Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. PORTER WILL MAKE CHANGES
In Saturday’s Cascadia showdown, the Portland Timbers looked back to their best going forward, scoring four times against the Seattle Sounders. The only problem is that their defense clearly faltered, and after also conceding four goals in the same game, manager Caleb Porter has revealed he won’t be afraid to make some changes. Staying in Portland, while we’ve all heard of some MLS teams getting their own beers, the Timbers may be the first to get their own chocolate bar.
2. ACADEMY PRODUCES AGAIN FOR RSL
Real Salt Lake announced a new signing on Monday, with 17-year-old defender Justen Glad becoming the club’s latest Homegrown player and seventh academy product to join the team. Will Glad be competing for a starting spot this season? According to RSL general manager Garth Lagerway: “Justen will decide that.”
3. MENDIOLA’S ROCKY ROAD
Another Homegrown player, the Galaxy's Raul Mendiola, is currently with the LA Galaxy II in the USL PRO and the young striker has drawn a lot of favorable comparisons to Irish international Robbie Keane. However, while there are promising signs that Mendiola may one day become the Galaxy’s next big thing, the 19-year-old from San Bernardino, Calif., nearly didn’t even make it this far.
4. MILLER GIVING HIS ALL
“I just try to do my best job to help the team.” Those are the words of New York Red Bulls left back Roy Miller and, while the defender has been the subject of criticism in the past, the Costa Rican international is setting lofty targets this year, including playing in the World Cup and scoring goals for the Red Bulls (WATCH VIDEO HERE).
5. TFC ROOKIE EARNS PLAUDITS
Nick Hagglund wasn’t expecting to get a significant amount of playing time in his first season with Toronto FC but, when injuries and suspensions wiped out the teams backline ahead of the weekend's important match against the Columbus Crew, Hagglund stepped up and made his TFC debut. More importantly, the rookie played well, earning a shutout and drawing praise from various outlets.
6. GETTING DEFENSIVE IN TEXAS
Following another strong performance at the weekend, this time against Texan rivals Houston Dynamo, it’s becoming harder for people to ignore the strong partnership between center backs Matt Hedges and Stephen Keel. Looking for evidence of their effectiveness together? Look no further. Meanwhile, after David Horst's red-card suspension, there was more bad news for the Dynamo’s backline, as Eric Brunner has undergone surgery on his right ankle which is expected to keep him out for eight weeks.
7. FAMILIAR FACES FIND A HOME
Arizona United SC are set to play their first game this Saturday against fellow new USL PRO side Oklahoma City Energy. With the clash against Jimmy Nielsen’s side less than a week away, the Phoenix-based team has set about signing its first players, including some familiar faces like former Philadelphia Union midfielder Matt Kassel and ex-Chivas USA defender Daniel Antunez.
8. DEFOE'S WORLD CUP HOPES GET BOOST
There's been plenty of speculation as to whether Jermain Defoe's move to Toronto FC in MLS will impact his chances at a World Cup spot with England. But if there were still any doubts he was going to Brazil, they were probably erased with news of a serious injury to another of England's World Cup hopefuls.
9. ATLANTA WORTH A CHANCE
Since reports surfaced of potential expansion in Atlanta, there has been no further news on the subject. Still, it has raised the question of how great an MLS market Atlanta can be. For all the naysayers, there are plenty of reasons to believe soccer would work and, furthermore, there’s a good argument that this is a move MLS needs to make.
10. CITY TO CITY
Another week, another Manchester City player linked with a move to the EPL side’s sister club, New York City FC. This time it’s defender Martin Demichelis, with the 33-year-old reportedly setting his sights on North America.
11. COME HOME, LADS
Poor old Jozy Altidore. Not only did his Sunderland team get thrashed 5-1 by Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, furthering the likelihood of relegation, but Altidore wasn’t even around to bear witness to it, reportedl dropped to play in a Under-21 game instead. Another player not exactly having a great time on the field in England is Brek Shea but it seems that, if Shea decides he wants to come home, there’s at least one MLS club that would be happy to have him.
12. BECKHAM'S SCOTCH WHISKY
A brand-new MLS team in Miami is not the only thing keeping prospective owner David Beckham busy these days. There's news of his latest commercial project: launching a scotch whisky brand with spirits giant Diageo. It's called Haig Club. "I'm proud to be working at the heart of a homegrown brand which has built an incredible heritage over 400 years," Beckham told The Wall Street Journal.
13. CONFEDERATIONS UNITE
Looks like CONCACAF is set to receive a boost from a fellow soccer governing body, as UEFA has joined with CONCACAF in signing a memorandum designed to help develop the game in the Caribbean. Speaking like a man running for FIFA president, UEFA boss Michel Platini said of the new plan: “It is the duty of us who are in the daily business of the game to join forces for the development of global football.”
14. GULATI EXPLAINS USWNT CHANGE
Following the surprise sacking of US women’s national team coach Tom Sermanni, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati spoke to the press on Monday in order to explain the decision in greater detail. Despite suggestions of a player revolt leading to the change, Gulati insisted there had been no such thing. Still though, with Sermanni gone, who are the leading candidates to replace him?
15. THE RETURN OF CAL FC
While the official format for this year’s US Open Cup has yet to be announced, a number of qualifying tournaments are already underway among lower-league teams. Some teams have already booked their place and, after proving themselves the surprise team of 2012, Cal FC will be back for another go in 2014. Of course, the Californian team had Eric Wynalda in charge back then. but the Hall-of-Famer has since moved onto a new challenge and you can watch here as Wynalda holds an exclusive interview ... with himself.
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