Kick Off: Mullan wants to meet Zakuani face-to-face

Kick Off - Brian Mullan

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The 2012 season is time for new beginnings.

That includes Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan, who is looking forward to the face-to-face meeting with Steve Zakuani on April 14, the first since the tackle that broke Zakuani’s leg: "It'll probably be the first time I'll see Steve," Mullan told SI.com’s Grant Wahl. "And I'll reiterate my apology and shake his hand and finally be able to say it to his face. That's what I'm looking forward to."

New LA Galaxy acquisition Kyle Nakazawa has a lot to look forward to and he was on a plane to LA from Philadelphia as soon as the recent trade was announced. “At the professional level we saw that he was a very good player on set pieces, serving balls, hitting free kicks," LA manager Bruce Arena said. "He's got some qualities that we can use on our team.”

With Nakazawa moving to LA and Sébastien Le Toux in Vancouver, the Philadelphia Union will be entrusting free kicks and corner kicks to a new regular: Will it be Freddy Adu or Roger Torres? This report discovers that they didn’t take that many set pieces for the Union in 2011.

It’s open season on Union manager Peter Nowak. Even a reporter in Vancouver takes a dig at Nowak for a press conference he canceled on reporters last season.

Chivas USA draftee Brian Rowe says he has two options: stay in MLS or join VPS Vaasa in Finland. But it sounds like the goalkeeper likes working with the Chivas USA goalkeeper coach a little more: “The coaches over there [in Finland], especially the goalkeeper coach, was sort of an old, crotchety guy. … Everything's just high-intensity, blasting the ball at you as hard as he can, and you just got to deal with it. It's tough love.”

In this ESPNLosAngeles.com piece about Chivas USA’s two Ecuadorean players, we find out that it was Ecuador national team coach Reinaldo Rueda recommended MLS to Oswaldo Minda. And we also find out that his compatriot Miller Bolaños is considered the second-best player in all of Ecuador.

Speaking of Chivas USA, they take on FC Hasental at 11 am PT in a preseason match today at The Home Depot Center. The LA Galaxy are scheduled to face USL side LA Blues, also at the HDC.

The Galaxy are also busy looking for a replacement for Omar Gonzalez and they’ve already approached Panamanian center back Román Torres. (SPANISH)

The San Jose Earthquakes have officially added Colombian attacking midfielder Tressor Moreno and manager Frank Yallop is liking the look of his team these days: “If you look at the squad, it is better than it has ever been.”

Would Didier Drogba make for a great fit in Chicago? Chicago Fire manager Frank Klopas addressed it but caused some more confusion when he said “there’s talks” in a media conference call. The Fire tried to clarify those comments here.

Sporting Kansas City have extended their tentacles into Oklahoma, partnering with the largest club team in that state.

Apparently the San Antonio Spurs have not given up on their quest to bring professional soccer to San Antonio, and they say the failed bid to land Alamo Stadium won’t stop them.

Ignore the misidentified photo and caption on this Montreal Gazette feature of Impact goalkeeper Greg Sutton. The 34-year-old speaks like the experienced netminder he is: “It’s the job of some of the guys who’ve been around for a while to help them [youth] and hold their hand a little bit and get them through those times that are going to be difficult during the season. … How teams handle the tough times will show in where they end up.”

Seattle Sounders second-year midfielder Servando Carrasco got some good news recently and it has nothing to do with soccer: His mother’s breast cancer was gone. "That was the best news we could hope for," Carrasco said.

US international Clint Dempsey talks about family and off-the-field matters in his latest diary entry for Goal.com. He also discusses Twitter, where he has more than entertained fans in recent weeks: “I was always the person that said I would never do Twitter. I just wondered what the point was. … Twitter has been fun so far. I’ve only been on for a few weeks and we’ll see if that honeymoon period wears off.”

Dempsey will surely be honored to read what the former coach of No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick Andrew Wenger has to say: "I feel if Andrew keeps his head down and stays disciplined and determined as he has been, he could become another Clint Dempsey."

No Dempsey or EPL today on the tube. The Bundesliga Friday afternoon match features Timmy Chandler’s Nürnberg battling Borussia Dortmund (2:30 pm ET, GolTV). Meanwhile, the Friday night Mexican soccer first-division match features an all-Guadalajara match between Estudiantes Tecos and Atlas (9 pm ET, Galavisión).

Sticking with international soccer, they’re thrilled to have US national team midfielder Mixx Diskerud over at KAA Gent, where they introduced him to the press and fans with this seven-minute Q&A session dug up by our own Greg Seltzer. (VIDEO)

USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann is lining up several tune-ups ahead of World Cup qualifying in June. In addition to the rumored Brazil and Scotland matches, there’s also a game to be played at BMO Field against Canada on June 3 to celebrate that country’s centenary.

Canada’s soccer association also announced that all its home matches in the upcoming round of CONCACAF qualifying will be played at Toronto’s BMO Field. Fans in Montreal and Vancouver may not like that news.

The repercussions of the deadly riots in Egypt continue to be felt: three players retired. And two more people were killed by police on Thursday as part of the protests in Cairo, where Egypt national team head coach Bob Bradley also took to the streets.

One of Bradley’s protégés with Chivas USA and the US national team, Jonathan Bornstein, went a full 90 for Tigres UANL as the Mexican champs suffered Copa Libertadores elimination at the hands of Chilean side Unión Española. Here are the highlights of the affair that finished 2-2. Tigres coach Ricardo Ferretti is being blamed for fielding a reserve side.

Hey Arsenal fans, here’s another reason to love LA Galaxy midfielder and former Manchester United star David Beckham. Read what he says about the upcoming tie between AC Milan and the Gunners: "In terms of the Champions League, I can't bring myself to support Arsenal, although I do respect the club. I am convinced that AC Milan will go through."

On Monday we’ll have all the reviews of the Beckham spot from the Super Bowl, but in the meantime we leave you with the unveiling of Brazil’s new soccer jerseys. It’s the alternate that carries the newest features. (PHOTO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Sébastien Le Toux tells all in the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio

The Throw-In: Recent MLS signings carry “as is” warnings

Michael Bradley’s Chievo gets a road win in the Italian Serie A


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