Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. US OPEN CUP FIELD SET
Reigning US Open Cup champions Sporting Kansas City were left scratching their heads after their home loss to the Portland Timbers this past weekend in league play, but pretty soon, they will be switching their attentions back to their USOC title defense. And now they know who they could face when MLS teams join the fray, as the 68-team field was set yesterday. Play in this, the 100th US Open Cup to be contested, begins May 7.
2. EXPANDING CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
Further north, the second legs of the Amway Canadian Championship won't take place until Wednesday, but the national tournament is in the news today. Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani tells MLSsoccer.com that the field will expand in 2014 in order to accomodate the nation's newest pro club, the NASL's Ottawa Fury. They will likely take part in a playoff with the other NASL club, FC Edmonton. But, wait, are there more changes afoot?
3. ORLANDO CITY ONE STEP CLOSER
Orlando took a big step towards realizing its dream of a new stadium last night, as the Florida senate passed bill SB-306. That bill aims to significantly help a potential MLS franchise with the stadium support bill helping to fund a planned $100 million stadium downtown, as Orlando hopes for an expansion franchise after months of relentless campaigning from the club and locals. The bill now moves into the House of Representatives for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday. Stay tuned.
4. PARK, PENNANT HEADING TO MLS?
It is that time of year again. Around the end of the domestic season in the UK an Europe, plenty of player who are either out of contract, out of favor or just fancy a change of scenery are rumored with moves to MLS. This morning reports of former Manchester United and current QPR midfielder Park Ji-Sung heading to Toronto are rife. And TFC and Vancouver could be in for ex-Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant, whose contract with Stoke City is coming to an end.
5. RBNY GROWING CONFIDENT
Recording their first back-to-back wins of the 2013 season, the New York Red Bulls locker room must be buzzing. And the confidence they are gaining from big wins, coupled weith improved discipline and chemistry, is helping according to two-goal hero Tim Cahill. While Soccer By Ives asks if RBNY need to address the goalkeeper situation after Luis Robles’ mistake for Toronto’s equalizer at the weekend.
6. SPORTING KC: “WE HAD NOTHING”
Some more reaction coming in from a thriller on Saturday, as Sporting KC ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen revealed just why Portland beat SKC. “We’ve been begging for teams to come here and come at us,” Nielsen said. “They did, and we didn’t have an answer for it.” The game was perhaps the best the league has seen this season and a marquee win for the Timbers franchise. But it’s not all bad for Sporting, as there young star Dom Dwyer is making waves on loan at Orlando City in the USL PRO, so are a bunch of other MLS loanees.
7. BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS
Someone who usually has his hands everywhere is San Jose’s Steven Lenhart. The bullish striker was involved in more grappling at the weekend, what do you make of it? Did he deserve more? MLSsoccer.com's Simon Borg analyzes Lenhart’s latest incident and much more in the newest edition of "Instant Replay."
8. MLS REFS UNIONIZE?
According to the Associated Press, MLS match officials said they had voted to certify the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) as their collective bargaining agent in a vote conducted under the rules of the National Labor Relations Board. No official word yet from the league.
9. ARENA COY ON MAGEE’S USMNT CHANCES
You knew it had to be coming soon, and it has. LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has answered questions about Mike Magee getting national team recognition. Magee leads MLS in scoring this season, with six goals in seven outings, so he deserves a call up, right Bruce? “Right now, I’m going to relax and let the coach makes all those kind of decisions because as we know, they’re never easy.” Non-committal. Should Magee be in the squad?
10. BRADLEY RANKED FIFTH-BEST NATIONAL TEAM COACH
So here's an accolade worth shouting about. Former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley is doing pretty well with Egypt in their quest for World Cup qualification at Brazil 2014. And this morning Bradley has been ranked as the fifth best national team soccer coach on the planet, by Football Coach World Ranking. Spain's Vicente del Bsque tops the list..
11. US SQUAD DOMINATING THE VATICAN
Speaking of obscure soccer stories, check this out. A 153-year-old American seminary, Pontifical North American College, is leading the way in the Vatican City soccer scene. How did this happen? The Wall Street Journal takes you on a trip to the Clericus Cup, a tournament that pits squads from 16 seminaries against each other in a battle for the city's Catholic sports bragging rights. The US citizens are dominating, need I say any more?
12. GAME DAY IN MONTREAL
Warning: This video will make you want to visit Stade Saputo. And that’s OK. This incredible promo video from the Montreal Impact is probably the best MLS video this year, as the stunning artistry the guys up at Impact media have created is sublime. Get ready to “not give in.”
13. GUZAN CLIMBING AWAY FROM DROP ZONE
Big news came from the EPL last night, as USMNT ‘keeper Brad Guzan helped Aston Villa to a resounding 6-1 victory over Sunderland in the huge relegation battle. Guzan’s side now sit six points above the relegation zone with three games left. However, Roger Espinoza’s Wigan side, who occupy the final relegation spot, do have a game in hand.
14. D-DAY FOR MADRID
The big match on the tube this afternoon (2:45 pm ET, Fox Soccer) sees Real Madrid host Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Champions League semifinals. Of course, Madrid trail 4-1 from the first leg, after Robert Lewandowski went nuts at the Westfalenstadion. So can they come back and do the impossible?
15. SKILLS FROM BRAZIL
This video was taken in what looks like a Brazilian basement, but this kid has all kinds of skills with the soccer ball. The fast feet are incredible and he is willing to take his talents anywhere, just give him an email, it is attached to the impressive YouTube video.
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