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Kick Off: MLS Cup champs have a date at the White House

Rapids fans, circle this date on your calendar: Monday, June 27.

That's when MLS and the MLS Cup take center stage at the White House, where US President Barack Obama will honor the reigning champion Colorado Rapids less than 24 hours after the team plays a Sunday night match in Columbus.

One MLS player in DC is in for a long road trip of his own, away from the nation's capital. Last night, D.C. United made it official that attacking midfielder Fred would be departing the club and joining the Melbourne Heat in Australia. The Brazilian is already having conference calls with reporters in Australia stating: "After a lot of talk with my family, we said, 'Let's go back to Australia and have fun again.'"

It seems like they’re having fun again in Vancouver, where Whitecaps manager Tom Soehn is being praised for his implementation of a short passing game which proved the perfect way to puncture a strong Philadelphia Union defense.

Things are less rosy in New England where there appears to be a controversy over fan chants at Gillette Stadium and the consequences that resulted for some fans.

You don’t see this all too often in MLS. New York Red Bulls general manager and sporting director Erik Solér on Monday applied some pressure on the league by issuing a statement on the Thierry Henry red card in which he says RBNY “expect that it will be rescinded so that he is available for our match Thursday in Seattle.”

While the Eastern Conference leaders battle to get a red card wiped off the board, the team at the top of the Western Conference fielded its reserve team on Monday. In the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 win over No. 1 pick Omar Salgado and the Vancouver Whitecaps, even LA defender Gregg Berhalter got in on the scoring. He confesses that he’s not in the game to score but to fine-tune his coaching skills.

Another lanky central defender, Italian Marco Materazzi, forever known for the head butt incident involving Zinedine Zidane in the World Cup final, is now fair game for any MLS side that wishes to sign him.

Former Chicago Fire stalwart C.J. Brown gets set to face his old team on Wednesday night as he makes his return to Toyota Park with Real Salt Lake (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). In this interview he talks about how he landed the RSL assistant coaching job by happenstance and how the Fire look like more of a team than they were in his final season in Chicago.

In Salt Lake, there is debate about how many more chances Collen Warner will get in the attacking midfield role vacated by the injured Javier Morales. RSL manager Jason Kreis gave an uncharacteristic “no comment” when asked to address what Warner needs to do to be more involved.

Eight MLS clubs will be eagerly waiting for results from the second round of the US Open Cup, with eight matches played tonight. Here’s the full schedule with the winners facing MLS opposition in next week’s third round. One of the teams in action tonight: the Chicago Fire PDL team.

There’s more action from the FIFA Under-17 World Cup today with both Jamaica and hosts Mexico involved in the action today among the CONCACAF participating nations.

In Gold Cup news, all four semifinalists are in Houston for the sold-out doubleheader to be played on Wednesday night. Mexico unveiled the names of the replacements of the five players suspended for positive doping tests after CONCACAF gave El Tri the green light.

And while Honduras manager Luis Fernando Suárez protested against the move by CONCACAF, the USA’s Clint Dempsey says the Americans aren’t even thinking about it: “You want them to be their best team and us to have our best team, because that's what it's all about — the competition.”

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández makes his return to Reliant Stadium nearly a year after scoring his debut goal for Manchester United. In this article he talks about how special it is for him to play in America.

The doping controversy turns trivial when one of this country’s soccer columnists is mourning the sudden passing of his 47-year-old brother. The sport of soccer tied them together.

Later today, FC Dallas will travel to face PDL side West Texas United Sockers at Grande Communications Stadium (7:30 p.m. local time). Here’s a preview of the match.

D.C. United’s new Under-23 side, coached by club legend and all-time leading goal-scorer Jaime Moreno, will also be facing PDL opposition as they battle the Fredericksburg Hotspur tonight at the University of Mary Washington (6 p.m. ET).

Toronto FC fans waiting for their team to turn it around in 2011 and make some big signings in the transfer window, look away. Your city has just finished dead last in an ESPN fan poll that ranks the top cities for pro sports.

Finally, here’s one for the video vault. They get more and more creative on set pieces these days. In the Chinese league, check this dead ball scheme which involves one player falling head first to the ground. We don’t see this being replicated in too many other places. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Ives Galarcep analyzes USMNT and Todd Dunivant addresses All-Star snub on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio

CONCACAF Gold Cup stars seeking an opportunity to prove themselves in MLS

US forward Jozy Altidore set to undergo tests on injured hamstring today

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