Kick Off: Winless streaks end (or extend) and Clint Dempsey continues to impress in wild Week 8

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

1. DEMPSEY DAZZLES AGAIN

The Colorado Rapids were the latest team to fall victim to the Seattle Sounders dynamic duo as Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins once again teamed up to devastating effect, running out to a 4-1 win (watch highlights here). While Dempsey and Martins are certainly making a case for being the best forward pair in the league, Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni has an explanation for why his own strikers failed to make a mark.

2. SEEING RED IN DALLAS

When Mauro Diaz neatly placed the ball in the back of the net, D.C United fans probably thought it was going to be one of those nights. For that matter, so did FC Dallas fans. However, an early ejection for Zach Loyd completely changed the dynamic of the game and United rallied to win 4-1 (watch highlights here). The game also marked the return of Bill Hamid after a three-game absence, and the 'keeper was thrilled to be involved in a win for the first time this year.

3. IMPACT GET OFF THE MARK

There could have been an interesting tale to tell in Montreal on Saturday as two strikers faced off against their former teams, and while neither played a particularly big part in the result, Jack McInerney came away with the last laugh as the Impact downed the Philadelphia Union and Andrew Wenger by a lone goal (watch highlights here). It was also Montreal's first win of the season, something which comes as a huge relief to Frank Klopas, but unfortunately for his visiting counterpart John Hackworth, with the Union’s winless streak now extended to seven games, the pressure is firmly on.

4. WRIGHT-PHILLIPS STRIKES AGAIN

The Columbus Crew came away from Saturday's home game with the New York Red Bulls feeling disappointed after the visiting team battled back from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw (watch highlights here). Bradley Wright-Phillips played the hero for the second time in four days: “That’s what happens when you win games: You start thinking that every game you should win. I think that’s what we showed by coming back.”

5. REVOLUTION STRIKE LATE

With the game scoreless heading into injury time, 10-man Sporting Kansas City probably thought they’d done enough to come away from Foxborough with a draw. No so fast. Five minutes later, they were on the end of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the New England Revolution (watch highlights here). The first, and ultimately decisive, goal came via former SKC player Teal Bunbury, who scored for the first time this season. Before that could happen, though, Sporting Kansas City saw Aurelien Collin sent off, a decision Peter Vermes clearly disagreed with.

6. WHITECAPS DON’T GIVE UP

They left it incredibly late, but a fantastic long-range drive from Sebastian Fernandez deep into stoppage time allowed the Vancouver Whitecaps to salvage a 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake after trailing by a pair of goals for the majority of the game (watch highlights here). It was a positive sign for ‘Caps head coach Carl Robinson, who felt his side “thoroughly deserved” the result. Yet if Robinson was encouraged by the comeback, it seems to have left Jeff Cassar doing some soul searching.

7. FIRST WIN FOR SAN JOSE

The San Jose Earthquakes and Chivas USA had exactly one win between them heading into the weekend, but the Quakes can tick off their first W of the season following a 1-0 victory over the visiting side (watch highlights here). Yannick Djalo still can’t earn a start for the Quakes, but with a halftime introduction and a game-winning goal, the Portuguese midfielder made another strong case for himself. Despite the loss, Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera was happy with how his team performed, but acknowledged it was “not good enough.”

8. WINLESS STREAKS CONTINUE

Eight games down and the Portland Timbers are still winless following a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo (watch highlights here). In fairness, a point on the road at BBVA Compass stadium is not a bad result, but it leaves the Timbers dead last in MLS after they failed to finish their chances once again. The draw also means it’s now six games without a win for the Houston Dynamo, but they can take encouragement from the fact that Brad Davis’ return had an instant impact.

9. COUNTDOWN CONTINUES

There are only 45 days to go until the World Cup begins, something US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows all too well. So is he ready? “I think we are very well prepared now," he says. "Still have to work on a couple of ends.”  Some of those ends will no doubt be the final places on the roster. Does Benny Feilhaber still have a chance?

10. HOWARD NO MORE

Tim Howard recently signed a new two-year contract extension with Everton, which will keep the US No. 1 goalkeeper at the club until he’s 40. Could Howard play on beyond that, though, possibly in MLS? According to the 'keeper himself, it seems not: “I’ll finish my career with Everton and be a happy man.”

11. FLORIDA FORTUNE

Speaking to the Associated Press on Friday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber reiterated that a downtown sports stadium is essential for Miami’s expansion plans. Just as well then that the Florida house of representatives passed its stadium subsidy bill on Friday, allowing both Orlando City and David Beckham’s potential Miami team to benefit from tax revenue set aside for construction and repair.

12. GROWING THE GAME

Who said Atlanta isn’t a soccer town? It’s been less than two weeks since the club was formally announced as MLS' 22nd team and, according to the latest figures, the as-yet-unnamed franchise has already received pledges for 9,092 season tickets, with 3,175 of a possible 5,000 signing up to become club “founders” as of last Friday. Atlanta isn’t the only city showing its support for soccer, as Sacramento Republic FC welcomed 20,231 fans to Hughes stadium for record-setting home opener in USL PRO. Unfortunately, the Republic lost the game 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union's affiliate club, the Harrisburg City Islanders.

13. FULHAM USA

While Fulham FC’s future in the English Premier League looks increasingly uncertain, their preseason plans are far more concrete. With the club owned by Shahid Khan, who also runs the Jacksonville Jaguars, the billionaire businessman is set to bring his two worlds together this summer as Fulham play a friendly with D.C. United at Jacksonville’s Everbank Field on July 26.

14. GOING FOR GOLD

The Gold Cup is CONCACAF’s regional tournament, similar to the European Cup, African Cup of Nations, Asian Cup and Copa America. However, unlike those other tournaments, the Gold Cup has been almost exclusively held in one country, the United States, since its 1991 inception. There are a number of reasons for that, both logistical and economic, but CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb has suggested he is open to seeing the tournament move elsewhere.

15. R.I.P TITO

The soccer world was rocked on Friday by the tragic news that former Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova had passed away at the age of 45 after losing his battle with throat cancer. Tributes were quick to pour in from everywhere but, in MLS at least, none will have been affected as profoundly as Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes, a former teammate of Vilanova's at Figueres, and Uri Rosell, part of the Barcelona B team during Vilanova’s time as a coach at the club.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Plays of the Night: The Clint Dempsey Show

Building the Soccer Pyramid: a choice between USL PRO and NASL

Armchair Analyst: The Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas and other Week 8 thoughts

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