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Kick Off: Coaching change, stadium plans and six MLS teams in action on final day before World Cup

Kick Off - Caleb Porter, Portland Timbers

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USA TODAY Sports Images

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

1. HACKWORTH’S OUT

The Philadelphia Union let go of head coach John Hackworth on Tuesday. Former MLS player and current Philadelphia assistant coach Jim Curtin will take charge of the team in the interim, but Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz revealed that the club has “begun an ambitious and global search for a team manager who will help guide us to our goal of competing to win the MLS Cup."

2. SPAN'S IN

The Portland Timbers know that if they can beat FC Dallas tonight (10 pm ET, ESPN2), then they will move into fifth place in the Western Conference on points, albeit trailing the playoff race on points per game. The Timbers have gone a long way toward making up for their poor start and, among other things, Caleb Porter is enjoying the competition at left back. FCD, on the other hand, will welcome back Brian "Cobi" Span from a successful loan to Orlando City.

3. MONTREAL GATHERING STEAM

Having taken down the East-leading New England Revolution in their last match and winning the Canadian Championship as well, could things be starting to turn around for the Montreal Impact? They will look to keep their momentum going when they take on D.C. United tonight (7:30 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE in US). D.C. United are currently in third place, a far cry from their 2013 campaign, but are there some key areas United could do with some reinforcements?

4. IN-STATE RIVALRIES HEADLINE WEDNESDAY'S OPEN CUP SLATE

Wednesday also marks the first day of the US Open Cup fourth round, and while the Houston Dynamo are the first MLS team in action this year, taking on the PDL’s Laredo Heat, most eyes will be on the first Northern California showdown between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Sacramento Republic.

5. ORLANDO’S HOME TAKES SHAPE

Orlando City officially unveiled the first images of their new soccer stadium. Not only is it easy on the eyes and features the infrastructure for future expansion, but it will also be the first MLS stadium with safe standing room.

6. ON TO PLAN C?

While Orlando City were busy unveiling pictures of their stadium, David Beckham and his group of investors have hit yet another snag as they try and make an MLS side in Miami a reality, with the city deciding that Beckham’s second-choice location is now “off the table.”

7. GHANA’S GLORY

While the USA headed off to Brazil with three wins under their belt, Ghana ended their own preparations with a 4-0 rout of South Korea on Monday. With Ghanaian fans apparently chanting, “We want USA,” Kyle Beckerman is certainly wary of the threat they pose. Meanwhile, Portugal ended their own warm-up series on a high while also welcoming back Cristiano Ronaldo.

8. THE BRADLEY BUNCH

Should those results by Ghana and Portugal worry the US team? Not according to Michael Bradley, who says the US are looking forward to the travel and heat in Brazil. Elsewhere, as the team get ready for their opener against Ghana, there is perhaps no American more familiar with the African nation than Michael’s father.

9. DESTINATION OF CHOICE

The World Cup is only one day away now, and many of the teams now arriving in South America played pre-tournament friendlies in the US. Does this further the US’ case for hosting soccer’s biggest tournament again sooner rather than later?

10. MEXICO ON THE ATTACK

While an air of mystery remains around the Mexican national team, it won’t be long until we get to see them in action. Yet does a quick look at their tactical preference under head coach Miguel Herrera suggest that at the very least it’ll be an attacking team?

11. OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

The US is itself a cultural melting pot, and a quick look at how some of the US national team's key players got their start reaffirms that. Yet while the debate continues over dual nationals, if a player is eligible and chooses to play for the US, does it really matter where they were born?

12. TORRES STAYING PUT

Chivas USA fans can breathe easy now: Leading scorer Erick "Cubo" Torres isn’t going anywhere. The Goats have extended his loan through the end of the MLS season, with an option to buy him outright at the end.

13. WHITECAPS LOOKING AT OPTIONS

The Vancouver Whitecaps are a fun team to watch right now, but there is no denying they could do with some reinforcements, especially following the injury to Jay DeMerit. Head coach Carl Robinson indicates, “We might have one under our noses” at forward.

14. SHUTTLE RUN

Following the retirement of Matt Reis, the job of starting goalkeeper for the New England Revolution was up for grabs. Yet after a series of assured performances, Bobby Shuttleworth looks to have made the position his own.

15. AUSTIN GOES PRO

The Austin Aztex have announced that they will be moving from the USL PDL up to USL PRO for 2015. The Aztex began as a professional team before moving to Florida to become Orlando City prior to the 2011 season, but their success at the amateur level may have inspired the move. As the team's CEO, David Markley, states, “This is a proven path to the MLS.”

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