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Kick Off: PacNW thrown US lifeline, could host June WCQs

US men's national team fans in the Pacific Northwest may have gotten a late Christmas present. And it's exactly what they've been asking for over and over for the past few years.

On Wednesday night, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl got Seattle and Portland's World Cup qualifying hopes up when he tweeted that US Soccer was open to laying temporary grass fields in order to take advantage of the raucous home-field advantages thus far untapped at CenturyLink Field and JELD-WEN Field. Wahl even said both venues could host qualifiers as soon as June, although there seem to be some conflicts surrounding a potential match in Seattle.

Not everyone is so sure that temporary grass is necessary, however. Read why one columnist says the grass vs. turf myth needs to be debunked once and for all.

Staying in Seattle, could we be seeing the end of the Fredy Montero era? Reports in Colombia say the striker wants to return home, specifically to increase his chances of receiving national team call-ups. (SPANISH)

But where does he fit when it comes to the glut of attacking talent currently at José Pekerman's disposal? Breaking into the Colombian team is no easy task, and making a move to Colombia certainly wouldn't guarantee a chance to impress.

Speaking of Montero, his 35-yard rocket narrowly missed out on ispiring the MLS Broadcaster Call of the Year. See what goal prompted the best call in MLS this year.

Sounders fans better hope Osvaldo Alonso isn't impressing too much at West Ham, if they want to keep him that is. Italian media is reporting the London club will make a decision about the Cuban in the next week.

Of course, the prospect of signing Christoph Metzelder could keep the Seattle faithful from panicking too much about the potential exit of Alonso. The German center back and national team veteran claims he will not return to Schalke and is considering a move stateside similar to Arne Friedrich: "MLS is very, very interesting, also, to take a personal experience," he said.

Perhaps Thierry Henry can sell him on the adventure. One thing seems certain, though, Henry will not be returning to Arsenal on loan this offseason. Arsene Wenger is not wavering on that subject: "I do not think it would be good for him to play with us again. He should relax and prepare for the next MLS season."

The rumor mill keeps on churning in Montreal, where Designated Player Marco Di Vaio is mooted as a potential reinforcement to help keep Pescara in Serie A (ITALIAN). Meanwhile, the Impact are still searching for a coach and owner Joey Saputo says there are more than two candidates in the running. (FRENCH)

Crew fans can't wait for a full year of Federico Higuain, but they may not get year two of Milovan Mirosevic. Reports in Chile indicate he could be on his way back to Universidad Católica, where he holds legend status among the club's supporters.

While we're on the Crew, please read this remembrance of Kirk Urso's passing. It's an tragic event nobody in Columbus will ever forget: "I think about him every day," Crew coach Robert Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com.

It's likely the reign of José Luis Sánchez Solá, or "El Chelís," as he's better known, won't be one to forget. Read this interview with the new Chivas head man (SPANISH), then check out how new Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA sporting director Dennis te Kloese plans to help Chelis achieve his goals.

First things first for Chivas USA? The SuperDraft. Top prospect Walker Zimmerman has plenty of potential and a interesting story to boot. The Goats certainly need defenders.

Sporting KC, however, seem pretty set. They may not have a ton of cap space left over, either. Check out how one writer sees the breakdown shaping up.

Could MLS find a holiday to make its own? Perhaps Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day or even Black Friday? See what Simon Borg has to say about that topic.

Finally, across the pond, Brad Friedel will be with Tottenham Hotspur for a few more years after re-uping with Spurs. Also check out the Boxing Day recap (hint: more misery for Liverpool at the hands of an American), and a rundown of the year that was for American Exports.

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