Kick Off: Portland Timbers, Sporting KC set to kick off CONCACAF Champions League campaigns
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. PORTLAND MAKE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DEBUT
The CONCACAF Champions League begins in earnest tonight for two MLS teams beginning their quest to (finally? hopefully?) win the tournament. First up is Alpha United hosting the Portland Timbers, who are making their first appearance in the CONCACAF tournament. This is where their trials begin and you can track the adventure right here.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) August 18, 2014
2. ANOTHER CHANCE FOR SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Having performed admirably all the way up until that final game against Cruz Azul in last year’s tournament, Sporting Kansas City get another crack at the trophy when they travel to Nicaragua to take on familiar opponents Real Estelí. Want to track SKC’s journey? You can thanks to the return of their CCL journal.
3. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CCL
Not sure what the CONCACAF Champions League is all about? Here’s everything you need to know, along with a breakdown of each team’s chances. Fox Sports has also revealed exactly where you can see all of this year’s CCL group-stage games, along with details on who will cover the games.
4. NEW DEAL FOR LAGERWEY?
Having finally claimed the top spot in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake’s new goal is to try and stay there. Yet as defender Chris Wingert notes, “The difference between first place and out of the playoffs is not that much.” Can the club secure not only first spot but a contract extension for general manager Garth Lagerwey?
5. OPTIMISM ABOUNDS FOR D.C. UNITED
There’s been relatively little news on D.C. United’s potential new stadium recently but, if comments made by chief executive Jason Levien during Sunday’s game are to be believed, there could be reason for optimism amongst the United faithful.
6. ANOTHER NEW SIGNING FOR THE REVOLUTION
While Charlie Davies is finding his form with the New England Revolution, the club has made another new signing, acquiring former US youth international Tony Taylor via weighted lottery, beating out the Portland Timbers for the forward thanks to their 71.4 percent chance of winning.
7. THE RUB OF THE GREEN
If you watched the Seattle Sounders take on the Houston Dynamo and thought there was something slightly off about the pitch, don’t worry. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer saw it, too, and he insists it was a mistake that will not be repeated. In the meantime, are the Sounders benefiting now that DeAndre Yedlin’s future is settled?
8. TOUGH CHOICES
Remember Andre Lewis, the player who somehow signed for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New York Cosmos? Well, that young man’s got a decision to make, and, so far, it seems the MLS side is coming out on top.
9. MAKING A LIST
We’re not too far away from this year’s 24 Under 24 list, so with that in mind, here are four of the best young MLS players at the moment who have never featured in the countdown. Who would make your list?
10. ALL-STARS FOR EVERYONE
Bradley Wright-Phillips currently finds himself leading the race for MLS’ coveted Budweiser Golden Boot. Why did it take a while for the striker to find his form? As BWP freely admits: “I’d definitely underestimated [MLS] before.” Having scored a stunning goal in the recent AT&T MLS All-Star game as well, Wright-Phillips believes the contest is something other countries should adopt.
11. TRACKING NYCFC PLAYERS
Despite Frank Lampard not traveling for current loan club Manchester City’s first game of the EPL, three of New York City FC’s other four signings were busy getting stuck in over the weekend. Could the club also be close to signing its sixth player?
12. MAKING THE PLAYOFFS
While there’s plenty of time still to go in MLS, things are starting to draw to a close down in USL PRO, with LA Galaxy II and Sacramento Republic FC both securing their playoff places over the weekend. They now join Orlando City and the Richmond Kickers as four of the eight qualifiers thus far.
13. EXTENDED ABSENCE FOR JOHANNSSON
We didn’t see much of him during the World Cup, and we shouldn't expect to see Aron Johannsson during the USMNT's upcoming friendly either, as the AZ Alkmaar player has been ruled out for an estimated six weeks following groin surgery.
14. RAFA MOVES ON
It’s not just the LA Galaxy who got beaten up on by a European superpower this summer, it happened to Liga MX side Club León as well, who lost 6-0 to Barcelona on Monday in what was Rafa Márquez’s final appearance for the Mexican side. Having spent seven years with the Spanish giants, the Mexican international received a standing ovation from the Camp Nou crowd.
15. MINNESOTA LOOKS TO SEATTLE
There remain two different groups both attempting to bring an MLS side to Minnesota and both of them have spent time looking at the Seattle Sounders as a model to base themselves on. It’s not a bad standard to aim for, right?
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