Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. WORLD CUP SQUAD
It’s now official. Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled his 30-man preliminary World Cup squad on Monday, and while it includes places for almost all the usual suspects (see below), there were also call-ups for Julian Green, John Brooks and, perhaps most surprisingly, Timmy Chandler. With the initial squad now announced, the players will convene for the pre-tournament camp at various points throughout this week and attention turns to which seven players will fall by the wayside ahead of the trip to Brazil.
2. NO PLACE FOR EJ
Not everyone can make the squad, though, and perhaps the biggest surprise was the absence of Eddie Johnson, who failed to make the grade despite 17 appearances for the national team in 2013. It appears to have been Klinsmann’s toughest decision, and the German coach has been busy explaining why he’s leaving Johnson at home. Still, at least D.C. United could benefit from their striker’s increased availability, and Johnson himself seems to be taking the news pretty well for now.
3. MLS TV DEAL
On Monday, representatives from MLS, U.S. Soccer, ESPN, Fox Soccer and Univision gathered on stage in midtown Manhattan to discuss the eight-year broadcast deal that MLS Commissioner Don Garber called the "most comprehensive” in the history of American soccer. He wasn’t kidding either, as the league has arranged an lucrative deal for games to be shown on all three of the aforementioned networks, with each one committed to showing at least 34 games per season. There is also the return of dedicated time slots for games and news that ESPN3 will be taking over broadcasting of MLS’ out-of-market games.
4. OTHER PLAYERS ON THEIR WAY TO BRAZIL
In other World Cup squad news, fellow Group G combatants Ghana have unveiled their preliminary 26-man team, while fellow CONCACAF qualifiers Costa Rica have named a 30-man squad that includes five MLS players. Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe has also been named to England’s 30-man preliminary roster as a standby player, and the Englishman has revealed he is devastated not to be part of his county’s 23-man squad.
5. COPA AMÉRICA FOR THE ALMOST RANS?
What kind of team will the USA field at the 2016 Copa América Centenario? Some are suggesting it could be a "B" side, and if that scenario pans out, here’s what that squad could look like based on those who missed out on the World Cup roster. There are also some more inside details on just what that 2016 tournament will involve.
6. SCHÄLLIBAUM NOT INTERESTED IN RETURNING
In the wake of the Montreal Impact’s current poor run of form, it seems that fans in Quebec are not happy, with some even calling for the return of Marco Schällibaum. However, the former Impact head coach has ruled out a return to the Canadian side, and while club president Joey Saputo has promised to make changes to the team, he insists that head coach Frank Klopas will not be one of them. Impact striker Marco Di Vaio, meanwhile, called for some respect toward the team’s current coach.
7. ORLANDO’S NEW LOOK
With the two big stories on Monday, this one kind of slipped under the radar, but Orlando City have a new logo. Designed by season-ticket holder David Brotherton, the logo was unveiled during a private party for team employees and has the approval of head coach Adrian Heath: “I like clean and classic looks and I think it’s something that’ll survive the test of time.”
8. TIMBERS TARGET
If recent reports are correct, then Tuesday could see the Portland Timbers unveil a brand-new loan signing as they attempt to put themselves back on course for a place in the playoffs. However, according to general manager Gavin Wilkinson, the new signing won’t be the only one: “We’ve got quite a sizeable sum to spend that’s been allowed to us to use to develop this group.”
9. SHIPP SHAPE
With a hat trick and an assist in the Chicago Fire’s 5-4 win over the New York Red Bulls, few will have been surprised to see Harry Shipp awarded MLS’ Player of the Week award, and the rookie highlights a youthful looking Team of the Week as well. Many of those choices might have been obvious, but turning to another ranking system, have you ever wondered just how the Castrol Index rates players?
10. WINTER WARNING
During the press conference to announce MLS’ new TV deal, Commissioner Don Garber was asked once again whether the league would consider switching to a winter schedule. His answer was pretty definitive, as the Commissioner insisted that, “From a weather perspective, I think it’s almost impossible with the number of teams we have and the weather we have here in the United States and Canada to make the kind of change that would be a full alignment.”
11. KIDS TO GO AGAIN FOR WHITECAPS
Led by a group of exciting young players, the Vancouver Whitecaps have started 2014 strong, and head coach Carl Robinson is still committed to giving his young Canadians their chance in the second leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. None of which bodes well for Nigel Reo-Coker as he waits for an opportunity to work his way back into the team.
12. UNITY FOR UNION
With only one win all season and three consecutive losses, it’s unsurprising that Philadelphia Union fans are concerned. Yet, strangely enough, it seems that disharmony hasn’t affected the team in quite the same way, as midfielder Danny Cruz explains: “As crazy as it seems, at 1-5-5, we have a really good locker room. A good group of guys where we enjoy coming to work every day.”
13. HEADING TO THE OC
While the Orange County Blues may not be a USL PRO affiliate for any Major League Soccer team, that hasn’t stopped them from benefiting from player loans, as Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Josh Ford and Real Salt Lake defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe have joined the recently rebranded team.
14. BECKHAM UNDETERRED
Despite the opposition to his aim for a PortMiami stadium, David Beckham and his investment group look set to press ahead with their plans for the venue. Simon Fuller, one of Beckham’s investors, has been breaking down the reasoning for the location they chose.
15. SHERTZ TAILGATE
While Saturday’s game at PPL Park may have seen the Philadelphia Union fall to yet another defeat, something much more important was happening prior to the game, as the Sons of Ben held a memorial tailgate in honor of Chris Shertz.
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