Kick Off: Seattle Sounders are this year's comeback kids, plus dramatic finishes in Canada

Kick Off - Seattle Sounders celebrate

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

1. SOUNDERS LEAVE IT LATE BUT GET IT DONE … AGAIN

It had to be him, didn’t it? With the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas tied at 1-1 in the final five minutes, who else would step up and score than former FCD star striker Kenny Cooper, grabbing a 2-1 win for his new side in the process (watch highlights here). Despite his recent World Cup snub, Obafemi Martins again showed his importance to the Sounders with assists on both their goals, condemning FC Dallas to three consecutive defeats in the process.

2. HOUSTON AND COLUMBUS HEADING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS

Will Bruin went a long way toward silencing his critics on Wednesday as he scored for the third straight game and provided the only goal in the Houston Dynamo’s 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here). While the goal moved Bruin to third on the Dynamo’s all-time top scorer list, it also consigned the Crew to their sixth consecutive game without a win. The frustration was noticeable, and Dominic Oduro perhaps summed it up best: “The players, we’re exhausted. We’re tired of losing.”

3. TORONTO EDGE VANCOUVER YOUNGSTERS IN WILD FINISH

With the Vancouver Whitecaps giving some of their younger players a chance and Toronto FC fielding a strong starting XI, Toronto's 2-1 victory in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal series (watch highlights here) did not come as much of a surprise. The manner of the victory, however, was closer than anticipated, and, as 'Caps head coach Carl Robinson noted, “Canadian football is in good hands.” Toronto, playing mostly starters to boost their chances of reaching the CONCACAF Champions League, were just one minute away from recording a 2-0 shutout when Kekuta Manneh stepped up to give the visitors hope for the second leg, something that doesn’t sit well with the Toronto players.

4. GOALESS DRAW IN SAN JOSE

The last time the San Jose Earthquakes and the Colorado Rapids met, it produced a dour 0-0 draw, so there were hardly any surprises when the second encounter produced the exact same result (watch highlights here). Still, it could have been different if not for some fantastic saves from Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin. The Earthquakes have far bigger worries than just the result, as it look as if the season could be over for right back Andreas Görlitz.

5. US OPEN CUP GETS STARTED

The first round of the US Open Cup is complete, and while it may have gotten off to a fairly inauspicious start, thanks to one team forfeiting their match, the rest of the games produced some exciting results, including a win for a very young New York Red Bulls U-23 side and a heartbreaking penalty defeat for Detroit City FC.

6. DÍAZ IS DOWN

Prior to Wednesday's match, FC Dallas revealed the bad news that Mauro Díaz’s injury is, as suspected, a lot worse than just “day to day” and the up-and-coming star will now miss between 6-10 weeks as he undergoes surgery on his right knee. It’s terrible news for Díaz himself, but it could also have a knock-on effect on FC Dallas’s season as a whole.

7. IMPACT FALL TO LOWER-DIVISION SIDE

Facing the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal on the road, the Montreal Impact left several of their key players at home and subsequently lost 2-1 to NASL side FC Edmonton (watch highlights here). While Impact head coach Frank Klopas may bemoan the defensive mistake that cost his side a draw, his team will at least head into its second leg next week with an away goal.

8. TORONTO STAR HEADING TO THE WORLD CUP

World Cup hosts Brazil announced their squad for the tournament on Wednesday, and it included Toronto FC’s on-loan goalkeeper Júlio César. Let that sink in for a second: Toronto FC have a player who will be playing for Brazil in the World Cup. With as much talent to choose from as Brazil have, there were always going to be some names left out, though, and there was no place for rumored MLS target Kaká.

8. TIMBERS HAVE A TOUGH BATTLE AHEAD

The Timbers may have gotten their first win of the season last weekend but, as defender Jack Jewsbury notes, “With some of the games in the past, we’ve put ourselves behind the red line and where we want to be.” The team from Oregon will now focus on winning their next two games, both at Providence Park as well, but history shows that they have their work cut out if they want to reach the playoffs again this year.

9. UNITED MAKE JOHNSON RUN

Eddie Johnson still hasn’t scored a goal for D.C. United, and while it’s surely just a matter of time until he does, the US international doesn’t feel that his current barren spell is entirely his fault, suggesting, “In Seattle – and no disrespect to the guys that are here – I felt like I didn’t have to run as much because we had better guys that had more quality on the ball.”

10. BECKHAM'S GOT OPTIONS

David Beckham was in Miami on Wednesday meeting with Miami-Dade commissioners to talk about his potential MLS stadium. The meeting comes after Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s suggestion of a different stadium location, and Beckham seems OK with the new possibility, noting that, “It’s very exciting, it gives us another option. It gives us another location which has come out of the blue.”

12. MEXICO SQUAD LEAK?

One Mexican broadcaster claims to have gained a copy of Miguel Herrera’s final squad for the tournament. If true, there do not appear to be any surprises in the team and, yes, ex-New York Red Bulls defender Rafa Márquez is in.

13. NYCFC MAKING MOVES?

With two NWSL teams now operated by MLS teams, New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC last year failed to agree on an affiliation with the New York Red Bulls. However, could a partnership with New York City FC be a more natural fit? A women’s team would certainly fit with the "city" business model. Shifting focus to NYCFC themselves, it seems the new team could be closing in on their first player signing thanks to their relationship with another sky blue team.

14. THE SPORTING ACADEMY

Is there a “lost generation” of USMNT talent? It’s a topic discussed on the latest edition of March to the Match but, if there is, then Sporting Kansas City are leading the way in ensuring that it never happens again thanks to the work they’ve put in building up their academy. Erik Palmer-Brown is the most high-profile product of that system so far, and the 16-year-old may be about to get his shot with the first team, as SKC have a tough spell coming up.

15. MO MIC’D UP

Philadelphia Union midfielder Maurice Edu is a natural leader on the soccer field, and one reason for that could be the fact that he isn’t afraid to call it exactly the way he sees it.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

March to the Match: Five ex-US national team players who could crash the World Cup

7 players in MLS history who won the World Cup

From NYC to Rio: How MLS Digital will cover the World Cup

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