Kick Off: Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney sets his sights on a 20-goal MLS season
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. MCINERNEY’S END GOAL
Jack McInerney was the guest on the Off the Bench podcast recently and the striker talked about his goals for 2014, which include a target of scoring 20 goals this season, something which is either realistic or very Darren Mattocks-esque, depending on your perspective. McInerney even found some time to join in with head coach John Hackworth’s Twitter Q&A.
2. MATCHES GALORE ON TAP
McInerney & Co. will be in action later Wednesday in what amounts to one of the busiest matchdays of the preseason. The action kicks off with an 11 am ET match between Sporting Kansas City and Indy Eleven. And that's before Sporting KC's Disney Pro Soccer Classic match against the Montreal Impact tonight (8 pm ET). For the list of all the matches and all the streams from the Desert Diamond Cup, the Carolina Challenge Cup, the Rose City Invitational and the Disney Pro Soccer Classic click here.
3. SOUNDERS SET THE STAGE
Having taken Jimmy Ockford in the second round of this year’s MLS SuperDraft, it would appear the Seattle Sounders have chosen to sign the player but immediately loan him out to the New York Cosmos. As for a player who can make more of an instant impact, the Sounders are allegedly pursuing Costa Rican international José Miguel Cubero, while Homegrown Sean Okoli is starting to make his mark as well. Will any of the new arrivals be able to fill the shoes of former Sounder Fredy Montero, who was just voted the third best player in Portugal?
4. LABA ON LOAN
With Matías Laba surplus to requirements at Toronto FC, there are a number of teams who could have benefitted from acquiring the young Argentinian. However, reports indicate that the Vancouver Whitecaps are the team to have landed Laba, with the midfielder apparently set to join Toronto’s Canadian rivals on a year-long loan. The arrival of Laba will make life even more difficult for Adam Mena, one of the only players still in the Whitecaps training camp without a contract, but the 23-year-old midfielder feels he definitely has something to offer.
5. TFC'S OFFSEASON LEAVES A MARK
After being selected by Toronto FC in the 2013 SuperDraft, Emery Welshman failed to find much playing time with the team last year and the club announced on Tuesday that it has placed the young Canadian on waivers. With the new talent TFC has signed this winter, it was unlikely Welshman would have seen much playing time in 2014, but those new signings have helped Toronto sell out their entire, 17,000 season-ticket allocation for the season.
6. RILEY SET TO STAY
James Riley clearly did enough on his trial to impress the LA Galaxy, with head coach Bruce Arena asserting, “It’s safe to say we’re going to keep him.” While the move hasn’t been officially announced yet, Riley himself has admitted that he “put pen to paper” on Tuesday. While Riley can now settle in with his new teammates, Todd Dunivant is in a race against time to be fit for the start of the new season.
7. WILLY FRANCHISE
Despite being only 21, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter believes that Wil Trapp displays experience and leadership that belie his age. So much so that he was named captain for a recent friendly, and according to Berhalter, “It won’t be the last time either.” Meanwhile, Fox Soccer's InsideMLS takes a look at the how a new owner and a new head coach have helped lay the foundation for a brand new Columbus Crew.
8. MAKING AN IMPRESSION
Following his unexpected trade from the Seattle Sounders to FC Dallas, Adam Moffat found himself back in Texas and, once again, adjusting to a new team. However, the Scotsman seems to be settling in nicely and, according to his new head coach Oscar Pareja, “He’s adapting to what we want and he’s understanding what the concepts are and what’s important in the middle of the park for me.” He’s not the only one making an impression on the new boss though: The club's third-round draft pick has also made Pareja take notice.
9. CLEARING THE AIR IN CHICAGO
Despite recent conjecture that Mike Magee’s absence from the Chicago Fire’s training camp is due to the forward holding out for more money, Fire technical director Brian Bliss is quick to rubbish such claims, stating, “I haven’t engaged the agent and Mike hasn’t engaged the club at all in that regard … we haven’t heard anything of the like.”
10. RETURNING TO FORM
The Portland Timbers are getting ready to face Jamaican side Portmore United this Wednesday evening as part of the Rose City Invitational (10:30 pm ET, streamed live on PortlandTimbers.com). For one member of the Timbers squad, the match will bring back a whole lot of fond memories, as right back Alvas Powell spent two years with the club from his native country. However, Portmore, and every other club for that matter, ought to be wary as Diego Valeri continues to work his way back from injury, as is second-year player Steven Evans.
11. IF HAMID RULED THE WORLD…
D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was the guest for a fun interview on the Open Wide for Some Soccer podcast. If Hamid could change one thing in MLS, well, it would be bad news for the New York Red Bulls, Plus, it turns out his head coach, Ben Olsen, has some hidden NFL skills. But does his team still need to work on its chemistry?
12. A CHANGE OF PLANS
Ukraine have revealed their squad for their upcoming friendly against the US and, following security concerns in Ukraine, the fixture has now been moved to Cyprus. The Ukrainian FA and the USSF both released statements with final details expected on Wednesday. Another USMNT friendly is in the news: the last one before the World Cup. Find out which country is reportedly facing the USA before the Americans head to Brazil.
13. CANADA COMING HOME
While Canada may not have a World Cup to prepare for this summer, the process of turning around their fortunes ahead of the 2018 tournament continues with the Canadian Soccer Association announcing two friendlies for the second half of this year. The first will see Canada take on Jamaica at BMO Field and will be the first game of Benito Floro’s reign to take place in Canada. The second one will undoubtedly be tougher.
14. MORE AIR MILES FOR CAHILL
As expected, Tim Cahill has indeed been called up to the Australia squad for their upcoming game against Ecuador in London, which could affect his availability for the New York Red Bulls just days later. Staying in New York and, whilst New York City FC’s design a crest contest rumbles on, it seems might get the official design soon enough. Plus, as Bayern Munich attempt to set up a stronger following in North America, the club's New York office is set to open on April 1.
15. NCAA LURE
For many young English soccer players, the route to the top is an incredibly hard one to traverse. With that in mind, would a number of young English talents be better off considering the NCAA route and trying to make it in America? The examples of Dom Dwyer and Luke Mulholland would suggest they would be, and at the very least the players would come away with an education.