Kick Off: Steve Cherundolo reminds USMNT fans his goal is 2014 World Cup spot

Kick Off Steve Cherundolo

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Action Photos

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

1. DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME

Steve Cherundolo knows he is in a race against time to get his troublesome knee fit, but the Hannover defender reminds us all that his goal is to be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup, which would be the 34-year-old's fourth. In this wide-ranging interview with ESPNFC.com, 'Dolo talks about his career in Germany, the German-American influence on the USMNT and his eventual plan to return to MLS.

2. ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Congratulations to Jozy Altidore and Abby Wambach, U.S. Soccer’s Athletes of the Year for 2013. It’s the first time someone other than Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan has won the men's prize since 2008, when Tim Howard won. While, for the women's award, this is Abby Wambach's third win in four years. Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp was also named the Young Athlete of the Year.

3. US TO PLAY IN ST. LOUIS?

Could the USMNT be making a trip to St. Louis next year? According to reports, they could be lining up a game in March against Bosnia & Herzegovina. It would be the second time Bosnia would visit the city in a couple of months and, given the Gateway City's large Bosnian population, it would be interesting to see which way support fell. However, it seems U.S. Soccer may want that March date to be played in Europe.

4. SPORTING HAVE A PLAN

In a little more than a week, Sporting Kansas City will play in the MLS Cup final. Should they win, it will be the crowning achievement in the club’s complete overhaul. SKC’s Peter Vermes won an MLS Cup as a player in 2000, the last time Kansas City won the trophy as well, but now he will be looking to add another victory as the team's head coach.

5. RACE TO FITNESS

It seems Jason Kreis and Real Salt Lake might benefit from the extended gap before the MLS Cup final, as both Chris Wingert and Álvaro Saborío look to be healthy in time for the big game. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll play, but as Wingert says, “Hopefully I’m healthy enough to make it a tough decision on Jason…”

6. NO CHANGES FOR HOUSTON

The season may be over for the Houston Dynamo and, for the first time in three years, it didn’t finish in an appearance at MLS Cup. But don’t expect to see much change this offseason, as Dynamo president Chris Canetti suggests: “We’ve got a very, very strong nucleus of the team that will be back,” adding, “When we had our first team healthy, we were a very winning side.” So, what will the Dynamo take away from a season that covered just about every emotion for Houston fans?

7. TIMBERS WILL BE BACK

Despite bowing out of the playoffs on Sunday, Portland Timbers players were left staggered by their amazing home support, who stayed long after the final whistle to continue cheering for their team. Defender Michael Harrington summed up what that support meant to the team following the result: “We’re disappointed, but that’s a light in the darkness there.” It also comes with a promise from Caleb Porter that “We’re going to get better, not worse.”

8. BRACING FOR RE-ENTRY

On Wednesday, the New York Red Bulls made it official: Heath Pearce is no longer one of their players. Having declined his option following an injury plagued year, Pearce will now go into the Re-Entry Draft.

9. R & R = REST & REHAB

LA Galaxy Designated Player and Republic of Ireland international Robbie Keane has successfully undergone surgery on both his Achilles' tendons. The striker now hopes to be back in time for preseason. If he doesn’t quite hit that mark though, Gyasi Zardes is ready to step in and expects even more from himself following a promising rookie season.

10. HOLDING SUMMIT

As host to both the MLS Superdraft and the NSCAA convention, Philadelphia will be at the center of the North American soccer world come mid-January. With that in mind, the Sons of Ben are to host a Supporters Summit to engage supporters groups from all around North America and discuss topics such as working with non-profits and engaging fans.

11. GET YOUR TRAINERS ON

Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry is seemingly the latest MLS player to be heading overseas this winter, with reports suggesting that the defender is training with the EPL’s West Ham United. TFC have made no official comment at this time. Let’s catch up with two other players currently training abroad, in the form of Chicago's Dilly Duka and Victor Pineda, who seem to be enjoying their time with Atlético Madrid.

12. LATE DEBUT

Tampa-born teenager Julian Green made his UEFA Champions League debut on Wednesday, coming on as a late substitute in Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow. Green is still eligible to play international football for either the US or Germany, as is John Brooks, who will miss more game time following another injury.

13. THE REPLACEMENT

Egypt have officially hired their replacement for Bob Bradley, with former assistant coach Shawki Gharib being given the job with a contract set to run until the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. So what's next for Bob?

14. TRAGEDY IN BRAZIL

Tragic news out of São Paulo, Brazil, on Wednesday as, during construction, a crane collapsed on part of the stadium due to host the opening game in the World Cup next summer, killing two workers. According to reports, the accident happened at lunchtime and, had it not, the death toll could have been significantly higher.

15. THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is a time to stop and take stock of everything you’re thankful in your life, and there’s been plenty of fun things to be thankful for in MLS this year. It's also a holiday of tradition, so what do USMNT players get up to at this time of year?

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