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Kick Off: Midweek MLS sees last-place LA Galaxy fighting to get on track & DC United without star

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

1. TWO TEAMS TRYING TO TURN THINGS AROUND

The LA Galaxy head into their game against FC Dallas on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) in last place in the Western Conference. Yes, last place, although head coach Bruce Arena says his side “should be undefeated.”  Meanwhile, Dallas, who are third in the West, are in danger of going the entire month of May without a win. And they will face the Galaxy without Michel

2. SHEA BACK WITH FORMER TEAM

While FCD prepare for the LA game, one of their former favorite sons, Brek Shea, has been training with the club. The obvious question is: What would it take to bring Shea back to Texas on a fulltime basis?

3. BOSWELL VS. HIS OLD CLUB

The Houston Dynamo travel to face D.C. United on Wednesday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), buoyed by the emergence of rookie Mark Sherrod, who has earned comparisons to former Dynamo great Brian Ching. However, standing in their way are a pair of veteran center backs, including former Dynamo stalwart Bobby Boswell, and outside back Chris Korb, who’s trying to earn a steady spot in the starting lineup.

4. US CAMP BATTLES ON

Graham Zusi has become an important part of the US national team over the past two years, but, much like Landon Donovan, the Sporting KC star says that no one is assured of his place in the World Cup squad. As the Seattle Sounders' Brad Evans fights it out for a spot on the roster, it’s safe to say he was never in danger of becoming the next big thing in baseball.

5. ADDED INCENTIVE

While some are uncertain about the merits of the US training camp, it has drawn praise from players both past and present. Former US goalkeeper Brad Friedel says, “I don’t think you’ll hear too many grumblings from US players. We’re very determined, very fit. We don’t mind the hard work.” Of course, if any of the current 30-man squad is not inspired enough by the opportunity to play in a World Cup, a quick look at the financial incentives for making the final 23-man roster should provide extra motivation.

6. BRACKETOLOGY, BRAZILIAN STYLE

You think you can predict who will win the World Cup? Prove it in the Brazil Bracket Challenge, presented by CapriSun, just launched by MLSsoccer.com.

7. WILL JULIO CESAR BE COMING BACK TO TORONTO?

Has Julio Cesar played his last game for Toronto FC? The Brazilian goalkeeper's loan deal with TFC is set to run until December, and head coach Ryan Nelsen has suggested there is a “gentleman’s agreement” that he could return to English side Queens Park Rangers sooner. Julio Cesar himself says he will "keep my word," if QPR want him back.

8. IRWIN’S DEEP ROOTS

Clint Irwin has cemented himself as the Colorado Rapids' starting goalkeeper, but when the 25-year-old from North Carolina joined the MLS side, a regular gig and a place to call home was all he hoped for. Little did he know that when he moved to Denver and moved into his new home, he would discover new parts of his family's heritage mere minutes away.

9. PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR NYCFC?

While New York City FC’s owners invest in yet another club in yet another country, fans of the new MLS side are still waiting to see exactly which players their new team might sign. The wait might soon be over, as Khaldoon Al Mubrak, chairman of Manchester City FC, has declared that, “Very soon, you’ll be hearing about our first signings, and it will be a very pleasant surprise for all our fans and all the fans of NYCFC.”

10. TWIN CITIES LEADING RACE TO 24?

With David Beckham moving toward a new stadium location, his Miami club is another step closer to one day becoming a reality. That would leave just one spot in the current round of MLS expansion, so which city is the favorite to land it? Las Vegas may be trying to make a late push, but according to this piece from FoxSoccer.com, Minneapolis is the favorite to land the final place.

11. CREW BREEZE PAST USL AFFILIATE

Coming off the back of a 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers on Saturday, the Columbus Crew bounced straight into a midweek friendly against their USL PRO affiliate, the Dayton Dutch Lions, which the Crew won 2-0 thanks to two goals in the first four minutes. Away from the game, it looks as though Dominic Oduro shaving a pizza slice into his hair has paid off for the Ghanaian.

12. LONG WAY TO GO FOR D.C. STADIUM

Monday brought with it some promising news for D.C. United fans concerning their new soccer-specific stadium. Yet, as usual, the complicated political realities of D.C. mean that the deal still has a long way to go.

13. THE CASCADIA CUP TRAVEL INCENTIVE

The atmosphere at matches in the Pacific Northwest are some of the best not only in MLS, but, arguably, in the world. And, according to The New York Times,  the atmosphere at Providence Park, CenturyLink Field, and BC Place is a perfect reason to travel to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver.

14. BANNED

Portland's Alvas Powell received a red card for his tackle on Chad Barson last Saturday, but that wasn't enough for the MLS Disciplinary Committee. The Jamaican has had an extra game tacked on to his ban. He was not the only one hit with a suspension, as D.C. United's Eddie Johnson is now set to miss a game for a reckless challenge on Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins.

15. IT’S A DATE!

A couple of important tournaments started to take shape on Tuesday, beginning with the US Open Cup. US Soccer announced potential dates and times for the fourth round, including a potential Saturday-night marquee matchup between the New York Red Bulls and the New York Cosmos. Secondly, the road to the US-based Copa América Centenario, as well as the 2015 Gold Cup, will continue this fall with confirmation of UNCAF's Copa Centroamericana taking place in the US in September.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Fantasy Advice: Don’t bank on Keane for a double week

The Throw-In: What lessons can the US take from the Gold Cup to the World Cup?

World Cup memories: Carlos Valderrama

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