Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. TRADING THOMAS
Hendry Thomas’ impasse with the Colorado Rapids is at an end, as the former Honduran international has joined Oscar Pareja at FC Dallas. In exchange, the Rapids received allocation money which, according to technical director Paul Bravo, “will give us flexibility to continue adding strength and depth to our squad.” Some of that new depth was announced almost immediately, with the news that the Rapids have added two new players to their squad.
2. HAPPY PAPPA
The Seattle Sounders made their first preseason roster cuts and welcomed a new face to their preseason camp on Wednesday, as Columbus Crew veteran Danny O’Rourke joined the team as a trialist. Marco Pappa was revealed to be wearing the No. 10 this season, and the club's new midfielder explains how it feels to join the Sounders, as well as if it would have been easier returning to Chicago.
3. NO DICE FOR DEUCE
Once again, Clint Dempsey didn’t make the 18-man squad for Fulham’s game on Wednesday and some may rightly start to wonder if there’s really any point in Dempsey staying in England rather than return home and train with his MLS team. Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, however, isn’t worried about his Designated Player’s current plight and there are plenty of reasons to believe it won’t affect his form for either club or country.
4. TIME TO SHINE IN TORONTO
2014 promises to be an exciting year for Toronto FC, and Michael Bradley believes the team is “committed to improve and get stronger as the season goes on.” While players such as Bradley will be looked upon for strong seasons from the start, other players like Bright Dike and Gilberto are hoping for breakout years to help establish themselves in the team.
5. CROCKETT & TUBBS UNITED?
Could David Beckham’s new MLS franchise really be known as the Miami Vice? Probably not, but according to a report on Wednesday it was one of several names put before the Miami-Dade council at a recent presentation, along with the Miami Current and an undisclosed name with a corporate tie-in. SI.com's Brain Straus sounded off on the news, insisting that calling the team Miami Vice would be "the easy, and cheesy, way out."
6. THE ARGENTINE CONUNDRUM
The Portland Timbers have made several offseason acquisitions which have not only strengthened their squad, but could also present a headache, in the best possible way, for head coach Caleb Porter. Not least of which is how best to utilize new Argentine striker Gastón Fernández.
7. TIME TO TRAIN
According to Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, plans for a training facility next to PPL park are “off the shelf and back on the drawing board.” This news comes just a week after Sakiewicz declared the option no longer viable due to a “business-unfriendly environment."
8. FINDING A RHYTHM
With Honduras preparing for a World Cup campaign this summer, New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson is hoping to be the man leading his country’s attack. But in order to do that, the forward knows there is work to do: “My main focus right now is trying to get better, not only with scoring goals but playing well with my team.” With the Revolution looking for someone to step up and replace Juan Agudelo, head coach Jay Heaps acknowledges that, so far, “We haven’t found the right rhythm for [Bengtson].”
9. ANOTHER EX-MLSER FOR ORLANDO
Orlando City announced another new signing on Wednesday as they build for the coming USL PRO season. But is the acquisition of former Vancouver Whitecaps defender Brad Rusin a move that will give them a regular starter when they debut in MLS in 2015? Head coach Adrian Heath thinks so: "We certainly know he can play at this level, but we’re also looking at next year as well.”
10. WHO'S TO BLAME?
US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been talking a lot recently about belief and a winning mentality, but what is he really trying to get at? When he talks of Americans not making it in Europe, is he really putting some of the blame at the feet of those European clubs?
11. ROAD TO RIO, 2016
The Winter Olympics are well under way now, which means we’re only two years away from the summer games in Rio de Janeiro. Providing the US can avoid the heartache of 2012 and the "Nightmare in Nashville," they should have a presence in the soccer tournament. At the very least, there’s a qualifying campaign to take part in, so, as things stand, which players currently have a good shot of representing the team?
12. HOLDEN ON TO HOPE
As Stuart Holden continues yet another difficult comeback from injury, he can at least look to the future with relative ease after being given assurances of a new contract by English side Bolton Wanderers. The US international has also been told there is no rush on his return, with Bolton manager Dougie Freedman stating, “I want to make sure when he comes back he will be ready for the future.”
13. WINTER WONDERLAND
With the majority of North America currently locked in winter's embrace, proponents of switching the MLS season to the international calendar might do well to take a look at this article. Indeed, with two games canceled last night due to the weather in Europe, perhaps countries such as England would be better off switching to the MLS schedule?
14. BE A PRO
Despite ongoing conversations between Professional Referee Organization and the Professional Soccer Referees Association, the man in charge of MLS officials is confident that this season will carry on as normal. This year should also see the return of Fotis Bazakos, the official who, having suffered a serious knee injury last year, has been keeping a diary of his road to recovery.
15. RED BULLS SUPPORTERS GET SUPPORTIVE
When soccer fans get together for a good cause, the result are always pretty special. The New York Red Bulls' Garden State Ultras are no exception. Check out the details on their upcoming club fundraiser to help a seriously injured US Marine.
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