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23 December 4:37 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.

23 December 3:34 pm

The San Diego Sockers indoor soccer team made US sporting history recently by winning 43 consecutive games. Sounds pretty incredible, huh? Not everyone is impressed, though.

You may remember Peter Wilt, the first president and general manager of the Chicago Fire and a veteran of the indoor soccer world. Needless to say, Wilt doesn't seem particularly enamored with the Sockers' record, one he views as built on the back of subpar competition.

San Diego plays in the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), a competitor to the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), which plays underneath the USL banner. Perhaps someone can enlighten me when it comes to the differences in the comments section below.

I'm actually pretty familiar with the indoor game – my grandmother and aunt had season tickets to Wichita Wings games back in the day, and I actually took in a match between the recently revived Wings and the Kansas City Comets on Friday night – but I'm certainly no expert these days.

So could this record be bogus, a mark fueled by a sizable talent gap? Sure, but it's still impressive nonetheless. Even the best teams struggle to string together five wins in a row, let alone 43.

22 December 1:37 pm

Bryan Meredith may have managed the Save of the Year in Seattle, but he was surplus to requirements once the season ended. According to Sigi Schmid and the Sounders staff, the 23-year-old needed a bit more seasoning between the pipes.

It was clear that wasn't going to come in Seattle, where Michael Gspurning is the unquestioned No. 1 and Marcus Hahnemann appears primed to return as the most-experienced No. 2 in MLS. And although he made 10 league starts in 2012, it looks like Meredith has already found a way to rack up the playing time he needs to continue developing, as the former Monmouth 'keeper joined Swedish second-division side IK Brage on the two-year deal.

"That was the biggest thing, the opportunity to get games," Meredith told the Kitsap Sun.

22 December 1:24 pm

After some haggling in the press – read failure to budge by the Union – it appears a loan deal proposed by Santa Fe for the services of Carlos Valdes is finally kaput. That sound you hear is the collective sighs of relief emanating out of The City of Brotherly Love, as the Sons of Ben avoid the exit of one of the lynchpins of their team ahead of a promising 2013 campaign.

Except that might not be the end of it (key word: might). Now it seems Colombia head coach Jose Pekerman has taken it upon himself to recommend Valdes to an even bigger South American power – Boca Juniors.

Count me among those that take Pekerman's words as simple praise rather than a true indication of interest from the Argentine giants, but you never know. It could be an interesting few months in Philly as John Hackworth looks to keep hold of one of the league's top center back from a year ago.

21 December 6:16 pm

MLS "haters" be forewarned: The latest edition of Jimmy Conrad's American Soccer Spectacular pulls no punches. 

And if you love great goals, well, there's that too.

21 December 12:44 pm

Pour le dernier Coup Franc de 2012 (à écouter ici), nous vous avons préparé une émission spéciale de fin d’année (ou fin du monde, c’est selon). Plusieurs intervenants récurrents sont au rendez-vous : Frédéric Lord, Matthias Van Halst, Olivier Tremblay, Olivier Brett, Patrick Leduc et Patrice Bernier. Au programme :
- Quel avenir pour l’Impact de Montréal ? L’effectif actuel est-il suffisamment armé pour mieux se classer en 2013 ? Sinon, quels renforts recruter et à quels postes effectuer des changements ? Y a-t-il assez de joueurs de premier plan dans le noyau ? Quelle place pour les jeunes du club dans le groupe en 2013 ?
- On discute du futur entraîneur de Montréal. Martin Andermatt est-il un candidat sérieux ? Qu’ont à gagner des entraîneurs ayant son profil en venant en MLS ?
- Petit détour outre-Atlantique pour parler du club de l’année : le FC Barcelone. Faut-il l’imiter, et comment ? Est-ce possible avec moins d’argent ? Que vaut vraiment son école de jeunes ? Un entrejeu surpeuplé sans attaquant de pointe : une nouvelle norme ? Qu’est-ce qui est le plus impressionnant dans son jeu ? Combien de temps son hégémonie va-t-elle se poursuivre ?
- Nouvel opus du club de lecture. Olivier Tremblay a épluché « Nobody Ever Says Thank You », une biographie du très coloré Brian Clough signée Jonathan Wilson… et plus précise que l’autobiographie du principal intéressé.

L'émission Coup Franc est aussi disponible sur Stitcher et iTunes. Vous pouvez nous joindre par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS).

20 December 5:55 pm

Is it official, league office confirmation? No. But unless Walker Zimmerman's been badly misled, it looks like the 2013 MLS Generation adidas class has grown by one:

Zimmerman actually tweeted something to that effect last week as well, so he's a little gun-jumpy. Anyway, here's what our man Daniel Robertson says about him in his latest scouting report:

"Big center back, doesn't turn 20 until May and will need some apprenticeship, but his ceiling is higher than any other defender in the draft."

Consensus around the league has him going somewhere in the top five. If TFC hadn't just landed Gale Agbossoumonde, Zimmerman could have gone No. 3. And he still might.

20 December 5:51 pm

Hoy comenzamos una sección especial en nuestro blog Tiro Libre, perfecta para empezar a despedir el 2012.

En "Por si no se enteró", les presentaremos noticias, videos, fotos, o demás cosas de interés alrededor del fútbol que han dado la vuelta al mundo, y que debido a sus diferentes ocupaciones, pudo no ver, escuchar, leer, ver, etc.

Entendiendo que todos estamos demasiado ocupados con las compras navideñas y planeando las vacaciones que se avecinan, les dejamos el que es quizás uno de los mejores goles del año, podría incluso meterse en mi top 100 de la historia - ya hablaremos de eso en otra oportunidad. El autor de este golazo es nada más y nada menos que Falcão. ¡Calma! No lo escribí mal. No se trata de Radamel, el delantero colombiano. Es Falcão, o como su círculo más íntimo lo conoce: Alessandro Rosa Vieira.

Falcão nació en Sao Paulo, Brasil y actualmente con 35 años de edad, milita para el club Intelli/Orlândia, de la Liga Futsal carioca. Ha ganado dos Copas Mundiales de Futsal de la FIFA, incluyendo la más reciente que se jugó en Tailandia el mes pasado, y muchísimos otros títulos más como para ponerme a contarlos. Quien se quiera atrever a hacerlo, lo invito, y luego me dicen cuántos son: http://www.falcao12.com/carreira/

Ahora sí a lo que vinimos. El gol. En un partido de exhibición jugando para el extinto club Atlético, el pasado martes, 18 de diciembre, Falcão se inventó lo que ustedes podrán ver en el video a continuación, además de alguna que otra maravilla del brasileño:

¿Qué tal la pintura de este hombre? ¿Lo pondrían como uno de los mejores goles del año aunque sea en Futsal?

Dejen sus comentarios abajo, o escríbanme en Twitter.

20 December 3:53 pm

Moins animée que les précédentes, cette semaine a vu la scène des transferts s'activer sur trois fronts : les arrivées d’Amérique du Sud, les loteries pondérées et les signatures de jeunes joueurs.

Beckham parti, la MLS pourrait avoir trouvé son nouveau roi des coups francs : l’ancien Lyonnais Juninho, qui a signé à New York. Âgé de 37 ans, il évoluait ces dernières saisons à Vasco De Gama, où se produisait aussi Pipico, nouvel avant du FC Dallas. Autre recrue dont on attend beaucoup : le nouveau joueur désigné du Sporting Kansas City, l’attaquant argentin Claudio Bieler, finaliste de la Coupe du monde des clubs 2009.

Deux jeunes espoirs américains qui ont tenté leur chance à l’étranger sont revenus au bercail. Ex-internationaux en équipes de jeunes, ils ont trouvé acquéreur via le système de loterie pondérée (voir point I ici pour le règlement). Ainsi, le défenseur Mobi Fehr a pris la direction de Portland alors que l’arrière central Gale Agbossoumonde défendra les couleurs du Toronto FC.

Par ailleurs, plusieurs clubs offrent une promotion à leurs propres jeunes. Cette semaine, Bradlee Baladez (Dallas) et Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) ont ainsi obtenu une place dans l’effectif de MLS de leur club respectif.