Are the U.S. home venues set for World Cup qualifying?

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On top of Sunday reports that a Sept. 10 World Cup qualifier was bound for Columbus, SI.com’s Grant Wahl says today that Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Seattle are also leaders for coming matches in the final round of regional play.

Citing an unnamed source, here is how Wahl says things might break:

source:

The first U.S. final round World Cup qualifier at home is set for Denver (March 22 against Costa Rica.)

Let’s discuss the others (as we hope that U.S. Soccer gets these things singed and sealed so we can all move on):

  • If CenturyLink Field in Seattle is indeed awarded a match, that indicates a significant shift in U.S. Soccer thinking. Previously, the federation seemed dead-set against the idea of a home match on artificial turf (or on one of the notoriously sketchy temporary grass fields covering the fake stuff.)
  • Salt Lake City has served the purpose quite well over the last two qualifying cycles, with important wins at Rice-Eccles Stadium en route to Germany 2006 and at Rio Tinto Stadium on the road to South Africa 2010. Both matches were well-attended.
  • Mexico at Crew Stadium? Yup. Hits the perfect note.

(MORE: U.S.-Mexico bound for Columbus once again)

  • The United States is likely to need a result down the wire, so Sporting Park in Kansas  City as the venue to face Jamaica would be a great choice. The Americans have positive, recently created memories of the place. They went into Kansas City last fall knowing they quite possibly needed a win or draw against Guatemala and got one fairly easily – after an early Guatemalan goal, that is. The United States punched its ticket into the final round of qualifying that night.

France veteran Malouda loses appeal in Gold Cup case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.

French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.

The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.

Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.

The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.

Report: Bobby Wood unlikely to come to MLS this summer

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A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.

Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.

Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.

Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.

The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.

Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.

If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.

Report: Fellaini eyes MLS, China after shooting down Man United terms

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Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.

The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.

Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.

The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.

Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.

This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.

Chicago Fire venue to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium

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The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.

For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.

SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.

Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.

The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.