Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. LET THE SUNSHINE IN
It’s official: Orlando City SC will be joining MLS at the 21st club in 2015. The announcement was made on Tuesday night and completes Orlando’s rapid three-year rise from minor to major league since relocating from Austin, Texas. However, the owners aren’t done yet and are looking to bring in a Designated Player in their first season, with majority owner Flávio Augusto da Silva revealing this: “We’ve had discussions with Kaká.”
2. GETTING ON BOARD
So what did the world make of Orlando’s big announcement? Well, here’s how Twitter took the news. For Orlando native and Sporting Kansas City and US national team member Graham Zusi, the expansion team came out of nowhere. Now that they’re official, get to know the new club along with the 10 greatest moments in Orlando’s soccer history.
3. US ENDS YEAR WITH LOSS
A 1-0 loss to Austria on Tuesday (watch highlights here) wasn’t quite the way the USMNT wanted to end a remarkable year for the side, but that’s how things went down on Tuesday. Still, the US would have earned at least a draw if not for being denied a goal that appeared to have crossed the line. While Jurgen Klinsmann deemed the friendly defeat itself “no big deal,” he was not best pleased with the decision that cost his side: “I’m still asking why we’re in 2013 and [do] not have goal-line technology. It’s just a joke.” So, how did the US players rate on a poor night in Austria?
4. MOVING FORWARD
Canada are looking to put 2013 behind them after a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia condemned the team to a winless year in which they scored only one goal. The Canadians now look to continue their development in 2014 in the hopes of being competitive when important matches resume in 2015. Here's Dwayne De Rosario summing it up: “This year was a difficult year … but when you’re losing, you’re learning and you move forward.”
5. MEXICO FINALLY MAKE IT
It may have taken them slightly longer than expected, but Mexico have now qualified for the World Cup, beating New Zealand 4-2 in the second leg of their playoff to win 9-3 on aggregate. The World Cup draw is Dec. 6.
6. ENDING WITH DIGNITY
The Bob Bradley era for Egypt is at an end. Despite a gutsy 2-1 win over Ghana in the teams' second leg of a two-game playoff to get to Brazil, the Egyptian FA has revealed that Bradley's contract will not be renewed. Still, his work in Egypt will be remembered for his remarkable conduct, not one result against Ghana.
7. ALONSO’S JUST REWARDS
The Seattle Sounders announced via press release that they had given Osvaldo Alonso a new contract, making him the club's newest Designated Player. Said Alonso, the four-time team MVP: "This contract is different. I have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders now."
8. SPANISH FIRE
A couple of Chicago Fire players will be looking to pick up some new tricks this off season, as Dilly Duka and young homegrown talent Victor Pineda will be heading to Spain to train with Atlético Madrid, a side the Fire have held an alliance with since 2011. They'll be with the club until Dec. 6.
9. DYNAMO LOOKING FOR WOMEN'S FRANCHISE
The Houston Dynamo are looking into becoming only the second MLS team to own and operate an NWSL side, with Dynamo president Chris Canetti stating that the club is involved in "the initial stages of this process and hope to learn more about the league and the opportunity over the next few weeks."
10. SURGERY FOR KEANE
Now that the 2013 season is officially over, Robbie Keane is to see a specialist about a nagging knee injury. Meanwhile, two Galaxy players at opposite ends of their career both hope to return to the team. Chandler Hoffman is looking for more minutes despite an uncertain status as a Generation adidas player, while Laurent Courtois still feels he has something to offer.
11. SETTLING DOWN IN COLORADO
Shane O’Neill played a lot of positions for the Colorado Rapids during a breakout 2013 season, but now the local star is looking to settle down and find a regular starting position with the team, ideally in the midfield. Although the 20-year-old understands that decision will be out of his hands, he says he'll talk with the club “and see what they think going forward is my best spot.”
12. RSL LOOKING TO REPEAT
Robbie Findley has been here before and, last time, took Real Salt all the way to the MLS Cup. The striker is hoping to repeat that success this year, and that means seeing off the Portland Timbers in the second leg of the Western Conference Championship on Sunday. He may be guaranteed plenty of minutes as well because, despite taking part in training, Alvaro Saborio may not be ready for Sunday's match
13. INDY STADIUM
Now that Orlando are officially an MLS team, will any other teams try and copy their template to run a successful franchise? Indy Eleven could be one such club. The side has already been forced to implement a waiting list for season tickets, and Indy president and general manager Peter Wilt has talked about bringing the team its own stadium.
14. WONDO HELPS THE HOMELESS
San Jose Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski is probably best known for scoring goals. But did you know that Wondo also does his bit for charity?
15. IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC
Without naming names, there are a few people in MLS who spring to mind when you think of sore losers. However, we can at least be fairly confident it will never get this bad, as a losing team in Zimbabwe accuses the winning team of witchcraft.
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