Kick Off: Obafemi Martins saga nears a close as Seattle Sounders gear up for CCL clash vs. Tigres
Here are the Top 15 stories we’re following on the soccer scene today:
1. IS MARTINS FINALLY HEADED TO SEATTLE?
For awhile there, it looked like Martins might shake the Sounders' hook – or, more accurately, Levante would fail to release the Nigerian forward from his contract. On Monday, though, the pieces finally started to fall into place as the La Liga club was properly compensated, setting in motion a series of events that ended with Martins tweeting that he'd joined Seattle – a tweet the striker apparently deleted and updated with this message – while the Sounders issuing a lengthy "no comment." So what's the story? It seems certain Martins will wear rave green, now it's just a matter of ironing out the final details.
2. HOME COOKING: CAN SEATTLE BOOK CCL SEMIFINAL SPOT?
Sigi Schmid certainly won't be able to turn to Martins on Tuesday night, when Seattle host Tigres UANL in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer). Find out why Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle expects Tigres to push the tempo – and complain about the CenturyLink turf. And although odds have traditionally been with Mexican sides in the CCL, Tigres apparently brought mostly second-teamers to Seattle, which should give Sounders fans hope that they can be the first MLS side in 11 years to win a two-legged series against their border rivals.
3. LANDON SETS A DATE, WELL SORTA
OK, so he didn't set a date. More accurately, we now know the time frame in which Landon Donovan will return to the LA Galaxy. Take it from head coach Bruce Arena: “The last week in March. He’s coming back one of those days.” One of those days, huh? Guess that's par for the course after the past four months of mystery surrounding Donovan's future. Just in case you missed it the first time around, here's Donovan speaking candidly to a USC class before taking off for Cambodia.
4. GALAXY TRUCK ON WITHOUT LD
Like Schmid with Martins, Arena certainly won't have Donovan at his disposal on Wednesday against Herediano (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer). They probably could have used him in a scoreless draw in Costa Rica, but the Galaxy could have used some competent refereeing even more. Mike Magee's goal may have been called off for what appeared to be a bogus offside call, but LA will feel confident of advancing with Jose Villareal back from US U-20 duty and a the team firing on all cylinders. In related news, SuperDraft pick Kofi Opare signed with the team on Monday, while former Galaxy defender Bryan Jordan inked a deal with the San Antonio Scorpions.
5. NELSEN SAYS SCARS REMAIN IN TORONTO
Toronto FC may have recorded their first win in eight months against Sporting KC on Saturday, but not everything is hunky dorry in Ontario. It's getting there, though. Head coach Ryan Nelsen joined ExtraTime Radio on Monday to talk all things TFC, including the "voids" in the club, why he won't hand out fat contracts based strictly on a foreign passport and whether or not his old QPR side with stay in the Premier League.
6. WEEK 2 REDUX
Toronto wasn't the only Canadian team that enjoyed a productive weekend, and Impact captain Davy Arnaud spoke about Montreal's fast start as well on ETR. Our own Simon Borg also broke down all the weekend's talking points. Lots of good nuggets here, including why Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere's girlfriend thinks "he runs like an old man." While you're thinking about Week 2, take the time to vote for Goal of the Week. TFC's Robert Earnshaw didn't make the cut there, but he was voted Player of the Week.
7. NO TIM HOWARD, NO PROBLEM
Not everyone is worried that Tim Howard's back injury will derail the US against Costa Rica and Mexico in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. After all, Brad Guzan has been brilliant for Aston Villa, which should put to rest any rumors about Brad Friedel's return to the fold. Meanwhile, in other injury news, you can breath a sigh of relief regarding Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson's health. They should be good to go.
8. KLINSMANN'S TWITTER TAKEOVER
Jurgen Klinsmann is a modern coach, and that means he's well versed in social media. On Monday, Klinsmann took over the US soccer twitter handle to answer fan questions. See what he had to say here.
9. COLUMBUS STILL WAITING ON WORD FROM US SOCCER
It almost seems a given at this point: Crew Stadium will host Mexico on Sept. 10. But it's not official yet, and Columbus general manager Mark McCullers isn't taking anything for granted: “I would expect an announcement soon but I also would have hoped to have announced by now. We are pushing as hard as we can and remain confident that we will host the match.” They're also confident their home opener against San Jose will bring out the best Crew fans have to offer. (WATCH)
10. HEJDUK'S CHARMED LIFE
Frankie Hejduk ... the man, the myth, the legend. Check out this feature on Hejduk's current role with the Crew, in which his mandate seems to be to just have fun. Here's how the man himself describes his community outreach: “It’s just a lot of random acts, spur-of-the-moment stuff,” he said. “I’m trying to really pump Columbus up and get the city [and] schools involved.”
11. MILLER HAS AT LEAST ONE REASON TO SMILE
It's been a tough few days for New York Red Bulls defender Roy Miller, but it's not all bad. The player one writer calls the Red Bulls' "long-tenured bad luck charm" will be on the Costa Rica side set to face the US in Commerce City, Colo. Meanwhile, Kyle McCarthy wonders if Miller's place in the New York XI should be safe.
12. DC MAKING PROGRESS ON STADIUM FRONT
"Tangible progress." What does that mean when it comes to D.C. United's long-standing efforts to build a new stadium? Find out what D.C. United’s managing partner Jason Levien said about the club's efforts to address the “800-pound gorilla in the room.”
13. NEW FACE IN SOCCER JOURNALISM IN THE US
These days, reporting on sports media is commonplace. Along those lines, footy fans in the US should get familiar with The New York Times' Sam Borden, who is taking over the global soccer beat for the paper. Borden previously covered the other football.
14. US OPEN CUP GETS UNDER WAY
Qualifying has begun, and there is only one place to follow the action: TheCup.us. Get the latest as the Screaming Eagles, a first-time USOC entrant, knocked off the Maryland Bays to move within two wins of the US Open Cup proper. Just to whet your appetite for domestic cup action, here's last year's MatchDay 360 from Sporting KC's victory.
15. SPA DAY AT THE STADIUM
Finally, Swiss side Grasshoppers have stadium amenities figured out. They've introduced a pitch-side hot tub, in which fans can unwind and have the chance to high five their favorite player after a goal. Give their marketing team a gold star.
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