Kick Off: Dempsey reiterates Champions League dream

It should come as no surprise that Clint Dempsey still holds out hope to one day ply his trade at the highest level of club soccer – the UEFA Champions League.

Dempsey long has been mooted as a player destined for bigger and better things and that speculation doesn’t figure to slow down as his blazing form continues for Fulham. In what surely came as no surprise to fans of the London club, the American scored his ninth goal in all competitions this season to give his side a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Monday.

While celebrating the holidays with his family, he also found time to sit down with Fox Soccer for an exclusive interview at his home in England. During the wide-ranging discussion, Dempsey voiced his admiration and belief in Jurgen Klinsmann, touched on the coach that laid the groundwork for his success and reiterated that he hoped Champions League football was “in the cards” for him someday.

While Dempsey's value continues to rise, another CONCACAF talent in the EPL being linked to a new club is Canadian Junior Hoilett, who will be out of contract in the summer. Reports in England have Tottenham Hotspur lining up a bid for the 21-year-old forward, who Blackburn would like to keep but can't convince to sign a new deal at the club.

Tim Ream could soon be joining both Dempsey and Hoilett in England's top division, as Bolton Wanderers seem to believe they can land the New York center back for less than the $4 million fee being thrown around in reports. The Bolton News reports that the club would like to pay less if possible – no surprise there – to sign Ream as a replacement for Gary Cahill, whose move to the Chelsea during the January window seems assured.

Scottish football isn't known for an even playing field, and the two clubs that dominate the scene – Celtic and Rangers – will meet on Wednesday to set the stage for the run to the title as 2012 looms. American Carlos Bocanegra spoke with The Daily Record about the Old Firm match and dispelled any notions that the championship could be decided with more than half a season remaining, although he did admit that "there was a lot of energy around the club" after Rangers won the last derby in September.

English attacker Jason Banton let slip on Twitter yesterday that he would be playing in MLS next season and participating in the Combine in early January. The 19-year-old is currently on the books at Leicester City after stops in at Arsenal, Blackburn and Liverpool as a youth player. Banton came close to joining Chivas USA before the start of the 2011 season after impressing on trial, but the move never materialized.

David Beckham's future is still up in the air, but not everyone in Los Angeles hopes the Englishman returns to MLS. Los Angeles Times columnist Kevin Baxter bid au revoir to the global icon on Christmas day and quoted Galaxy president Tim Leiweke as saying the club's "future is better than our past."

Eddie Johnson will report to Puebla today. The American striker is looking to revitalize his career after a few seasons on the fringe in Europe. (SPANISH)

One of the largest youth clubs on the East Coast took a step forward to expanding their already massive operations, as New Hampshire's Seacoast United Soccer Club announced a move to for-profit status. The report in the local paper mentions the possibility of MLS at some point in the future, which even the club's director admits might "sound crazy."

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Charlie Davies return to professional soccer comes in at No. 6 on MLSsoccer.com's countdown of the 2011 Stories of the Year.

Portland Timbers announcer John Strong earned the 2011 MLS Broadcast Call of the Year for his description of Darlington Nagbe's wonder goal against Sporting KC.

In American Export news, Isaac Acuña has moved from Club América to Mexican second-division side Mérida FC for the upcoming Clausura 2012 season.


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