Kick Off: Is a coaching change forthcoming for USMNT?

Could there be change coming in the US national team coaching ranks?

The speculation comes from the answer provided by US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati to a New York Times question about whether Bob Bradley will stay on as coach of the US national team: “We’ll have something to say later this week.”

While the USSF say that Gulati’s statement is not necessarily indicative of a change, this news comes on the heels of another report from veteran soccer writer Mark Ziegler stating that “Bradley has lost the locker room” while citing a source close to the team as saying “the players are miserable.”

While Bradley’s position continues to be discussed, two of America’s most successful coaches will be butting heads for the biggest prizes this season: Seattle Sounders’ Sigi Schmid and the LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena.

With an important league match coming up on July 4 at the Home Depot Center, which could move Seattle closer to challenging LA for the Supporters’ Shield and the Western Conference title, the two teams will also have a July 12 US Open Cup quarterfinal to play after both clubs won their matches on Tuesday night.

PDL side Kitsap Pumas gave Seattle all they could handle in a 2-1 loss on Tuesady night, coming close to scoring on a number of occasions which “could have made the game drastically different had they capitalized on them.” Watch the video highlights here.

Reigning MLS Player of the Week Mike Magee continued his magical week by scoring the game-winner with nine minutes remaining for the Galaxy in their come-from-behind 2-1 win over the LA Blues last night. “Oh man, you guys are expecting too much now,” he said after the game.

Both the Galaxy’s goals came off second-half set pieces with Juninho sending the ball in to aerial target Omar Gonzalez, who was able to dominate in the air when the Blues’ tallest defender left the game injured. “To know that that was what it took to beat us tonight is bittersweet,” said Blues manager Charlie Naimo.

After it happened to Seattle’s Tyson Wahl on Sunday, another MLS defender was caught off guard on a goal-scoring celebration. Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran scored his first pro goal to get his team on its way to a 2-0 win over visiting Wilmington. He admitted, “When it happened, I really didn’t know what to do.”

RSL will now have to visit FC Dallas in the quarterfinals at Pizza Hut Park, a stadium in which they have never won. Manager Jason Kreis vowed that the team will place a “massive emphasis” on winning the final three matches of the competition.

The most exciting two minutes of the US Open Cup third round unfolded at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, where Orlando City equalized in second-half stoppage time, only to watch FC Dallas regain the lead moments later when extra time seemed inevitable. “I think we made it a lot harder on ourselves than it probably needed to be,” FCD manager Schellas Hyndman said.

The good news for FCD? Jackson continues his great form and Milton Rodríguez found the back of the net for the game-winner. Bad news? Zach Loyd left the match with a hamstring injury.

Another all-MLS quarterfinal battle will take place between the New York Red Bulls and the Chicago Fire on July 12 as both ousted pesky lower-division sides last night. The Fire made a lone first-half goal by Diego Cháves stand up although Rochester was pouring on the pressure, especially early on. “We did enough to be up by a goal at halftime and we were down,” said the Rhinos manager.

Not too far south at Red Bull Arena, FC New York took a shock 1-0 lead only to watch it disappear after two minutes. John Rooney, brother of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, got the game-winner but manager Hans Backe is not ready to make him a starter: “His understanding about the game is very good … but it’s all about his pace. He just has to be a little bit quicker.”

The lone upset of the third round came at Columbus Crew Stadium where Richmond capitalized on a man advantage to capture a 2-1 win. Danny O’Rourke received a red card in his first official match of the season but Crew manager Robert Warzycha was critical of the team’s heart, which left him “so disappointed.” One of his players made this point: “If we had more intensity, energy and heart, we would have won.”

Sporting Kansas City were the only team that had it easy, cruising 3-0 past Chicago Fire PDL at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in a game described by a Kansas City Star reporter as feeling like a “laid-back, summer school driver’s-ed class.”

The club managed by Peter Vermes did not just get a win and a quarterfinal date with the Richmond Kickers. They had two of their forwards snap out of droughts with Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury getting on the board. Kamara, who taunted his defender on his goal, felt like Bill Bixby in The Hulk: “When I’m not happy, you don’t want to get that side of me.”

Tonight is the first of two critical matches between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC at BMO Field, beginning with a league match tonight that kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET (MatchDay Live). It will be followed by Saturday’s Nutrilite Canadian Championship second leg. The Whitecaps see it as “a fantastic opportunity here to kick-start our season” against a Toronto team that “is a little bit fragile at the moment.”

Injuries have hurt TFC manager Aron Winter’s rebuilding plans as the Dutchman continues to implement the Ajax system in Toronto. “When we play with our first 14 players, then we have a decent team,” said his assistant.

Toronto have claimed they will be active on the transfer market this summer and so have the New York Red Bulls, who will be replacing recently traded attacker Dwayne De Rosario with a defender.

Meanwhile, the first signing of Vancouver manager Tommy Soehn has played his last game with the Whitecaps, according to reports.

FC Dallas are also rumored to be wheeling and dealing and they are welcoming two Trinidadian players on trial, according to reports out of Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking of FC Dallas, did you know that the club’s young goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, a starter for Mexico in the current Under-17 World Cup, was wooed by Atlético Madrid before deciding to stay in the US?

Changes look like they’re definitely coming in Portland after the 4-0 beating they received in Dallas. Manager John Spencer says that “the time has come to freshen things up a little bit.” And by the way, he’s “not blowing smoke.”

Less than one year away from their debut season in MLS, the Montreal Impact have watched their head coach resign while owner Joey Saputo claims, “If you ask me now how many of the players on the team will make the jump to MLS next year, I would say to you, ‘None.’”

Lastly, in a sign that the women’s game is not immune from the same issues that plague men’s international soccer, a goalkeeper tested positive for doping at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup — a backup ‘keeper.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Will Oguchi Onyewu prove to be a good fit at Sporting Clube de Portugal?

US national team goalkeeper Tim Howard apologizes for foul language

Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City dominate latest edition of MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week


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