Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today
1. WELCOME BACK WONDO
The San Jose Earthquakes host D.C United in the Friday-night game this week (11 pm ET, NBCSN, match preview), with the Quakes looking to end a three-game losing streak. To that end they welcome back Chris Wondolowski, who returns to find Jordan Stewart more than capably wearing the captain’s armband in his absence.
2. MAKING PLANS
The post-mortems have been written, and it looks like the US is ready to move on from its World Cup run, as Jurgen Klinsmann & Co. have reportedly agreed to face the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in a November friendly. That would be the second US friendly in Europe this fall, following their game at the Czech Republic in September.
3. THE END IS NIGH
After a great month, the World Cup comes to an end this weekend. It starts with Saturday's third-place match, as Brazil take on the Netherlands trying to salvage a little bit of national pride (Saturday, 4 pm ET, ESPN and Univision). It concludes, of course, when Germany take on Argentina for the biggest prize in world soccer (Sunday, 3 pm ET, ABC, Univision). Yet as the finals draw to a close, which characters have truly helped make it so memorable?.
4. UNION SET FOR NEW STRIKER?
The Philadelphia Union will be in fine spirits when they take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), for not only have they just advanced to the semifinals of the US Open Cup, but they’re on the verge of signing a new striker, although a former MLS player training with the club is not likely to be coming home just yet.
5. STEELE DEPARTS
The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew square off on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) separated only by goal difference in the Eastern Conference. Where will the Crew find some extra goals? Here’s the latest on their search for a new striker. The Red Bulls, however, will be without Jonny Steele after agreeing to cancel his contract so he can pursue other options.
6. MORE THAN A MANTRA?
While Toronto FC aim to be “more than a club” off the field, they’ll look to get back to winning ways on it when they face the Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS LIVE), and as important as their Designated Players are to the Canadian side, is Justin Morrow the unsung hero for TFC? Plus did Giles Barnes accidently help TFC land Luke Moore?
7. IMPACT SWITCHING STRIKERS?
With the Montreal Impact apparently closing in on Olivier Occéan, the club are reported to be considering letting Santiago Gonzalez head to Uruguay on a short-term loan. However, there are not likely to be any changes ahead of the Canadian side’s game against Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, TSN2 & RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE Free Stream of the Week in the US), who will be missing their first-choice 'keeper, although Peter Vermes has full faith in stand-in Andy Gruenenbaum.
8. FINDING A MATCH
It was a case of opposite fortunes for the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup this week, but as the two sides get ready to face off on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the worsening condition of one former Revs player reminds us that there are things far more serious than soccer.
9. WHITECAPS FINDING THEIR GROOVE
Having beaten the Sounders last week, the Vancouver Whitecaps, complete with an increasingly comfortable midfield paring of Pedro Morales and Matias Laba, will look to keep that good form going when they take on a resurgent Chivas USA (10 pm ET, TSN2 IN Canada, MLS LIVE in the US), who just waived their backup goalkeeper.
10. TO AND FROM BRAZIL
The LA Galaxy host Real Salt Lake in Saturday's final game (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but they’ll do so without Brazilian forward Samuel, who has been sent back to Fluminense after failing to make much impact in California. However, while Samuel heads back to Brazil, two RSL players have just travelled the opposite direction and are still trying to process their experiences.
11. CASCADIA CLASH (PART 2)
The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers face off on Sunday (10 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada) for the second time in five days. Having just knocked the Timbers out of the US Open Cup on Wednesday, the Sounders know they’ll be facing a well-motivated side.
12. LUCKY NUMBER THREE FOR NYCFC
New York City FC officially added their third player on Thursday, with two-time MLS Cup-winning goalkeeper Josh Saunders joining the team. Meanwhile NYCFC’s second player, Jeb Brovsky talks about his loan to Norway and joining a third MLS expansion club.
13. BUILDING DEMAND
It’s widely accepted that the World Cup and its popularity stateside will provide a boost for MLS teams, especially after the USA’s performance, but can the same apply to teams that don’t even exist yet? In Atlanta, the answer appears to be yes.
14. THE FUTURE IS NOW
There’s been plenty of recent talk about what the next generation of the US national team might look like, and some names to keep an eye on were listed in Thursday's announcement of the USA Under-20 squad for an upcoming tournament in California.
15. WHEN DEMPSEY MET DAVID
While the Seattle Sounders were beating the Portland Timbers in the US Open Cup, their captain and Designated Player Clint Dempsey was on the other side of the country talking to David Letterman about his recent experiences at the World Cup. Here’s what he had to say.
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.