Kick Off: It's gameday! US open World Cup campaign against Ghana in wet conditions in Natal

Kick Off USMNT training

Photo Credit: 
USA Today

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

1. THE US FINALLY TAKE THE FIELD

Monday finally sees the US World Cup campaign get underway when, for the third consecutive World Cup, they take on Ghana (6 pm ET, ESPN). The Ghanaian team seems confident, but what do we know about them and, perhaps even more importantly, how are the two teams likely to line up?

2. BESLER REPRESENTS

When Matt Besler takes the field in Brazil, he’ll not only be representing the US but, by his own admission, he’ll also be flying a flag for Kansas City, the place that helped shape him as a soccer player, and he'll have his family right there behind him.

3. HOLDING THE LINE

Can the US win their game tonight? If everyone does their job, then Jermaine Jones is certain they will. Jones was also full of praise for potential midfield partner Kyle Beckerman, and it turns out the Real Salt Lake star’s World Cup predictions weren’t just confined to notes to his mom.

4. RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY

The weather has been making headlines in Natal, where the US will face Ghana on Monday, but for all the wrong reasons. The Brazil Bound crew weighs in from Natal on the weather's potential impact on the game, but it has already impacted locals by causing landslides and evacuations. Not exactly the welcome American fans were hoping for, but they seem to be finding ways to enjoy themselves.

5. MEXICO’S GOOD START

Mexico showed the US how it can be done on Friday with a 1-0 win over Cameroon to put them in a good position in Group A. While a few may have questioned why Javier Hernandez was starting the game on the bench, a strong performance from Giovani dos Santos may have helped answer that question.

6. COSTA RICA IMPRESS

Not that the US needed any more inspiration for Monday, but for a dose of belief they need look no further than fellow CONCACAF team Costa Rica, who took apart favored CONMEBOL side Uruguay 3-1 on Saturday. On the other hand, perhaps the less said about Honduras, the better. They were also one of only two teams so far who did not get to hear their national anthem.

7. BEITASHOUR'S BIG CHANCE

While the US game is the one we’re all focused on, today also features Iran vs. Nigeria (3 pm ET, ESPN), which offers Steven Beitashour a shot at his World Cup debut. The Vancouver Whitecaps right back is relishing his experience so far, and he feels that second place in the group is up for grabs.

8. AUSSIE RULES

While the result might not have gone Australia’s way, their 3-1 loss to Chile did feature a moment that made New York Red Bulls fans smile, as Tim Cahill rose above defenders to head home a goal. So good was Cahill that apparently one Chile player took an unsavory approach to stopping the Socceroo.

9. NO NEWS ON 2022

With cries for a revote on the 2022 World Cup vote growing louder and louder, US Soccer president and FIFA Executive Committee member Sunil Gulati has denied that the US has been in talks to take over should Qatar be stripped of the tournament.

10. FOCUSED ON BIGGER THINGS

With the fourth round of the US Open Cup under way, Saturday was not a good night for MLS teams, and nowhere was that more apparent than New York. For while the New York Red Bulls may have been missing a few key players, they were completely outplayed in a 3-0 loss to a New York Cosmos side that just seemed a lot more interested in winning. Here are the highlights from a game played in front of almost 10,000 at Hofstra University.

11. RSL BOW OUT EARLY

Real Salt Lake made it all the way to the Open Cup final last year, narrowly missing out to D.C. United, but there will be no repeat run in 2014, as the MLS side bowed out to the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks, losing 2-1 in stoppage time in front of a sold-out crowd. Check out the match highlights to see a spectacular goalkeeping blunder and Atlanta's stoppage-time winner.

12. CHIVAS USA DOWNED IN SHOOTOUT

Of all three MLS teams in action, it was Chivas USA who came closest to advancing, yet they, too, fell short, losing to the Carolina RailHawks in a penalty shootout and, in all likelihood, ensuring that the Chivas USA era of LA’s second team will not end in glory. Here are highlights from the match, with former MLSer Jason Garey part of the commentary team.

13. BECKHAM HEADING BACK TO LA?

With David Beckhams plans for an MLS franchise in Miami back to square one, could the former LA Galaxy star instead turn his attentions to purchasing his old teams local rivals Chivas USA? Not according to an MLS spokesperson nor MLS president Mark Abbott.

14. RAISING THE CURTIN

The Philadelphia Union enter the US Open Cup on Tuesday, and interim coach Jim Curtin is determined to try and win a trophy for the club, noting, “There’s only two you can lift, and that’s one of them, so we’re going to take that very seriously.” To that end, the 34-year-old has a clear plan for the club.

15. PRETTY AS A PICTURE

With D.C. United making a big push to win public support for their proposed stadium ahead of the crucial council hearings, the club has released new renderings of what its potential new home might look like.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Brazil Bound on Location: Rain or shine, it won’t affect the US

Revenge not a factor for Tim Howard

US Legend Walter Bahr talks about the famous 1950 upset

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