Kick Off: All eyes on Atlanta ahead of today's major announcement with MLS
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. ATLANTA ANNOUNCEMENT
Whatever else happens on Wednesday, at 5 pm ET the North American soccer community will focus on the city of Atlanta, where Falcons owner Arthur Blank and MLS Commissioner Don Garber will make a major announcement. Ahead of that, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan helped tease the news. Want to witness it for yourself? You can watch a live stream of the event on MLSsoccer.com, starting at 5 pm ET.
2. "STEPPING UP" EFFORTS IN MINNESOTA
According to a report out of Minnesota, representatives of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings are "stepping up our conversations" with MLS about bringing a team to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. However, the report also notes that there are "other interests in the market," including, reportedly, a joint effort from owners of MLB's Minnesota Twins and NASL club Minnesota United FC.
3. RED BULLS & UNION LOOKING FOR KEY WIN
The New York Red Bulls have received a boost as they continue their quest to secure their first win of the season with the news that both Tim Cahill and Armando should be available for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Union (7:30 pm ET, Watch on MLSsoccer.com). The Union see the trip to New York as a potential statement match. “We want to establish ourselves as a club that wins big games on the road,” says defender Sheanon Williams.
4. DE BONTIN TALKS
Former New York Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontin, who resigned from his position just before the season, has spoken for the first time about his reasons for leaving. “We no longer agreed to the strategy,” he told BigAppleSoccer.com, adding “the objective that I had did not necessarily match those of the Red Bull organization in Austria." The report includes a little tidbit about the possible of a former RBNY executive.
5. NYCFC BRONX STADIUM PROGRESS?
On the heels of a New York Times report that New York City FC could spend their first three seasons playing at Yankee Stadium, today comes news of potential progress on NYCFC’s plans for a permanent home in the Bronx. According to a report on CapitalNewYork.com, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has "begun a dialogue with key stakeholders on how to best proceed on the construction of a soccer stadium."
6. ORLANDO CITY PICK AN ARCHITECT
Architecture firm Populous is obviously a popular choice with the soccer crowd. It has previously worked on Sporting Park, BBVA Compass Stadium, and Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and on Tuesday, Orlando City SC announced that the Kansas City-based company will take the lead on their new home.
7. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Day 2 of the Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, Texas, saw Real Salt Lake come away with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over English club Stoke City following an entertaining 2-2 draw. The LA Galaxy also snagged a win, 2-1, over Toronto FC.
8. BLAS IS ALRIGHT, TOO
Having been rested last weekend, FC Dallas forward Blas Pérez is expected to return this weekend against Toronto FC. And on Tuesday, coach Oscar Pareja was quick to pour scorn on suggestions that there were issues between himself and the player: “It’s great to clarify that. Blas is one of my captains with the way he behaves and his experience. He’s wonderful.” Pérez isn’t the only FC Dallas player coming back from injury though, as Walker Zimmerman is working his way back to fitness.
9. THE BEST IS STILL TO COME FOR RSL
Real Salt Lake are the only team in Major League Soccer who remain undefeated with two wins and four draws through six matches. But, if you ask coach Jeff Cassar, the best is yet to come. “We’re not playing our best soccer right now, but we’re still getting results,” he says.
10. MARTINS' NEW ROLE
Clint Dempsey's goals are grabbing the headlines right now for the Seattle Sounders, but several others on the squad are earning plaudits from various quarters, including new assist man extraordinaire Obafemi Martins. The Nigerian isn’t the only one singled out for praise, and a quick look at the key contributors highlights the increased depth to the Sounders squad.
11. REVIEWING THE REFEREES
On Tuesday, the Disciplinary Committee handed down its verdict on Giancarlo González’s theatrics during the game against the San Jose Earthquakes, with the Columbus Crew defender being fined for what the Committee deemed "embellishment." While some felt the egregious simulation deserved a stronger punishment, it was in line with other sanctions for diving. Staying with officiating, the refs are front and center in Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin's latest piece for SI.com.
12. MUÑOZ RELISHING ROLE
Victor Muñoz has only been with Sporting KC for a couple of weeks, but the former Real Madrid academy product already sees a number of comparisons between the Spanish giants and the MLS Cup champions. The youngster also talks about what he calls the “difficult situation” that led to his time with D.C. United ending after just four preseason games.
13. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL FINELY BALANCED
The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final between Cruz Azul and Toluca finished 0-0 (watch highlights here). The series now heads to Toluca for the second leg next Wednesday, but if Cruz Azul hope to win it, they’ll have to do so without starting goalkeeper Jesús Corona, after CONCACAF’s Disciplinary Committee extended the player's ban following his red card in the semifinals.
14. TIME FOR BREK TO COME HOME?
Speaking of USMNT roster hopefuls, Brek Shea is still struggling to get playing time in England, either with his club, Stoke City, or on loan. With the former FC Dallas man becoming more notorious for his actions off the field than on it, is it time for him to come back to MLS before it’s too late?
15. “THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW…”
With FIFA’s final available match tickets for this summer’s World Cup going on sale Tuesday, there are apparently more than 4 million Americans still trying to secure tickets. Want to start getting ready for the tournament, check out the first of KICKTV’s series "The Ultimate Group G Preview- The Group of Death." Don’t let the tough group worry you, though, because US Vice President Joe Biden has some words of encouragement.
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