Kick Off: Italian media say Red Bulls chasing Nesta

Kick Off - Alessandro Nesta

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The New York Red Bulls back line is struggling of late, but help may be on the way.

The Corriere della Sera in Italy claims that 36-year-old AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta “seriously appears to have the intention of saying goodbye to [AC Milan] to venture in the exploration of ‘soccer,’ football in its stars-and-stripes version.” The article says that there are meetings with the Red Bulls set for next week. (ITALIAN)

In the meantime, Red Bulls manager Hans Backe is not waiting around for the Italian defender. Facing an all-out injury crisis, he has something up his sleeve when the New England Revolution visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday (3:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network): "With the goals we are conceding, we need to have a look and do some kind of change to protect the back four a little bit better.”

Thierry Henry talked about team defending and plenty of other topics in this Q&A with USA Today. He also dropped more than a hint that he’d enjoy being manager at Arsenal: “Everyone knows the love I have for Arsenal Football Club, so you know it goes without saying where [I would manage]. That's a dream.”

Another club focused on defending is the Vancouver Whitecaps, especially if they manage to take the lead in Columbus on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “Obviously you want to be creating more chances and scoring more goals, but there’s a lot more to the game than that," says manager Martin Rennie. "… If we’re winning 1-0 we need to stay tight and make sure we’re hard to play against."

While many are curious to see if Vancouver's Michael Nanchoff makes a grand homecoming appearance, last year’s No. 1 pick Omar Salgado is expected to make his second straight start for the Whitecaps.

There’s excitement in Columbus about the Crew’s latest signing, Costa Rican Jairo Arrieta, who will join them in the summer: “That’s my goal: to be one of the top scorers first for Columbus and then in the league. That’s something I’ve been recognized for in Costa Rica.”

The first game of the Saturday slate takes place at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, where the expansion Impact face the Portland Timbers (2 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The story in Montreal still revolves around whether local product Patrice Bernier can break into the starting XI again: “I’m not the only one who is not playing,” Bernier said. “It’s just because I’m from here and people put it on a higher pedestal than they do for other players.”

Fans may be surprised to learn that injured San Jose winger Shea Salinas, who is out six to eight weeks after breaking his clavicle on an infamous play in New York, plans to attend the Earthquakes’ match at PPL Park against the Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

Will David Estrada be relegated to the bench after his goal-scoring binge to start the season for the Seattle Sounders? That’s the question pondered by the Seattle Times ahead of the club’s match in Chicago on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). There are also questions about the health of Sounders starting ‘keeper Michael Gspurning. Here’s the latest update.

Chivas USA will be without experienced forward Alejandro Moreno when the Goats visit the Colorado Rapids (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE) due to a concussion. Meanwhile, after a long absence Conor Casey makes his anticipated return for the Rapids, who yesterday acquired Brazilian Edu, scorer of a famous game-winner against FC Barcelona in La Liga in 2008.

His name rarely comes up in US national team discussions, but Rapids central defender Drew Moor still really wants another call-up: "Every single day I think about it, and it has been a while now."

"I think about it every day. Like at some point, it just pops into my mind.” Those are the words of Toronto FC forward Ryan Johnson in reference to his club’s six-game skid to start the season. TFC travel to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “We're going there to get a good result. At least get one point,” says Toronto manager Aron Winter.

We’ll see how long Toronto will do without reserve midfielder Efraín Burgos, who has received a call-up from the El Salvador national team to participate in a camp, three friendlies and the two World Cup qualifiers in June. (SPANISH)

Meanwhile, Toronto had a new trialist in camp yesterday: a Nigerian forward who has already made the rounds at other MLS clubs. Find out his name here.

Reports in Austria say Andreas Dobers has returned to Austria after a trial with the Portland Timbers and is hoping to return after apparently experiencing a muscle issue. (GERMAN)

The LA Galaxy host FC Dallas on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), but the potential arrival of a former Real Madrid star dominates the news for the Galaxy. Midfielder David Beckham yesterday promised to personally follow up on the rumor that Míchel Salgado was heading to Hollywood: “Michel is a great player. … He was a good friend to me while I was at Real Madrid, as well. … I'll speak to him. I'll ask him. I'll tell you tomorrow.” Stand by for news.

Meanwhile, the latest reports out of Honduras claim that Honduran Olympic midfielder Arnold Peralta is really close to signing for D.C. United in MLS. (SPANISH)

Speaking of D.C., they host the Houston Dynamo in the biggest Eastern Conference clashes of the weekend (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). United's Dwayne De Rosario took time to give NFL No. 2 draft pick Robert Griffin III a welcome to the DC area: “From one MVP to another,” as he says in this video. (VIDEO)

The Dynamo’s head coach, Dominic Kinnear, was up late last night watching the NFL Draft and he also recorded it. That’s because a family friend was about to get picked No. 1: Andrew Luck. “I don't think I'll get to meet or be around a guy who is the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft ever again,” Kinnear told the Houston Chronicle.

For fans who are on overload from yesterday’s NFL draft, Steve Davis at Pro Soccer Talk looks at the teams with the top drafts over the last five years. Find out the two teams who are tied for tops on the list here.

Sporting Kansas City are off this weekend, but for SKC fans wondering about when they’ll get a jersey sponsor, MLS Commissioner Don Garber recently addressed the matter and provided the latest update.

From jersey sponsors to jerseys: If you thought the new Houston Dynamo third kits are a Spanish national team jersey, think again. Read the history behind the design of the newest jerseys in MLS. (PHOTOS and VIDEO)

Jerseys are becoming an increasingly high-tech commodity. Take French club Lyon, who now have a 3-D kit. (PHOTOS)

No French soccer on the tube today. But if you’re in South Bend, Ind., you can enjoy some international soccer later tonight when the Mexican Under-20 national team faces the University of Notre Dame in an exhibition at Alumni Stadium.

Mexican soccer offers up the only Friday night soccer match today as Estudiantes Tecos take on Querétaro (Univision Deportes, 9 pm ET).

In other international news, here’s the latest feature on former NYRB defender Tim Ream who is in a relegation battle with Bolton Wanderers but took the time to reflect on his transfer from MLS to the EPL for a reported $3 million: “Sometimes, I do think, 'Am I really worth that much?' … Do I think I'm worth that much? Probably not, but that's the price that was paid, so now I have to kind of live up to that."

Lastly, we leave you with a heart warmer to head into the weekend: Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler is going to the prom with a local teenage soccer player who made the daring ask of the MLS All-Star. But that’s only half the story. Watch it here. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

NFL’s No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck talks soccer with Kick TV’s Jimmy Conrad

Philadelphia Union’s Freddy Adu and Crew’s Frankie Hejduk on ExtraTime Radio

WATCH: Latest edition of the ultimate MLS highlights reel 90+


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