Kick Off: Sporting Kansas City devastated after stunning loss in US Open Cup

Here are the top 15 stories we're looking at on Thursday.

1. ORLANDO SHOCK SPORTING KC

Sporting Kansas City won’t be lifting the Open Cup for a second straight season. The defending US Open Cup champions were humbled by their USL PRO affiliate, Orlando City, 1-0 on Wednesday night, after former Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United forward Long Tan put Orlando ahead in the first minute. They held on for the historic win at Sporting Park, as Peter Vermes was left reeling: “We wanted to go deep in this competition and try to go after it again. It’s devastating.” Orlando are delighted — check out their site.

2. RAILHAWKS DOWN CHIVAS, DE ROSARIO HITS HAT TRICK

The Carolina RailHawks will join Orlando City in the quarterfinal draw, as the NASL side downed Chivas USA 3-1. Carolina scored twice in the first half of overtime to avenge last season's exit to the Goats. Elsewhere, Dwayne De Rosario propelled D.C. to a 3-1 win over rivals Philadelphia. Captain DeRo was benched at the weekend, but what a response. “I thought Dwayne was a stud. The guy’s a winner,” said head coach Ben Olsen. “He’s been through a lot, I put him through a lot and he responded.”

3. TIMBERS, RSL, REVS AND DALLAS MAKE QUARTERS

Portland fared better than their Cascadia rivals Seattle against the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, with goals from Michael Nanchoff and Jack Jewsbury sealing a 2-0 win. Playing at Harvard, the New England Revolution rallied to down the New York Red Bulls 4-2 in an end-to-end match. RSL were 2-0 down to the Charleston Battery after 18 minutes but second-half goals forced extra time and Salt Lake ended up winning 5-2. FC Dallas also hammered Houston 3-0 in the Texas Derby. But Chicago vs. Columbus was postponed due to storms around Toyota Park. 

4. USMNT LOOKING ROSY ONE YEAR FROM WORLD CUP

Yesterday marked one year until the first day of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. SI.com’s Grant Wahl takes a look at where the US national team is now, and where they can improve with soccer’s greatest stage on the horizon. According to this, the USMNT is sitting pretty. Do you agree?

5. CAMERON EXCELS AGAINST PANAMA, SHOULD HE STAY?

Over at Soccer By Ives, they’re still raving about Geoff Cameron’s performance in central midfield against Panama. Cameron stole the ball to help create the USA’s first goal and put in a perfect performance Jermaine Jones’ replacement. Should Cameron remain a starter for Klinsmann against Honduras?

6. WHICH US PLAYERS ARE ON THE PLANE TO BRAZIL? WAIT A MINUTE...

Yes, the US are top of the Hex and sitting pretty ahead of next Tuesday’s game with Honduras in Salt Lake City. But is this a tad presumptuous from Steve Davis at Pro Soccer Talk? Of course not. He breaks down the US squad and speculates which players have already rubber-stamped their ticket to Brazil. Assuming the US team qualifies, of course…

7. ESPN’S SECOND-HIGHEST AUDIENCE FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

It's been revealed that Tuesday’s TV audience for the US-Panama game was the second-highest ever for a World Cup qualifier on ESPN. San Diego was the top market, delivering a 2.5 rating. Elsewhere, Seattle-Tacoma got a 2.5 rating, while Baltimore (2.1), Hartford-New Haven, Conn., (1.9), and Nashville (1.9) rounded out the top five. A total of 1.43 million people watched the game. The top World Cup qualifier was the USA’s 0-0 tie with Mexico at the Azteca back in March, which drew 2.38 million.

8. JAMAICA’S COACH RESIGNS

After three defeats in eight days, what did everyone expect? Theodore "Tappa" Whitmore was apparently asked to leave his position by the Jamaican Football Federation, and Whitmore duly obliged. What state are the Reggae Boyz in now as they prop up the Hex standings? “Every little thing, is gonna be alright….” Maybe not.

9. CONFEDERATIONS CUP PREVIEW

Earlier, we mentioned Brazil 2014 is only a year away. Well, the Confederations Cup in Brazil begins on Friday. Take a look at this preview, as Mexico represent CONCACAF in the tournament against Brazil, Japan and Italy. But is Brazil ready to host a World Cup after problems with stadia, infrastructure and more?

10. REPORTED MLS TARGET AMBROSINI CLOSE TO WEST HAM MOVE?

Rumors of Massimo Ambrosini joining MLS may have taken a bit of a nose dive this morning, as the AC Milan veteran looks to be heading to West Ham United instead. 36-year-old Ambrosini has been at Milan for 18 years, but is now a free agent as is contemplating MLS, the EPL and other leagues. Watch on with interest.

11. BRADLEY HAS A NEW BOSS AT ROMA

Michael Bradley has been impressing for the USMNT of late, but now he has a new manager to please at AS Roma. The Serie A outifit announced Rudi Garcia will take charge next season after impressing at Lille in recent times. "The General"  will be out to impress, for sure.

12. YOU CAN PLAY

Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union announced a landmark partnership, as the “You Can Play Project” was launched. LA Galaxy defender and executive member of the players union Todd Dunivant praised the league’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion: “We are excited to work with You Can Play to ensure that both our locker rooms and our stadiums are welcoming to the LGBT community.”

13. MESSI AND HIS DAD IN TAX TROUBLE

Could this be true? Sadly, it is. Lionel Messi — four-time World Player of the Year and Barcelona legend — is embroiled in a huge fraud case in Spain. Messi is said to owe the state more than 4 million euros and, alongside his father Jorge Horacio, is being investigated for possible fraudulent tax returns between 2007-09. Messi makes 16 million euros a year from his Barça salary.

14. MADRID COULD PAY $133 MILLION FOR BALE

As Barça’s main man is in trouble with his finances, bitter rivals Real Madrid could be spending all of theirs … on just one player. Madrid president Florentino Pérez yesterday claimed his side would spend up to $133 million to lure Gareth Bale to the Santiago Bernabúu. That would be a world record transfer fee. Is the Welshman worth that much?

15. GERMAN INTERNATIONAL HITS BIG SCREEN IN MONSTERS INC. SEQUEL

This is rather funny. Most of you will have seen the trailer for the long-awaited sequel to Disney’s hit movie, Monsters Inc. And Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neur’s voice was used for one of the characters in the German version of Monsters University, his first-ever acting role.

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