Kick Off: Nation ponders crushing WWC loss to Japan

American soccer fans just can’t catch a break lately.

First it was the 2009 Confederations Cup final. Then the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship against Mexico. Now add the 2011 Women’s World Cup final. Holding leads does not come easy to US men’s and women’s national teams.

To help put the full spectrum of emotions from Sunday’s penalty kick shootout loss to Japan in perspective, here’s New York Times columnist George Vecsey, an interesting take from SI.com’s Ann Killion and the Los Angeles Times’ Grahame Jones.

Turns out Nelly the Elephant, the successor to Paul the Octopus in picking soccer matches, was spot on with her Women’s World Cup final pregame prediction.

Thanks to the Women’s World Cup final, soccer has set a new Twitter record, leaving the NFL Super Bowl and news of Osama bin Laden’s death in the dust.

The loss by the US women means Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire lost a bet with his Japanese shortstop. Find out the details of the wager here.

From one major event to another. The AT&T MLS All-Star Game is just nine days away and today fans will get to know exactly how Hans Backe plans to upend English Premier League champions Manchester United at Red Bull Arena on July 27. The full squad will be unveiled at 2 p.m. ET today.

The All-Star Game is the last thing on the minds of the New England Revolution, who lost 3-0 at home to the Philadelphia Union on Sunday night. Midfielder Pat Phelan summed up the state of the Revs, mired in last place in the East: “We’re down in the dumps right now.”

While it was a dream night for the Philadelphia Union and Sheanon Williams, the Boston native who scored in his hometown return, it was a nightmare for the Revs’ Benny Feilhaber, who even got a talking to from Philly’s Peter Nowak after his red card: “I just told him he's too experienced of a player to be acting like this.”

Changes are coming in New England, with manager Steve Nicol revealing that two offers were made to potential new players over the weekend.

The Revs will have a quick turnaround with a match on Wednesday night at D.C. United, which will be one of five league games on the midweek slate. The Vancouver Whitecaps will also be in action, traveling to San Jose. But first up for Vancouver is tonight’s Herbalife World Football Challenge match against Manchester City (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). One player not so excited about the match? Goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

The grounds crew is working around the clock to ensure that the temporary grass field installed at Empire Field is ready to go after it was not deemed playable on Saturday, causing the league match against Real Salt Lake to be postponed.

Although he felt it was the right decision, RSL manager Jason Kreis went as far as making a case for a potential forfeit: “because [Vancouver] is responsible for providing a playing surface that we can play on.”

The Montreal Impact will likely be facing a similar scenario to the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are playing matches at Empire Field while preparing for a move to BC Place. With renovations to Stade Saputo not beginning until September, the Impact are looking at the prospect of playing matches at Olympic Stadium next year.

It was their new stadium that helped Sporting Kansas City clinch the deal for new Brazilian Designated Player Jéferson Rodrigues. Manager Peter Vermes calls him “a big-time player.” No pressure.

Sporting KC registered another dramatic win this weekend, tying a nine-man Houston Dynamo squad in the 90th minute. Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear was surprisingly upbeat about the match in his postgame comments.

After a 0-0 tie against visiting New York Red Bulls, Chivas USA manager Robin Fraser has admitted that a forward signing is imminent for the Goats, whose top scorer is midfielder Nick LaBrocca. Perhaps it’s Algerian forward Mohamed Dahmane? (FRENCH)

Meanwhile, Chivas USA forward Alejandro Moreno is just two wins away from lifting the Copa América in one of the most improbable runs in history. Nearly all of the traditional powerhouses have fallen by the wayside in the quarters. The semis will see Uruguay vs. Peru and Venezuela vs. Paraguay. It’s the first-ever semifinal for Venezuela, who advanced against Chile on a goal by ex-Red Bull Gabriel Cíchero.

Another team with scoring issues is the San Jose Earthquakes, who earned a 0-0 draw in Columbus on Saturday night thanks to a stellar effort from Quakes GK Jon Busch. But there is one Earthquakes forward who is finding the back of the net in recent matches, except he’s not with the club.

The match in Columbus was a special night for Crew fans as Brian McBride’s induction drew several of his former teammates. Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Gino Padula were also on hand, recently traded Andy Iro said goodbye to the Nordecke and new acquisition Tony Tchani helped himself to a press box hot dog before making his first comments.

Do you remember Chase Hilgenbrinck? He was a former member of the New England Revolution who left professional soccer to become a priest. He says “I feel a peace in my life now more than I ever have.”

Argentine strikers Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tévez will finally have the peace of mind of knowing where they’re playing this season. While Agüero’s final destination will be known later this week, Tévez is heading back to Brazil’s Corinthians.

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who gets set to face EPL champs Manchester United on Wednesday, had a lot to say about his former club, Tottenham Hotspur, and the saga surrounding midfielder Luka Modric.

Get a glimpse of the pink-and-white Adidas cleats that David Beckham donned against Real Madrid in Saturday’s match at the LA Coliseum. It was a tribute to his week-old baby daughter.

Real Madrid’s stay in Los Angeles has even attracted fans to their practices, including one person who risked injury and slammed into a golf cart carrying players from the Spanish giants. (VIDEO)

Finally, it appears that US midfielder Michael Bradley and FOX broadcaster Eric Wynalda had a bit of an argument that involved a finger getting poked in someone’s chest, according to this report.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Manchester City’s Micah Richards reunited with his cousin Atiba Harris of the Vancouver Whitecaps

Two Americans go head-to-head in Denmark in season opener

Revolution have two words about their 3-0 home loss to Philly: “We sucked.”


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