Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. OCSC'S MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT
All we know is that it's a "major announcement," the second in consecutive days for USL PRO side and MLS expansion hopefuls Orlando City. Yesterday, the club revealed it was extending its partnership with Orlando Health as the club's jersey sponsor and official healthcare provider. For today's big announcement the meeting point is Church Street at 5 pm ET ahead of the main event at Cheyenne Saloon.
2. SUNSHINE STATE OF MIND
Staying in Florida, according to reports on Monday, NBA star LeBron James is contemplating teaming up with David Beckham to launch a potential new expansion team in Miami with the former LA Galaxy star. “There’s interest on both sides,” the Miami Heat forward was quoted as saying, adding, “David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years.”
3. US GEAR UP FOR 2013 FINALE
The US national team takes on Austria on Tuesday hoping to end a great year with a win (2:45 pm ET, NBCSN/UniMas). For manager Jurgen Klinsmann, it’s one more chance to look at some of his options ahead of next summer’s World Cup but it also raises a couple of questions: If there are a group of players most of us naturally assume will make up the core of the World Cup squad, should we be concerned they’ve never started a game together? Are the US still searching for a playmaker? Plus, could Austria present a tougher challenge than you might think?
4. LAST CHANCE FOR CANADA
When Benito Floro’s new-look Canada side take on Slovenia today (noon ET, Sportsnet One) it will be their last chance to avoid going the entire year without a win. It’s also their last chance to add to the single goal they’ve tallied during the calendar year. Despite whatever happens though, Dwayne De Rosario believes his side is heading in the right direction.
5. MEXICAN PLAYERS BATTLING FOR WORLD CUP TICKETS
With the travel and time difference that comes with playing in New Zealand, it makes the second leg of Mexico's intercontinental World Cup playoff no easy task. Yet with a 5-1 lead from the first leg, the job is pretty much done. Now the Mexican players are playing for places on next summer’s squad. For New Zealand, MLS and the American college system seems to have played a large part in the country's soccer development, but is that a good thing?
6. CALL IT A COMEBACK
What a year it’s been for Bright Dike. After tearing his ACL in February, the Oklahoma-born Nigerian international completed a remarkable comeback by scoring a goal against Italy on Monday in a 2-2 draw. On the other side of the field was another US-born player with a great comeback story. Giuseppe Rossi also scored a goal in his first start for Italy in two years following three knee operations. Meanwhile, 30,397 fans came out in St. Louis to watch Argentina march to a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
7. NEW COACH, SAME GAME PLAN
In case you haven't heard, Australia have a new head coach just months out from the World Cup. And on Tuesday, Ange Postecoglou's reign got off to a winning start with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica. While it may be a new era, the Socceroos used an old formula to score: a header by New York Red Bulls DP Tim Cahill.
8. IT'S ALL IN THE PREPARATION
Peter Vermes is hoping to take Sporting Kansas City all the way to the MLS Cup. In order to do so his side will need to get past the Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, NBCSN) and so Vermes will be calling on all the experience he has gained in an already well-traveled career. Standing opposite him will be Houston coach Dominic Kinnear, but the two men enjoy a friendly rivalry. Elsewhere, former Kansas City player Nick Garcia reflects on his time in MLS and credits Vermes and the club's new owners for turning SKC into the team they are today.
9. PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Congratulations to Álvaro Saborío on winning FutbolMLS.com’s Latino del Año. The 2013 contest featured a record number of votes with the Real Salt Lake striker beating out tough competition from Jaime Penedo, Raúl Fernández and Boniek García to win by a clear margin. Saborio will be hoping to top the week off by playing an important role in RSL’s Western Conference Championship second leg against the Portland Timbers on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN). The Timbers themselves are well-rested and looking to shake off any "rust" ahead of the all-important match.
10. YALLOP ON WATSON
It could be easy for some managers to look at the person who now holds a job they used to have and feel a little bit bitter about it. With that in mind, does Frank Yallop harbor any ill will towards new San Jose Earthquakes coach and his former assistant Mark Watson? Far from it actually: “I’m really proud of someone, obviously in a tough situation… not only doing well but doing fantastic.”
11. FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM
Heath Pearce's last game for the New York Red Bulls came back on June 23 after his season ended prematurely due to hip surgery. Now, with his contract about to expire, the question is: Does Pearce still have a future in New York?
12. SEATTLE'S BIG DECISION
While it was most likely the right choice, why did the Seattle Sounders choose to stick with Sigi Schmid? Could it simply be that there was no better option moving forward or was there more to it than that? The Sounders will, once again, be hoping they can go further next season and, once again, Osvaldo Alonso, just voted the Sounders 2013 MVP, will play a big part.
13. NEW TEAM IN SAN FRANCISCO?
It seems there’s an ever growing list of cities that want a soccer team and an increasing number of fans that aren’t prepared to wait for a millionaire to show up and finance the whole thing. Well, you can now add San Francisco to that list as well, as a group of fans are attempting to put in motion a plan for an NASL team. Staying with the lower leagues, but moving north, it seems Ontario is on the verge of implementing a new, semi-professional, third division, spelling the end for the troubled CSL, which has been repeatedly linked with match fixing.
14. NCAA FIELD SET
We now know the field for the NCAA's 48-team men's tournament, as well who each team will be facing off against, with the Pac-12 earning three of the top four seeds.
15. THE MOVEMENT
It’s only 15 months until New York City FC make their MLS debut and as such, the club's marketing is starting to pick up pace. And the club is not shying away from its links to Manchester City either, as this video shows. Will you be joining the movement?
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