Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. 24 UNDER 24: THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN
The 24 Under 24 list is under way. Yesterday we unveiled Nos. 24-21, so be sure to check back today to find out who makes spots 20-16. Why is the list so important? Well, for one thing, the young talent on display is the future of the league. Just look at some of the previous notable players who made the list. Plus, what if the list was more than three years old? Nick Firchau takes a look at some of the eligible players who would have lit it up.
2. THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IS BACK
Tonight marks the return of the CONCACAF Champions League with three MLS clubs in action. Sporting Kansas City can all but guarantee their place in the knockout rounds if they can defeat Real Estelí in the first-ever CCL match played at Sporting Park. There’s also an all-MLS clash between the Montreal Impact and the San Jose Earthquakes with, realistically, anything other than a win for Montreal handing the group to Heredia.
3. THE FUTURE OF SOCCER
Two of the most important people in US soccer, Don Garber and Sunil Gulati, sat down to talk about the future growth of the game. Taking part in a discussion for Bloomberg TV, the two were joined by another big player in the game – AS Roma owner James Pallotta, who has his own ideas to help develop MLS further. In a fascinating 30-minute conversation, the three discuss where the game can go next.
4. Major League Soccer 3.0
They weren’t the only ones discussing the future of the game, though. The MLS Reserves released the 100th episode of their Off The Bench podcast on Monday and, as part of a very special edition, they held a roundtable featuring special guests Kyle Martino from NBC Sports, RSL GM Garth Lagerway and SI.com writer Brian Straus. The three were there to discuss the direction of the league.
5. SOUTH BY SOUTHEAST
One direction the game seems to be heading is south, but in a good way. Ives Galarcep, writing for Goal.com, looks at why the time might be right to move MLS back into the Southeastern United States. So that’s the region covered, but what about cities? Yesterday we asked if Miami was ready for MLS. Today, thanks to Soccer America, we look at Atlanta.
6. STADIUM LAND
If Orlando gets the votes it needs to help fund its new stadium, there is still one other problem. The city of Orlando still hasn’t acquired all the land it needs in order to actually build it, although it seems like they’re sick of waiting. In other Orlando City-ish news, rumored MLS DP Kaká is injured – again – but, in a touch of class, which we’ll refer to as the Onyewu play, the Brazilian, former world player of the year, is set to refuse his salary until he is fit again.
7. KLINSMANN'S STRONG SQUAD
The US may have already qualified for the World Cup, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t planning to take his foot of the pedal just yet. With FIFA World Rankings points on the line and an outside chance of still being a top seed in December's draw, Klinsmann plans to field the strongest team possible in the remaining WCQs: “Everybody that is fit and healthy and belongs in that group will be there.”
8. PORTLAND'S MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
When you think of this season's rejuvenated Portland Timbers, you naturally think of Caleb Porter (and maybe Diego Valeri). Rightly so. The coach deserves much of the praise for the club's turnaround but, as Michael Orr at Stumptown Footy argues, perhaps Gavin Wilkinson deserves a little more credit as well.
9. D.C. UNITED LOOK TO NEW MARKETS
MLS rosters may be frozen now, but could D.C. United already be looking to make moves for next year? That’s the report from the Times of India, which states that India’s Current Player of the year, Syed Rahim Nabi, will have a trial with the capital club on Friday.
10. ONTO A WINNER
So, just who did get the better deal from the Sounders-Houston, Moffat-Carrasco trade? As with most things, only time will tell but NBC's ProSoccerTalk weighs up the pros for both sides. Meanwhile the Seattle Times caught up with the Sounders' latest signing.
11. DeMERIT'S RAPID ROAD TO RECOVERY
Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jay DeMerit made his long-awaited return from injury at the weekend. The former US international came into the match after only 31 minutes, replacing the injured Brad Rusin. Now ‘Caps manager Martin Rennie has a tough choice to make. Despite being impressed by DeMerit during Saturday's shutout, in an ideal world he might like to ease the veteran back into things slowly, but with a place in the playoffs still on the line, can he afford that?
12. GETTING TO KNOW YANN
How much do you know about Yann Ekra? The Philadelphia Union's newly signed Ivorian joined the team on Friday having spent the previous two seasons at the Harrisburg City Islanders. Here’s a short profile on the Union’s new forward.
13. IT’S NOT TV, IT'S SEATTLE
The Seattle Sounders are getting the HBO treatment tonight. Tune in to Real Sports with Bryan Gumbel at 10 pm ET tonight as HBO explores the phenomenon that is soccer in Seattle. One thing for certain, Seattle fans are officially the loudest in the world.
Would promotion and relegation work in North America? Seems we'll never know. Yet that doesn’t mean people can’t talk about it. This piece from BigSoccer.com steps aside and lets people from lower-division teams have their wildly varying say on the matter.
15. BOB BRADLEY: THE MOVIE
Sure, Egypt were handed what seems to be a tough playoff draw, but Bob Bradley isn’t letting that get him down. The former US head coach has some experience with Ghana when it comes to World Cups, and he also seems to have some experience with documentary crews. We Must Go, the story of the Egyptian national team, chose yesterday’s draw to unveil their new trailer. Whether the movie has a happy ending or not, well, that’s up to Bob and his boys.