Kick Off: USMNT go down swinging in World Cup, leaving two MLS games to brighten your Wednesday

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

1. END OF THE LINE FOR DEFIANT US

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with the US’ World Cup run after a 2-1 loss to Belgium on Tuesday evening (watch highlights here). Still, the US went down in style, fighting for an equalizer until the final seconds. What three things were there to take away from the result and who, apart from Tim Howard, played the best game?

2. THE HUMAN WALL

The man of the match for the US was undoubtedly Tim Howard, who, under large spells of pressure from the Belgians, stood on his head to keep the US in the game. Howard set a new record for most recorded saves in a World Cup game and drew plenty of praise from national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

3. LOOKING FORWARD

While the tournament may be over for the national team, the general consensus so far seems to suggest two things: There is plenty to look forward to in the future, especially from players like DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green, and the real winner of the tournament was soccer in the US.

4. FOUR MORE YEARS

The US national team's strong performance at the tournament has led to increased interest in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, but following the defeat on Tuesday, the under-contract German believes he will still be leading the US come Russia 2018.

5. NO DATE WITH MESSI

Had the US advanced, they would be playing Argentina on Saturday after the South American side overcame Switzerland 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals. The Swiss did not make it easy, though, and it took the better part of 120 minutes for the Argentines to find a breakthrough.

6. KAKA ARRIVES

Orlando City have signed their first Designated Player, with Brazilian star and former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaka signing a guaranteed three-and-a-half year contract. The midfielder described his signing as a dream come true and has already set his sights on winning an MLS championship.

7. TFC GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

Despite his impressive golazo on Friday, Gilberto will not feature in Toronto FC’s line-up due to injury when they take on the Chicago Fire Wednesday night (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE, TSN in Canada) at Toyota Park. It’s all part of a particularly busy month for TFC, but their opponents will be looking to set a few things right.

8. QUAKES NEED GOALS

Chivas USA come into their Wednesday game against the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live, TSN in Canada) on the back of a win, and while the Quakes look to avoid three defeats in a row, they know they’ll need to score some goals in order to do it.

9. FERNANDEZ EXIT

After starting the first 15 games at left back, Cristian Fernandez was absent from D.C. United's 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Now we know why: The club and player have mutually agreed to part ways.

10. SPONSORED BY...

The Houston Dynamo had an announcement of their own to make on Tuesday, revealing BHP Billiton, a global resources company with strong local ties, as their new jersey sponsor, the Dynamo's first jersey sponsor since they ended their previous deal back in February 2013.

11. MARI SIDELINED

Jose Mari has become an important part of the Colorado Rapids lineup so it’ll come as disappointing news to learn that the Spanish midfielder has been ruled out for up to a month after spraining his ankle in training. That might be part of the reason the Rapids went out and acquired Carlos Alvarez from Chivas USA in exchange for Nathan Sturgis.

12. OCHOA A GOOD FIT?

Guillermo Ochoa was in need of a new club prior to the World Cup, and after the tournament Mexico’s goalkeeper had, he certainly won’t be short of suitors. Would he be a good fit for the Premier League? Former US no.1 Brad Friedel, who’s spent most of his career in the English league, suggests maybe not.

13. MILLER’S OUT

Costa Rica’s World Cup campaign marches on to a showdown with the Netherlands but, unfortunately, it’s the end of the road for Roy Miller, as the New York Red Bulls left back has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to injury.

14. ADDED EDGE

With the US and Mexico reaching the last 16 and Costa Rica making history by reaching the quarterfinals, has their hard work helped give CONCACAF teams a psychological edge in future tournaments?

15. I BELIEVE IN I BELIEVE

We may not be hearing it in a US men's national team context for a while, but the US fan chant of 'I Believe' is easily one of the most recognizable and positive around. So where did it come from and what does it mean?

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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Armchair Analyst: US go out with a roar but “game states”  paint the picture

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