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21 February 6:21 de la tarde

Dato curioso: cada uno de los cuatro clubes de la MLS que disputará el torneo de pretemporada Desert Diamond Cup en Tucson, Arizona tiene en sus líneas a al menos un jugador latino que no jugó en la MLS en 2011.

New England Revolution contará con John Lozano y Fernando Cárdenas, dos colombianos provenientes del América del Cali.

A su vez, los New York Red Bulls tienen a su propio colombiano en el experimentado Wilman Conde, quien ya había jugado en la MLS con Chicago Fire y regresa para alinearse con los toros de la Gran Manzana.

Por su parte, el Galaxy tiene al brasileño proveniente del Alajuelense de Costa Rica Marcelo Sarvas y al debutante mexicoamericano Rafael García.

Por último, Real Salt Lake cuenta con cuatro jóvenes latinos que participaron en el SuperDraft este año: el uruguayo Enzo Martínez, el brasilero Diogo de Almeida, el argentino Emiliano Bonfigli y el colombiano Sebastián Velásquez.  

Los clubes emeleseros tendrán la oportunidad de mirar  a sus jugadores en acción para tomar decisiones finales sobre quien será titular, quien será reserva y quien se ira del equipo. La pregunta es simple: ¿Quién de estos latinos tendrá el mayor brillo en Tucson?

21 February 5:32 de la tarde

If you have a spare few minutes I implore you to check out this clip on Kei Kamara and his reluctance to join Sporting KC, who were still the Wizards at the time.

It's kind of hard to believe now that he's one of the faces of the franchise but KC was a place the erstwhile Houston striker really didn't want to be and he told coach Peter Vermes exactly that. Mind you the Kansas City franchise of 2009 played on a tiny field in a minor-league baseball park and, subsequently, weren't too high on the wish list of many MLS players. My how things have changed.

21 February 4:32 de la tarde

Have you entered "NASL" into Google lately? No? Do it now and there is a good chance you'll be surprised by the fact that there is a third league that goes by that name.

Most American soccer fans are familiar with the old NASL which ran from the 1960's to the early '80s and the second division league that currently operates under that name. But there is also something called the North American Starcraft League which, according to its website, "was established to foster the prominence of esports and professional Starcraft 2 play in North America through highly visible organized and invigorating competition".

Finally, a league to out-obscure the American second division. Thank you Starcraft fans.

21 February 3:47 de la tarde

Oguchi Onyewu just can't seem to catch a break.

The big central defender tore ligaments and the meniscus in his right knee in Sporting CP's win over Paços de Ferreira on the weekend. Sporting's official site says he needs surgery and will be out for at least two months.

Obviously, this rules him out for next week's showdown with Italy. But it also begs the question: How much can US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann rely on Gooch at this point in his career?

Onyewu's athleticism never really recovered after his horrible injury against Costa Rica two-and-a-half years ago, and rebuilding his other knee — at age 30 — suggests the road ahead will be bumpy. Expecting him to ever regain his 2007 to '09 form, when he was the best defender in Belgium and deservedly attracted the attention of clubs like AC Milan, seems like a fool's errand.

It was already imperative that guys like Geoff Cameron, Tim Ream and George John step up and claim roles with the national team by the end of the calendar year. The latest injury to Onyewu just crystalizes that need.

21 February 1:04 de la tarde

Speaking from past experience, there are few adventures in sports that trump away days. When I think about all of the hours in my pre-professional blogging life spent on my feet with a song coming out of my mouth the best memories often center around stadiums that were not my club's home ground.

These golden moments don't just happen though as they require an incredible amount of coordination between the clubs, the supporters and (hopefully) a good travel agent. And, for the most part, they aren't the quick, 1-hour jaunts associated with some European leagues.

In a league that connects two coasts and spans two large countries the distance a supporter can travel for a match is more often than not extreme by world football standards. This excerpt from a recent article in The Guardian highlights this fact best:

"The average journey for North American fans is still one of the longest you would undertake in most other leagues; the bigger journeys are more expeditions than road trips; Portland Timbers fans going to New York is the same as going from London to Baghdad. LA Galaxy at Boston is longer than Tokyo to Manila.

The journey those Fire fans made to Toronto clocked in at 1,000 miles round trip, and that's their second closest game; in England, no-one can travel that far at all, and it's pushing the longest trip most European fans would have to make. Only fans in Russia can hold a candle in terms of the distances traveled to see a team play, and even there, the average distances tend to be exaggerated by a small number of teams in Siberia and the far-east."

Seriously, there are fans out there who are logging more air miles than Chelsey Sullenberger these days and I salute them for it. Special acknowledgment to those who travel to and from Canada to be with your team; anyone willing to brave both the TSA and customs for only a 33.3% chance at witnessing a win is alright in my book.

21 February 11:09 de la mañana

There aren't many jobs in MLS, or for that matter in the professional soccer world in the United States and Canada. So, if you want one, you might as well give yourself the best chance possible by getting the training you need.

For salespeople, that means heading up to Blaine, Minnesota, to the MLS National Sales Center. Founded in 2011 to train salespeople specifically to succeed in the soccer industry, the NSC is like a front-office equivalent to the development academies each MLS club has established.

"We give a 'selling foundation' to aspiring salespeople that will effectively prepare them to sell for MLS clubs," says NSC founder Bryant Pfeiffer. "This is a big contributor to our desire to sell out every MLS stadium."

The NSC is currently looking for applicants for its next session, which begins in March. Trainees accepted into the program, which lasts up to four months, receive a stipend to help offset the coasts of room and board in Minnesota. There are also opportunities to earn commission while attending the program.

But it is the training and the door-opening opportunity that is most valuable. In addition to the real-life sales experience of selling for MLS clubs, trainees benefit from instructional feedback from audio and video analysis and innovative coaching from local improv theatre instructors. After each month, those who qualify are given the opportunity to apply their training through the selling of season, group and mini-plan ticket packages and are offered a job interview with participating MLS clubs.

Already, 60 NSC graduates have gone on to get jobs at MLS clubs.

"Our belief is that the graduates of the program can not only make a fast impact in growing the game," Pfeiffer says, "but also become dominant salespeople at the same time."

For more information or to apply go to www.mlsnationalsalescenter.com.

20 February 10:14 de la tarde

When you're Thierry Henry, you can do stuff. Stuff like score 300+ professional goals, stuff like win a World Cup, and stuff like build a mansion with a four-storey fish tank.

Henry to rebuild £6m London mansion to make va-va-room for 5,000 gallon fish tank

Just like Troy McClure.

20 February 7:31 de la tarde

I'm sorry for the headline. Truly.

Anyway, here's this from Sky Sports, who are reporting that 20-year-old Arsenal defender Tom Cruise will be heading to the Revolution for a two-week trial.

So yeah, different guy entirely. Who'd have guessed?

20 February 7:05 de la tarde

Plenty of folks were disappointed that the little Swiss playmaker spent his maiden MLS voyage tethered mostly to the wings. As part of the Martin Rennie overhaul in Vancouver, though, it looks like Chiumiento will be moved to the center of the park - his natural spot, and the place he's wanted to play since day one.

Go to 1:16 of the following video and you'll see why that's a good idea:

Yes, it was against a college team. Yes, it's just preseason, and no, most MLS defenders wouldn't fall for those shenanigans.

But Chiumiento's got more than that in his bag, and the 'Caps are going to improve this year (I figure they'll compete for the final Western Conference playoff spot). If they go from 6-18-10 in 2011 to the postseason in 2012, somebody's gonna get the credit.

If history holds, that somebody will be Chiumiento. Six of the last nine MLS MVPs have been attacking midfielders, and many of them - David Ferreira, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Christian Gomez - are strongly associated with "turnaround" seasons.

20 February 6:50 de la tarde

Sebastian Velasquez didn't take a typical route to MLS. It doesn't appear that it will matter in the end.

Velasquez tweeted on Monday that he had been offered a contract with Real Salt Lake after being taken 36th overall in January's SuperDraft.

Needless to say, he was a little excited.