Kick Off: Missing World Cup? MLS has you covered with 2 games Friday after USMNT advance
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. STILL STANDING
The US national team has officially survived the group of death, advancing to the last 16 despite a 1-0 loss to Germany in rain-soaked Recife, showing that it doesn’t matter how you progress, as long as you do.
2. NOW WITH EXTRA MLS
Jurgen Klinsmann made two changes to his lineup ahead of the game against Germany, bringing in Omar Gonzalez and Brad Davis to replace Geoff Cameron and Alejandro Bedoya, with the former in particular putting in a strong performance. Yet how did all the players rate and what, if anything, could be learned from the match?
3. OBRIGADO TO PORTUGAL
With the US losing to Germany, they did require the other game to go their way, and thankfully Portugal obliged by beating Ghana 2-1. A Ghana win would have caused problems for the US, but Ghana could not match their form from their tie against Germany, having handed out indefinite suspensions to Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari.
4. BELGIUM UP NEXT
The US’ opponents in the Round of 16 will be Belgium after the European side finished top of Group H with a 1-0 win over South Korea on Thursday. The last time these two met, it finished 4-2 to Belgium, but the Red Devils’ coach acknowledges, “This match won’t be as friendly,” while Jurgen Klinsmann declared after advancing, “We move on, and now we really want to prove a point.”
5. RED BULLS READY TO GO
The New York Red Bulls host Toronto FC in a Friday night match (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE, match preview), and while the majority of the Red Bulls are looking well-rested following the two-week break, Toronto FC will be traveling a man lighter.
6. SKC VS TIMBERS PART TWO
In the other MLS game on Friday night, the Portland Timbers take on Sporting Kansas City for the second time in four days (11 pm ET, MLS LIVE, match preview). This time around, the Timbers can call upon Pah Modou Kah, and although SKC may be on the verge of a new signing, they will definitely be without World Cup stars Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, for whom the Timbers delayed training to watch on Thursday.
7. D.C. DEBATE
D.C. United may have been slightly preoccupied during the US’ qualification, as they were in the midst of crucial hearings regarding their proposed new stadium. They can now turn their attention back to soccer with a visit from the league-leading Seattle Sounders (Saturday, 7 pm ET, Free MLS Stream of the Week), and there’s been a familiar face spotted at United training.
8. MEXICO READY FOR THE DUTCH
With three out of the four CONCACAF teams reaching the World Cup's Round of 16, there is plenty to look forward to, but Mexico may face the toughest test against the Netherlands on Sunday (noon ET, ESPN).
9. TICOS LOOK TO MAKE HISTORY
Costa Rica are also in action, and they seem favored to advance when they take on Greece this Sunday (4 pm ET, ESPN), which would mean making national history, and the Greeks are wary of the threat Costa Rica pose.
10. FIRST LEAGUE GAME FOR CURTIN
While Philadelphia Union interim manager Jim Curtin has already led his team through two US Open Cup games, Saturday's game against the New England Revolution (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) marks his first MLS match. and the new boss is warning fans his plan to win this game might not be the most attractive to watch.
11. COLUMBUS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
Following their mid-week extra-time exit in the US Open Cup, the Columbus Crew will be looking to bounce back when they take on FC Dallas on Saturday (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The Texan side will no doubt be ready for Crew star Federico Higuain, but could the best plan to stop the Argentine be just to let him shoot?
12. 'CAPS TO GO AGAIN
After not getting on the field during the World Cup, the Vancouver Whitecaps are hoping to get Steve Beitashour some game time on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in USA). Last time the two sides met, José Mari helped turn the game around for the Rapids, but this time the ‘Caps feel they’re ready for the Spaniard.
13. GIL LOOKING TO IMPROVE
Real Salt Lake fans can continue to watch Kyle Beckerman light it up on the international stage, but much of their attention will turn back to the domestic campaign and, after a difficult first half of the season, Luis Gil is looking for a much better second half, beginning with Saturday's game against Chivas USA (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The Goats will not have their new Japanese defender available yet, nor will they have Matthew Fondy after the club waived the popular forward.
14. IMPACT'S DEFENSIVE SHUFFLE
There are two more games on the MLS weekend slate, including a California Clasico between the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, NBCSN) and another repeat of last year's playoff clash between the Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact (Sunday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), with the Canadian side having replaced Mechack Jerome (who was only with the team for 20 days) with a new left back, albeit one with MLS experience.
15. SHOWING YOUR SUPPORT
There’s one area of the World Cup where the US is an out-and-out winner, and that’s in the number of fans attending the tournament: The US had more visiting supporters than any other country. It's also been a huge hit back home, as the watch parties across the country have proved.
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