Kick Off: Still down about the USA's World Cup exit? A full weekend of MLS action should help take your mind off it
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS FOR RED BULLS
The Houston Dynamo host the New York Red Bulls (Friday, 8:30 pm ET, NBCSN / live stream on NBCSports.com) in the first of Friday's Fourth of July games and, while Dax McCarty won’t feature, with a handful of trialists being put through their paces there could soon be a new face joining the roster. Plus, Tim Cahill weigns in on the rumors about his supposed exit.
2. TROUBLE IN DALLAS
Problems are starting to pile up for FC Dallas ahead of their game against the Philadelphia Union (Friday, 9:00 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Even though both teams are currently on five-game unbeaten streaks, Dallas have lost Jair Benitez to injury and Fabian Castillo to a four-game suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
3. RAPIDS: THE FUTURE OF US NATIONAL TEAM?
The Columbus Crew head to Denver for a game against the Colorado Rapids (Friday, 9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) looking for their first win in five games, but in order to get it they’ll come up against a team featuring many players tipped for future international stardom.
4. WHY NO BECKERMAN?
Kyle Beckerman may be back in Utah now, but the Real Salt Lake midfielder isn’t likely to feature in their game against the New England Revolution (Friday, 10:00 pm ET, MLS LIVE) as his team look to end their mid-season dip in form. That’s despite the fact that Beckerman did not play in the game against Belgium, something that the RSL staff offered their own opinion on.
5. DEPLETED TIMBERS ON THE DEFENSE
Although injuries may leave the Portland Timbers short-handed for their game against the LA Galaxy (Friday, 11:00 pm ET, NBCSN / live stream on NBCsports.com), the Timbers still want to prove that they can be a good defensive team. The Galaxy, on the other hand, are undefeated in five and are looking to keep their good form going.
6. MAKE-OR-BREAK MONTH FOR TFC
Toronto FC are currently on a six-game unbeaten run in MLS and they’ll look to keep that going when they take on DC United (Saturday, 7:00 pm ET, MLS LIVE in the US, TSN2 in Canada). It’s already TFC’s second game in July in what looks set to be an incredibly busy month.
7. CASCADIA CLASH
The Seattle Sounders travel to face the Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday, 10:00 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com Free Stream of the Week) for another Cascadia Cup clash and while the ‘Caps will look to transfer their form on the practice field to the pitch, the game could also mark another big step in Medhi Ballouchy’s recovery. However, after a strong showing at the World Cup, could the Sounders be set to lose DeAndre Yedlin?
8. IMPACT ADD ANOTHER
Following the signing of Ignacio Piatti on Wednesday the Montreal Impact have added another new player to their roster, signing academy product and Canadian international Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé. The Impact travel to Chivas USA on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
9. MATT BESLER: STAYING OR GOING?
Sporting Kansas City take on the Chicago Fire on Sunday (3:00 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the US, TSN in Canada), but they're also dealing with offers for Matt Besler after his strong World Cup. Meanwhile, the Fire have said goodbye to Juan Luis Anangono, sending the misfiring striker on loan to LDU Quito.
10. QUAKES LOOKING FOR A WAY BACK
Following their second consecutive 1-0 loss on Wednesday, the San Jose Earthquakes fell to the bottom of the Western Conference. But is the season in danger of running away from them? It’s a situation that head coach Mark Watson is looking to rectify during the transfer window
11. US ANALYSIS
We’re a few days removed from the USA’s World Cup defeat to Belgium, so perhaps enough time has passed for an analysis of their performance at the tournament. LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan certainly hasn’t held back in his own review?
12. INJURED STRIKERS
Aron Johannson didn’t play much of a role for the US during the World Cup but was he carrying an injury? The forward is set to undergo surgery on his ankle before the new season starts. Meanwhile it’s been revealed exactly what happened to Jozy Altidore's hamstring.
13. CASHING IN ON ‘KEEPERS
Tim Howard is still riding high as the US hero, the last bastion of defense against the Belgians, and the goalkeeper could be set to cash in on some well-earned endorsements. However, Howard's time will have to end eventually and so here's one for the future: US ‘keeper Cody Cropper has signed with EPL side Southampton.
14. TOUGH TEST FOR COSTA RICA
The World Cup continues Friday with the first of the quarterfinals, but of particular relevance will be Costa Rica’s game against the Netherlands (Saturday, 4:00 pm ET, ESPN & Univision). It’s another tough test for the last remaining CONCACAF side, but Dutch boss Louis Van Gaal has labelled them “a very tough opponent.”
15. I BELIEVE©
We’re all familiar with the chant of I Believe by now, but with its history and origin the subject of some debate, San Diego State University is attempting to copywrite the chant.
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.