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Kick Off: One Open Cup finalist down, one to go; change in CONCACAF Champions League field

Kick Off - DeAndre Yedlin

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports Images

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

1. OPEN CUP CLASH: YEDLIN SLATED TO START FOR SOUNDERS

While talk of DeAndre Yedlin’s impending move to Tottenham Hotspur rages across the Atlantic, the main focus stateside is the Seattle Sounders' US Open Cup semifinal tie against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night (10:30 pm ET, streamed live on SoundersFC.com). The winner will advance to the Sept. 16 final against the Philadelphia Union, who will host the showcase event at PPL Park.

Despite reports suggesting that Yedlin has been traveling back and forth to Europe more often than the Concorde in the 1990s, the talented fullback is expected to start against the Fire after training with Seattle on Tuesday. He’s still a Sounder for now, despite a sensational summer that has been documented in gripping fashion by Grantland.com's Jordan Ritter Conn.

2. MACMATH IS PHILLY’S OPEN CUP HERO

Zac MacMath might be living on borrowed time at the Philadelphia Union, with Algerian World Cup star Rais Mbolhi set to take his place in goal soon. But on Tuesday, MacMath provided the club with one of its most memorable moments to date – and a home place in the Open Cup final. With the Union and FC Dallas tied at 1-1 following 120 minutes of regulation and extra time, MacMath made two saves in the shootout to secure Philly’s progression and leave FCD heartbroken.

3. BELIZEANS BOOTED FROM CCL, TICOS TO STEP IN

Looking further ahead, Portland, Sporting KC and D.C. United kick off their CONCACAF Champions League campaigns next week – and despite the fact that the tournament has already begun, there's been a late change in the tournament's field. CONCACAF announced on Tuesday that Belize’s Belmopan Bandits have been removed from the CCL after the playing surface at Belize National Stadium was deemed unplayable. So Costa Rica’s Herediano will take their place in Group 7 alongside Club León and Isidro Metapán.

4. GIL TURNS ON THE STYLE

He is one of the brightest young talents in American soccer, so naturally Luis Gil has quite a few clips on his highlight reel. But the 20-year-old has probably never scored a goal as good as the one he scored in a friendly against Club Tijuana on (watch highlights here). The US youth international took the ball on the spin before lashing a strike high into the net, drawing warm praise from his coach, Jeff Cassar. Here's a fan's-eye view of the golazo.

5. FRENCH-INFLECTED: RED BULLS ACQUIRE SENE FROM REVS

Just days ago, New York Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said the club was working on deals for three new players, and now the first of the dominoes has fallen. Saër Sène was traded to the Red Bulls from the New England Revolution on Tuesday, with Andre Akpan and some allocation money heading in the opposite direction. Can Sène provide the depth New York will need in the busy months ahead? Will Akpan's arrival kick-start the ailing Revs?

6. PIATTI SEEKS TO CLEAR UP RADIO COMMENTS

Most newly signed Designated Players seek to endear themselves to their new club’s fans. Ignacio Piatti’s intentions were probably good, but his comments that he sees the Montreal Impact as a stepping stone to either New York or Miami went down like a, well, stone. However, the Argentine and his new club insist that he is excited to play for the Impact, with head coach Frank Klopas emphasizing that Piatti is “committed” and “eager” – and comparing the City of Saints favorably to both of those US cities.

7. JOHNSON ON BARCELONA’S RADAR?

We all knew Fabian Johnson was outstanding for the US national team at the World Cup, but now it appears he was so impressive that no less a club than Barcelona are looking at the fullback. Of course, such a move would be difficult given that Johnson has only just signed for Borussia Mönchengladbach, but the Catalans reportedly have the wingback as a backup plan should their move for Juan Cuadrado fall through.

8. US-COLOMBIA NOT HAPPENING ON SEPT. 9?

The World Cup is still fresh in memory, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s side will soon hit the field again, with a friendly against the Czech Republic next month. It had been reported that a friendly against Colombia in San Antonio would take place on Sept. 9, but it seems that arrangement has fallen through. Texas was so close to seeing James Rodriguez in the flesh. Now when will US fans get a chance to see their team on home soil?

9. USA’S SOCCER-MAD CITY WITHOUT A TEAM

Competition for Major League Soccer clubs is pretty fierce at the moment. The past week has seen Sacramento throw itself into contention, with countless other North American cities pining for a piece of the top-flight action. But what about San Diego – the Californian soccer hotbed? The Guardian visited the city to explore its soccer culture and ask whether it’s ready for an MLS team.

10. GORDON 2.0 A BETTER PLAYER

He’s a cult hero in MLS, and now Alan Gordon has returned to the LA Galaxy after four years away. The 32-year-old was acquired by LA from San Jose on Monday and now believes he’s a better player than the one that left StubHub Center in 2010. Even if it’s just to stop Gordon from scoring against the Galaxy, it’s a decent move for Bruce Arena.

11. ATIBA VS. ARSENAL: CANADIAN SET FOR HUGE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DUEL

Canadian export Atiba Hutchinson and his Turkish club Besiktas were thrilled to secure passage through the third round of UEFA Champions League qualifying with their aggregate win over Dutch club Feyenoord. But their next task is even tougher: a do-or-die qualifying clash with English heavyweights Arsenal. The two-legged series kicks off on Aug. 19.

12. EBOLA OUTBREAK AFFECTS AFCON QUALIFYING MATCHES

The latest wave of the Ebola contagion has killed hundreds and wreaked havoc on several West African nations, and it's affecting soccer as well. On Wednesday the Confederation of African Football announced that two African Cup of Nations qualifiers – a Sept. 5 match between Guinea and Togo and the Sept. 10 Sierra Leone vs. Congo game – will be relocated due to the outbreak, with the possibility of further rescheduling for matches later in the fall. That news will affect Philadelphia Union midfielder and Sierra Leone international Michael Lahoud as well as his countryman Kei Kamara, a former fan favorite with Sporting KC.

13. WOOD AIMING FOR BREAKTHROUGH YEAR IN GERMANY

Despite playing his entire professional career in Germany, Bobby Wood is already a familiar name to USMNT fans, and the forward has targeted a breakthrough season with German side 1860 Munich. He even has his sights set on making the US roster for the game against Czech Republic in Prague next month.

14. HOWARD DOMINATES FIFA 15 TRAILER

The Everton goalkeeper has already been depicted as The Hulk by one commercial prior to the World Cup, and now Tim Howard can be seen dominating an ad for the FIFA 15 video game. At one point he even comes off his line to deny Daniel Sturridge with his head! If any keeper can do that, it’s T-Ho.

15. CHERUNDOLO’S HANNOVER 96 TESTIMONIAL

He’s a German-American soccer stalwart, and on Tuesday Steve Cherundolo was rewarded for a 15-year career with Bundesliga club Hannover with a testimonial match. The 35-year-old has now retired from the game, with his last competitive appearance coming in December 2013, but Hannover gave Cherundolo, who now coaches the club’s U-23 team, the perfect send-off.

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