Playoffs Scoreboard

Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/30 9:20pm
SEA
LA
ESPN
Western Conference Championship
Recap
Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
RECAP
Recap
Leg 2
11/29 3:00pm
NE
NY
NBCSN
Eastern Conference Championship

Kick Off: US U-20 national team puts hope on the line again in clash vs. France

Tab Ramos

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. USA YOUNGSTERS FACE FRANCE IN MUST-WIN CLASH

The future stars of the US national team get a chance to bounce back from Friday’s 4-1 humbling against Spain, as they face France in Istanbul on Monday. The US U-20 side desperately need a win if they harbor any hopes of making the knockout stages. Can MLS youngster Luis Gil drive on the future of US soccer to victory? You can find out live on ESPN 2, WatchESPN and Univision Deportes at 11 am ET. A full game preview can also be found here. Colorado's Shane O'Neill is hoping to start against the French.

2. SPAIN DEFEAT A LESSON FOR U-20 SIDE

Despite the heavy defeat to Spain on Friday, head coachg Ramos was pleased with the display. “It was a big gamble, to come out and play Spain on their side of the field," Ramos said. "But with the way I see football, it's a gamble I wanted to take. I wanted to take a chance on winning the game and unfortunately it did not work out." While over at Soccer By Ives, they have their own views on that Spain game.

3. PORTLAND GO TOP, 15 GAMES UNBEATEN

The Portland Timbers were in unstoppable form once again on Sunday, as they beat Colorado 3-0 and captain Will Johnson scored a stunner in the process. Portland are now unbeaten in their past 15 games -- tied for fourth-best run all-time in MLS -- and joined Real Salt Lake at the top of the Western conference. “This team believes that they’re the best team in the league,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “We have a realistic belief in this club that we can be a contender and to compete for trophies here.”

4. DRAMATIC LATE SHOW RESCUES DALLAS

Up 2-0 away from home, Sporting KC appeared safe and sound on Saturday night. Then FC Dallas struck twice in two minutes. First Andrew Jacobson scored in the 88th minute, then rookie Walker Zimmerman scored the equalizer in the 90th as Dallas came roaring back to grab the 2-2 tie. The turning point: C.J. Sapong’s red card in the 68th minute. However Peter Vermes remained defiant: "We're disappointed to get the point and not to get three, but the guys worked very hard. I'm proud of them."

5. UNION HAMMER NEW YORK 3-0 IN I-95 DERBY

“I think we sent a message around the league today.” Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney said as the Union swept aside the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. A silly red card for New York’s Lloyd Sam helped swing the match in Philadelphia’s favor, but the Union were good value for the resounding win. They’re now second in the East, leapfrogging New York, Sporting KC and Houston. Doop. 

6. NEW LOOK SALT LAKE KEEP ON WINNING

Real Salt Lake are transforming themselves into title contenders, as Jason Kreis’ men sealed a 2-0 win against Seattle Sounders to stay joint-top of the West. Kyle Beckerman finished beautifully for the first and was lauded by everyone, including Nat Borchers, afterwards: "When you have a guy like that, a leader like that who brings his 'A' game, we're not going to lose games.”

7. MAGEE ON FIRE FOR STREAKING CHICAGO

Chicago made it five wins from their last six in all competitions and stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games after overturning an early deficit away to beat the Columbus Crew 2-1. Mike Magee scored again, keeping up his record of scoring in all six games since he joined the Fire. Remarkably, he must be the trade of the season so far? Next up is Orlando City on Wednesday in the US Open Cup quarterfinals. Meanwhile German legend Arne Friedrich ended career on Sunday, with injuries causing the 34-year-old defender to retire.

8. DC WIN … FINALLY!

After waiting 105 days and 13 matches, D.C. United got back to their winning ways in MLS. Chris Pontius was the hero as his first-half penalty proved enough to grab all three points against San Jose. Relief at RFK: “Things haven’t gone our way this year, and it’s no excuse to be in the situation we’re in, but I’m proud of the guys. They stayed together and continue to fight.”

9. SUPERCLASICO DELIGHT FOR ZARDES, GALAXY

The LA Galaxy got back to winning ways in the SuperClásico against Chivas USA. Homegrown star Gyasi Zardes was the hero, as his first half header was the difference in the 1-0 win. “A good effort on the night by Gyasi, and he's going to get better,” Bruce Arena said. While Chivas USA equaled their worst losing streak in history, but still took positives from the Derby defeat. 

10. MEET THE MAN BEHIND THE MIC, JOHN STRONG

Later today many expect NBC Sports to announce that Portland Timbers play-by-play announcer John Strong will become their main man. Strong’s journey from a kid commentating on his pals' backyard pickup games to his new role is documented in this wonderful piece in The Oregonian. Enjoy. Meanwhile, find out who will replace Strong at Portland.

11. BOCANEGRA BACK TO MLS?

Over in Scotland, reports from the Glasgow Evening Times say Carlos Bocanegra is edging closer to signing for an MLS side. His current club, Rangers, begins preseason training and Boca isn’t expected to be around. Taylor Twellman seems to be in the know too. BTW, did you know ex-Timbers defender Steve Smith has signed for Rangers?

12. GOMEZ ON CLUB TIJUANA: “I FEEL AT HOME”

Liga MX side Club Tijuana unveiled Herculez Gomez on Sunday, with the US national team forward delighted to be joining the Xolos: “I’m coming to a team that has made a lot of history in a short amount of time. Tijuana wants to break through borders, to be an international team; I feel at home.”

13. FC TAX HAVEN … (MONACO)

OK, we all know why Radamel Falcao, João Moutinho and others have joined AS Monaco. Who can blame them? But The New York Times takes an in-depth look into the tax-free haven that’s set to take over European soccer. “Want to hit up Monte Carlo casino after training today lads?” Why not…

14. KOBE AT CONFEDERATIONS, FIFA WEBSITE HACKED

Kobe Bryant turned up at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, as the Los Angeles Lakers star hung out with some big name players. Here he is getting photos with Neymar, Mario Balotelli and others. In Confed Cup action, Spain breezed past Nigeria 3-0 and Uruguay sealed a semifinal spot with a 8-0 win over minnows Tahiti. Meanwhile, FIFA was embarrassed when its website was hacked. Sepp Blatter dancing in a samba outfit and the message “we want a fair World Cup” appeared.

15. POYET FIRED BY BRIGHTON … LIVE ON AIR

This is incredible. During the BBC’s live Confederations Cup broadcast yesterday evening, Gus Poyet found out he had been fired as Brighton manager … while he was on set. The former Chelsea and Uruguay star has recently been suspended after an internal investigation, but was fired live on air. The reaction and aftermath is a must-see.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

The Word: RSL go young and find a new blueprint in the process

Eddie Johnson: "There is no excuse" after Sounders lose to Real Salt Lake

MLS Goal Timeline: Watch all the goals from Saturday and Sunday


Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.