Kick Off: Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey gets nostalgic and four clubs go on trading spree

Kick Off - Clint Dempsey with New England

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

1. DEUCE GOES DOWN MEMORY LANE

The league-leading Seattle Sounders take on the New England Revolution on Sunday (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and for Clint Dempsey, it marks the return to Massachusetts and the team where he got his start in MLS. Although the Sounders star is quick to note that “I owe a lot to that organization,” he also adds, “We’ll still be looking to get the points.” That might not be as easy as it sounds as, with the Revs currently sitting tied for first in the Eastern Conference. Are things finally starting to come together for this New England team?

2.  EJ IS MISPERCEIVED

Eddie Johnson’s recent comments about the quality of his teammates may have ruffled a few feathers and the striker has apologised for what he calls “misperceived” comments.  Johnson and D.C. United take on the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and, despite his recent goal drought, the striker is confident in his chances of making the USA’s World Cup squad. So, too, is Philly's Maurice Edu, whose journey to Brazil is captured in the latest chapter of this documentary. And, while the 2014 tournament may have come too soon for one of Edu’s teammates, Amobi Okugo discusses his hope of one day representing the Red, White and Blue.

3. BIELER BREAKING IN

After another troubling defeat midweek, this time against lower-division side FC Edmonton, the Montreal Impact will be looking to bounce back with their second MLS win. However, to get that they’ll need to beat Eastern Conference leaders and current MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (4 pm ET, UDN in US, TSN/RDS in Canada). Injuries may have left SKC with a few problem areas, but forward isn’t one of them and, following his first goal of the season last weekend, Claudio Bieler is hoping to break back into the starting XI.

4. McBRIDE LOOKING TO LIGHT A FIRE WHILE DAX HITS 100

With the Chicago Fire sitting last in the Eastern Conference, they could perhaps do with a little bit of extra hep and it seems that’s just what they’re getting with the news that US legend Brian McBride is rejoining his former club as an assistant coach for a few months. His mission is to help the attacking, but when the Fire take on the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) they'll have their work cut out for them against Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is building a case for team MVP. Meanwhile,Thierry Henry recently hit 100 games for the Red Bulls and, should Dax McCarty feature in Saturday's game, he’ll also reach the century mark.

5. SALGADO WANTS TO START

The Columbus Crew started the season with three straight victories but, having subsequently gone six games without a win, the wheels have come off their season a little bit which leaves their 2014 season so far mirroring their 2013 one remarkably closely.  Their next chance to turn things back around comes against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (7.30 pm ET, MLS LIVE in US, TSN in Canada) and their impressive corps of young talents which is about to get even stronger: Former MLS No. 1 SuperDraft pick Omar Salgado is making a strong case for more playing time with the Canadian side.

6. SAN JOSE CELEBRATIONS DAMPENED BY INJURY

Having taken part in the Vancouver Whitecaps 40th anniversary celebrations last weekend, this time it’s the San Jose Earthquakes' turn. Their opponents are FC Dallas (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) but, unfortunately, Andreas Görlitz won’t be able to play a part in that game after the Quakes confirmed his season is over. Dallas can no doubt sympathise with losing an important player, as the team is currently tasked with finding a way to win without playmaker Mauro Díaz.

7. OMAR’S A TARGET

When the LA Galaxy travel to face the Portland Timbers on Sunday (2:30 pm ET, NBCSN) they’ll have to do so without Omar Gonzalez, as Bruce Arena has confirmed that his Designated Player will be out for two weeks with a knee injury which, hopefully, won’t affect his World Cup chances. However, if recent rumors involving Club América are true then the club could face losing Gonzalez on a more permanent basis.

8. TRADING PLACES

The Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA play each other on Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas) but, prior to that, the two got down to some serious trading, along with two other clubs who got in on the action. The Rapids first traded want-away midfielder Marvin Chávez to Chivas USA in exchange for English striker Luke Moore, who they then in turn passed on to Toronto FC in a swap for defender Gale Agboussoumonde. The Goats then also acquired Ryan Finley from the Columbus Crew, offering the striker a new opportunity after being relegated to the Crew's USL PRO affiliate. Is he a replacement for "Bofo" Bautista?

9. PLATA FINDING NEW FORM WITH REAL SALT LAKE

The Houston Dynamo have strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since the start of the season but, if they want to keep that going they face a considerably tougher task on Sunday when they host Real Salt Lake and in-form striker Joao Plata (7 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week). The Dynamo also have other concerns as well, such as ensuring their fans know the correct methods to wear a scarf.

10. COACHING CARTELS

Why is it so hard for coaches from lower divisions to break through in MLS? Former Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie was one of only six all-time MLS coaching hires from the minor leagues and the Scotsman recalls, “They’re constantly focused on Major League Soccer experience. When I was getting into the league, that was the biggest thing that people would talk about [was], 'Well, you don’t have MLS experience.’”

11. PRELIMINARY GERMANY SQUAD REVEALED

The latest edition of the FIFA world rankings came out on Thursday and the US have dropped one place to 14th, while Mexico and Canada remain stationary. More importantly though, Germany, who are still ranked second, have revealed their preliminary 30-man squad for the World Cup with one or two surprises. The US are still a few days away from announcing their own preliminary squad and one of the most perplexing questions remains: Who will play at left back?

12. REYNA THE ARCHITECT

Two new teams enter MLS next year and, while Orlando City will come in with an established base and having already acquired a number of players for next season, all eyes will be on New York City FC, who still have to build their squad. The job of making sure everything is ready belongs to director of soccer operations Claudio Reyna, who acknowledges: “We obviously need to put a team together, and that’s the priority amongst many other things.”

13. MIAMI WILL MAKE MORE MONEY

As David Beckham continues to work on making an MLS expansion team a reality in Miami, one of Beckham’s business partners, Simon Fuller, believes that if they can make the club a reality, they “will generate more money than any other team can dream of.”

14. US OPEN CUP POTENTIAL MATCHUPS REVEALED

With the USOC first round done and dusted, we already know the matchups for the next two rounds of the competition after yesterday's draw. This is the round where the NASL teams enter the competition and amongst the most interesting scenarios are potential games involving Indy Eleven vs. the Dayton Dutch Lions, a Texan tussle between the San Antonio Scorpions and the Austin Aztex along with the Portland Timbers U-23s facing Jimmy Nielsen’s Oklahoma City Energy.

15. IT’S COMING

Orlando City SC are seemingly getting ready to unveil something big. What could it be?

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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Armchair Analyst: A century of soccer history in four markets

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