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Major Link Soccer: A Weekend of World Cup Qualifiers

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Whether 8 US players will be able to play against Mexico in Columbus is in the hands of a Mexican referee. Klinsmann isn't happy about that.

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Tonight could be the night the United States qualifies for the World Cup. For that to happen, they're going to have to do something they've never accomplished: win in Costa Rica. It's not all bad news for the USMNT though. Instead of playing the match in the intimidating environment of Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, the match will be held at the newer Estadio Nacional, which was funded and built by China. Aron Jóhannsson could appear in his first competitive match with the USMNT, though he likely finds himself competing with Eddie Johnson to start at forward, with Jozy Altidore still recovering from a hamstring injury. Although Brad Evans will have to watch at home, his parents will be at the match, as they had already planned on making the trip as part of a vacation.

One thing to keep an eye on tonight is how Marco Antonio Rodriguez, the Mexican referee handling the match, will handle his duties with 8 Americans on yellow card warnings in their last match before playing against Mexico in Columbus. Jürgen Klinsmann isn't too pleased with the assignment, calling it "unfortunate". Panamanian referee Roberto Moreno is assigned to Mexico's match against Honduras, which is also a questionable assignment with Honduras facing Panama next.

With their team reeling from injuries and national call ups, the Portland Timbers announced yesterday that they acquired Brad Ring from the San Jose Earthquakes for Portland's lowest draft pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Portland also announced that defender Ryan Miller will be placed on the season-ending injury list with a stress fracture in his left tibia.

A day after firing most of the key front office staff, Toronto FC president and CEO Tim Leiweke sent out a letter to TFC season ticket holders, reassuring them that he is committed to competing for championships and promising another price freeze on season tickets.

FC Dallas is expected to announce the new naming rights of their stadium in a press conference next Tuesday. The stadium has been without a corporate sponsor since the deal with Pizza Hut expired at the beginning of 2012.

New York City FC may not begin play as the 20th MLS franchise until 2015, but that hasn't stopped them from advertising in Yankee Stadium.

In a fairly lengthy post analyzing fouls for and against around the league, RSL Soapbox notes that while the Sounders have the third lowest occurrence of yellow cards against them, they get red carded more often than any other team. Unsurprisingly, Osvaldo Alonso commits fouls more often than any other Sounder. Perhaps nearly as unsurprisingly, Eddie Johnson draws more fouls than anybody else on the team.

Ahead of Ireland's upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Sweden, Robbie Keane insists that it's a must win game for them to have any hope of qualifying for the 2014 World cup. After the match against Sweden, Ireland will face Austria. Fortunately for Keane (and the Sounders), Austria's manager doesn't appear to have enough sense to call up Michael Gspurning.

Although the past two seasons have been cut short due to public safety concerns, the Egyptian Premier League and the Egyptian Cup will begin play this fall.

Barcelona famously beat Real Madrid to signing Neymar this summer, forcing Los Blancos to go all in on Gareth Bale. However, Diario AS recently learned that Real Madrid nearly signed Neymar when he was 14. Neymar was on trial with Real Madrid's youth academy and was expected to sign with them. The deal fell through after Neymar's agent insisted on a $79,000 fee that the club was unwilling to pay. If Neymar goes on to have anywhere near as much success at Barcelona as Lionel Messi has enjoyed, this story will almost certainly draw comparisons with the Portland Trailblazers picking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan with the second pick of the 1984 NBA draft.

Speaking of Messi, he recently resolved his tax issues by making a "corrective payment" of about $6.5 million as a result of allegedly filing incomplete returns from 2006 to 2009. Messi also recently came out in support of Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Despite his popularity, this has to be seen as a bit controversial in independence-minded Catalunya. It's also interesting to note that he supports Madrid's bid in spite of the fact that he is a brand ambassador for Turkish Airlines, who are backing Istanbul's bid.

In London, Fulham has reportedly signed a 14 year old goalkeeper to their academy after a month-long trial. Why is this noteworthy? It might have something to do with the fact that his father is Chelsea's Manager. José Mario Mourinho had previously played for Real Madrid's academy when his father was the manager at the Santiago Bernabéu.

This weekend's TV listings feature all the World Cup qualifying matches you could ask for, and more:

Friday:

  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Russia vs. Luxembourg, ESPN3 8:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Czech Republic vs. Armenia, ESPN3 9:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Macedonia vs. Wales, ESPN3 11:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Malta vs. Denmark, ESPN3 11:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Turkey vs. Andorra, ESPN3 11:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Romania vs. Hungary, ESPN3 11:00 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Latvia vs. Lithuania, ESPN3 11:10 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Georgia vs. France, ESPN3 11:15 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Slovakia, ESPN3 11:15 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Finland vs. Spain, ESPN3 11:30 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Switzerland vs. Iceland, ESPN3 11:30 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Slovenia vs. Albania, ESPN3 11:30 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Estonia vs. Netherlands, ESPN3 11:30 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Germany vs. Austria, ESPN3 11:45 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Liechtenstein vs. Greece. ESPN3 11:45 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Poland vs. Montenegro, ESPN3 11:45 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Serbia vs. Croatia, ESPN3 11:45 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Northern Ireland vs. Portugal, ESPN3 11:45 AM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: England vs. Moldova, Fox Sports 1 12:00 PM
  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Scotland vs. Belgium, ESPN3 12:00 PM
  • CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying: Colombia vs. Ecuador, beIN Sport 1:30 PM
  • CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying: Paraguay vs. Bolivia, beIN Sport 3:30 PM
  • NCAA: Virginia vs. Clemson, ESPN3 5:00 PM
  • Liga MX: Querétaro vs. Puebla, Azteca 5:30 PM
  • CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Mexico vs. Honduras, ESPNews 6:30 PM
  • CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Costa Rica vs. United States, beIN Sport 7:00 PM
  • Liga MX: Tijuana vs. Veracruz, Azteca 7:30 PM

Saturday:

  • UEFA World Cup Qualifying: Israel vs. Azerbaijan, ESPN3 10:45 AM
  • International Friendly: Brazil vs. Australia, beIN Sport 12:15 PM
  • Liga MX: America vs. Monterrey, Univision 3:00 PM
  • MLS: FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, MLS Stream of the Week 5:30 PM
  • Liga MX: León vs. Chiapas, Telemundo 6:05 PM
  • MLS: Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire, NBC Sports Network 7:00 PM

Sunday:

  • NCAA: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame, ESPNU 9:00 AM
  • NCAA: Penn State vs. St. John's, ESPN3 4:00 PM
  • MLS: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union, ESPN2 8:00 PM