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11/23 FINAL
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11/30 9:20pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Kick Off: USA-Mexico rivalry takes spotlight; progress made on new Orlando stadium

Kick Off: USA vs. Mexico (2011)

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

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

1. ALL EYES ON THE DESERT

The US national team is in Arizona for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico (11 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas), and there are storylines aplenty. First, the news of Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching reshuffle, with longtime assistant Martin Vasquez being moved into other areas. Many were asking: Why now? Klinsmann answered by explaining, “I felt his best role is in the scouting area, not on the field with the team.” 

2. LAND THAT I LOVE

On the field, newly declared US international Julian Green, 18, could make his debut Wednesday. MLSsoccer.com kept a close eye on Green (VIDEO) during Monday's training session, while both coaches and teammates expressed cautious optimism about Green's future. And if Green were to land a spot on the World Cup roster this summer, he could square off against Germany. This could put him in the awkward position of facing off against his other country. He wouldn't be alone in doing that. Here are five players who may face the countries of their birth, including a certain US-born Vancouver Whitecaps player.

3. FRIENDS REUNITED

For many of the US squad's key players, this is the first time they’ve lined up together in quite some time. In fact, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have not played together since June 12, 2012, and Bradley is excited for the opportunity. Sadly, two players who will not be making an appearance are DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, as the pair have not been released by their Mexican club, Puebla.

4. ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT

For fans of the US national team and/or international soccer who might not already be on the MLS bandwagon, Mashable.com provided some compelling arguments for American fans to get on board ahead of this year's World Cup. One youngster hoping to add to the myriad links between MLS and the US national team is Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin, who was not even called into the U-20 national team one year ago.

5. ORLANDO DETAILS

The wheels are in serious motion for Orlando City's new stadium, which the club expects to open in 2015, after plans for the construction were unanimously approved by the Orlando City Council. While there are still no renderings to show off just yet, the overview from the latest news does provide some other interesting details regarding the new venue. Following on from Kaká speculation, rumors surrounding the new MLS club seem to be picking up pace and could include Italian veteran Massimo Ambrosini on his way to Orlando.

6. NEW SIGNING IMMINENT FOR SKC

One of the league's more active teams in terms of in-season transitions this year, Sporting Kansas City are currently working on deals to sign three new players, head coach Peter Vermes said this week. One is apparently close to completion, with Vermes explaining that defender Méchack Jérôme was waived to open roster space.

7. BOCANEGRA FOCUSED ON CHIVAS USA

Carlos Bocanegra may no longer be part of the US national team, but the longtime captain notes, “I had a great run for 10 or 11 years,” adding, “they stop calling you in, and it comes to an end for everyone.” Yet Bocanegra’s lack of involvement heading into the summer allows him to focus on another big task at hand: helping to revitalize Chivas USA.

8. OFTEN OVERLOOKED

If you had to name the top three goalkeepers in MLS, there are a lot of names you could throw around, but most lists would undoubtedly include Nick Rimando. The Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, 35, will most likely get the start in goal for the USA this Wednesday and stands on the verge of a trip to Brazil this summer, a just reward for a player who has constantly had to overcome people’s perceptions.

9. BERHALTER’S VISION

With the exception of the LA Galaxy, every team in MLS has played at least three games now, and the Columbus Crew are the only team to have won all three. Many say the club's success comes down to new head coach Gregg Berhalter. So what exactly has the new boss done to help turn things around?

10. WHO DOESN'T LOVE GOOD TIFO?

In part two of his exclusive interview with Soccerly, MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke of seeing some of the league's best tifo displays and of welcoming David Beckham back to MLS.

11. DI VAIO TO THE RESCUE

On Saturday, Montreal Impact forward Marco Di Vaio played in his first game since returning from suspension, and the Italian wasted no time picking up where he left off in 2013, scoring the equalizer against the Philadelphia Union. While this may be Di Vaio’s last season with the Impact, the Designated Player explains why he chose to stay for an extra season, stating, “I gave myself another year to play because this is my life.” Could the return of Di Vaio be masking some other problems for the Impact, though?

12. MORALES “A JOY TO WATCH”

Pedro Morales is the Vancouver Whitecaps' latest Designated Player, and for those who have watched him play, there is little doubt as to why. His head coach, Carl Robinson, summed it up pretty well when he said, “He’s a joy to watch, ain’t he? He really is. And I think he’s a joy to play with as well, listening to the guys in there.” Still not convinced? Check out a couple of Morales’ impressive stats from Saturday and the MLSsoccer.com Scouting Report on Morales.

13. DELAGARZA NOT IMPRESSED WITH SABO LENIENCY

The LA Galaxy are getting ready for a showdown with local rivals Chivas USA this weekend, and for A.J. DeLaGarza, that means a race against time to be fit. However, the defender acknowledges that his hope of being ready in time is “optimistic” and that he was unimpressed by the fact that Álvaro Saborío didn’t receive any further punishment for the challenge that took DeLaGarza down.

14. RED BULLS' CONCERNS

It wasn’t just Tim Cahill that went down with an injury during the New York Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Sunday, as both Richard Eckersley and Kosuke Kimura also came away with minor injuries. All of this could cause Red Bulls boss Mike Petke some concern, but at least one bright spot has been Lloyd Sam, who Petke was quick to praise for his second-half performance against the Goats.

15. THORRINGTON CALLS IT A DAY

After a storied playing career that included time with both Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, John Thorrington has decided to hang up his boots and take a job with the MLS Players Union. On the opposite side of that coin is MLS’ new director of player relations, Will Kuntz, with the former Yankees scout explaining why he chose to leave the Bronx in favor of a new opportunity.

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