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Final

Kick Off: All eyes on Kingston as USMNT returns to World Cup qualifying play

Kick Off Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

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

1. GAMEDAY IN KINGSTON FOR USMNT

Enough with the friendlies. Tonight in Jamaica (9:30 pm ET, beIN Sport, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com) the US national team will put their World Cup hopes on the line against the Reggae Boyz. What do the Nats have to do to win?  We have some of the answers here. But Jamaica are desperate for victory, after their defeat to Mexico on Tuesday, it’s do or die for the home side.

2. REPEAT OF JAMAICAN HORROR SHOW WILL PROVE COSTLY 

Remember the last time the US went to Jamaica? It wasn’t pretty. SI.com’s Grant Wahl talks about that loss in the semifinal stages of qualifying and what the US must do better this time. While Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Danny Williams have fond memories of playing in Jamaica, U.S. Soccer gives you the deets.

3. DECISIONS, DECISIONS

The biggest decision Jurgen Klinsmann might have to make tonight is the center back pairing, which has received its fair share of flack in the past week. Who should get the start? Omar Gonzalez or Geoff Cameron?

4. ALTIDORE TALKS ABOUT RACISM AHEAD OF KEY QUALIFIERS

Jozy Altidore dazzled in last weeks 4-3 win over Germany, but something other than performing well for the US national team has encapsulated his life in recent months. He’s helping world-governing body FIFA to try and stamp racism out of soccer. “Hopefully we can leave it in a better place than it was before,” he told The New York Times. “But it’s very deep-seated. It’s more alive than people think.”

5. WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD GET USMNT RECOGNITION?

Let’s take a break from the players involved tonight and in the coming weeks for Klinsmann, and take a gander at some players nobody has mentioned for USMNT recognition. In this week's Three for Thursday, Nick Rosano picks out three MLSers who deserve a shot with the national team. Do you agree?

6. KEY MATCHES ELSEWHERE IN THE HEX

Two other matches are being played tonight in the Hex, as Panama host Mexico (10 pm ET, Telemundo) and Honduras travel to Costa Rica. (10 pm ET, beIN Sport). Sidenote: Mexico’s 1-0 win over Jamaica drew 2.86 million viewers on Tuesday, more than a million more than the NHL Conference Finals game on the same night.

7. FELIPE MELO TO SEATTLE SOUNDERS?

The French and Italian media believe Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo being chased by the Seattle Sounders. He's currently a Juventus player but has been on loan at Galatasaray for the past two seasons. Melo cost Juve $37 million from Fiorentina in 2011. Could he really be heading to the Emerald City? Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer has commented, stating there “isn’t a pile of cap room.”

8. 54,000-PLUS FOR CASCADIA CLASH, BUT SOUNDERS DEPLETED

We spoke yesterday about the huge crowd for Seattle vs. Vancouver (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com), and more than 54,000 fans are expected. But the Sounders are struggling with key injuries and international absentees, including the loss os Osvaldo Alonso. “We’re hoping there’s a shot that [Alonso is] back by [June] 22,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. Steve Zakuani, meanwhile, could be missing for months, with an operation needed on a sports hernia.

9. TIMBERS TRAVEL TO FIRE IN STREAM OF THE WEEK

The resurgent Chicago Fire host the streaking Portland Timbers on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS Stream of the Week). Mike Magee will be looking to keep his scoring streak going. But Portland’s players aren’t thinking too much about their 11-game span without a loss, according to head coach Caleb Porter: “I don’t think they care about any streaks. We care about getting points, that’s it.”

10. D.C. BRING IN ROCHAT TO BOLSTER DEFENSE

After several defensive struggles, D.C. United have a new guy to help out at the back. Head coach Ben Olsen brought in Alain Rochat from Vancouver on Friday. “Alain will provide us with immediate help with his experience and leadership,” said United GM Dave Kasper. Rochat could go straight in to help out against New England on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Watch on MLS Live).

11. ARENA LAUGHS OFF GIO RUMORS AHEAD OF RSL CLASH

With rumors surrounding Giovani dos Santos heading to LA Galaxy gathering pace, Bruce Arena laughed off the speculation. Landon Donovan, meanwhile, thought the ideas was pretty neat: “Certainly, he's hurt us many times with the US team. As far as talent goes, there's not many players I've played against that are that talented. So we'll see what happens.” LA take on old foes RSL at Rio Tinto on Saturday (9:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) with Salt Lake’s reload coming along nicely.

12. BUNBURY BACK FOR SPORTING KC?

Fingers crossed Sporting KC fans, Teal Bunbury could be back very soon. The USMNT striker could be returning to action next week in the US Open Cup tie against Orlando City. He has been out since tearing his ACL last summer. Bunbury is delighted to be back. “It feels more like I'm part of the team now – not being a neutral, not having to go easy in tackles, things like that,” he said. “Now it's full training and it feels really good.”

13. FIRST TRAILER OF FIFA 14 RELEASED

Gamers probably already have all this marked down on their calendar, but here is a sneak peek of FIFA 14. This video footage shows off the incredible graphics and the gameplay is set to have improved. This promo certainly got plenty people excited about the latest edition of one of the world’s most popular games.

14. BECKHAM, MESSI, RONALDO MAKE FORBES RICH LIST… STUNNER!

Forbes released its annual list of the world’s richest sports stars and a few soccer players snuck into the list. David Beckham, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were all there. Becks led the way, with $47.2 million earned this past year. He sits eighth, while Ronaldo and Messi are in ninth and tenth respectively. Meanwhile some of Messi’s teammates were in Miami ahead of Spain’s friendly with Haiti on Saturday. Check out the World Champions from Spain hanging out with the Miami Heat.

15. KEANE TO BREAK APPEARANCE RECORD FOR IRELAND

Elsewhere in international action, Robbie Keane is set to break the Irish national team appearance record by winning his 126th cap against the Faroe Islands today. His son will lead the side out, as Keane captains his country on a day reserved for a tremendous milestone.

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