Kick Off: USMNT's Clint Dempsey targets Copa America glory, Canada revs up for 2026 World Cup bid
The AT&T MLS All-Star celebrations roll on! Everything you need to know is here.
Meanwhile, here are the top 14 stories we’re following today:
1. DEMPSEY: I WANT TO PLAY IN COPA AMERICA
The United States national team captain has just come off the back of a successful World Cup campaign, but Clint Dempsey is already thinking about his future on the international stage. At 31, Dempsey's USMNT expiration date might be coming into sight, but he has set the target of playing in the 2016 Copa America – to be hosted in the States, of course.
2. WORLD CUP ON ITS WAY TO CANADA?
The rumblings have been getting stronger for a while. Canada is planning a bid for the 2026 World Cup, and FIFA President (A.K.A Emperor of the Soccer World) Sepp Blatter says the Women’s Under-20 World Cup – hosted in Canada – will prove the country’s readiness to host sports’ biggest tournament. Apparently Canada is the only G8 nation not to have hosted the World Cup, so that pretty much ensures they’ll host it in 2026. Pretty much.
3. IF BLATTER SAID IT, IT MUST BE TRUE
Commissioner Don Garber has previously gone on record saying that a shift to a European-style calendar is “almost impossible” for MLS. But if FIFA President Sepp Blatter is to be believed (a question that seems to be asked rather regularly recently), the league is pressing ahead with plans to align the season with the FIFA calendar.
4. REPUBLIC FC RESPOND TO MLS EXPANSION RUMBLINGS
The owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will meet with MLS officials in Portland this week to express their intentions to invest in USL PRO side Sacramento Republic FC. And the Republic themselves have responded to the story, reiterating their desire to take Major League Soccer to California's capital.
5. ORLANDO MOVES STADIUM LOCATION
Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer says the city has dropped action against a church that was holding up the construction of Orlando City’s MLS stadium. Subsequently, the venue’s location has been moved one block west of the original site.
6. MLS STADIUM PLANS MOVING ALONG IN MINNEAPOLIS
Minneapolis is just one of several markets across North America looking to secure an MLS franchise, and plans for an outdoor stadium that could host such a team are already moving along. Minnesota Vikings and Twins owners Zygi Wilf and Jim Pohlad are reportedly going head-to-head in their efforts to bring MLS to the area, and both men having different ideas about where the team would play.
7. GREEN TO PLAY MORE AT BAYERN, SAYS GUARDIOLA
Apparently Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is going to give USMNT youngster Julian Green more gametime this season “for the girls.” That’s what he said. “Do you want to play?” Pep asked Green at a presser ahead of the AT&T MLS All-Star game in Portland. “Yes,” he replied, bashfully. Well, that’s that sorted then.
8. TIMBERS’ YOUTH STANDS TALL IN CHIPOTLE HOMEGROWN GAME
It was a showcase of the best homegrown talent in Major League Soccer, with the likes of Vancouver’s Russell Teibert and Colorado’s Dillon Serna taking on the Portland Timbers Under-23s. Teibert impressed but Portland held their own, as the Homegrown XI failed to find rhythm – funny that, for a team that only had one training session together. Thankfully the Men in Blazers’ live-show had more rhythm.
9. DEFOE OUT FOR TWO TO THREE WEEKS
Injury has already claimed Jermain Defoe ahead of this week’s AT&T MLS All-Star game in Portland, and now the English striker looks set to miss two to three weeks of action for Toronto FC. That will be a concern for Ryan Nelsen, whose side has lost a dimension without their top scorer.
10. MASTROENI CLARIFIES POSTGAME COMMENTS
Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni was steaming mad after the home loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday, making the impulsive claim that the Rocky Mountain Cup means little to him. But Mastroeni has now clarified his comments and has promised to “convey his thoughts better in future.”
11. AZTEX HIRE DALGLISH AS HEAD COACH, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
A familiar face will take charge of Austin Aztex ahead of their USL PRO expansion season, with Paul Dalglish hired as head coach and technical director. Dalglish, the son of Kenny Dalglish, insists that he will play an attacking style of soccer in Austin, following his success with the city’s Premier Development League side.
12. COLUMBUS CONFIRM PAPADOPOULOS INTEREST
It's no secret the Crew need some help up top. So will it come via Greece? Maybe, maybe not. At the very least, head coach Gregg Berhalter said, they're keeping their eyes open.
13. MARQUEZ HEADS TO HELLAS VERONA
Anyone who watched Mexico at the World Cup in Brazil may have asked the same question: Why was Rafa Marquez so bad with the New York Red Bulls? As El Tri captain, Marquez showed that he still has worth as a centerback, even at 35 years of age. And now he looks to be on the move to Hellas Verona in the Italian Serie A.
14. VILLARREAL SCORES AS FAST AS A TRAIN
After a loan spell with Cruz Azul, Jose Villarreal is back with the LA Galaxy, and scoring goals, too. Villarreal played his first game with LA Galaxy II on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and scored a neat, chipped goal as fast as a train. An actual train. Just watch the GIF.
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