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Kick Off: Mike Fucito
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Kick Off: MLS clubs in search of diamond in the rough

“A diamond in the rough.”

That’s what Seattle Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer describes what his club is looking for in today’s MLS Supplemental Draft to be held at 2 pm ET (live coverage on MLSsoccer.com). Will they find the next Mike Fucito? Here’s a preview.

The Sounders will be able to incorporate their four picks from today’s Supplemental Draft ahead of the opening of training camp on Thursday. But the timing of the draft did not prevent other teams from kicking off training yesterday.

Watch video of the throng of media present at the first official practice session of the expansion Montreal Impact. And former Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching was the consummate professional in his comments to the press. (VIDEO)

You can already see the difference from the very first day of training in the 2012 edition of the New England Revolution under new head coach Jay Heaps. “I think we touched the ball on the first day for the first time in my 10 years here,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “We just worked on jogging and fitness for the first week [under Steve Nicol]. It’s different.”

There was the “optimism of a baseball team heading into spring training” at San Jose’s start of camp. Forward Steven Lenhart was back and that’s a good thing for manager Frank Yallop, who indicated he is not banking on Chris Wondolowski hitting double-digit goals for a third straight year: “Wondo is not going to score a lot of goals every year. We need to share the load for him.”

The absence of a signed contract didn’t stop Juan Pablo Ángel from starting training camp with his Chivas USA teammates yesterday. “There are still minor details to take care of, but the will from both sides is there and we hope that over the next few days everything is going to be sorted out,” JPA said after training.

Find out the names of the trialists hoping to make the Chivas USA squad. The Goats are also reportedly close to formally announcing the acquisition of a 30-year-old Colombian defender, who helped Junior Barranquilla win the Colombian league title just a few weeks ago.

Will D.C. United star attacker Chris Pontius be flanked by his brother, Tim, when camp opens on Wednesday? This report speculates that the UC Santa Barbara defender could battle for a contract during preseason.

Few rookies will come into preseason camp with the same confidence as Portland Timbers recently drafted defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste: “With me as an addition to the team, there is going to be a lot of beautiful football played at the stadium,” says the former UConn defender.

The Chicago Fire may have some massive jersey sponsorship news on the horizon, according to these reports from the Windy City.

Back to the Sounders, the club is looking at expanding to include an Under-23 PDL team of its own. There is talk that the Tacoma Tide could take on the Sounders' name and colors. “Yeah we’ve talked about some kind of Sounders moniker connected to the team,” says Seattle’s Hanauer.

To best prepare for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Santos Laguna, the Sounders are apparently also working on scheduling two exhibition matches against Mexican opposition in the lead-up.

Staying out West, where Jurgen Klinsmann continues to prepare the USMNT ahead of 2014 World Cup qualifying, ESPN.com’s Jeff Carlisle asks the question: Can the USA go to the World Cup with two 35-year-old starting defenders?

The USA will scrimmage their US Under-23 counterparts later today in their final tune-up ahead of Saturday’s exhibition against Venezuela. Freddy Adu, who is suiting up for the Olympic team, wants revenge. He says the score of the first scrimmage on Friday – a 4-0 win for the senior side – “did not reflect how the game went.” (VIDEO)

Speaking of the U-23s, Olympic hopeful Joe Corona, who plays for Club Tijuana in the Mexican Primera División, was awarded the Golden Ball yesterday as the top rookie in Mexican soccer. (SPANISH)

Here’s Part 2 of Klinsmann’s talk with FIFA.com in which he reiterates his strong desire for his US players to be more self-driven and he uses Edson Buddle as an example. He also says: “I would love to play Mexico every day.”

In other international soccer news, Arsenal star forward Robin van Persie reveals that the Gunners have invited his five-year-old son, Shaqueel, in their academy but he’s happy with the youth club closer to home.

Speaking of Arsenal, New York Red Bulls on-loan forward Thierry Henry has played only one league game for the Gunners but has still managed to cause a ruckus with his gesticulating at an Arsenal fan that was caught on camera. He has now issued an apology: “I didn't intend to be malicious or threatening and am aware that it could have been said in a calmer manner.”

Liverpool’s American ownership group have settled on a stadium plan for the Merseyside club once the funds are secured: a new building at Stanley Park to replace Anfield.

Americans Tim Ream and Edson Buddle, two US national team players formed in MLS, are waiting for word on whether they will land contracts in the English Premier League. But SI.com’s Avi Creditor questions whether either player can satisfy the work permit requirements.

Sochaux have reportedly pulled out of any deals for Glasgow Rangers’ American midfielder Maurice Edu and have instead secured another midfielder. “Our first option was for Edu to come here. But we made a number of offers to Rangers and they said it wasn’t enough,” say Sochaux.

Also in Scotland, the agent for striker Francisco Sandaza claims that interest from a specific MLS club has grown with the St. Johnstone player’s performances.

An executive from Real España in Honduras is convinced that two players from the club are set to move to MLS once the visas are locked down later this week. (SPANISH).

Here’s a new name of a Colombian attacker to add to your offseason rumor list: This report says that Lionard Pajoy will be continuing his career in MLS. (SPANISH)

Former Vancouver Whitecaps manager Teitur Thordarson is set to take over a team again. He’ll be one of the first coaches of the Indian Premier League Soccer tournament that will feature names like Fabio Cannavaro and Robbie Fowler.

Remember that seminar held by Eric Wynalda at the NSCAA Convention regarding the future of American soccer? MLSsoccer.com’s own Charles Boehm was at the event and provides this detailed transcription of the talk that caused a stir among fans.

Lastly, we’ll see if US forward Robbie Findley features for Nottingham Forest when they face Leicester City in an FA Cup third-round replay (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer). Also, Queens Park Rangers battle MK Dons in another FA Cup match (3 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus). In the Spanish Copa del Rey it’s Espanyol vs. Mirandés as the lower division side looks to spring the upset (3 pm ET, ESPN Deportes).

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Does FC Dallas defender George John make for a good fit at West Ham?

The latest offseason hot stove talk on MLSsoccer.com’s Rumor Central

Houston’s Corey Ashe returns to the Dynamo with a new set of responsibilities

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