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Kick Off: Dramatic Canadian Championship semis on tap, could there be joint USA-Canada World Cup bid?

Kick Off: World Cup trophy

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports

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

1. BIG GUNS VS. YOUNG GUNS

Toronto FC visit the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday in the second leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal (10:30 pm ET, free stream on MLSsoccer.com in US/Mexico, Sportsnet One in Canada) and with Carl Robinson’s 'Caps already trailing 2-1 in the series, the Welshman insists he’s sticking with his young Canadians for this one. Toronto FC are a different story though: Designated Player Jermain Defoe is likely to start and, given his World Cup snub (he's an alternate), the English striker may well have something to prove.

2. IMPACT HAVE A PLAN BUT ARE THE PLAYERS ON BOARD?

The other Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg sees the Montreal Impact hosting FC Edmonton on Wednesday night (7:30 pm ET, free stream on MLSsoccer.com in US/Mexico, Sportsnet One in Canada), with the MLS side needing to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Yet while the Impact have a plan for doing that, things seem to be getting worse for the team from Quebec, as a Goal.com report on Tuesday indicates that some players may not necessarily be rowing in the same direction.

3. DWYER HASN’T EVEN GOTTEN STARTED YET

Coming off the back of a record-breaking 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact, Sporting Kansas City host another struggling team tonight when they take on the Philadelphia Union (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live). KC forward Dom Dwyer has already scored six goals this season, and if opposition defenses weren’t already worried about him, they might be now, as the striker believes, “I’m only hitting second gear right now … There’s definitely a lot more to come.” Union head coach John Hackworth would probably do anything to have an in-form striker right now, but instead the Union boss is having to address chants from his own fans calling for him to be fired.

4. US OPEN CUP ROUND 2

Round 2 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is here, and the majority of matches take place tonight, including the free stream of the week on USsoccer.com, this week featuring D.C. United’s USL PRO affiliate, the Richmond Kickers, in a local derby against NPSL side RVA FC. However, there is one knockout match already in the bag, as newly formed Arizona United came back from 2-0 down to score three goals in the final 10 minutes and beat the Portland Timbers U-23s, 3-2, with former FC Dallas signing London Woodberry tying the game late and Chivas USA player Daniel Antunez scoring the winner with virtually the last touch of the game. Other games to keep an eye on Wednesday include the Pittsburgh Riverhounds against the New York Red Bulls U-23s and LA Galaxy II hosting 2012 Cinderella story Cal FC.

5. ANOTHER BLOW TO FC DALLAS

FC Dallas can't seem to get a break lately. First they lost playmaker Mauro Díaz for 8-10 weeks, and now the Argentine will be joined on the sideline by defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas, as the ex-Honduran international has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a muscle tear in his right leg.

6. TIMBERS MAKE SOME CHANGES

FC Dallas are not the only team set to lose a player to injury, though, as it was confirmed on Tuesday that Diego Chara has undergone hand surgery. Unlike Dallas’ injury-stricken players, Chara is only likely to miss two weeks of action. On his return, he can no doubt start to link up with the Timbers' new loan signing, Fanendo Adi, as the 23-year-old striker has officially joined the club on a short-term basis from Danish side FC Copenhagen. With the signing of Adi, the club also announced that they have waived Frederic Piquionne.

7. US DEBATE CONTINUES

With the dust starting to settle on the US national team's 30-man roster announcement, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen offered some thoughts on Eddie Johnson’s surprise exclusion. Yet Mike Petke, his counterpart up the road with the New York Red Bulls, insists that former Red Bull Tim Ream is really the surprise exclusion. By and large, everyone agrees Timmy Chandler's call-up came out of nowhere, but has the right back’s strong season in the Bundesliga thrown him in contention for a place in the starting lineup? Also, while the debate rages on over Julian Green’s inclusion on the US roster, it looks like we have another US prospect in Germany to keep an eye on.

8. CONCACAF INTERNATIONALS READY FOR ACTION

As Chris Wondolowski does his best to earn a spot on the USA’s final 23-man squad, one of his former San Jose Earthquakes teammates is involved in a similar battle, as it was confirmed that Steve Beitashour has made it onto Iran’s provisional roster. There was also a place on the Italy roster for New Jersey native Giuseppe Rossi, Canadian native Julian de Guzman earned a place on the Dutch 30-man roster, and Miguel Herrera eased a few broken hearts by naming the players on his reserve list. Finally, Group G opponents Portugal have unveiled their 30-man squad, including Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe.

9. FACING THE PAST

Bosnia and Herzegovina will pass through St. Louis as part of their World Cup preperations, playing a game against the Ivory Coast at the Edward Jones Dome while they’re there. For one player on their roster, the trip will be a homecoming, as Vedad Ibisevic spent three years in the American city, one as a star striker for Saint Louis University, before joining Paris Saint-Germain in France. While Ibisevic is on the verge of his first World Cup, the striker's biggest challenge is perhaps rebuilding his life in Bosnia.

10. JOINT BID FOR 2026?

Once the World Cup is out of the way, attention will turn to the Copa América Centenario, which will be held in the US. And the tournament already has a logo. The US will no doubt do a great job of hosting the event, but looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup, is there a chance of a joint bid between the USA and Canada? CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb isn’t ruling it out.

11. THREE MORE YEARS

The Colorado Rapids may be stumbling a bit in league play during recent matches, but with the unveiling of their first jersey sponsorship deal a few weeks ago, things continue to look good off the field. It should, then, come as no surprise that team president Tim Hinchey has signed a new three-year deal with the club.

12. BYE BYE, BOFO

The "Bofo" era for Chivas USA has officially come to an end. Although Adolfo Bautista only joined Chivas USA in the offseason, the 34-year-old failed to make much of an impact, leading to both parties going their separate ways.

13. TOTTENHAM RUMORS MAKE COMEBACK

Jurgen Klinsmann is focused on the 2014 World Cup with the USMNT, but even though he has denied it in the past, rumors keep surfacing about Tottenham Hotspur making him their next manager after they let go of Tim Sherwood. This English tabloid even places some firm odds on the scenario materializing.

14. EVERY GOALS MATTERS, SOME JUST MATTER MORE

What are the 10 most important goals in US Soccer history? SI.com provides its own answer, complete with a long-form story about each one, in the first part of a new series. Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who missed out on Klinsmann's 30-man World Cup squad, makes it onto this list at No. 8.

15. INSIDE US SOCCER

With the World Cup just 29 days away now, ESPN last night aired the first episode in its 30 for 30 special, "Inside: US Soccer’s March to Brazil." Film creator Roger Bennett has explained just why he was so excited to make the project a reality.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Central Winger: Why the US needs a true D-mid in Brazil

World Cup Memories: Clint Dempsey’s dream comes true with a single goal

MLS Fantasy: World Cup call-ups gutted your team? 20 sleepers to consider

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