Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1) KLINSMANN TABS 23 AS QUALIFYING LOOMS
The discussion, for now at least, centers around the injuries: who isn't in Denver and how the USMNT will deal with those absences. Still, Jurgen Klinsmann remains publicly confident that this squad can get the job done against tough Costa Rican and Mexican sides, even if there are doubt when it comes to experience and depth at outside back.
2) WHO WILL IT BE AT LEFT BACK?
Klinsmann addressed this in his conference call, and ExtraTime Radio podcast reacted to his comments with a call and response. In short, all the options are on the table, including moving DaMarcus Beasley or Geoff Cameron to the defensive flanks. One player who won't be filling any holes is Carlos Bocanegra, who lost his place after finding time on the field hard to come by with Racing Santander in Spain's second division.
3) YOUNGSTERS TAKE ON THE BURDEN
Bocanegra won't be at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, but Brek Shea will, even though his broken foot is "not fully healed." Meanwhile, Sporting Kansas City products Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are close to calling themselves regulars. Now, they just want to contribute when the time comes to make sure it stays that way. And, make no mistake, Friday's match is a "must-win" game.
4) LANDON WON'T BE COMING TO THE RESCUE
One player who won't be lacing up against the Ticos is Landon Donovan. And don't expect Klinsmann to call on the US legend just because the squad is suffering from a few injuries: "The door is always open, as I said, but at the end of the day I will make decisions based on what I think is best for this team going forward. As of today, right now, he's not part of the plans because he is simply not playing or training.”
5) COSTA RICA NOT SO SURE US IS WEAKER
The accepted logic around CONCACAF recently is that the USMNT is not the power it once was. Costa Rica's Bryan Oviedo isn't so sure about that. Check out why Oviedo isn't taking the Americans lightly, plus all the other news from Ticos camp (SPANISH).
6) BRADLEY'S 85 MILLION-MAN ARMY
While his USMNT successor preps for Costa Rica and Mexico, former US manager Bob Bradley is focused exclusively on guiding Egypt to the World Cup after a promising start to qualifying. The Pharaohs play Zimbabwe on March 26. FIFA.com caught up with Bradley for a two-part interview to discuss the the nation's struggles in the wake of Port Said, his commitment to the cause and thoughts on African soccer and the "special opportunity" in front of Mohamed Aboutrika and the rest of the squad.
7) MLS' INTERNATIONAL CONTINGENT
Of course, US stars aren't the only ones boarding flights this week for international matches. The league is contributing 38 players to 15 different national teams during the upcoming international window. Tim Cahill is one of those, and he says Australia must pick up the pace against Oman. Bakary Soumaré was called by Mali as well despite finding playing time in Philly difficult to come by, and his club coach is thrilled for the center back, who is still working his way back from injury.
8) LOOKING BACK AT THE ATLANTIC CUP
If you haven't stumbled upon Sports On Earth yet, this will be your introduction. If you're already familiar with the website, then you know it's to be appreciated. Either way, here's a piece on the Red Bulls' home opener, which may have ended in a draw but was a positive sign for a team with marked defensive issues. These two new signings aren't on the backline, but they still seem to be plenty talented.
9) WATCH OUT FOR CHELÍS AND CHIVAS USA
Well, at the very least listen to what José Luis "El Chelís" Sánchez Solá has to say. Apparently, the Chivas USA manager's postgame press conferences have become the stuff of legends. Find out why Chelis stood up for Bruce Arena, said MLS doesn't want Joaquín Velázquez and sang for the assembled journalists. No wonder the league's most colorful coach and his plucky team have suddenly become likeable. They're maturing too, according to Oswaldo Minda.
10) PORTLAND'S SOCCER ROSE IN FULL BLOOM
Not everybody believes sports deserves public support. Heck, not even Portland was convinced when Merritt Paulson pitched his vision to the city council a few years ago. But the city signed on, and they couldn't be happier with the results after a little more than two seasons of the Timbers taking over the city from March through November. Check out this editorial from The Oregonian, which shows just how much the club has been embraced in a city ready to put its best foot forward on a national stage.
11) LET'S HAVE ANOTHER LOOK
There were some controversial calls in Week 3 – Velázquez's red, Cooper's hand ball turned goal and Hamid's goal-line save just to name a few – and MLSsoccer.com's Simon Borg takes a closer look in this week's Instant Replay. Check it out, apparently even Paulson makes watching the video a weekly habit.
12) EVERYBODY LOVES KEI
Say what you will about Kei Kamara, but the man knows how to engage a fanbase. He's wasted no time doing so at Norwich City after ingratiating himself in Kansas City over the past few years. As always, Kamara is promoting Sierra Leone, and locals screened the documentary about the on-loan SKC striker recently.
13) ADU INCHES CLOSER TO BAHIA MOVE
What's Freddy Adu's next stop? We may be close to finding out. Adu will reportedly arrive in Brazil on Wednesday for a medical with Bahia, who could send Kléberson back to the Union as compensation. Here is how Bahia sold the move to their fans: "[The transfer] will improve the relations with American football and will attract both national and international media, the player is good, young and could adapt to Brazilian football."
14) AMERICANS FIGHTING FOR LIGA MX GLORY
Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza lifted the last league cup in Mexico, but they're fading this time around with Copa Libertadores to worry about. Check out this breakdown of the Liga MX table and see where that trio, as well as Herculez Gomez and DaMarcus Beasley, stand in the Mexican playoff race.
15) DON'T CROSS THE LINE
Most talk the talk. Now Major League Soccer is inviting you to walk the walk and refuse to tolerate discrimination, bias, prejudice or harassment of any kind. Check out what Dwayne De Rosario, Thierry Henry, Kyle Beckerman, Jay DeMerit, Graham Zusi and Brad Davis have to say on the subject and make the pledge: Don't Cross The Line.
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