Kick Off: Supporters' Shield race heats up while Columbus Crew make news for all the right reasons

Kick Off Joao Plata

Photo Credit: 
USA Today

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

1. SALT LAKE PROVE TOO MUCH FOR SOUNDERS

Real Salt Lake came out on top in the battle for first place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders (watch highlights here). RSL seem revitalized thanks in no small part to Joao Plata, and they proved perhaps one bridge too far for the Sounders in their congested fixture pile up.

2. GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR UNION

After reaching the US Open Cup final last Tuesday, the Philadelphia Union came back to earth with a bump on Friday in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo (watch highlights here), who stuck to the plan to win only their second league game since mid-May. The Union, however, got some promising performances out of two debutants and may have some good news regarding a new training facility.

3. PRESIDENT-SELECT

As those who’ve read Soccernomics will know, the best business decisions, both on and off the soccer field, are usually the ones that take a bit of time to decide upon. If that’s true, the Columbus Crew might have reason to celebrate following the hiring of Andy Loughnane as the club's new president after a five-month search.

4. “TIME TO PERFORM” FOR THE CREW

Loughnane has plenty to do in the coming months, but he must have been happy with what he saw on the field on Saturday, as his new Columbus Crew side beat the LA Galaxy 4-1 (watch highlights here). Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was under no illusion as to the fate his side deserved, while the Columbus Crew have realized, “It’s time to perform.”

5. SO LONG, FAREWELL

Landon Donovan’s MLS farewell tour may not have gotten off to the start he wanted in terms of the result, but the Columbus Crew fans certainly made sure the retiring star knew how much he was appreciated in Ohio. Of course, that’s not to say they didn’t take some playful shots as well.

6. ONE MORE YEAR?

A 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire (watch highlights here) was not enough to move the Montreal Impact off the bottom of the table, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Marco Di Vaio scored the winner, raising questions as to whether there is a chance he could return in 2015.

7. JONES DEAL STILL ON?

The Chicago Fire’s bad week got even worse following the result in Canada, but help may be on the way as the club announced on Friday the acquisition of Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw, formerly of Toronto FC. Not only that, but head coach Frank Yallop hinted that the Fire could be close to terms with US international Jermaine Jones.

8. REVOLUTION WANT MORE

With nine losses in their last 10 games prior to Saturday, a 1-1 draw against a resurgent Portland Timbers (watch highlights here) might not be considered a bad result for the New England Revolution, but head coach Jay Heaps was defeinitely disappointed following the game. Timbers boss Caleb Porter, on the other hand, felt his side were once again on the wrong side of an officiating call. Shocking, we know.

9. HOMEGROWN HERO FOR SKC

With injuries to Sporting Kansas City’s two regular starters, Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin got a chance to shine in front of the SKC crowd, and shine he did in a 4-1 win over Toronto FC (watch highlights here). Still, TFC boss Ryan Nelsen isn’t too worried about the defeat, stating, “You don’t automatically turn yourself into something: It’s taken Kansas City and Real Salt Lake way longer than it took us.”

10. STALEMATE IN LA

Chivas USA and the Vancouver Whitecaps split the points on Saturday following a 0-0 draw at StubHub Center (watch highlights here), and with Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson bemoaning another missed opportunity for his side, Wilmer Cabrera definitely seemed the happier of the two coaches.

11. FC DALLAS MOVE TO NINE UNBEATEN

With Fabián Castillo continuing to improve, FC Dallas moved their current league unbeaten streak to nine games while also inflicting the San Jose Earthquakes' worst defeat in club history with a 5-0 rout on Saturday (watch highlights here). There were no excuses from the Quakes, though, because as goalkeeper Jon Busch stated, “Every one of us should be embarrassed."

12. UNITED BOUNCE BACK

With Eddie Johnson banned, D.C. United’s alternative attack once again came to life to record a 4-2 win (watch highlights here) over the Colorado Rapids, who have now lost four in a row. However, Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni has seen it all before from his Rapids side this season.

13. RETURN OF THE PREM

The Premier League got underway again this weekend, and with it came vital playing time for Jozy Altidore (albeit off the bench). Other US World Cup heroes were in acton, although it was Brad Guzan, an unused sub in Brazil, and Aston Villa who came out the winners in their game against Geoff Cameron’s Stoke City, while Tim Howard played his part in Everton’s 2-2 draw with Leicester.

14. WHO IS DEANDRE YEDLIN?

While Tottenham Hotspur fans might not get to see new signing DeAndre Yedlin for a while, one English paper was kind enough to write a profile on the player for them. Still bummed about Yedlin taking off? Here’s one take on why it’s an important step for both MLS and US Soccer. Could more future stars lie in the recently announced US U18 squad?

15. FIFA TALKS EXPANSION

MLS expansion is always a hot topic among fans in North America, and now it seems to have caught the attention of FIFA itself, with the governing body's own magazine discussing the league’s moves down south.

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