Kick Off: LA reportedly close in on Premier League 'keeper

Kick Off: Cudicini

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Here's something 18 MLS teams don't want to hear: The two-time champions LA Galaxy appear to be getting significantly stronger between the posts.

After a hit-and-miss season with Josh Saunders as the No. 1 in LA, a report surfaced Thursday morning claiming that Tottenham Hotspur backup and longtime Chelsea 'keeper Carlo Cudicini was close to signing a two-year deal with the club. The 39-year-old was deemed suplus to requirements at Spurs after the arrival of Hugo Lloris in the summer and is familiar with Los Angeles after spending preseasons there under José Mourinho at Chelsea.

Should he put pen to paper on an MLS contract, he'll join a squad already bolstered this offseason. Arguably the best college prospect in the United States, Cal State Bakersfield's Gyasi Zardes signed a Homegrown deal with the Galaxy on Wednesday, ending speculation that the explosive striker could head to Europe. Watch a highlight reel of the 21-year-old in action here.

LA might lose another of their academy products to interest south of the border, however, as US U-18 international Paul Arriola is currently training with Liga MX champions Club Tijuana. It's just a training stint for now, but the 17-year-old is in the process of receiving his Mexican citizenship.

Speaking of LA-based teenagers being pursued these days, those rumors about Chivas USA's Juan Agudelo won't go away. “Juan is someone we like,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon said. “We have made tentative approaches. ...We would look to pursue him again but don't know where we are in terms of inquiries."

Meanwhile, Red Bulls fans will be encouraged by the fact that Juninho Pernambucano chose the club over more lucrative offers in Brazil. It seems he would have preferred to remain with Vasco da Gama, but internal chaos at the club forced the 38-year-old's hand.

According to Kyle McCarthy at Goal.com, the Brazilian still has plenty left on the field. That's a good sign for a club in need of a bit more production from it's secondary options after Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper carried the load in 2012. Once again, expectations are sky high at Reb Bull Arena, and a healthy, productive Juninho will be key to meeting or exceeding those.

He'll also have the opportunity to play against a former Vasco teammate, new FC Dallas signing Wesley "Pipico" Silva. Head coach Schellas Hyndman expects the 27-year-old to provide a second option up top alongside Blas Pérez.

Could another Portuguese speaker be joining them? Perhaps as a Designated Player? No real rumblings yet, but Ricardo Quaresma could be the next player to dominate headlines after Besiktas terminated the winger's contract. Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka appear to be in the same boat as well.

Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales is also out of contract, and RSL are putting on the full-court press to keep their No. 11. Will it work? It's still too soon to tell.

Their Rocky Mountain rivals are reportedly close to inking an Ecuadorian international. Find out who here.

Check out the official match ball that will be used by every player in MLS next season. It's design was inspired by the Philip F. Anschutz trophy.

An American found a new home in Europe on Wednesday, as Michael Parkhurst agreed to join Bundesliga battlers FC Augsburg on a two-and-a-half-year deal. So is Scandinavia a stepping stone to bigger and better things? Soccer America takes a look at that tricky question.

Over in England, Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj got good news in the Capital One Cup draw. They'll face Bradford City in the semis, avoiding EPL peers Chelsea and Swansea City. In a slightly more prestigious draw, Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 drew Galatasaray in the first round of the Champions League knockout stages, while Oguchi Onyewu and Malaga will face two-time winners FC Porto.

Could Jones take the field in Seattle for a US national team game? That's the word leaking out of the Pacific Northwest.

Finally, Lionel Messi gets his due everywhere. Everywhere but Argentina, that is. The country's journalists recently voted him the nation's third-best athlete. Are you kidding me?

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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Stories of the Year, No. 12: BBVA Compass Stadium


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