Kick Off: All the latest on Robinho, the AT&T MLS All-Star Game and a full weekend slate of matches
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. THE SELECT FEW
While Caleb Porter tries to get his Portland Timbers side back on track against the Colorado Rapids tonight (11 pm ET, NBCSN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada) one thing the coach doesn’t have to worry about is his AT&T MLS All-Star squad selection, with Porter apparently having sent his gameday roster off on Wednesday evening. Away from your couch? Stream it live here!
2. STAYING UP TOP
Benny Feilhaber is turning into one of Sporting Kansas City’s most consistent players and, following his late game-winning goal Wednesday, his side returned to the top of the Eastern Conference where they’ll look to stay when they take on the LA Galaxy (Saturday, 6 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes in the US, TSN2 in Canada), a side that has perhaps played best this year against struggling teams.
3. RESTING LEGS, FINDING FOCUS
While the New York Red Bulls could rest some tired legs for their game against the San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), one of their toughest tests might be keeping the players focused ahead of their big clash against Arsenal the weekend after, a game which has just been picked up on national TV.
4. TIME FOR A RETHINK
The Columbus Crew will be looking to end a seven-game winless streak when they host the Montreal Impact on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but having failed to beat Sporting Kansas City at home on Wednesday, the Crew may rethink their use of the “false nine”.
5. VALDES TO RETURN?
The Chicago Fire host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) amid continued speculation as to the future of defender Carlos Valdés. With the player suggesting he hasn’t been paid at Argentine side San Lorenzo for the last five months, could he be on his way back to MLS?
6. YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR
FC Dallas host the New England Revolution on Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and defender Matt Hedges is once again likely to be a vital player for the home side. Was his season worthy of All-Star consideration? Hedges isn’t holding out hope of making the MLS squad in Portland for the Aug. 6 match vs. Bayern Munich.
7. CLEAR THE HALL
After their comeback win against the Houston Dynamo last weekend, Toronto FC will be hoping for a less dramatic result against the same team this Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE). In advance of the match, TFC sent another midfielder on loan to their USL PRO affiliate as Collen Warner assumes a greater role in the squad. The Dynamo, meanwhile, are hoping to welcome back some important players.
8. MIDFIELD MARSHALL
While Matias Laba has often been excellent for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season, he particularly excelled against his former team Toronto FC on Wednesday and the question from many will be whether he can do it again when his side take on Real Salt Lake tomorrow evening (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE). RSL already have a well-established midfield of their own, with a new face quietly assuming an important role.
9. DC’S SPECIAL SIGNING
While D.C. United are still mulling over a Jamaican trialist in camp ahead of their game against Chivas USA (Sunday, 8 pm ET, UDN), the club has already pulled the trigger on a very special new signing. Meanwhile, if you’re new to the league, could Chivas USA be the team for you?
10. SEATTLE SHOWCASE
The Seattle Sounders may not have a league game this weekend, but that doesn’t mean they have a week off. The MLS leaders are set to take on Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League on Saturday (4 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). Will Clint Dempsey get a chance to face his old side? It certainly seems like the Sounders are planning to field a strong team.
11. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Is Robinho on his way to Orlando City SC? It’s not quite the done deal some people would have you believe, with the Brazilian's agent stating that “It’s just a possibility.” For the very latest news on the situation, Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel joined the guys on ExtraTime Radio to talk all things Orlando City.
12. CANADA WON’T SHARE
Canada is still pressing ahead with its plan to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, insists the federation has no plans to share its bid with anyone.
13. FIFA RANKINGS
Despite its success at the 2014 World Cup, the US national team has actually dropped two places in the latest FIFA world rankings. While Mexico (+2) and particularly Costa Rica (+12) fared much better, it does give pundits another opportunity to debate what the future might/should hold for the US.
Amidst the action of MLS’ busy Wednesday evening, ESPN also held its annual ESPYs award ceremony. And while the US national team won best moment for its win over Ghana, MLS also had its very own category, with a World Cup hero winning the award for best MLS athlete.
15. COACHES COMING AND GOING
Eric Wynalda’s time as head coach of the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks has come to an end after he stepped down from the position on Thursday. However, Wynalda will stay on with the side as technical director. In other coaching news, former Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie has a new job ... in South Korea.
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