Kick Off: As MLS Cup Playoffs roll on, Red Bulls feeling confident, Sporting KC feeling feisty

Kick Off, Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls

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USA TODAY Sports

Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...

1. BITE THE BIG APPLE

It all comes down to this as the Houston Dynamo get set to take on the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena (8 pm ET, UDN/TSN2). With the score tied at 2-2 from the first leg, it’s anyone’s game. If the Dynamo are going to succeed, they’ll look to previous postseason success for inspiration. RBNY coach Mike Petke, on the other hand, is confident his Red Bulls side is different to the one that failed last year.

2. CHANGING A TREND IN KC

As Sporting Kansas City prepare to try and overturn a 2-1 deficit against the New England Revolution (9 pm ET, MLS Live), they know the odds are starting to rise against them. Sporting will now be without Lawrence Olum and Peterson Joseph and the team are also prepared for decisions to go against them, with coach Peter Vermes getting rather bellicose with his rhetoric. If New England are going to progress, a large part of their success may be down to Juan Agudelo. The club will certainly miss him once he’s gone, if he gets his work permit, of course.

3. SPECIAL GUEST ON MLSSOCCER.COM LIVE SHOW

#WatchThis: Playoff Central LIVE, presented by Samsung Galaxy, kicks off at 7:30 pm ET on MLSsoccer.com. On Wednesday night, a special guest drops in to help break down NY-HOU and SKC-NE: Chivas USA goalkeeper and captain Dan Kennedy. We've got pregame and postgame shows tonight.

4. LOOKING FOR MOTIVE IN SEATTLE

For most of the Seattle players, a shot at the MLS Cup and the chance to beat their local rivals would be all they need to motivate them. However, things are never that simple when Eddie Johnson is involved. Not so, Brad Evans, who, at times, is an unsung hero of the Seattle Sounders team and has very quietly become not only a USMNT regular but also the Sounders captain. The Portland Timbers, meanwhile, are on the verge of reaching their first Western Conference Championship. Their famous fans are busy, helping out stranded travelers and making accessories out of tifo, but one observers wonders if the 1975 Timbers were even more popular than today’s team?

5. QUICK SWITCH IN UTAH

Real Salt Lake need to win by at least two goals on Thursday against the LA Galaxy. Anything else will either send them out or send the game to extra time. As such, RSL are hoping that the quick turnaround will work in their favor. LA's Robbie Keane, meanwhile, is enjoying the pursuit of his third consecutive MLS Cup. The Guardian caught up with the prolific Irish striker and spoke about the playoffs, David Beckham and why Keane chose MLS in the first part of an in-depth interview.

6. NO NEWS ON SCHÄLLIBAUM

It seems that reports linking Alessandro Nesta with a vacant Montreal Impact head coach’s role were well wide of the mark. Primarily because the head coach’s role isn’t vacant at all. Marco Schällibaum remains in charge -- for now. Impact owner Joey Saputo stated on Tuesday, “We don’t want to make a decision too quickly.” It’s just the latest twist in the ever-turning coaching carousel.

7.  EXPLORING OPTIONS IN DALLAS

Did you know there are 17 FC Dallas players with either expiring contracts or options as we head into the offseason? Who will stay and who will go? Plus, there's the coaching vacancy. FCD are interviewing candidates for the role vacated by Schellas Hyndman, and the club could willing go the Caleb Porter route?

8. EUROPE CALLING FOR BINGHAM

San Jose Earthquakes backup 'keeper David Bingham is heading over to Denmark to train with current champions, FC Copenhagen. Bingham, who has so far played a total of 12 competitive games for the Earthquakes, will be with Copenhagen until Nov. 20 and take part in his first session on Thursday. Elsewhere for San Jose fans, remember Simon Dawkins?

9. RELOCATION, RENOVATION

There were a couple of interesting stadium announcements on Tuesday. Firstly, Orlando City put their season tickets on sale for the 2014 season with the news that, whilst the Citrus Bowl undergoes renovations, they will be playing their home games at the 5,000-seat Disney Wide World of Sport complex, familiar to those who watched certain MLS teams in preseason action this year. Secondly, regarding D.C. United’s potential new home, one DC council member is already talking about what to do with RFK once they go. In non-stadium news, could Kansas City be trying to revive the US Hall of Fame?

10. MEXICO REACH U-17 WORLD CUP FINAL ... AGAIN

This may seem a familiar story but, once again, the next generation of Mexican players looks to be very promising. The Under-17 side dispatched Argentina on Tuesday to reach the final of the U-17 World Cup, where they will face Nigeria on Friday. Send them to New Zealand?

11. COULD KLINSMANN BE TEMPTED AWAY?

With US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s stock continuing to rise, and his contract up at the end of the World Cup, would the German be interested in other national teams? That’s what Switzerland are hoping.

12.  WILD NIGHT FOR SACHA

If Sacha Kljestan felt he needed to capture Jurgen Klinsmann's attention he certainly did it on Tuesday night. We don't know if Kljestan will be in Klinsmanns squad for the two upcoming European friendlies, but we do know the Austria squad they’ll face on Nov. 19. With the MLS playoffs underway, Jonny Steele hasn’t received a call-up for the Northern Ireland's friendly against Turkey, but new manager Martin O’Neill believes he has a bright future with the national side.

13. CHOOSING YOUR COUNTRY NO EASY CHOICE

As we already know, Julian Green has, for now, chosen to play for Germany. He may well choose to play for the US in the future but, as Brian Sciaretta’s analysis on American Soccer Now highlights, tying yourself to one country forever can be a difficult decision to make.

14. MAKING MOVES IN PITTSBURGH

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds want to be taken seriously. They’re not just there to make up the numbers, they want to win the USL PRO championship. To that end, they’ve just signed former MLS player Joseph Ngwenya, most recently with the Richmond Kickers.

15. LET IT GROW

It’s November, so it’ll probably not come as a surprise to see more and more moustaches pop up as the playoffs continue. Few players will understand the importance of raising awareness of cancer, in any form, as Kevin Alston. The New England midfielder may be getting ready for an important playoff match but, as shown in an interview with Men’s Fitness, Alston has already won his most important battle this year. Why not join MLS WORKS in growing your own face fuzz.

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