Champions League qualification hopes alive with a crucial 1-0 win over Southampton. And even Tim Ream returned for Bolton's crucial Championship clash, although they failed to make the playoffs for an EPL return.
15. POTRAIT OF A SOCCER CITY: LONDON
This great piece from Sam Borden in The New York Times portrays London on a Saturday when six professional soccer games are taking place. Up to 150,000 soccer fans will be using the public transport in England’s capital and the Times delves deep into the social factors behind the UK’s favorite pastime.
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