Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. SCORELESS IN SCOTLAND
The 0-0 scoreline may not have been what either US or Scotland fans wanted to see on Friday, but was the teams' international friendly ever really about the result for the Americans? It was a chance for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to further examine his options for the World Cup, and there was plenty to think about. Klinsmann likes the look of Jozy Altidore and Aron Jóhannsson up front together, while Brek Shea made a good case for himself as well. Eric Lichaj made a cameo appearance on his return to the national team and, while he’s happy to be back in the fold, he knows he has a lot of work to do to displace Brad Evans at right back. Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan is willing to adapt, if it means staying part of the team.
2. CANADA’S REALITY CZECH
Canada fell to another defeat on Friday, but Benito Floro’s side again showed positive signs of improvement. The Spaniard himself was happy with what he saw from his team, despite Canadian hero Dwayne De Rosario missing a crucial PK. Mexico, meanwhile, travel to New Zealand this week knowing that the pressure is off following their 5-1 first-leg playoff victory. New Zealand, meanwhile, have apparently not given up hope. Perhaps they’ll even be inspired by former Mexican star Hugo Sánchez calling them rugby rejects.
3. AROUND THE WORLD
Plenty of other MLS stars were involved in action over the weekend. Michael Seaton is now a full Jamaican international at only 17 years old, Bright Dike and Nigeria earned their place in the World Cup, Steven Beitashour was solid in Iran’s win over Thailand, as was Soony Saad in Lebanon’s match against Kuwait. Jonny Steele made his Northern Ireland debut while Robbie Keane did what Robbie Keane does, and scored for the Republic of Ireland.
4. LOAN SHARKS
Clint Dempsey is still the only US player being linked seriously (or just repeatedly) with an off season loan abroad and, as things stand, could West Ham United of the EPL be leading the race to sign Deuce? Or could it be Aston Villa? Yet, it’s not just US players looking at options this winter, as Tim Cahill is apparently considering spending some time in Australia’s A-League. Elsewhere, De Rosario could be making a more permanent move overseas.
5. SHOWING SOME LOVE IN MIAMI
You can’t really take too much away from it when Brazil are in town but, if you were looking for a sign that Miami loves its soccer, then look no further than the fact that 71,124 people showed up to watch Brazil beat Honduras 5-0. Can even a quarter of that audience transfer into an MLS crowd? MLS executive Dan Coutemanche was a guest on Fox Business to talk about the challenges facing potential owner David Beckham. Miami, meanwhile, now has two of the top five attendance figures for soccer games this year.
6. SOCCER IN ST. LOUIS
While Brazil were in Miami, the other South American superpower, Argentina, will be in St. Louis on Monday, just two days after playing out a 0-0 draw with Ecuador in New York. Even though injured Lionel Messi has been scubbed from the team, a big crowd is expected at Busch Stadium to watch the game, with the majority of the audience there to watch Argentina’s opponents, Bosnia and Herzegovina instead. Just look at the crowd that showed up to watch a training session.
7. DALLAS 'TIL I DIE
There was a time when the Hunt family owned three Major League Soccer teams, but after selling off the Kansas City Wizards and, more recently, the Columbus Crew, that leaves them with just FC Dallas. That’s just the way Dan Hunt wants it though, and he says he has no intentions of ever selling his one remaining team. Hunt also spoke about MLS expansion and is hoping to see a third team in Texas. And could Dallas be on the lookout for a new DP as well?
8. GALAXY OFFSEASON
Bruce Arena doesn’t like the offseason: “The break is too long, it’s too long for the entire league, it’s a real mistake," he says, but this is the first time in three years the LA Galaxy haven’t gone all the way to the MLS Cup final and the majority of players are looking forward to some extended time off. Arena is also hoping the club's young forwards can take some lessons from this season and really step it up in 2014.
9. PLAYOFF POINTS
Portland have their work cut out for them in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship next weekend, but the team is vowing a better defense and a strong attack as well. And ahead of Houston’s second leg against Kansas, what of Boniek García? He's the only MLS player still involved in the playoffs who hasn’t had a rest this week.
10. UNION YOUNG GUNS
There will be some new faces joining the Philadelphia Union this offseason. Boss John Hackworth has already said as much, but that doesn’t mean the look of the team will be changing too much, with the core of Philadelphia’s young team likely to remain the same. Says Hackworth: “If we can keep that core together, and make some adjustments here and there, we’re going to continue to grow.”
11. ROLFE’S ROLE
Under new boss Frank Yallop, Chris Rolfe is expecting good things from the Chicago Fire: "If Frank does what he wants to do, we’re going to have a good team next year.” However, what’s less certain for Rolfe is the role he’ll play on that team.
12. HEADING TO TUSCON
FC Tucson opened their new stadium on Friday with a 1-0 win over MLS’ own Chivas USA. An over-capacity crowd of 2,414 showed up to watch the exhibition and christen the new field. While Chivas USA may have been the first to visit, they certainly won’t be the last, with FC Tucson and Pima County announcing that 10 MLS teams will return to Tucson for spring training. However, could the emergence of Orlando City spell the end for one of the Philadelphia Union’s spring camps?
13. IT’S A TRAPP
Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter began the process of getting to know his players last week, introducing himself and his plans for next season. According to Wil Trapp, the squad likes what he’s had to say so far: “I think he related how he wants to play in a pretty good way.”
14. RAISING THE RESERVES
While we already know which teams will be taking part in MLS and the NASL next season, the same cannot be said for USL PRO. We have to wait until next month to find out who will be in the league, but is the lineup already out there? If so, it seems that LA Galaxy and FC Dallas will have teams joining the competition.
15. COLLEGE BALL
Apart from international soccer, there was also the college game to keep you entertained if you needed your soccer fix this weekend. As the regional tournaments drew to a close, more teams have booked their place in the 48 team NCAA Tournament, including the Maryland Terrapins and Caleb Porter's former side, Akron.
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