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Youth: 2009 boys top 40 clubs

For the second year in a row, the Baltimore Bays are No. 1 in Soccer America's boys rankings.

MLS: Rookie bar is raised

It's been an excellent year for rookies in MLS. Expansion has meant increased opportunities for young players. With smaller rosters, most teams demand more from their college products then they've done in the past.

U.S. Soccer: World Cup Qualification within sight

Mired in mediocrity, the USA nevertheless pushed to the brink of qualification for the 2010 World Cup when it posted critical wins over Hexagonal minnows El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago. Yet questions of selection, confidence and leadership persist.

Backline: Sasho Cirovski

Like many of the players he now coaches at the University of Maryland, Sasho Cirovski faced the choice of when to go pro.

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Champions

The second season of U.S. Soccer's Development Academy program concluded in mid-July with a repeat champion of sorts and a club whose partnership with an English team has benefited both parties.

Youth Beat: The Internet Impact

The game will always be played on the field, but everything that leads up to it has become easier thanks to high technology.

Women's Professional Soccer: All-Star Team

Women's Professional Soccer's First XI - its first-choice team for the 2009 All-Star Game against Sweden's Umea - confirmed the impact foreign players had on the first-year league. Foreigners claimed seven of the 11 spots in balloting by fans, media, coaches and players:

MLS: The Dynamo's Stuart Holden

Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden has parlayed a solid performance at the Gold Cup and a greater role with the MLS team into contention for a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster.

U.S. Soccer: Jonathan Spector

Injuries have ruled Jonathan Spector out of important competitions the past few years, but his return to fitness primed him for the Premier League season with West Ham as well as more regular duty on the U.S. national team.

USYS National Championship Series

A small club from South Carolina, Discoveries SC, stole the show at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, winning the U-18 title with a scintillating performance.

2009 Women's College Soccer Preview

The defending champion Tar Heels, aiming for North Carolina's 20th national championship in 28 years, could be one of the great Anson Dorrance teams of all time. Stanford, with a strong returning frontline and a pair of incoming U-17 internationals, could have the best shot of dethroning UNC.

2009 Men's College Soccer Preview

Major college programs such as defending champion Maryland and 2007 winner Wake Forest are sending players to the pros in record numbers. But they remain national contenders because of their ability to quickly recruit replacements. In a new development, many of the top recruits have spent time in pro academy programs here or abroad.

USA-Mexico: Azteca Heartbreak

A 2-1 loss to Mexico as Hexagonal qualifying play resumed after a two-month break extended a run of U.S. futility in Mexico to 24 games and again exposed the Americans' deficiencies.

Backline: Rodriguez turns attention to MLS's long-range planning

In nearly a decade of employment with Major League Soccer, Nelson Rodriguez is well regarded within the ranks but nearly unknown outside of them.

Confederations Cup: Infectious belief

The USA restored some spirit and pride by beating Egypt and Spain and losing narrowly to Brazil to finish second at the Confederations Cup, the World Cup 2010 dress rehearsal in South Africa.