Kick Off: Are the Vancouver Whitecaps ready to make a change? New coach could be on the way

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

1. TO 'CAP THINGS OFF

Looks like a change could be about to take place in Vancouver, as Martin Rennie has reportedly been let go by the Whitecaps following another disappointing second half to the season which, this time, meant missing out on the playoffs. Former Canadian international Frank Yallop is, according to some outlets, an early frontrunner to replace the Scotsman. One member of the Whitecaps team that will be leaving on a very different note is Lee Young-Pyo, who retired following the Whitecaps 3-0 victory on Sunday night.

2. NEW YORK REFLECTS

As the New York Red Bulls celebrate a historic title, BigAppleSoccer.com looks at Andy Roxburgh, the front office man responsible for building this impressive team. Sunday’s victory was also a clear sign that Péguy Luyindula is coming into his own. Could Tim Cahill win MVP? Well, Thierry Henry has his own ideas.

3. TUNING IN, PLAYING OFF

The great news announced on Monday was that the two MLS playoff games this week will be televised nationally, with NBCSN picking up simulcasts of the local TV broadcasts. What can we expect as the playoffs get underway? SI.com has a nice primer, while ESPNFC.com has six under the radar players to keep an eye on.

4. THE NAME ON THE SHIRT

Real Salt Lake haven't officially announced it yet, but Sports Business Journal is reporting that they've signed a huge, 10-year shirt sponsorship deal with LifeVantage, a nutrition and pharmaceutical company. The deal is reportedly worth $30 million, making it one of the most lucrative shirt sponsorships in the league. They’re not the only team with a new sponsor, though, as the Columbus Crew have a new banking partner as well.

5. FIGHTING THROUGH THE PAIN

There were times during the New England Revolution’s 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew that José Gonçalves looked in pain, a lot of times, in fact. That would be because the New England central defender had seriously hurt himself, yet, knowing how important the game was, refused to allowing himself to leave the match. “It’s mental, you have to play with your mind,” Gonçalves said of his ability to block out the pain.

6. NELSEN LOOKING AHEAD

Now that another difficult season has finished for Toronto FC, the club can look once again at rebuilding their team, with a number of high-profile, expensive players expected to depart. One such player is Richard Eckersley, and while the defender admitted on Monday that he had, in all likelihood, played his final game for TFC, he also stressed that he would like to continue in MLS. Meanwhile, Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen is dreaming of his potential new signings, but says that outgoing players airing their dissatisfaction should “be really happy for what Toronto has provided them.”

7. MOVING UP FRONT

Chris Albright retired on Saturday and received a nice farewell from the Philadelphia Union. For Albright, a native of Philly, there could have been no better way to end his 15-year MLS career than with his hometown club. However, he’s hoping his time with the Union can still continue in a different capacity.

8. SPECIAL DELIVERY

On paper, Brad Davis hasn’t had his best year. Nine assists, while not bad, is by far his lowest total since 2008. However, as NBC ProSoccerTalk argues, perhaps the fault lies not with Davis, but the people on the end of his passes. Can Davis turn an average year into one of his best with MLS Cup success? According to Seth Vertelney at Goal.com, the Dynamo are just as dangerous as anyone else. Especially with Giles Barnes growing into his role as a forward.

9. CHANGE FOR CHIVAS

Good news for Chivas USA fans: Erick Torres has said he would be “very happy to return next year” after a successful loan in SoCal. While the Chivas Guadalajara player did not know whether that would actually happen, if he does return, it could be as part of a much different looking side. According to Chivas USA defender Carlos Borja, “It’s not going to be the same team, people are going to leave and different people are going to come.”

10. DEMPSEY'S WINTER PLANS

Jurgen Klinsmann has already said he wants his top MLS players going on loan to Europe during the offseason. Could that lead Clint Dempsey back to one of his former clubs? Not according to current Fulham FC boss Martin Jol.

11. SAN JOSE PLANNING PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

The San Jose Earthquakes officially announced on Monday that they would be purchasing a PDL team, becoming the fourth MLS team to do so, along with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers and Chicago Fire. The new club's home location and coaching staff are expected at a later date.

12. SIGNING UP FOR ORLANDO DREAM

Orlando City may be just one or two seasons away from entering MLS, and the players on the current roster will all no doubt hope to still be around if the club does move up. Three such players signed new deals with Orlando on Monday. Fancy your chances of making it to MLS as well? The Lions are holding open tryouts in February.

13. MORE COACHES GET THE CHOP

Following the disappointing end to their World Cup qualifying campaign, Panama have dispensed with the services of their coach, Julio Dely Valdés, along with his twin brother and assistant coach, former Colorado Rapid Jorge Dely Valdés. A sad end for a pair of managers that reached the final of this summer’s Gold Cup and were within two minutes of reaching the World Cup playoff.

14. BEST...COMPARISON...EVER

With his goal at the weekend, Michael Bradley has quickly set about re-establishing himself at Roma, a club which is also re-establishing itself. However, if the Italians hadn’t rejected a bid, could we have seen Bradley representing Cardiff in the EPL? One final note on Bradley’s goal as well, check out the superb commentary that accompanied it.

15. *COUGH* *COUGH* SEATTLE SICKNOTE

Seattle fans, has the midweek playoff game caught you by surprise? Do you have plans during the match you could really do with getting out of? Don’t worry, the Sounders have you covered.

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