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Kick Off: Mexican-American talents drawn to Chivas USA

Maybe it’s the “Chelís” factor. Or perhaps it’s gotten around that new sole owners Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes have big plans in store for the club.

Whatever the reason, Chivas USA have quickly become the destination of choice for Mexican-American talents. In fact, two of the top prospects at the MLS Player Combine made public this weekend their desire to be selected by Chivas USA in Thursday’s SuperDraft (live stream at noon ET on MLSsoccer.com, ESPN3.com and YouTube.com).

Players rarely ever give away their club of choice. But Chivas USA are evoking a different emotion in the likes of Generation adidas midfielder Mikey Lopez – “I want to go to Chivas USA. … Hopefully Chivas can pick me,” Lopez said – and UConn star Carlos Alvarez, who said: “I want to go to Chivas. That’s where I want to go.”

Here’s one problem: Chivas USA currently own just a single pick – No. 2 overall – in the 2013 SuperDraft that will be held on Thursday afternoon at the NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis (check out the current draft order here). MLSsoccer.com is set to speak to Chelís, new head coach José Luis Sánchez Solá, later today to find out whether it will be Alvarez or Lopez at No. 2.

Chelís did make this much clear via Twitter over the weekend: “Chivas need Mexico-American young players.” Read The Sideline blog post for his complete tweet, which had people talking.

In other storylines from the weekend’s Combine action: Canadian players grabbed the headlines on Sunday. Meanwhile Indiana’s Eriq Zavaleta showed he’s as good a central defender as he is a forward and he explains why he’s able to pull it off. Where would you play him?

MLSsoccer.com has all the coverage from the Combine including all the video highlights you need to get caught up on the hottest prospects. Check out all the latest top plays and goals here.

If you’re still trying to figure out which college names are on your club’s draft board, check out the detailed team-by-team SuperDraft previews available here.

Toronto FC own two of the top three picks in the SuperDraft, but their manager appointment of former MLS defender Ryan Nelsen is still making waves. Veteran soccer analyst Bobby McMahon is apparently not a fan of the move.

While the tension mounts at the Combine with the SuperDraft just days away, players are still in good spirits. In this video, they lighten the mood with a few jokes about paper and “Mice Krispies.” (VIDEO)

This is no laughing matter for Philadelphia Union fans: Independiente Santa Fe are officially announcing a deal for Union captain Carlos Valdés. (SPANISH)

One Philadelphia Union writer is already looking ahead. This article asks who should be next in line to take the mantle of Union captain?

A captain departs and perhaps another is on his way? Werder Bremen right back Clemens Fritz says he wants to try MLS in the near future: “I could see myself being interested in a future move to Major League Soccer. … The United States could be an exciting life option.”

One player whose arrival may be imminent is Slovakian forward Filip Sebo, who played for Glasgow Rangers in Scotland. He is apparently weighing interest from MLS, in addition to Serbian side Novi Sad and Germany’s Greuther Fürth. (SLOVAK)

We’re not done with the name-dropping. Remember Brazilian winger Mancini, of AS Roma and Inter Milan fame? Well a report in Brazil says he has an offer from a Major League Soccer club. (PORTUGUESE)

Staying in South America, Paraguayan midfielder Eduardo Echeverría also may be moving stateside. His agent revealed the news here. (SPANISH)

These international arrivals all contribute in boosting Major League Soccer’s image abroad. Just check out what new Montreal Impact midfielder Andrea Pisanu told Italian media about leaving for MLS: “Marco [Di Vaio] tells me that in Italy, there’s a backward mentality compared to Canada. … In MLS, there is more freedom. Soccer is experienced like a true sport.” (ITALIAN)

Meanwhile, will West Ham be making a bid for Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi? The player himself tells Yanks Abroad that: "I'd imagine in the next week or two they'll be in touch to inform me of where they stand and what they think, … I'd think it'd be a waste of their time and mine if it wasn't a process where they're looking at me and if the fit was right to add me."

Will D.C. United be adding another Homegrown player? According to The Washington Post, an announcement regarding a 16-year-old academy player could be forthcoming.

In news involving Americans abroad, Mexican champs Club Tijuana continue to march along with another victory aided by Americans Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo.

Top US forward Jozy Altidore is hoping for two things as the Dutch Eredivisie season gets up and running again: avoid relegation and win the Dutch Cup. Read what he told the Soccer Today podcast here.

While US internationals stay busy with their club sides abroad, US national team camp rolls along in Southern California. MLSsoccer.com caught up with Benny Feilhaber, who believes that now that he’ll be able to get back into the USMNT mix now that he’s left New England for Sporting Kansas City.

Honduras, the USMNT’s first opponent in World Cup qualifying, is getting ready by playing in the Copa Centroamericana, the Central American championship for national teams. New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtson looks ahead to the competition which kicks off on Friday: “This tournament will give us confidence for the World Cup qualifiers. We feel optimistic.” (SPANISH)

Lastly, the future stars of Major League Soccer are not too dissimilar from the likes of Wayne Rooney, Alex Song and Mauro Balotelli. You’ll get a kick out of this “Combine Look-Alike” video.

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