Kick Off: Holden is EPL's best, Beckham not moving

The best player in the English Premier League thus far this season? Of course, it’s Bolton’s American midfielder Stuart Holden, who The Guardian readership elected as the top player alongside the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Samir Nasri and Luka Modric.

It’s a very different story for American forward Charlie Davies, whose spot on Sochaux’s bench over the weekend was more of a reward for hard work. His coach does not expect him to win a spot on the team any time soon and has even suggested Davies go on loan to a French second division team. No talk of a loan to an MLS club just yet. (FRENCH)

After the talk of joining Wolverhampton in the Premier League, former Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley has reportedly been offered a contract with Nottingham Forest of the English Championship (second division) as they seek promotion to the EPL.

Beckham offseason loan? What Beckham offseason loan? The LA Galaxy say they’ve heard nothing and they’re expecting him to show up for training camp in January.

The LA Galaxy will be preparing for their very first match of 2011 against the Seattle Sounders in a rematch of their 2010 playoff series. Here’s a scouting report on one player who could make his MLS debut in the match: Swedish midfielder Erik Friberg.

ESPN will televise First Kick from Qwest Field. Also on the TV front, there are reported developments in negotiations between MLS and Fox Soccer Channel for the 2011 season.

They are already stoking the flames of the Canadian rivalry that will take center stage in 2011, with the Whitecaps’ opener against Toronto FC. The Vancouver media point out how the Whitecaps have a winning record against Toronto FC ever since TFC joined MLS in 2007.

Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi says that the club will not play any exhibition matches in all of British Columbia before they welcome TFC for the first ever match as an MLS club. It’s all part of the strategy for building excitement.

Interesting to see the age-old playoff debate taking place across the pond. Surprise, surprise -- Rangers and Celtic want no part of it. In fact, they’re calling it ludicrous.

Speaking of competition rules, here’s baseball’s version of soccer’s penalty kick shootout. Like the PK shootout, it’s getting its fair share of criticism.

Two players contemplating moves to MLS include French forward Niklas Anelka of Chelsea and Englishman Francis Jeffers, who is on the outs with his team in Australia.

In France they’re also calling out NY Red Bulls star Thierry Henry for not formally renouncing his World Cup bonus, a gesture made by several members of that 2010 team that proved a national embarrassment. (FRENCH)

A Bola in Portugal reports that Benfica forward Nuno Gomes could leave the club in January with Dubai, Vasco da Gama (Brazil), Chievo Verona (Italy) and MLS as possible destinations. (PORTUGUESE)

Former Crew talisman Guillermo Barros Schelotto says that if he were 20 years old, he would already be back at Gimnasia, the Argentine club in which he grew up. But he says he does not want to join his old team for nostalgia’s sake. (SPANISH)

Meanwhile Mexican club Tigres has informed Francisco “Kikin” Fonseca that his best option at this point is to find another club. And MLS teams are inquiring. (SPANISH)

There is a rumor building in Mexico that it is Necaxa that is closest to securing Nery Castillo on loan from the Chicago Fire. (SPANISH)

Highly touted Akron Under-20 defender Zarek Valentin says he will use the Christmas break to make up his mind about whether to turn pro or return to college.

It’s not January yet but the first major move of the winter transfer window took place with AC Milan securing Sampdoria playmaker Antonio Cassano after the latter fell out with the blucerchiati.

One player who won’t be part of the January window is Carlos Tevez. Manchester City owners made the disgruntled Argentine withdraw his transfer request. But Tevez’s return to the lineup as captain did little for the team’s fortunes as they lost 2-1 at home to Everton. The 78th minute double save by American ‘keeper Tim Howard is worth the watch. (VIDEO)

Live television action on the day includes a Copa del Rey doubleheader on ESPN Deportes. First Athletic Bilbao hosts Barcelona (2 p.m. ET) followed by Villarreal’s Americans Jozy Altidore and Giuseppe Rossi welcoming Valencia (4 p.m. ET). There is also French league action between Lorient and Montpellier (3 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus).

The Univision family of networks has won the rights to televise South America’s Copa America tournament, which will also see the participation of Mexico and Japan as guests.

In case you missed it, here’s a story of fair play from Peru, where a coach did what many would deem unthinkable with the league title on the line.

To get you in the holiday spirit, here’s the timeless classic “A Christmas Carol,” this version as told by England’s Daily Mirror with a little tongue-in-cheek added for good measure.

Finally, take a peek at Christmas at the Giuseppe Rossi residence in Villarreal and find out where Santa’s allegiances really lie.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

ExtraTime Radio with Houston’s Dominic Kinnear and Greg Seltzer

Chris Pontius aims to get fit for DC United preseason

MLSsoccer.com’s Gaffe of the Year goes to KC’s Kei Kamara


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