Kick Off: Alessandro Del Piero to DC United? Plus, everything you need to know for Week 8

Alessandro Del Piero, Kick Off

Photo Credit: 
Reuters

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

1. COLUMBUS WARY OF NEW YORK THREAT

While Wednesday's 4-0 demolition of the Houston Dynamo suggests that the New York Red Bulls attack is starting to click, it was also the first time that they kept a clean sheet and Thierry Henry was quick to praise goalkeeper Luis Robles, suggesting, “If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a different game.” The Red Bulls certainly have people’s attention now, and the Columbus Crew are wary of the threat they pose ahead of Saturday's Eastern Conference clash (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

2. TAKING THEIR CHANCES

Despite some solid performances during the first few games of the season, left back Dylan Remick has seen his playing time drop off following the return of Leo Gonzalez. Yet with Gonzalez a doubt for this weekend’s game against Colorado (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE, Univision Deportes, FREE STREAM OF THE WEEK), Remick could get another chance to shine. The Sounders player isn’t the only one, though, as Rapids rookie Jared Watts has also been making the most of his opportunities.

3. BUNBURY’S TEST

With the New England Revolution hosting Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), Teal Bunbury has an opportunity to play against his former club: “I’m definitely going to be looking forward to testing myself against them.” The game could also mark Shalrie Joseph’s return debut for the Revolution, but, at 35, Joseph understands he "may not play every week, I may not dress every week.”

4. OLD FRIEND, NEW FOE FOR MANNEH AND DAGLISH

Real Salt Lake are the only unbeaten team left in MLS, and while they know that will end at some point, they’ll be looking to keep the streak going when they face off against the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE, TSN2 in Canada). To do that, they may need to be wary of Kekuta Manneh, a player RSL assistant coach Paul Dalglish knows all too well. With their team-first mentality, the club is also looking to the future with plans to open their first Utah-based academy as some of the club’s youth products are starting to make a name for themselves. RSL insist that more are still to come.

5. MAKING IT THROUGH

Despite a difficult start that has seen the Montreal Impact remain winless after seven games, sporting director Nick De Santis still believes Frank Klopas is the man to turn things around: “I think the team believes in the coach and will come out of this.” Montreal can snag a season-opening win when they host the Philadelphia Union and former player Andrew Wenger on Saturday (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

6. CROSS THE LINE

After coming down pretty hard on his teammates after last weekend’s result, Portland Timbers' captain Will Johnson is trying to be a little more positive ahead of Sunday’s game against the Houston Dynamo (3 pm ET, UniMas). “We have the quality, we have the talent … It’s just getting across the finish line, getting the first win.”

7. RATING GOATS

Chivas USA may be turning a corner now, but there’s no denying that the past few years have been tough at times. Are the ex-Chivas USA players as bad as their collective record suggests? The current team hasn’t actually won since opening day either, but they’ll get another chance this Saturday when they take on their in-state rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

8. ROLFE FEELING AT HOME

D.C. United may feel aggrieved not to have come away with all three points against the Columbus Crew last weekend, but they need to put that behind them now as they face another tough task Saturday when they host Western Conference leaders FC Dallas (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE). With Luis Silva injured and Chris Pontius not returning anytime soon, recent signing Chris Rolfe was thrust straight into the starting lineup.Luckily, the former Chicago Fire player is already feeling at home with his new club.

9. THE OPEN CUP RETURNS

The US Soccer Federation released details on Thursday outlining the opening rounds of this year’s US Open Cup, and with 80 teams taking part, this year’s competition is the biggest yet. MLS teams enter the event in Round 4, and much to the chagrin of at least one MLS coach. Tose games are scheduled to take place during MLS' two-week break for the World Cup. The first two rounds have already thrown up some interesting matchups, there is the potential for even more interesting games, such as the New York derby we’ve all been waiting for.

10. THE CASE FOR BECKERMAN

With Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad due to get together on May 14, there is less time than ever for players still looking to try and secure a space on the team. Does Kyle Beckerman deserve a place on the squad? Most people would say yes at this stage, and even some of his harshest critics have been won over by the affable midfielder.

11. TFC GRAB SOME MUCH NEEDED R&R

No game for Toronto FC this weekend, allowing the team to get some of their players fit and healthy in time for their next match. It may even allow some players to come back even better, as Michael Bradley has undergone a foot procedure to deal with a nagging issue. There was some good news for TFC goalkeeper Júlio César as well, with Brazilian national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari stating that the Toronto 'keeper is assured of his place at the World Cup this summer.

12. BOYD LIKES "ATTRACTIVE" MLS

According to US international Terrence Boyd, MLS is “getting more attractive every year,” and the 23-year-old forward suggests he would be open to a move stateside should the opportunity present itself. In far less likely transfer news, could there really be any truth to rumors that 39-year-old Alessandro Del Piero might be on his way to MLS?

13. PRO REVIEW

At the end of the day, PRO exists to aid and support in the development and performance of their employees. To that end, they have the PRO Referee Review Center.

14. DID THE CCL FINAL LACK BUZZ?

The CONCACAF Champions League final wrapped up on Wednesday, and outside of Mexico, there was remarkably little fanfare, certainly far less than the UEFA edition will draw in a few weeks. Why is that and what can be done to help promote the event? Could a slightly more even playing field help raise the American fan’s interest?

15. ONE REPUBLIC

Looking for more signs that soccer is growing? Check out the third-division USL PRO, which could set a new attendance record this weekend. MLS-bound Orlando City SC currently hold the record for regular-season attendance with 10,697 fans attending a game last August, but it seems another team with designs on one day joining MLS is set to blow that figure out of the water. Sacramento Republic FC say they are expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 fans to attend the club’s inaugural home game.

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