Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today, and be sure to come back to MLSsoccer.com at 2 pm ET to watch the State of the League address.
1. KREIS-IS FOR REAL SALT LAKE?
Saturday comes first. That’s the message from Jason Kreis when it comes to his future, but what will become of the Real Salt Lake head coach following the MLS Cup final? The latest news from SI.com suggests he is "almost 100 percent" in for the NYCFC job next season, but has Kreis made a decision? Check out his reaction when asked about this on Monday, along with this from team standout Kyle Beckerman: "How can we hold someone back from going somewhere, if that's the case?" And here's Kreis' Twitter response to the article's writer, Brian Straus.
2. CUP TICKETS GET COSTLY
The MLS Cup final is getting closer and there are a number of reasons Sporting Kansas City players are hoping to for success, with Dom Dwyer looking to win two league titles in one year and Jimmy Nielsen hoping to make some history of his own. Tickets for the Sporting Park final may be the most expensive in the past five years and it's still likely be a sellout, a fact Real Salt Lake plan to use to their advantage. And in the latest of our series breaking down the matchups, how do the two finalist compare when it comes to the midfield?
3. OLSEN, KASPER TO STAY ON AT DC
Despite posting the league's worst record this season, it appears that D.C. United will retain the services of head coach Ben Olsen and general manager David Kasper heading into 2014. Both men are part of the group which has left for the club’s Indonesian tour, as are six players from USL PRO affiliate the Richmond Kickers. The club also unveiled an official collaboration agreement with Inter Milan which will see “the sharing of team, organizational and competitive best practices.”
4. PLAUDITS FOR PORTER
Congratulations to Caleb Porter for winning MLS Coach of the Year in his first season with the Portland Timbers. While it was a close race, Porter stood out for the remarkable work he did in changing the Timbers from one of the league’s worst teams into the top seed in the Western Conference just one year. Porter sat down to talk with MLSsoccer.com about how he got to this stage and what attracted him to the “sleeping giant” that was the Portland Timbers.
5. COMEBACK KING
Huge congratulations as well to New England Revolution defender Kevin Alston, who won the MLS Comeback Player of the Year award on Monday. In April, Alston was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, a rare but treatable form of leukemia, forcing him to take a break from MLS. However, Alston completed his remarkable comeback by returning to the field less than four months later, earning praise from Revolution president Brian Bilello as “an inspiration for our entire organization.”
6. BRADLEY'S BIG CHOICE
So with an offer from the Vancouver Whitecaps supposedly on the table, what will Bob Bradley do next? Will he take the job with the Whitecaps or is this his opportunity to manage in Europe? Plus, could we see another former international manager making his way to MLS? According to former Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni, he's ”received flattering offers from places like America and Japan.”
7. BIDDING FAREWELL IN HOUSTON
The Houston Dynamo on Monday reiterated that there will be very few changes to their squad this offseason, yet there will be one notable absence next year: no more Brian Ching. As such, the Houston Dynamo’s club website is featuring a series of conversations with Ching as he reflects on all the accomplishments of his career.
8. CALDERÓN OUT IN COLORADO
The Colorado Rapids have parted ways with defender Diego Calderón. The Ecuadorian arrived on loan at the start of the year and was the starting center back alongside Drew Moor. However, a season-ending injury in March meant the team never saw him in action again. Meanwhile, could a USL PRO affiliate be about to land on the Rapids doorstep?
9. PERMIT SURPRISE?
When Juan Agudelo was recently denied a work permit to join English side Stoke City, many expressed shock at the decision. Yet, with the UK implementing tougher visa restrictions, should anyone really have been that surprised? The Business of Soccer takes a look.
10. ORLANDO CITY’S MASTERPLAN
In part two of a chat with Orlando City president Phil Rawlins and head coach Adrian Heath, NBC’s ProSoccerTalk finds out about the club's plans for filling its new stadium, targeting British ex-pats and making Orlando City the best market in MLS. They also discuss how a stronger soccer pyramid is good for U.S. Soccer.
11. PLANNING FOR BRAZIL
The US national team's preparations for the World Cup are starting to take shape, with the USSF announcing Monday that a friendly against South Korea will take place on Feb. 1 in Los Angeles. So, we now know the dates and details of the team's January camp and, on Tuesday, we will also know for certain which teams they could face in Friday’s World Cup draw, with FIFA expected to officially unveil the pot allocation. So what will the US need to focus on ahead on next summer?
12. WORK TO DO FOR MEXICO
On Monday, Mexico announced Miguel Herrera as the national team’s official head coach. Herrera had been in temporary charge since October, overseeing the country’s last-gasp qualification for the World Cup in their playoff series vs. New Zealand. Has he benefitted from being in the right place at the right time? Either way, despite making it to the World Cup, Mexico still have a lot to prove.
13. JAMAICAN INPUT
While this year’s MLS Cup final could well feature two Jamaicans (RSL's Lovel Palmer and Khari Stephenson), according to RSL head scout and former Jamaican international Andy Williams, “It’s ridiculous that there are not more players from Jamaica" in MLS. One notable Jamaican who won’t be making another appearance in the near future is Dane Richards, who has repotedly turned down offers from three MLS clubs to remain in Norway.
14. OFFSEASON PLANS
While Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are gearing up for the most important game of the season, what are other MLS clubs doing over the winter to try and ensure they can be in that position next year?
15. TURNING BLUE
OK folks, brace yourselves. Ever wondered what Joey Saputo would look like if he dyed his beard blue? Then wonder no more, as the Montreal Impact owner agreed to do so if he raised $25,000 for Procure, a Quebec organization set up to combat prostate cancer. With the funds raised, in went the dye.
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.