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Final

Kick Off: Kaka scores in Champions League, then talks LA

With most soccer fans glued to the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, Kaká and  Real Madrid weren’t about to let their guard down against Ajax at the Bernabéu.

The Brazilian playmaker scored on a brilliant 25-yard strike in the 49th minute of the hosts’ 4-1 win in their final Group D match and then opened up about his future either in Spain or potentially in the United States in 2013.

While reports have indicated that the 30-year-old midfielder might be on the outs in Madrid and could be a target of the LA Galaxy, he insisted that he hasn’t heard anything from the reigning MLS champs just yet.

“I have nothing at the moment,” he said. “I keep doing my work to remain at Madrid. Then, we can see what happens and what the club wants. It is not a comfortable situation for the club or me. ... I will go if I have an agreement with the club.”

But is Kaká even the right move for the Galaxy or MLS? Fox Soccer’s Leander Schaerlaeckens looks at the paradoxes of MLS' Designated Player rule and what’s best for the league in a post-David Beckham world.

“The league can go back down the road of finding superstars who are willing to be squeezed for a last few drops of glory in exchange for more money than their teammates make combined, and well-known names forever swirl – Frank Lampard, Kaká or Wesley Sneijder,” Schaerlaeckens writes. “Or MLS can focus on finding good young international players from the Western Hemisphere and use them to augment the level of play. Or it can focus on youth development and try to use the US national team as a showcase for its homegrown players, as a proxy for its success. It has to choose."

Did we mention Beckham in there somewhere? We must have. There are two bits of news to report this morning surrounding the former LA Galaxy star, but take them with a grain of salt, because it feels like we’ve been down this road before.

One report from England links Beckham to an ownership gig for an MLS expansion franchise in Miami, yet there is little sourcing of note, and one rehashes the rumors that Beckham will suit up for French giant Paris Saint-Germain. Approach with caution.

And here’s some of the fallout of Beckham’s departure from LA. The Galaxy on Tuesday announced they have called off their winter international tour, which was a fixture when Beckham was still in the ranks. Said defender Todd Dunivant: “There weren't too many tears shed over that announcement.”

There’s news out of Washington, meanwhile, that D.C. United have a Designated Player dilemma of their own. Looks like the club is done with Hamdi Salihi after an ineffective year, but what do they do now? The Washington Post’s Steven Goff looks at the options for moving on without Salihi.

The news isn’t all bad, however, for Ben Olsen. According to the folks at Marca, it appears the Brazilian press have jumped on the rumor that D.C. United are keen to land star striker Luís Fabiano, if they can somehow negotiate the transfer price down from seven million euros.

Maybe there is some extra cash in D.C.’s pockets after they recently agreed with Volkswagen on a one-year extension on a jersey sponsorship. Ka-ching.

Up in New York, the Red Bulls appear to be on the hunt for some new talent of their own for 2013. Brazilian dead-ball wizard Juninho Pernambucano is on the Red Bulls’ radar according to this post, which also indicates that he’s headed to the United States to discuss a deal with the club this week. (PORTUGUESE)

And what about Rafa Márquez? It appears he’s still interested in a loan deal back to Mexican side Atlas this winter, but the Red Bulls have yet to give him the green light. “There are many changes to Red Bull especially in the policy," he said. "We have no coach and until that is resolved I cannot move [to Mexico].”

Here’s one player certainly headed back to MLS next season: FC Dallas defender George John. The talented US national team prospect was one of six FCD players on Tuesday who agreed to be back in Texas next year, including versatile midfielder Jackson and defender Hernán Pertúz.

Another player back for more next season is Honduran midfielder Hendry Thomas, who re-signed to a long-term contract with the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday.

What about the future of Brian Ching? Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear talked about that and more during his end-of-the-year press conference.

And one last bit on the Dynamo: MLS Cup was a hit on TeleFutura. Check out the ratings from Saturday, which marked an increase of 58 percent over the 2011 final and an increase of 109 percent over the 2010 final, both on Galavision.

On to the rest of the league, where the big news in Philadelphia is the offseason loan of teenager Zach Pfeffer, who is headed to Germany's Hoffenheim.

One of the biggest moves of the offseason so far was Real Salt Lake’s high-powered trade of Jámison Olave and Fábian Espíndola to the Red Bulls earlier this week. Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney takes a look at what the trades meant financially for RSL and where they go from here.

On to the Pacific Northwest, where the talk in Seattle Sounders camp is just exactly how they can finally bring up a Homegrown player. Check out what head coach Sigi Schmid had to say about the topic.

Season tickets are once again a hot commodity down I-5 in Portland. Here’s a look at some of the new numbers of season tickets allotted for Timbers games in 2013 and how you can get on the waiting list.

And then Timbers will welcome defender Michael Harrington into the fold next season, but first, he had a few things to say about leaving Sporting Kansas City.

The Red Bulls are moving on without former head coach Hans Backe, and it appears he’s doing just fine. He’s reportedly received interested from a club in Sweden about taking the reins there.

Let’s talk stadiums. Looks like there's some confusion in Tampa, there's a plan in Ft. Lauderdale, and there could be an issue concerning plans for a stadium in New England.

How about MLS expansion to San Diego? The fans there might not need it. Here’s a great look at how San Diegans have adopted the Mexican champs from Tijuana as their hometown team.

Speaking of Mexican soccer, Brent Latham takes time out to examine what just happened with Chivas de Guadalajara and Johann Cruyff. And he’s saying don’t put all the blame on Jorge Vergara.

Let’s look at some quick international news. Here’s a look at how American exports fared in the Champions League on Tuesday, and a great piece from the BBC on Málaga defender Oguchi Onyewu.

Santa Claus wearing blue? It’s true. Everton FC fans simply won’t wear red.

And last but not least, some good news for vegetarians. Find out which MLS team plays in a stadium that was recently commended by the folks at PETA for boasting “mouthwatering vegetarian options.”

MLSsoccer.com Musts

MLS Power Rankings: The Final Poll

Ft. Lauderdale eyes soccer specific stadium

Wilkinson: Trades just the start for Timbers


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