Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. MLS & USL PRO, ONE YEAR LATER
The first year of the MLS-USL PRO Partnership has come to an end and it’s fair to say it has been a success. Of the four teams that linked up with MLS clubs, three of them reached the playoffs, while the MLS clubs themselves all benefited from seeing some of their players get regular minutes in a competitive environment, none more noticeable than Dom Dwyer. USL president Tim Holt called it “as exciting a season as we’ve had” and, with new clubs set to enter the league next year and more MLS clubs looking at either affiliation or fielding their own teams, things can only get better.
2. GAMEDAY IN KANSAS CITY
The Philadelphia Union travel to Sporting Park tonight to take on Sporting Kansas City (8 pm ET, NBCSN). If Sporting win, they will return to the top of the table, even if just briefly depending on the weekend's results, and are likely to welcome back Claudio Bieler from injury. Does the Argentinian get the start ahead of C.J. Sapong, the forward who has regained his scoring form following a difficult start to the year? The Union could do with a win to keep their playoff hopes alive after a five-game slide, but coach John Hackworth doesn't feel this game will make or break their chances.
3. LESSONS LEARNED FROM SOUNDERS
The Seattle Sounders learned a couple of things this year. One, in particular, is how to use set pieces as a weapon, as they've scored four goals from dead-ball plays in their past six games. The other may well go hand in hand with the former but is definitely the most important: As long as you keep winning, it doesn’t always have to be pretty.
4. HOW TO FIX THE CCL
Does the CONCACAF Champions League need fixing? It does, according to Keith Hickey at Goal.com, and he has some ideas about how to do it.
5. MLS IS PRETTY IN PINK
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach program is doing its part. Will you adjust your wardrobe?
6. DALLAS LOOKING FORWARD
Kellyn Acosta is quickly establishing himself as FC Dallas’ first-choice right back and, quite possibly, the club's best-ever Homegrown talent. While the 18-year-old's talent and level of play have worked him into the first team, both he and head coach Schellas Hyndman feel there are areas he can improve upon. Can his team still reach the playoffs, though? According to Kenny Cooper, yes they can.
7. PAUL ARRIOLA AND THE BATTLE ON THE BORDER
It seems everyone wants to write about Paul Arriola. FoxSoccer.com is the latest outlet to do a write up on the young stars career so far but this piece goes a little bit further, examining the battle over players between Mexican clubs and MLS clubs in proximity to the border. Arriola also scored a goal in Club Tijuana’s 6-0 win over Victoria on Thursday evening. The game also saw Herculez Gomez make his debut for the club then bag a hat trick in just 16 minutes.
8. 24 UNDER 24: TOP 5 SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Arriola makes it onto the list, as does Joe Corona, but the latter is currently struggling to find playing time, in part because of the success of Arriola. Corona was taken off at halftime on Thursday evening to allow Gomez to make his debut. Meanwhile, sticking with the 24 Under 24 theme, Goal.com has its own take on the best youngsters in MLS.
9. JOHANNSSON ON RADAR
Aron Jóhannsson may have only played 12 games so far this season for AZ Alkmaar, but the fact that he has scored nine goals in those games has apparently brought him to the attention of a certain Scotish club.
10. DRUG BAN FOR JAMAICAN
Jermaine Hue, a Jamaican international who spent time with the Kansas City Wizards, has been banned for nine month after testing positive for a banned substance. However, the man who administered the drugs, Dr. Carlton Fraser, has been given an even longer punishment.
11. RAPIDS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
With the Colorado Rapids right in the heart of the playoff battle, attention falls on two of their players today. One is Shane O’Neill, whom Goal.com claims is mature beyond his years. Indeed the young center back has only just turned 20 and yet provides a stable presence at the back for Colorado. The second is Anthony Wallace. The former left back has successfully transitioned to midfield and, while his playing time may be limited right now, expects better things to come.
12. FIFA TALKING TURF
FIFA is set to hold a forum next month examining the current state of turf and its use in soccer/football around the world. There will be representatives from both England and Holland taking part in the discussion. Maybe they should get someone from MLS as well.
13. DUO SET TO RETURN FOR EL TRI?
Could Carlos Vela and Guillermo Ochoa be about to return for the Mexican national side? Things might just be looking up for the Mexicans as Héctor González Iñárritu, director of national teams for the Mexican feeration, told TVC Deportes: “I spoke with the players, they seem happy.”
14. IF IN DOUBT, SIT OUT
One area where MLS definitely leads the way compared to other leagues around the world is its procedure for dealing with concussions. With an estimate 140,000 concussions reported each year in high school sports, and many more unreported, a US senator has introduced a bill, endorsed by U.S. Soccer, other major sports and the NCAA that's designed to prevent protect and treat those at risk or suffering from concussions.
15. FOR THE WEEKEND
If you haven’t seen Tim Cahill’s FIFA celebration video, then you really need to check it out. This has given birth to the week’s newest trend: #Cahilling. Also, if you want something else to watch, maybe unwind a little bit at lunch time: Fish cam. Go on, try and look away.