Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. TIME TO SHINE
Jurgen Klinsmann has named his 22-man squad for the upcoming friendly against rival Mexico (April 2, 11 pm ET, ESPN). With the game not falling on a FIFA fixture date, the team is heavy on MLS players, yet still looks like one of the strongest available to Jurgen Klinsmann this summer. This is the last game before Klinsmann names his provisional World Cup squad, and the US head coach insists, “Everyone knows the clock is ticking and they need to impress in those games with their clubs.” Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin is one player whose club performance may have pushed him within reach of the World Cup roster.
2. BECKHAM’S BIG MARKET
David Beckham has been speaking some more about his plans for a potential expansion club in Miami, and while he wouldn’t go into specifics, the former England captain revealed that the club is already proving a big draw, with Beckham taking calls from some of soccer’s elite players. With all these recent revelations, is it time for those who still doubt Miami as a soccer market to start taking the city seriously?
3. GARBER'S YOUNG GUNS
Major League Soccer has changed a lot over the years, partly thanks to the new generation of team owners to whom Commissioner Don Garber refers as “the young guns.” In an interesting interview with Grantland, Garber talked about those new owners and recalls how Adrian Hanauer initially brought the Seattle Sounders to the MLS table.
4. LASTING LEGACY IN COLUMBUS
Speaking of new owners, as the Columbus Crew continue their revamp, the club’s search for a new president highlights the level of involvement owner Anthony Precourt has in the team’s new direction. As for departing president Mark McCullers, how will his legacy be remembered by the fans?
5. WE'RE IN THE IMPORT/EXPORT BUSINESS
The New England Revolution pulled off a shrewd bit of business this week involving goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Having been released by the Colorado Rapids last Thursday, the Revolution signed the goalkeeper via a waiver draft on Friday before turning round and selling him to the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies for an undisclosed fee. Rapids technical director Paul Bravo says this is a best-case scenario for Colorado's salary budget.
6. RIVERHOUNDS TRYING TO STAY AFLOAT
With most USL PRO teams just starting their seasons, the Houston Dynamo's new affiliate, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, got some bad news on Thursday when it was revealed that the club is seeking Chapter XI bankruptcy protection. The Riverhounds' season and activities will go ahead in 2014, however, and the organization appears to be using the bankruptcy filing to reorganize its finances. The restructuring is reportedly necessary due to debt arising from the construction of Highmark Stadium, which opened last year.
7. YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME
The MLS Disciplinary Committee has once again cast its verdict on recent action, handing down an extra one-game suspension for Portland Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and suspending Toronto FC midfielder Jackson for a game as well. Columbus Crew playmaker Federico Higuain received a fine for his dive in the Crew’s game against Philadelphia. Lobbying from LA Galaxy and Toronto FC seems to have fallen on deaf ears, though, as Alvaro Saborío escaped punishment for his challenge on A.J. DeLaGarza.
8. SOUNDERS, TIMBERS SUPPORTERS TAKE CENTER STAGE AGAIN
It’s well understood that the Cascadia rivalry between Portland and Seattle is among the best in MLS due to the passion of the supporters' groups on each side, known for producing giant tifos and creating intimidating atmospheres for 90 minutes. Want to know what makes each set of fans tick? This piece heads to each city to meet some of the most ardent supporters.
9. EYE TO THE FUTURE
The Seattle Sounders' Homegrown players have begun to earn plaudits, with DeAndre Yedlin now in contention for a spot on the US’ World Cup roster and Sean Okoli impressive off the bench in the opener. The question for many Sounders fans is, who’s next? It’s a question that could apply to the club’s next big signing as well, because those Didier Drogba rumors just refuse to go away.
10. VALERI STILL SEARCHING FOR FORM
The Portland Timbers are winless in their first three games this season, but as head coach Caleb Porter rightly points out, “It’s not where you start, it’s how you end. It’s how you finish.” For evidence of that, Porter need only point to last season, when the Timbers made a similarly slow start but ended up finishing first in the Western Conference. The Timbers can also be buoyed by the fact that, while Diego Valeri may be fit, his return to top form is still a work in progress.
11. SALGADO'S SECOND CHANCE
Omar Salgado entered the new season fit and ready to play for the first time in almost two years. The only problem was that there were a number of players ahead of him in the Vancouver Whitecaps' striker pool, and so the forward, who had at one point feared retirement, found himself joining the club's USL PRO affiliate, the Charleston Battery. As Salgado himself tells it, “They gave me two options: Stick it out there, or come here. I decided to come here and get those games.” It paid off right away, as Salgado earned an assist in last weekend's opener.
12. UNION PLAYERS SEIZE OPPORTUNITY
After a series of impressive cameo appearances for the Philadelphia Union, substitute Leo Fernandes has certainly made a case to be a starter and has captured significant attention from both media and fans alike. Yet according to the 22-year-old Brazilian, “I didn’t think it would come so soon because I was just doing the things I thought I needed to do to help out the team.” Meanwhile, teammate Aaron Wheeler may have been a little surprised to find himself playing at center back last weekend, but the 25-year-old is just happy to help, wherever that may be.
13. BELIEVE IN FC DALLAS
Speaking of starts similar to last year, FC Dallas are unbeaten in three games and have looked impressive. Yet injuries are already starting to mount, and while new coach Oscar Pareja is no stranger to tinkering with his lineups, this weekend’s game against the Portland Timbers (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live) could provide Pareja with some trickier choices. Even so, there are plenty of reasons to keep faith with FC Dallas this season.
14. ONE FOR THE HIGHLIGHT REEL
You won’t see things like this very often hopefully, but let’s head to Brazil for a moment and watch as a defender just manages to avoid scoring a spectacular own goal, only to get a second attempt and, this time, successfully bundle the ball into the net.
15. ALL WE CAN SAY IS: CONGRATULATIONS
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