Kick Off: League leaders Real Salt Lake feature on Independence Day slate as YSA chant takes center stage
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. 401 DERBY KICKS OFF JULY 4 HOLIDAY SLATE: There will be eight MLS matches that will take place over the next 48 hours, and it starts with the Canadian rivalry match between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact (7ET on TSN/RDS, get the match preview here). There may be 17 points separating them in the Eastern Conference standings, but Impact manager Marco Schällibaum knows "it'll be tough in Toronto. They'll want to hurt us."
2. HASSOUN CAMARA GOAL SURPASSES 1 MILLION VIEWS ON YOUTUBE: It's true. Any top-flight goal scored while literally sitting on the ground is usually going to be highlight worthy. But make it an overhead kick, and it becomes a global sensation. That's the territory that Montreal's Hassoun Camara is in at the moment with his goal vs. Colorado now up to 1,191,856 hits on YouTube in less than four days (watch it here). Staying in Montreal, BBC World Football reports that Impact defender Alessandro Nesta will join the coaching ranks after the season, but not necessarily in Italy.
3. GET OUT YOUR FIFA 13: With the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game fan vote ending on Tuesday, the action now shifts to the AT&T MLS All-Star "In the Game" Challenge. Starting at noon ET, you can "vote" for a forward to be part of the Fan XI by scoring goals with their favorite MLS All-Star forward candidate in EA SPORTS' FIFA 13. The candidates will be released at noon ET on MLSsoccer.com.
4. TAKING A STAND AGAINST YSA CHANT: League leaders Real Salt Lake host the Philadelphia Union tonight (10 pm ET on MLS LIVE, get the preview here) and the home team is using the occasion to make a request of its fans: to refrain from using the YSA chant that brought national criticism when Rio Tinto Stadium hosted the USMNT in a World Cup qualifier. “In my personal opinion, yeah, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to become more creative," says one Royal Army supporter.
5. ROAD GETS TOUGHER FOR DC AS SOUNDERS LOOM: D.C. United are at the bottom of the MLS table and have scored only eight goals all year, which doesn't bode well for tonight's trip to one of the toughest road venues in MLS against "the best club in MLS," according to Seatle's Djimi Traoré (10 pm ET on MLS LIVE, get the match preview here). But Sounders manager Sigi Schmid is seeing improvement in Ben Olsen's side: “They’re a team that’s played better as of late,” Schmid said. “They’re a team that continues to battle and fight. There’s talent on that team ... and the moment you think it’s going to be easy, it’s going to be super hard.”
6. WILL GOONIE MAGIC WORK IN CHICAGO? The San Jose Earthquakes will hope they have some mojo left from last weekend's California Clasico because they're going to need it when they go into Chicago tonight (8:30 pm ET on MLS LIVE, get the match preview here). That's because the defending Supporters' Shield holders will be without at least six marquee players, including Marvin Chávez (Honduras), Chris Wondolowski (USMNT), Steven Lenhart (injury) and Víctor Bernárdez (suspension).
7. SPORTING KC STILL IN SEARCH OF IDENTITY: Sporting begins the second half of their MLS regular season tonight when they host Vancouver (9 pm ET, Univision Deportes) after what's been an up-and-down first 17 matches. 'Keeper Jimmy Nielsen admits SKC are still in search of an identity: "We’ve been practicing very hard to find who we are … We added more possession to our style before the season, but we’re figuring out that it doesn’t always have to be beautiful. At the end of the day, it’s all about the results."
8. MLS FANTASY DEADLINE LOOMING: With the early kick-off to the Week 19 schedule, you only have hours to set up your MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager squad. Get the tips you need from the experts on "Starting Lineup."
9. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEST FOR PORTLAND TIMBERS: At the rate they're going, Caleb Porter's men could be making their international soccer debut in the summer of 2014. Tonight they test their mettle against Mexican side Morelia in the first annual "Copa Verde" (11 pm ET on PortlandTimbers.com, get the match preview here). Morelia are not the only Mexican team involved in action on US soil tonight. Giants Chivas Guadalajara and Club América meet in Las Vegas (11 pm ET, UniMas).
10. WILL JOHNSON NAMED CAPTAIN OF CANADA, TOO: The Canadian national team was held to a 1-1 tie by PDL side Ventura County Fusion in a tune-up match for the CONCACAF Gold Cup (watch the highlights here). But the biggest news from Canada camp is that Timbers captain Will Johnson was also handed the armband for his national team for the Gold Cup.
11. CONOR DOYLE TO JOIN COLORADO ON LOAN? That's the report out of England, where Derby County manager Nigel Clough says: "Conor is training full time with Colorado Rapids, which is good. A six-month loan spell would do him a world of good."
12. SUNDERLAND MAKING PUSH FOR ALTIDORE: MLSsoccer.com's own Greg Seltzer reported the formal offer made by Sunderland for the services of AZ Alkmaar's American striker Jozy Altidore. Now in England they're saying that "the first offer was not sufficient," according to an AZ club spokesman. Altidore's transfer soap opera is probably just starting.
13. UNION'S HOFFENHEIM LOANEE GRADUATES: Life's busy for the Philadelphia Union's 18-year-old midfielder Zach Pfeffer, but he made time to collect his diploma from Upper Dublin High School with his twin brother, Jared. In the meantime, he gave The Philadelphia Inquirer a snapshot of life in Germany, where he will return at least through December: "There's a lot of different meats," Pfeffer said. "Some of them I know what they are. ... Others I don't."
14. PASSPORT IRREGULARITIES INVOLVING HIGUAÍN? The name of Columbus Crew Designated Player Federico Higuaín surfaced yesterday in Argentine news reports about an investigation into falsification of documents to acquire passports used to play in Europe. The club told the Columbus Dispatch that it is taking the allegations seriously and it is currently in the "fact-gathering stage."
15. LIONEL MESSI AND FRIENDS CHARITY MATCH IS CANCELLED: The news hit about 26 hours before kick-off of the match in LA and it came in the form of a scathing press release from one of the event sponsors. According to one report, 45,000 tickets were sold to the match. But that didn't stop Messi & Friends from putting on a show in Lima, Peru, last night.
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