Kick Off: Toronto FC officially welcome Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley

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

1. A BLOODY BIG DEAL INDEED

Monday marked the official announcement of Toronto FC’s “Bloody Big Deal,” and a big deal it certainly was. The club unveiled both Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley as new Designated Players, marking easily one of the biggest days in franchise history. Both players explainied why they made the move, with Defoe hitting back at some criticism from the English press and Bradley insisting why now is the right time to come back. So, with the new signings on board, is the pressure to succeed now firmly on head coach Ryan Nelsen?

2. FOLLOWING THE LEAD

Michael Bradley wasn’t the only US international returning to MLS on Monday. The Columbus Crew completed the signing of Michael Parkhurst after tradingd their fourth overall pick in Thursday's week's MLS SuperDraft and allocation money to the New England Revolution in exchange for the player's rights. In New England,meanwhile, is Juan Agudelo getting ready to tell us something important?

3. MAKING FRIENDS

It’s not just the US internationals flocking back to MLS. Add a prominent Canadian to the mix after the news that the LA Galaxy have completed the signing of Rob Friend. The former Canadian international joins LA from German side TSV 1860 Munich and Bruce Arena believes “the addition of Rob Friend to our roster brings a different dimension to our attack.”

4. DEPARTURE GATE

With Oscar Pareja’s return to FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids are searching for a new head coach. Club president Tim Hinchey has a take on what he’s looking for in a new coach and it’s a search that seems likely to come down to former Rapids players. ESPN's Alexi Lalas, meanwhile, thinks he's already heard the answer. Hinchey also talks about Pareja’s departure on the latest ExtraTime Radio, insisting the team will not file tampering charges against FC Dallas for their courtship of Pareja. Staying in Colorado it seems the state's newest professional team, the USL PRO's Colorado Springs franchise, is asking for help with naming suggestions for the new team.

5. FROM MINOR LEAGUE TO MILAN

Are D.C. United preparing Michael Seaton for big things this year? Having spent much of last year on loan at USL PRO affiliate the Richmond Kickers, the young forward will now spend the remainder of the preseason training with the club's new partner, Inter Milan. It seems he’s also not the only one heading overseas for a while, as Seattle Sounders forward Corey Hertzog is training with Swedish side Falkenbergs FF.

6. CHICAGO THROUGH AND THROUGH

Having only recently signed Harrison Ship, the Chicago Fire have added a second Homegrown player to their roster in the form of midfielder Chris Ritter. The 23-year-old Northwestern grad has been described by Fire head coach Frank Yallop as “embodying what Chicago loves about its athletes.”

7. UNION GEARING UP FOR OFFSEASON ACTION

It looks like the Philadelphia Union could be getting down to some serious business in the next few days. The club has been linked with, among others, a French midfielder and an Argentine winger, and a source within the club confirms those reports as accurate. Meanwhile down in Florida, head coach John Hackworth has been sharing his views on the importance of this year’s draft.

8. PORTLAND’S ARGENTINE NUMBERS KEEP GROWING

Sebastián Rincón definitely won’t be returning to the Portland Timbers this year but, according to reports, the club has agreed a deal to sign another South American player, this time turning to Argentine defender Norberto Paparatto.

9. NO TIKI TAKA?

Despite claims from English paper the Daily Telegraph that New York City FC are after Barcelona star Xavi, it seems that, for now, there is no truth to the rumors about the player. Meanwhile, is a recently released Red Bull on his way to the EPL?

10. DISNEY TOURNAMENT ADDS BRAZILIAN ELEMENT

This year’s Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic preseason tournament will have something of an international flavor to it after it was revealed that Brazilian side Fluminense FC’s U-23 side will compete in the tournament. Fluminense president Peter Siemsen has said, “We’re looking forward to playing against great MLS opposition,” and they’ll certainly be put to the test after being grouped with Sporting Kansas City, the New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact.

11. SANDOVAL HAS HIGH HOPES

After being forced to miss the 2013 MLS Cup final through injury, Devon Sandoval could only watch as Real Salt Lake narrowly missed out on the trophy through penalties. However, fit and ready to go for 2014, Sandoval is ready for another shot at the trophy and has set his sights on one day playing for the US national team.

12. SO YOU’RE SAYING THERES A CHANCE?

Tuesday marks the weighted lottery to decide which club former North Carolina star Billy Schuler will join. There are two clubs that have entered the draw, with Real Salt Lake standing a 4.3 percent chance of landing the former Generation adidas player while the San Jose Earthquakes have a 95.7 percent chance of getting him.

13. NEWS, VIEWS AND DRAFT TRIVIA

Day 4 of the Combine was a quiet one with no games, after an impressive Day 3, Patrick Mullins has reminded everyone why he’s a two time Hermann Trophy winner For all the latest news from Florida, click here. And with the draft only a few days away now, here’s some interesting trivia you might not know.

14. WORLD'S GREATEST?

Congratulations are in order to Cristiano Ronaldo after winning this year’s Ballon d’Or. With all national team captains and coaches getting a vote, who did US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann vote for as his top three players? Also, congratulations to German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, who won FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award just hour after announcing she had joined the Portland Thorns. Former US pioneer Pelé was also awarded an honorary Ballon d’Or as well, having been ineligible during his career.

15. DON’T CROSS THE LINE

While racism continues to be an issue in soccer, particularly in Europe, CONCACAF is leading the way in at least having clear protocols should such an issue arise during a match.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Defoe on the role Drake played in his transfer

Can Feilhaber make it back into the USMNT?

Where does Michael Bradley rank amongst greatest MLS signings?

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