Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. OFFER ON THE TABLE
While Real Salt Lake may be completely focused on Saturday's MLS Cup final, stories about Jason Kreis’ future refuse to go away. While New York City FC reportedly want to lure Kreis away, there's little doubt that RSL want to keep him and, in an exclusive interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, club owner Dell Loy Hansen revealed, “He has a great offer from our side that he will more fully evaluate after the season.” Hansen also spoke about potential Designated Player signings, saying, “If we can get a DP [snaps fingers] we’re there.” Yet, as the March to the Match team discuss, Kreis’ decision could affect all of MLS.
2. MLS CUP > BEST XI
Real Salt Lake have come up empty this season when it comes to the end of year awards However, Kyle Beckerman says that doesn’t bother his team: “Those things are nice, but if you asked every one of those guys if they’d take their Best XI trophy or an MLS Cup trophy, they’d trade it any day of the week.” Hilario Grajeda will be the man in the middle of the field for the MLS Cup final this Saturday, so why not get to know a little bit more about the experienced referee?
3. MAGIC MIKE
He relished a return to his hometown, and now he's the MVP. Mike Magee was officially named Volkswagen MLS MVP on Thursday morning, making the Chicago Fire star only the second player to win the award from a non-playoff team. Magee beat out LA's Robbie Keane and Montreal's Marco Di Vaio for the award. Interestingly, the Chicago native says he models his game after Keane, his former Galaxy teammate.
4. STAYING IN NEW YORK
The New York Red Bulls have begun the process of shaping their team for 2014 and it starts with the return of three players from the completed season. Péguy Luyindula and Eric Alexander both re-signed with the club while it seems Kosuke Kimura restructured his deal in order to stay with the Red Bulls on a multi-year contract.
5. DYNAMO DECLINES
The Houston Dynamo have begun their offseason moves by declining the options on three players. With the club repeatedly stating that there would be very few changes this winter, could turning down deals for Cam Weaver, Andrew Driver and Michael Chabala be part of Houston's tried and tested negotiating tactics? According to Dynamo president Chris Canetti: “Their status with the team is contractually uncertain at this time, but we’ll see how it plays out over time.”
6. MORE AWARDS FOR TIMBERS STARS
The Portland Timbers continue to pick up postseason accolades, with Donovan Ricketts voted Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time on Wednesday and Diego Valeri voted Newcomer of the Year. While Valeri called the award “the most important accomplishment of my career,” he didn’t exactly have time to celebrate, as he underwent surgery for his sports hernia injury on Wednesday. The Argentine is expected to recover in time for the new season though, so what can the Timbers look forward to in 2014? Find out with Timbers Cry Guy.
7. ADIOS, JAIME
After two years in Denver, the Colorado Rapids have parted ways with Colombian midfielder Jaime Castrillón. A knee injury and the emergence of young players like Dillon Powers limited appearances for Castrillón and Rapids technical director Paul Bravo described the move as “in the best interests of both the player and the club.”
8. US MANAGERS, PAST AND PRESENT, LOOK TO THE WORLD CUP DRAW
With the 2014 World Cup draw coming up on Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann has been reflecting on the year just gone and he believes “overall the program is on another level now.” Klinsmann also talked about the upcoming MLS Cup final and spoke highly of the US national players involved, describing Kyle Beckerman as “a giver to the game." Another figure with plenty of experience of the USMNT is Bruce Arena, who wrote a column about the side and Friday's draw for the Los Angeles Times.
9. ROOM WITH A VIEW
Will you be watching the World Cup draw this Friday? The American Outlaws in Seattle certainly will be and ESPN will be covering their viewing party for exclusive reaction as the draw unfolds. The party takes place at the Atlantic Crossing and ESPN has been there before, famously capturing the US fan reaction to Landon Donovan’s stoppage-time winner in 2010. Outlaw or not, you can attend this event as well or, if you don’t happen to be near Seattle, why not try and find a viewing party near you? If you’re in town for the MLS Cup final maybe you’ll want to watch the draw at Sporting Park.
10. DC'S NEW SHIRT?
For the first time in six years, D.C. United will have a new look on their jersey. But who will be the sponsor? Volkswagen announced on Wednesday that it has decided not to renew its sponsorship deal with the club for 2014. The company has been United’s primary sponsor for the past six years but a VW spokesman revealed “Volkswagen has realigned its sports marketing objectives and moved out of team level sponsorships.” Volkswagen is also a main sponsor of MLS and there's no indication yet what the future status of that deal is.
11. THE BIG QUESTIONS
With MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s comments from Tuesday's State of the League still fresh in people’s minds, here’s a little more on some of the key points. Firstly, Fox Soccer examines, and ultimately agrees, with Garber’s comments on switching to a winter schedule. Then there’s a nice summary of the league's quest for a new TV deal before ESPNFC.com asks if there can be such a thing as too much expansion?
12. STADIUMS IN SIGHT?
Are New York City FC the perfect example of expansion potential? They certainly seem to tick all the boxes, and there’s a reason MLS pushed so hard for a second team in New York. Yet it looks like it could be a race to see which New York franchise will get a new stadium first, with the New York Cosmos' project currently in review limbo.
13. A DISNEY ADVENTURE
On Wednesday, the Montreal Impact became the first MLS team to officially announce their involvement in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, returning to the preseason tournament as defending champions. The event will also include Orlando City and take place at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex, temporary home to the future MLS club for their debut 2015 season.
14. GROW AND CONTRACT
While the USL PRO seems to be growing at an unprecedented rate, it appears there may be some bad news for fans in Tampa in Antigua. In more cheerful news, one of the new teams entering the league will be Sacramento Republic FC and, as well as being tipped as favorites for the league by Orlando City boss Adrian Heath, it seems the third-division side is a virtual lock for an affiliation with the Portland Timbers.
15. PLAY IT AGAIN, OMAR
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was doing the media rounds on Wednesday, including featuring on ESPN's SportsCenter and Highly Questionable, where he answered a series of questions we’ve all wanted to know the answers to, such as: Just who filmed his infamous saxophone video?
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