Your Thursday Kick Off

USOC, CanChamp, Pablo Aranguiz …
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Kick Off: Loons taking off | USOC semis set | Stejskal: Bid in for Steffen?

Here is everything you need to know about MLS and North American soccer this morning:

Loons halt Revolution, close on playoff line

Christian Ramirez and Darwin Quintero rang the ball as Minnesota United scored a 2-0 league win against visiting New England on Wednesday night. The Loons have won three of four to climb to within three points of the Western playoff line. RECAP

Report: Bristol City in for Steffen

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According to our Sam Stejskal, English Championship outfit Bristol City have tabled an offer in the $4 million range for Columbus netminder Zack Steffen. If the Robins can land the US international, it would likely become the most expensive outgoing transfer of a goalkeeper in MLS history, breaking a record set 15 years ago by Tim Howard’s move to Manchester United. READ MORE

USOC: Champs ousted, all-MLS semifinals set

There will be a different Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion this year, as holders Sporting KC were ousted by a 4-2 loss at Houston on Wednesday night. After the game, SKC boss Peter Vermes levied the charge that “a couple guys gave up” during the contest. READ MORE | RECAP

Bob Bradley (who knows something about raising the U.S. Open Cup with an expansion side) and his LAFC bunch remain on the title hunt thanks to a 3-2 home win over Portland. Marco Urena picked a fine time to open his club account with the early second-half winner. RECAP

Philadelphia are back in the Open Cup semis for the fourth time in seven years after riding Alejandro Bedoya’s best-ever form and an early goal to a 1-0 defeat of Orlando City on Wednesday. In a game that saw both clubs roll out their top lineups, Union ‘keeper Andre Blake made four saves to book his first career Open Cup clean sheet. RECAP

Elsewhere, Chicago rounded out the winners on the strength of a 4-0 home rout of USL side Louisville City. Aleksandar Katai continued his incendiary form with a goal and an assist. RECAP

CanChamp: TFC, Montreal edge semifinal openers

Defending Canadian Championship kings Toronto FC put one foot in the final with a 1-0 away leg victory over the Ottawa Fury on Wednesday night. Jonathan Osorio broke the ice just four minutes in and Clint Irwin kept the door shut at the other end to preserve the win. RECAP

Montreal also grabbed a first leg edge by topping Canadian Championship semifinal visitors Vancouver. Alejandro Silva’s seeing-eye strike near the hour put the Impact in a position to return to the final for the fifth time in six years. RECAP

Transfer tribune: Aranguiz, McCarty

Has FC Dallas found their replacement for Mauro Diaz? The word going around has promising Union Espanola string-puller Pablo Aranguiz either nearing a switch to Big D or already holding an agreement to move, depending on who you ask. READ MORE

Meanwhile, Sam Stejskal also reports that Minnesota United recently made an unsuccessful bid to pry Dax McCarty away from Chicago. It seems the Fire made it a short conversation, immediately turning a deaf ear to the overture. READ MORE

Exports: Gall makes Malmo move

Recently linked with interest in bringing him back to MLS, Romain Gall has sealed a big transfer from Allsvenskan stragglers Sundsvall to defending Swedish champs Malmo. The 23-year-old is already on a career-high eight goals at the midway point of the Sweden’s top flight season. READ MORE

MLSsoccer.com Must-Watch

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Calen Carr is back on the This Week In MLS couch!

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