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Kick Off: Copa America in the US? Soccer in St. Louis? Thursday's a day of big announcements

Uruguay celebrates Copa America title

Photo Credit: 
Action Images (Reuters)

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

1. READY FOR A “HISTORIC ANNOUNCEMENT”

Today is the day of the “historic announcement” from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, who are expected to confirm the Copa América "Centenario" is coming to the United States in 2016. What effect would a massive tournament featuring the best international teams from North and South America have on the US soccer scene?

2. TURNING THE TIMBERS AROUND

The winless Portland Timbers host streaking D.C. United on Saturday, and defender Jack Jewsbury has some ideas about what the team needs to do to break the duck. He’s not the only one. The March to the Match crew laid out their own plan for how to set the Timbers right. Unfortunately, none of these ideas will be helped by the news that playmaker Diego Valeri is suffering from a groin strain.

3. GALAXY PRIMED TO START ROLLING

The LA Galaxy, who travel to Colorado on Saturday, currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference. But take heart, Galaxians. Your club, which has played fewer games than anyone in MLS, is just beginning its season. Plus, midfielder Juninho is relishing his new role and Swedish winger Stefan Ishizaki is raving about his seamless transition to the North American style.

4. HEY, JURGEN, HAVE YOU MET MATT HEDGES?

Speaking of rolling, FC Dallas's Matt Hedges has developed this season into one of the most consistent and effective center backs in the league. In fact, his coach, Oscar Pareja, has sent a "little message" to the powers that be: "I think he's ready to go and help us in the national team."

5. SECOND CHANCES FOR REAM & CHANDLER?

Jurgen Klinsmann won't be calling in Hedges for this World Cup, obviously, but according to Goal.com's Ives Galarcep, two defenders who seemed to have slipped off the radar – Bolton Wanderers' Tim Ream and Nürnberg's Timothy Chandler – could be back in the running for the pre-World Cup camp that begins in mid-May.

6. CHAVEZ OPEN TO OPTIONS

Another World Cup hopeful, Honduras winger Marvin Chavez, is unhappy about his lack of playing time with the Colorado Rapids this season. Desperate to be with the Catrachos in Brazil, the 30-year-old told Deporte Total USA radio, “If there are other options, I am open to them.”

7. DEL PIERO TO D.C.? NOT SO FAST

So … about all those rumors that had Alessandro Del Piero joining D.C. United. Not happening, according to club owner Erick Thorir. And why would it? United already have Fabian Espindola, who has four goals and three assists on the season, and says he's figured out how to fit into the team: “I’m just trying to play simple now and, when I have the chance, go one-on-one and do something for the team.” 

8. SOCCER PYRAMID CONTINUES TO GROW

In Detroit, the owners of the Michigan Bucks are pressing forward with plans to bring a USL PRO team to the Motor City in 2015. In Tulsa, the NPSL club Tulsa Athletics are in discussions with the NASL about making the jump up to the second division. And in St. Louis, USL PRO is set to make the soccer hotbed's dreams a reality on Thursday.

9. WELL, DUH – DEUCE IS APRIL'S BEST

It may not come as a big surprise, but Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, the league's scoring leader, was voted Etihad Airways Player of the Month for April 2014. While the Sounders are expected to lose Dempsey to the US national team by the middle of May, it looks like Dempsey's strike partner, Nigerian Obafemi Martins, will not be headed to Brazil.

10. FIRST-YEAR IMPORTS

While Ishizaki may claim to have adapted effortlessly from Europe to North America, for many imports it can still be a tricky transition to make. Not surprising, then, that while injuries and tactical decisions may have played their part for some, of the 36 players new to MLS from overseas, just 18 of them have played in more than half of their club's games so far.

10. TRYING TO FIX CANADA'S STRUGGLES

Canada are currently ranked 110th in the FIFA World Rankings, a position many would call fair based on the national team's recent run of form. However, it has still led The Province, perhaps prompted in part by former Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie, to question just why Canada rank so low. To improve the ability and depth of the talent pool, could Canada’s national team benefit from more privatisation in soccer?

11. NORTH AMERICAN CUP TOURNAMENTS SET TO KICK OFF

Great news for fans of the US Open Cup: Not only was it officially confirmed that, once again, the winners of the tournament will receive $250,000 and a place in the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League, but US Soccer announced that it will stream one Game of the Round during each phase of the competition, live on the US Soccer website.

North of the border, the semifinals are now set for the Amway Canadian Championship, and congratulations are in order to FC Edmonton, who beat the Ottawa Fury 3-1 on Wednesday in the all-NASL preliminary round to set up a semifinal tie against the Montreal Impact. Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps make up the other series, set to begin next week, and Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson has suggested his squad for that game will rely heavily on Canadian talent.

13. BACK TO THE BOWL

Orlando City recently announced they will spend their entire debut MLS season back at the Citrus Bowl, their former home currently closed for renovations, and it’s something that the fans of the club seem to be warming to. Still, part of the club's long term appeal will be their new, soccer-specific stadium in the heart of downtown and as such, it falls to architecture firm Populous, who most recently designed BBVA Compass Stadium and Sporting Park, to ensure Orlando fans have a venue they can be proud of.

14. SIZE MATTERS

While MLS continues its expansion towards 24 teams, it seems the league will lose its claim to being the largest top-flight league in the world before it even begins. That’s because, on Tuesday, officials in Argentina voted to expand the top flight Primera División to 30 teams, starting in 2015.

15. SHAVE & A HAIRCUT

Bleach blond? Mohawk? Pizza slices? What does your favorite MLS haircut say about you?

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