Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. SPORTING KC TAKE THE CUP
With the score tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, Saturday night's MLS Cup final between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake went all the way to a penalty shootout and eventually became the longest playoff game in league history. SKC finally overcame RSL 7-6 in PKs to secure the MLS Cup in front of their home crowd (watch highlights here) and, despite some broken ribs, SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen played the hero at the end of the match. Head coach Peter Vermes, meanwhile, became the first person to win MLS Cup as both a player and manager with the same club. So what’s next for SKC?
2. SALT LAKE'S LUCK RUNS OUT
Javier Morales blamed the weather, but it seems luck really wasn’t on RSL’s side this time, with the team hitting the woodwork three times in regulation and once in the shootout. But should SKC hero and game MVP Aurelien Collin have been sent off? RSL's Robbie Findley certainly seems to think so. How did Findley and the other players rate on the night? And in a nice gesture, as SKC celebrated, Collin’s made sure a former teammate who played his part this year wasn’t left out.
3. DECISION TIME
Now that the MLS Cup final is over, attention turns back to RSL head coach Jason Kreis and the decision on where his future will take him. Speaking after the devastating defeat on Saturday, Kreis was full of praise for his team, describing the match as “a no-lose situation,” yet the RSL coach gave no clues as to where his future might lead, only saying that “what happens over the next couple of days is really hard.” Does Kreis sound like a man staying put?
4. DWYER ON THE MOVE?
Having won both the USL PRO Championship and the MLS Cup in one season, could Dom Dwyer be on his way out at SKC? According to English newspaper The Telegraph, the Englishman says he will be going on loan to an unnamed English Championship club in January with the option for a permanent transfer.
5. GROUP OF DEATH?
Friday's World Cup draw went as well as most people though it would, with the US landing in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. US captain Clint Dempsey, however, isn’t particularly bothered about the difficult task ahead, suggesting, “We have the quality if we play our best ball to get out of the group.”
6. DEMPSEY DECISION SOON
It seems we’ll know soon enough what Dempsey will be doing this offseason. With the US star suggesting his situation could be finalized this week. However, that doesn’t mean Dempsey will necessarily be going anywhere, as the player has spoken about “trying to make sure my body is just right” ahead of a busy 2014.
7. GROUPS OF PERIL?
The USA weren’t the only ones to land a tough group though. Mexico landed in Brazil's group, although with Cameroon and Croatia rounding out the teams, you could argue their odds are more favorable. Honduras and Costa Rica certainly didn’t get easy groups either while Tim Cahill’s Australia side will face Spain and the Netherlands, encounters which the Red Bulls' star is relishing.
8. FRIENDLY ENCOUNTERS
Now that the groups are set for next summer and each nation knows who they’ll be facing, they can go about making preparations. Foe England this will apparently involve two games in Miami, including one against the USA. While, although Canada aren’t involved in the tournament, they still hope to get in on the action by hosting a pre-tournament friendly of their own.
9. FUEL TO THE FIRE
You can take Brian Bliss out of the running for any of the vacant MLS coaching jobs, after the Chicago Fire named Bliss as their technical director on Friday. Fire head coach Frank Yallop referred to Bliss as a tremendous asset, pointing to his “proven track record of building championship-caliber squads.”
10. PLAYER ACQUISITION INC.
When the MLS trade window opens Monday, you can expect Toronto FC to be one of the busier clubs, with general manager Tim Bezbatchenko revealing they want their new Designated Players in place before the season begins. Yet, could the club also be looking to bring back a familiar face? On top of that, Miroslav Klose has told Lazio fans he is likely to be on the move, while the club now has Bright Dike back from Celtic. So just how will TFC’s roster look next season?
11. THE SOCCER DON
MLS has come a long way since Don Garber took over as Commissioner, but how did Garber lead us to this point? There’s still plenty of places for the league to go as well and Garber sat down with ESPNFC.com’s Jeff Carlisle to talk about a number of subjects, including playoff and television scheduling.
12. NORWEIGAN SIDE CHASING CAMILO
While the Vancouver Whitecaps may not have a head coach just yet, what they do have is one of the brightest young stars in the league in the form of Camilo Sanvezzo, winner of the 2013 Budweiser Golden Boot and the A&T&T Goal of the Year. However, could that also be about to change? According to reports, Norwegian side Rosenberg have their sights set on him.
13. DYNAMO MOVING FORWARD WITH NWSL
The Houston Dynamo have decided to move forward with their plans to acquire a team in the NWSL. This week will also see the Dynamo host Brian Ching’s testimonial match and, ahead of that, Ching has been reflecting on his time with the USMNT.
14. CABRERA TO CHIVAS USA?
While the club did well to hold onto head coach Oscar Pareja, could the Colorado Rapids be on the verge of losing assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera? According to Cabrera, Chivas USA have been in touch with the Rapids about the availability of the former US Under-17 national team coach.
15. GIVING BACK
Three nice stories here, showing how MLS teams, players and fans all continue to give back to the community. First we have newly crowned MLS champions Sporting Kansas City helping to renovate a family space at Ronald McDonald House. Then we have the Sons of Ben helping to feed the poor before finally, we have DeAndre Yedlin’s surprise visit to the dentist.
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