Kick Off: US get ready for Belgium, Orlando City prepare for a special announcement
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. WHAT STANDS BETWEEN HERE AND THE WORLD CUP QUARTERFINALS
2. TALKING TACTICS
The Shin Guardian is required reading to preview every USA game. He has a strong take on what Michael Bradley needs to do against Belgium. For his part, Bradley wants more at the World Cup and is looking to improve his form in Tuesday's game. It could be argued that a change of tactics could help Bradley, but with things working well enough for the US so far, perhaps the team would be better off focusing on other areas.
3. REFEREE CONSPIRACIES?
Jurgen Klinsmann, ever the zen master, started planting the seed of possible officiating questions, when he expressed his "concerns" about Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi, who is assigned to the Belgium-USA game. "But is it a good feeling? No," Klinsi said. "He’s coming from the same group with Belgium and Algeria … and he’s able to speak French with their players on the field and not with us."
4. BELIEVE THE HYPE
As has become required for each of the USMNT's matches, here are a few pump-up videos. This one asks us to flip the script. This one has eagles and jet planes and the biggest -- literally -- US soccer fans anywhere: the Budweiser Clydesdales. and eagles.
5. PLENTY OF RESPECT
Ahead of the game against Belgium, everything has been incredibly civil, with both the US and Belgium talking of how much they respect each other. Tim Howard has spoken of the danger the Red Devils pose while Belgium's Kevin Mirallis has in turn been talking up Howard and Clint Dempsey.
6. INJURY UPDATES
While Belgium worry about injuries to Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, it looks like Marouane Fellaini is going to be good to go. Meanwhile, the US got some good news in that Jozy Altidore is apparently fit and ready to be called upon.
7. THE SOCCER NATION GROWS
When the cameras pan the crowd during the US-Belgium match be sure to keep an eye out for Teddy Goalsevelt, otherwise known as Mike D’Amico, who so caught the attention of the American soccer community that they’ve helped pay for the fan to extend his trip. It's perhaps another sign of soccer's growth in America, as is the news that Chicago’s fan experience is now too big for Grant Park.
8. STOPPING MESSI
If the US should advance, they’ll face the winner of the days other game: Argentina vs Switzerland (12 pm ET, ESPN, Univision in the US, CBC in Canada). Can Lionel Messi continue his fine goal scoring form or can the Swiss find a way to neutralise him?
9. C’MON REF
Mark Geiger became the first American to referee a World Cup knockout game on Monday when he took charge of France's win over Nigeria. Most observers agreed he put in another good performance, but one, in particular, did not: the coach of the losing team.
10. CUTEST COUPLE?
Kyle Beckerman’s importance for the US is being felt just as keenly by the national team as his absence is by Real Salt Lake and while the US’ number 15 is proving to be a national sensation, does the recently married midfielder also have a claim as the World Ciup's most attractive couple.
11. KAKA HAS LANDED
The final pieces are falling into place ahead of Kaka’s move to Orlando City. The Brazilian star officially left AC Milan on Monday and, with the soon to be MLS club scheduling a press conference for Tuesday, Kaka arrived in Orlando on Monday evening.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) June 30, 2014
11. MAKE SOME ROOM
With the international transfer window set to open again it seems that a couple of clubs are moving to clear some space on their rosters, with the Chicago Fire waiving Giuseppe Gentile and Sporting Kansas City releasing Alex Martinez.
12. DYNAMO JERSEY SPONSOR
The Houston Dynamo are scheduled to make an announcement on Tuesday with many speculating that it will involve a new jersey sponsor.
13. ETIHAD AIRWAYS PLAYER OF THE MONTH
There weren't many MLS games in June, but five players stood out and are nominated for the Etihad Airways Player of the Month for June. Who gets your vote?
14. BOYD WONDER
While Terrence Boyd may not have made the World Cup squad, the US international is officially on the move, heading from Rapid Vienna in Austria back home to Germany and Red Bull Leipzig, sister club of the New York Red Bulls.
15. LO SIENTO
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of playful banter between nations during the World Cup but Dutch Airline KLM soon realized they had gone too far following a hugely negative reaction to a tweet wishing "adios" to Mexico's team. The airline has since apologized.
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