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05 December 7:39 de la tarde

If you enjoyed the snippets of Sigi Schmid's locker room talks in the MLS36 featuring Fredy Montero on the NBC Sports Network earlier this season, you'll be watching and re-watching American Football for days.

That's the name of the new documentary being produced by LEVYFilms. The group gained exclusive access to the Sounders, including the team talks which are one of the highlights of the film.

Here's what the founder of the company told ESPN.com last month: The LA speech last week was a full-circle rerun of the Salt Lake speech.

"I have lots of other locker room speeches," he said. "The LA speech last week was a full-circle re-run of the Salt Lake speech."

A trailer of the movie was unintentionally leaked and those who watched it are already raving about it. Stay tuned.

05 December 5:44 de la tarde

Good supporters' group songs in MLS have a way of going viral. Everybody steals (borrows, improves upon, whatever) from everybody else.

And the song of recent vintage that's done the rounds the most is "I Believe That We Will Win." Since coming to MLS via the Red Bull Arena SouthWard in summer 2010 (and if you have evidence someone else in the league did it earlier, do go ahead and post it in the comments below), it's become a de rigeur chant.

Let's face it, though: KC does it best. The Cauldron absolutely owns this one.

Anyway, here's what our guy Shawn Francis over at TheOffsideRules called the song's "own, heart-fluttering short film," courtesy of the American Outlaws. It looks like it was shot primarily (completely?) at Livestrong Sporting Park and the surrounding drinking establishments before/during/after the recent US national team game vs. Guatemala, and it is pretty damn awesome:

05 December 3:51 de la tarde

Hace 20 años, un joven quien aun no cumplía dos décadas de edad, saltó a la cancha del estadio Nou Camp de León. Jugó menos de 30 minutos, pero a partir de ese entonces, el fútbol mexicano sería diferente.

Diferente, porque lideró una generación en la que el espectáculo se hizo primordial. Más allá de todas las controversias, telenovelas – con actuaciones de bajo nivel -, escándalos personales y roces con directivos, no cabe la menor duda que Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo es uno de los jugadores más emblemáticos en la historia del fútbol mexicano.

Un jugador forjado en las filas del Club América, puso su nombre en lo alto cuando en pleno Estadio Jalisco (recinto anterior de Chivas de Guadalajara) el 13 de noviembre de 1994, anotó a los 66 minutos el gol con el que su equipo ganaba el clásico; rompiendo el empate a tres goles que hasta entonces primaba en el encuentro.

Llega con la selección mexicana al Mundial de Francia ’98 y ante la República de Corea, genera admiración por lo que además se hizo famoso en los videojuegos FIFA de EASports, la Cuauhtemiña; saltando junto con el balón para dejar a los defensores en el camino. De ahí en adelante, lo haría tantas veces, que a pesar que todo el mundo lo conocía, ningún defensa lo esperaba.

Un año después ante su gente y en su estadio, el Azteca, Cuauhtémoc registraría dos asistencias, y anotaría el gol final de su selección en el 4-3, que le dio la victoria a México en la final de la Copa Confederaciones ante Brasil; primer torneo oficial de la FIFA que hasta entonces conseguía su país.

En las eliminatorias para los mundiales de 2002 y 2010, fue convocado de nuevo a la selección, en dos ocasiones que México llegaba flojo en su camino para dichos torneos. Rescató al “Tri”, y los llevó de la mano en ambas ocasiones a Japón/Corea y a Sudáfrica, donde anotaría su último gol en un Mundial ante Francia, y convirtiéndose en el único mexicano que lo ha conseguido en tres mundiales distintos.

Figura e ídolo en México con el América (campeón de Primera División en 2005) y hoy con los Dorados de Sinaloa (campeón Copa MX 2012), Blanco ha sido uno de los jugadores emblemáticos del Chicago Fire, donde fue el jugador más valioso del Partido de las Estrellas en 2008, y además anotó el mejor gol de la temporada 2007… Disfruten:

¡Feliz aniversario, Cuauhtémoc!

05 December 3:00 de la tarde

Je reprends aujourd’hui mon classement des tops et des flops de l’année, avec un détour par deux clubs qui ont affiché un bilan satisfaisant après leur première saison en MLS. Pour Portland, cela remonte à douze mois, et ce fut suivi par une saison pour le moins décevante. Montréal peut regarder de ce côté-là pour avoir un exemple à ne pas suivre en 2013, mais doit avant tout s’améliorer dans des domaines où l’équipe fut parmi les pires de la compétition.

4. L’effondrement de Portland
On peut témoigner dans l’Oregon que la saison de la confirmation est souvent la plus difficile. Après un premier exercice encourageant, Portland est passé à côté de son sujet cette année. Déjà faible en déplacement en 2011, Portland y est devenu un oiseau pour le chat : il suffisait quasiment de paraître pour les battre. Des chiffres sévères en témoignent : 10 buts marqués, 35 encaissés, 7 malheureux points et 16 rencontres consécutives sans victoire. Le bulletin d’ensemble est moins bon qu’en 2011. En cause, entre autres, un affaiblissement marqué sur les phases arrêtées et moins de présence dans le petit rectangle.

3. Montréal, sans ailes ni tête
Si pour leur première saison en MLS, les Québécois ont pas mal de raisons d’être satisfaits, dans de nombreux compartiments du jeu, ils ont été les cancres de la compétition. Tant offensivement que défensivement, ils ont été extrêmement faibles de la tête et sur les ailes. Si l’on ne tient pas compte des nombreux penaltys, ils n’ont quasiment jamais marqué sur phase arrêtée, alors qu’ils ont concédé beaucoup trop de buts de la sorte. Ajoutez-y une défense qui s’est souvent transformée en passoire en fin de match, et vous aurez une (trop) longue liste d’insuffisances.

Droit dans le mur : les flops de la saison 2012
5. Les lenteurs défensives de New York dans l'axe du jeu
6. Des chèvres sans étable ni percussion
7. Les errances de l’axe défensif de DC United
8. Les abonnements de la défense de Dallas
9. Columbus peut se réjouir de ne pas jouer au basket
10. Au LA Galaxy, défendre sur le flanc gauche est optionnel

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?