Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. RED BULLS COPING WITH ABSENCES
Toronto FC head into Saturday's game against the New York Red Bulls (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE) on the back of a victory over their Canadian rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps but also now missing Michael Bradley. Still, Mike Petke feels it will be a tough game, and the Red Bulls coach has selection issues of his own, such as replacing left back Roy Miller and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill, who Petke sent an endearing message ahead of his departure. Toronto have also announced a game against their USL PRO affiliates the Wilmington Hammerheads, set to take place during the World Cup break next month.
2. SAK BACKS HACK
With their first win in nine games, the pressure on Philadelphia Union boss John Hackworth (listen to interview on ExtraTime Radio) has eased significantly, and CEO Nick Sakiewicz once again reiterated his support for his head coach and all the club's staff while also suggesting some player reinforcements could be on the way. They won’t arrive in time to help against the red-hot New England Revolution (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Having taken apart the league-leading Seattle Sounders last weekend, the Revolution could be set to get even stronger with the potential return of Jose Gonçalves
3. IMPACT SET TO MAKE A TRADE?
D.C United’s game against the Montreal Impact this Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) will be the first one covered on the radio as part of the club's new deal with CBS. United will be hoping to start that new partnership by securing back-to-back wins for the second time this year, but standing in their way are an Impact side buoyed by their midweek Amway Canadian Championship escape and the strong play of midfielder Justin Mapp. If reports are to be believed, the Impact could also have a new player in camp by then as well.
4. DALLAS LOOK TO END THEIR SLIDE
FC Dallas have now lost four games in a row and, having won five of their first seven games this year, this recent run has echoes of the team's collapse in 2013. However, the players insist that’s not the case and they’ll be looking to bounce back this Saturday against Chivas USA (8.30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), who themselves won their first game since opening day by beating Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja’s old team, the Colorado Rapids, last weekend. While wins may have been elusive for Chivas USA, can there really be questions about how good Erick Torres is after scoring eight in 10?
5. KINNEAR UNCONCERNED BY ABSENCE
In 2011 and 2012 the Houston Dynamo and the LA Galaxy faced off in MLS Cup, and while the Galaxy came out on top in both of those games, Saturday offers a chance to see just how well the Galaxy fare down at BBVA Compass Stadium (8.30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Both teams are missing key players to national camps, but as Dom Kinnear explains, “When a guy leaves, someone else steps in.”
6. ROCKY MOUNTAIN RETURN
This Saturday marks the start of this season’s Rocky Mountain Cup clashes between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids (9.30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but do RSL still value the competition? They certainly say so, but with the departures of several key players to various World Cup camps, it’s understandable that RSL might have other concerns right now. Yet those absences also give Salt Lake's backup players a chance to shine, something head coach Jeff Cassar believes they’re more than capable of doing.
7. MARTINS OWN WORLD CUP
The San Jose Earthquakes travel to take on the Seattle Sounders this Saturday (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE) missing several of their stars. Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson have both departed for US camp, while Victor Bernardez has been suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for ‘misconduct’ following an incident involving FC Dallas’ David Texeira. However, the Sounders are also missing key personnel, and in the absence of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins is hoping to find the back of the net more himself: “I’ll play my own World Cup with the Seattle Sounders.”
8. TIMBERS TUMBLE AT THE BACK
The Portland Timbers will head into their matchup against the Columbus Crew this Saturday (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) with a new striker on their roster, but could it be that it's not so much the attacking options that are the problem now, rather it’s actually defense which has become the club's main issue.
9. FIRE AND SKC STARS READY FOR THE SHOW
Coming off the back of their wild 5-4 win against the New York Red Bulls, the Chicago Fire take on Sporting Kansas City this Sunday (3 pm ET UniMas), and if the Fire want to emulate the Philadelphia Union and beat the defending MLS Cup champions, they couldn’t have picked a better time to play them as SKC’s squad is currently looking a little light right now. Yet there’s another interesting battle taking place between these two teams away from the pitch: Which team’s player has the best Youtube show? Is it Quincy Amarikwa’s ‘Quincy Time’ or is it ‘The Benny Feilhaber Show’ (starring Sal Zizzo).
10. US SQUAD OPPORTUNITIES
As the World Cup draws nearer, does the US backline still leave plenty of unanswered questions? While the starting backline is anyone’s guess at this stage, there’s little doubt that the best players are in camp and, unfortunately, that meant no place for Oguchi Onyewu, with the defender revealing he was “gutted” not to have gotten the call. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is in the 30-man camp, though, and having failed to make the final 23 back in 2010, the 27-year-old is determined not to let it happen again.
11. US OPEN CUP DRAW FOR ROUND FOUR
The draw for the fourth round of the US Open Cup was supposed to take place on Thursday and, with this being the round that MLS teams enter the fray, many were excited to see just who their team would draw. However, the draw was postponed and will now take place Friday instead. There’s still the third round to go before anyone meets an MLS team, though, and with the New York Cosmos and the Brooklyn Italians set to face off, the two New York teams have taken a stab at their local MLS rivals.
12. DELLORUSSO MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Arizona United SC took the place of the Phoenix Wolves in USL PRO when the club disbanded early this year. The speed with which they formed and managed to put a team together meant that they were somewhat of an unknown entity. However, after dispatching the Portland Timbers U23’s in the US Open Cup, their stock is rising. So is that of their head coach, former FC Dallas player Michael Dellorusso.
13. STRONG MLS PRESENCE IN US U20 CAMP
While the US national team has gathered now for its pre-World Cup camp, the stars of the future have gathered for a camp of their own in North Carolina. There are a number of MLS Academy players on the current U20 roster which, with Tab Ramos away with the men’s team, will be led by assistant coach Brian Bliss.
14. GULATI TAKES AIM AT PREMIER LEAGUE
Does increased Premier League exposure help MLS? According to Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation, “If you look at the amount of money being spent on television rights outside of countries, it would be pretty hard to argue that’s a good thing.” Gulati made his comments at the inaugural SoccerEx Asian forum, but today will be talking about something completely different as US Soccer has called a press conference at 2 pm ET in which they are widely expected to announce the new head coach of the US women’s national team.
15. GALAXY’S NEW STAR SIGNING
The LA Galaxy announced a very special player signing on Thursday, as the California club was able to secure the services of 15-year-old Jacob Trainor. Speaking about his new acquisition, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was full of praise: “Jacob’s experience, dedication and love for soccer are truly inspiring and we believe he will make a great addition to our team.” Look for Jacob to make his Galaxy 'debut' on May 21 when the side take on FC Dallas at home.
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