Kick Off: Seattle Sounders untethered from NFL's Seahawks; Toronto FC stars set for home opener

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

1. SOUNDERS GOING THEIR OWN WAY

On Thursday, the Seattle Sounders announced that, as of April 30, the club will no longer share business operations with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. That arrangement had been in place ever since the Sounders entered the league in 2009, and, while the two clubs will continue to share CenturyLink Field, Sounders majority owner Joe Roth explains that, "Our goal is to grow our business to unprecedented levels both at home and abroad. This move will position us to achieve that goal."

2. IMPACT READY FOR SOUNDERS 

On the field, the Sounders go on the road for the first time this season, traveling to the Montreal Impact for a Saturday showdown at the Olympic Stadium (4 pm ET, Univision Deportes/RDS). Seattle could be without forward Clint Dempsey, who reportedly did not travel to Montreal with the team due to a possible suspension. Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier admitted that, "If he's suspended, it's a little better for us, but ... they still have Kenny Cooper."

3. NYCFC, WE HAVE A LOGO

New York City FC have officially unveiled the club's badge, as chosen by fans, and in the words of NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna, "We feel that we have a design that truly reflects our club and our city.” MLS's 20th team were also busy ingratiating themselves to the community in another way, joining the New York Yankees in donating money to victims of the East Harlem building explosion.

4. YOU WANT ATMOSPHERE? TRY TORONTO

Brazilian goalkeeper Júlio César has been in Toronto only a short while, but he has been impressed by what he’s seen so far, claiming that the atmosphere in MLS rivals that of the Premier League. He, Jermain Defoe, and Michael Bradley will make their home debut on Saturday when they take on D.C. United (4:30 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS Live in USA). Defoe, for one, is feeling pretty confident heading into the match, and United head coach Ben Olsen conceded that “the [Toronto] hype is real.”

5. RSL-GALAXY REDUX

This weekend's marquee matchup pits Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy (Saturday, 4 pm ET, NBCSN) for the second time in three weeks, a scheduling quirk that provoked a predictable critique from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, are focused on the game itself, looking to "punish" LA through possession. In other RSL news, the club learned on Thrusday that the Oceanside, Calif., city council rejected their plans for a new sports complex. RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey, however, revealed that the club has other plans already in place

6. HELLO, TYLER, TEXAS; SO LONG, LONDON

While RSL rework their academy plans, FC Dallas continue to extend their brand, announcing a sixth affiliate club, this time in Tyler, Texas. The club, which hosts a surprising Chivas USA side on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live), hope their new partner may them help discover future Homegrown stars. Speaking of, one recently signed Homegrown was waived by FCD on Thursday

7. NEW TIMBERS FIELD

The Portland Timbers travel to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday (6 pm ET, MLS Live). The news out of Colorado is that longtime longtime goalkeeper Matt Pickens was waived on Thursday. Back in Portland, where the turf at Providence Park was replaced in January, the Timbers have renegotiated a deal with the city to receive almost $4 million to help cover the costs of turf replacement over the next 20 years. The original surface was projected to last until 2019, but after just three years, it failed tests on how a ball should bounce and roll. In a twist, the old turf will be used for a new sports field, to be named after the Portland Timbers.

8. CREW: DON'T CALL IT A BLACKOUT

At the Columbus Crew's recent media day, club president Mark McCullers discussed a number of subjects, including the club's new TV deal and search for a naming rights partner for Crew Stadium. On the former, McCullers reiterated that Crew games "are not blacked out. They're available in the market." The Crew take on the Philadelphia Union this Saturday (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and, believe it or not, if the Crew win, it would be the first time in their 19-year history that they’ve started a season with two victories. Meanwhile, the Union have added a familiar Brazilian midfielder who, coach John Hackworth says, is "a strong addition to our locker room." 

9. QUAKES NEW SIGNINGS

The San Jose Earthquakes, who are away to MLS Cup champions Sporting KC on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), announced a new signing on Thursday, with rookie goalkeeper Billy Knutsen, the 21-year old who was a fourth-round pick for the Earthquakes at this year’s SuperDraft, joining the club as a backup to Jon Busch

10. RED BULLS LOOK FORWARD

After two disappointing results to start their season, New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke is focused on getting things right against the Chicago Fire on Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas). While the Red Bulls have never won at Toyota Park, Petke believes, “it is something we have to get over individually and collectively and look to get in there this weekend and get a result.” One person Petke can no doubt count on for the right mentality is Tim Cahill, who opened up on the Men in Blazers podcast about expectations in New York and the direction of MLS as a whole.

11. WILL THE REVOLUTION EVER SCORE?

OK, a silly question, but after two straight shutout losses to open the season, the Revs return to New England for their home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (2 pm ET, MLS LIVE) desperate for a goal. "We're creating chances, we just can't finish," Diego Fagundez says. The Revs attack might have an easier road of it against the 'Caps, who will reportedly be without center back Jay DeMerit, left home to rest. 

12. WHAT WILL IT TAKE IN CCL?

With the MLS teams all out of the CONCACAF Champions League, we’re left once again to ask what will it take to overcome Liga MX teams? The most-often mentioned difference is salary, with Cruz Azul striker Marco Fabián reportedly costing more than Sporting KC's entire starting lineup. But there are reasons to be optimistic for the future, says Soccerly's Robert Burns, and perhaps it’s best, says MLSsoccer.com's Jonah Freedman, if we all stop romanticizing the past, specifically, Real Salt Lake's run to the 2011 final.

13. TOLUCA TAKEAWAY

Despite only just edging the San Jose Earthquakes out of the Champions League via penalties, Toluca manager José Cardozo hurled criticisms at San Jose’s style and US soccer in general, opining that “here [in Mexico], they say soccer has grown a lot in the United States, but I honestly don’t know in what way.” Yet Cardozo and his team could also be guilty of something much worse than simple disrespect, as the Earthquakes have officially filed a complaint over allegations that that Toluca secretly filmed their CCL training session.

14. JULIAN GREEN’S CHOICE

With the news that Julian Green had chosen the US over Germany, many were curious as to what helped influence the young prospects choice. Here, in an exclusive interview with Fox Soccer, Green explains exactly how he arrived at his decision. Meanwhile the US Soccer Federation has taken a step to try and help create its own Homegrown stars of the future with the unveiling of its plans for a new US U-21 team, bridging the gap between the U-20s and the U-23s.

15. USL BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

The USL PRO season starts this weekend and, if you’re interested in checking up on your lower-league affiliates, loan players or even MLS-bound Orlando City, then remember, you can check out all the games live via YouTube. As the third division continues to get stronger, so are a couple of MLS affiliates. The Harrisburg City Islanders are moving forward with plans for a brand new stadium, still in the same great location, while the Dayton Dutch Lions are set to construct a new turf playing field at West Carrolton High School, uniting all their teams at one venue.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Giles Barnes turned to boxing to help improve fitness 

ExtraTime Radio: Exploring MLS's CCL prospects

Anatomy of a Goal: Dissecting Jermain Defoe’s first MLS goal

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