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Around Major League Soccer: From preseason training to the return of Beckham, new season just around the corner

After an extended off-season to ponder the events of last year, as well as look ahead to the 17th season of Major League Soccer, the past week saw clubs get back to business, as preseason training camps opened across the league.

The past seven days also included the last formal player acquisition process of this off-season, as clubs boosted their ranks with selections in last Tuesday’s MLS Supplemental Draft. It proved to be only a portion of the moves made by the league’s 19 clubs, with Vancouver Whitecaps FC not alone in bringing players in or moving players out of their roster this past week. There was also the expected announcement of a contract extension for a certain former England captain in Southern California.

Let’s take a closer look.

More Becks, please!

Wednesday brought the long-awaited confirmation that midfielder David Beckham will continue his career in MLS, as the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star signed a two-year contract extension with the MLS Cup champions. While the 36-year-old stated that his family’s enjoyment of living in LA was a huge factor in him signing a contract extension, the desire to repeat as champions and bring more success to the Galaxy was another motivating factor. Beckham will surely look at this spring’s quest for a CONCACAF Champions League title as his - and the Galaxy’s - first order of business in 2012.

Welcome mat

MLS greeted more new faces to the league, while some established players found new homes. Portland Timbers added another Colombian to their ranks, as defender Hanyer Mosquera made the switch from the South American nation to The City of Roses. Western Conference rivals FC Dallas, meanwhile, went to Central America for their latest addition, with The Hoops acquiring youngster Carlos Rodríguez from Panamanian side Tauro FC.

Heading out the FC Dallas door last week was striker Maicon Santos. The Brazilian ended his brief spell with the Texas outfit by moving to the American capital to join former Toronto FC teammate Dwayne De Rosario and D.C. United. Ben Olsen’s side also boosted their midfield ranks when they landed Houston Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz in a Friday trade for partial allocation.

Expansion club Montreal Impact signed former Sporting Kansas City defender Shavar Thomas, while Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes locked up former Toronto FC midfielder Jacob Peterson to a contract in the American Midwest. Kansas City also went local in landing the rights to hometown product Michael Thomas from San Jose Earthquakes. Goalkeeper Tim Melia (Chivas USA) and Trinidad & Tobago youth international Cordell Cato (Seattle Sounders FC) also joined new clubs.

Chicago Fire supporters may have a lot to look forward to this season. Not only did the Illinois outfit secure a new jersey sponsor with Chicago-based Quaker Oats, they also penned legendary Mexican midfielder Pável Pardo to a contract extension at Toyota Park.

The exit door

MLS fans are coming to terms with the fact that some new faces will not be on display this season. FC Dallas supporters, in particular, will surely miss the versatile talents of Jackson in 2012 after the Brazilian agreed to a one-year loan deal with Cruzeiro in his native country. New York Red Bulls, meanwhile, are likely in the market for a goalkeeper after confirming that veteran German shot-stopper Frank Rost will not be back at Red Bull Arena. Toronto FC’s revolving door was operating again, as Reds head coach Aron Winter parted ways with three members of last year’s squad in Andy Iro, Peri Marosevic, and Mikael Yourassowsky. In Chester, Pennsylvania, Veljko Paunović announced he would hang up his boots again after coming out of retirement to play half a season with Philadelphia Union last year.

With Europe’s January transfer window closing next week, MLS may lose two of its top players to a struggling top-flight club in England. Philadelphia’s French striker Sébastien Le and New York centre back Tim Ream are in the frame to join English Premier League side Bolton Wanderers FC, as Owen Coyle’s side look to avoid relegation from the EPL.