Kick Off: Klinsmann calling up German 2nd-div. defender?

Kick Off - Jurgen Klinsmann

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We’re just days away from Jurgen Klinsmann unveiling his US national team squad for January camp with a World Cup qualifier looming on February 6 in Honduras.

Here’s a teaser: One player who will reportedly be on that list is Hertha Berlin’s Alfredo Morales. He is apparently struggling for playing time with the German second division outfit, but according to what the player told German outlet Bild, that hasn’t stopped Klinsmann from bringing him in for a look. (GERMAN)

There’ll be plenty of time to talk USMNT in January. But the first day after the New Year on Wednesday was marked by Major League Soccer’s response to recent comments by FIFA chief Sepp Blatter on the progress made by the league: Come see it for yourself.

“I look forward to having the president and other FIFA executives attend an MLS game,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday evening. “I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how far the league has come.”

The Commissioner admitted to being “a bit surprised” to read Blatter’s take on MLS. He explained why to The New York Times: “Arguably there’s probably not another sports league in the world that has achieved as much as we have in the last 20 years.”

But it turns out Garber and Blatter did see eye-to-eye on one thing: the international calendar. The MLS Commissioner told The Washington Post: “In order [to become one of the top soccer leagues in the world], we have to measure up against all the other leagues and more than likely have a similar calendar.”

If there’s ever a shift in the calendar, it could be nice to have a few games played in Orlando. USL side Orlando City hopes that yesterday’s friendly match against Italian side AS Roma can help the club’s bid to land a stadium and become an MLS expansion side. (VIDEO)

If the match goes on to help Orlando fans get an MLS team, who cares about the final result, right (5-0 to the Giallorossi)?

We’ve heard about how former LA Galaxy star David Beckham has an option to join MLS as an owner. It can only help his future club that he is reportedly mulling a salary of $403,800 a week with China’s Shanghai Shenua.

Is money holding up the deal to bring former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister to coach the New York Red Bulls? All we know for now is that Big Apple Soccer says it’s fait accompli, while others say the job has not been offered to McAllister just yet.

Meanwhile, things are “eerily quiet” when it comes to the team that ousted RBNY from the 2012 playoffs. That’s according to The Washington Post’s Steve Goff, who provided this D.C. United status report.

But things are far from quiet on the MLS transfer market with plenty of rumored moves and reports. Among the latest names making the rounds are Panamanian forward Nicolás “Yuyu” Muñoz and Bordeaux attacking midfielder Ludovic Obraniak.

In this transfer window, Honduras could become the new Colombia. Last year the influx of Colombians was the story of the preseason, but Los Catrachos look set to take that mantle this year: Olimpia creative midfielder Alex López and his holding mid teammate Luis Garrido are eager to play in MLS. (SPANISH)

Remember that tweet by Seattle’s Mario Martínez asking whether Turkey was a good option? He addressed it with Diario Diez in Honduras: “Yes, my agent asked me what I thought about it, but they’re only rumors. In the end, Seattle would have to decide because I have a contract with them. If the possibility to go presents itself, that’s what I’m working for.” (SPANISH)

Reports from Argentina say that midfielder Diego Valeri, who apparently wasn’t seeing enough playing time on the field for ex-Crew star and now Lanús coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, is heading to the Portland Timbers. (SPANISH)

Staying in South America, it sounds like the Colorado Rapids have signed two players from Ecuador only to loan them out. In this report, an executive from Manta claims that Francisco Rojas and Carlos Garcés were loaned to Colorado with an option for a full transfer and then the Rapids turned around and loaned them to Liga de Quito. Got that? (SPANISH)

There are the exotic international signings and then there are the local Homegrown players whose stories tug at the heart. Take new Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp who will get to play for the team he grew up watching: “We had season tickets and we would go [to Crew Stadium]. Those were the games that I really remember, being there … knowing the players and the field.”

Dreams do come true in soccer. Take what’s happened to Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike, who goes from fringe MLS player to scoring for the Nigerian national team yesterday against the likes of Barcelona stars Xavi, Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué. In case you missed his goal, watch it here. (VIDEO)

Careers blossoming for some players while others see their tenure coming to a close. Toronto FC midfielder Torsten Frings tells a German publication that 2013 will be his final year as a player.

No end in sight for Frings’ TFC teammate Danny Koevermans, who says he’s not only ready to regain his place at starting forward for the Canadian club, but he’s also interested in one last adventure when his time in MLS is up. (DUTCH)

Six months. That’s the length of the loan deal that Colombian side Independiente Santa Fe is looking to seal with the Philadelphia Union over the rights to Carlos Valdés. Santa Fe players are undergoing medicals this week with preseason starting next week. (SPANISH)

While you’re waiting to hear about whether the Valdés loan deal goes through, there’s one live match available on the tube on this Thursday: Hearts vs. Hibernian from Scotland (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

Back in MLS, the list of players set to participate in "Soccer Night in Newtown" next Monday continues to grow. Two Vancouver Whitecaps players will also be headed to Connecticut, looking to do their part in the healing process: “[It’s] something that they’re probably looking for to get their mind off of what’s been going on the last several weeks.”

Lastly, here’s what everyone’s mind is on this morning when it comes to the soccer world: The photos of compatriots Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli getting into a training bust-up at Manchester City. Exactly who is the aggressor here? (PHOTOS)

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