Kick Off: All the latest headlines as MLS Cup final inches closer in Kansas City
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. READY FOR THE CUP
With the MLS Cup final almost here, Sporting Kansas City are more determined than ever to win the trophy on their home turf, with Graham Zusi telling media on Thursday that “It would mean everything to get a championship here.” Benny Feilhaber could have a big say in the outcome of the match, as the midfielder tries to ensure that a difficult season has a happy ending. Yet Feilhaber shares a common bond with one of the players he’s likely to face off against on Saturday, as both he and RSL's Robbie Findley have shared similar career paths.
2. HANSEN GETS CANDID
In part two of his interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen speaks about the challenges he’s faced in his first year, such as finding a new shirt sponsor, and has nothing but praise for general manager Garth Lagerway. Hansen also had some fighting talk for RSL’s opponents in the MLS Cup, describing Sporting Kansas City as a “hope-your-ribs-are-solid kind of team,” and saying, “It’s akin to rugby when you play them.” There was more from Hansen on Thursday's ExtraTime Radio poodcast, with the RSL owner saying that the club is "crossing fingers" that head coach Jason Kreis will return next year.
3. DREADING THE DESTINATION, NOT THE DRAW
The World Cup draw takes place on Friday, so here’s a handy guide to everything you need to know. While many will be looking at the best and worst case scenarios for the draw, Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t bothered who his side is matched with, so long as they don’t have to play in the rainforest. As interesting as the draw may be, will anything ever come close to the draw for USA ’94?
4. US CALL-UP FOR MAGEE?
Mike Magee was officially named the Volkswagen MLS MVP on Thursday, and it seems the Chicago Fire striker has finally found the spotlight in MLS. With the award under his belt and 21 goals on the year, is now the time for Magee to finally get a US national team call-up? Has the 29-year-old received a call from Jurgen Klinsmann? “No, I have not,” Magee stated, before adding, “I would like one, though.”
5. YOU VOTED, NOW CHECK THE WINNERS
MLSsoccer.com also unveiled the Goal of the Year and Save of the Year on Thursday after a lengthy voting process. The AT&T Goal of the Year went to Camilo Sanvezzo for his beautiful scissor kick against the Portland Timbers, while Save of the Year went to RSL's Nick Rimando for his fantastic double save against the Colorado Rapids.
6. NO. 1 IN DALLAS
It seems that FC Dallas may have a preferred choice for their vacant head coaching position. According to sources, the club is keen on Guillermo Barros Schelotto, but the Argentine's high salary demands could end up derailing any move. If that’s the case it seems that there are plenty other names on the list though, including former Columbus Crew interim coach Brian Bliss.
7. COMMISSIONER TALKS NYCFC
Ahead of the MLS Cup final this weekend, SI.com’s Brian Straus caught up with MLS Commissioner Don Garber. In part one of their conversation, the two discuss why small market teams in the final are actually a good thing, the reasons behind MLS’ rapid expansion, where New York City FC will play in 2015 and why we haven’t heard much from them so far. The Commissioner also revealed that there is a plan to help turn around Chivas USA.
8. MORE TORONTO FC NEWS
When Ryan Nelsen took over as Toronto FC head coach in 2013 he says he inherited “probably the worst put together squad in the history of the league.” While that roster has changed a lot since then, with Tim Leiweke in charge it could be about to hit new heights, with the latest reports suggest Toronto are close to signing Brazilian star Gilberto as well as making progress on Jermain Defoe.
9. 'CAPS TV
Vancouver Whitecaps president Bobby Lenarduzzi has been adamant that the club's fans will be able to watch all the team’s games on TV next season. However, with a major new NHL deal in place for Sportsnet, will that still be the case? According to Lenarduzzi, “There’s no reason to believe otherwise.”
10. QUAKES' HOME TAKING SHAPE
It may have suffered a few delays along the way, but the San Jose Earthquakes' new stadium is finally starting to take shape. There’s now even some talk of moving in a little bit early, with Quakes president Dave Kaval suggesting: “Any ability to move in there early would be a competitive advantage for the club, and so that’s something we’re looking to try and do.”
11. RAPIDS MAKING MOVES?
The Colorado Rapids are apparently discussing an offseason loan for Designated Player Gabriel Torres but, as Rapids technical director Paul Bravo states, “We’ve received an initial request from Zamora … We haven’t gotten much past that at this point to be honest.” Meanwhile, although the club declined an option on Hendry Thomas, Bravo says the club is working hard to bring the Honduran back.
12. DOWN IN THE USL
In the USL PRO, Colorado Springs was officially announced as a new franchise for 2015 on Thursday. Elsewhere, Sacramento Republic FC unveiled the new kits for their inaugural season and their president took the opportunity to reaffirm his intention of reaching MLS by 2016. Finally, could the Pittsburgh Riverhounds be closing in on a former New York Red Bulls defender?
13. THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM THE PAST…
As MLS heads back to Florida in 2015, is there any danger of history repeating itself? ESPNFC doesn’t believe so, as both MLS and the state of Florida are vastly different from what they were in 2002.
14. IT’S A FIX
While match fixing is prominent in a lot of places, it has not seemingly hit the US shores yet. However, according to Declan Hill, acclaimed author on the subject, that doesn’t mean the US should be any less vigilant.
15. RIP NELSON MANDELA
On Thursday, the world mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela, who sadly passed away at the age of 95. A great many in the soccer community joined in publicly paying tribute to the man who believed “Sport has the power to change the world.”
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