Kick Off: Confidence high as USMNT prep for Honduras rematch at sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium

Here are the top 15 stories we're looking at on Tuesday:

1. CAN ZUSI’S RETURN HELP US SWEEP HONDURAS ASIDE?

Tonight in Utah, Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team could take a huge step toward Brazil 2014 as Honduras roll into town (9 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com). Sitting pretty at the top of the Hex, a US win would create a six-point gap between themselves and Honduras who sit one place out of the automatic World Cup berths. Graham Zusi is back from suspension and spoke to ExtraTime Radio: “You can tell there is a sense of confidence. We are definitely itching to get back on the field.”

2. DEFEAT TO HONDURAS THE TURNING POINT FOR USMNT

After losing their opening game in the Hexagonal to Honduras back in February, the US have won three and tied one. Was that defeat in San Pedro Sula the turning point? “For us, losing the first game in Honduras, we certainly weren’t happy about it,” midfielder Michael Bradley told The Salt Lake Tribune. “But we didn’t let it throw us for a loop. We kept our focus.”

3. JONES STRAIGHT BACK IN?

But will Bradley have Jermaine Jones back alongside him tonight in central midfield? That is one of the biggest lineup questions, as Geoff Cameron excelled against Panama in the holding midfield role. Klisnmann has hinted Jones will start after recovering from a concussion. “We have a very high-quality spine of this team,” Klinsmann said. “There, we have Jermaine as a [defensive midfielder] and Michael [Bradley] as a [box-to-box midfielder].”

4. US HOME FIELD ALWAYS ON THE MOVE

The New York Times took a look at how the US national team travels from stadium to stadium across the country, calling it home each and every time. The US have played in 26 states and the District of Columbia, including 22 times at RFK Stadium. Should the US have a national stadium to call their own? Or continue to be nomads?

5. DEMPSEY ON SPURS, COMPLACENCY, AMERICAN ROOTS

US captain Clint Dempsey has been a busy man chatting away with the media this week. First of all he spoke with NBC Pro Soccer Talk on various occasions, here he talks about Spurs and shunning complacency. Meanwhile, The New York Times had plenty of quick-fire questions for Deuce, which elicited some great answers.

6. DEPLETED HONDURAS AIM TO "DO THE DOUBLE" OVER USA

The USMNT is looking to avenge that 2-1 defeat down in Honduras but Los Catrachos are aiming to sweep the US. Can they do it? They are without forward Jerry Bengtson, who scored the game-winner last time out, after he was sent home following a spat with manager Luis Fernando Suárez. Maynor Figueroa, Boniek García, Víctor Bernárdez and Luis Garrido are all missing through injury and suspension. Can Honduras stun the US? They’ve got previous experience.

7. COLORADO VETERAN MASTROENI TRADED TO GALAXY

The big news out of MLS yesterday was the trade of Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni to the LA Galaxy. The Rapids were sad to see their 2010 MLS Cup-winning captain leave, but honored his 12 year stint in Colorado. “He is and forever will be a Colorado Rapids legend,” Rapids president Tim Hinchey said. “We look forward to seeing his name and number in our Gallery of Honor someday soon.” On the receiving end, Bruce Arena said 36-year-old Mastroeni is “the kind of player we’ve been looking for."

8. TEMPERS FLARED UP IN WEEK 16, HERE’S THE LOWDOWN

Reflecting on the weekends MLS action, there was plenty of controversy to discuss. In the Monday Postgame, John Bolster breaks down red cards for Atiba Harris and Andrew Farrell and a questionable penalty call against Toronto FC. What do you think? While you're at it, check out Simon Borg's take in "Instant Replay."

9. WHO’D BE TOP IF HITTING WOODWORK COUNTED FOR MORE THAN EXCITEMENT?

This is pretty incredible, if not a bit out there. Hats off to Opta for sifting through the data to figure out how the MLS standings would look if hitting the woodwork counted the same as actually scoring. Very intriguing indeed. For what it's worth, Arsenal would have won the Premier League last season by the same measure.

10. EARTHQUAKES STADIUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

San Jose have a new head coach at the helm in interim boss Mark Watson. But something more permanent is springing up in Northern California, as the Earthquakes' new stadium is finally under construction. See all the latest photos as work begins on their new soccer-specific home.

11. ORLANDO PURCHASES DOMAIN NAMES FOR STADIUM

Staying with stadiums, over at the Scoring Third, they’re reporting that the City of Orlando has purchased eight domain names for the proposed soccer-specific stadium downtown. OrlandoStadium.com, OrlandoCityField.com and OrlandoCitrusStadium.com are a few of the options. This thing is really moving ahead in Florida.

12. GARETH BALE TRADEMARKS “HEART-SHAPED HANDS” CELEBRATION

Gareth Bale is stepping up his entrepreneurial skills as his market value in the soccer world continues to soar. He has trademarked his famous “heart-shaped hands” goal celebration, with a logo being designed and plenty of other spin-offs planned. But wait a minute, didn’t Sporting KC striker Kei Kamara do this first? What’s up with that, Kei?

13. DRIVER ARRESTED AFTER SOCCER BALL DRIBBLER KILLED

After Seattle soccer fan Richard Swanson was sadly killed last month – while on a mammoth journey to dribble a ball to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to raise money for charity – an arrest has now been made in Oregon. A driver is being held in Lincoln County Jail on accusations of criminally negligent homicide.

14. TAKE A TRIP ON THE TIM CAHILL EXPRESSWAY

Yesterday, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill had a road named after him in Australia. Cahill is adored by Aussies after spearheading his nation to reach the last two World Cups … and by the time you read this, the Socceroos sealed their third-straight and booked their ticket to Brazil 2014 with a win over Iraq. But the “Tim Cahill Expressway” is only open for 36 hours … then it will return to being called “Cahill Expressway,” its original name.

15. NIGERIA HAMMER SPIRITED TAHITI AS PROTESTS CONTINUE IN BRAZIL

While protests from locals – angered by more money being spent on stadiums than their health, education and welfare – continue to make plenty of headlines down in Brazil during the Confederations Cup, Nigeria thrashed minnows Tahiti 6-1 on Monday. But Tahiti won plenty of fans with their attitude and this incredible “paddle boat” celebration after they scored.

BONUS: WEEKLY TV SHOW MLS INSIDER SET TO DEBUT FRIDAY

More MLS-based content profiling players off the field? We'll take it. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock is leading the charge as fans can look forward to a weekly installment about the league they call their own. This ought to be good.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Instant Replay: Keep your hands to yourself, plus headbutts in Portland vs. Dallas

USMNT talk about setting things right against Honduras after defeat back in Feb.

Sporting KC fans stuff ballot box for MLS All-Star, make your voice heard


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