Kick Off: Midweek madness, Sacha Kljestan linked with MLS return and more

Kick Off - Sacha Kljestan

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USA TODAY Sports Images

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

1. COULD KLJESTAN BE COMING BACK TO MLS?

Despite setting a career high with eight goals this season, Belgian newspaper La Meuse reported Wednesday that Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan is considering a return to Major League Soccer this summer with the LA Galaxy, the crosstown rivals of Kljestan's old MLS club, Chivas USA. The US national team midfielder has seen minimal playing time in Anderlecht's seven postseason games as they try for a third consecutive Belgian Pro League title.

2. CREW LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK AGAINST RESURGENT DYNAMO

Having posted their first win in seven games, the Houston Dynamo will be looking for a second consecutive victory on Wednesday night but, in order to get it, they’ll have to overcome the Columbus Crew (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The Crew, themselves winless in five, will be looking to get back on track after starting the season so brightly and, with Wil Trapp suspended, the game offers an opportunity for one of the club's fringe players to state his case for more playing time.

3. MIDWEEK GAME NO PROBLEM FOR THE SOUNDERS

FC Dallas had won four out of five games heading into their first meeting with the Seattle Sounders, but Dallas are 1-3-0 since a 3-2 loss to Seattle on April 12. Dallas will be hoping tonight’s rematch (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE) will help them turn their season back around. But while a midweek game may not present a problem for the in-form Sounders, Dallas find themselves forced to call on their youthful reserves due to injuries and suspensions.

4. RAPIDS READY FOR ROUGH ENCOUNTER

Having beaten the Galaxy on Saturday, the Colorado Rapids take on their second Californian team in five days when they face the San Jose Earthquakes this Wednesday (10.30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). If they hope to produce a similar result this time, they’ll have to do so without Vicente Sánchez, as test results show the Uruguyan has a sprained left knee. It may be just as well Sánchez sits this one out, as the Rapids believe they are in for a rough encounter against the Quakes, who fully understand the importance of picking up points in their two-game homestand.

5. OPEN TO ALL

Wednesday night also marks the start of the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and while MLS teams do not enter until June 10-18, the New York Red Bulls U-23 team, which plays in the NPSL, gets underway tonight in Whippany, N.J. As the tournament enters its second century, there’s a new push to really try and get people interested and, as such, USsoccer.com will be hosting a “Game of the Round” stream, beginning tonight with a Massachusetts derby. Intrigued? Here’s everything you need to know about that game, along with the list of all the others taking place tonight.

6. MLS TEAMS KICK OFF IN CANADIAN CUP TONIGHT

Having won the tournament last year, Frank Klopas is adamant that the Montreal Impact will be taking the Canadian Championship just as seriously this season. The first challenge for the struggling Impact is a semifinal series against FC Edmonton (9.30 pm ET, Sportsnet One) from the NASL. One Edmonton player to keep an eye on is 17-year-old Hanson Boakai, who was offered a trial with the Whitecaps but turned it down to sign with the NASL team instead.

7. THE RETURN OF OMAR SALGADO

Wednesday’s other Canadian Championship clash takes place between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps (7.30 pm ET, Sportsnet One). For Toronto, a win could provide a much-needed boost after their season has taken a dip, while for the Whitecaps it represents a chance for their younger players to shine. To that end, the 'Caps have even recalled Omar Salgado from his loan with the Charleston Battery, where he had two goals and two assists in only 290 minutes.

8. REINFORCEMENTS ON THE WAY FOR TIMBERS

The Portland Timbers earned their first win of the season last Saturday, and if team owner Merritt Paulson’s most recent tweet is to be believed, reinforcements could soon be on the way to help them keep the good results coming. However, regardless of whether potential new signings arrive now or in July, they certainly will not be here in time for the Timbers' game against the LA Galaxy this weekend, so Jack Jewsbury has been explaining how his side plans to approach that match-up.

9. ROGERS NEW ROLE?

While Robbie Rogers has been playing with LA Galaxy II in a quest to gain match fitness, working his way back into the first-team picture may involve a new position. Rogers found himself playing at left back during Los Dos’ 2-1 win over the Charlotte Eagles this weekend and, according to Bruce Arena, “He did OK. We want to try him at that position as well to help give us a little cover.” In other Galaxy news, Arena insists Omar Gonzalez will be fine for the World Cup after suffering a minor knee injury in the game against the Colorado Rapids, and Rob Friend was fined by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for embellishment in the same game.

10. LA MYSTIQUE FÉMININE

Is the world of men's soccer ready for a female manager? We're about to find out. French Ligue 2 club Clermont Foot, located in central France, hired 36-year-old Helena Costa, of Portugal, to take over as the club's new manager after it concludes the current season. Costa has coached both female national teams representing Iran and Qatar, has coached men's teams in Benfica's academy and in the Portuguese regional leagues; she also worked as a scout for Celtic. In the US, the only woman currently working as a coach for a men's professional team is Dayton Dutch Lions goalkeeping coach Catherine Gordon.

11. MIKE PETKE, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMAT

The World Cup is fast approaching, and while MLS may be taking two weeks off to accommodate it, pre-tournament preparations will still disrupt several teams as MLS becomes increasingly important to the hopes of CONCACAF teams. The New York Red Bulls are just one of those that will be affected, as Costa Rica and Australia would like Roy Miller and Tim Cahill, respectively, to report to camp after New York's May 10 game against the Chicago Fire. While FIFA regulations mean the Red Bulls are entitled to keep their players through their May 17 game, as Mike Petke notes in relation to Miller, “If that jeopardizes in any way him playing in a World Cup … I would be a very sad, a very angry person.”

12. EDU HAPPY IN MLS

With countries beginning to announce their preliminary squads, US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann still has a few days until he reveals his, and the German has reaffirmed what he is looking for, while also noting the huge effect such a decision can have on a player's life. Maurice Edu is one player firmly on Klinsmann’s radar, and the Philadelphia Union’s versatile player knows full well this wouldn’t be possible if he’d stayed with Stoke City in the EPL.

13. CARIBBEAN CUP GAINS EXTRA IMPORTANCE

With one spot in the 2016 Copa América Centenario going directly to the winner of the 2014 Caribbean Cup, the regional tournament will have added significance this year. Just qualifying for the 2016 event presents a unique opportunity for the successful teams, because, as Caribbean Football Union president Gordon Derrick suggests, “with eight of the confirmed participants being 2014 World Cup participants, this for us is our World Cup.”

14. SEND 'EM TO ST. LOUIS

St. Louis was recently confirmed as USL PRO’s latest expansion city, set to begin playing in 2015. With the future team widely expected to form an affiliation with MLS side the Chicago Fire, what might that mean for both teams?

15. HEARTS AND MINDS

Club Tijuana and the LA Galaxy may have a regional rivalry whenever the two meet in the CONCACAF Champions League. That battle continues off the field in the "middle ground" that is San Diego: Here's a look at how the Xolos are making an attempt to sink their teeth into enemy territory.

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