Kick Off: Seattle Sounders open 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs with win, set up clash with Portland Timbers

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

1. SEATTLE ADVANCE

In the Western Conference Knockout Round game on Wednesday night, the Seattle Sounders beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0 (watch highlights here) to secure a spot in the Conference Semifinals. Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson led the way for the Sounders, who won for the first time since mid-September and seemed as relieved as they were happy. For Colorado, their defensive gamble obviously didn’t work out despite a shocking error from Michael Gspurning nearly handing them a lifeline. So, what three things could be learned from the first postseason match of 2013?

2. POSTSEASON CASCADIA CUP

So what's next for the Sounders? A Conference Semifinal clash with Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid is thrilled with their next opponents. And Timbers owner Merritt Paulson is already tuning up his engine for the three-hour drive north to the Emerald City. One worry for the Sounders is that DeAndre Yedlin had to leave the game early

3. DYNAMO IMPACT

Thursday night, the Eastern Conference Knockout Round game features the Houston Dynamo hosting the Montreal Impact (8:30 pm ET, NBCSN, TSN/RDS). The Dynamo will look to draw on their legacy of playoff success while Montreal will try to regain the form that helped them beat Houston twice earlier in the year. The Impact expect to encounter a physical style they they hope to counter with technical play. Check out the updated TV listings for where to watch every MLS Cup Playoff game.

4. FIRE GET THEIR MAN?

The Chicago Fire announced on Wednesday that Frank Klopas had stepped down as head coach of the side, along with president of soccer operations, Javier Leon. While the club's playoff quest came up just short, the players will remember Klopas fondly. And on Thursday morning, the Fire announced the identity of their new boss, a familiar name in MLS coaching circles: Frank Yallop.  

5. CAROUSEL KEEPS TURNING

With Colorado’s first-round elimination from the playoffs, the teams were barely off the field before rumors began to circle about Oscar Pareja returning to Texas to fill the coaching vacancy at FC Dallas. Whether true or not, one person who says he is definitely not interested in that role is FCD technical director Fernando Clavijo. As things stand, there are three clubs still needing managers but the San Jose Earthquakes are no longer one of those, as they officially removed Mark Watson’s interim tag on Wednesday, something the San Jose players are thankful for. For those clubs still looking, perhaps they could find another Caleb Porter in the college ranks.

6. REMOVING AN ICON

D.C. United have taken to remaking their roster with gusto. The club announced on Wednesday that, as could be expected, it has declined contracts on forwards Lionard Pajoy and Carlos Ruiz, plus Marcelo Saragosa. Unexpected, however, was the news that 2011 MVP Dwayne De Rosario will not be returning either. It's end of an era, and the 35-year-old star faced a a heavily symbolic moment as he left RFK stadium. Classy as ever, he thanked the fans for his time in the Capitol

7. CHASING THE THREE-PEAT

Can the LA Galaxy do something that has never been done before in MLS: a three-peat?  It’s a tough ask, as this interesting piece from the LA Galaxy Insider shows.

8. KREIS AND PORTER

Will Johnson has worked for some quality managers in his time. Caleb Porter and Jason Kreis being the two most recent. Both of those managers know how to win whilst also playing nice soccer but, as Johnson himself points out, the two have more differences than similarities. Speaking of Porter, check out the revealing portrait of him in the latest edition of Overlap magazine.

9. RBNY REWRITING HISTORY

New York’s recent success has seemingly has a unifying effect, drawing praise from former Red Bulls and Cosmos players alike. It also tells a tale of MLS’ already rich history.

10. MAGEE DESERVES MVP

Sunday was a difficult evening for Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee. Despite giving his side the lead against the New York, he could only watch as the Red Bulls came storming back and ended the Fire’s playoffs hopes. Then, shortly after, Vancouver's Camilo scored a hat trick to steal the Budweiser Golden Boot. However, a season full of promise doesn’t have to end with nothing, as Soccer America argues that Magee is still fully deserving of the league MVP award.

11. BE A PRO

Once again, fair play to the Professional Referees Organization for coming out and discussing some of the more controversial plays. In this case, they talk about the blown call involving Omar Gonzalez’s potential goal. Apparently it’s not as easy a decision as you might think.

12. FEELING GREEN

He wouldn’t have been eligible to play anyway, but now it turns out that Julian Green will not attend US national team camp ahead of the friendlies against Scotland and Austria in November. "All of these conversations and attention can be a bit overwhelming," US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "So we have decided to take the foot off the pedal and let him focus on his work at Bayern."

13. TOUGH TASK IN MEXICO

Fox Soccer Daily ran an interview with new Mexico boss Miguel Herrera on Wednesday, talking about the task ahead against New Zealand. Herrera got off to a good start at least with a 4-2 victory over Finland in San Diego in his side's only warm-up game before the match against the All Whites. However, if Panama get their way, it might not even get that far. The Panamanian FA reportedly has asked FIFA to look at whether Christian Giménez was actually eligible to play for Mexico during World Cup qualifying.

14. BECKHAM EXPANSION TALK ... AGAIN

After multiple reports on Tuesday concerning David Beckham and his interest in Miami, MLS confirmed again that they have indeed talked with the former LA Galaxy player over his various potential franchise options. Farther north, do you know who else wants Major League Soccer? Minnesota.

15. KANYE WANTS TO COACH

If you were ever looking for someone who could make El Chélis’ postmatch comments seem normal, Kanye West would definitely be your man.

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