Kick Off: Orlando moves another step closer to MLS dream

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

1. HOMETOWN HERO

The US national team is on the ground in Kansas City for its matchup against Jamaica on Friday at Sporting Park, offering a dream scenario for defender Matt Besler in front of his hometown crowd. And for those already in the area or traveling to KC to watch the team's final home game of the Hex, there's an open training session on Wednesday and a pep rally on Thursday.

2. MAKE OR BREAK FOR MEXICO

While the US have already secured qualification, there's still some drama in the cards for Mexico. El Tri face Panama on Friday night at Estadio Azteca and then wrap up qualifying in Costa Rica with their World Cup fate still very much up in the air. Can Victor Manuel Vucetich’s side pull it off? Kyle McCarthy takes a closer look at the squad at FoxSoccer.com.

3. THE VOTES ARE IN

This tends to get said a lot lately, but Monday really was a huge day for Orlando City SC and their bid to become an MLS team. The Orlando City Council unanimously approved the plans to build a new stadium in a 7-0 vote. The only hurdle still remaining for the stadium is the vote on Oct. 22, when the plan will come before the Orange County Commissioners. If everything goes according to plan, the Lions can then enter final negotiations for an MLS franchise. Meanwhile, Orlando City’s current home, the Citrus Bowl, is set to play host to international soccer.

4. RACE FOR THE SHIELD

Can Sporting Kansas City still win the Supporters' Shield? According to The Kansas City Star, a week or so ago you might have said no, but once again it’s anyone’s race. It's all another reason MLS’ parity is something most fans are embracing this season.

5. ROOKIE RACE

After Saturday's dominating performance against the Seattle Sounders, is it fair to say that the Rookie of the Year award is definitely heading to Colorado? Perhaps the only question then, is who wins it: Deshorn Brown or Dillon Powers? And whould we get used to seeing “sexy soccer” from the Rapids?

6. CRUZ CONTROL

According to the Toronto Sun, “Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz is the dirtiest player in Major League Soccer,” and that’s no bad thing at all. Find out why right here.

7. BEITASHOUR TO PLAY FOR IRAN

A move rumored late last week became official on Monday, as it was revealed that San Jose Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour has accepted a call to play for the Iranian national team for a match next week against Thailand. Beitashour - whose parents were both born in Iran - will play for the Earthquakes when they host the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday and then depart for Tehran.

8. ERIC SEES RED

Eric Wynalda is stirring up controversy again, and this time it's all about coaching. In an interview with The Big Lead, the Fox Soccer pundit taken a shot at US coaching, suggesting that only former players who’ve played at the top level should be managers, even singling out Bob Bradley for criticism. So, does Wynalda make a good point or is he way off the mark?

9. LIFE ON CAMPUS, BEFORE AND AFTER PRO SOCCER

After calling time on his playing career last year, how is Robbie Russell adapting to life after Soccer? The former D.C. United defender is currently enjoying his new life of anonymity at Georgetown University. And one of his schoolmates is a star senior in the Hoyas' Steve Neumann, who is among those lighting up the college game.

10. MADE IN CHELSEA

Another day, another promising youngster with dual nationality to keep an eye on. This time let’s have a look at Kyle Scott: a 16-year-old with English and American heritage who is currently a member of Chelsea FC’s Academy. Could he one day represent the US at senior level? Playing for the U-18s is a good start.

11. KEEPING TABS

In part two of Soccer America’s interview with Tab Ramos, the coach is this time left to do much of the talking without interruption, highlighting what went into putting together the US Under-20 national team squad and how he feels about coaching in general.

12.  FRESH FACE FOR THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE

Referees in the US seem to get blamed for just about everything, with a sometimes misconceived perception that they are just not up to scratch. Now, though, MLS seems to have drafted another new face and this time it’s a veteran ref from FIFA’s top list of officials. Hailing from Ireland, it should be fun to see the conversation between the new man and his countryman Robbie Keane.

13. LIFE IN NYC

For the New York Red Bulls  defender Ibrahim Sekagya, the move to New York was a daunting prospect. Now, just over three months later, the Ugandan defender talks about how he’s settling in so far.

14. MEET THE NEW BOSS…

When Jozy Altidore returns to Sunderland after the upcoming World Cup qualifiers he will be greeted by a new boss. Uruguayan Gus Poyet, most recently famous for being fired on national TV, has been given the job as manager of the Black Cats. Elsewhere in Europe, meet American goalkeeper Steve Clark, a player all too familiar with relegation battles.

15. RAISING AWARENESS

As Dominic Oduro will tell you, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month. With that in mind, meet Tyler Smith, the 12-year-old boy who lost his grandmother to Breast Cancer and raised $2,000 to buy his team pink uniforms and honor her memory.

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