Kick Off: Copa America Centenario set for US in 2016 & Pele on Beckham's Miami bid

Kick Off, Pele

Photo Credit: 
Reuters

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

1. COPA (NORTH) AMÉRICA?

It looks as though the long-rumored Copa América Centenario -- a kind of CONCACAF-CONMEBOL super tournament -- is on the verge of becoming a reality in the United States in 2016, as the North and South American confederations have scheduled a joint press conference on Thursday for what they call a “historic announcement."

2. PELÉ: US = EUROPE

Brazilian icon Pelé was in Miami on Monday and, in addition to praising David Beckham's MLS expansion bid, he made a bold assessment of the current state of soccer in North America: “Today, the US is the same level as Europe.” Despite Pelé's endorsement, some people in South Florida wonder if the team "has to win to be a draw" in the Miami market.

3. ORLANDO STADIUM HURDLES

It's two steps forward, one step back for Orlando City. Negotiations for the final bit of land for their planned stadium site have hit a snag, as the Faith Deliverance Temple is again asking for $35 million for a parcel of land valued at $690,000. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says, "We have not filed eminent domain, but I do anticipate we will move forward with that."

4. REMICK HOPING TO ONE DAY BE A "BADASS"

Seattle Sounders second-year left back Dylan Remick, who is seeing more and more playing time this year, joined the Nos Audietis podcast to talk about the season, attempting backheels, and home-improvement accidents. But will Remick be back in the lineup once Leo González is back from injury?

5. WHERE ARE THE ROOKIES?

If 2013 was notable for the number of rookies who burst onto the scene, is the opposite true so far this season? Goal.com's Ives Galarcep takes a closer look at the dearth of Rookie of the Year candidates.

6. WRIGHT-PHILLIPS DOESN'T OVERDO IT

With four goals over two games in four days, Bradley Wright-Phillips was voted MLS Player of the Week. In last week's 4-0 win over Houston, he became the first Englishman ever to score a hat trick in MLS. Said BWP, “If I’d known it had never been done before, then I don’t think I would ever have managed it – I’d have been trying too hard.”

7. HAPPY IN TORONTO

With two goals in four games, Toronto FC midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran is settling in nicely with his new team. Having played all over the globe, the Canadian International likes what he’s seen of MLS so far. Yet even as the team recovers they are still plagued by injuries so, through all the various absences, who have been the team’s real stars so far?

8.  MISSING TOUCH IN COLORADO

Colorado Rapids striker Gabriel Torres has yet to find the back of the net in seven appearances this year. What’s changed from last year, when he posted three goals and an assist in the same number of games? According to Torres himself, the Rapids have to “find that touch back between the midfield and the strikers. I think we’ve lost that a little bit.”

9. WHAT GIVES, SPORTING?

Sporting Kansas City players obviously buy into the club's identity as efficient, tenacious, and winning. “It’s something that we’ve built up over the past few years,” Graham Zusi said. “It’s something that – as far as we’re concerned – gets stronger and stronger." So what's up with the late-game lapses this season?

10. ATLANTA TEAM NAME POLL

How does "Atlanta Phoenix" sound as a team name for the new MLS club? How about "Premier Atlanta" or "Atlanta Blaze"? Those were the top three names as voted for by fans in a recent poll by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

11. MORE MIDSEASON FRIENDLIES

The San Jose Earthquakes are the latest MLS team to line up a high-profile summer friendly, announcing a match agains current La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid at Candlestick Park on July 27. The match is part of the second annual Copa EuroAmericana, which will also feature French club Monaco, Italian club Fiorentina, and two Colombian clubs.

12. PICKING CANADA

Rangers winger Fraser Aird, who was born in Toronto before moving to Scotland, has reportedly decided to represent Canada rather than Scotland and could be called into the upcoming CanMNT camp.

13. HYNDMAN THE STAR

American youth star Emerson Hyndman, grandson of former FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, helped lead Fulham to a 3-2 victory over Chelsea in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final. The 18-year-old could be part of the 2016 US Olympic squad, and here are some ideas how the US could make their mark in Rio.

14. BRING BACK JOZY!

Sunderland’s EPL survival suddenly looks achievable, but does that make a difference for Jozy Altidore? Or does the striker need to cut his ties and come home in order to salvage his club career? Also, with Rio Ferdinand’s time at Manchester United coming to an end, the defender is apparently open to a move to MLS.

15. NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS: SOCCER CITY, USA

Clint Dempsey's hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, is joining the professional soccer ranks. Meet the Texas Timberz.

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