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Kick Off: San Jose Earthquakes shake things up with new logo for 40th anniversary

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

1. EARTHQUAKES SHAKE THINGS UP

The San Jose Earthquakes held a party on Thursday night to celebrate the club's 40th anniversary, and unveiled both a new logo and their new 2014 kits. See what guided the Quakes' design team to the new look and check out this heartfelt letter from team president Dave Kaval to the club's fans. The question now is, could this rebrand have any effect on other MLS teams?

2. UNION GET STRONGER

The Philadelphia Union have finalized a deal which will see Vincent Nogueira join the team. The 26-year-old French midfielder was captain for his former side Sochaux in Ligue 1. It’s not all great news for the Union, however, as a key member of their coaching staff has left the team.

3. FOLLOW THE LEADER

The LA Galaxy completed the signing of Swedish winger Stefan Ishizaki on Thursday, and head coach Bruce Arena described his new acquisition as “a very good passer. … He’ll make plays that amount to something.” Arena also offered his thoughts on the team’s new USL PRO side, and while he feels the LA Galaxy are guinea pigs for the idea, he also suggests it's a model that the rest of the league will follow in the near future.

4. FAREWELL FREDY

Sporting CP have finally exercised their option to buy Freddy Montero from the Seattle Sounders, although seemingly not for as much money as had recently been suggested. Don’t be too disheartened though Sounders fans, there’s a chance you may see Montero again one day. In other Seattle news, it seems the club is trying to sell its spot in the allocation order and, in doing so, have priced the Chicago Fire out of the running for Marco Pappa.

5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Looks like Pablo Mastroeni might be sticking around for a while as Colorado Rapids head coach. The former midfielder revealed this week that, “As it stands, I’ll be leading these guys – and hopefully making it difficult to be replaced.” Perhaps even more tellingly though, Rapids president Tim Hinchey revealed in an AMA session on Thursday that the club has not yet interviewed any candidates for the role.

6. PLAYING TO POSITION

Michael Parkhurst’s return to Major League Soccer looks set to help propel the player back into the US national team, potentially as a first-choice at right back. This could even see Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter playing Parkhurst outside of where he’d like him, stating “at least in the short term, we want to help him make the World Cup team. It would be fabulous to have a Columbus Crew player in the World Cup.”

7. IT’S CHIVAS, JUST NOT AS WE KNOW IT

Chivas USA are trying to turn their fortunes around after a long run without reaching the playoffs, and central to that hope will be Mauro Rosales, whose assists could prove all the difference for the team. Likely to be on the end of Rosales’ plays is Adolfo Bautista, and while “Bofo” claims to be focused on Chivas USA right now, it seems he still has his heart set on the other Chivas.

8. WHY US PLAYERS COME HOME

There has been a large influx of US international players return home to Major League Soccer these past few months and, according to FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo, there could be more to come. Why are so many players turning their back on Europe these days? US international Herculez Gomez offers an interesting perspective.

9. SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

Looks like Clint Dempsey has come out firmly in the anti-relegation camp. The US international, no stranger to a relegation battle with English side Fulham FC, compares the two leagues in an interview with ESPNFC'.coms Doug McIntrye and insists, “I’m glad MLS doesn’t have relegation. Can you imagine having one bad season that can doom your club forever?”

10. KYLE BEKKER'S FUTURE IN TORONTO

There are a couple of key questions facing teams in Canada right now regarding their playing personnel. First to Toronto FC and, with all their big offseason moves, particularly the arrival of Michael Bradley, what does that mean for Kyle Bekker? Secondly, following the signing of Steven Beitashour, the Iranian international is surely the Vancouver Whitecaps' first-choice right back, but do the 'Caps have a battle on their hands for his backup?

11. NOT AS GOOD, BUT GETTING BETTER?

Matteo Ferrari seemed to cause quite a stir this week following his honest assessment of the Montreal Impact's lack of offseason moves. While the team’s sporting director, Nick De Santis, is now keen to put the comments behind them, is it fair to say that, without reinforcements, the Canadian side won’t be returning to the playoffs this year?

12. MY MYERS

Chance Myers has officially re-signed with Sporting Kansas City and is now on his way to join his teammates in Tucson, Ariz. Earlier this month Myers was called up to his first US national team January camp and, while the defender was one of the five players to get cut ahead of the final roster, with his new contract sorted he can now look to try and emulate teammate Graham Zusi

13. USL PRO SCHEDULE

With the number of MLS affiliates competing in USL Pro this year, not to mention LA Galaxy II and the MLS-bound Orlando City, it’s good to know when all these teams meet up (especially with all the games streamed free on YouTube). Good news then, as USL PRO has now released its 2014 schedule and opening day will feature a brand new California rivalry.

14. MUCH ADU ABOUT SOMETHING?

Having been released by Brazilian side Bahia, Freddy Adu is currently a free agent, and the former child prodigy has now appeared in England, training with second division side Blackpool. Whether Adu manages to find a new home there remains to be seen (it would be his 10th club in six different countries) and there’s always the small matter of another work permit.

15. SELLING OUT AND DRIVING IN

The US national team's game against South Korea on Saturday is a sellout, thanks in part to the hype ahead of this summer's World Cup. Landon Donovan is ready for that tournament and willing to play any role necessary but were you aware of the unusual way the US players have been commuting to training each day?

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