Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. MLS RETURNS
Wednesday sees the return of MLS action, and what better way to kick things off than with a Canadian clash between cross-country rivals Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE in US)? The Impact will be looking to climb off the bottom of the table, but they will do so without defender Nelson Rivas after they removed the injury-prone player from their roster. The Whitecaps, for their part, could debut a fast, faster, fastest front line.
2. PLAY TO WIN
In the US, soccer minds remain fixated on the US national team's Thursday showdown against Germany, part of a dramatic final day in Group G of the World Cup. While the US could even advance with a loss, there is a strong argument to be made that the USA’s only real choice is to try to win the group.
3. LAY OFF MICHAEL BRADLEY
If the US are going to win that game, they'll have to do it without Jozy Altidore, as Klinsmann confirmed his striker has not yet recovered from his hamstring injury. The US will definitely need a strong game from Michael Bradley, so maybe it's time to stop blaming him for Portugal’s late goal.
4. WONDO REPRESENTS
Chris Wondolowski made his World Cup debut against Portugal on Sunday, and as the first Native American to play for the US on the biggest stage in the world, the San Jose Earthquakes forward has a very special fan club cheering him on.
5. GALAXY’S 1-IN-100 LOSS
Domestic soccer was busy on Tuesday night, with six of eight matches taking place in the US Open Cup Round of 16. Despite fielding a strong lineup against the Carolina RailHawks, the LA Galaxy still wound up losing 1-0 in extra time. The Galaxy dominated play, and substitute Landon Donovan said, “99 times out of 100, we win that game.”
6. UNION SURVIVE AND ADVANCE, COSMOS CRY FOUL
As in the previous round, the Philadelphia Union needed extra time, but they ended the New York Cosmos' US Open Cup dreams with a 2-1 win on Tuesday evening. Sebastien Le Toux scored both goals, including a controversial extratime penalty kick, and while it definitely was scrappy, interim Union boss Jim Curtin felt the scoreline reflected “who wants it more and who wants to win a trophy.” The Cosmos, meanwhile, felt "robbed" after decisions by the official led to the PK and five ejections.
7. COLORADO UNDONE BY SILVERBACKS
The ejection tally reached four players and both head coaches in Colorado, where Eric Wynalda's strong record in the US Open Cup continued as his Atlanta Silverbacks reached the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, who took the high road after the game, focusing on their own poor play rather than the brawl.
8. PORTLAND MARCH ON
The Portland Timbers' quest for a first major trophy continues after they beat Sporting Kansas City 3-1 on the road Tuesday night. Manager Caleb Porter referred to Gaston Fernandez as a “cat in the box” after the Argentine striker scored two goals to help the Timbers on their way.
9. SOUNDERS COME UP BIG IN SHOOTOUT
Portland's win means an extra edition of the Cascadia Cup rivalry, as the Seattle Sounders advanced to face the Timbers in the quarterfinals. Deadlocked at 1-1 with the San Jose Earthquakes thanks to heroics from Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham, the Sounders saw veteran goalkeeper Marcus Hanemann come up big in the ensuing penalty kick shootout.
10. DALLAS EDGES SHORTHANDED HOUSTON IN OT
With the score tied 2-2 after 90 minutes, Tesho Akindele scored an extra-time winner to help FC Dallas beat the Houston Dynamo 3-2 and move on to the quarterfinals. After dressing only 14 players for the match, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear railed against the use of extra time in the competition. FC Dallas, meanwhile, finally brought an end to the saga involving Mexican youth international Richard Sanchez.
11. TWO TO GO
In the final two US Open Cup Round of 16 matches, both to be played Wednesday night, the New England Revolution take on the Rochester Rhinos (7:30 pm ET, RevolutionSoccer.net), with the winner facing the Philadelphia Union, while the Chicago Fire host the Columbus Crew (8:30 pm ET, Chicago-Fire.com). Even though the Crew will be travelling light to Illinois, manager Frank Yallop insists his side cannot take their opponents lightly.
12. SOCCER STADIUM UPDATES
Fans of D.C. United may find their loyalties tested on Thursday. Despite attempts to move it, a key hearing on the club's new stadium is still set to go ahead during the US game against Germany. Certainly this would not happen if the day were declared a national holiday. Meanwhile, in other stadium news, the mayor of Boston has pronounced himself on the possibility of a Revolution stadium in the city.
13. TICOS COME OUT ON TOP
Costa Rica were already through to the last 16, but they weren't done surprising people. With MLSers Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls) and Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), they finished undefeated in Group D, tying England 0-0 which was enough to see the Ticos top the group and go into an unexpected knockout round match against Group C runners-up Greece.
14. REALLY, SUAREZ? REALLY?
In the other game in Group D, Uruguay took on Italy, and while we had already seen the best of Luis Suarez vs. England, this game brought out the worst, as the Uruguayan appeared to bite Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. It prompted plenty of funny responses on social media, but FIFA is not laughing and has launched a full investigation.
15. SHUT DOWN THE CITY
With Mexico qualifying for the last 16 on Monday, Mexican fans were rightly quite excited. However, some of them might have taken that a little bit too far when they ended up shutting down part of Los Angeles.
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