Kick Off: As Seattle Sounders continue to make moves, is Clint Dempsey set for a return to Fulham?

Clint Dempsey Kick Off

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

1. SOUNDERS MAKING WAVES

The Seattle Sounders continue to be the busiest team of the MLS offseason, with their most recent move perhaps the most interesting one so far. The club sent Adam Moffat to FC Dallas in exchange for the rights to forward Kenny Cooper. So if the Sounders can negotiate a deal with Cooper, what will that mean for Eddie Johnson? Well, according to the Washington Post, Johnson is definitely on the move, but where is he likely to end up? Another Sounders player possibly on the move this January is Clint Dempsey, with the US captain reportedly agreeing a two-month loan deal with former club Fulham FC. Meanwhile, West Ham’s boss claims he doesn’t know anything about the Obafemi Martin rumors.

2. DESIGNATED PLAYER ARRIVES IN TFC

On Friday, Toronto FC unveiled Brazilian star Gilberto as their new Designated Player. Speaking about the move, the 24-year-old striker said, "this is a great city with a great quality of life and I look forward to winning titles here.” While the move gives TFC fans reason to be cautiously optimistic, things could be about to get even better as a story in the Toronto Sun suggests the Jermain Defoe deal is definitely on.

3. CONVEY COMPETITION

With new players coming in, Toronto FC also dealt a player out, with the New York Red Bulls able to find some space in their budget to add MLS veteran Bobby Convey to their squad. In exchange, TFC received the Red Bulls' first round draft pick in the 2014 SuperDraft. According to RBNY head coach Mike Petke, the move for Convey was one he had been wanting to make for a while and, with the Red Bulls' extended schedule in CCL next season, Petke sees the 30-year-old both challenging and covering for Jonny Steele.

4. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BECKONS FOR TIMBERS

The second half of 2014 just got a little bit busier for the Portland Timbers. That’s because, despite being beaten in the Western Conference Championship by Real Salt Lake, a rule change finally approved by CONCACAF meant that the winners of each regular season conference now qualify for the Champions League rather than the runner-up to the MLS Cup. However, one player who’ll play no part in that CCL campaign (for the Timbers at least) is Sal Zizzo, after the club sent the midfielder to Sporting Kansas City in exchange for allocation money.

5. PALMER FEELS THE HEAT

Less than a week after his fateful penalty miss in the MLS Cup final, Lovell Palmer was traded from Real Salt Lake to the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money. While the defender said that “Real Salt Lake will always have a special place in my heart,” Palmer is also “elated” to continue working with assistant coach C.J Brown, who also joined Chicago from RSL.

6. DOYLE SIGNS FOR D.C. UNITED

D.C. United have completed the permanent signing of young striker Conor Doyle. Doyle made 14 appearances for DC last season, tallying two goals and one assist, with general manager Dave Kasper describing the 21-year-old as “another quality young talent who has advanced international experience for his age.”

7. EUROPEAN FLAVOR

With Bob Bradley definitely pursuing opportunities in Europe, the question now becomes where the former US and Egypt coach wil end up. Reports have Bradley strongly linked with Norwegian club Stabaek, but could a newly vacant position in the English Premier League have opened up just in time? Either way, wherever Bradley goes, could this be the beginning of a new export for American soccer?

8. ‘CAPS HAVE A COACH

With Bradley’s decision to focus on Europe, Carl Robinson is expected to be unveiled as the new Vancouver Whitecaps boss when the club makes its official announcement on Monday. There’s also an update on another vacant coaching positions at the moment, with a front runner seemingly emerging in Dallas.

9. THE TIES THAT BIND

Dave Checketts, the former owner of Real Salt Lake, was the man that gave Jason Kreis his first job in coaching. While both men are no longer associated with RSL, there remains a common bond that ties the two together, by way of Kreis’ new club New York City FC. Did Checketts play any part in NYCFC’s decision to hire the talented young American coach?

10. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

Looks like Bruce Arena could be getting a new assistant at the LA Galaxy in the form of his son, Kenny Arena. The news of that potential appointment came on the same day the Galaxy confirmed that current assistant coach Curt Onalfo has been in contact with Chivas USA about their vacant head coach position. So, what will 2014 hold for the Galaxy? Speaking at a "meet your seat: event, Galaxy President Chris Klein revealed he doesn’t expect many changes in the squad, while Landon Donovan confirmed he isn’t going anywhere this January.

11. AND THE PRIZE GOES TO….

CONCACAF has announced the winners of its end of year awards and the US was well represented. While Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were unable to win Player of the Year, Alex Morgan won in the women’s category while Tim Howard won Goalkeeper of the Year and Jurgen Klinsmann took home the Coach of the Year prize.

12. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

In the final game of the Nike international friendlies series, the US U-17’s secured a 4-1 victory over Brazil to win the tournament. Two more goals from Haji Wright helping the US on their way and ensured the LA Galaxy academy player finished as the competitions golden boot winner.

13. UPS AND DOWNS IN MEXICO

One of MLS’s stated goals by 2022 is for a club to win the CCL and make it to the Club World Cup. Hopefully, when that team gets there, they’ll do a little better in the tournament than Mexican side Monterrey, who were defeated by host side Raja Casablanca in the competitions quarterfinals. However, Monterrey coach Jose Guadalupe Cruz is determined to win his fifth-place playoff against Al Ahly. Sticking with Mexican sides, it looks like Rafa Marquez could be coming back to haunt MLS teams in next year’s Champions League after Club Leon beat Club American 3-1 to win Liga MX. It was a result that didn’t sit well with Mexico and Club America boss Miguel Herrera.

14. FIGHTIN’ IRISH

Congratulations to Notre Dame, who beat the Maryland Terrapins 2-1 on Sunday evening to win the College Cup at the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park. It was a night of contrasting fortunes for Notre Dame’s Harrison Shipp and Maryland’s Patrick Mullins, two players destined for MLS futures.

15. DANCING WITH THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY

It seems Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic may have found a new way to stay fit this offseason, after it was revealed that the MLS Cup winner appeared in two performances of the Nutcracker on Sunday with the Kansas City Ballet.

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