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Kick Off - Tim Howard

Kick Off: USA Gold Cup victory presents more questions than answers

The USA advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals!

Hold the celebrations. The mood was not exactly giddy following the 1-0 win over Guadeloupe, with US goalkeeper Tim Howard offering a peek into the US national team’s mental state: “It was an OK performance: a little bit lifeless, but that's kind of the way it's been so far … Maybe the Panama game [a 2-1 loss] knocked some stuffing out of us.”

The victory did not satisfy one Associated Press writer, who also harshly criticized Clint Dempsey’s second-half miss on “a play a third-grader should make.”

It seems Canada was suffering from the same issues the USA were at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park: lack of sharpness around the goal. The Canucks are lamenting a handful of missed opportunities which allowed Panama to tie the match in stoppage time, a play which the Canadian ‘keeper said feels like “somebody stabs you in the heart.” The USA’s 1-0 win resulted in Canada’s elimination.

The USA’s Sacha Kljestan was campaigning for LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to become the “new national stadium” for the USA national team. He said he’d never seen that many American flags in a stadium before.

Panama finish in first place in Group C while runners-up USA will next face Group B winners Jamaica at RFK Stadium in a Sunday quarterfinal. Meanwhile, Group A leaders Mexico have received a dose of positive news: A second battery of tests conducted at UCLA have come up negative for the banned substance which resulted in the removal of five players from the Gold Cup squad.

In the lone MLS midweek match, the New England Revolution host Toronto FC tonight (8 p.m. ET, TSN and MatchDay Live) with a chance for the winner to shoot up the Eastern Conference standings.

Revs manager Steve Nicol says the last match – a 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls – is making him think twice about tonight’s tactics given how many scoring opportunities his team generated with a 4-4-2 formation.

It would seem logical to think that the Revolution will be in all-out attack mode as they receive a Toronto FC team that is beset by injuries to key players and which has only picked up a single point in its history of matches at Gillette Stadium.

You think that witnessing Grenada’s collapse at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup may have caused Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph to think twice about his decision not to join the team? Wrong. He says: “It is definitely frustrating to watch [Grenada losing], but I definitely made the right decision.”

Even with all the attention the Eric Hassli goal has been receiving, who would have thought that Whitecaps manager Tom Soehn’s phone would also be ringing with calls from player agents based overseas?

The Whitecaps remain busy on the player front, bringing in a former Ireland Under-21 international for a trial. He’s the son of Chris Hughton, who was Newcastle United boss for part of the recently concluded EPL season. Get the lowdown at the very end of this article.

Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon participated in a revealing Q&A here in which he talks about his eligibility to play for the Canadian national team, the inner-squabbling on David Beckham’s arrival to LA and playing Donkey Kong at Clint Eastwood’s house as a kid.

With the Montreal Impact announcing a new jersey sponsor on Tuesday, all that’s left is to unveil their actual MLS jersey later this summer. Club owner Joey Saputo promises it will be a big seller: “It will be completely different than what we have now … It will have hints of Montreal, and hints of Quebec."

Among the most interesting results in the first round of the US Open Cup on Tuesday night, the Chicago Fire’s PDL side advanced to the next stage after earning a win on the road. Here is the complete list of results.

The defending champion Seattle Sounders expect to go far in the US Open Cup tournament this year. Their logic? Their reserve team is mowing down opponents in the Reserve League this year, going 6-0-0 in those matches thus far. They say this success will translate to the USOC.

One match from Tuesday that has flown under the radar but which carries plenty of significance is Real Salt Lake’s academy side beating New Zealand’s Under-17 team 3-2 in a friendly ahead of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. RSL had a 3-0 lead when the starters were on the field.

Speaking of academies, a potential training complex for D.C. United’s academy teams is reportedly being looked at for a site in Howard County, Maryland.

Congratulations are in order for Real Salt Lake’s Jean Alexandre who is set to be sworn in as a US citizen later today. Meanwhile, his club has a win, a loss and a draw in its last three matches but still feel the team is “coming home with some real momentum” as RSL head into a stretch with seven of 10 matches at Rio Tinto.

On TV today is the first leg of the Copa Libertadores between Santos of Brazil and Uruguayan side Peñarol from Montevideo (8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Deportes). It’s a chance to watch Neymar, the player that is said to be the next big-money buy for Chelsea or Real Madrid.

Fans can also get a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow with the UEFA Under-21 championship and a match between England and Ukraine (2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes). Here’s a preview.

They didn’t just pull out the racism card, did they? That’s apparently what the soccer heads of 11 Caribbean nations did in a letter sent to FIFA requesting an investigation into CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer in the ongoing internal dispute.

That isn’t the only controversy in CONCACAF these days. Belize, who kick off 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying against Montserrat today, were just informed by FIFA that the tiny nation could be facing serious sanctions. Find out why.

Lastly, men are more interested in the start of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup than females are, according to one survey.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

USA player ratings after the 1-0 win vs. Guadeloupe clinches quarterfinal ticket

The latest edition of MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week sees Houston’s Brad Davis set a new mark

Real Salt Lake bring in three trialists including a French left back

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