Kick Off: Jermain Defoe, Alberto Gilardino linked to Toronto FC for 2014

Kick Off Nov. 27

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. LATEST RUMORS FROM TORONTO FC

Remember when news out of Toronto last week indicated that MLSE boss Tim Leiweke was after the biggest signing in MLS history? Two names have since emerged as possible contenders for TFC's newest Designated Players next season, including a report in The Mirror that says Tottenham's Jermain Defoe could be joining the team in January. While the Daily Mail echoes the reports and some US outlets picked up on the news, the club asserted Tuesday that the reports are inaccurate. The other name linked to TFC in recent days is Serie A striker Alberto Gilardino, who could be on his way to MLS for a reported $9.5 million transfer fee. Toronto FC have also asserted that report is inaccurate, but SI.com reports that that the club is actually using rap star and Toronto native Drake to lure talent to the club.

2. FC DALLAS AFTER SCHELOTTO?

Great news and notes on Wednesday from SoccerByIves.net, who has an interesting scoop on the coaching search at FC Dallas. It appears the club has contacted former MLS MVP and current Lanús head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto about the gig after he was passed over for the job with his former club, the Columbus Crew. Don't forget: different team, same owner. Scroll halfway down on the link to read the Schelotto news.

3. PEARCE AND ESPINDOLA OUT FOR RBNY?

The same SBI report also has the latest rumors on former US national team defender and handyman Heath Pearce, who is out of contract with the club after an injury-plagued season. It appears the two sides have agreed to part ways, and Pearce will go into the MLS Re-Entry Draft next month. There's also news on Empire of Soccer that the Red Bulls will decline the option on striker Fabian Espindola after one season with the club.

4. DEMPSEY AND EJ NEWS

It seems like two Seattle Sounders players will be on the move this winter, one for a couple of months and the other on a potentially permanent basis. Everton FC are apparently now the frontrunners to land Clint Dempsey on loan, but American Soccer Now breaks down each of the four main contenders chances of landing Deuce. Eddie Johnson, meanwhile is likely in need of a new club, but who would be a good fit?

5. VANCOUVER COACHING OPTIONS

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis has emerged on the holiday wish list for yet another team, if you're following the news up in Vancouver. According to Marc Weber at The Province, it appears that Kreis is one of the final two candidates -- along with assistant Carl Robinson -- to replace deposed head coach Martin Rennie. There's also news in Chicago, where it looks like former Crew technical director and interim head coach Brian Bliss could be joining Frank Yallop's staff in a player personnel role.

6. SO KLOSE, BUT SO FAR

The LA Galaxy were linked with a sensational move for Miroslav Klose on Tuesday, but the Galaxy were quick to put an end to such talk by stating “There is no truth to the report that the LA Galaxy are close to signing Klose.” This would seem to make sense as the Galaxy already have three Designated Players. So, what’s happening with those three players? Robbie Keane is to undergo surgery for his Achilles' problem, while defender Omar Gonzales says a January loan is not for him. And Landon Donovan is settling into TV punditry nicely and does a mean impression of Jermaine Jones.

7. SMALL MARKET MLS CUP?

This year’s MLS Cup final will be the first one competed for by two “small-market” MLS clubs. However, as MLSsoccer.com's Simon Borg argues, that label isn’t a put-down, it’s a badge of honor for both the league and its supporters. We’re still a week-and-a-half away from the final and that extra time allows Sporting Kansas City to be optimistic about Lawrence Olum’s fitness.

8. SECOND CHANCES

Benny Feilhaber had probably his best game of 2013 in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship and it looks like the playmaker may finally be finding his form in Kansas City. If he can keep this up, could he make it back into the USMNT fold? If so, it seems Feilhaber will approach it like he has his time with SKC: “If I do get another opportunity, it will be a time to try and prove my worth.”

9. HOUSTON DYNAMO PARTNER UP

The Houston Dynamo have officially formed a USL PRO affiliation with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Amongst other things, it means that, from 2014, a minimum of four Dynamo players will be with the Riverhounds all season and that the Pittsburgh-based team can use Houston’s facilities for winter training. The Riverhounds took another big step forward on Tuesday as they also announced they would be fielding a PDL team in 2014. Are Houston close to announcing an extra franchise as well? With U.S. Soccer on board, the decision on a NWSL team is now up to the Dynamo.

10. SOLID DEFENSE

Jose Gonçalves has been named MLS Defender of the Year and the New England Revolution star is honored to have been recognized for his hard work. However, having just signed his new, permanent contract with the club, Gonçalves has his eye on winning other trophies. In other awards news, referee Hilario Grajeda completed a great couple of days by not only being awarded the MLS Cup final but also winning Referee of the Year. Meanwhile, Matt Reis picked up MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his brave actions during the Boston bombings.

11. SUPER POWERS

Dillon Powers was named Rookie of the Year on Monday and the Colorado Rapids midfielder credits his time in the NCAA for helping make him the player he is today. “I really learned how to be the guy on that team and be under pressure for big games," he says. "I think that … helped me jump to the next level.”

12. BUILDING FROM THE BACK

After announcing their cuts on Friday, the Columbus Crew have been busy refilling their roster for 2014. The Crew announced the signing of Costa Rican left back Waylon Francis on Tuesday, along with re-signing defender Josh Williams and adding Matt Wiet, another defender, as the club's sixth Homegrown player. Head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the signings, “All three players are strong additions to the club.”

13. TAKING PAUSE IN CHICAGO

Could the Chicago Fire be on the brink of losing their longest-tenured player? It appears the club is prepared to decline the option for leage veteran Logan Pause for 2014, hoping instead to sign him to a new contract if he escapes unscathed in the Re-Entry Draft. If Pause is to return though, it will likely need to be at a reduced rate.

14. SETTLING ON A SITE?

It looks as though David Beckham and his team of investors may have settled on a site for their future MLS franchise, with the Port of Miami seemingly now the preferred destination. “They kind of elevated this site," said Miami deputy mayor Chip Iglesias. "We said yes, we’d take a look at it.” But Beckham's billionaire business partner, Marcelo Claure, has pointed out that their investment group is still currently considering over 30 potential sites for the stadium.

15. ROCK THE VOTE

Voting is still open for the finals of the MLS  Goal of the Year and Save of the Year contests, and you can now also vote for a number of categories in the first ever CONCACAF awards. Check them out.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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MLS Fantasy: Nat Borchers and Benny Feilhaber come up big

Julian Green set for Champions League Debut?

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