Kick Off: Real Salt Lake top Chivas USA, push back into Supporters' Shield lead
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. RSL SET CHALLENGE
Real Salt Lake did all they could do to try and win the Supporters' Shield on Wednesday, beating Chivas USA 2-1 (watch highlights here). Now with their regular-season schedule complete, they will sit back and watch the action unfold over the weekend, with the results for the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers affecting their chances. RSL took control of the game in the second half and never let it go, thanks in part to the introduction of Javier Morales at the half. Chivas USA had absolutely nothing to play for, yet, to their credit, they gave it a good go, and as Carlos Bocanegra said after the match: “We wanted to go out there … and make the most of these last two games.”
2. SAN JOSE SEAL THEIR PLACE
Regardless of what happens this weekend, the San Jose Earthquakes will finish the year on a high having secured their passage to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. Chris Wondolowski scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Heredia on Wednesday to get the job done (watch highlights here). It was a remarkable comeback for a team that at one point seemed dead and buried in their group, and Wondolowski spoke about accomplishing one of the team's two goals for the year: “It’s something we can hang our hats on.”
3. SPORTING KC DRAW, ADVANCE TO THE QUARTERS
A draw at Sporting Park was all it took for Sporting Kansas City to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and a 0-0 draw was exactly what they got Wednesday night against Olimpia (watch highlights here). For SKC, they were more than happy with the point and will now look ahead to their final regular season game against the Philadelphia Union.
4. FINAL GROUP GAMES CAN SET THE FIELD
The LA Galaxy travel to Isidro Metapán tonight but, with their quarterfinal place already secure, expect a very different team to the one that’ll face the Seattle Sounders on Sunday. The Houston Dynamo, meanwhile, travel to Panama to face Árabe Unido and need just one point to make it four MLS teams in the final eight. However, as it turns out, scoring goals now could prove to be very important heading into the next round.
5. GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS IN SEATLLE
Despite Seattle’s recent woes, a win on Sunday against the LA Galaxy will set the club's best home record for a single season. However, could more problems be on Seattle’s doorstep? Eddie Johnson does not appear to be happy right now and was kept out of training on Wednesday in what Sigi Schmid called “basically my decision.” Add to that the fact that Steve Zakuani’s season appears to be over, could it be time for Mario Martínez to return? Things are still going well for the Sounders off the pitch at least, with a new book joining a new film which, between the two of them, take a good look at both the history and the behind the scenes of the club.
6. ALBRIGHT TO RETIRE
Chris Albright has decided to call time on his career following the conclusion of Philadelphia’s season. Albright has spent 15 years in the league with five different clubs, during which time he won three MLS Cups and made three All-Star teams. It was Union coach John Hackworth who broke the news during his weekly press conference on Wednesday and he also revealed that the club plans to honor the player at Saturday's match.
7. ORLANDO CITY PAVE THE WAY
Four years ago there was no soccer club in Orlando. Now, with the city’s successful stadium bid and assurances on MLS entry, has the club set a course for any other clubs considering pursuit of an MLS franchise? Orlando City president Phil Rawlins chatted to SI.com about the whole process.
8. DC DECISIONS
When the curtain closes on D.C. United’s miserable MLS season there will be a series of tough decisions to be made by the management as the team looks to rebuild ready for 2014. Steven Goff at The Washington Post takes a look at some of the most critical issue that need addressing.
9. EVERYBODY DIS-CO
FC Dallas teammates David Ferreira and Jackson were both fined Wednesday by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for their halftime confrontation over the weekend. Toronto FC have also been charged for their players mass confrontation of a referee following the penalty call against them during their match with Chicago, while Clint Dempsey appears to have escaped punishment for his kick-out at Jackson. We also have the referee assignments for this weekend’s fixtures so check out who will be watching over your team's playoff chances.
10. FROM CAMEROON TO COLORADO
Colorado fans may remember the name Charles Eloundou, but others would be forgiven for having forgotten all about him. The 18-year-old Cameroon international signed with the Rapids way back in January and now, nine months later, has finally landed in Colorado. The transfer was delayed due to bureaucratic issues but, now that Eloundou’s future is finally sorted out, Rapids fans can look forward to seeing him next season.
11. CATCHING FIRE
If Sean Johnson gets the start in goal for the Chicago Fire’s crucial make or break game against the New York Red Bulls it will mark his 100th appearance in Major League Soccer. Not bad at all considering Johnson is still only 24. However, the young ‘keeper will be looking to do his part and ensure the special occasion is made even better by helping secure his team's place in the playoffs.
12. FAGUNDEZ WANTS IN
Diego Fagundez says he wants his US citizenship and, potentially, a shot at playing for the US national team. That’s great news for the US but perhaps even greater news for the New England Revolution, as it means Fagundez would be sticking around for at least another five years.
13. AMERICANS ABROAD EYE PLACES ON US SQUAD
Good news in the ongoing saga of Oguchi Onyewu, as the US international defender has been signed by English second division club Queens Park Rangers. QPR will be pushing for promotion back to the Premier League this season and if Gooch can win a place in the starting lineup it bodes well for his chances of making Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad. Meanwhile Brek Shea is still hoping to secure a loan move away from Stoke to try and improve his own chances, Steve Cherundolo is nearing a return to fitness and wants to help the US in any way he can and Edgar Castillo is talking openly about his hopes of making the team.
14. CANADA'S FINAL FIXTURE
The Canadian national team has announced its final fixture for 2013, with Benito Floro’s slowly developing side closing out the year with a game against the Czech Republic in Olomouc. The game takes place on Nov. 15, exactly a decade after the two sides last met (Canada lost 5-1 on that occasion).
15. A MESSAGE FROM THE BOSS
An unbeaten run, Gold Cup success and World Cup qualification. It’s been a great year for the USMNT that has been just as noticeable for the fantastic support the team has received at every single game. If you’ve been a part of that, in any way at all, then Jurgen Klinsmann has a message for you.