Starting XI: USMNT, draft among weekend's hot topics

Eddie Johnson (Starting XI)

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It's been an eventful year, but that doesn't mean the fun stops at the end of 2012. With the SuperDraft and US national team camp coming up, there is still plenty to think about in the soccer world. Here are the top 11 questions for the North American soccer fan heading into the final weekend of 2012:

11) What’s your club’s allocation money balance, and how might it be affecting their offseason moves?

It’s been the subject of speculation, jokes and fake Twitter accounts, and it’s also a small but increasingly important competitive advantage in a balanced league. Allocation dough gets spent behind the scenes, but it can make all the difference between a successful rebuilding project and a salary cap quandary. 

10) Who’s No. 1 (at the SuperDraft)?

Walker Zimmerman? Andrew Farrell? Eriq Zavaleta? As the full crop of Generation adidas signings and other potential draftees is completed, this debate will become the leading topic around MLS over the next two weeks. Combine performances (see who's invited) may help Toronto FC and other clubs resolve their final questions.

9) Is the Omar Cummings trade with Colorado another steal of a deal by the Dynamo?

Perhaps it was a win-win situation for two teams in very different places this winter. Right now, however, it looks suspiciously like Houston coach Dominic Kinnear has snared yet another proven performer at a cut-rate price. With the complementary pieces around him in his new home, the Jamaican could run riot in 2013.

8) What’s in Fredy’s future?

Sounders fans don’t think much of the murky Colombian reports that Seattle hitman Fredy Montero may return to his homeland to join club Millionarios. Those with less of an emotional stake in the matter are probably right to wonder if his disappointing close to last season has taken him to a crossroads in his MLS career.

7) Who are the mystery Hondurans Víctor Bernárdez says he’s luring to San Jose?

The Earthquakes’ hulking center back was a massive difference-maker in his first season by the bay, and now he says he’s helping recruit two of his Catrachos teammates. Johnny Leverón? Wilmer Crisanto? Perhaps even the veteran Mario René Berríos? We might get a preview of San Jose’s targets when the US national team opens the final round of World Cup qualifying in Honduras on Feb. 6.

6) Is Carlo Cudicini headed to LA?

It’s not often that a starting goalkeeper backstops back-to-back championship runs only to find his position under threat, but that may be the reality for Galaxy netminder Josh Saunders. LA acquired the rights to former Crew ‘keeper Will Hesmer in the Re-Entry draft and are reportedly chatting up the Tottenham Hotspur backup about a Stateside move.

5) Can Dennis te Klose bridge the gap at Chivas USA?

The wandering Dutchman was named sporting director of both CUSA and its mother club in Guadalajara this week, and while there are questions about the challenge of balancing his duties at both clubs, few boast more knowledge of the deep Mexican-American talent pool that the Goats are apparently eager to delve into. He’ll need to hit the ground running, with the SuperDraft less than three weeks away.

4) Can anyone stop the ageless Brad Friedel?

The former Crew shotstopper (right) just signed a new contract with Spurs that will keep him in the English Premier League mix until the ripe age of 43. It would seem to preclude an eventual victory lap back in MLS – then again, given how well he’s taken care of himself to this point, you never can tell.

3) Which MLSers have gotten Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp call?

The wartime catchphrase “Loose lips sink ships” doesn’t seem to mean much to Seattle’s Eddie Johnson, whose Twitter feed has made it clear that he’s headed to Southern California for next month’s US national team exercises. The likes of Chris Pontius, Omar Gonzalez and Dax McCarty might have also earned another shot to impress Klinsmann, though they haven't revealed so just yet.

2) And which MLS stadia will earn Hex hosting honors?

Over the next week or two, US Soccer will announce the venue for the Yanks’ qualifying home against Costa Rica on March 22, with RSL’s Rio Tinto Stadium and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado looking like hot contenders. The other four match locations will be revealed later, with several league hotbeds looking to reel in the most important US games of the season.

1) What’s your New Year’s soccer resolution?

Whatever you hope to improve on in 2013, don’t forget to put the beautiful game on your list somewhere – whether it’s spreading the game to new converts, attending more games or maybe just kicking it around more often yourself. All of us at MLSsoccer.com wish you and yours a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.