Kick Off: Shalrie Joseph's impending exit from Seattle highlights opening of MLS camps

Kick Off Shalrie JOseph

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

1. JOSEPH OUT IN SEATTLE?

For some the offseason can feel like forever, and it seems many Seattle Sounders fans simply got tired of waiting for the season to begin. The club opened up training on Satutrday and fans showed up in numbers just to get a glimpse on the first day. The majority of the team was there as well, including striker Obafemi Martins, who feels that a full preseason with the team is going to make a big difference. However, as the team gathered, Sigi Schmid revealed that midfielder Shalrie Joseph is not in the team's plans for the coming season.

2. PART OF THE UNION

It seems to be a case of one in, one out for the Philadelphia Union right now. While the club has agreed to terms on the loan deal which will take Carlos Valdés to San Lorenzo, it seems they have also reached a deal to bring Maurice Edu in to the club. This could in fact turn out to be a busy week for the Union as another new player could be set to join the club as well.

3. GETTING DEFENSIVE

José Gonçalves recently made some comments which seem to indicate he’s not pleased with the New England Revolution. While Gonçalves was back with the team this weekend for the start of training, the defender isn’t backing down from what he said but notes that, "In the next few days, we will sit down and discuss the situation.”

4. STILL AT THE TABLE

The Colorado Rapids and Hendry Thomas are still negotiating over a new contract for the 28-year-old defensive midfielder. However, it seems those negotiations could be at breaking point with Thomas reportedly interested in Designated Player dollars and the Rapids not keen on paying up. Meanwhile, Pablo Mastroeni has been put in charge of the team for the beginning of training as the search for a new coach continues.

5. THE COMMUNITY CLUB

As the San Jose Earthquakes' new stadium continues to progress nicely, the process itself has set a new benchmark for fan involvement, something that’s set to continue as Quakes president Dave Kaval continues his program of transparency in the process. The Earthquakes, meanwhile, announced on Friday they have reached deals with Brandon Barklage, Shaun Francis and Bryan Meredith.

6. WHITECAPS ADDING NUMBERS

It seems at least one player won’t be back in Northern California this season, as the Vancouver Whitecaps look set to land the Earthquakes' Iranian international right back Steven Beitashour. The defender's contract with San Jose had been set to expire, but reports suggest he has been traded in exchange for allocation money. Meanwhile, Carl Robinson has added another name to his coaching staff, this time welcoming Englishman Martyn Pert.

7. HEADING FOR THE DOOR

The LA Galaxy have confirmed that neither Carlo Cudicini or Michael Stephens will be back with the team this year. Meanwhile, hot prospect Haji Wright can’t stop scoring, this time leading the US U-17s to victory in the Aegean Cup. But could the Galaxy’s future star be heading for the exit door himself?

8. US ROSTER DOWN TO 22

Landon Donovan spent Friday morning talking to the Brazilian media and feels the US national team should not be discounted in its group at the World Cup: “I do agree it’s the 'group of death,' but the reason it’s the 'group of death' is also because we are in it.”  The US squad has also made its way back to LA and, ahead of the game against Korea Republic, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has reduced the team to 22, cutting five players and adding Michael Parkhurst. And there's some injury news for one USMNT hopeful in Europe.

9. PORTER EXTENDS HIS REACH

The Portland Timbers are heading into their second year with head coach Caleb Porter and with that comes new expectations. However, Porter himself has new challenges ahead and on Friday, the Timbers head coach led a session for the team's U-18s and U-16s as he seeks to further unify the club's identity. But is Mikaël Silvestre out of the picture?

10. TORONTO TRANSFORMATION

Robert Earnshaw’s time in Toronto is at an end, the player himself confirmed his departure via Twitter on Friday. Part of the reason will no doubt be the arrival of Jermain Defoe, and the Toronto Star details exactly how the Canadian club went about landing the star. In other player news, while it’s unlikely they sent flowers to Bradley Orr’s mother, the English defender has officially signed a loan deal with Toronto FC all the same.

11. RED BULLS REVELATIONS

The New York Red Bulls held a media day to coincide with their first day back in training on Friday, and Thierry Henry was rather non-committal on his future beyond this season, Head coach Mike Petke also explained why his side won’t be chasing an attacking midfielder: “I hate to beat a dead horse, but we don’t have the money at the moment…” All of which makes it even more surprising that the club have seemingly managed to sign Richard Eckersley.

12. MAKING AN IMPACT IN MONTREAL

While there has been very little transfer action from the Montreal Impact this winter, away from the pitch, the MLS side has been making plenty of positive moves involving its now fullly formed academy. The Impact will now field five teams across different ages and, as club president Joey Saputo suggests, “These new teams will have fantastic repercussions for soccer in Quebec.”

13. ADDITIONS IN DC AND CHICAGO

With strikers Christiano François and Guiseppe Gentile both dropping out of college and signing contracts with MLS, the league held a waiver draft at the end of last week which saw D.C. United and the Chicago Fire come away the big winners. United snagged François while the Fire picked up Gentile.

14. THE DRIVE TO RETURN

Andrew Driver will be returning to the Houston Dynamo after all. While the winger had been on loan with the club last year from Scottish side Hearts, Driver now returns on a permanent deal and Dynamo president Chris Canetti made it clear it was Driver’s desire to return to Houston that made the deal possible.

15. MAKING PLANS

While the Canadian Soccer Association revealed its plans for the next five years last Thursday, The Washington Post’s Steven Goff has had a look at the U.S. Soccer Federation's budget documents for the next fiscal year and they contain some interesting information, such as how many friendlies the national team plans to play, how much the USSF will make and, more importantly, how much the USSF will spend.

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