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Major Link Soccer: Ronaldo wins Ballon d'Or, Totti takes a Selfie

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Ronaldo wins his 3rd Ballon d'Or, former Sounder Patrick Ianni retires at 29, and Francesco Totti caps his 40th derby game with a Selfie.

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Seattle

Former Seattle Sounder Patrick Ianni retired Monday. Ianni, who won the 2012 Goal of the Year, was known as a solid defender during his time in the league. He didn't score a lot of goals in his career, but when he did they were usually spectacular.

The Seattle Sounders started preseason by giving Sigi Schmid a contract extension, then Adrian Hanauer hired his replacement and took over business operations for the team. New players, trialists, and draftees are surely on the way for the rave green. Will changes from the top down put the Sounders over the top at the end of 2015?

Naturally left-footed backs that can possess, defend, and attack are rare at any level of the game. UW leftback Andy Thoma is one of those rare players. Thoma raised eyebrows and possibly his draft position with his performance at the MLS Combine over the weekend. Already projected at #17 with DC United, Thoma could be a surprise top 10 pick.

The Tacoma Stars continued their winning ways Saturday night in Olympia. Tacoma, firing on all cylinders, put 15 past the Artesians and conceded only twice. The Stars only have three games left in the season and have already qualified for the playoffs. [UPDATE The Tacoma Stars are in negotiations to move into the professional Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) as early as Friday, January 16.]

Major League Soccer

The MLS final was December 7 and pre-season starts next week for most teams. The time in-between was filled with drafts, combines, and false signings. All this has made for an entertaining silly season and has shown that MLS is a "Year-round League".

In a majority of countries around the world, government compulsory/conscription service is necessary at the age of 18. Israeli forward Sagi Lev-Ari completed his service at 21, then came to America to attend school and play soccer. Now 25, he wants continue his soccer career in MLS.

Sacha Kljestan is a wanted man. There are multiple MLS teams seeking his signature, as well as a few in the English Championship. When and if the current Anderlecht player arrives in MLS is anyone's guess, but the Red Bulls hope they can actually snag the US midfielder. LA Galaxy has other plans and are willing to lose to gain.

This MLS offseason has been all about name dropping. Gerrard, Altidore, Lampard, Ronaldo, and now add Javier "Little Pea" Hernandez to the list of names. Chicharito will stay in Europe a while longer after turning down the latest offer from MLS .

US Soccer

USA vs. Mexico is a vicious rivalry, and if you ask any player who has participated in a game between the two countries, they will tell you no quarter is given. Julio Morales has experienced this rivalry first hand as a player for Mexico, and now is switching his allegiance.

The USA is known as a "Melting Pot" of people from every corner of the globe. It is also known as one of the most untapped talented soccer markets in the world. Some would say this is great, but if you are a player trying to wade through the soccer landscape you would find it is one of the most chaotic structures in the world.

Jurgen Klinsmann had made a point of stating that 2015 is all about getting the youngsters involved. The Annual January camp started Monday with plenty of new talent. If these young players are going to stake their claim they need to up their game during the next month.

The official draw will be held Thursday in Miami, but the dates have been announced. The USA will start 2018 World Cup qualifying in November as one of the 6 ranked teams in CONCACAF.

World

In the 2013-14 season, Cristiano Ronaldo put on a show. He led Europe with 51 goals in all club competitions, including 31 goals in 30 games. In La Liga, Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win their 10th Champions League title (Decima) and 19th Copa del Rey. Ronaldo was named the worlds best player Monday night and awarded his 3rd Ballon d'Or. Nike honored Ronaldo with their take on the "Golden Boot".

More goals than Dennis Bergkamp, more assists than Paul Scholes, and more goals for England than Steven Gerrard. Heads above everyone on the field at 6'7" Peter "The OG Robot" Crouch is the millionaire player whom everyone likes.

Defending is one of the hardest jobs on the field. Defenders have to deny, delay, and stop the best player on the opposing team. Over the weekend Neymar and Eden Hazard each found out the hard way that defenders also adhere to an unspoken rule: "if you can't catch them, kick them."

Most national teams have world-class coaching, world-class trainers, and world-class players. In Monday's AFC Asian Cup between China and Saudi Arabia they also had a world-class ball boy.

The "Derby della Capitale" pits Lazio vs. Roma. Francesco Totti has played in 40 of these derby games with Roma. On Sunday night Totti became the all-time leading scorer in the derby. To celebrate he took a "Selfie"

Finally I will leave you with the 2014 FIFA Puskas nominees. James Rodriguez is the winner with his volley witnessed by tens of millions around the globe. My vote went to Stephanie Roche, her volley was only seen by 95 people, but the skill... oh the skill.