Kick Off: Clint Dempsey transfer rumors stir up social-media madness

Kick Off Clint Dempsey

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USA TODAY Sports

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

1. #DEMPSEYWATCH CATCHES FIRE        

What’s the only storyline that could steal the thunder from Wednesday’s MLS expansion announcement? The rumor of a Clint Dempsey transfer back to MLS. That’s all people have been talking about over the last 24 hours, and here’s a great rundown of the events from MLSsoccer.com's own Andy Edwards, indicating just how social media took a fan’s chance meeting at the airport in San Francisco and turned it into the story of the day.

2. DEUCE TO JOIN ... THE SOUNDERS?

The juiciest bit of all of the Dempsey sleuthing is that he could be headed to Seattle for a meeting to discuss a move to the Sounders, as hinted at by Fox Soccer's Keith Costigan. He didn’t insist that Dempsey was actually coming, but the mere suggestion was enough to get folks in Seattle talking. Sounders boss Sigi Schmid said "there's really nothing to it" on local talk radio, and Dempsey’s friend and USMNT teammate Eddie Johnson provided this delicious quip. Regardless of the lack of confirmation, a few Sounders fans staked out at Sea-Tac airport waiting for their hero. Seriously.

3. ...OR MAYBE EVERTON?

Meanwhile, the British press put two and two together in a different way: Dempsey was spotted at the San Francisco airport, and Everton had just spent time in the Bay Area for an exhibition match. So, by the English math, the Tottenham Hotspur attacker is Stateside to negotiate and join USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard at the Toffees.

4. NO MORE DP STATUS FOR AN MLS ICON

More from Seattle on Thursday in the form of a surprising announcement that should leave the Sounders some wiggle room over the next week to perhaps add a new player. Turns out the club has removed midfielder Shalrie Joseph’s DP tag with a week to spare in the summer transfer window, with Schmid reportedly eying “either a midfielder or somebody who can play attacking, second-striker type of thing.” And speaking of Sounders DPs, Fredy Montero scored his first goal with Sporting CP on Thursday.

5. ICELAND FA FURIOUS OVER JOHANNSSON SWITCH

Excited about all that talk surrounding Aron Johannsson’s pending move from the Iceland to the US national team? Iceland’s definitely not. Just days after Johannsson’s announcement the Iceland FA is red hot over the situation, and alleging that some rules are being manipulated in order to get the move done. Here’s Iceland FA chief Geir Thorsteinsson: “It's clear that he belongs to Iceland and no other country. If it stays this way, the rules are being abused.”

6. SHEA INJURY NOT AS BAD AS FEARED

Stoke and US national team fans can relax a bit, if the news from Soccer by Ives is true that injured midfielder Brek Shea won’t miss too much time after sustaining a recent knee injury in a friendly against the Philadelphia Union. Check out the diagnosis and how long Shea will be out.

7. MLS EXPANSION HEATS UP IN PROSPECTIVE MARKETS

It’s no surprise that potential MLS markets are grabbing their spaces in line after the recent news that the league hopes to expand to 24 teams by 2020, so you might as well get to know some of the candidates now. Here’s a look at who’s interested at the parties competing in Sacramento, and here’s some thoughts on what it would take to bring MLS to Minneapolis. And of course there’s a frontrunner down in Orlando, and SI.com’s Brian Straus offers up some insight into the pitch to bring MLS to central Florida.

8. MLS BREAKAWAY RETURNS ON NBCSN

Remember when NBC Sports went all in on MLS during rivalry week this spring? They’re back at this week beginning on Saturday at 6 pm ET with an insider look at New England Revolution star Diego Fagundez on MLS 36, and then they’ll launch Breakaway between 9-10:30 pm ET. Don’t miss it.

9. SPORTING KANSAS CITY COULD MISS ZUSI AGAINST RED BULLS

One year after losing defender Aurélien Collin to an injury during the MLS All-Star Game, Sporting Kansas City are once again licking their wounds following Wednesday’s summer showcase. It looks like midfielder Graham Zusi is set to miss some time with a quad injury suffered during the game. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen worked out for the first time Thursday after battling his latest bout of meningitis, but he’ll play when SKC host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (6:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network).

10. RAPIDS EYEING TOLUCA STAR

The Colorado Rapids have been in the news lately for their pending shopping spree on international talent, including the much-publicized pursuit of Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres. But the news is also out about Uruguayan pro Vicente Sánchez, who’s been linked to club in recent days. The Denver Post offers up a look at what it would mean for the Rapids to land the onetime Toluca star.

11. ALVAREZ SUSPENDED FOR ROCKY MOUNTAIN CUP?

There’s no official word from MLS yet on this Friday morning, but it looks as if Real Salt Lake defender Yordany Álvarez is facing a three-game suspension for the tackle that buckled New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill and kept the Aussie international out of Wednesday’s All-Star Game. RSL defender Nat Borchers is the one who reportedly broke the news about the suspension, stemming from a move that Cahill called “the worst tackle of my life” and will sideline him for 2-4 weeks.

12. VILLARREAL BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT

The LA Galaxy opened play in the International Champions Cup on Thursday night against Real Madrid, falling to the Spanish giants 3-1. Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo logged 45 minutes but failed to score, leaving the goals to Karim Benzema and Ángel di María. But the moment of the night belonged to Galaxy youngster Jose Villarreal, who unleashed this blast in the 63rd minute.

13. TIMBERS, WHITECAPS IN CASCADIA CLASH

One of the best games of the weekend features Cascadia Cup rivals Portland Vancouver on Saturday (11 pm ET on MLS Live), but the Whitecaps could be missing one of their best players on the road in the Rose City. Scottish striker Kenny Miller was spotted icing down his right knee following workouts on Thursday and is still battling a groin issue. The Timbers, meanwhile, are still upbeat despite two losses in their past four games.

14. TORONTO SIGN NEW LEFT BACK – WHAT NOW?

Toronto FC continued making moves with their latest addition on Thursday, 25-year-old Swiss left back Jonas Elmer. But does the move push Ashtone Morgan out? The Toronto Sun takes a look at the signing and what it means for the club.

15. SHOULD THE ALL-STAR FORMAT CHANGE?

MLS fans still smarting over the All-Stars’ loss to AS Roma on Wednesday have likely spent the past 36 hours asking for a change in the format, possibly even a return to the East-West clashes of old. The All-Stars were talking about that very idea, too – including a heated Thierry Henry – and so is MLSsoccer.com managing editor Jonah Freedman, who agrees with Titi: Don’t change a thing.

BONUS. 11-YEAR-OLD CALIFORNIAN JOINS REAL MADRID

Move over Ben Lederman, you’ve got company. Word out of California is that an 11-year-old player from the Bay Area named Joshua Pynadath is on his way to join Real Madrid later this summer. 

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