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January 2, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Happy New Year (links)! Predictions for 2012?

I hope everyone’s weekends went well, and now I’m sure the thirst for champagne has been replaced with a hunger for some Sounders news. The MLS SuperDraft is nearing and certainly some player announcements are expected. Training camp will open in a few weeks, as well, so things should start heating up.

As a part of our section’s New Year’s look-ahead, I took on the Sounders’ upcoming 2012 season. I mentioned that leadership has been the missing ingredient in the past and is the main issue for a team that has a lot of quality in place. Predictions were a part of the feature, which involved all the major local teams, and I left things a little open-ended: I said Seattle will advance past the first round of the MLS playoffs and lose to Santos Laguna in the CCL quarterfinals. I left the Open Cup part a bit ambiguous intentionally, because that competition can be remarkably tough to judge with the lineup shuffling. Though four titles in a row certainly seems improbable.

Feel free to offer your predictions — in one or several competitions — in the comments section.

Here are a few other links:

— Support for the Sounders never ceases to amaze. That’s why I’m not surprised local readers voted this past season, particularly a U.S. Open Cup threepeat and Kasey Keller‘s last run before retirement, as the 2011’s top sports story in the state.

— Speaking of which, Keller’s sendoff game was voted the top moment of the year by MLSsoccer.com readers.

— One of the more popular links on the blogosphere the last couple days was this Goal.com report quoting the agent of Alvaro Fernandez saying that Flaco has aspirations of playing in a bigger league. Possible interest from Italian club Palermo has raised some eyebrows.

— Another player that draws a lot of outside interest is Fredy Montero, not surprisingly. He held an interesting interview with a Colombian newspaper that’s worth checking out (Google translation here). Among other topics, he reaffirmed a desire to play in Europe, said that offers have always been there, talked about Colombian national team prospects and mentioned his Sounders FC contract runs for two more years. Here’s another article (Google translation here) from the same publication noting Montero’s pro-MLS influence on emerging Colombian talent.

— Speaking of Montero, a fan put together a collection of his goals.

— Here’s an interview with Jamie Clark, the head coach of the Washington Huskies men’s soccer team. He offered some candid thoughts on the season and noted that senior forward Brent Richards will soon be a homegrown signing of the Portland Timbers. Like Kelyn Rowe, Richards was another guy I remember watching, and being extremely impressed by, in my high school state championship coverage way back when.

— In a three-part series of tweets, Tom Legg addressed the possibility of Tanzanian forward/midfielder Mrisho Ngassa coming to Seattle. Legg, who’s in the know when it comes to East African soccer, said Ngassa’s club, Azam FC, could be willing to let the player come to the Sounders on a free transfer. Ngassa trained here last year and was the only non-roster player to play in the friendly against Manchester United.

— More generally, it sounds like former German international Gerald Asamoah, 33, is coming to MLS.

— And, lastly, a feature I’ve come to enjoy: The latest rendition of Soccer AM‘s “Showboat” series.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=107wxfBYU6c

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