Kick Off: Taking stock of the new Designated Player deal for Omar Gonzalez

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re watching today

1. GONZALEZ STAYING PUT

The LA Galaxy on Thursday unveiled Omar Gonzalez as the club’s new Designated Player. Despite A.J. DeLaGarza’s best efforts to throw everyone off, it turned out to be the announcement most of us had been expecting. Gonzalez’s new contract will reportedly run for the next three years and make him the highest paid defender in the league.

2.  MORE ON THE NEW DEAL

So what does Omar Gonzalez’s new contract really mean? More recognition for American players and something other than Europe for young US soccer players to aim towards is one popular opinion. It may also represent smart business if Gonzalez should pursue Europe down the line. The Galaxy have now once again filled all three of their DP slots, but could Landon Donovan’s space become available soon? This comment from Galaxy president Chris Klein would suggest otherwise. Finally, how does Jurgen Klinsmann feel about the deal?

3. THE IMPACT OF DESIGNATED PLAYERS

They can be a huge status symbol, but to compete in MLS today you need to have a Designated Player. That’s the conclusion "The Throw-In" comes to as it examines the impact DPs have had on MLS and the various different types available. Meanwhile, Kyle McCarthy at FoxSoccer.com believes Homegrown Players, the league's other big player initiative, still have a long way to go.

4. “LEARNING” EXPERIENCE

As we all know, referees can, and often do, make mistakes. After last weekend’s action there was certainly plenty to talk about in that regard and it left Bruce Arena less than happy. PRO has repsonded by coming out and and holding their hands up over the blown calls in both the Dallas-LA and Columbus-New York matches.

5. D.C. UNITED SIGN  SWISS DEFENDER

Just days after being released by Montreal Impact Dennis Iapichino is back in MLS. This time, though, he’ll be in the black and red of D.C. United.

6. ROOKIE OF THE YEAR RACE

As we approach the final straight it might be time to start thinking about Rookie of the Year. It’s got to be a Colorado Rapid right? Maybe Seattle’s All-star right back DeAndre Yedlin? Not if Jonathan Osorio has anything to say about it.

7. IN RESERVE

When MLS stated that all its clubs must have some involvement with USL by 2015, it presented Toronto FC with a problem: There are no USL PRO clubs in Canada. Could all that be about to change?

8. MEDIA MANAGEMENT

Chances are you probably caught an interview with Clint Dempsey this week in one form or another. The US captain was doing the rounds in New York for a huge press junket this last week, but he wasn't the only one working. Spare a thought for Sean Dennison, the person who had to organize it all. Now that it’s all over though, Dempsey is ready to focus on the actual soccer.

9. VERGARA ON THE RECORD

Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara made a few headlines Thursday with his latest quotes about his club and its future in MLS, with all indications that he’s not going anywhere. Says Vergara about MLS: “They can’t force me sell the franchise, that’s the reality.”

10. WELCOME TO JOZY’S WORLD

Fresh off his hat-trick heroics this past week, Jozy Altidore is writing a blog for ESPNFC.com. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful piece in which he thinks back to his old mentor Josef Schulz and looks forward to the new challenges ahead.

11. A HAT TRICK OF HA -TRICKS

There’s no denying that Altidore's hat-trick was a thing of beauty on Wednesday but was it the greatest three-goal tally in the history of the USMNT? Either way it was pretty special, Three for Thursday explains why.

12. THE EPL ON YOUR TV

Next up for Altidore is the EPL which, In case you have somehow managed to avoid NBC’s onslaught of advertising, returns this weekend. Despite no Dempsey, there are still a number of other US players to keep an eye on. NBC’s new soccer coverage is also the main subject of yesterday’s ExtraTime Radio podcast with guest Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated.

13. RACISM ALLEGATIONS OVERSHADOW TITLE

USL PRO has launched an investigation after Sporting Kansas City Homegrown player Kevin Ellis was allegedly the subject of racist abuse during the USL PRO regular-season title decider on Wednesday night. Ellis was on loan with Orlando City during the match, which the Richmond Kickers won, 2-0.

14. LIKE BEING ON HOLIDAY

As the string of European friendlies that invade the US each summer wind down for another year, The Wall Street Journal takes a look at why the USA is so appealing for foreign teams

15. MCCARTY'S REDDIT TAKEOVER

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty has something of a reputation for being pretty funny on social media, so what happened when he held a AMA (ask me anything) session on Reddit? Red Bull showers and unicorns, of course.

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