Kick Off: Is time running out for Ryan Nelsen to get it right in Toronto? He knows clock is ticking
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today
1. NOTHING BUT TIME
After what appear to be some pretty smart off season moves, Toronto FC already seem a much better side than they were last season. However, head coach Ryan Nelsen is under no illusions as to his position at the club if thinks don’t improve quickly. “They won’t give me much more time,” said Nelsen of the need for TFC to turn promise into results and, expanding on one of the main reasons last season may have been a bust, Nelsen also explained “we had five players that were taking up 81 percent of the wage bill.”
2. SOUNDERS IN LONDON
It’s all but official that Clint Dempsey will re-join his former club Fulham FC after it was revealed the USMNT star had a medical at the club on Friday. That clears the way for joining the side when the international transfer window reopens on Jan. 1. Dempsey isn’t the only Sounder who’s been visiting the English Capitol this week, either. Could this one be heading for a more permanent exit?
3. LUXURY CRUZ
It seems that Cruz Azul is turning to the US in their search for reinforcements for the 2014 Clausura, with Jose Villarreal, Rafael Baca and Michael Farfan having all seemingly joined the Mexican club. There has been no official word yet from the LA Galaxy, Philadelphia Union or San Jose Earthquakes, although Jose Villarreal’s move is thought to be a one-year loan with an option to buy. Explaining why his club has (apparently) signed all three players, Cruz Azul’s sporting director Augustin Manzo was full of praise for the performances of Americans south of the border.
4. BIG IN JAPAN
With D.C. United still rebuilding ahead of 2014, they seem to be on the verge of another major move, this time shipping Dejan Jakovic to Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse. Jakovic was one of United's highest earners last year and his departure would likely leave Ethan White as a starting defender.
5. MAKING IT OFFICIAL
Two players whose rights had already been traded have made their moves official, with David Horst officially joining the Houston Dynamo and Daniel Paladini becoming a Columbus Crew player. Paladini joins the Crew having previously played for rivals the Chicago Fire and explained his feelings in the wake of the move.
6. NUMBER 1
After eight seasons with Sporting Kansas City, goalkeeper Eric Kronberg is now the longest serving player with the club. He’s been rewarded for that dedication with a new contract and, following the retirement of Jimmy Nielsen, Kronberg hopes to finally cement his spot as the clubs No.1.
7. THE NIELSEN LINK
He’s only just retired but it seems Jimmy Nielsen isn’t ready to stop and relax just yet. The former Sporting Kansas City Goalkeeper was officially named head coach of incoming USL PRO side Oklahoma City Energy FC on Friday. Yet it seems that Nielsen’s link with SKC is set to continue, as the MLS side revealed that the Oklahoma club would become their second USL affiliate.
8. PRESEASON TRAVELS
When it comes to preseason training, some MLS sides head to Tucson, some go to Florida, some even go to Portland or Ohio. Not FC Dallas. While they will be attending standard preseason training events as well, the Texas club will also be making a ground-breaking trip to the United Arab Emirates.
9. YOU TAKE THE HIGHROAD…
Aron Johannsson is on fire right now and, with 18 goals so far this season, he could be on his way to topping Jozy Altidore's single-season overseas goal record. However, such form has attracted attention. Could Johannsson be tempted away from Holland by a team from Scotland?
10. I’M THE BEST, BOY
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has never been a player known for modesty, and a conference call with US media members on Friday was no exception, although Zlatan did give perhaps the most unique answer of all time when asked the standard question of whether he would consider joining MLS at some point. It was certainly an interesting interview, if not simply for KICK TV's Jimmy Conrad embracing the Zlatan spirit of talking in the third person.
11. PICKING PROSPECTS
With the MLS SuperDraft edging ever closer, and several clubs having made moves to address their needs already this offseason, which players are likely to be among the top Generation adidas prospects this January? Soccer By Ives breaks it down.
12. KITTED OUT
The USSF have extended their deal with Nike to supply the national team’s kits for another nine years, taking them to the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup.
13. BEST XI
On Friday U.S. soccer revealed its all time best XI, as voted on by a panel of experts and, somewhat unsurprisingly, Landon Donovan received the most votes, closely followed by Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride. While a number of players were eligible from across the USMNT’s 100 year history, it was perhaps to be expected that not a single member of the XI played for the US before 1988.
14. EXPORTS EXCEL IN EUROPE
It was another big weekend for US players in Europe, for while Tim Howard was leading Everton into the EPL’s Champions league places, others were facing off against each other. Geoff Cameron came out on top of Brad Guzan when Stoke City met Aston Villa, thanks to Cameron’s game-winning assist, while Timmy Chandler and Jermaine Jones battled out a scoreless draw in the Bundesliga.
15. MLS CUP, THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Sporting Kansas City’s journey to the MLS Cup final didn’t just capture the attention of soccer fans here in the States, it seems it was even noticed by the folks in France (which surely had nothing to do with Aurelien Collin). Check out their behind-the-scenes take on SKC’s remarkable story.
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