The Full 90

The Morning Kickoff: Fixing a hole, Kempin trains with U-18s, Ronaldo, Rooney and Champions League

Greetings, welcome to The Morning Kickoff. Your daily dose of news from Sporting Kansas City and the rest of the soccer world. We read everything, so you don't have to.

So, one of the biggest questions hanging over Sporting Kansas City: Who will fill the Jimmy Conrad-sized hole in Kansas City's backline? There are multiple options. The most intriguing one is the well-traveled 32-year-old Brazilian Julio Cesar Santos Correa. (The others are Matt Besler and trialist Daneil Cyrus. Shavar Thomas, on paper, will be the other CB.)

Correa is an interesting fit; he's sort of an experienced, English-speaking Pablo Escobar. Don't spit your coffee on the keyboard. When the team brought in Escobar they were bringing in a young physical specimen who they could groom into a specific role. Namely, a central defender who could defend


the ball out of the back to kick-start the attack. Escobar, of course, failed to develop. So, the team went scouting the globe for a player who fit that bill much more carefully.

Assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin told

: “Obviously the primary duty of the centerbacks is to limit the opponents’ scoring. But if your model of play is to play the ball out of the back, certainly he has that maturity, that experience, and the presence that we’ve been looking for in that part of the field. So he could be the solution.”

According to


, SKC's home-grown goalkeeper Jon Kempin is going to train with the US U-18 team this week. Coincidentally, SKC plays the US U-18 team this Tuesday to complete the first-round of training in Phoenix. Kempin is the fourth keeper in the U-18 camp. It will be interesting to see if he suits up for the States or the Sportos.

Kansas City fans, you've got both, which do you prefer: The Supporter's Shield or the MLS Cup?

New York's boss Hans Backe says his first priority is the Supporter's Shield.

I don't know anything more than speculation:

English midfielder Shane Clarke had landed a trial with an undisclosed MLS team.

He fits a certain profile (he's 23, played lower-league football in England) and the team definitely scouted England in November.

Good weekend for Americans:

Carlos Bocanegra scored, Stuart Holden notched an assist and Jozy Altidore made his Turkish debut.

U.S. soccer provisionally sanctions NASL as Division 2 league. MLS has two weighted lotteries scheduled for today and tomorrow.

The player available: former University of Virginia forward Chris Agorsor (today) and ex-Chrystal Palace Baltimore defender Korey Veeder (Tuesday). Sporting Kansas City opted out of last week's draft when Real Salt Lake landed Cody Arnoux.

One of the greatest strikers of all time, Ronaldo, is expected to announce his retirement today. Here are all 15 of his World Cup goals.

Ronaldo's teammate on the Brazilian national team and with Corinthians, Roberto Carlos,

is moving not to MLS but to Russia.


Champions League action returns this week. South Texas Shootout gets feisty.

Houston beat Dallas 4-0, but news is an alleged spitting incident between Dallas' Jair Benitez and the Dynamo's Geoff Cameron.

This isn't soccer-related, but it's a great read from The Star's Sam Mellinger:

Tommy Morrison still insists he can box and doesn't have HIV.

Had to double-take this headline:

Favre replaces Frontzeck at Moenchengladbach.

Fans of Croatian side Hajduk Split celebrated their 100th anniversary in remarkable fashion. By engulfing the city in flares.

Just because it was awesome and needs to be replayed over and over again: Wayne Rooney's over-head stunner.