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THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY What is the biggest signing the LA Galaxy didn't make this winter? It was the attempted signing of Homegrown Player Gyasi Zardes. The CSU-Bakersfield striker was one of the best college players in the nation and was considered by some to be the best pro prospect. The Galaxy saw enough in the goal scorer to offer him a $100,000-per-year contract only to have the offer rejected.
Cal St. Bakersfield's Gyasi Zardes, right, with LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan.
Zardes is planning to return to CSU-Bakersfield in the fall, but his future professional options are very much up in the air. Sources tell FOX Soccer that Zardes was looking for a contract closer to $200,000-per-year, an unprecedented amount for an MLS Homegrown signing, and a figure that only Philadelphia Union forward Danny Mwanga has managed to secure as a rookie.
If Zardes was hoping to cut ties with the Galaxy in the hope of landing a big-money Generation adidas contract while entering the draft, he will have to consider a different avenue to the pros. Sources say the league would not sign Zardes as a Generation adidas player for the 2013 MLS Draft, even if Zardes no longer trained with the Galaxy and cut all ties with the club. The league has no interest in having homegrown players passing on solid team offers in order to grab one Generation adidas contract (and this situation surely helped MLS solidify its new strategy of closing the gap between Generation adidas contracts and Homegrown Player contracts).
Zardes still has options. He will be a junior at CSU-Bakersfield in the fall, and could leave school to sign in Europe. He could theoretically still sign with the Galaxy, but the club's expected salary cap problems heading into 2013 might make finding the sort of contract he was looking for nearly impossible to secure.
Fulham's Andrew Johnson is being pursued by the Houston Dynamo. (Photo credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
DYNAMO EYEING FULHAM'S JOHNSON The Houston Dynamo lost out on signing Scottish striker Kris Boyd when he signed with the Timbers, but the Dynamo's quest to find a marquee striker has not ended, with sources telling FOX Soccer that the Dynamo are making a play for Fulham forward Andrew Johnson.
The 30-year-old striker is set to be a free agent in the summer, but the former England international could join Houston in the current MLS transfer window if Johnson doesn't reach an agreement on a new deal with Fulham soon.
Currently a teammate of Texas natives Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland, Johnson starred for Crystal Palace and spent time with Everton before joining Fulham four years ago. He has been Fulham's top scorer in Europa League play this season and drew strong transfer interest from Queens Park Rangers in the recent January transfer window.
WHO SHOULD THE USMNT START VS. ITALY? Jurgen Klinsmann has three weeks to figure out who he will bring in to face Italy at the end of the month, and there are plenty of tough questions for him; particularly, what lineup should he trot out against the Azzurri.
Based on form (and Klinsmann's preferences), here is a lineup we could see him turning to:
The fact Altidore hasn't been starting lately for AZ could lead Klinsmann to turn to Dempsey as a lone forward. We also can't forget Kyle Beckerman, who Klinsmann loves, but with Bradley and Torres both currently in season and playing well, this lineup makes more sense.
Other players to consider are Edgar Castillo, who is playing well for Club Tijuana, and Brek Shea, though he hasn't exactly looked sharp in recent outings. Jermaine Jones looked good in the January friendlies but his lack of game action due to his suspension in Germany would likely rule him out of starting against a team like Italy.