Kick Off: Sydney Leroux says abuse on social media, not during match, inspired controversial celebration

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

1) THE ROAD TO MOROCCO IS SET: FIVE MLS SIDES LEARN CCL FATE

The group stages are set for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League with MLS representatives Sporting KC, the San Jose Earthquakes, Montreal Impact, LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo primed for action. Now it's just a matter of scouting, preparing and playing the game with the hope of advancing to the knockout stage. See the draw here.

2) PACKAGE DEAL FOR MLS EXPANSION FRANCHISES IN FLORIDA? MAYBE SO

It's always a prudent idea to take anonymous sources with a grain of salt, but this is still pretty fascinating stuff from The Scoring Third, which has been on top of MLS expansion in Orlando. The gist of the article is that Miami and Orlando would both enter in 2016, creating a natural rivalry and extra fanfare. Is it factual? Who knows, but they've got an official comment from MLS you might want to check out. Speaking of Miami, David Beckham is making new friends.

3) LEROUX CLARIFIES INSPIRATION FOR CELEBRATION THAT IGNITED CONTROVERSY

Sydney Leroux made waves with her celebration during the US women's national team's 3-0 romp over Canada on Sunday at BMO Field in Toronto, but the story surrounding that moment has lasted until Tuesday morning. Turns out that Leroux quieted the crowd because, according to USSF, she has “endured abuse both verbally and in social media." But, she insists, she was not the victim of racial taunts at BMO on Sunday.

4) PERKINS HAS NO TIME FOR SKC'S "CLASSLESS" COMMENTS

Asinine. That's what Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins called the comments reportedly made by Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes to a Montreal assistant following the road team's 2-1 win at Sporting Park on Saturday. Listen to the entire interview on ExtraTime Radio, as Perkins details Montreal's magical start and expounds on the differences between MLS owners Joey Saputo and Merritt Paulson.

5) ROGERS EXPLAINS WHY HE WAS "REALLY SCARED" TO COME OUT

Robbie Rogers has made the rounds in television interviews since his return to Major League Soccer, and he joined the crew at CBS This Morning on Monday to discuss his return. Among the highlights of this interview, his admission that he did almost anything to hide his sexuality, including dating women, and that the locker rooms in England were often times “brutal” and “malicious” when it came to machismo.

6) ARENA ON WHY THE COACHING ENVIRONMENT IN THE US IS "FABULOUS"

In this Q&A with USSoccer.com, Arena reminisces about everything, from his high school days through his two World Cup teams: "I think one of the mistakes that we make in the sport of soccer is that we look at other soccer coaches as our only means of preparing ourselves as coaches. I really believe that in the United States we have an incredible resource of coaches in various sports and professional leagues. There are a lot of coaches we can look at to pick up ways to improve. I think we are in the absolute best coaching environment in the world here.”

7) AUSTRALIA SUFFER LATE HEARTBREAK IN JAPAN

World Cup qualifying hasn't gone as planned for the Socceroos, but Tim Cahill and his teammates were just minutes away from taking three points from AFC giants Japan on Tuesday (the game ended at 8:45 am ET) before disaster struck via a late penalty kick. A point on the road certainly isn't bad, but now the Aussies must finish without a blemish to earn an automatic spot at Brazil 2014.

8) JAMAICA WELCOME MEXICO TO THE NATIONAL STADIUM AHEAD OF US MATCH

Jamaica and Mexico are back at in World Cup qualifying beginning Tuesday, when the Reggae Boyz host El Tri in desperate need of a win (9:30 pm ET, Telemundo). Jamaica – who will once again feature a number of prominent MLSers when they take the field in Kingston – are dead last in the Hexagonal standings and have won just twice in 11 qualifiers all-time against Mexico. Still, captain Horace Burrell is confident of a Jamaica victory.

9) US ARRIVE IN KINGSTON TODAY WITH POSITIVE VIBES

Before we get to the game, remember that all those fuzzy feelings following the Germany win don't mean much, if anything, anymore. Yes, the US lineup seems set, or at least much more solid after some standout performances against Jurgen Klinsmann's brethren, but Jamaica know they can beat the US on home soil. Check out the latest news from the American camp here.

10) COULD GUZAN GRAB THE USMNT NO. 1 SPOT? DON'T BET AGAINST HIM

Kasey Keller speaks from experience when he tells Goal.com's Alex Labidou there's a goalkeeper competition within the US national team, and it's not out of the question that Brad Guzan can win the position from Tim Howard in the next year. Needless to say, Klinsmann shouldn't have any issues between the pipes anytime soon.

11) WHY ARE McINERNEY'S TEAMMATES CALLING HIM SEABISCUIT?

And we thought Chicharito was the preferred nickname. The Philadelphia Union's Jack McInerney is racking them up these days – along with goal. Now can he grab a spot on the USMNT's Gold Cup roster? Don't bet against him.

12) CRUYFF DOESN'T MINCE WORDS IN COMMENTS ABOUT CHIVAS

Add soccer legend Johan Cruyff to the list of people openly critical of all things Chivas these days. The man who Chivas owner Jose Vergara once said “knows more about soccer than anyone in the world” took a shot at the club this week, telling media that the club is “embarrassing” and “you can only say that the people that direct the club aren't directing it well."

13) GOODBYE HOGAN EPHRAIM, WE BARELY KNEW YE

Like John Bostock, it appears Hogan Ephraim is on his way back to England. That's what he tweeted anyway. It seems he enjoyed his time with Toronto FC but the club didn't consider him a long-term solution. We'll have to wait and see what head coach Ryan Nelsen says.

14) POLITICS COLOR WCQ MATCH BETWEEN IRAN AND QATAR

When Iran and Qatar meet in a World Cup qualifier later today, it won't be the first time politics has overshadowed a match between these two countries, writes Michael Casey of The Associated Press. Iran are coached by former MetroStars boss Carlos Queiroz.

15) FALCAO TO MONACO? SAY WHAT?

Michael Bertlin of Grantland writes that there's more to the transfer of Falcao than meets the eye. In fact, there's more than the €60 million it cost AS Monaco to buy the Colombian star from Atlético Madrid.

BONUS: In a nicely written longform piece, Liviu Bird chronicles the story of Santa Maria Rivera, a Mexican immigrant who, through perseverance, has left his mark on soccer in the state of Washington. Inspiring, to say the least.

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