Kick Off: Will summer bring Designated Players in Toronto? Kevin Payne's working on it

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1. REINFORCEMENTS FLOODING IN, BUT TORONTO FC STILL SHOPPING

Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne has funds to work with, and boy is he staying busy in the transfer, trade and loan market. With Matías Laba in the fold and loan deals for Jeremy Brockie, Steven Caldwell and Tal Ben Haim (more on him in a second) recently completed, it seems the Reds are now hot on the trail of a Designated Player. Maybe even a few of them.

“That’s our target for the summer transfer window,” Payne said. “We are looking at a couple of players that we think will make a very big difference on our team. They would be DP’s, and they would be in [the attacking] part of the field.”

In other DP news, Payne said striker Danny Koevermans could play in a Reserve League game on Saturday.

2. NOT SO FAST, TAL BEN HAIM TELLS TORONTO

If you figured Ben Haim would slot right into Ryan Nelsen's XI, you were mistaken. For now, at least. According to Payne, the Israeli is indeed on loan after the club rushed to get the deal done before the transfer deadline but won't play for the club unless the two sides can work out a long-term deal.

3. PAYNE CALLS TFC "LAB RATS" WHEN IT COMES TO REFEREE ASSIGNMENTS

When Payne speaks, he makes his opinion known, and that was surely the case when it came to what he perceived as "inappropriate" referee assignments in TFC matches. His beef? The fact that TFC have been matched with inexperienced referees whose decisions (or lack thereof) could have cost his side points.

4. SPEAKING OF THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE, MLSSOCCER.COM REFEREE WEEK IN FULL SWING

In case you missed it, this week is Referee Week here at MLSsoccer.com. Get things started this morning with the latest edition of "Instant Replay" with Simon Borg, which touches on the possibility of a punch thrown and an incident involving a Timbers' ball boy. Then check out the Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle's suggestions for making life easier for referees. Oh, and PRO head Peter Walton chimes in on those as well.

5. WHAT'S BEHIND D.C. UNITED'S DREADFUL FORM?

It's gone from bad to worse to down depressing for D.C. United fans this season. After 10 games, the capital club have just four points and are off to the worst start in the club's 18-year history. So what went wrong after a season that ended within a step of MLS Cup? The Washington Post's Steve Goff runs down the laundry list of reasons here.

6. WELL, AT LEAST D.C. SUPPORTERS WILL HAVE SOMETHING TO DROWN THEIR SORROWS

There may be a new brew making the rounds in the RFK Stadium parking lot if this instagram shot from D.C. United is any indication. Here's the cryptic message from the team: Something is brewing at #DCBrau and #DCU is involved. ... Find out more this week at dcunited.com.

7. BILELLO ADMITS DISAPPOINTMENT WITH REVS' START

Up the East Coast from Washington, D.C., the New England Revolution aren't having an easy time of it either. Now, it's not as bad as the situation in D.C., but club president Brian Bilello admits 10 points from 10 games and a seventh-place spot is not ideal: “On the field, [it’s] a little disappointing. We’re hoping to be in a better position right now." New England are also hoping a soccer-specific stadium is in their future. Read the story for an update on that campaign as well.

8. FC DALLAS CLOSING IN ON STADIUM PARTNERSHIP?

It was Pizza Hut Park until last year, but it may not be FC Dallas Stadium for long. Dan Hunt, vice president of Hunt Sports Group, says he's in talks with three potential stadium sponsors and hopes to have one locked down for the rest of this season and next very soon: "If I do my job, I hopefully will get one of them to put their name on the stadium and complex and get the others to support the team through another sponsorship."

9. SUPER RATÓN SAVORING MLS EXPERIENCE

One reason Hunt has suitors is the success of Schellas Hyndman's team this season. Dallas lead the league in points, and one big reason is striker Blas Pérez, who spoke with Telemetro about his experiences in the US, the importance of Panama's upcoming World Cup qualifiers and more. The interview is in Spanish, of course, but Pérez says his children are nearly fluent English speakers these days. Check it out here.

10. THE SIDELINE GETS AN OVERHAUL

In case you didn't notice, The Sideline, MLSsoccer.com's in-house blog, has experienced an injection of new blood. While the rest of the site gives you the latest news, we hope the Sideline can cover the culture of socccer in the US and other tidbits that get glossed over during the news cycle. Yesterday's haul included an in-depth look at the Timbers Army's "Pride, Not Prejudice" tifo, some Twitter beef between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo and the most telling MLS nuggets from Week 11. Plus, Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle chimed in with his Opta Stat of the Day on Porterball and what makes it special.

11. WHAT DOES MAN. CITY'S MANCINI MOVE SAY ABOUT POTENTIAL MLS FUTURE?

Realistically? Not much. Still, there is plenty going on at the Etihad recently, and Goal.com's Avi Creditor examines what it all might mean in relation to Manchester City's rumored MLS expansion plans.

12. GET TO KNOW US OPEN CUP MINNOWS

It's not about the big boys. We know all about them. That's part of what makes the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup so special. With that in mind, check out this series from TheCup.us, which introduces fans to the minnows that are trying to make a name for themselves in the domestic competition.

13. MINNESOTA STADIUM DRAWINGS RELEASED, COULD AN MLS SIDE PLAY THERE?

It's very premature to suggest MLS has any sort of foothold in Minnesota, but if the league does expand there, any team would be playing indoors. Check out the awe-inspiring drawings released yesterday of the new downtown stadium planned for the Vikings. Many aren't happy that the roof doesn't open, but here's why that decision was made. Soccer indoors? What do you think?

14. PSG WANT BECKHAM BACK, RIOTS DISRUPT CELEBRATION

Ex-LA Galaxy star David Beckham is a champion for the second time in six months after lifting the Ligue 1 crown with Paris Saint-Germain. Unsurprisingly, the French giants want him back next season. They also want some factions of their supports to calm down a bit. More than 20 people were arrested and 30 people were injured after clashes with police that have left the possibility of future public celebrations in doubt.

15. REAL MADRID SOCCER GOLF ... WAIT, WHAT?

We'll end on a lighter note, namely Real Madrid's crack at a new sport. Technically, hybrid sport. Allow us to introduce you to soccer golf, a merger of the beautiful game and the most frustrating one on earth. Sticking with Real Madrid, what was Fábio Coentrão thinking? Someone must not have read the team sheet.

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