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Kick Off: Timbers reportedly eyeing Celtic striker McCourt

The Portland Timbers’ already busy week sounds a bit more interesting this morning, thanks to reports out of Ireland indicating the club is shopping for a new striker from the Scottish Premier League.

The Herald out of Dublin is reporting that the Timbers are interested in Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt, who has suited up for SPL side Celtic since 2008 but has recently fallen out of favor with the club. Check out the report here.

There’s potentially big news too for the New York Red Bulls, who have proven to be one of the busiest teams of the MLS offseason so far. Just days after signing Brazilian dead-ball wizard Juninho, RBNY have been linked to 33-year-old French forward Peguy Luyindula, a regular with Paris Saint-Germain since 2007 [FRENCH].

And what about the Red Bulls’ vacant head coaching slot? All indications continue to point to Scotsman and former Aston Villa assistant Gary McAllister, although neither McAllister or the Red Bulls have stated publicly that a deal is in the works.

“The game is thriving in the USA,” McAllister says in the Scottish Sun. “David Beckham did a fantastic job in putting the sport on the map there. You see guys like Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry going across and keeping that aspect of it going. I know Robbie has been a real success there.

“New Jersey is a real football hotbed and the standard of the MLS has improved.”

And here’s a new take on Thierry Henry’s loan drama with Arsenal: A London Evening Standard columnist says that both sides simply need to move past another offseason loan for the New York Red Bulls star. “There is no reason why he cannot continue to train at London Colney, pass on wisdom and advice but not take to the field,” writes columnist James Oiley. “Arsenal need to move on.”

And two last bits on the Red Bulls before we move on: The club announced Tuesday that goalkeeper Ryan Meara has re-signed for 2013, and here’s a Yahoo! Sports columnist’s take on whether or not Rafa Márquez was, in fact, the worst Designated Player in MLS history.

On to some other rumored moves involving MLS teams, beginning with the Philadelphia Union. Looks like the club’s potential bid at Turkish goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber has hit a snag, and the 2002 World Cup veteran is apparently asking for more money.

The New England Revolution could be on the prowl for a new center back, and they might find it in a former Scottish Premier League regular. Here’s some insight.

The Seattle Sounders have been linked for a while to Honduran Wilmer Cristano, and here’s the latest word, along with some news about another player potentially headed Seattle’s way.

And if the LA Galaxy are still intent on signing Brazilian superstar Kaká for 2013, it looks like they could have some competition. The latest team to enter the fray is Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray.

How about some moves that are done and dusted? The biggest one completed on Tuesday was easily the reveal of a brand new Designated Player for Sporting Kansas City. Welcome Argentine striker Claudio Bieler to the fold.

"For me, this league reminds me of the Argentinian league: very physical, very fast-paced," he said Tuesday. "Not so much the Ecuadorian league, where players will seek to avoid contact. I'm prepped. I've been in this environment before. Physicality is not going to be an issue for me."

The Timbers also added another player to the flock via an MLS weighted lottery in the form of former US youth defender Mobi Fehr.

FC Dallas were busy, too, announcing the signing of Vasco da Gama forward Wesley “Pipico” Silva on Tuesday. It also appears the club is set to part ways with Colombian defender Hernán Pertúz.

And for all those Sounders fans concerned about the photos of Osvaldo Alonso at West Ham United that emerged this week, take solace: The club has indicated it’s only a training spell.

Here’s a bit of breaking news on Wednesday morning concerning former MLSer Michael Parkhurst: the US national team defender is moving on from Denmark and has signed a multi-year deal to join Bundesliga side Augsburg.

Two US players getting it done on Tuesday: Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyweu, who both bagged goals in Europe.

Some big news this morning on the international scene, meanwhile, is the word from France that former French national team coach Raymond Domenech is talking about Jurgen Klinsmann and the US national team. Here’s the quote making the rounds: “It is easy in North America: There are only two games to qualify for the World Cup. 

Speaking of the USMNT, could there be a Jermaine Jones sighting at January camp? Ives Galarcep takes on the topic of Jones spending some time in the States thanks to a lengthy suspension in Germany.

News of the strange before we go: You’ve heard about that fan group for Zenit St. Petersburg? If you haven’t, here’s the rundown on their strange request of their team.

Imagine hopping on a holiday Skype call with your family and you surprise everyone in the room with … wait for it … a new cat! That’s nothing. Behold, the awkwardness of this video with Robbie Keane.

And last but not least, wow. Can’t make this up. Soccer fans are fuming that the former wife of Landon Donovan has re-married, and they’re calling the new guy a “muscle-bound 'roided-out grease monkey.”

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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