Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. NATIONAL TEAM NEWS
The US squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers was originally slated to be announced today but has been reportedly delayed until Sunday because of some last-minute injury concerns. Greg Seltzer has some new ideas for that continued problem spot: left back. Canada, meanwhile, are free of injury worries and revealed the team that will face Australia in London. Not to leave out Mexico, here’s a song commissioned for fans of the national side living in the USA.
2. TOUGH CHOICES
The Colorado Rapids' Shane O’Neill may soon have a difficult choice to make: Does he want to represent Ireland (the country where he was born) or the USA (the country where he has spent most of his life)? Does he want less potentially less competition for places or the opportunity to play in major tournaments? O’Neill is the latest in a growing number of dual national players, and it presents Jurgen Klinsmann with a bit of a dilemma.
3. FUTURE OF THE FUTURE
The US Under-18 national team will fly to France next week for a four-team tournament featuring the Czech Republic, France and Poland. Among the 18 players selected for the squad are four MLS Academy players as well as Schellas Hyndman’s grandson.
4. EVEN MORE SOCCER FOR ST. LOUIS
St Louis has hosted two massive games this year, featuring some of the biggest names in the game. How do you top that? How about getting the biggest name of all. Busch stadium will host Argentina and Lionel Messi (hopefully in a game he won’t leave at halftime) against Bosnia and Herzegovina this November. It’s another opportunity to see how St Louis feels about soccer.
5. HOUSTON LOOKING FOR AFFILIATE
The Houston Dynamo have said they expect to find a USL PRO affiliate for the 2014 season. The Dynamo are already familiar with such deals, having loaned Brian Ownby to the Richmond Kickers, but club president Chris Canetti talks about the need for a full-time link up as well as whether the Dynamo would ever consider starting their own USL team.
6. INDY ELEVEN’S NO. 1
Fresh off the news of their sponsorship deal with Honda, the Indy Eleven have also revealed their inaugural kits and announced their first-ever player. It's a signing that affects the Rochester Rhinos as well.
7. FINAL REACTIONS
With the curtain closed on the 2013 US Open Cup final, here are some final thoughts and reactions from both D.C. United and Real Salt Lake, as well as this take on the whole thing from Grantland.com. Two interesting questions to come out of the tournament final? First, should the manager/coach really be the one to lift the trophy? Second, could we see Open Cup games moved to a Saturday? Finally, Al Jazeera has produced a great history of the US Open Cup that's well worth checking out.
8. ACOSTA POINTS TO BRIGHT FUTURE FOR DALLAS
While the second half of this season hasn’t had much for FC Dallas fans to celebrate, one bright spot has been the development of Kellyn Acosta. The 18-year-old midfielder now holds the record for most first-team minutes by a FC Dallas Homegrown player and it’s more than Acosta had ever dreamed of: “I was just looking to work hard, get some reserve games in and go from there.”
9. ROGERS READY TO RETURN
It’s been a miserable second half of the season for Robbie Rogers so far with injury and illness keeping him sidelined for the majority of the campaign. However, it looks like he is almost ready to return and help the Galaxy down the final stretch. Whatever happens, Rogers expects a lot from himself: “Any expectations that anyone has on me, trust me, mine are higher.”
10. RED BULLS GET PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
Remember when Hans Backe said he valued the Supporters' Shield over MLS Cup because it reflected the entire season’s performance? Many criticized him for failing to understand the American mentality. Good news for Red Bulls fans as Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Philips -- two Englishmen -- seem to get it. The Cup comes first.
11. RETIREMENT BECKONS FOR UNION 'KEEPER
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Oka Nikolov is considering retirement at the end of this season. You’d be forgiven for not knowing much about Nikolov. Since joining the Union in June after 19 years with German club Eintracht Frankfurt, the veteran hasn’t played a single minute. That's mostly due to the superb work of first-choice shotstopper Zac McMath.
12. MANAGING HYPOCRISY
Given the heated, high-pressure jobs of head coaches and players, we should never be too surprised by some of the lines they come out with after losses. After all, there’s always something to complain about. However, what they should really be aware of is that, often times, the thing they are complaining about is something their team does, too.
13. OPTA-MAL VIEW OF SOCCER
Chances are you’ve seen an Opta stat before, either quoted in someone’s article or retweeted by someone on Twitter. Maybe you even follow them yourselves. The company has been in operation for 17 years and NBC’s ProSoccer Talk takes a look at how Opta forever altered soccer.
14. BRADLEY: A CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHY
Has Bob Bradley become more popular since he took the Egyptian job? It certainly seems he’s well loved in Egypt, but what about over here? Despite the turmoil and the drama in the African nation, would we really care about the soccer team without Bradley in charge? An article over at TheShinGuardian.com examines how our view of Bradley has changed over the past two years.
15. DEFENDING IN STYLE
What does Sporting Kansas City defender Aurélien Collin do when he’s not training or playing? Work on his fashion collection, of course. On the subject of defenders, New Zealand’s national team is, apparently, in disarray. Could the team enlist the services of a certain MLS manager for the upcoming World Cup playoffs?