Kick Off: Having promised "the biggest signing in MLS history," can Toronto FC actually pull it off?
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. TORONTO FC STEP IT UP
Tim Leiweke had promised to make the biggest signing in MLS history and things certainly escalated quickly on Wednesday. First there was this video, which everyone assumed was referring to Jermain Defoe, especially as stories started emerging that the deal was done and the Englishman would be unveiled on Monday. Of course, then Taylor Twellman went and dropped this bomb on everyone, revealing that Michael Bradley could in fact be joining Toronto FC as well.
On Thursday, there will be a weighted lottery to decide which of five teams will have the chance to sign Brian "Cobi" Span. FC Dallas currently have the best chance of landing the former University of Virginia midfielder, who most recently played in Sweden before signing a deal with MLS.
3. TOP OF THE CLASS
MLS added three more players to the list of Generation adidas players available in next week’s SuperDraft, capping this year’s class at seven. The league has also revealed some extra invitees to the MLS Combine, including six college seniors, five youth internationals and standouts from the recent Caribbean combine.
4. MONTERO'S MOVE NOT FINAL
After Fredy Montero’s blistering start to his Sporting CP career, reports started circulating that the Portuguese club had exercised its option to turn Montero’s loan into a permanent move. However, once again it seems such reports are premature, with Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer stating, “I haven’t read any of the stories and will only comment if/when we actually execute something worthy of reporting.”
5. THINGS TO DO IN SEATTLE
The Seattle Sounders added a little more depth to their goalkeeper pool on Wednesday when they re-signed Marcus Hahnemann. At 41 years of age, Hahnemann made it clear what he hopes to accomplish this season: “There are things I still haven’t done yet. … It would be nice to win a championship.”
6. THE LOUISVILLE LIONS?
With Orlando landing an MLS franchise, the question then becomes what to do with the city's USL PRO side. The answer, it seems, lies with one of the clubs minority owners, as Wayne Estopinal, a Louisville architect, is in negotiations to move the franchise to his city.
7. LETTERS FROM CAMP
The players are now assembled for the US national team's January camp, yet, compared to previous years, something is a little bit different this time around. “It’s not a camp where we build now fitness, fitness, fitness,” explained head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, telling reporters that he expects that from his top players now as a minimum requirement. So how are the players finding the camp? Check out this video and see for yourself.
8. THE US DEFENSE
It's no overstatement to say 2013 couldn’t have gone any better for Matt Besler, and now the Sporting Kansas City defender heads into the new year as a MLS Cup winner and something of a US national team veteran. However, while Besler isn’t taking anything for granted, both he and Omar Gonzalez are hoping a good January Camp can help secure their places in the World Cup squad.
9. RESOLUTE RAPIDS
Having spent the last couple of weeks training with English Premier League side Everton FC, Clint Irwin has returned to the Colorado Rapids with new determination. While the goalkeeper may now be aiming for Europe, he knows “it all starts [in Colorado]. You can’t get better if you’re not doing it here first.” Chris Klute also recently spent time with the English club, and the defender is focused on how he can keep improving his game.
10. RSL NAME COACHING STAFF
Jeff Cassar has named his new-look Real Salt Lake coaching staff for the 2014 season. While RSL veteran Andy Williams has been promoted from head scout to assistant coach, the other three hires all come from outside the organization with Paul Dalglish, Craig Waibel and Daryl Shore joining the team.
11. HOME SCHOOLED
The Columbus Crew have added another two Homegrown players to their roster ahead of the 2014 season. The addition of defender Ross Friedman and midfielder Matt Walker means the Crew are now tied with FC Dallas for the most Homegrown players in their squads. According to Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, Columbus aren’t done signing players yet either.
12. DC DEALS
After being selected in the second round of the Re-Entry Draft, D.C. United have officially signed defender Nana Attakora. According to United’s general manager Dave Kasper, the Canadian international “will provide a good physical presence in a very key position.” With all of United’s new acquisitions, and potentially more in next week’s SuperDraft, what might this mean for the club's USL PRO affiliate?
13. CALIFORNIA CLASH HITS PRESEASON
With both clubs facing tough CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, it’s important that the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes get good preseasons under their belt. How does a California Clasico sound to help get the players fit? The two clubs will face off in Fresno on February 15 in what is being called The Central California Cup. Sorry Chivas USA, your invite must have gotten lost in the mail.
14. PLANNING AHEAD IN KANSAS CITY
What can Sporting Kansas City fans look forward to in 2014? Peter Vermes is the man with the answers and the head coach sat down with SportingKC.com to chat about a number of subjects such as Jimmy Nielsen’s long-term replacement, the club's new USL PRO affiliate and what SKC plan to do with their one pick at the SuperDraft.
15. SUITED AND BOOTED
Ever wanted to look as dapper as Thierry Henry? Well now you can… kind of.
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