Kick Off: Could a shorter season be on the horizon for MLS?

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Kick Off: Could a shorter season be on the horizon for MLS?
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Kick Off: Could a shorter season be on the horizon for MLS?

Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:

1. WOULD RESTRUCTURING MEAN LESS MLS GAMES?

According to a report from Steve Davis at NBC’s ProSoccer Talk, MLS might be working on a plan to better deal with international fixtures and provide a less congested calendar. This would seemingly lead to just 28 regular-season games a year, rather than 34. Davis reports that the idea first began circling the board of directors’ table at meetings surrounding the MLS All-Star Game five weeks ago in Kansas City. There has been no word from the league office yet about these reports, but here's the question: Are you a fan of the idea, or do you like having MLS matches during international windows?

2. INJURIES STRIKE DOWN CAHILL, BERNADELLO

When New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said he was “a bit angry,” he was clearly being careful what he said. Tim Cahill has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks with an ankle injury, sustained during last Saturday's clash with D.C. United, and it’s the second time the Australian DP has been ruled out due to a bad tackle that went unpunished during the match. The Montreal Impact, meanwhile are in a similar situation after Hernán Bernardello was injured in the scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union. There’s no official word on how long he’ll be out for, but ooking at this picture it doesn’t look good.

3. LLOYD SAM SEIZING OPPORTUNITY

Petke had asked his Red Bulls players to step up and, with Thierry Henry benched, Lloyd Sam took full advantage of his chance last Saturday. While it bodes well for future starts, the 28-year-old Englishman was apparently just living up to his own promise: “I was saying good things would happen when you start me at home, so I had to kind of back up my talk.”

4. COLUMBUS CREW RELYING ON EACH OTHER

For rookies and some veterans alike in Columbus, Wednesday night's match against the Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live) will be the first of their careers that won't involve Robert Warzycha in some way or another. As such, young players like Wil Trapp are looking to senior members of the squad such as Chad Marshall for advice on “how to get through these tough times.” And what are the expectations of interim boss Brian Bliss? ExtraTime Radio spoke to the new man in charge to find out.

5. USMNT LOOKING TO FINISH THE JOB

Having arrived in Costa Rica to a "friendly" welcome, the US national team can actually qualify for the World Cup on Friday providing this unique set of circumstances come to pass. Next Tuesday's match against Mexico would obviously seem the more likely scenario, but the US are just focused on beating Costa Rica who, based on this local publication, are just focused on stopping Landon Donovan. They might have more than just Donovan to worry about though, as Jozy Altidore has been deemed fit to resume training.

6. TRIP TO THE HIGHLANDS IN THE CARDS FOR US?

With an available international slot in November, reports suggest the USMNT will be heading to Scotland. This would certainly allow US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to have one more look at some of the European-based players and, if it goes anything like last time, provide another feel good factor for the team. In other US team news, here’s what happened in Columbus when the Ohio Student Union found they had some US-Mexico tickets to sell.

7. BEDOYA MAKING HIS MARK

Not too long ago, Alejandro Bedoya was just another player on the outskirts of the USMNT still trying to make his way in Europe, but now he finds himself very much in the frame for a place on the World Cup roster and enjoying life at his new French club. SoccerByIves.net looks at what changed. As one players stock rises, another’s falls; can things get much worse for Brek Shea?

8. OUTLAW MENTALITY

Forget the supposed controversy surrounding the American Outlaws at next Tuesday's match in Columbus. What matters is the more than 9000 organized US fans expected at Crew Stadium to support their team. The Huffington Post looks at the rise of the Outlaws.

9. MLS TAKES FIRST STEPS PREPARING FOR NEW TV DEAL

There has been quite a bit of talk about MLS' current television deals coming to an end after next season, but what does the future hold? League officials appear to have taken their first steps to signing new deals by hiring an agency to advise during talks. LAGConfidential.com has more.

10. MATCH-FIXING IN CANADA

Here's another set of suspicious results coming from the Canadian Soccer League. Investigative journalist Declan Hill, who penned the soccer corruption book The Fix and has another book due out this fall, has more details on the latest set of worrying developments. The good news is that the CSL will cease to exist after this season, but will that really solve the problem?

11. EDSON BUDDLE FIGHTS FOR HIS PLACE

All it took was the arrival of two new strikers to threaten his place, and Edson Buddle has come to life. The striker has two goals in 32 minutes of action over the last three games, making him the Colorado Rapids' most productive forward right now. Says Buddle: “When you shoot, you never know what can happen.”

12. MLS LOANEES EARN USL RECOGNITION

With the USL PRO season all but finished, the league has announced its all-league teams of the year, with the first team featuring both D.C. United GK Andrew Dykstra and Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer.

13. UNION'S NEW SCHOOL OPENS ITS DOORS

In what head coach John Hackworth called “a landmark day” for the franchise,  the Philadelphia Union officially opened the doors of its brand new private high school on Tuesday. While the club hopes that the new venture may one day produce the Union's next Jack McInerney, they know that it’s a “very long term project.” Meanwhile, US soccer has unveiled its latest Bradenton U-17 Residency class with seven MLS representatives as well as a couple from Orlando and San Antonio.

14. THE NWSL, ONE YEAR IN

So the first year of the NWSL is done and dusted. Was it a success, and does it bode well for the future? These are the important questions to ask of the new league and think progress.org does just that. Meanwhile, the US women's national team rolled over Mexico on Tuesday night, thanks to four goals from Sydney Leroux.

15. KICKTV

Have you checked out KICKTV yet? There has been a marked upswing in the number of people who watch TV via the Internet, and YouTube has made a serious push to have its own channels dedicated to each and every topic imaginable. The New York Times looks at how the channel came to be.

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