Kick Off: Countdown begins to 100th US Open Cup Final between Real Salt Lake, DC United

Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today

1. US OPEN CUP FINAL TONIGHT

Tonight is the final of the 100th US Open Cup as Real Salt Lake take on D.C. United at Rio Tinto Stadium (9 pm ET, GolTV). Real Salt Lake go into the game as heavy favorites and will be hoping the third time's the charm when it comes to big finals in front of their home crowd. For D.C. United, playing the role of underdog suits them just fine. As Ben Olsen says, “Not many people are giving us a chance … we’ve decided we’re going to show up anyway and see if we can’t win it.” A look at the different fortunes of the two teams from this year to last shows just how quickly things can change in MLS.

2. ALL THE BUILD-UP, ACTION AND REACTION ON MLSSOCCER.COM

Check back throughout the day for the latest news and build up ahead of the big game and then be sure to join MLSsoccer.com live tonight at 8:30 pm ET for a special pregame show, as well as immediately after the match for a postgame show to wrap up the action. Also check out the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio, which features an interview with Jason Kreis talking about the final as well as his current contract situation. It also features Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter on his team's Supporters' Shield chances, as if you needed another great reason to listen.

3. MORE USOC PREGAME

Ahead of the US Open Cup final, SI.com's Brian Straus has released part one of an interview with Jason Kreis examining the coach's methods and structure at Real Salt Lake. The interview was done back in March, but even though it’s only now seeing the light of day, the key points are maybe even more relevant now. How will the match play out tonight? Here is Kreis, Nat Borchers and Javier Morales with a preview for RSL, along with Olsen, Dwayne De Rosario and Perry Kitchen doing the same for D.C. United.

4. DECISION LOOMS FOR ORLANDO CITY

The dates have been set for two crucial votes on the funding for Orlando City SC’s soccer stadium and it seems there isn’t long left to wait until we know whether the club can fulfill its dream of becoming an MLS team. Also, some clarification on the stadium designs that recently made the rounds.

5. GEOFF CAMERON SPEAKS

Geoff Cameron broke his self-imposed media blackout recently to speak to Doug McIntyre at ESPNFC.com. Cameron, who has established himself as an impressive, consistent presence for Stoke City in the EPL, even scoring his first goal this season, talks about his determination to win a regular starting role for the USMNT and his heart to heart with coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

6. USA SET FOR AUSTRIA CLASH?

It looks as though the USA have set their second friendly for the November international fixtures. Grant Wahl at SI.com has the details as well as news on the USMNT’s January camp. Here’s one for you though: New Zealand, opponents for whoever finishes fourth in the Hex, are set to play an international fixture next week in LA … against Chivas USA.

7. TIMBERS ALSO FOCUSED ON CUP

Had things gone differently, it could have been the Portland Timbers facing D.C. United tonight. But while Portland look to secure a place in the MLS Cup playoffs, they still have one eye on a different trophy: the Cascadia Cup. Winning their two remaining games against Seattle and Vancouver would be a big step towards both goals.

8. MARSCH ON CAMPUS

While some rumors have startled swirling about Jesse Marsch making a return to MLS, whether to a vacant position or one already occupied, for now the former Montreal Impact manager is just enjoying the challenge at hand since his return to Princeton. Is Marsch concerned about rumors? Nope. “We’ve got such a talented and motivated group of guys, and they’re my biggest priority right now.”

9. USL PRO AIMING HIGH

USL PRO has big plans. Seriously big plans. USL president Tim Holt joined the MLS Reserves for their latest Off the Bench podcast to talk about, among other things, MLS partnerships and league expansion. Holt says he wants to have 30-40 teams by 2020, with plans to be one of the best lower leagues in the world.

10. RAISE THE ROOF

Could BMO Field be be adding a roof? Tim Leiweke, president of Toronto FC’s parent company MLSE, says that it needs to happen: “It’s almost like there’s a direct correlation between rain and a TFC game.” So, yeah, a roof would be nice. The only problem is that MLSE doesn’t actually own the stadium. Still, with the group offering to pay the full $100 million renovation fee, how could the city say no? Leiweke also stated that there are no plans to use turf rather than grass. “We can’t get the kind of DPs we want if we’re on anything but grass, they’re not coming.”

11. LEAGUE DP EXPLAINED

There has been a lot of confusion the past few weeks, even among coaches and staff in MLS, about whether there's such a thing as a League DP. Plus, what would that even mean? Now, the club that seemingly originated the term has shed some light on what it actually means, thanks to Toronto FC’s new general manager Tim Bezbatchenko. It seems the deal for Maximiliano Urruti isn't too indifferent from the mechanism used to bring Clint Dempsey to Seattle.

12. ECKERSLEY UNSURE OF FUTURE

Staying in Toronto, one player facing an uncertain path is Richard Eckersley. The defender has a guaranteed contract for next season, but head coach Ryan Nelsen has already made it clear that the Englishman is not a part of his future plans, at least not on the money he’s currently earning. How does the TFC defender feel about that?

13. JONES TO PLAY ON

OK, Jermaine Jones is apparently (definitely) not having knee surgery, but could the midfielder be needing a new club? If this report from The Guardian is anything to go by, could it be that Jones just can’t afford the time off.

14. SWITCHING THE CALENDAR

Could MLS move to a European calendar? No would be the sensible answer, seeing as winter conditions would make life pretty difficult for some clubs (imagine the USA-Costa Rica SnowClasico… repeatedly). Still, it’s a question that keeps popping up.

15. ROBBIE KEANE SHOWS OFF HIS SKILLS

Here’s a video of LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane pulling some moves during LA Galaxy training. Do the LA Galaxy just film Keane at all times waiting for him to do cool stuff? Combine this with his magic tricks, and Keane could be making a play to be MLS’ version of the most interesting man in the world.

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