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Kick Off: MLS star Landon Donovan faces potential heir to throne in top scorer Jack McInerney

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. UNION WANT RESPECT VS. LA GALAXY: Week 12 kicks off with an intriguing Philadephia vs. LA matchup on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Get the preview here: The Union see the game as a chance to earn some respect. Meanwhile, you can expect Designated Player Robbie Keane to make his return for the Galaxy, who have struggled without him. Could this represent a passing of the torch between league scoring leader Jack McInerney and Landon Donovan?

2. PHILLY MAKE PREGAME TRADE: One of the Farfan twins will definitely not be suiting up for the Union tonight against LA. Left back Gabriel Farfan returned to the club that raised him when he was traded on Tuesday to Chivas USA in exchange for the Goats’ first-round pick in 2014 and allocation money. The common thinking is that Philly took the better of that deal.

3. ONLY HOURS LEFT TO MAKE FANTASY PICKS FOR WEEK 12: No need to scramble. Our MLS Fantasy: Manager experts are here to save the day with their fantasy tips ahead of Week 12 which kicks off tonight. Here’s a good one: Watch out for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

4. AMWAY CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STARTS TODAY: While the Union and Galaxy rumble at PPL Park, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact will meet in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET; Sportsnet in Canada). Here’s an article that runs through some lineup options for Vancouver boss Martin Rennie, while The Province calls it the most important match of his tenure. Backup ‘keeper Evan Bush looks to get the start in goal for Montreal.

5. IMPACT’S EXPANSION SEASON BACK IN NEWS: Seattle Sounders forward Lamar Neagle, a former member of the Impact in the club’s expansion season, was asked about the differences between his current manager Sigi Schmid and his old manager in Montreal, Jesse Marsch. His answer included this line at the very end: “Sigi has been able to build up his team and kind of pick who he wanted. I don’t think Jesse Marsch had as much say.”

6. USOC FIRST ROUND IS IN THE BOOKS: One MLS Under-23 side was upset, three matches ended in penalty kicks and four players scored three or more goals in an eventful first round of the US Open Cup. Here are all the results from a crazy night of action, which included a memorable Arizona derby. And you can find out which MLS U-23 side was left stranded here. One more match remains to be played tonight.

7. DONOVAN WON’T BE CALLED UP JUST YET: US manager Jurgen Klinsmann will announce his squad for a May camp which leads into two high-profile friendlies and three World Cup qualifiers in June. It’s no surprise, but Landon Donovan won’t be part of that squad. Here are also a few players who may not be able to respond to Klinsmann’s call, at least not right away.

8. MLS CLUBS INVITE TRIALISTS INTO CAMP: The league’s last-place club, D.C. United, has welcomed in two trialists, who will spend a week with the club in the hope of earning an MLS contract. One is former USMNT defender Frank Simek, who may have a chance to stick after news that Robbie Russell is set to retire to pursue a medical career. The Colorado Rapids also have a Honduran trialist in camp.

9. TORONTO FC WELCOME NEWCOMERS: It’s a different sort of trial for Toronto FC loanees Steven Caldwell and Jeremy Brockie, who both were at TFC training yesterday. Both players spoke about their chances of sticking around after their loan deals are up. One player is hoping “for a successful few years.”

10. NO LAMPARD FOR LA GALAXY?: If you believe this Telegraph report in England, Lampard will not be playing for the Galaxy this summer after signing a one-year extension at Chelsea.

11. PLENTY OF VARIETY ON TODAY’S TV MENU: Lampard will likely captain Chelsea in the Europea League final today against Benfica (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer and ESPN Deportes). There’s also Copa Libertadores action on Fox Deportes with three Argentine clubs in action beginning at 6 pm ET. One more highlight is the 8 p.m. ET airing of the Abby Wambach documentary on ESPNU, Abby Head On. Lastly, the Monterrey vs. Club América Mexican playoff semifinal first leg takes place tonight (10 pm ET, UniMas).

12. CLUB TIJUANA KEEP ROLLING IN COPA LIB: In case you missed it last night, Club Tijuana made history by going into Brazil and defeating Palmeiras 2-1 to secure passage to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals (watch the highlights here). And USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann was there to see it. They now face tournament favorites Atlético Mineiro led by Ronaldinho.

13. SECRET TO SEATTLE SOUNDERS' SUCCESS: What has led to Seattle’s sudden turnaround? They’re unbeaten in five and have won three out of four. Manager Sigi Schmid puts his finger on the pulse and the key discussions that has resulted in the Sounders finally finding themselves.

14. MORE WAYS TO EAT, DRINK AND BREATHE SOCCER: Here are only two of the items you missed on Tuesday from The Sideline blog on MLSsoccer.com: A new daily soccer TV show … on the ESPN networks and a new trading card partner for MLS (with images). There is perhaps no bigger name in the sports card business.

15. MAN ON WORLD CUP TREK STRUCK AND KILLED: Sad news in the American soccer world: Richard Swanson, who was two weeks into a 10,000-mile trek from Seattle to Brazil, dribbling a soccer ball for charity, was struck by a pickup truck and killed along US 101 in Oregon. He shot a video just hours before the tragic accident.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Team of the Week: Cascadia teams run riot in Week 11

Referee Week: The ultimate infographic on MLS’ men in black

CONCACAF unveils new Gold Cup trophy to be awarded in Chicago


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