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Kick Off: Dec. 29

Kick Off: US to play Italy in February exhibition?

Need a post-holiday present to yourself? How about a trip to Italy to see the US national team?

The rumors of an Italy-US matchup in February have picked up some serious steam, thanks to a brief slip from Cesare Prandelli. The Italian manager told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he’s considering calling in Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale for a matchup against none other than the Stars and Stripes.

One player who certainly won’t be part of that matchup is former US Under-20 player Preston Zimmerman, who made waves on Twitter on Wednesday when he called out US boss Jurgen Klinsmann for his recent call-ups.

Zimmerman takes a number of shots at Klinsmann, but here’s the full list, including the notion that “college kids don't speak German and they don't have ties outside the US so they don't qualify for the US under Klinsmann.”

Moving away from the USMNT, there’s news on the Thierry Henry front that could have New York Red Bulls fans wondering about the future of their prized striker. It appears that after weeks of courtship, Arsenal have offered Henry a two-month loan, now that the former Gunner is back from his Mexican holiday.

There’s also silly-season news about Ronaldinho, but it doesn’t look good for his potential MLS suitors. This report says that the Brazilian legend is staying put with Flamengo, while this one quotes the club’s vice treasurer as saying Ronaldinho’s return is “a belated Christmas present for the entire country.” (DUTCH)

American Clint Dempsey has been in the news plenty in recent days for his hot spell with Fulham, and it appears he could be about to get some help for 2012. Martin Jol is reportedly set to offer a healthy sum to Doncaster Rovers striker Billy Sharp to join Fulham in January.

Moving to MLS, there’s plenty of news to report on the Seattle Sounders beat, including another potential new arrival in the Emerald City. It appears that Danish pro Christian Sivebæk is on his way to making the jump to the Sounders. (DANISH)

There’s also an injury update on both Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White and some thoughts on Fredy Montero’s potential in this lengthy interview with Sounders boss Sigi Schmid.

And what would a Seattle story be without a knock against Portland? If you’re a fan of the TV show Portlandia and you typically find yourself putting a bird on it, Seattle has come up with a slogan to rival the folks from the Rose City.

Staying in the Pacific Northwest, Kelyn Rowe has reportedly signed a Generation adidas contract, making the UCLA standout and Federal Way, Wash., native the fifth player to do so.

Moving down to Houston, where there are some rumblings about the Dynamo’s moves this offseason, despite the acquisition of former Toronto FC midfielder Nathan Sturgis on Wednesday. This reporter takes the club to task for their twitter tactics and what else? – no DP.

Up in Kansas City there was evidently a Sporting KC jersey shortage in area sporting goods stores during the holiday season, leaving at least one reporter with a lump of coal and some questions about the team’s jersey sponsor in 2012.

SKC striker C.J. Sapong broke into the league in fine form in 2011 and could do so with the US team beginning with the camp in January. Here’s a look at this thoughts heading into his first test with Klinsmann & Co.

And lastly, we don’t always look to North Dakota for our news, but it appears that the stadium formerly known as Pizza Hut Park will be called FC Dallas Stadium for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game on Jan. 7.

MLSsoccer.com Must Reads

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