Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. SECOND SIGNING FOR ORLANDO CITY
Orlando City may still be a year away from entering MLS, but they made another signing for their debut season on Wednesday. This time the club reacquired midfielder Yordany Alvarez, who won the USL PRO MVP award during Orlando City's 2011 championship season. Alvarez played for Real Salt Lake in 2012 and 2013, but had his option declined following the season. The move also represented the first MLS trade for Orlando City, as they sent a 2017 draft pick to RSL in exchange for their former player.
2. CITY BRAND EXPANDS
In one of the surprise moves of the week, New York City FC -- themselves a new addition to the City family -- will be getting another new sister club. News broke on Wednesday that the Melbourne Heart of the Australian A-League are the latest club to become part of the City brand. According to reports, Manchester City now own an 80-percent share of the club and, talking about the move, City CEO Ferran Soriano struck a similar tone to the recent NYCFC press conference, making reference to use of City resources and their scouting network.
3. TIME TO SHINE FOR TFC KIDS
Always a leader in developing young talent, Toronto FC have followed the lead of several of their MLS brethren in their latest move, affiliating with USL PRO club Wilmington Hammerheads. With the move guaranteeing playing time for TFC’s young talent, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko claims, “This deal represents the first time our club has established a full trajectory for our Academy players.” Toronto hope to establish their own trajectory elsewhere, with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment president Tim Leiweke stating, “I think we have a chance to be the best soccer marketplace in North America.”
4. PREKI TIED TO MLS AGAIN? NOT QUITE
According to reports from The Sacramento Bee, USL PRO expansion club Sacramento Republic will also announce an affiliation deal this week, sharing ties with both the Portland Timbers and the more local San Jose Earthquakes. The Republic, set to begin play in a temporary stadium under the direction of former MLS standout and coach Preki, would be the first USL PRO team to affiliate simultaneously with more than one MLS team.
5. PIECES FITTING TOGETHER IN NORCAL
Speaking of Sacramento, the Earthquakes have already mined some talent from the area, as seen by their Wednesday unveiling of Tommy Thompson as the club's first Homegrown player. Still only 18, Thompson isn’t letting himsef get carried away as, “At the end of the day, I’m just another player on their roster.” The announcement was made at the Earthquakes' stadium site, and club president Dave Kaval has been talking more about what fans can expect from the venue (VIDEO).
6. CHIVAS USA SIGN A KIWI
Chivas USA made another new signing on Wednesday, this time bringing New Zealand international Tony Lochhead back to MLS via the discovery process. A veteran of the 2010 World Cup and a former UCSB Gaucho, Lochhead started his professional career with the New England Revolution before heading home to join Wellington Phoenix, where he spent the last six seasons and set a new record for appearances.
7. WAVE HELLO
Turns out the drafts aren’t finished yet. With underclassmen Giuseppe Gentile and Christiano Francois both opting to leave college and sign contracts with MLS, the league will now be holding a waiver draft. This will take place over a 48-hour period, and the results are expected some time on Friday afternoon.
8. MR. MOTIVATOR
There is no doubt that 21 regular-season goals and the MLS MVP award made 2013 the greatest year of Mike Magee's career. It also led to a well-earned call-up to the US national team. Now the challenge for Magee is repeating that success in 2014, and he sounded positive about the Chicago Fire's new direction under Frank Yallop and expects to have plenty of motivation after missing the 2013 playoffs, saying, “You have to make that trophy motivate you, not satisfy you. I’m not going to be satisfied.”
9. THE CHALLENGE AHEAD
Having won MLS Cup and qualified for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, what does 2014 have in store for Sporting Kansas City? With about six weeks to go until the season starts, head coach Peter Vermes talked CCL and more, including an update on Chance Myers' contract situation, in an interview on Sports Radio 810's Sporting KC Show.
10. BIG CITY BATTLES LOOM
The back-and-forth between MLS and Liga MX clubs seems to be at an all-time high this offseason, and ESPN reporter Monica Gonzalez discussed the battle for the loyalty of urban populations with Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com, covering the national issue while touching on Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
11. KEEPING KORB
D.C. United announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed defender Chris Korb, who will enter his fourth season with the club. With Sean Franklin likely to step into United's right-back position, Korb's ability to shift spots is a key for United general manager Dave Kasper, who said, “His versatility to play at either outside back position provides us with great flexibility.”
12. DOES MIAMI SUPPORT SOCCER?
David Beckham is still on his quest to bring Major League Soccer to Miami and, as we learned during the SuperDraft, an announcement is expected in February. However, a question that has popped up more than once remains this: How will Miami residents respond to an MLS team in their city? The BBC spoke to residents of the City about what it would take to succeed (VIDEO).
13. CHEPO OPENS UP
Following a World Cup qualifying campaign that was on the verge of disaster, Mexico's then-coach José Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre was relieved of his duties in September. Now de la Torre has been speaking for the first time since that event about what he considers the real reasons for his dismissal.
14. THE CANADIAN PROBLEM SOLVER
Having gone 0-10-3 and only scored one goal in 2013, the Canadian national team had reason to celebrate after a 2-0 win this week, even if it came in a scrimmage against an out-of-season club team, the NASL's Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. While Canada managed just one international goal last year, there is reason for optimism in the figure of new Toronto FC signing Jordan Hamilton, who believes he can be the answer to the national side's scoring problems.
15. PLAYING FOR PLACES
The US national team, meanwhile, is currently in São Paulo getting a taste of Brazil, even if many of the players on the trip are unlikely to make the final roster this summer. One projected bubble player is the Houston Dynamo's Brad Davis, who acknowledged, “This is my first true opportunity to go to a World Cup, and it could be my last.” Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber, meanwhile, is trying to get back into the top national-team rotation and says, “I’m just trying to take this opportunity as best I can.” So how is the camp progressing? Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman leads the latest updates.
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