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Brad Friedel
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Kick Off: Friedel's criticism of LA's Donovan causes stir

Many are calling it an attack against LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan and what he’s accomplished in the USA.

Tottenham Hotspur’s American goalkeeper Brad Friedel had the following to say to the BBC: “Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road. … I’m just saying he gets a lot more notoriety because it’s sponsorship-driven over there [in the USA].”

Sporting News soccer writer Brian Straus fired back at Friedel, saying the criticism “is born of jealousy and ignorance."

Someone trying to make new friends is Young-Pyo Lee. His may not be the easiest nickname to remember, but the new Whitecaps signing goes by “chorongi,” which translates to “bright eyes.” That’s one of the details unearthed about Lee during his introductory press conference where we also learned he spent "the last three years in Saudi Arabia, I never see rain."

Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi says that the team signed Lee for his on-field skills but that his appeal in the Korean community is a “massive” bonus. He tells the story of eating at a Korean restaurant in Vancouver where “everyone recognized him. The young girls were almost passing out.”

In Seattle, the Sounders’ new goalkeeper, 30-year-old Austrian Michael Gspurning, was finally introduced to media via conference call. Seattle manager Sigi Schmid says that Gspurning is expected to be the new starter but he made this much clear: "You don't replace Kasey Keller. You look for another goalkeeper."

As another article points out, Gspurning is 12 years younger and three inches taller than Keller. But the new Seattle netminder does not want comparisons with Keller: “After a few months, people will say, ‘Hey, we had Kasey. He is an idol. He is a legend. But now we have Michael playing, and he is also great.’”

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman is also making the trek stateside from Europe, where he trained with Kaiserslautern recently. He shared his experiences in this article: “What’s funny is how small the soccer world is … I met a Danish guy who had played with Danny Califf. There was a guy who I had played with in Israel. There was one player who had played with Conor Casey at Karlsruher. … I thought was pretty cool.”

After that story, it’s interesting to read the stance taken by LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena, who questions the benefit of MLS players training in Europe

There was more European training for the Generation adidas squad on its tour of the Netherlands. The tour kicked off earlier this morning with a 4-2 loss against the Ajax reserves which included goals scored by captain Dilly Duka and Corey Hertzog. Here was the starting lineup as selected by manager Peter Vermes.

The agent for FC Dallas defender George John says he anticipates foreign clubs to make a move for the Greek-American player during the summer of 2012. In the meantime he will begin talks with FC Dallas about a potential contract extension: “I believe we'll be talking more this month," said Ted Philipakos.

A player for the youth club Dallas Texans will be making a move to Europe. Manchester United signed teenage striker Roberto Carlos Brito Rojas.

Another Colombian with reported offers to play in MLS is veteran midfielder Jhon Viáfara, who is out of contract with Deportivo Perreira but has plenty of offers from Colombia and Peru as well. (SPANISH)

Back in the USA, is there another potential stadium opportunity for D.C. United in Prince George’s County? A proposed lacrosse stadium complex is hoping to lure the MLS club but a United spokesman said: "We've not spoken to anyone, either at the Bayhawks or with PG County. … Our focus right now is on the District of Columbia and Baltimore."

Believe it or not, they’re talking about building a soccer stadium for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds as well. Read more about the development here.

In a statement released yesterday, US Soccer indicated that its Professional League Task Force will continue to discuss the merits of sanctioning WPS. Although Atlanta Beat owner Fitz Johnson says talks were encouraging, he also pointed out that "time is of the essence. We're at a standstill that impacts so many folks. … They don't know if we are going to fold, and don't know if we are going forward. It puts a crimp in our momentum."

With the NCAA men’s semifinals just 24 hours away, San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch reminisces about the Final Four run with UNC Charlotte back in 1996. This year the school is attempting to do one better and get to the final by beating Creighton tomorrow.

On the international scene, aside from the shock elimination of the two Manchester clubs, the controversy is ballooning surrounding the 7-1 result registered by French side Olympique Lyon at Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb which clinched a berth into the UEFA Champions League knockout round. France’s online betting authority has opened an investigation and Zagreb have fired their coach. Meanwhile, UEFA says it will not be conducting an inquiry.

The photo that continues to make the rounds and is being referred to as a suspicious sign is this wink and thumbs-up from a Zagreb player after one of the Lyon goals. (PHOTOS)

Check out the statement by Dinamo Zagreb on the club’s official site: “We kindly ask all media representatives to stop with their discussion regarding this matter because it is humiliating for the reputation of our club, football and sport in general to do so.”

On the brighter side of the sport, New York Times columnist George Vecsey writes this tribute to Brazilian Sócrates: "He taught me to love an entire sport and that is no small thing."

Lastly, fans can look forward to a Juventus vs. Bologna Italian Cup match on GolTV (3 p.m. ET) as the Serie A leaders look to duplicate their league success in domestic cup competition. Also, the Mexican Apertura 2011 final sees the first leg played later tonight when Santos and Tigres face off (9 p.m. ET, TeleFutura).

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Postcard from Europe: Ageless Friedel still going strong in England

Crew’s Dilly Duka sees Generation adidas trip to Holland as a great opportunity

The latest and greatest list of MLS team-by-team player transactions

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