A busy news day out of Seattle Sounders FC camp

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Is there any question that Seattle will be one of the super interesting teams to watch this year?

And the “interesting” start now. Not once we get into the busy summer. Or not even as Major League Soccer begins passing and trapping in matches that count in March … but, like, right now!

As the team got into camp today, the Seattle Times reports that Shalrie Joseph was absent and apparently not in the teams’ plans. That’s a bit sad, in a way, as Joseph was such an influential player for so long around MLS. These things do have to end, of course, but Joseph’s tumble from competitive relevancy, starting more than a year ago with his trade out of New England, seemed particularly harsh.

Past that, there are fascinating positional battles to watch as Sigi  Schmid puts the pieces together around CenturyLink Field.

Stefan Frei, who as so good before a series of injuries took him out of the picture at Toronto, has a shot at the No. 1 jersey. But he might have to withstand a challenge from Marcus Hahnemann (pictured),  41, who could still perhaps handles the job.

Between Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper, someone will be picked to partner up with Clint Dempsey. Or, maybe Schmid decides that Chad Barrett is the best fit. He’s a wildly undependable finisher, but Barrett always puts in the work, and that might be the best way to free up Dempsey to slip into those channels.

(MORE: MLS training camps now is session)

It will be interesting to watch the progress of DeAndre Yedlin, who has clearly done well enough in his first look-see under U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann. The kid will need to keep his head on straight; it’s one thing to excel as the unknown rookie, but something else entirely to get things done when fans and the club expect it.

Alongside, Chad Marshall has long been in the upper echelon of MLS center backs. But he has gone a bit stale over the last couple of years, so it will be interesting to see if the change of scenery can jump-start a revival of the old Chad Marshall. At 29, he’s still got some tread on the tire.

All that, and we also know the Sounders, quite active in the offseason, is still looking to import fresh talent.

As we said, “interesting” … right away.

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.