Soccer in the United States in 2013: THE most newsy, eventful year yet

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Considering everything that happened in 2013 in domestic soccer, can there be any question that the year was the most newsworthy, eventful year yet for the sport in our country?

The national team’s dramatic fall and rise in perception bracketed the year in soccer news. According to whom you did or didn’t believe, Jurgen Klinsmann’s program was in tatters. Then it wasn’t.

In fact, “it wasn’t” became a huge understatement. But year’s end, Klinsmann’s improvements initiatives having apparently taken hold, the national team had enjoyed previously unseen highs.

Along the way, as memory makers go it’s nearly impossible to top the “Snow Clasico,” not only for the surreal and amazing aesthetics, but also for the way it helped turn around the entire World Cup qualification campaign.

Take a gander at the other elements that made 2013 the most eventful, newsy year in U.S. soccer history:

  • Robbie Rogers coming out as a gay man and retiring. Then un-retiring and returning to Major League Soccer. That became an important story in sports generally, one that transcended soccer.
  • Landon Donovan’s sabbatical, a news story that sprung all kinds of tentacles (for club and country). Foremost was his estrangement from the national team, which then evolved into one of the summer’s big news makers: his glorious return to national team grace.
  • Not coincidentally, Donovan’s reemergence drove the U.S. Gold Cup conquest, as the playmaker’s sensational form led a dominant United States tournament performance.
  • Later, back in his club jersey, Landon Donovan equaled Major League Soccer’s career scoring record.
  • Jozy Altidore’s record-setting year abroad, the best year ever for a U.S. scorer in Europe.
  • Altidore’s amazing summer of scoring for the national team, highlighted by his U.S.record of scoring in five consecutive matches.
  • Clint Dempsey, still on top of his game, traded in Premier League status for a second run in Major League Soccer, a huge development for a league where the best talent typically migrates out rather than in.
  • Huge MLS expansion news, as New York City FC came on-line as the league’s 20th franchise. A few months later, Orlando was announced as No. 21. And all along, news continued to filter out (strategically so, it’s probably worth saying) of David Beckham’s ongoing efforts to plan an MLS expansion flag in Miami.
  • The United States qualified for another World Cup, about to appear its seventh consecutive tournament. (Dos a cero. Again!) Later, and certainly related, Klinsmann was signed to another four-year deal.
  • The unbelievable drama of the final night of CONCACAF qualifying, a made-for-TV moment if there ever was one.
  • And, finally, a World Cup draw for forget for the United States.

All that, plus the usual newsiness of the MLS Cup final, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, notable transfers, trades, retirements, coaching coming and goings, etc.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfielder unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

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The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”