Colorado Rapids bolster already-potent attack by signing Gabriel Torres

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After tearing up the competition in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Panama’s Gabriel Torres signed a Designated Player contract with the Colorado Rapids on Thursday. The signing came just hours before the Major League Soccer transfer window closed.

He will be classified as a Designated Player, the first in club history, due to a combination of salary and acquisition costs, the Rapids said in a press release.

“I’m happy to join the Colorado Rapids, and I will give my all to this club,” Torres said. “Coach [Oscar Pareja] has had confidence in me from the beginning. He told me about the team and the project, and that got my attention. It’s why I’m here — looking to do the right things. I’ll give my best to this organization and look to score many goals to help us win games.”

The 24-year-old Panama City native scored five goals in the Gold Cup, tying the United States’ Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski for the Golden Boot. After the tournament, he left Venezuelan club Zamora FC to join MLS, heading to Denver directly after the tournament for a short time before heading home.

“Torres is dynamic and can score goals and will give us a boost as we enter the final 10 games of the regular season,” Pareja said. “We had been looking at him since before the Gold Cup, but that tournament showed everybody what he is capable of. It’s great for the club that Torres is able to join us, and I am eager to see him on the field with the boys.”

Torres will join an attacking set-up that features MLS Rookie of the Year candidates Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers, as well as former U.S. World Cup player Edson Buddle. The high-flying Rapids sit in second place in the Western Conference, having played two more matches than the four teams immediately below them.

To secure a playoff spot through the final stretch of the season, Colorado will need to find results against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers, as well as the Vancouver Whitecaps, whom the Rapids have not faced yet this year but will match up against three times before the end of the regular season.

It all starts on Sunday, with a trip to Chivas USA. Torres will be eligible to join the team as soon as his P-1 work visa is received.

“Torres is an important part of our goal of bringing another MLS Cup to our fans, and he can also help us continue to grow the sport in Colorado,” Rapids president Tom Hinchey said. “This is a big day for the Rapids and MLS.”

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

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Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.