Hate missing the Kick Off? Of course, you do. Sign up for The Kick Off e-mail.

Kick Off - Seattle Sounders celebrate in USOC

Kick Off: Seattle have Galaxy's number in Open Cup

The LA Galaxy may have the Seattle Sounders’ number in MLS league play over recent seasons, but the opposite is true in the US Open Cup, where the Sigi Schmid’s squad is still on track to become only the second team ever to pull of three-peat.

Seattle’s star once again was forward Nate Jaqua, who continues to find the back of the net in the competition for the second straight year and scored early in the 3-1 win over LA: “We’re going to have to name him Mr. Open Cup pretty soon. … He could’ve finished with three or four today, for sure,” Schmid said.

The Galaxy got another dose of bad news on Wednesday after it was learned that the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Chris Birchall for two matches following a review of his foul on the Chicago Fire’s Patrick Nyarko on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the defending US Open Cup champs delivered a parting shot to the New York Red Bulls, who traveled on gameday for their USOC quarterfinal with a minimum of 14 players under the guidance of coaching staff member Mike Petke. For their troubles, RBNY were handed a 4-0 loss by Chicago on Tuesday and it generated this reaction from Schmid: “I think there's only really been one team that sort of really said, 'Hey, we're not going to compete in the Open Cup,' and that happened [Tuesday] night.”

New York always succeed in getting people talking. Tuesday it was the Open Cup and yesterday it was their move for 38-year-old former Bundesliga goalkeeper Frank Rost. It sparked the debate of whether a Designated Player spot should ever be used on a goalkeeper.

The strikers — not the goalkeepers — were the story line in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over the New England Revolution in the opening match of the 2011 World Football Challenge last night. Sir Alex Ferguson says he has a headache with six to choose from, including Federico Macheda, the 2010 MLS All-Star MVP who scored a brace against the Revs in a 4-1 win. There’s something magical about playing in the USA for the Italian: "Seems to be," he said. "I hope to keep it like that."

The Chicago Fire hope they get lucky with their most recent international player acquisition announced ahead of the opening of the international transfer window on July 15. Interim manager Frank Klopas is impressed with Wednesday's signing, Argentine Sebastián Grazzini: “He's one we looked at that really stuck out. He's going to need some time to adjust, but he can step in and contribute.”

Although they’re trialing a new American defender who played for Monterrey in Mexico, the player the Whitecaps admit really missing is the injured Atiba Harris, whom FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman tried to reacquire after losing him in the Expansion Draft. Still no date on his return and he will miss the chance to play against his cousin, Manchester City defender Micah Richards.

That’s no big deal compared to the cancer scare that Harris’ teammate, Peter Vagenas, has had to experience in the case of his wife, who has been treated for follicular thyroid cancer.

The accolades may not be raining down on the Whitecaps just yet, but rookie Jeb Brovsky was recently named Humanitarian of the Month. Find out how the Littleton, Colo., tragedy that he lived through back in fourth grade led to his “Peace Pandemic.”

The other Canadian team in MLS, Toronto FC, are under fire in their local press for their ticket pricing surrounding their upcoming CONCACAF Champions League preliminary match.

There will be some discussions that will be had between Andy Najar and D.C. United management, regarding the player’s participation in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. United are under no obligation to release him but Najar told Honduran media that: “It’s necessary to talk to the executives in order that they can give permission. … Because I’m new, they have to understand that [Honduras] need the opportunity to try me out.” (SPANISH)

Also on the international scene, it will be USA vs. Japan in an unprecedented Women’s World Cup final on Sunday. But the Americans will have to improve despite the score line emerging from a 3-1 semifinal win over France. "We didn't play well today. … However, we find a way to win and that's a credit to the players' hearts," US coach Pia Sundhage admitted after the match.

When Alex Morgan put the game away for the USA with a deft chip on the third goal, there was someone in Seattle who probably celebrated a little more than anyone else in the country: her boyfriend, who plays for the Sounders.

You know what American left back Edgar Castillo, who plays for Club América in Mexico, was thinking as he watched Jonathan Bornstein get torched by Mexican attackers in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final? “I was thinking I could have been there. But coulda-woulda — I can't say anything,” he said.

The next generation of youth national team players are already coming through the ranks. Make sure to catch the FC Dallas Under-18 squad, coached by club legend Oscar Pareja and unbeaten in 26 matches, as they play the final for the national Development Academy championship on Friday (ESPNU and ESPN3.com at 1 p.m. ET).

It’s been 48 hours since they went into LIVESTRONG Sporting Park and ousted Sporting Kansas City from the US Open Cup, but in Richmond they’re still celebrating the win. The Kickers’ coach reveals how the lengthy weather delay was decisive in the second half.

Sporting seems to be busy on the international front with reports from Brazil claiming that Vasco da Gama midfielder Jeferson is on the verge of joining the MLS club on loan with an option to buy at the end of the year.

In Costa Rica they claim that Álvaro Sánchez, who plays with local side San Carlos, will be on trial with the Houston Dynamo. If it works out, he’ll reportedly stick around for a year. (SPANISH)

Lastly, the most recent Forbes list is out with the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. Soccer clubs occupy prominent positions in the ranking, including the No. 1 spot.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

US Under-20 player continues trial at Mexican first-division club

How one MLS forward juggles his education on and off the field

Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov is a fan of the American gridiron

Get the The Kick-Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.



Fill out a second bracket!

Is your bracket busted? We are offering all fans a chance to fill out a second playoff bracket and a chance to win a $1,000 credit on SeatGeek.com. Make your picks now!

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.