Kick Off: Will USMNT lose another up-and-coming MLSer?

Kick Off - Nick DeLeon

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Will he or won’t he?

That’s what many American soccer fans will be asking themselves after reading news of D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon getting called up by the Trinidad and Tobago national team this weekend. The wide midfielder, whose father played for the nation, declined T&T’s Olympic team already, but the Soca Warriors play in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Meanwhile, D.C. United were one of several teams in action in the first weekend of MLS preseason action. We start with Sunday’s match: the annual preseason opener for the Chicago Fire against Florida Gulf Coast University. This year they won 2-0 (watch the full match replay here).

Fire newcomers Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere were paired in central midfield during the match and Larentowicz offered up his views on his Chicago debut

Real Salt Lake will be in action today, facing a Denmark Under-20 side at 1:30 pm ET in Casa Grande, Ariz. While you’re waiting to follow the action in-person or via RSL’s Twitter account, check out this spread by the club’s own Nick Rimando in ESPN The Magazine.

The Columbus Crew used a PK from former San Jose Earthquakes forward Sercan Güvenisik to down D.C. United 1-0 in an all-MLS matchup on Saturday.

Former MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall started the match for Columbus as he looks to “silence the critics” who say his performance has dropped after an injury-plagued 2012. Marshall’s head coach Robert Warzycha believes in him: “I’m sure he can play better [than last season],” Warzycha told The Dispatch. “If he can have a performance where he’s one of the three best defenders in the league, that means we’re going to be in the playoffs.”

Speaking of the Crew, one former member of the club, forward Tommy Heinemann, is now shaping up to be a critical piece in the 2013 edition of the Vancouver Whitecaps according to one blogger who follows the club.

Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy will be very important for the new-look Chivas USA managed by José Luis Sánchez Solá, who handed him the armband: “At this time, he’s my captain,” Chelis said of the 30-year-old netminder. “I need him more than anyone else.” The manager also explained why Kennedy didn’t play in the Goats’ 4-1 preseason win over UC Irvine.

Carlos Alvarez, selected No. 2 overall in the 2013 SuperDraft, is over the moon that he gets to play with Chivas USA at home in Southern California. He wants to succeed for his parents, who have spent the last 25 years working at a chicken processing plant, removing bones from poultry. (SPANISH)

Optimism always reigns supreme during MLS preseason. Check out what the Seattle Sounders say about their three-man goalkeeper corps of Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford: “For me, we have the best goalkeeping tandem in the league right now," said the club’s GK coach. "Who’s better? Really — who’s better?”

The Sounders were busy executing a trade on Sunday, bringing home Seattle-area native Lamar Neagle from the Montreal Impact in exchange for an international roster spot. It’s Neagle’s third time back with his hometown club: “I keep on coming back. … The organization is one of the best, if not the best in MLS.”

What are the Impact planning on doing with that international slot? According to the club’s owner, they’re likely signing a player from South America.

In South America, on-loan Philadelphia Union captain Carlos Valdés scored the game-winner for Santa Fe against Millonarios (watch the goal here) and it was the goal that gave his team the Colombian Superliga trophy.

Hugh Jackman will be happy with that. Based on the photo that was making the rounds on Twitter yesterday, he’s a Philadelphia Union fan. (PHOTO)

Houston Dynamo supporters are probably giving up hope to see Mac Kandji wearing orange again. He’s trying his best to latch on with a club in Europe, although his most recent attempt has seemingly fallen through.

David Beckham is a man of his word. Before his MLS Cup 2012 swansong, the former LA Galaxy star said he would help recruit players to Major League Soccer and a report from England shared the list of candidates he’s been wooing with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard being among them.

Add another name to that mix. Former English Premier League forward Louis Saha, who is cutting ties with Sunderland, reportedly has suitors in MLS.

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry is in the EPL news cycle this morning with a report in L’Equipe that says the Frenchman is encouraging billionaire Alisher Usmanov to take over his old club Arsenal from Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke.

Staying on the international scene, it was a busy weekend in the CONCACAF region with Costa Rica capturing the Central American championship over Honduras (watch the highlights here). Things did not go as well for Canada, who were thumped 4-0 by Denmark in a match played in Arizona.

Seeking another strong performance from Toronto FC draft pick Kyle Bekker, Canada will hope for a rebound on Tuesday when they face the USMNT at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium (9 pm ET on ESPN2 & Univision Deportes, Sportsnet in Canada). Stay tuned for coverage from today’s pregame press conference featuring manager Jurgen Klinsmann and RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman, followed by a public training session later today.

In addition to training with the USMNT, midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is also busy trying to figure out his next club team. He tells The New York Times that he’s considering offers from more than 15 clubs. Find out the countries here.

Another winger that is looking for work is former Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers. Crew beat reporter Adam Jardy provided the latest update on the former US international here.

While the US side tunes up for World Cup qualifiers with an MLS-heavy side, some Euro-based Americans were lighting it up away from home. Jozy Altidore scored another goal for AZ Alkmaar (watch it here) and Tottenham’s Clint Dempsey found net (watch it here), but his strike could not rescue Spurs from the jaws of FA Cup defeat.

If you’re looking for some live soccer to watch today there’s Sevilla vs. Granada from La Liga (3:30 pm ET, beIN Sport).

Here’s something to program for your DVR: Mexico vs. Denmark (yep, those Danes again) from University of Phoenix Stadium at 10 pm ET on Wednesday (broadcast on UniMás, formerly TeleFutura). To get ready for the match read this exclusive Q&A with Mexican national team head coach José Manuel de la Torre with the Arizona Republic.

Or you can just pass the time listening to podcasts: There’s the Soccer By Ives show with Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson. MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio comes out later today and will feature a one-on-one with new Red Bulls manager Mike Petke.

Lastly, sure Lionel Messi scored four goals this weekend, but what’s really new in the soccer world? How about underdogs Cape Verde advancing to the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations with a come-from-behind win over Angola. Watch the highlights here and then watch the team storm the post-game press conference. (VIDEO)

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