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andrew wiebe

22 January 7:25 pm

If the reports are true, Vancouver are looking to the Land of the Rising Sun to help bolster their midfield. 

According to Sponichi Annex, Daigo Kobayashi, currently with Shimizu S-Pulse in the J-League, is poised to sign with the Whitecaps sometime this week.

The 29-year-old has more than 10 years experience as a professional while logging time with Tokyo Verde, Omiya Ardija, Stabæk, Iraklis Thessaloniki and S-Pulse.

The 'Caps also have Japanese midfielder Jun Marques Davidson and South Korean defender Young-Pyo Lee on their books, so they're no stranger to shopping on the Pacific Rim. With the exit of Barry Robson this week, there's room in the Vancouver midfield for a string-puller like Kobayashi, who wears No. 10 for his club side and has one cap with the Japanese national team.

EDIT: Marc Weber of The Province confirmed the move on Tuesday afternoon, followed by this tweet from the official Vancouver account:

 

10 January 12:11 pm

Stuart Holden is back on the field for Bolton, even if he still waiting to step onto the pitch with the first team.

Holden played 65 minutes for Bolton's reserves against Oldham Athletic on Tuesday, a huge step in his quest to return from a knee injury that's kept him out for more than a year. Check out the footage above and comments from Holden after the match below. Needless to say, he's itching to get back but also understands it's still too early to know exactly what the future will hold.

“If all goes well from this then I don’t anticipate any reaction and I can now take the next step," Holden told Bolton's official website. "That will be playing a bit longer and then I think I will be ready to roll with the full 90 minutes. I am very close now. I have worked so hard to get to this stage and I don’t want to do anything now to mess that up."
04 January 1:08 pm

The Daily Mail – alarm bells already ringing! – reported Friday morning that current Queens Park Rangers vice-captain Ryan Nelsen was headed back to MLS as an assistant coach with former club D.C. United.

It didn't take long for The Washington Post's Steve Goff to get his journalistic biplane off the ground to effectively red baron those rumors.

Just as quickly, others chimed in with another possible landing spot for Nelsen: Toronto FC, where former D.C. president Kevin Payne is reshaping the club.

If Nelsen does land on an MLS staff, it would continue the ongoing trend of former players moving into assistant coaching roles. The New Zealander would certainly have plenty of experience to draw on, as well as an intimate understanding of the league and valuable contacts back in England.

What do you think? Would Nelsen be a good hire at TFC or D.C. United? For an MLS side in general?

04 January 12:40 pm

As we slowly build up to Major League Soccer's 18th season – a scary thought, especially since MLS Cup still feels like such a recent event, for me at least – it's worth taking a look back at how it all started. Rest assured, the goings-on weren't always quite so polished.

Take, for example, the first signing in league history. US Soccer is counting down its top 100 moments as part of the federation's centennial celebration and included an interesting anecdote from president Sunil Gulati about what it took to bring national team star Tab Ramos to MLS. The league and US Soccer wanted Ramos – an national team player with Hispanic heritage and attacking flare – to help give the league an initial foothold with fans as well as other Americans playing abroad.

He certainly helped with both those aims, but when he committed his future to MLS, there wasn't even contract to put pen to paper on. I'll let Gulati explain.

“He was going to sign with Tigres, and what we decided at the very last moment was why not have a handshake to sign with MLS, and we would loan him to Tigres,” Gulati told USsoccer.com. “The league wasn't far enough along to have a contract or a standard player agreement or any of that, so it was just a handshake.”

Just a handshake. Imagine suggesting that to the current crop of agents stocking teams these days. You'd get laughed out of the room.

But after a year-and-a-half with Tigres UANL, Ramos kept his end of the bargain, ending up with his hometown MetroStars for the next seven seasons. It wasn't always smooth sailing – cue Red Bulls fans simultaneously nodding their heads and silently weeping – but Ramos became a pioneer in a league that he helped put on the map.

To think, all it took was a handshake and the belief that professional soccer in the US was worth the commitment.

“I was excited to come home and start a new experience,” Ramos said. “It was coming home and there was the draw of playing at Giants Stadium, where I had watched the Cosmos play and where I practiced with the Cosmos 10 years before. All those things were really important to me. Obviously, having my family here as well.

“And it was fun. It was fun drawing the big crowds the first couple of years. It was fun driving to the stadium, just to be part of the whole thing. It really truly felt like we had a professional league at home and it was going to stick.”

03 January 12:34 pm

Rest assured, the flood of Honduran players to Major League Soccer hasn't reached the high-water mark just yet.

According to comments from the player himself, the Seattle Sounders are closing in on the signing of CD Victoria defender Wilmer Crisanto, who they've been pursuing for some time if the reports are to be believed.

Here's what the right back (above) had to say to Cronometro: "It is a matter of my salary, they already told me what I was going to earn in Seattle. I asked my agent to try to get a little more but if he's not able to, I'll have to settle for what they offered me, I'm not asking for much."

Of course, nothing is official until the final shoe drops, but the 23-year-old sounds pretty confident that he'll be the latest Catracho to land in MLS.

The other tidbit to come out of the article concerns Crisanto's teammate at Victoria and with the Honduran Olympic team, José Velásquez Colón. According to the story, the center back is preparing to embark on a trial with the Sounders after a successful year for both club and country.

What do you think? Have Hondurans taken over from Colombians as MLS' biggest import?

02 January 12:40 pm

Add another name to the list of players publicly mulling an MLS adventure. This time it's Bordeaux attacking midfielder Ludovic Obraniak, who took a second to ponder his future in an interview with Républicain Lorrain.

Now, I don't like the sound of the middle of the following quote -- of course, as you can tell below, Google translate is a slippery slope -- but the 28-year-old is a longtime Ligue 1 veteran and a Polish international. If he's properly motivated (and healthy), there are certainly teams out there who would be willing to give Obraniak a run at the right price.

"I have nearly 300 Ligue 1 in the legs, a nice list. I am calm," he said. "Soon it will be time for me to see football as a fun first. Why not joining Major League Soccer? I've always loved the United States, and my wife has ever lived."

Whether or not Obraniak will ever actually arrive on these shores is anyone's guess. What we can be sure of is that mooted MLS moves won't be slowing down anytime soon.

02 January 10:43 am

You may have seen this video already. If so, go ahead and watch it again. It really is that incredible.

Most people won't ever pull off something this perfect on a soccer field in their lifetime. Then again, most people aren't this cameraman, who somehow backheeled a long clearance out of bounds directly to the player tasked with taking the ensuing throw in. Oh yeah, he also did it on the fly and without taking his hands off the camera. Talk about foot-eye coordination.

Ho hum! Back to work.

27 December 6:27 pm

Keep 'em coming. That seems to be the mindset in MLS as a growing number of Honduran players head north for the United States and Canada.

The latest in a long line of Catratchos appears to be U-23 midfielder Arnold Peralta, who also has one senior cap to his name. On Thursday morning, the 23-year-old's Honduran club, CD Vida, tweeted that he was headed to Toronto.

At a tad taller than 5-foot-7, Peralta isn't likely to be an enforcer in the mold of Roger Espinoza, but he could certainly be similar to Marvin Chavez or Mario Martinez. If he's anywhere close to that duo, TFC may have landed a central piece to their rebuilding campaign.

27 December 6:06 pm

Eddie Johnson lives according his own schedule, at least when it comes to announcing US national team call-ups.

After publicly confirming an October call-up for World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala a bit early, it appears Johnson let the cat out of the bag early once again on Thursday, tweeting that he'd be one of the players Jurgen Klinsmann will run the rule over during January.

While others apparently keep the good news to themselves, Johnson just can't seem to keep his excitement contained to family and friends. Clearly, those 13,852 Twitter followers need to know that their boy is headed back to the big time. And I say good for him. The guy saw some dark days and seems to be rebuilding step by step what was one of the most promising careers to originate in MLS or the US in general. He was a terror for MLS defenses this season, and a bright spot for Klinsmann in the two wins that sealed the US' Hexagonal spot, linking up with long-time friend Clint Dempsey to great effect.

Can he continue that kind of form for the USMNT? That remains to be seen, but I've got no problem with a player having a problem keeping this sort of thing to himself. Excitement is contagious, after all.

What do you think? Did Johnson make a mistake by announcing his call-up early?

23 December 5:37 pm

More than 1,700 miles separate Houston and Newton, Conn., but the Dynamo aren't concerned with distance as they do their part to support a grieving community in the wake of unimaginable tragedy.

On Friday, Houston announced they were partnering with the Quinnipiac University soccer program and the Connecticut Football Club to host "Soccer Night in Newtown" on Monday, January 7. Dynamo president and Guilford, Conn., native Chris Canetti is leading the charge, using his connections in his new home to provide a much-needed distraction for those affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"Soccer is a big part of the Newtown community, and we thought it would be a great idea to give the kids a chance to have some fun playing a game they love alongside some of America's top professional players and some of the area's top collegiate players," Canetti said in a statement. "I hope this event can be a diversion from some of the harsh realities facing their world and provide an opportunity to create positive lifelong memories."

Forward Brian Ching, midfielders Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis, defender Corey Ashe and goalkeeper Tally Hall will all make the trip to Newton to sign autographs and participate in soccer-themed activities at the free event. Houston also opened an auction to benefit the United Way's Sandy Hook School Support Fund, and prizes includes a trip for two to see the Dynamo play a 2013 home game at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.

There isn't much to say other than 'Well done, Dynamo." At times like these, we're all in it together, and Houston's attitude toward tragedy is a lesson to us all.

See how you can help support Sandy Hook victims here.