Kick Off: Carlton Cole attracting interest from at least three MLS sides

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. CARLTON COLE CHASED BY THREE MLS CLUBS?

It seems as though out of contract West Ham striker Carlton Cole is attracting quite a bit of interest on both sides of the pond. Cole has shone at the Hammers for seven years after leaving Chelsea as a youngster, now the 29-year-old fancies a fresh change. D.C. United, Houston and the San Jose Earthquakes are the three teams rumored to be chasing Cole.

2. GALAXY AND SOUNDERS SQUARE OFF

The biggest clash of the weekend will take place up in LA on Sunday night (11pm ET, ESPN2, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com) with the Seattle Sounders rolling into town to face the Galaxy. Can Seattle score four goals for the third game in a row? If they score first, they could extend their 37-game unbeaten streak when scoring the first goal. Better start sharp, LA.

3. SPORTING OUT TO PILE MORE MISERY ON HOUSTON

With Houston losing two straight games at home, the Dynamo will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways against Sporting KC on Sunday. (3:30 pm ET, NBCSN, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com) They couldn’t be heading to a tougher place to try and win, though, as SKC are aiming to put more pressure on New York Red Bulls at the top of the East, with Kei Kamara still searching for his first goal since his loan spell ended.

4. CITY COMEBACK STUNS CHELSEA IN FRONT OF HUGE ST. LOUIS CROWD

Down 3-0 in front of a crowd largely supporting Chelsea at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, you could forgive Manchester City’s players for easing through their exhibition game on Thursday night. But no. City made a big statement by scoring four unanswered goals to win 4-3 with a late Micah Richards goal defeating Chelsea. Check out these picture galleries in the record stadium crowd of 48,263.

5. SHOULD ST. LOUIS GET AN EXPANSION FRANCHISE? 

After New York City FC were announced as Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise earlier this week, which other US cities have big-league ambitions? St. Louis native Taylor Twellman argued his hometown should get a team after the huge crowd last night. Orlando, Atlanta, Minneapolis and San Antonio are just some of the cities mentioned in Jonah Freedman's ambition rankings in "The Throw-In" this week.

6. MICAH RICHARDS: “I LOVE NEW YORK”

Micah Richards scored the winner late on in City’s 4-3 win, as the academy graduate spoke of his ambitious to play for NYC one day. “To announce a team that's over here called New York City is just unbelievable and hopefully four, five, six years ... I can come and get a run out over here as well, because I love New York."

7. HELP THE MIDWEST STORM VICTIMS

Staying in the Midwest, we have all seen the terrible scenes this week across the region. MLS Works is teaming up with American Red Cross to help the relief effort. Click here for more details on how to help and donate to those suffering after the devastating storms.

8. JIMMY NIELSEN LETS EVERYTHING OUT IN NEW AUTOBIOGRAPHY

A bit further East in Kansas City, Jimmy Nielsen finally talks about releasing his new autobiography and the risks that come with a “tell-all” account of his life and his gambling addiction. “Those were the most stressful hours, the most painful hours of my life,” Nielsen said. “You don't want to see the people you love get hurt. I love my parents. I love my wife. I love my kids, my friends, everything.”

9. UNION TRADE SOUMARE TO CHICAGO

This has been on the cards for a while, it seems. Yesterday the Philadelphia Union announced that central defender Bakary Soumare was traded to Chicago for the Fire’s natural second-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money. Soumare spent two-and-a-half seasons in Chicago and was an MLS Best XI selection and a Defender of the Year nominee in 2008. What do you think of the trade?

10. SOCCER ARRIVES IN NEW YORK CITY… AGAIN

Some more reaction on New York City FC, as The New Yorker takes a slightly different view on what has been a landmark week for Major League Soccer. While the Telegraph believes that Manchester City's main aim is to top Manchester United and become the biggest club in the world.

11. MILLER NOT LEAVING WHITECAPS

Martin Rennie dismissed more rumors that striker Kenny Miller is leaving Vancouver to sign with one of his old clubs, Rangers. “It’s just an example of another rumor, and [due to the club’s transfer embargo] it couldn’t have ever been true,” the Vancouver head coach said.

12. MLS FANTASY: WHO TO DROP, WHO TO PICK UP

Nick Firchau joins Jason Saghini this week in the Starting Lineup, as they discuss who to pick up and who to drop. They also discuss prices and who is really worth the big bucks. Great watch for Fantasy fans.

13. DI VAIO REFLECTS ON CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL DEFEAT TO DORTMUND

Ahead of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Marco Di Vaio thought back to the last time Dortmund were in the final.They beat his Juventus side in 1997, the pain still remains.

14. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL PREVIEW 

For all the news on the first-ever all-German Champions League final, these previews from The BBC and Soccer America should whet your appetite. German giants Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich clash at Wembley Stadium in London, as the German invasion of the English capital has already begun. Kickoff is slated for 2:45 pm ET, live on FOX.

15. GIBRALTAR BECOMES 54TH MEMBER OF UEFA

A tiny rock sticking out of Spain’s southern most tip is officially UEFA’s newest member. Gibraltar, a British territory since 1713, will now compete in the European and World Cup qualifying tournaments as the minnows aim to make a splash on the European soccer scene. Just under 30,000 people live there. Find out why Spain aren’t happy about it, at all.

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