Kick Off: Is Socceroo captain Lucas Neill on the cusp of joining Australia teammate Tim Cahill in MLS?
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1) COULD CAHILL BE JOINED IN MLS BY ANOTHER SOCCEROO STAR?
That's what Australia coach Holger Osieck is saying these days. The player? Socceroos captain Lucas Neill, who would surely bring some steel to the center of any MLS defense. Perhaps he's headed to Toronto. It seems they've got some shoes to fill on the backline these days (more on that below).
2) KLINSMANN CALLS IN BIG GUNS AS GOLD CUP HEATS UP
The US national team racked up three wins and a +9 goal differential during the Gold Cup group stage. Then they reloaded. Jurgen Klinsmann used all four of his roster replacement opportunities on Thursday, adding Matt Besler, Alan Gordon, Eddie Johnson and Omar Gonzalez to the current roster. Gonzalez will not join the US until the semifinal stage in Dallas, assuming they knock off El Salvador on Sunday.
3) MORE OF THE SAME AGAINST EL SALVADOR? DEFEND, DEFEND, DEFEND
Groundhog Day again? Probably. If you don't understand that reference, check out Charlie Boehm on the task the US face in Baltimore on Sunday against El Salvador. The underdogs will probably bunker. No surprise there. Meanwhile, could the US avenge their Olympic qualifying loss? Multiple players on both sides were a part of that wild match.
4) STUMBLES SET USMNT UP FOR SUCCESS
Is it true that you learn more from failure than success? You can certainly make that case considering what the US national team has done over the past few months. After starting World Cup qualifying off with a whimper, the US have now won eight straight and go into the Gold Cup knockout stages a favorite to take home the title.
5) SPORTING KANSAS CITY DUO PROVING MLS CAN WORK AS INTERNATIONAL TRAINING GROUND
For years, the logic was that a spot in Europe was worth more than one in MLS if you had national team aspirations. That doesn't seem to apply to Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, who've tied their long-term futures to Sporting and have only risen up Jurgen Klinsmann's depth chart. The target is, of course, the World Cup, and it seems both are nearly locks to be on that roster.
6) WALLACE EYEING SEMIFINAL AS BREAKOUT SEASON CONTINUES
Like fellow University of Maryland product Graham Zusi, it took Rodney Wallace some time before he made a name for himself in MLS. Now he's one of the resurgent Timbers' most productive players and a key cog in the Costa Rica Gold Cup team hoping a continental title is in their future.
7) HEIR TO FERREIRA? PREACHING PATIENCE WITH DÍAZ
The diminutive Colombian genius won't be around forever, that much is certain. But now Dallas hope they've got a similar player in the pipeline in Argentine playmaker Mauro Díaz. Just don't expect miracles from the start, says one writer. Adapting to MLS takes time.
8) ALONSO SUPPORTING CUBA EVEN WITH INTERNATIONAL CAREER FINISHED
Osvaldo Alonso may have walked out on the Cuban national team to pursue a professional future, but that doesn't mean his heart isn't still with his countrymen during the Gold Cup. The Seattle star is rooting for a semifinal berth, likely against Mexico, and says the team seems focused thus far, pointing to a lack of defections as proof.
9) SOUNDERS HOPE THEY'VE FOUND THE MISSING PIECE TO PLAYOFF SUCCESS
As brilliant as Fredy Montero was at times in MLS, he never could lead trophy-hungry Seattle to MLS Cup. However, perhaps his replacement, Obafemi Martins, can. He's third in MLS in goals per 90 minutes despite some injury concerns and international call-ups, and the international globetrotter already has plenty of praise for the league he now calls home.
10) O'DEA MAKES TORONTO FC EXIT OFFICIAL, HEADS TO UKRAINE
The writing has been on the wall since Ireland international Darren O'Dea was held out of a trip to Kansas City last weekend. It's official now, though. The former Toronto FC DP has signed a three-year deal with Metallurg Donetsk, clearing significant cap room for the Ontario club.
11) US YOUTH INTERNATIONAL DOYLE LANDS WITH D.C. UNITED
The Rapids wanted him, but D.C. United were first to the table. Rather, they won the rights to Derby County striker Conor Doyle via lottery, securing the 21-year-old forward through the end of the year. They certainly need help up front. Can Doyle provide it? We'll have to wait and see.
12) UNITED LOOK FOR HELP ... IN INDIA?
Remember Sunil Chhetri? Maybe not. Either way, Chhetri could soon lose the distinction as the only Indian player ever to be signed by MLS. Reports in India suggest Syed Rahim Nabi will head to the nation's capital in September with hopes of impressing Ben Olsen & Co.
13) SACRAMENTO STILL PINING FOR MLS FRANCHISE?
Big-time soccer went down in Sacramento on Thursday night, and that has the local appetite for MLS back in the news. Norwich City beat Dorados de Sinaloa in a friendly attended by almost 15,000 fans, and some are wondering how that would translate if the city had its own franchise to support. Check out a Q&A with MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott on that very subject as well.
14) SOUTH BEACH, BABY...
David Beckham's name is still very much a part of the MLS expansion landscape and one Miami columnist thinks he knows the perfect spot for soccer's global giant to build. That would be, of course, South Beach, which he says is the only place MLS in Miami would work.
15) BEHIND THE SCENES ON WIGAN'S MIDWESTERN TOUR
It's safe to say most of Wigan Athletic's players are exploring new territory as they prepare for the Championship season in Ohio and Pennsylvania. How are they getting along? Find out here.
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.