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Kick Off: World Cup hits full stride, but don't forget about the US Open Cup

Kick Off: Brazil fans

Photo Credit: 
Action Images

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

1. GETTING STARTED

The World Cup is underway and, despite gong behind following an own goal from the unfortunate Marcelo, Brazil got their campaign off to a good start with a 3-1 win over Croatia, thanks in part to an extremely questionable penalty decision. Our intrepid reporters on the scene weighed in from Sao Paulo on Neymar's big moment and a night on which the game itself eclipsed all secondary storylines.

2. MEXICO’S BEST CHANCE

Mexico get their own World Cup campaign underway today against Cameroon (12 noon ET, ESPN2) and, as usual, manager Miguel Herrera has already announced his squad, which sees Guillermo Ochoa start in goal while Javier Hernandez will be riding the bench. Miguel Layún also gets a start; could the young defender become a breakout star?

3. OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST

Plenty more games to look forward to this weekend as well, perhaps none more so than a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands on Friday (3 pm ET, ESPN). You can also check out Tim Cahill’s Australia side in action against Chile (6 pm ET, ESPN2) and both Costa Rica and Honduras get their tournaments started with games against Uruguay (Saturday,  3 pm ET, ABC) and France (Sunday, 3 pm ET, ABC), respectively.

4. A STATE OF MIND

Jurgen Klinsmann and Miguel Herrera clearly have very different styles as coaches, not just on the field, but off it as well. For while Klinsmann continues to try and play down expectations, Herrera insists El Tri can win it all.

5. BECKERMAN BELIEVES

With the World Cup finally underway, here is an in-depth look at the US’ “Group of Death.” Despite the moniker and the opposition, US players are predictably unswayed, because as Kyle Beckerman suggests, ”There’s a chance in every game for us to go out and win, and that’s what we plan on doing.” Meanwhile, Portugal continue to deal with the potential of playing their opening game without Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not complete Thursday's training session.

6. TACKLING THE SILVERBACKS

Just because the MLS regular season breaks during the group stage of the World Cup doesn’t mean there are no games this weekend: Three MLS teams are in action in the US Open Cup. First up is Real Salt Lake, whose road-weary players travel to Atlanta for a game against Eric Wynalda’s Atlanta Silverbacks (8 pm ET, NASLLive.com). Hey, at least it's a direct flight.

7. RAILHAWKS GUNNING FOR CHIVAS USA

Much Like Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA also drew a short straw in the Open Cup, having to travel cross-country for a game against the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks (8 pm ET, NASLLive.com) for the third year running. Last year the Railhawks made it all the way to the quarterfinals; can they provide another upset this weekend?

8. WHO WILL BE THE KING OF NYC?

Finally, the biggest game of the round, when the New York Red Bulls travel to Long Island for their game against the New York Cosmos (8.30 pm ET, free live stream on USSoccer.com). The Red Bulls are missing some of their biggest players and plan to give Ryan Meara the start in goal, but the Cosmos will likely be missing a superstar of their own.

9. CURTIN CALL

With Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz reiterating that the club's search for a new head coach might take a while, interim boss Jim Curtin is ready to make the most of his opportunity. That apparently includes a serious run at the US Open Cup, because, as Curtin states, “this club needs a trophy.”

10. RUMORS IN STUMPTOWN

With the addition of Fernando Adi, the Portland Timbers may have finally found the missing part of their attack. So surely there’s no truth to the rumors that suggest Gaston Fernandez is on his way out? What about the ones suggesting they might have a new defensive target?

11. ILL-DISCIPLINED

It was a busy week for the MLS Disciplinary Committee, handing out fines to both the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire for their on-field altercation as well as issuing a fine and one-game suspension to the Colorado Rapids' Dillon Serna for what was deemed a reckless challenge.

12. DEMERIT GETS A TIMEFRAME

For the Vancouver Whitecaps, the World Cup break has perhaps come at just the right time, as it was confirmed on Thursday that veteran defender Jay DeMerit will be out for at least six weeks after suffering a tendon tear in his left ankle. Another Vancouver defender, Steve Beitashour, is so focused on making an impact in the World Cup that he has had few chances so far to savor the experience.

13. PLAYER NUMBER 2

New York City FC have completed their second player acquisition, and while it’s not the big name one might have expected, NYC did add MLS experience by trading for Jeb Brovsky from the Montreal Impact in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 SuperDraft.

14. MLS REPRESENTING

With 22 players from MLS among the 32 squads competing in Brazil this month, MLS commissioner Don Garber is excited at the opportunity it presents to help promote the domestic game here in North America. The commissioner also gives us an insight into his own World Cup plans and an update on his health.

15. BROOKS ON THE MOVE?

The US have not even played their first game yet, but will defender John Brooks find himself on his way to a new club when the tournament is over? He could if reports in the English media are to be believed.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio: How to beat Ghana

34 things you need to know about this year’s World Cup

Beitashour’s patience with Iran pays off

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