Kick Off: Record crowds, NBA interest vault Sacramento Republic FC into MLS expansion crowd

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

1.  MLS TO SACRAMENTO, AS SECURED BY THE NBA?

Everyone wants a piece of Major League Soccer, and the league’s latest expansion could be set for Sacramento, or at least that’s what the owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings are hoping. Local reports claim that the Kings owners are in talks to invest in USL PRO side Sacramento Republic FC, with Kings president Chris Granger expected to travel to Portland this week to meet up with MLS officials.

2. DYNAMO END WINLESS RUN, DALLAS KEEP THEIR UNDEFEATED RUN GOING

The streak stood at eight games for the Houston Dynamo. Eight games since they’d last recorded a league win, that is. But Will Bruin was in the right place at the right time, scoring the game’s only goal to sink D.C. United and end the unwanted run (watch highlights). Even if DaMarcus Beasley had to sacrifice a part of his tooth.

On the other hand, FC Dallas kept their unbeaten run going with a 1-0 road win against Chivas USA (watch highlights), with Oscar Pareja’s side now without a loss in their last seven league games. Although this was their first road win since April, something Pareja highlighted postgame.

3. RBNY GRIND IT OUT

A goal down? Check. A man down? Check. Second half comeback to win 2-1? Check. The New York Red Bulls showed what they are made of against the New England Revolution, pulling off an impressive rally that puts them back into a playoff position (watch highlights). Mike Petke’s men looked steadfast in their determination for three points, something that has been largely missing in 2014.

4. DWYER IS AN ALL-STAR, FINALLY

There’s always one. One player whose omission from the All-Star roster becomes the subject of debate across the league. This year it was Dom Dwyer, Sporting KC’s top scorer who failed to make Caleb Porter’s original squad. But all the protesting and arguing has been pushed aside, with Dwyer called up by virtue of Jermain Defoe’s withdrawal through injury.

Maurice Edu, Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin have also been added to the revised roster.

5. NICK MORE THAN AN ALL-STAR, HE’S AN ALL-TIMER

Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 road win over the Colorado Rapids might have been a credible result (watch highlights), but one memory will remain longer than the others. The result saw Nick Rimando bypass Kevin Hartman as the holder of the MLS shutout record. And the RSL No. 1 has done it in 66 fewer games.

6. THE GRASS IS GREENER IN THE US

Forget Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Mario Götze, the American spotlight is on Julian Green this All-Star game week. The USMNT’s breakout World Cup star spoke to MLSsoccer.com in Portland about the future of soccer in the States, as well as his pride at playing with Bayern Munich in his homeland.

7. CARLOS VALDES SET FOR UNION RETURN

The Philadelphia Union might not be making a big playoff push on the field (yet) but they’re making one in the market. Algerian World Cup goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi was confirmed last week and now it would seem that Carlos Valdes is set for a return to the Union. He can’t return to Philly’s backline quick enough.

8.  HAS JONES PUT OUT THE FIRE?

Rumors of Jermaine Jones potential switch to the Chicago Fire had grown fairly strong by the end of last week, with interest in the USMNT midfielder say to be high from Frank Yallop and the Fire front office. However, Goal.com claimed that Jones has rejected the club’s DP contract offer. Although Jones himself took to Twitter to provide his side of the story.

9. BREK ON THE MOVE

Few players makes as compelling a study for American soccer fans as Brek Shea. Once the great white hope of MLS, now he has washed up at Stoke City, where he has played just three games in a season-and-a-half. Now Stoke seem ready to let Shea go either on loan or permanently, if local press reports are to be believed. I can almost hear the MLS transfer rumor mill grinding into gear. Although Taylor "The Oracle" Twellman has poured cold water on that.

10. WHITECAPS TO ADD WASTON?

Kendall Waston, a Costa Rican defender who plays for Deportivo Saprissa, could be on his way to the Vancouver Whitecaps, if reports are to be believed. The retirement of club legend Jay DeMerit has left the Caps somewhat shorthanded at the back, but the signing of Waston could go some way to sorting that.

11. ORLANDO GO BRAZILIAN, AGAIN

Are there any Brazilian soccer players left that haven’t been linked with Orlando City? Today’s rumor has 28-year-old Santa Cruz forward Flavio Caça-Rato linked with the Central Florida club, after speculation that Robinho could join in time for 2015 fell through. Orange County could still become a joga bonito outpost for the start of next season.

12. TO NEW YORK CITY VIA MANCHESTER CITY

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, or are a Chelsea fan blocking out sunlight with your own tears, it's been confirmed that New York City FC’s Frank Lampard will spend five months on loan at Manchester City in preparation for his move to MLS. Arsene Wenger has been complaining about the switch, though, questioning whether it’s a way for City to get around FFP regulations.

13. CAMERON TO SWAP STOKE FOR HULL?

Geoff Cameron has gathered quite the crowd of admirers. The latest club to be chasing the USMNT and Stoke City defender’s signature is Premier League club Hull City, who reportedly see Cameron as the man to “solve City’s defensive problems.” The Daily Mirror claims that Steve Bruce is willing to pay £4.5 million for the 29-year-old.

14. VALERI GOLAZO

On the whole, it was a game that the Portland Timbers and Caleb Porter would rather forget in LA (watch highlights), but it was highlighted by Diego Valeri’s free-kick goal. The Argentine playmaker wrapped a set-piece shot from 20 yards into the top shelf to give Portland an early lead at StubHub Center. The lead didn’t last long, but the Timbers will always have a goal of the season contender.

15. FULL HOUSE AT THE BIG HOUSE

The "soccer is big in the US" narrative is getting a little tired, but even still, the attendance of almost 110,000 fans for a preseason friendly between Manchester United and Real Madrid in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday was impressive. United ran out 3-1 winners over the European champions, in front of what was a record-breaking crowd for a soccer game in the US.

The majority of fans at the Big House were of a red persuasion, although a Spanish newspaper tried to make out differently.

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