Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. MAGIC MIKE’S MEGA MONEY
It seems there are plenty of reasons for Mike Magee to smile right now after it was officially announced that the reigning MVP signed new contract with the Fire. “As a kid, I would have paid to play for the Chicago Fire, Magee said in a club statement, "so, as you can imagine, I’m beyond happy to have signed a new deal.” There was also interesting news involving another Chicago player, as it was revealed that Giuseppe Gentile has been sent on loan to USL PRO side the Charlotte Eagles, offering the player ”an opportunity to develop and play in meaningful matches,” according to Fire coach Frank Yallop.
2. TWO IN, TWO OUT FOR CHIVAS USA
Chivas USA are busy getting ready to take on the Portland Timbers this Saturday (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live), and as they continue quietly rebuilding and strengthening their side, Thursday marked a big day for the team from LA. First, there was the news that the club had waived both midfielder Dani Fragoso and defender Andrew Ribiero, which was then followed by the announcement that the Goats had acquired the rights to Martín Rivero, most recently with the Colorado Rapids, and had subsequently signed the player. There was also the interesting case of 29-year-old defender Lyle Martin, who seems to be a Chivas USA player despite his signing never being formally announced.
3. SALARIES REVEALED
Thursday saw the MLS Players Union release updated player salaries. While the figures provide plenty of interesting numbers, it seems that not everyone is a fan of these figures being revealed to the public. However, Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid dismisses suggestions that they can cause problems in the locker room.
4. COPA AMÉRICA HEADING TO USA
It’s still not officially confirmed yet but, following an exclusive report from beIN Sports, it seems that plans for a Copa América Centenario tournament in the United States are still very much on, with an announcement expected sometime soon. The tournament would apparently feature all 10 nations from South America along with the US, Mexico and four other countries from CONCACAF.
5. CAHILL’S KIDS
The New York Red Bulls travel to D.C. United this Saturday for another edition of the Atlantic Cup (7 pm ET, MLS Live), and although Tim Cahill is not likely to play a large role, if any, during that game, there’s no denying how important the Australian international is to his team. It seems the Red Bulls and Cahill are perfect matches for one another. Yet while the Red Bulls star continues to promote the game in the States, he’s also helping develop the next generation of players back home as well.
6. NEAL GETS A BAN
D.C. United may have to alter their preparations for a visit from New York on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS Live) after Lewis Neal was handed a one-game ban by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for his fourth-minute tackle on Andew Farrell. New England Revolution manager Jay Heaps also received a fine from MLS Commissioner Don Garber following his sending-off towards the end of that same match. While Neal may be out, one person United can seemingly count on is rising star Perry Kitchen.
7. MONTREAL ISSUES
The Montreal Impact are set to host the Chicago Fire on Saturday (4 pm ET, MLS Live) still looking for their first MLS win of 2014. The lineup could well see Jack McInerney start alongside Marco Di Vaio for the first time, but could it be argued that Montreal’s real problem lies with some defensive issues the club has so far failed to address?
8. GIL AIMS TO BE HIMSELF
Real Salt Lake are the guests at PPL Park this Saturday for a game against the Philadelphia Union (4 pm ET, MLS Live), and while midfielder Luis Gil continues to earn praise from all quarters, the player shies away from comparisons to other top players, instead preferring to forge his own identity. Regardless of that, Gil is an important part of the “team comes first” RSL family, but what does it mean to be a member of that group?
9. ABSENTEES SET TO RETURN FOR DALLAS
FC Dallas host the Seattle Sounders this Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week) with the Sounders potentially missing several players though injury, including a fourth game out for Brad Evans. FC Dallas, meanwhile, could welcome back both Andrew Jacobson and Adam Moffat. There is some good news for Sounders fans though, as sporting director Chris Henderson revealed that he expects the club to sign a new player after the World Cup.
10. IS FINLEY WASTING HIS CHANCE?
The Columbus Crew travel to Northern California this Sunday for a game against the San Jose Earthquakes (3 pm ET, UniMas) looking to bounce back following their first defeat of the season. But head coach Gregg Berhalter also has other concerns, such as the news that Ryan Finley doesn’t appear to be settling in too well with USL PRO affiliate the Dayton Dutch Lions. Staying with USL PRO, Arizona United SC continue to snap up former MLS players, this time adding Paolo DelPiccolo to their growing squad.
11. RUMORS ADDRESSED
Parma striker Amauri has been linked with several clubs already this year but, according to the latest report out of Italy, both the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC could be considering fresh bids for the 33-year-old this summer. Toronto FC have also been linked with another player that US fans will be slightly more familiar with but, for now, Ryan Nelsen is dismissing talk of Brek Shea joining the club as nothing but rumors.
12. ORLANDO CITY SHOW INTERNATIONAL DRIVE
Orlando City may not be an MLS team just yet, but that hasn’t stopped the team from Florida securing themselves a big-name international fixture this summer. For the second year in a row, the Lions will entertain AS Roma of Italy’s Serie A.
13. FIFA RANKINGS
The latest edition of the FIFA rankings were published on Thursday and it was good new all-round as the USA and Mexico both rose one spot, to 13th and 19th, respectively. Canada climbed two places to 110th. However, on the flip side of that coin, Germany remain second in the world rankings while Portugal have risen one place to third. Ghana did drop three places to 38th, so there’s that at least.
14. NEW FIXTURE FOR CANADA CAMP
After recently announcing a friendly against Bulgaria as their first international fixture of the year, the Canadian national team quickly followed that up with a second, adding Moldova as the second and final game of the squad’s May training camp in Austria. That fixture is scheduled for May 27, four days after the Bulgaria game, but no word yet on whether or not this one will also be played behind closed doors.
15. PLAYING THE LONG GAME
Ask even the fittest soccer players: Running around for 90 minutes can be a tiring experience. Throw in an extra half-hour – see, for instance, the 2013 MLS Cup final – and you start to see players going down with cramps and general fatigue. Now, imagine playing for 38 times longer than that and you’ll have an idea of what got underway on Thursday as a group of 36 men in Carlinville, Ill., not only attempt to break the World Record for longest soccer game ever played but, much more importantly, raise money for Childhood Cancer Research.
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