Kick Off: With DaMarcus Beasley, Frank Lampard in the MLS fold, which World Cup player is next?

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

1.  LAMPARD UNVEILED

New York City finally unveiled Frank Lampard as the club's fourth player and second Designated Player on Thursday at Brooklyn Bridge Park, with the England international, signed on a two-year contract, stating he wants to be “that person on and off the pitch who can make things happen for this club.” Amid all the fanfare, the obvious question was, what does City's signing splurge mean for the Red Bulls?

2. DEMERIT HANGS UP HIS BOOTS

While Lampard is set to join MLS next year, former English Premier League rival Jay DeMerit will not get another chance to face him, as the veteran defender announced his retirement on Thursday, delivering a touching open letter to the fans. DeMerit enjoyed a storybook rise from semi-pro soccer to the EPL and represented the US at the 2010 FIFA World Cup before joining Vancouver.

3. BEASLEY ARRIVES, ANOTHER TO FOLLOW?

The Houston Dynamo held a press conference on Thursday to introduce DaMarcus Beasley, who talked about where he hopes to play during his time in Houston. More news came after the event, when Dynamo president Chris Canetti let some information slip about the Dynamo’s next new signing, intended to be another player with recent World Cup experience.

4. REAL SALT LAKE ADD ONE, WIN ONE

Real Salt Lake made a signing of their own on Thursday, unveiling 17-year-old Homegrown player Sebastian Saucedo (the club's first Utah-based HGP) at halftime of their 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact (watch highlights here). Then Olmes Garcia popped up at just the right time to help his side to the win, while Impact boss Frank Klopas agrees that Issey Nakajima-Farran’s red card changed the game.

5. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IN COLORADO

The Colorado Rapids host Chivas USA in Friday night’s game (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), and while Chivas look to bounce back from their loss last weekend, the Rapids have a better idea of what to expect in this third encounter between the two sides. Could it become a tale of two Torreses?

6. FORGET THE FRIENDLIES

Having both lost mid-week encounters against Premier League opposition, Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City will be looking for positive displays when they square off on Saturday (7 pm ET, TSN2 & RDS 2 in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US). It could also see Warren Creavalle’s first appearance in a TFC jersey, while rookie Daniel Lovitz will try to continue his hot form.

7. ENDING THE STREAK?

If Columbus Crew fans are waiting on a new signing, good news: It’s down to the final candidates. However, that means whoever they sign will not arrive in time for this weekend’s game against the New England Revolution (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), who themselves are looking to end a long losing streak.

8. A PLAYER FOR EACH OCCASSION

With a second home win under their belt (finally), the Portland Timbers now travel to Canada for a game against the struggling Montreal Impact (Sunday, 8 pm ET, UDN, MLS LIVE) full of confidence, and Caleb Porter finds himself spoiled for choice when it comes to strikers.

9. HENRY LOOKING PAST FRIENDLY

Arsenal have arrived in New York and named their roster ahead of their game against the New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 5 pm ET, ESPN2), and while Mike Petke and Thierry Henry don’t seem particularly bothered about the match, some of the other players have been practicing their English accents for the occasion.

10. MORE INTERNATIONAL ACTION

There are plenty of other international friendlies this weekend as well, with Tottenham Hotspur finishing off their MLS tour with a game against the Chicago Fire (Saturday, 8 pm ET, ESPN), the Houston Dynamo taking on Aston Villa (Saturday, 9 pm ET, live stream on HoustonDynamo.com), D.C. United playing Fulham in Jacksonville (Saturday, 6 pm ET) and the San Jose Earthquakes playing La Liga champions Atlético Madrid (Sunday, 7 pm ET). Click here for a full list of games.

11. HEARTS AND MINDS

As measures continue to try and secure a new home for D.C United, one of the outgoing mayor's aides is working to try and assuage residents' concerns over what will become of the Reeves Center, one of the main buildings involved in a land-swap deal for the stadium.

12. THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

While the Chicago Fire didn’t manage to capture DaMarcus Beasley, it looks like a new signing is on the way, with the club apparently set to sign US U-18 midfielder Collin Fernandez to a Homegrown Player contract. The Fire aren’t the only ones promoting youth, though, as LA Galaxy Academy product Jaime Villarreal, brother of Jose, has signed with LA Galaxy II.

13. KEEPING IN MIND

There’s no shortage of US goalkeepers playing in the English Premier League, but will any of them come back to MLS? Brad Friedel is certainly keeping his options open in terms of coaching, while Tim Howard has reiterated that, unfortunately, for him that ship has sailed.

14. GREEN'S SPOT WASN'T GUARANTEED

Bayern Munich have announced the star-studded squad taking part in their preseason tour of North America, and with Julian Green among them, the 19-year-old has continued to deny he was guaranteed a place in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad in exchange for committing to the US.

15. ONES TO WATCH

Green is just one US prospect to keep an eye on when the European season starts next month; here are some of the others. We’ll all no doubt be keeping tabs on Freddy Adu again as well, after the former prodigy arrived in Serbia to sign with new club FK Jagodina.

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