Kick Off: Is Vancouver Whitecaps star Camilo a Goal of the Year frontrunner?

Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the MLS standings to see each team's playoff chances.

1. DONOVAN TIES CUNNINGHAM

Jeff Cunningham has company atop the leader board for the all-time leading scorer in MLS. Thanks to two first-half goals - including this delightful chip over Dan Kennedy to tie the 134 mark - Donovan is now equal with Cunningham, and he's also celebrating an easy 5-0 win for the LA Galaxy over SuperClasico rivals Chivas USA (watch highlights here). Donovan acknowledged the record but says he has more important things to focus on now. Chivas USA’s Carlos Bocanegra called the result humiliating, saying “we’ve turned in the worst game since I’ve been here.”

2. CAMILO'S GOAL HIGHLIGHTS WILD CASCADIA DRAW

A thoroughly entertaining clash between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers ended in a 2-2 draw at BC Place on Sunday night (watch highlights here). Portland missed a chance to go level at the top with Real Salt Lake and failed to retain the Cascadia Cup but, more importantly, they have almost secured their place in the playoffs. After the game, Timbers boss Caleb Porter was full of praise for Camilo Sanvezzo and his stunning second goal. The Whitecaps are now six points away from the playoffs with only three games remaining but, based on Sunday's performance, coach Martin Rennie believes his side still have a chance: “Playing like that, it can be done.”

3. RED BULLS REACH PLAYOFFS WITH LATE GOAL

The New York Red Bulls became the first team this season to clinch a spot in the playoffs, thanks to a late goal from Tim Cahill and a dramatic 2-2 draw against the visiting New England Revolution (watch highlights here). For New York, playoff qualification was just the first goal with many more to accomplish and, with Henry and Cahill both praising Mike Petke this past week, the team has shown a cohesiveness that had been previously missing. Revolution coach Jay Heaps, however, was furious with a situation surrounding the goal in which New England were down to nine men.

4. RAPID FIRE

The Colorado rapids made their intentions perfectly clear Saturday with a 5-1 demolition of the Seattle Sounders (watch highlights here), in easily the most impressive result of the weekend in MLS. The game included the fastest goal in team history (and the second-fastest ever seen in MLS) in a move perfected on the training ground. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, meanwhile, called his team out on their poor performance: “If you don’t come out … ready to give everything you have, you’re going to get your ass kicked.”

5. HOUSTON CLICKING, RIGHT ON SCHEDULE

The Houston Dynamo overtook the Montreal Impact for the third spot in the Eastern Conference on Saturday with a 1-0 victory (watch highlights here) that didn't come without controversy. It’s a familiar story, as the team starts to get hot at just the right time, thanks to a great showing from Ricardo Clark. The Impact's hopes of avoiding the knockout round of the playoffs will not be helped by the fact that Marco Di Vaio is apparently nursing an injury. There was also the small matter of a hotly contested penalty. Should it have been a PK? Let’s just say Davy Arnaud and Bobby Boswell disagreed on the subject.

6. UNION BACK IN

Following Chicago’s 3-0 win over D.C. United result on Friday, the Philadelphia Union knew what they had to do against Toronto FC on Saturday to keep pace in the East, and they succeeded, beating TFC 1-0 (watch highlights here) thanks to a goal from Kléberson. You’d be forgiven for having forgotten about the Brazilian, and even he seemed to understand: “I needed to show the fans I could score.” The goal came late enough that TFC coach Ryan Nelsen was once again left to question “the soccer gods.” 

7. CREW HOPES FADING

Sporting Kansas City dealt the Columbus Crew’s playoff chances a serious blow while all but securing their own following a 1-0 win on Saturday night (watch highlights here). It wasn’t pretty from SKC, but it perhaps showed that Sporting do indeed have what it takes go far in the playoffs. However, even with the odds now against them, Columbus aren’t ready to throw in the towel. Meanwhile, a former SKC and Crew player is receiving support via an old Thierry Henry protégée over in England.

8. FC DALLAS MISS OPPORTUNITY

Real Salt Lake put in a good shift Saturday to come away with a point from a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas (watch highlights here). Despite playing with only 10 men for the majority of the match following Abdoulie Mansally’s dismissal in the 17th minute, Real Salt Lake managed to take the lead thanks to a great performance from Álvaro Saborío. Kenny Cooper soon pulled one back for the visiting team, though and Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman feels his team should have finished them off: “Salt Lake gave us the chance to get those three points and we didn’t capitalize on it.”

9. US SQUAD ANNOUNCED

Jurgen Klinsmann has revealed his squad for the final two World Cup qualifiers and, as promised, it’s as strong a team as the coach could choose considering the number of injuries. Klinsmann has only named 20 players but believes “everything we do now sets the tone for the summer of 2014.” Meanwhile, could the US be lining up a game against Iran in the run up to the World Cup? U.S. Soccer says such talk is premature but if it were to happen, the US could well line up against a team featuring the San Jose Earthquakes' Steven Beitashour.

10. ALONSO AND THE USMNT

MLS fans who have salivated over the idea of Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso one day playing for the US national team are still stuck in waiting, considering there’s been little to no progress on the paperwork that could make him eligible to wear the Red, White and Blue. Here’s the latest from an unnamed USSF spokesman:  “We need Cuba to move first. Even if he was the best player in the country, there's nothing we can do."

11. TAB RAMOS

According to Soccer America, the hiring of Tab Ramos as coach of the US Under-20 national team  is one of the most important moves ever made by the USSF. Here, in part one of the site's feature on the man, Paul Gardner asks Ramos about his own experiences in youth and professional soccer.

12. MLS AND MATCH ANALYSIS

Following from last week’s talk of MLS and Opta, MLS is once again leading the way by becoming the first major professional sport in America to track the movement of every player on the field after extending their relationship with Match Analysis. Looking at the system and how it works, there are surely a number of fans out there who would quite like to access the system while watching games.

13. ROY LASSITER

The story of Roy Lassiter is a fascinating one, and interesting enough that SoccerItalia ran a short history of the man over the weekend. If you’re not familiar with "Rocket Roy," check out this piece (translated from Italian).

14. PICKING PLAYERS, CHOOSING SIDES

Sacramento Republic FC held their first open tryouts this weekend as they look to build a squad for the 2014 season from a wide selection of participants from all over the world. "We’ve got people … from Serbia, from Egypt, Afghanistan. It’s a mixed bag absolutely,” says SRFC technical director Graham Smith. Meanwhile could another USL club, under new ownership, be eying up an early MLS affiliation?

15. A DIFFERENT ERA

1999 might not seem all that long ago, but it tells the story of how far the US national team and MLS has come since then. Can you imagine today's star-laden team being threaten with or worried about not getting a trip to Manchester? No, thought not.

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