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Kick Off: US national team touches down in Brazil, New York prep for Open Cup derby

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

1. TOUCHDOWN IN BRAZIL

The US national team arrived in Brazil on Monday afternoon and got right to work at their base camp at Sao Paulo FC's training facility. Goalkeeper Tim Howard said their arrival in Brazil was like "Christmas morning." Their flight down was uneventful though that didn't stop Omar Gonzalez from getting selfie-happy

2. KLINSMANN SCOUTS GHANA 

Who will win in Brazil? Make your picks!

While the US team got going in Brazil, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was busy watching Ghana play South Korea in Miami. The Black Stars thumped the Koreans, 4-0, behind a hat trick from Sochaux forward Jordan Ayew. Meanwhile, Klinsmann's special advisor, former Germany manager Berti Vogts, is reportedly set to root for his homeland at the World Cup. "I will certainly not cheer when the US score a goal against us," he reportedly said earlier this month.

3. BESLER’S BIG REWARD

On the verge of his World Cup debut, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler explains why he turned down moves to European clubs, including Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City, saying, "When I made my list of what was important to me at the time, the money and the salary part of it wasn't at the top of the list. No. 1 in the list was what situation is going to help me to be most successful. ...  Every comparison I made with QPR, Birmingham, there was a team in Belgium … I just found that Kansas City was the best choice.”

4. BECKERMAN’S LONG ROAD TO BRAZIL

It has been a huge talking point in the build-up to the World Cup as to whether Beckerman or Jones should start alongside Bradley. But, against Nigeria, the US coaches found a way to play all three, and the US seemed to benefit immensely. Could that move help Beckerman fulfill a dream that’s been a long time coming?

5. KNOWING WONDO

While Jozy Altidore rediscovered his scoring touch against Nigeria, San Jose's Chris Wondolowski waiting in the wings like a rhythm guitarist ready to take the spotlight. An apt analogy given this profile in Rolling Stone magazine.

6. WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MEXICO

Mexico may have lost their final two World Cup warm-up matches, but El Tri fans can take solace in the fact that manager Miguel Herrara’s lineups suggest he is still experimenting. As such, what they can expect from the tournament is still largely unknown, but it seems we may have learnt at least one of the team’s starters.

7. CUBO LOOKS TO 2016

While he's not part of Mexico's World Cup plans, Chivas USA striker Erick "Cubo" Torres is looking beyond this tournament to the 2016 Olympic games. Could the 20-year-old be the focal point of the El Tri attack?

8. MEANWHILE, CANADA WAITS

As the US and Mexico get ready for the World Cup, there’s one nation in particular looking on longingly, for while Canada may automatically qualify for the Gold Cup along with the other two countries, it’s been 28 long years since they’ve played on soccer’s biggest stage. Yet steps continue to be taken that will hopefully end that barren spell.

9. READY FOR A NEW YORK DERBY?

While the World Cup might dominate the headlines this week, the fourth round of the US Open Cup also starts this week. There are two games on Wednesday, then the highly anticipated Big Apple derby between the New York Red Bulls and the NASL's New York Cosmos. Red Bulls coach Mike Petke says he won’t be judged based on the result. Meanwhile, backup 'keeper Ryan Meara has found a new way to stay fit.

10. TORONTO’S KIDS

With Toronto FC currently in fourth place, there's little doubt that their big-name signings have had a positive influence on the team this year. But perhaps just as important to the Reds' success has been the play of their draftees. Meanwhile, TFC’s cross-country rivals in Vancouver are welcoming the World Cup break.

11. FLORIDA ON OUR MINDS

Florida's soccer boom just continues unabated. Orlando City SC have announced a partnership with Portuguese giants Benfica. David Beckham's Miami expansion franchise is reportedly chasing former Manchester United manager David Moyes. And second-division NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies are nearing a stadium deal.

12. EXPANSION NEWS

It looks like the Austin Aztex are getting set to move up in the world. At least that’s the general concensus ahead of their “major announcement” on Tuesday. Is the PDL side on the verge of a jump into the professional ranks? And up in Minnesota, the NFL's Vikings are reportedly set to announce their intention to pursue an MLS franchise.

13. FRIEDEL’S LONG CAREER CONTINUES

English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur will be doing a pre-season tour of North America this summer, and US fans will see a familiar name on the team sheet: Brad Friedel. Now 43, the ex-US international goalkeeper has signed a one-year contract extension as well as adding a new ambassadorial role to promote the club in the US.

14. GOING DARKE

Fans who tune in to watch the US’ games on ESPN will be more than familiar with the dulcet tones of Ian Darke, perhaps no more famously than his call of Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria in 2010. With Darke the main voice for this summer’s tournament the commentator talks us through how he prepares for the big event. You can also check out just who will be narrating each World Cup game for the first week on ESPN right here.

15. NO MORE BETTING ON LAMPARD

How sure are people that England World Cup star Frank Lampard will join NYCFC? So sure that one online gambling company has actually suspended betting on his future plans.

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