Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. DONOVAN DAZZLES
Are you watching, Jurgen? Landon Donovan rolled back the years in the second half of LA’s 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night. Donovan recorded two assists and scored the final goal as he reminded everyone what the USMNT could have. “I think aside from the plays that really made the goals, I just felt like I was more aggressive," he said. "I was running at people again. I felt back to my old self. It was a nice feeling.”
2. LA TURN ON THE CLASS AFTER UNION'S EARLY DOMINATION
After two defeats on the bounce, LA returned to their best in the second half. They opened up a young Union defense and Robbie Keane’s return made a huge difference. But Philadelphia had the Galaxy on the ropes for awhile in the first half. “Honestly, we played probably the best 40 minutes we played in that first half,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We had the two-time defending champions on the ropes in a big way. We’ve just got to be able to sustain that.”
3. STALEMATE AT STADE SAPUTO
The first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final took place last night, as the Vancouver Whitecaps frustrated the Montreal Impact in a 0-0 tie. The second leg at BC Place on May 29 is now wide open, with a 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League spot at stake. The Impact were frustrated, to be sure, but happy not to give up a crucial away goal. Meanwhile, the ‘Caps plan worked to perfection.
4. US OPEN CUP THIRD ROUND SET
Well, almost. As MLS teams prepare to enter the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in the third round, they now know which teams they could face. The draw was made yesterday evening and can be viewed in full here. You can also check out a play-by-play from the Chicago Fire's Jeff Crandall here. Some standout ties include the San Jose Earthquakes at Charleston Battery or Portland Timbers U-23s, while the defending champions, Sporting KC, will host either Minnesota United FC (NASL) or the Des Moines Menace (PDL).
5. HAMID IN USMNT SQUAD?
With the US national team squad set to be announced later today, Jurgen Klinsmann will have some incredibly tough decisions to make. But it seems as if Bill Hamid is already in. According to a report from The Washington Post, several sources have confirmed that Hamid has made the squad for friendlies against Belgium and Germany and the World Cup qualifiers in June. Thoughts?
6. A DAY WITH THE DARK CLOUDS OF MINNESOTA…
OK, this is pretty awesome. The reigning NASL Champs Minnesota United have a loud and proud fanbase, and they were depicted in their natural habitat in this great piece by Andy Mannix. Games of Jenga, shots of Jameson and plenty of early-morning chanting. The "Dark Clouds" are coming, you’ve all been warned. Also, MLS could be coming to Minnesota. Key word could. ICYMI here are the Vikings’ new stadium plans which could accommodate an MLS club.
7. BALL BOY CONTROVERSY RUMBLES ON
The MLS Players Union had their say on the ball-boy incident during Portland’s 3-0 win over Chivas USA last weekend. Mario de Luna was banned for one game for “aggressively retrieving a ball.” Richard Farley over at NBC Sports takes a look at why the Players Union got so upset and what lies ahead. What do you think of all this?
8. MLS SUSPENDS THREE OTHERS, REF CHIEF WALTON SPEAKS OUT
But it wasn’t just de Luna who came under scrutiny this week. Johnny Leverón, Edson Buddle and Kwame Watson-Siriboe were all handed bans. Do you agree with the decisions? Also, head of PRO Peter Walton spoke about Toronto FC’s displeasure at some refereeing decisions against them – and he agreed with TFC.
9. ESPN MAKES MLS COVERAGE PRIORITY
Some big news from ESPN yesterday, as it revealed its soccer plans for the upcoming season. The Guardian spent some time with Alexi Lalas & Co. during a recent MLS game. See what happens behind the scenes during MLS coverage on ESPN. Enjoy.
10. RUSSELL TO RETIRE, WILL STUDY MEDICINE AT GEORGETOWN
D.C. United will be saying goodbye to veteran defender Robbie Russell this Sunday, as he will retire after their match against Sporting KC. The former RSL, Rosenborg BK and Viborg FF defender scored the winning penalty in Salt Lake’s 2009 MLS Cup win. He will now attend Georgetown University's pre-med program. Congrats on a glittering career, future Dr. Russell.
11. GARDNER HEADING TO MLS?
Bolton Wanderers and Jamaican legend Ricardo Gardner has his eyes set on a move to MLS: “My family are happy that we are heading back to Jamaica. I want to get the family settled as quickly as possible, then I am maybe looking at doing a year in the MLS.” The winger has been hampered by injuries in recent years and left Bolton last May, but the 34-year-old spent 14 years in England and has captained his national team, winning 112 caps. He also owns a record label, Heart of Love Production. You learn something new everyday…
12. FREDDY ADU AND THE 10 PAYING FANS
Adu was in Copa do Brasil action for Bahia last night … and just 10 fans bought tickets for the clash. Fans are showing their displeasure at three managers in two months and poor performances on the field. Oh Freddy, what have you gotten yourself into.
13. CHELSEA WIN EUROPA LEAGUE, LAMPARD SIGNS NEW DEAL
Branislav Ivanovic was Chelsea’s hero last night in Amsterdam, as the Serbian defender headed home the winner in stoppage time to seal Chelsea’s second European trophy in as many seasons. Benfica gave the Blues plenty of problems, but the London side prevailed. More good news for Chelsea fans: Frank Lampard revealed he signed a new one-year deal at Stamford Bridge, all but ending rumors that he will join the LA Galaxy. For the time being, at least.
14. MANCHESTER CITY PLANNING TO EXPAND THE ETIHAD
We all love a good rumor about stadiums. And although this isn’t in MLS, if Man City’s plans to expand the Etihad stadium go ahead, it would become the third-largest EPL ground. Take a look.
15. SOCCER ON THE TUBE
Plenty of action on TV today, with Copa Libertadores matches between Olimpia and Tigre at 7 pm ET and Santa Fe and Gremio at 9:30 pm ET. Both will be aired on Fox Deportes. Meanwhile, over on Univision Deportes, Santos Laguna take on Cruz Azul in the Liga MX semifinals at 10 pm ET.
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