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11/23 FINAL
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11/30 9:20pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Kick Off: Clint Dempsey's home debut makes headlines, but are Real Salt Lake MLS' best?

Real Salt Lake's Beckerman and Morales, Kick Off

Photo Credit: 
USA Today sports

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

1. DEMPSEY DEBUTS

Clint Dempsey made his home debut in front of 67,385 fans, the second largest stand-alone crowd in MLS history, as the Seattle Sounders defeated their arch rivals 1-0 in the latest Cascadia Cup match (watch highlights here). In a game that could easily have gone Portland's way, the winner came thanks to second-half sub Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson, who downplayed his importance: “I did what I get paid to do – score goals in the box.” Caleb Porter, meanwhile, had no problems with his team’s performance, but he did call the officiating “very lopsided.”

2. HIGH FIVE

Five goals, none allowed. Maybe it's safe to say the Montreal are well and truly over their mid-season blip. But for Houston it was a night to forget as the Impact cut apart their defense time and again on their way to a 5-0 victory (watch highlights here). It was the worst result in the Dynamo history and when asked what his team needed to do next week Dominic Kinnear kept it simple: “play better.” Patrice Bernier on the other hand suggested that his own club should get criticized more often.

3.  CREW COLLAPSE IN UTAH

Real Salt Lake strengthened their lead in the Western conference with a 4-0 victory against the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here). RSL, playing their third match in eight days, fully deserved the win, with Jason Kreis calling it “the most complete match we’ve played all season.” And while the Crew may have suffered from a few unfortunate deflections, things went from bad to worse with the dismissal of Federico Higuain. The DP was already going to miss the next match thanks to his first yellow card, then picked up a second in stoppage time for good measure.

4. REVOLUTION OVERPOWER THE UNION

The weekend featured one final mauling as the New England Revolution beat the Philadelphia Union 5-1 (watch highlights here). If the Revolution secretly (or not-so secretly) wish they could have held on to Juan Agudelo, then it’ll be a little easier to deal with if Kelyn Rowe can keep scoring goals like he did last night. The midfielder took full advantage of some huge gaps in the midfield thanks, in part, to an early injury suffered by Keon Daniel. The Union, however, were left puzzled by two decisions, one of which may have been the wrong call.

5. SURPRISINGLY UNSURPRISING

For New York, it’s becoming a familiar story: Another road trip, another disappointing result as Chivas USA put in a convincing performance to beat the Red Bulls, 3-2 (watch highlights here). It could have been a different story, but the superb work of Goats keeper Dan Kennedy left Mike Petke apologizing for the result.

6. RED MIST

If anyone else is tired of hearing about San Jose and “ugly” games, then you might want to skip this story because that’s exactly what their match against FC Dallas turned into. The game finished 2-2 (watch highlights here), with San Jose giving up an early two-goal lead, but it also featured almost as many red cards. Justin Morrow was the first to go before Victor Bernardez and Kenny Cooper both got their marching orders, something Cooper’s manager believes may be related to the last time the two met.

7. SHOCK IN CHICAGO AND BASEMENT BATTLE

In what might have been the biggest shock of the weekend, the Chicago Fire managed to defeat Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, at Toyota Park (watch highlights here) with a rare start and goal for Hunter Jumper. Meanwhile, in a battle between the two worst teams in MLS, DC United and Toronto FC, perhaps unsurprisingly, drew, 1-1 (watch highlights here), with both clubs conceding a goal from a former employee. Ben Olsen, who had his touchline ban rescinded on Friday, kept his team locked away for 40 minute after the match as part of an “open forum” on the teams performance.

8. ONE GOAL CLOSER

A goal in the third minute was enough for the LA Galaxy to overcome the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on Saturday (watch highlights here). Landon Donovan scored the goal, and what a goal it was, leaving him just four short of the MLS record. But the biggest play of the match may belong to LA’s new keeper Jamie Penedo, who Donovan described after the match as “kind of like Superman.” The result moved LA up to second in the West, and the Whitecaps dropped out of the playoff places to sixth.

9. NO MORE MILLER TIME

Vancouver at least have one less thing to worry about going forward, as Kenny Miller announced his retirement from the Scottish national team on Friday. With Scotland already eliminated from World Cup qualifying, Miller has decided to focus on the MLS playoffs and prolonging his domestic career. Still, he signed off in style with his goal against England, and the Scots felt obliged to make him this tribute video. Whereas, on the other side of BC place on Saturday, the LA Galaxy featured a player just starting his international career.

10. FIGHT FOR FUNDS

As much as we might want to see DC United in their new home at Buzzard point, make no mistake, they face a battle to get there. This article from the Washington Post looks at who and what might stand in the way

11. GROWING SLOW AND STEADY

The first season of the NWSL is drawing to a close with just the final to play next weekend. That final will be played between Western New York and the Portland Thorns, owned and operated by the Portland Timbers. While Sunil Gulati confirmed that there will be no expansion next season, could there be growing links between MLS clubs and NWSL? The New York Times has news of one possible link.

12. YOUR PRESEASON DESTINATION

We’ve already heard a lot from Bradenton and the IMG Academy about their desire to be an MLS preseason destinations, but now the league itself has spoken on the matter. When questioned on the subject, Nelson Rodriguez said that the league was looking to “settle on two or three preseason hubs.” And while 2014 may be too soon to have anything mandatory in place for clubs, the league is “hopeful of driving them to attend IMG and the surrounding areas.”

13. BRADLEY IN DEMAND

Could Michael Bradley be joining fellow national team star Jozy Altidore at Sunderland? Not unless they up their bid. Sunderland, maybe realizing it’s no good having a star striker without anyone to feed him the ball, have already had a bid of $9.3m turned down by AS Roma and been told to come back with at least $16m. Bradley, meanwhile, played his usual pivotal role in AS Roma's opening-day win against Livorno.

14. YES OR NO

Ticking another box on the MLS must-have list, it would seem safe to say that when New York City FC begin life in MLS, they will already have a local TV deal in place. Being partially owned by the Yankees would suggest that the team will have their games broadcast on YES, the Yankees regional sports network. As if to further back this up, Manchester City, NYC FC’s primary owners, have penned their own deal with the network.

15. MLS INSIDER

If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out the new MLS insider, which features an interview with Portland’s in-form DP Diego Valeri as well as a feature on the role of MLS in the growth of the USMNT. Staying with the Timbers, don’t miss the video from Friday’s Google + hangout with head coach Caleb Porter.

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