Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. CHAT WITH THE COMMISSIONER
Got a question for MLS Commissioner Don Garber? Well, now’s your chance to ask it as the Commissioner will be conducting his Season Kickoff Q&A on Tuesday. MLS has also just signed a rather tasty new partnership with Chipotle, one which looks to benefit MLS fans both on and off the field. Not only will fans of participating teams be able to scoop special offers on certain dates, but the company will bring MLS’ first Homegrown game to the All-Star Game festivities up in Portland.
2. UKRAINE GAME STILL ON
Despite reports on Monday which suggested the US national team’s game against Ukraine had been canceled, reinforced by the fact that the president of the Ukrainian FA pretty much said so on national TV, the game is in fact very much still on. This isn’t the first time the US have been set to take on another country against a tense political backdrop, though, as Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson recalled a game against Russia back in 1991.
3. PREPARATION IS KEY
With Oguchi Onyewu part of yet another US national team squad, the well-traveled defender explains how he prepares for all the events surrounding and following a call-up. As an interesting comparison, Roger Bennett at ESPNFC.com talks to the home stars of USA ‘94 to see how they prepared on the eve of that big tournament.
4. HOLDEN ON TO HOPE … AGAIN
Stuart Holden made his return to action for Bolton Wanderers on Monday in a U-21 game, and for the first 22 minutes, everything was going great. Unfortunately, things swiftly went downhill from there, and Holden was forced to leave the game with an apparent knee injury. The good news is the latest setback doesn’t appear too serious.
5. NEW JERSEY
It’s Jersey Week here at MLSsoccer.com, with Monday ushering in kit reveals from the LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders. While the new MLS kits are getting positive reviews, Nike also chose to officially unveil its new national team home jersey to a far more mixed reaction. Stay tuned today for even more new kits.
6. THE LA ALTERNATIVE
With the new season now less than a week away, Chivas USA have made another late addition to the squad following the arrival of 31-year-old midfielder Daniel Fragoso from Spain. It also seems Erick Torres may not be departing as soon as expected following comments from the club's new president, Nelson Rodriguez, who also believes that Chivas USA will start winning fans back over and even laid down a little smack talk aimed at the LA Galaxy, suggesting, “There are a lot of fans seeking a soccer alternative in the greater LA area and we want to be that club.”
7. GM STEPS DOWN, RED BULLS STEP UP
The New York Red Bulls have been preaching a message of continuity and low turnover this offseason. As such, the news that general manager Jerome de Bontin has decided to step down, citing personal reasons, must come as quite a shock to many. The search now begins for his successor, but he leaves the club in good health, with its recent Supporters' Shield success perhaps freeing the side to do something new.
8. ETERNAL FLAME
The Chicago Fire have acquired Greg Cochrane from the LA Galaxy in exchange for a conditional 2016 SuperDraft pick. The 23-year-old left back made 12 appearances for the Galaxy last season, but is likely to see plenty more game time as Frank Yallop moves to address his team's positional needs and, once again, sets about building around youth. In other Fire news, Mike Magee re-joined his team over the weekend and, with his personal situation now resolved, the forward claims, “I’d love to sign a long-term deal and stay here forever, but that’s not up to me.”
9. LOAN VALUE
After being left out of a number of Fulham squads over the past few weeks, Clint Dempsey finally saw the field on the final day of his loan with the Premier League side. Having missed the entire preseason with his MLS club, will his spell in England benefit either the player or the team? Time will tell. For those who did attend camp, however, it was their chance to impress coach Sigi Schmid, and it looks like one young player may have failed to do so.
10. PLENTY MORE OPPORTUNITIES
Seattle Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer was linked to some high-profile head coaching roles over the winter, yet none of them came to pass. Is Schmetzer letting these setbacks get to him though? “No, I have a really good job," he says. "There is going to be expansion, there are going to be teams and there are going to be opportunities.” In the meantime, he and the rest of the Sounders staff can continue trying to piece together the team’s roster.
11. GOING ON THE ATTACK
While the new MLS season may begin this weekend, San Jose’s first competitive kick of the ball won’t come until next Tuesday when they host Toluca in CONCACAF Champions League play. As such, the squad has one preseason friendly left, against USL PRO affiliates Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, and head coach Mark Watson is still working on the team's attacking style. Although there may still be plenty to do on the pitch, the Quakes are doing everything right off the field .
12. McCARTY’S PURPLE HEART
As an Orlando native, few can be as excited about MLS coming to the city as New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarthy and, following his current side's 4-4 draw with MLS-bound Orlando City SC, McCarty took some time to talk about what the move means to the city and whether he could don the soon-to-be-famous purple top.
13. THIS IS MY YEAR
It's fair to say 2013 may not have gone the way Jerry Bengtson would have hoped, with either Honduras or the New England Revolution, yet the player is surprisingly honest about events last year and is now looking to a brighter future. It's one which seems to include the New England Revolution, as he tells FutbolMLS.com: "They said they wanted me here, and that they were waiting for me to adapt well to the team, that this was going to be my year."
14. TROPICAL TASK
Plans for a Caribbean soccer league continue to build steam and CONCACAF has appointed the members of a task force designed to study the feasibility of the idea. The 11-man team features a number of important people from the Caribbean, along with Liga MX President Decio de María and an individual by the name of Don Garber. Oh, and Shaka Hislop’s in there as well, just for good measure.
15. RANKING ROOKIES
Over at NBC’s ProSoccerTalk, they've ranked the top 10 rookies heading into this season. What do you think? Any names on there surprise you? Has your team got someone more likely to have an impact or is the list pretty solid?
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