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Kick Off: Frank Lampard
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Kick Off: Reports say Galaxy, Lampard are "deep in talks"

On the final day of 2012, there’s news that the best team in MLS could be on the brink of getting a whole lot better in 2013.

The reports coming out of both England and Italy this morning indicate that Carlo Cudicini, the veteran Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper who has been linked with a move to the LA Galaxy in recent weeks, has signed a two-year deal to join the club for next season. Sky Sports Italy’s Gianluca Di Marzio tweeted out the news early this morning with this update in Italian, and the Galaxy have now confirmed they have signed Cudicini on a free transfer.

There’s also news on the Frank Lampard front, with Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reporting that the Galaxy and the Chelsea icon are deep in talks about a deal for 2013. Lampard’s current deal with the Blues runs out next summer and despite scoring both Chelsea goals of a 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday, Lampard insisted there is no new progress on a deal to keep him at Stamford Bridge beyond next season.

"We haven't been talking about a new contract in the last couple of weeks," Lampard said Sunday. “At the moment nothing has been said and my contract is up in the summer."

The word in New York, meanwhile, is that Thierry Henry does not appear to be going anywhere this winter, despite lingering rumors he was set for a return loan to Arsenal before the MLS season resumes in March. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger helped stoke those flames up until Saturday, when he ruled out the idea of Henry returning for a third loan stint.

“We will not take the risk of bringing [Henry] back for a third time,” Wenger told Canal Plus. “I think that [the loan move] will not be done. Because he’s just got back from vacation. He will need three to four weeks to get in shape. He had a long season, too.”

And what of Tim Cahill? The Red Bulls midfielder and Australian international is still very much a hot commodity for a loan stint, and Sunderland appear to be the leaders in the clubhouse to bring Cahill to England beginning next month. Here’s the latest.

And one last bit on the Red Bulls involves that ever-changing backline, which could be set for yet another makeover. The latest name linked to an MLS move is Irish international and Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne, who underwent groin surgery in Philadelphia last week.

One of the biggest stories to break over the weekend involves FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who made headlines for his comments about MLS as a peripheral league on the American sports landscape.

“There is no very strong professional league” in the United States, Blatter told Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara. “They have just the MLS, but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society.”

Check out the video and the transcript of the MLS-related conversation here.

One of Blatter’s biggest criticisms of MLS has always been the league’s reluctance to adopt the FIFA soccer calendar, which would drop league games in the middle of frigid winter months in much of the country. NBC ProSoccerTalk’s Steve Davis took one look at the weather this weekend and fired off this column in response to the argument.

Some more player news to report, including yet another Honduran midfielder potentially headed to MLS. Looks like youngster Alex López could be the next Catracho to make the leap, thanks to a recent conversation with Honduran teammate and Houston Dynamo Designated Player Boniek García.

The Chicago Fire could also be shopping abroad if you trust a recent report in Olé, which says Frank Klopas is interested in an Argentine midfielder.

Omar Cummings is officially done in Colorado, having been dealt to the Houston Dynamo earlier this month in exchange for midfielder Nathan Sturgis and allocation money. But Cummings gave his official goodbye over the weekend at an impromptu gathering with roughly 50 Rapids fans at a pub in Denver. Said Cummings about the trade: “I didn’t have any idea about it.”

The Columbus Crew, meanwhile, are denying reports that midfielder Milovan Mirosevic is actively seeking a transfer back to his native Chile. Mirosevic played in 26 games, scoring four goals and logging two assists in his first year with the team in 2012.

Two bits from the world of the Seattle Sounders: Head coach Sigi Schmid was whooping it up at the Seahawks’ regular-season finale on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, and midfielder Mario Martínez says he’s heard the reports linking him to a potential move to Turkey. [SPANISH]

Here’s some big news surrounding the Houston Dynamo’s Soccer Night in Newtown next week. US women’s national team captain Christie Rampone is now scheduled to attend, along with former USWNT greats Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

And staying on the subject of the women’s national team, it looks like star midfielder Megan Rapinoe will begin 2013 in France instead of with the newly-formed NWSL. Here are the details.

Some sad news to report in California, where a former LA Galaxy player was involved in a fatal car accident over the weekend on Highway 152 near the Los Banos area.

Some international news up next, beginning with the never-ending saga of David Beckham. The former LA Galaxy star has recently been linked to a lucrative move to China, but here’s a report that shoots down that rumor.

Americans in the news over the weekend – Tim Howard and Everton missed a huge chance to climb up the EPL table against Chelsea, and it looks like Stuart Holden is playing behind closed doors for Bolton with an eye on a return next month.

Soccer will return in Egypt in 2013 following a nearly year-long suspension of activity. Here’s the report.

And lastly, what’s the final Kick Off of the year without some year-end lists? Check out Soccernet’s top 10 Moments of the Year and cheers to the folks at The Guardian, who compiled the best goals of 2012, including a few from the ranks of MLS. Enjoy.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

MLSsoccer.com Stories of the Year, No. 1: Bye, bye Beckham

Cummings bids goodbye to Rapids fans

Report: Sunderland eye Red Bulls's Cahill

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