Kick Off: Battle of the exes in USOC play-in match

Kick Off - Conway and Busch

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

Jon, meet Jon.

That’s Busch vs. Conway as the San Jose Earthquakes host the Chicago Fire in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match tonight that will give one of these clubs an automatic berth into the tournament proper. And as with most USOC single elimination matches, the goalkeepers – Busch a former Fire netminder and Conway a former Quakes player – will be at the center of the action at Buck Shaw.

The match will be available via live audio stream at sjearthquakes.com/usocradio beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Portland’s Eric Brunner knows a thing or two about sticking it to his old team. And for those who are still not convinced that Brunner was in an offside position for his goal against his ex-club, the Columbus Crew, here is the proof.

While Brunner may have punished fans from his hometown, his teammate in Portland, Jack Jewsbury, is trying to help his own. The native of Joplin, Mo. saw the city he grew up in become a ghost town after a tornado struck. Now he’s working on a drive to collect donations.

The big news story has been the Joplin tornado. The biggest soccer news was the naming of the USA’s CONCACAF Gold Cup roster. The NY Red Bulls’ 18-year-old Juan Agudelo was genuinely concerned that he’d be on the outside looking in: “Every time I’d sit on the bench I’d be worried Bob would maybe see it that way.”

No controversy or debate about Red Bull Teemu Tainio’s international status. He has told Finnish media outlets that he is retiring from international duty and wants to give space to younger players. (FINNISH)

While the Red Bulls will be missing their starting central defenders to international duty, Real Salt Lake are already without their two starting forwards from last weekend: Álvaro Saborío and Arturo Alvarez. This could explain why Fabian Espindola has not been used in recent matches.

Canadian national team midfielders Terry Dunfield and Julian de Guzman will not only be competing for the Nutrilite Canadian Championship but also for playing time at the CONCACAF Gold Cup when they do battle in midfield on Wednesday night at BMO Field.

The Whitecaps should have the edge in the second leg final. They had a bye weekend in MLS play and players enjoyed three days off. Manager Teitur Thordarson: “It definitely should be a physical advantage.”

In Houston there is continued debate regarding the Dynamo’s personnel as the club faces a critical week of matches against MLS Cup contenders LA Galaxy and FC Dallas. Some of the questions: Should Geoff Cameron be a holding midfielder or center back? Should Koke be a starting forward?

Find out which European stadiums Dynamo executives visited to garner ideas for the club’s new stadium that is being constructed in Houston.

The Dynamo are also reportedly busy on the transfer market. From Scotland they say that the team has made an improved offer to Scottish forward Derek Riordan with a decision expected in short order.

You would think that the man who transferred Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to Manchester United for $10 million would not be looking back at the move as a great deal one year later. But Chivas Guadalajara and Chivas USA part owner Jorge Vergara says “someone always makes the last buck” and he stands by his statement that Chicharito will become the best player in the world.

In televised action, you can watch LA Galaxy designated player David Beckham wear a Manchester United shirt again as the squad from the late 90s gets back together again to honor Gary Neville’s retirement in a testimonial match against Italy’s Juventus (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes).

At the same time there’s also the battle between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (3 p.m. ET, ESPNDeportes).

Today is a travel day for FC Barcelona as they head to London ahead of time to avoid delays due to the volcanic ash cloud heading toward southern Europe. They face Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.

Back in the USA, with the rise of high level academy clubs around the country, many elite youth players are now forgoing the opportunity to play for their high school teams to balance their schedule. And it’s making for a heated discussion topic in youth soccer circles.

It’s not always about the kids. Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller admits that youngsters are always asking him for his gloves at autograph sessions and he has to decline most every time: "Sorry, they feel too good, so I'm not giving them away yet."

One of Keller’s long-time national team rivals, Brad Friedel, seems set to sign a new two-year deal with a club not named Aston Villa. The rumors are turning out to be true in this case.

Finally, players need to be careful when interacting with fans. Watch the slap in the face suffered by Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer along his team’s German Cup victory celebration route. He’s a local boy who is leaving the club this summer to go to a bigger team with Bayern Munich being the likely destination. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Jorge Vergara confirms Chivas USA’s plans to be an all-SoCal team

US national team’s Gold Cup forward Chris Wondolowski on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio

Bob Bradley admits that Freddy Adu will be considered a surprise


Get the The Kick-Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.

E-mail: