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02 January 3:05 pm

Bonne année à toutes et tous ! Je vous souhaite le bonheur, la santé, le plein de ballon rond, des bonds de joie dans les stades et des troisièmes mi-temps festives. Vu que c’est la période des vœux, voilà un texte de circonstance : 13 souhaits pour 2013 (désolé pour les plus superstitieux…)

  • Avoir un vainqueur du Supporters Shield aussi brillant que San José l’an dernier, et le voir soulever la Coupe MLS
  • Davantage de jeunes joueurs désignés qui apportent une plus-value à la compétition
  • Que tous les joueurs qui haussent le niveau de leur équipe de plusieurs crans soient à 100% de leurs moyens d’un bout à l’autre de la saison
  • De plus en plus de titulaires formés dans les équipes de jeunes de leur club
  • Davantage de joueurs francophones dans les clubs de MLS
  • L’annonce d’un vrai stade de soccer bien situé pour DC United et New England (et pourquoi pas d’un nouveau nom pour ce dernier)
  • Des supporters adverses qui effectuent les déplacements en grand nombre
  • Des audiences en hausse aux États-Unis et au Canada ainsi qu’une augmentation du nombre de rencontres de MLS télédiffusées à travers le monde
  • Que les États-Unis et la Belgique se qualifient pour la Coupe du monde 2014
  • Un rajeunissement drastique de l’équipe nationale canadienne, assorti d’un vrai plan à long terme
  • Revoir la Ligue des champions à Montréal (désolé pour les autres, c’est quand même là que je vis…)
  • Voir le représentant canadien franchir le premier tour en Ligue des champions
  • Finir l’année avec un club de MLS à la Coupe du monde des clubs

 J’en ai d’autres mais il a fallu choisir… et je n’ai pas mis ce qui me paraissait évident, comme souhaiter que le niveau de la compétition poursuive sa courbe ascendante. Et vous, quels sont vos vœux footballistiques pour l’année qui commence ?

02 January 11:40 am

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 9:43 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.

01 January 12:29 pm

When he selected as the #1 overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, everyone knew Andrew Wenger was a smart player.

At Duke, he moved from forward to center back and back again, succeeding at both positions. He also possessed some serious academic bona fides, being named to the Academic All-America first team in 2011 and the Academic All-ACC team three times .

Well, turning pro and scoring a goal or two for the Montreal Impact hasn't changed his academic determination. He recently contributed an essay to the "Soccer Politics" blog, a site organized and managed by Duke students under the guidance of Professor Laurent Dubois.

Here's Wenger, in his own words, explaining what his essay on UEFA's Financial Fair Play is about:  

This post will first investigate how the idea of Financial Fair Play (FFP) was created.  I will examine what some European Leagues already do to curb financial delinquency.  The post will then gloss over concerns skeptics have of the new regulations before delving into how the regulations are structured and how they will be governed.  This will be followed by questions pertaining to how UEFA will be able to achieve their desired goals that FFP is supposed to achieve.  Finally, it will discuss critiques and suggestions meant to improve the current FFP model.

READ ON...

31 December 12:20 pm

If it's the end of the year, it's time for some obligatory video compilations. Cue the tape.

The latest one comes from the folks at US Soccer, who have put together the best moments from a historic year for the US men's national team, including every goal from the 2012 campaign. Check it out.

30 December 8:06 pm

Here's a rumor that may have some legs. Though it hasn't always been the most reliable of sources, Honduran publication Diez claims that Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek García has spoken to 20-year-old compatriot Alex López about a move to MLS, and López certainly isn't shying away from the possiblity.

"I have many friends who play in MLS, it would be a great goal, life is made for that," López is quoted as saying. "If the opportunity is given to me, I will go and work my hardest"

Given the success Honduran players have had in MLS and López's succcess with club team Olimpia in the CONCACAF Champions League and at the various levels of the Honduras national team, this one makes a good deal sense, not to mention the comments attributed to him the report.

"I have asked God for the opportunity to play abroad," López is quoted as saying. "It is something all players desire, and if the opportunity is given – and only God knows – we'll see how things turn out."

And let's not forget, López looks to be an excellent player in the making. He made his debut for Olimpia at the age of 18, and has registered 22 goals and 37 assists in 58 games in all competitions for the Honduran powerhouse.

He yet to score in three appearances for Honduras' senior national team, but made one start and two appearances off the bench during the team's impressive run at the Olympic Games, and has put in a series of strong performances at the youth international level.

García's involvement in the story naturally makes the Houston Dynamo a rumored destination, but López denied the certainty of a move, saying, "The truth is, I've had talks with Boniek García, but I'm not the one who makes the decisions here, [team] president Rafael Ferrari is the one who has command of the team, and he knows my future."

30 December 6:57 pm

One more South American player for your silly season enjoyment here. According to this report in Argentine publication Olé indicates the Chicago Fire are one of a number of teams interested in midfielder Iván Marcone, who plays for  2012 Clausura champions Arsenal de Sarandí.

Marcone, who is just 22 years old, has already made 114 league appearances for the Buenos Aires side and has one goal to his name. He isn't a guy who's going to light up the scoresheet, but will contribute on both sides of the ball.

Of course, because Arsenal won the championship earlier this year, they will be participating in the Copa Libertadores, an enticing prospect for any player. Thus, Marcone deflected questions about interest from the Fire, as well as Spanish outfit Celta de Vigo and Cruz Azul, simply by saying, "I'm only thinking about the Copa Libertadores."

So, it doesn't sound like the soundest of rumors, but the prospect of a technical, hard-working midfielder like Marcone coming to MLS is always fun to think about, especially on this slow New Year's weekend.

MLSsoccer.com reached out to the Fire about the report, but has not yet received comment.

30 December 12:36 pm

Could Aston Villa and Ireland defender Richard Dune be the latest man to reinforce the New York Red Bulls backline? The Daily Mail seems to think so.

Given the source, NY's trade for MLS veteran Jamison Olave, and the fact that the report states there is a £50,000-per-week salary on offer (that's $4.2 million annually for those who don't want to do the math) for a player who's struggled with injury, it seems very dubious.

The 33-year-old does bring a strong pedigree, however, with 408 Premier League (and 43 second-flight) appearances to his name in a long career with Everton, Manchester City and now Aston Villa. He's also scored eight goals in 76 appearances for the Irish national team and played in both the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2012.

28 December 11:20 am

Nous voilà donc au sommet du classement de « Pleine lucarne », la crème de la crème de la saison 2012, l’équivalent du coup franc qui déloge la toile d’araignée dans le petit coin du but où personne ne parvient habituellement à placer un ballon.

1. Le projet de jeu offensif de San José

C’est vrai, elle n’a pas soulevé la Coupe MLS, mais vous ne m’ôterez pas de la tête que San José a été la meilleure équipe de la saison 2012. Elle doit une fière chandelle à Frank Yallop : il a constaté les forces de ses joueurs dans les airs l’an dernier et a bâti autour de ça une redoutable armada. Des buts de la tête à profusion, beaucoup de présence dans le petit rectangle adverse, du danger permanent sur les phases arrêtées ou venant des flancs dans le cours du jeu, et j’en passe.

Bilan : 72 buts au total en saison régulière (personne n’avait fait aussi bien depuis 1998) et jamais deux rencontres de suite sans trouver le fond des filets. S’il faut en sortir des individualités, je pointerais Wondolowski, qui marque dans de nombreuses situations et a été particulièrement redoutable sur corner, et Chavez, un des meilleurs centreurs de la compétition tant de la gauche que de la droite. Et je n’ai même pas parlé des nombreux buts inscrits par San José en fin de match…

Pleine lucarne : les tops de la saison 2012
1. Le projet de jeu offensif de San José
2. Landon Donovan, le passeur le plus complet
3. Kansas City, dans les airs et dans les coins
4. Métamorphoses à Houston

5. Le retour réussi d’Eddie Johnson
6. Chris Tierney et Andy Najar, recul sans frein
7. Kenny Cooper a assuré sans Thierry Henry, puis confirmé avec lui
8. Direct dedans
9. Patrice Bernier - Felipe, axe des succès montréalais
10. Jaime Castrillon et Brian Mullan sauvent l’honneur de Colorado

27 December 5:27 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.