Kick Off: Cascadia classic highlights action from Rivalry Week; Plus, Atlanta to MLS in 2017?

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

1. ALL SQUARE AT PROVIDENCE PARK

The Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders produced one for the ages on Saturday with a 4-4 draw at Providence Park (watch highlights here). Trailing 4-2 towards the end of the match, the Sounders looked dead and buried, but two late goals from Clint Dempsey allowed the visitors to walk away with a point and gave the US captain his first hat trick with his new team. With Dempsey and Obafemi Martins starting to link up well together, “This is just the beginning.” For the Timbers, scoring four was dampened by the fact they gave up just as many, giving Caleb Porter real pause.

2. MAC TO MONTREAL

Ahead of the weekend’s games, the big story concerned a trade between Montreal and Philadelphia, which saw 2013 Union leading scorer Jack McInerney traded to the Canadian team in exchange for Andrew Wenger. While many may not have expected such a move, Philly head coach John Hackworth expounded of the reasoning for the trade while McInerney himself has been sharing his feelings about moving north of the border. The move could go a long way toward easing the Impact's their dependence on Marco Di Vaio.

3. UNION OF FIRE

The now McInerney-less Union were in action on Saturday when they traveled to Toyota Park for a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire (watch highlights here). The Fire actually had a chance to win the game late, but Zac MacMath was on hand to save a Mike Magee penalty kick. Despite MacMath’s heroics, the 'keeper was unhappy with his side giving up another lead and, on the opposite side, Magee may have blown a chance to hand the Fire three points, but the former MVP feels his side are heading in the right direction.

4. IMPACT AND RED BULLS SHARE THE POINTS

Having only joined on Friday, there was no appearance by McInerney during Saturday's 2-2 draw between the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls (watch highlights here). While they still haven’t won a game this season, a fourth straight draw means the Red Bulls are proving hard to beat and the team was pleased that, once again, they were able to come back from an early deficit. For the Impact, however, head coach Frank Klopas summarized their problem quite succinctly: “We've got to find a way not to concede goals.”  

5. DYNAMO OUTDONE BY DALLAS

FC Dallas easily came out on top in the Texas Derby following a 4-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (watch highlights here). Former Dynamo man Je-Vaughn Watson continued to shine under new head coach Oscar Pareja, but if the Dynamo are looking for someone to blame for their defeat, it seems they need look no further than themselves.

6. GALAXY TAKE SUPERCLASICO

The LA Galaxy came out easy winners in the first SuperClasico of 2014, defeating Chivas USA 3-0 (watch highlights here). The Goats have looked a much stronger side this year compared to recent seasons, but they admited they were second best on Sunday night. Despite the ease with which the Galaxy took apart Chivas USA, it could be worrying for the the rest of MLS that the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan warned, “As we get more comfortable with each other, that’s going to get even better.”

7. TORONTO PROVE THEMSELVES AGAINST CREW

The Columbus Crew came into the weekend's game against Toronto with the only perfect record remaining in MLS while TFC came in missing some key players, all of which made Toronto’s 2-0 victory even more impressive (watch highlights here). Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter blamed his team’s loss on a poor attitude in the opening half: “We have to be ready to play from the opening whistle.” Ryan Nelsen, on the other hand, couldn’t praise his own team enough, insisting he "thought we were magnificent today.” Could Nelsen be looking to sign a familiar face as well? Maybe so, as Blackburn Rovers defender and fellow Kiwi Tim Payne is currently on trial with the club.

8. D.C. FINALLY WIN

D.C. United finally brought their winless streak to an end following a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution (watch highlights here). It wasn’t a commanding performance from United by any means, though, with a lot of their success due to goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, making his first start in an MLS game since 2010.  The Revs rightfully felt frustrated not to come away with anything. Chris Rolfe scored a late goal on his United debut to seal the victory, and the former Chicago Fire star also discussed the trade that sent him to D.C.

9. MLS CUP FINAL – THE REMATCH

In a repeat of last season’s MLS Cup final, there was nothing to separate Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City at the end of a goalless 90 minutes (watch highlights here). Yet if there was one thing both sides could agree on, it was the performance of RSL backup goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, with Jeff Cassar calling him “fantastic.” Despite dominating possession and shots, Attinella’s clean sheet left Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes to lament that “sometimes the game isn’t fair.” There is reason for Vermes to look on the bright side, as his club completed the signing of 19-year old Brazilian defender Igor Julião on loan

10. RAPIDS CONTINUE STRONG START

The Vancouver Whitecaps came undone at home on Saturday, giving up a lead to lose 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids (watch highlights here). While José Mari’s late strike earned a lot of the plaudits, Clint Irwin also starred for the visiting team. Still, the Whitecaps can quite rightly point to the sending off of Matías Laba as a game-changing moment.

11. CALL THE SHERIFF

Clint Irwin made his triumphant return in goal for the Colorado Rapids after missing the start of the season through injury and, while John Berner did a fine job filling in for the Rapids No. 1,  Irwin’s performance left no doubt as to his claim on the starting role. The club’s No. 2 netminder, Joe Nasco, may have missed his own moment to shine because, as fate would have it, Irwin's absence coincided with the birth of Nasco’s daughter. Whatever happens, the backup 'keeper can always fall back on a career in law enforcement.

12. QUAKES ENJOY WEEKEND OFF

The San Jose Earthquakes didn’t have a game this weekend and the break in play may have come at just the right time for the Northern California side as, despite only being five weeks into the new season, the Quakes are already carrying a large number of injuries. Yet the team's midfield is relatively unaffected, and a growing understanding between Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi and Sam Cronin may be crucial down the road.

13. CATCH 22?

Is Atlanta on the verge of being announced as the next MLS franchise? Reportedly so, according to an unnamed source who suggests that an announcement is set for April 16. The same report suggests that the supposed new team would begin play in 2017, operated by Atlanta Falcons boss Arthur Blank and playing in the NFL club's new stadium. However, a statement issued by MLS on Sunday put the brakes on for now: “We have not finalized an agreement at this time.”

14. NEW DIRECTION FOR WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

Tom Sermanni, head coach of the US women’s national team, was fired on Sunday just a few hours after leading his side to a 2-0 victory against China, extending their home unbeaten run to 81 games. Despite the result, according to U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, the federation "felt that we needed to go in a different direction at this time.”

15. MO SINGS THE HITS

Maurice Edu’s midweek performance against Mexico suggests he’ll be in the US national team this summer and, after scoring a goal during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire, it also seems the midfielder is really taking to life in the city of brotherly love. Need further proof? Check out Mo singing his own rendition of a Philly-themed classic.

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