Kick Off: New era, same problems for Toronto FC as USMNT show plenty of promise in Prague

After you've voted for the Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month for August, here are the top 15 stories everyone's talking about this morning:

1. ROOTING FOR ANOTHER DELAGARZA

All in the American soccer community are thinking of and pulling for LA Galaxy defender AJ DeLaGarza, his wife, Megan, and their newborn son, Luca, as the boy battles a congenital heart defect. On Wednesday, AJ provided an update on Luca's fight so far.

2A. LIKE RIDING A BICYCLE

The US got the new cycle off to a good start with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague (watch highlights here). Alejandro Bedoya scored the only goal, but it was Nick Rimando, the only MLS representative in the squad, who helped ensure the result for the US with a strong second half.

2B. PERFORMANCES AND POINTS

After the game, Jurgen Klinsmann felt his young side took a “huge step”, but what did the press think of the US’ performance and what conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this friendly? Fabian Johnson was once again one of the US’ strongest players during Wednesday night’s friendly, and the right back is relishing a new-found responsibility with the national team.

3. AN AMBITIOUS GOAL

Jurgen Klinsmann drew a lot of criticism for stating, however realistically, that the US could not win the World Cup in Brazil. Yet the German seems to have a new outlook going into his first complete cycle as head man, claiming before Wednesday’s game that he believes his side can reach the semifinals in 2018.

4. UNION CONTINUE TFC’S MISERY

The Greg Vanney era at Toronto FC started much the way the Ryan Nelsen era finished: with a defeat. Still, despite the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union (watch highlights here), Vanney was full of praise for his team after a difficult few days. The Union, on the other hand, had to give thanks to Zac MacMath for stepping up after what has no doubt been a difficult couple of months.

5. REVS' RISE, SPORTING'S SLIDE CONTINUE

We have to work harder” was Peter Vermes' verdict after his Sporting Kansas City side suffered their third straight defeat, this time losing 3-1 to the New England Revolution (watch highlights here). SKC did lead the game at one point, but some heroics from Lee Nguyen helped turn things around for the Revolution.

6. SOUNDERS EXTEND THEIR LEAD AT THE TOP

The Seattle Sounders opened a five-point gap at the top of the Western Conference with a 4-2 win over Chivas USA (watch highlights here), leading head coach Sigi Schmid to promise, "This isn't last year." All four of Seattle’s goals came in a first half which Chivas USA coach Wilmer Cabrera labelled embarrassing.

7. VEGAS ON HOLD?

Wednesday saw the Las Vegas City Council debate the proposal to build a $200 million soccer stadium in the city. However, anyone who was hoping for a resolution on the day will be disappointed to learn that the vote on the matter has been delayed until Oct. 1.

8. GOOD NEWS FOR UNITED

Things are looking better and better for D.C. United fans, as it seems that Ben Olsen is close to signing a new long-term contract with the club. Not only that but, according to Olsen himself, it seems United could soon be welcoming back long-absent star Chris Pontius. However, it’s not all good news, as Chris Rolfe injured his arm in training on Tuesday.

9. ORLANDO MAGIC

With Orlando City entering MLS next season, the league’s 21st team ensured they will leave the USL PRO on a high after a 0-0 draw with the Wilmington Hammerheads guaranteed Orlando's third regular-season title in four years.

10. TARGET ACQUIRED?

Having pretty much confirmed the news via their own website, it seems the Colorado Rapids are closing in on a new signing to help ease their injury woes in defense. There’s been no official confirmation of that player's identity, but the general consensus is that it’s Englishman Zat Knight.

11. DYNAMO IN SAFE HANDS

Tally Hall may be out for the season, but do the Houston Dynamo have a perfect replacement on their hands in the form of Tyler Deric? Despite just four MLS starts to his name, the Homegrown Player has been with the club in some form since 2007, and his teammates certainly think he's up to the task.

12. RECORD IN SIGHT FOR BWP?

Bradley Wright-Phillips may have been shut out against D.C. United but, with nine games left to go for the New York Red Bulls, the Englishman is growing increasingly confident that he can break MLS’ long-standing single-season goal record.

13. CREW WIN WITH HELP FROM AFAR

The Columbus Crew scrimmaged USL PRO affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday, and while the Crew ran out comfortable winners, some eagle-eyed members of the press noticed a Manchester City player training with the Crew. Could it be a new signing? Not so fast.

14. BIENVENIDO, COPA CENTROAMERICANA

The Copa Centroamericana, which helps determines the competitors for next summer’s Gold Cup, got underway at RFK Stadium last night. Costa Rica handed Nicaragua a comprehensive 3-0 defeat (watch highlights here), Honduras beat Belize 2-0 (watch highlights here) thanks to two own goals, while the Seattle Sounders Marco Pappa stepped up to help lead Guatemala to a 2-1 victory over El Salvador (watch highlights here).

15. SHAKHTAR TACTICS

Of course, turmoil in the real world continues at a disturbingly regular pace, and in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, powerhouse Shakhtar found one of their offices overrun by armed men on Wednesday, but that has not stopped the club from registering their Champions League squad or from distributing humanitarian aid whenever possible.

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