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04 December 9:28 de la tarde

If you're the type of person who misses the 3 am ET wake-up calls of the 2002 World Cup and loves obscure New Zealand semi-pro teams, then you're in luck. Because the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup starts Thursday at some point. When, I'm not certain, because you need a degree in physics to figure out the time zone differentials.

But we'll let the good folks at KICKTV give us a handy-dandy cheat sheet so that you don't miss a minute of action.

04 December 6:46 de la tarde

Por tercera temporada consecutiva, Portland tendrá un equipo profesional de fútbol en la ciudad que ellos mismos denominan “Soccer City, USA”.

Y, además de los traspasos que han llevado a cabo hasta el momento, los Timbers tendrán desde hoy la plena seguridad que su estadio JELD-WEN Field contará con el mismo apoyo que hasta hoy han tenido en las gradas.

Los leñadores han anunciado que ya se vendieron por completo todos los abonos para la temporada 2013, renovando 96% de sus abonados de este año.

Una de las fanaticadas más impresionantes de la MLS, vuelve a responder… Las palabras sobran, así que disfruten de las imágenes:

Y si quedaron con ganas de más, el volante mexicano del Valencia español, Andrés Guardado, y el colombiano de los Timbers Diego Chará, nos llevan a la tribuna de Timbers Army:

04 December 6:43 de la tarde

If you clicked because of that title ,you should be ashamed of yourself.

Anyway, Dortmund finished atop the UEFA Champions League "Group of Death" thanks to their 1-0 win over Manchester City on Tuesday (side note: LOL!). That means one of the other group winners will have to face Real Madrid in the Round of 16, and also that City finished with the worst group record of any EPL side in Champions League history, with just three points.

Mostly, though, this is all an excuse to post video of Dortmund's secret weapon, "Footbonaut." Resistance is futile:

Hat tip to Goal.com's Seth Vertelney for the video. This thing is both awesome and ridiculous.

04 December 5:10 de la tarde

Robbie Russell, a veteran of MLS, Norway, and both the UEFA and CONCACAF Champions Leagues, appears to be hanging it up. The 33-year-old right back battled through injuries with D.C. United last year, but still had enough in the tank to set up the decisive goal vs. New York in his team's victory in the Eastern Conference Championship.

This all courtesy of a tweet from The Washington Post's Steven Goff:

Note the adverb sneaking its way in there — that "probably" does leave the door open a crack. But with age catching up to him and Andy Najar looking like a long-term solution at right back, it's hard to imagine Russell making it past 2013.

04 December 4:49 de la tarde

The last 24 hours have been gut-wrenching if you've closely followed the story of ex-Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero.

A former standardbearer for the Tuzos, the 41-year-old was first declared brain dead by doctors on Monday and the club confirmed his passing on Tuesday. Calero was initially hospitalized in Mexico City with cerebral thrombosis over the weekend.

Chivas USA forward and fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Ángel tweeted about Calero as a "teammate and friend. An extraordinary human being."

Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear also took a moment to remember Calero during his season-ending press conference on Tuesday in Houston. The Dynamo and Pachuca played in memorable matches in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions' Cup and the '08 and '10 SuperLiga (the old USA vs. Mexico tournament).

But one of the most memorable images of Calero was his performance in the PK shootout that decided the 2007 edition of SuperLiga against the LA Galaxy (watch the video below).

04 December 4:32 de la tarde

Give Caleb Porter some credit. The new Timbers head man wasted no time in proving he's plenty clever enough to navigate the MLS rulebook.

So clever, in fact, that he broke some MLS ground on Monday by convincing New York to throw in the Homegrown rights to Akron sophomore Bryan Gallego in a trade for Kosuke Kimura.

It's not the first time a Homegrown player has changed hands via trade in MLS – Colorado acquired Josh Janniere from Toronto – but it's the first time an unsigned Homegrown player has been included in a transaction (Janniere was signed by TFC as a condition of the deal). Now, nobody can be sure the US U-20 prospect will actually put pen to paper with the Timbers just yet, but it's still a great bit of business by the Portland boss, especially since he has first-hand knowledge of Gallego from coaching him the past two years at Akron.

Of course, the question going forward is whether or not this trade will add Homegrown rights to the list of assets clubs bring to the bargaining table. Is Porter blazing a path no one will follow, or will college players tied to MLS academies become the next big trade chip, a la minor-league prospects in Major League Baseball?

I'm already convinced that the next step in player development is not actually academy-to-MLS signings. Instead, the logical way forward, for the time being at least, is to develop players in the academy and send them off to a prominent college program to ensure they're ready for the rigors of MLS without impacting the salary cap or 30-man roster. Once the the time is right, clubs can sign the prospects ready to make the jump without using a SuperDraft pick or risking another team reaping the rewards of their developmental efforts.

Clearly, some players will have the chops – and enough interest outside of MLS – to force clubs to lock them up early and send them straight from the academy to the first team. Zach Pfeffer, who just sealed a year-long loan move to Hoffenheim at 17 years of age, is a perfect example.

And for those preparing the bash the college system as a developmental route, take a quick look at your team's roster. Odds are there are handful of college products in the starting lineup, and the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Will Bruin, Graham Zusi and Chris Pontius (among many, many others) can all thank NCAA soccer for helping them prepare for success in MLS.

Is it perfect? No chance. Can MLS teams make it work to their advantage? That's been proven time and time again.

What do you think? What role, if any, will Homegrown rights play this offseason and in the years ahead?

04 December 4:22 de la tarde

Miguel Calero ha sido uno de los arqueros emblemáticos del fútbol colombiano y mexicano. Sus casi dos metros de estatura hicieron que “El Cóndor” fuera uno de los hombres más temidos por los delanteros en América.

Defendió los colores del Deportivo Cali, Atlético Nacional y Pachuca, convirtiéndose en un ídolo sin precedentes en cada equipo.

Resguardó también el arco de la selección colombiana, siendo parte de una de las generaciones más valiosas de porteros de ese país, junto a Oscar Córdoba y el exguardameta del Philadelphia Union, Faryd Mondragón.

Hoy, en Tiro Libre, queremos hacerle un homenaje a una de las leyendas del arco latinoamericano, quien vino a los Estados Unidos a participar de la extinta SuperLiga. La competición reunió a clubes de la MLS y la liga mexicana. En su primera edición en 2007, Calero salió campeón con Pachuca tras vencer al emblemático LA Galaxy – con David Beckham, Cobi Jones y Landon Donovan en cancha.

El portero colombiano, como en muchas ocasiones, se convirtió en figura en esa final, donde los tuzos vencieron a los galácticos en penales. Calero detuvo dos de los cobros, entre ellos uno definitivo a Donovan, que de anotar le habría dado el título al Galaxy.

¡Hasta siempre, Miguel!

04 December 4:07 de la tarde

Il n’aura pas fallu attendre longtemps après la finale de la Coupe MLS pour voir le marché des transferts s’animer. Trois clubs ont déjà été particulièrement actifs : Salt Lake, New York et Portland.

La grande lessive était annoncée dans l’Utah après l’élimination en demi-finale de conférence contre Seattle. Les premiers bouleversements dans un noyau stable depuis plusieurs années se concrétisent avec les départs des valeurs sûres que sont Olave, Espindola et Johnson, prélude à la quête d’une nouvelle vedette offensive. Notons aussi le transfert de Justin Braun à Toronto en échange d’Aaron Maund. Ces changements n’annoncent toutefois pas un départ à zéro, puisque Salt Lake conserve d’autres joueurs clefs comme Beckerman, Saborio ou Morales.

Olave et Espindola ont pris la direction de New York qui a aussi attiré Kimura, défenseur de Portland. Selon plusieurs analystes, l’équipe sera remodelée pour la saison prochaine, avec un nouveau joueur désigné (la rumeur annonce l’ancien Lyonnais Juninho) mais probablement sans Sébastien Le Toux ni Kenny Cooper, pourtant son meilleur buteur cette saison.

Outre Johnson, Portland est allé chercher Harrington, arrière latéral barré à Kansas City, et ce n’est qu’un début selon le directeur général Gavin Wilkinson, qui annonce un nouveau visage pour son club en 2013. Le défenseur central Eric Brunner n’en sera pas : il a signé à Houston, ce qui laisse présager un départ du Québécois André Hainault.

Dans le même temps, la liste des joueurs admissibles au Processus de repêchage a été dévoilée : avec un contrat qui n’a pas été renouvelé ou dont l’option n’a pas été levée, ils peuvent toujours négocier avec leur club actuel mais pourront être recrutés par une autre formation ce vendredi. Parmi eux, quelques noms ronflants comme Segares ou De Guzman. Eh oui, encore beaucoup d’animation en vue cette semaine sur le marché !

04 December 3:50 de la tarde

Omar Gonzalez clearly isn't a shy guy. And that's not some baseless assumption.

David Beckham already alluded to MLS Cup MVP Gonzalez's in-the-buff celebrations on Saturday after the Galaxy won their second straight championship at the Home Depot Center, but a tweet from Omar himself sealed the deal on Tuesday, one of those classic social media moments that spreads like wildfire.

The tweet was simple ("Caption this," which you should definitely do in the comment section below), but perhaps the best thing about the photo are the faces of his teammates and LA's staff. My top three: Michael Stephens (a combination of shock and delight), Edson Buddle (pure disgust) and Juninho (a mixture of the two). Landon Donovan and Beckham round out the top five.

Let us know what you think below. Hilarious? Over the top?

04 December 3:41 de la tarde

En el día de ayer, LA Galaxy ofreció una fiesta a sus fanáticos para celebrar el bicampeonato obtenido el sábado pasado.

Pero la verdadera fiesta se vivió en el camerino, el mismo día del partido. Omar González, defensa central del equipo fue nombrado jugador más valioso del partido luego de conseguir el gol del empate (una sinfonía que significó el vuelco en el partido [VIDEO]), y como no era de esperarse, celebró en grande.

Tanto, que hoy puso esta foto en su Instagram, y luego la replicó por Twitter:

Instagram.com/ogonzal1

Tal como lo señala el mismo Omar, le estamos buscando un título a la imagen… ¿Se atreven? ¡Dennos su título en los comentarios!