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Major Link Soccer: NWSL champs move to North Carolina

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Carli Lloyd repeats as FIFA's best female player while Cristiano Ronaldo wins best male player for the 4th time.

The News Observer

Seattle

Former Sounders coach Sigi Schmid recounted a few of his most memorable draft stories for MLSsoccer.com ahead of Friday's 2017 Superdraft, all of them from 2002 with the LA Galaxy.

Mayor Ed Murray's official Request for Proposals for renovations on KeyArena will begin on Wednesday (with an April 12th deadline), a step on the way to revisiting Chris Hansen's SODO project.

MLS/NWSL

Looking to capitalize on a huge sports void in North Carolina in the wake of boycotts over HB2, the Western New York Flash, last year's NWSL champions, have moved to Cary, North Carolina and will begin play in 2017 as the North Carolina Courage.

In what is likely a farewell move, the Portland Timbers have loaned midfielder Lucas Melano to Argentine side Atlético Belgrano, where he began his career. Though Timbers fans will remember his time fondly for their 2015 MLS Cup, Melano's signing will likely go down as money poorly spent.

Naturally, the Galaxy are looking to fill their two vacant DP slots quickly, reportedly looking at trying to pry Giovani's brother Jonathan dos Santos from Villareal and Romain Alessandrini from Marseille.

While it would be fun, it's going to take some bureaucratic magic to get Landon Donovan in an RSL jersey in 2017.

Maybe he can wait for it to get sorted out at the LA Galaxy taco truck, debuting in downtown LA for this weekend's MLS SuperDraft as part of their partnership with Chancho's Taco's.

FC Dallas defender Ryan Hollingshead was injured in a car accident last Friday and will require six to eight weeks to recover from vertebrae fractures; he is considered stable and expected to fully recover.

USA

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem is reportedly seeking a move to Borussia Dortmund, in search of playing time that the 19-year-old has found tough to come by Arsenal.

Bournemouth midfielder Emerson Hyndman has been loaned to Scottish club Rangers for the remainder of the season.

It's hard to keep track of all the structural changes to the NASL these days. As part of their new direction for 2017, and hot on the heels of their successful retention of Division II status, they have parted ways with Commissioner Bill Peterson.

For the first time in months the New York Cosmos are tweeting and let everyone know they will return for the 2017 season, a not-unexpected announcement after the NASL's Division II status confirmation.

Just as confusing, the also-Division II USL announced their conference alignment for the 2017 season, featuring 30 teams.

Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing ranked the viability of the list of ten potential markets that MLS released as part of its expansion announcement last month.

Sick of explaining why the p*to chant needs to go? A primer from Burgundy Wave.

World

The Best FIFA Football awards were on Sunday, with US midfielder Carli Lloyd winning for the second year in a row, over finalists Melanie Behringer (GER) and Marta (BRA), and Cristiano Ronaldo winning over finalists Lionel Messi (ARG) and Antoine Griezmann (FRA).

FIFA is set to expand the World Cup field today from 32 to 48 teams, and now President Gianni Infantino would like to also merge CONCACAF and CONMEBOL qualifying into a 46 country competition for 14 World Cup spots. The soonest cycle these changes could take place would be for the 2026 World Cup.

Soccer to Watch Today:

English League Cup

12:00pm Manchester United vs Hull City beIN SPORTS, fuboTV

Copa del Rey

12:15pm Atlético Madrid vs Las Palmas fuboTV, beIN SPORTS

Coppa Italia

12:00pm Napoli vs Spezia fuboTV, GOLTV USA