Kick Off: Re-Entry Draft pool includes big names, Designated Players as teams make their cuts

Re-Entry 2013, Kick Off

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USA Today Sports

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

1. BRACING FOR RE-ENTRY

Once the majority of clubs had announced which members of their teams they would be keeping and declining, MLS released the list of all the players currently available in Thursday's Re-Entry Draft Stage 1. There are 68 names on the list at present, including a number of standouts such as Sean Franklin, Dwayne De Rosario, Kenny Cooper, Chris Rolfe and Bobby Boswell.

2. DEALS IN DALLAS

FC Dallas came to terms with 15 of their players on Monday, including 2013 SuperDraft pick Ryan Hollingshead, the midfielder who declined his option in order to help his brother build a church in California. However, the club was unable to strike deals with either Cooper or defender Zach Loyd. It also seems we could have a decision on the new FC Dallas coach within two weeks.

3. TORONTO START TRADING

With the trade window now open, Toronto FC wasted no time getting to work, completing a trade for FC Dallas midfielder Jackson in exchange for allocation money and a second-round draft pick. Will the club secure the signing of Jermain Defoe, though? The English international says the transfer is out of his hands.

4. PORTLAND PASS ON PLAYERS

The Portland Timbers declined their options on defenders Ryan Miller and David Horst while choosing to re-sign a number of their most influential players from 2013, including Will Johnson and Rodney Wallace. Following that news, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson took to Twitter on Monday to conduct a Q&A session in which he discussed new DPs, expanding JELD-WEN Field and the Timbers preseason tournament.

5. OTHER PLAYERS UP FOR OPTION

The Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders also chose to decline options on several players on Monday, with the Fire turning down new deals for eight players, including Logan Pause and Chris Rolfe, although Frank Yallop did reveal the club is "actively speaking with several declined and out of contract players about new deals.” The Seattle Sounders, meanwhile, declined to bring back goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, while some other notable Sounders favorites such as Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales have appeared on the Re-Entry list.

6. CREW SECURE ODURO

The Columbus Crew re-signed Dominic Oduro. With a long line of teams lining up to try and sign the Ghanaian, the Crew were finally able to agree a deal which will see their 2013 top scorer stay with the club. The forward can now look forward to working with assistant coach Josh Wolff next season, but how is the former D.C. man settling in at his new club?

7. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE FOR RSL

This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Real Salt Lake, yet it ended with appearances in two finals. While those finals didn’t go the way RSL would have liked, the club can look ahead to a promising year in 2014. However, as things stand, that year will not involve Yordany Alvarez, Josh Saunders, Brandon McDonald or Khari Stephenson, as RSL declined their options on the four players, who now join a number of former RSL players in the Re-Entry process.

8. RETURNING RAPIDS?

Germán Mera impressed the Colorado staff during his loan with the club last season and the club would like to bring the Colombian back for 2014. His loan deal did contain an option for the Rapids to buy the player, but the steep price forced the team to decline. However, they’re still attempting to bring Mera back on more favorable terms. The Rapids are also working with Brian Mullan and Jamie Smith, both currently listed as available for the Re-Entry process, to see if they can agree to workable deals.

9. HANGING UP THE GLOVES

If you’re going to retire, then there is no better way to go out than by winning a trophy. After playing a decisive part in Saturday's MLS Cup final, that’s exactly what Jimmy Nielsen did, bringing to an end a playing career that lasted 19 years. After announcing his retirement, the 36-year-old Danish goalkeeper expressed his gratitude for “the opportunity to have four of the best years of my life here in Kansas City.”

10. PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN

Lawrence Olum was determined to help his Sporting Kansas City side win their second MLS Cup. So much so that, when called upon to replace Uri Rosell early in the game, Olum went more than 110 minutes on a broken leg. It was worth it, though, if not just to see the reaction of these kids.

11. CATCH 22

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has fast become one of the North American sports scene's most important people. So much so that he now ranks 22nd on Sports Business Daily’s list of the 50 most influential people in sports. In part two of his interview with SI.com’s Brian Straus, Garber talks about some of the changes he’s overseen, the new generation of MLS owners, a winter schedule, Chivas USA and his collection of antique soccer balls.

12. ETO’O’S MLS WHEEL OF FORTUNE

Is a Samuel Eto’o move to MLS back on the cards? According to stories in both The Telegraph and the The Guardian, it appears to be. The Cameroonian striker now just needs to work out which club he’s going to join, with D.C. United and the Chicago Fire among a number of clubs apparently interested in signing Eto’o.

13. THE KLINSMANN APPROACH

The US national team definitely has a tough task ahead of it when it comes to the 2014 World Cup but, according to Goal.com, how the Americans approach those games will be a large factor in determining success at the tournament. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come next summer, though, as the US Under-17s, featuring five MLS academy players, started a series of international friendlies by conceding a late winner against Portugal.

14. THE GERMANS ARE COMING

It seems Bayern Munich are looking to make serious in-roads into the United States. The club is set to open an office in New York as they look to use their recent success to emulate the likes of English and Spanish giants in appealing to more overseas fans. Have the German side also confirmed themselves as the 2014 MLS All-Star opponents?

15. FASCINATING BRIAN CHING

Brian Ching's career is set to come to a close this week with Friday’s testimonial match at BBVA Compass stadium and, in the final part of his video interview series, Ching looks to the future and the possibility of never kicking a ball again. Ching has also been named one of the 43 most fascinating people in Houston by the Houston Chronicle.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio: Benny Feilharber on winning MLS Cup

MLS on Campus: College Cup comes into focus

MLS Fantasy: Aurelien Collin and Graham Zusi come through one last time

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