Kick Off: Mexico open World Cup playoff series vs. New Zealand with $600 million on the line

Miguel Herrera Kick Off

Photo Credit: 
MexSport

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

1. US PLAYERS BREAKING IN

With the US national team roster now set, Jurgen Klinsmann has revealed some of the thinking that went into his selections. The US head coach also spoke more about his wishes for players to go on loan this off season and his optimism about Jozy Altidore’s time at Sunderland. While the US may go into the game against Scotland as favorites, few might expect the game to go the way Steve Nicol is predicting.

2. TWO TEAMS, A WORLD CUP PLACE, AND $600 MILLION

Mexico’s big two-game World Cup qualifying playoff series with New Zealand is finally here. Not just big ... huge! If El Tri miss out of the World Cup, it will reportedly cost them $600 million in "TV, merchandise, sponsorship, and other revenue." Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has already revealed his starting lineup, which might be odd except that New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has revealed the Kiwis' starting XI, too. New Zealand are aiming for their second consecutive World Cup appearance but, to get there, they face a tough task.

3. GIVE YOUTH A CHANCE?

Canada have made some changes to their roster, bringing in the Vancouver Whitecaps striker Caleb Clarke, on-loan and scoring in Germany, along with former MLS but currently unattached player Terry Dunfield. Karl Ouimette is celebrating his first international call up as well and Benito Floro will no doubt be looking to see how much the 21-year old has learnt playing alongside Alessandro Nesta.

4. CALL AND ANSWER

Tuesday saw further MLS players called up to their national teams, although still no more from playoff sides. San Jose right back Steven Beitashour must have impressed in his international debut last month as he has been called up again by Iran ahead of their two Asian Cup qualifiers against Thailand and Lebanon. Colorado forward Deshorn Brown has again been called up by Jamaica ahead of two friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago for the Reggae Boyz.

5. BECKS IS BACK IN TOWN

David Beckham is back in Miami and will apparently spend Wednesday looking at possible sites for his potential MLS side. The main question is which areas would best suit a soccer team. Elsewhere, 2015 expansion franchise New York City FC continue to hire for their front office.

6. SECOND THOUGHTS ON TFC

While rumors about Alberto Gilardino moving to Toronto FC were starting to heat up, it may just as quickly be time to pour cold water on them. The Italian himself has expressed doubts about the move, supposedly due to a number of concerns, including, reportedly, input from some "hostile" Torontonians? If Gilardino is out, TFC might move to another target, but who should the club really go after as their next player?

7. NEW YEAR NEW START

LA's Landon Donovan will be out of action for 4-6 weeks as he recovers from an ankle injury, and is targeting a January return. Could that include the USMNT January camp? “I have to speak with Jurgen and see if that’s something he wants me to be a part of,” LD says. His Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, meanwhile, talked about the Mike Magee-Robbie Rogers trade and says the reasons for making it “will be in my book.” Rogers himself is hoping to take a major leap forward in 2014.

8. DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

Isn't it strange how the score line from a game can affect your outlook heading into the next one. Trailing 4-2 from the Western Conference Championship first leg, the Portland Timbers welcome the international break as they seek to overturn the deficit, with two weeks to work out how to secure their first win against Real Salt Lake this season. With momentum on their side though, RSL head coach Jason Kreis would prefer not to wait for the second game.

9. ANY MORE CHANGES IN COLUMBUS?

New Columbus Crew boss Gregg Berhalter is hitting the ground running and already prepping for next season. “I have a good idea of the players already and, thankfully, there’s not too many hard decisions to make,” he says. Will Danny O’Rourke return? Despite being sidelined by injury for much of last season, the Crew veteran hopes to be back in black and gold.

10. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The news of a potential change in CONCACAF Champions League qualification has certainly divided people, with a number of different opinions on whether it should change, as well as how it should change. This piece that looks at how previous entrants have qualified and how they have subsequently done in the tournament. Whatever happens, D.C. United have already guaranteed their spot for next year and plan to use their upcoming trip to Indonesia as practice.

11. USL CELEBRATES ITS STARS

The USL selected the entrants to its own Hall of Fame on Tuesday, with three candidates nominated, including a Charleston Battery legend who has played a role in the development of Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle and Tommy Heinemann to name but a few. Over in the NASL, the new Jacksonville franchise is asking for naming suggestions.

12. MIA HAMM BREAKS DOWN ANOTHER BARRIER

Speaking of honored inductions, on Tuesday, incomparable US women's national team legend Mia Hamm became the first female player inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Pachuca, Mexico. She was joined by 10 other inductees, including Bora Milutinovic, who managed the USMNT at the 1994 World Cup, and the AC Milan star trio of George Weah, Paolo Maldini, and Franco Baresi. Pretty good company. 

13. MORE TRAIL BLAZING

Staying on glass-ceiling-shattering tack, Hamm wasn’t the only woman who made history this week, as Sonia Bein-Amie became the first woman appointed to the CONCACAF executive committee.

14. EXPRESSING AN INTEREST

A new candidate seemingly threw his own name into the mix for any future MLS coaching vacancies on Tuesday, as reports emerged that former Scottish international David Weir would be interested in a role. However, as Steve Davis argues, do we need to get excited anytime someone shows polite interest in our league or have we moved past that now?

15. EGYPTIAN ULTRAS

Want to know just what Bob Bradley has been dealing with for the past two years? SI.com goes into the heart of Egyptian soccer, and a group of Ultras, against the backdrop of revolution.

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