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Kick Off: As stars move on, Olsen inks deal to stay at DC

As players desperately scurried across Europe on Thursday signing for clubs on transfer deadline day, the most significant signing in MLS came from D.C. United, as head coach Ben Olsen agreed to a contract extension.

“I appreciate the commitment and loyalty this club has given me over the years,” Olsen said. “Hopefully I can continue to repay this organization with results and a team that our community is proud of."

United GM Dave Kasper was thrilled to seal the deal, which will now run through the 2014 season: “We are very excited about our future with Ben as our head coach.”

The big news trickled over from Europe all day long, as the splendor of transfer deadline day resonated strongly amongst US soccer circles. This year, MLS was all over it. 

Four MLS stars crossed the pond in the January window, and former LA Galaxy star David Beckham crossed a slightly smaller stretch of water, the English Channel, as he signed for Paris Saint Germain. More on that later.

Brek Shea was arguably the biggest MLS to EPL transfer, with the FC Dallas winger signing a four-and-a-half-year-deal at Stoke City, just hours before the window slammed shut.

A special work permit hearing with the English FA on Thursday evening was successful and Shea will join USMNT teammate and former Texas rival Geoff Cameron at the Britannia Stadium.

“I’m here now and ready to go,” Shea said. “It’s one of the best leagues in the world, and I’m excited to be here, and hopefully I can contribute.”

While Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes revealed the Potters had known of Shea for quite some time: “Brek first came to our attention through our scouting system three years ago and we have been tracking his progress ever since.”

Shea joins Andy Najar and Sporting KC duo Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara in Europe. Check out their best moments in MLS by clicking on their names.

Meanwhile, former MLS star Beckham has finally found his new club. Becks created a splash with an afternoon dash to Paris to sign a five-month contract with Ligue 1 leaders PSG and made another huge announcement at his official unveiling, by revealing his playing salary would be donated to a local children’s charity in Paris. Classy.

“It’s something that we’ve been talking about for quite a while and now it’s finally happened,” Beckham said. “I’ve had more offers now than I’ve had in my career so I’m very honored by that. I chose Paris because I can see what the club are trying to do.”

British tabloid The Sun came up with some amusing French phrases that could come in handy for Goldenballs in the City of Light. If he get’s homesick, “Est-ce que vous servez pies et da la puree?” will work a treat.

Another Englishman who played in California last year won’t be returning to MLS either, as Aston Villa signed long-term San Jose Earthquakes loanee Simon Dawkins from Tottenham.

The guys over at BBC Sport recapped the days biggest deals, with QPR busy wheeling and dealing.

Around MLS, preseason is in full swing with plenty of teams training in Florida and heading down to compete in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. One report from the Sunshine State seems to have paved the way for MLS franchises to spring up, as they’re now in line to receive the same financial support as other Pro franchises. The new bill could help Orlando City with new stadium plans. Intriguing.

Moving from the winter sun to much colder climates in Canada, and all three Canadian clubs have been in the news. First off, Kevin Payne certainly isn’t afraid to tell it how it is after some TFC players turned up for preseason unfit.

“I told them, ‘You will never, ever come back here after a break looking like this again,’” Payne told reporters. “’It just won’t happen, or you won’t be here, end of story.’”

Payne pointed to his eight-year spell in charge at D.C. United as the measuring stick: “In D.C., we didn’t accept it and there was an enormous level of peer pressure brought to bear on guys that showed up unfit, and we need to get to that point here. That’s not the case right now. I didn’t see any evidence of that within the locker room.”

Meanwhile up in Montreal, new head coach Marco Schällibaum is settling in nicely. His new ideas have brought a Eurocentric feel, and the new coach also brought in a bit of North American culture, with basketball played during preseason, according to the Times Colonist.

"I have my ideas, but we're still getting the team ready," Schallibaum said. "You have to go step by step. We'll go into another phase in Orlando when we start playing games."

While over in Vancouver, they’ve been busy making awesome campaign ads for the upcoming season involving Jay DeMerit’s tattoos coming to life. Other Whitecaps players are involved, too. Check out the videos here. (VIDEO)

 Three Canadian national team players joined Vancouver on trial, and Canadian star Julian de Guzman signed for a new side in Germany on deadline day — find out who.

Reports have former Whitecap Bilal Duckett training with the New England Revolution during preseason, while Harrisburg teammate Lucky Mkosana is also on trial with Columbus.

Speaking of the Crew, their friendly with the New York Red Bulls in Florida will be streamed live at 9:30 am ET today, as Mike Petke’s men get their preseason schedule up and running. One other piece out of New York, second-year 'keeper Ryan Meara is back ahead of schedule after his season-ending hip injury.

And one other preseason game between Sporting KC and the Portland Timbers will be streamed on MLSsoccer.com at 8 pm ET today. Two more friendlies are available live on the site this weekend, as San Jose take on the Rapids at 1 pm ET on Saturday, followed by the Houston Dynamo against Vancouver at 6 pm ET.


Houston defeated Colorado 1-0 yesterday in another Tucson friendly, recap and highlights available here.

So with just 30 days to go until the 2013 MLS season kicks off, our man Andrew Wiebe looks at how Sporting can replace Kei Kamara’s goals.

And if you weren’t already itching for the new season to start, now you should be: MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager is back. So enter your team, tell your friends and get building your squad for the 2013 season. With a trip to the 2014 MLS All-Star game up for grabs, what are you waiting for?

Finally, here is one last piece of transfer deadline day news. And it is ugly. West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie wanted a move to QPR so bad that the Nigerian striker turned up at QPR’s stadium in his car last night. TV cameras spotted him arriving and he spoke of his delight at joining QPR. Only he hadn’t officially joined and he wouldn’t be either, after West Brom refused him permission to speak to Rangers after a transfer fee wasn’t agreed between the two clubs. Cue perhaps the most embarrassing transfer saga of all time. Watch it all excruciatingly unfold via Sky Sports. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio: Najar and Shea to Europe, now what?

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Three for Thursday: Homegrown stars making their mark

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