Kick Off: Chinese club pursues rumored LA target Lampard

Will Frank Lampard be the next big-money Designated Player in LA? Not if Chinese club Guizhou Renhe have anything to say about it.

Reports out of China on Monday indicated that the Super League club was in talks with the Chelsea star, who has yet to sign a new deal with the London club, but that nothing had been completed at this time. One potential concern for Lampard? How would the move affect his significant other?

Word leaked out on social networks on Sunday that Guizhou Renhe's chairman was claiming the England midfielder would join the fourth-place finishers in January, donning the armband for his new club. But Lampard has also long been rumored to be a replacement for David Beckham should the Galaxy star decide to retire or move on after this playoff run. The Galaxy recently denied these rumors. Beckham signed a new two-year deal with LA in January, but has a release clause which will allow him to review his position with the club during the offseason.

Fellow Galaxy DP Landon Donovan won't be joining the rest of his US teammates in Russia for Wednesday's friendly in Krasnodar (10 am ET; ESPN2), but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of talent in the 20-man squad for Jurgen Klinsmann to work with.

Perhaps the biggest development is the return of Jozy Altidore and Timmy Chandler, both of whom have been in the US wilderness for one reason or another during the past few months. And while Chandler's commitment may have appeared to waver over the past year, he said he is "1,000 percent" on board now.

And as usual, there is no shortage of commentary on Klinsmann's selections. Check out MLSsoccer.com's take here, as well as Fox Soccer's Leander Schaerlaeckens, SI.com's Grant Wahl and the Sporting News' Brian Straus.

Speaking of the US, two members of the player pool — Stuart Holden and Tim Ream — may be forced to move on from a tenuous club situation. According to reports in England, Bolton may be forced to offload players at some point as their debt continues to rise past 100 million pounds. The New York Times also has the fascinating feature on Holden that originally appeared in Howler magazine for perusal.

Holden's former club, the Houston Dynamo, are closing in on their second straight MLS Cup final appearance. Their likely opponent, LA Galaxy, would make for a MLS Cup rematch from 2011 both in opponents and venue.

One columnist says LA can breathe easy now with a 3-0 advantage over the Sounders, while Seattle are left to wonder whether the Galaxy's DPs trump their own. No matter the answer to that quandary, there are certainly questions to be answered in the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, Houston and D.C. United still can't escape the fallout from Ricardo Salazar's no-call at the end of Sunday's first half. He explained his decision to wave off what appeared to be a clear foul on the Dynamo's Andre Hainault on Monday.

One person who wouldn't have disagreed had Salazar chosen to issue Hainault a red card? Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. Hear his reasoning on the latest edition of ExtraTime Radio.

Outside the playoff survivors, tough decisions are starting to be made around the league. One of those was the end of the relationship between Hans Backe and New York, which one columnist says was probably for the best. Another takes a crack at deciding who should stay and who should go at Red Bull Arena. Hint: A DP is one of those deemed expendable.

While we're on the subject of DPs, the Whitecaps' Kenny Miller is the latest to express interest in an offseason loan deal, but nothing is imminent at this time.

Down the road in Portland, owner Merritt Paulson is examining his own role within the club after a trying season in the Rose City: "Did I handle it well? On the whole, I think I did, but I made some mistakes."

One of Paulson's self critiques is that his public persona may be a bit too strong, but he still chimed in on Twitter when the NCAA Tournament field was announced on Monday. His main beef? The decision to give future Timbers coach Caleb Porter's Akron side a No. 5 seed. See who will guide Akron in Porter's stead here.

And for the full NCAA bracket, check this report on MLSsoccer.com.


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