The “off-season” in professional soccer in our country is a different animal anyway; so much attention here is focused on Europe, Mexico and South America that there’s plenty going on, never mind the brief domestic break.
But even here, the first six weeks of 2013 has plenty going on. Here are the highlights (and feel free to “clip and save”):
Major League Soccer’s annual combine in Florida takes place Jan. 11-15.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team gets into its early training camp on Jan. 14. The camp, mostly for MLS men and players on break in the Scandinavian leagues, goes through Jan. 31.
Major League Soccer’s draft, held annually in conjunction with the NSCAA convention in Indianapolis, takes place on Jan. 17.
The MLS supplemental draft is Jan. 22. Somewhere around that time, most MLS teams will begin their training camps (about two weeks earlier than usual due to the league’s earliest first kick date).
Canada meets Denmark in a friendly in Tucson on Jan. 26. Mexico meets Denmark in nearby Glendale on Jan. 30.
A growing slate of MLS pre-season tournament begins Jan. 29 with the Desert Friendlies in Tucson, featuring six MLS teams. (For a state with no MLS presence, Arizona sure has a lot to say about pro soccer in winter. Well done, Ariz.!)
Also on Jan. 29, Klinsmann’s national team camp concludes with a friendly in Houston against Canada. A few days later, the team gathers in Miami to train for a day or so before …
… A Feb. 6 date in Honduras to open final round World Cup qualifying.
The U.S. women’s team begins its 2013 schedule with a friendly against Scotland in Jacksonville on Feb. 9.
FA Cup slate set as Liverpool, Newcastle, Saints win
The field is set for the fourth round of the FA Cup, as Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Southampton joined 29 other teams in the fourth round.
Newcastle United 2-1 Birmingham City
Matt Ritchie scored twice and Yoan Gouffran also scored as the Magpies clinched a trip to third-tier side Oxford United. David Cotterill scored in the 71st minute to provide an interesting finish, but Newcastle weathered the storm.
Jurgen Klopp chose another youth-heavy lineup, but a pair of Premier League vets got the job done for the winner. Philippe Coutinho assisted Lucas Leiva‘s 18th mintue goal to give the Reds a home date with Wolverhampton.
Divock Origi had a late penalty saved by Luke McCormick, but it didn’t come back to haunt the Reds.
Southampton 1-0 Norwich City
Saints got a much-needed albeit ugly win when Shane Long won a tussle in the box to score a stoppage time winner. Southampton will host Arsenal in the fourth round.
Derby County vs. Leicester City
January 28 Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Oxford United vs. Newcastle United
Lincoln City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea vs. Brentford
Rochdale vs. Huddersfield Town
Burnley vs. Bristol City
Blackburn vs. Blackpool
Middlesbrough vs. Accrington Stanley
Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City
Southampton vs. Arsenal
Millwall vs. Watford
Fulham vs. Hull City
Sutton United vs. Leeds United
“Jermaine is a winner who has experience in MLS and playing against the highest competition in the world,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Curt Onalfo. “He has a relentless engine on the field and we are confident that he will strengthen our midfield. We look forward to him joining the Galaxy as we prepare for the upcoming season.”
When healthy, Jones remains a game changer at the MLS level. He was not healthy often during his season in Colorado, but the Rapids did not lose a regular season game in which he hit the pitch.
Given the amount of buzz surrounding Lyon’s supposed interest in Memphis Depay, it’s no surprise this one got done.
The Ligue 1 side has agreed to buy the Manchester United winger for a fee that will range between $20 and $27 million. Reports claim the Red Devils have both buy back and sell-on clauses inserted in the deal.
Memphis was purchased for approximately $30 million from PSV Eindhoven in May 2015. That was hot on the heels of a 22-goal season that paced the Eredivisie.
After scoring two goals for United in his second appearance for the club, Memphis managed just 7 in 45 appearances. He hasn’t scored in seven matches this season.
Memphis has 27 caps with five goals for the Netherlands, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t reinforce his status with a prolific spell in France.
Lyon is fourth in the Ligue 1 table, eight behind third place PSG and 11 points back of leaders Monaco and Nice. The club is in the Round of 32 for the French Cup, and meets AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League.