Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. EJ ON THE MOVE?
Has Eddie Johnson played his last game for the Seattle Sounders? According to a report from SI.com, the club is actively looking to ship the player out to another MLS club. Any move would certainly involve EJ getting more money and the Sounders getting much-needed salary cap relief for the Sounders, but the club isn't commenting. One club that could probably use a striker of Johnson’s caliber would be D.C. United, with their own John Thorrington assesing their woes this way: “Scoring goals was probably the most obvious issue” for his side this year.
2. EL TRI PUT ONE FOOT IN FINAL
Mexico put all their problems aside on Wednesday afternoon and secured a convincing 5-1 victory over New Zealand (watch highlights here) in their World Cup intercontinental playoff. While El Tri still have to travel to New Zealand for the second leg, it looks highly unlikely the All Whites will be able to turn things around. So how did the Mexican players rate in their performance?
3. INJURIES HIT US SQUAD
Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson have both pulled out of the US national team squad due to injury. If you’re wondering who will replace them, U.S. Soccer has revealed that there will be no replacements called into the US camp at this time. Mike Magee isn’t the only one to be overlooked continuously at this point, as Tim Ream is quietly having a very good year.
4. THE BEST OF THE BEST
The US have an ever increasing number of options at each position (except left back), so ESPNFC.com asks the question, who are the first choices for each position? Also, who would be your choice for USMNT player of the year? Here are compelling arguments for both Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
5. GOING OVERSEAS
Jurgen Klinsmann is keen for his key US players -- think Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi -- to go on loan to European clubs this January. However, as SI.com points out, as things stand, Dempsey is the only one who looks to be going, with one British tabloid wasting no time in speculating just where he might end up. Yet there is another player following Klinsmann’s advice, as Chris Wondolowski looks to do all he can to secure a World Cup spot.
6. HAVING A LOOK
While this young man is certainly not in the US picture just yet, news broke Wednesday that Jack McBean will be traveling to England this offseason to train with both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers. Here he may just cross paths with Will Packwood, who has extended his loan with Bristol Rovers, or even former New England Revolution player Kalifa Cissé, who is set to be offered a contract with Derby County.
7. HIGH FIVE
The Chicago Fire’s Arévalo Ríos was in action on Wednesday as Uruguay beat Jordan 5-0 in the first leg of their World Cup playoff to all but assure their place at next summer’s World Cup finals. Ríos himself looked convincing, which bodes well for the Fire next season. There could be yet another MLS player involved in international action this week too, as D.C. United’s Michael Seaton has been called up by Jamaica.
8. BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS
Orlando City officially revealed that there would be not one but two big announcements next week regarding their club. While most people can probably guess what Tuesday’s major revelation might be, Monday’s news might be a little harder to predict.
9. OVERCOMING ADVERSITY NOTHING NEW FOR TIMBERS BOSS
If Caleb Porter wants to reach the MLS Cup final, his side will have to overturn a two-goal deficit against a strong Real Salt Lake side. It’s a tough task, but the Portland boss is looking forward to the challenge. Porter has faced failure before though and the lessons learned from that could stand him in good stead.
10. RSL’S BREAKOUT STAR IS TAKING HIS CHANCE
Sebastian Velasquez is, quite rightly, getting a lot of attention at the moment for his performances with Real Salt Lake. But believe it or not, the Colombian almost had to give up his dream of playing soccer just two years ago. Velasquez is also a topic on this week’s March to the Match podcast, where the guys ask if the midfielder is the player we always wanted Freddy Adu to be.
11. VALUE FOR MONEY
While Business of Soccer’s analysis of the Castrol index and players salaries showed that Lamar Neagle was the best value for money player in MLS, a deeper look shows that New England provided the most value per point on the index. There's slightly more troubling news for New England fans though, when it comes to those supposed plans for a new stadium.
12. YOUNG AT HEART
Pablo Mastroeni may be 37 years old, but the midfielder isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet, saying, “Physically, I just feel so good.” However, contract and family issues might make his decision a little more difficult
13. A NEW CREW?
Could some familiar faces be joining Gregg Berhalter’s new-look Columbus Crew coaching staff? Frankie Hejduk has already suggested Berhalter could be a future USMNT coach, but could Hejduk and Mike Lapper both be joining Berhalter as assistant coaches at the Crew? While Berhalter’s appointment has been met with wide positivity, over at Goal.com, Ives Galarcep questions whether Berhalter’s hiring is the sure thing we’re being led to believe. Elsewhere, is a former Colorado Rapids boss interested in the FC Dallas job? Dallasnews.com caught up with Gary Smith to find out.
14. ST. LOUIS WON’T GIVE UP
Soccer fans can play a huge role in bringing soccer to their city -- just look at what the Sons of Ben did with the Philadelphia Union. So, with that in mind, a group of soccer fans in St Louis, called the St. Louligans, won’t stop until their city has an MLS team, or at the very least a USL PRO team. Speaking of USL PRO, it looks like Sacramento Republic FC might have found a new home.
15. YOU CAN RUN WITH US
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