Kick Off: USMNT eye win over Jamaica in final home matchup in the Hex
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. US VS. JAMAICA
The US national team takes on Jamaica tonight (6:30 pm ET, ESPN/UniMas) in its penultimate game of World Cup qualifying, but nothing is set in stone as far as the lineup goes. There’s been a slight change to the roster, with Eddie Johnson out with injury and Brad Davis, Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson all in for reinforcements. Landon Donovan, meanwhile, is expected to start on Friday, but could the US team face a tug of war with the LA Galaxy about his role in the Panama game next week? The player himself expects to stay with the US side.
2. KLINSMANN SPEAKS
In a revealing interview with SI.com, US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann discusses a number of topics, including a potential friendly with England and his desire to stay with the US beyond the 2014 World Cup. There’s no denying that Klinsmann has helped slowly change the US national team, but ESPNFC.com asks how much of the recent success Kinsmann actually owes to those who came before him.
3. MEXICO VS. PANAMA
Mexico take on Panama tonight (9:30 pm ET, UniMas) with their World Cup hopes on the line, knowing nothing less than a win will do. Will Rafa Marquez play the unlikely hero on his return to the side? Not reaching the World Cup would be a disaster for the national team, not just on the field, but financially as well. And surprisingly, if Mexico were hoping for a sold-out Estadio Azteca to push them to a victory, they might be in for a disappointment.
4. CANADA STILL WANTS A WORLD CUP
With talk starting to build about a 2026 World Cup bid from the US and possibly Mexico, Canada would like to remind everyone that they’ve already been interested in hosting the tournament for a while now. More immediately, the first round of ticket sales have concluded for the 2014 World Cup and the US has the second-highest number of requested tickets behind host nation Brazil.
5. GULATI ON ELIGIBILITY
This past week has seen a lot of talk about the eligibility of players to represent certain nations. Now FIFA Executive Committee member and USSF President Sunil Gulati has waded into the discussion, bringing up perhaps the most reasonable and least xenophobic argument of the bunch: If a player represents a nation in an international youth tournament, should they still be able to change affiliations?
6. MAKING AN IMPACT
With a place in the MLS playoffs still not secure, the Montreal Impact are being hit by injuries at the worst possible time with Jeb Brovsky the latest to be ruled out. With the defender set to miss the next two weeks with a broken toe, can Homegrown player Maxim Tissot rise to the occasion again?
7. CREW EXPECTATIONS
Brian Bliss knew that his short period in charge would be his audition for the Columbus Crew job. Reaching the playoffs would be a barometer of his success but, with the odds stacked against that happening, were the expectations placed on Bliss slightly too high?
8. VERMES GETS NOSTALGIC
Peter Vermes is not a man who likes to boast. As such, if you’re relatively new to soccer you might not know much about his rich history as a player with the USMNT and the Kansas City Wizards. However, with Vermes set to be inducted into the US Hall of Fame ahead of the game against Jamaica, the former MLS Defender of the Year opened up to The Kansas City Star about some of his favorite memories.
9. DIKE AIMING FOR START
Bright Dike is not content to play the role of super sub. The Nigerian international only recently arrived in Toronto but has made his intentions perfectly clear: “I don’t think you are a professional if you say that you don’t want to start.” However, Dike appreciates the faith TFC coach Nelsen has shown in him so far and believes he's "capable of so much more than what you have seen.”
10. DC STADIUM ISSUES
There's news on the D.C. United stadium front, with opponents of the project launching a “winning goal” campaign aimed at getting what they feel is a fair deal for the stadium.
11. GOING OUT ON A HIGH
Juan Agudelo’s short stay with the New England Revolution is coming to an end, but he is determined to go out on a high in the MLS playoffs. The Revs are three points out of fifth place with three games to go, and Agudelo relishes the challenge: “I love the pressure … it’s an either win or go home type of deal.”
12. HACK STRIKES BACK
Despite a number of media outlets reporting stories to the contrary, John Hackworth is the longest serving head coach in Philadelphia. So, how does he feel about the media getting it wrong? More importantly, with a place in the playoffs on the line, and the injuries adding up, what changes will the veteran (by Philly standards) coach make when his side takes on D.C. United?
13. COMING OUT TO PLAY
Robbie Rogers has signed a deal with publisher Penguin Books to release his memoirs, titled Coming Out to Play, due next year. The book will be co-written by Eric Marcusm, who worked on Greg Louganis’ best-selling memoir.
14. LAS VEGAS GOES PRO
There is a USL team coming to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Mobsters will begin life in the USL Premier Development League, competing in the Western Conference from 2014, and replace the Las Vegas Stallions as the club competing at the highest level in Las Vegas. Could this be the first step on a road to bigger things? As team co-owner and General Manager Geoffrey Hawkins says, “this is the first step.”
In the city of Portland, famous for its microbrews, what better way could there be to honor the work of its first year coach Caleb Porter than by naming a beer after him. More than that though, it seems Porter himself had a hand in creating the "Big Hearts, Brass Balls" concoction.