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Philadelphia is the place to be
January 12th, 2014 3:38PM

TAGS:  african nations cup, alianza de futbol, americans abroad, argentina, arsenal, asian cup, australia, ayso, barcelona, bayern munich


[THIS WEEK IN SOCCER: Jan. 13-19] One of the busiest weeks in U.S. soccer will have lots of folks scurrying to Philadelphia for the NSCAA Convention, site of the MLS and NWSL drafts. The week begins with the Ballon d'Or ceremonies on Monday and ends with Chelsea-Manchester United on Sunday.

MONDAY, Jan. 13
-- Toronto FC is calling it a "bloody big deal." Part 1. It will introduce Jermain Defoe, the first of its two blockbuster signings, at the Real Sports Bar & Grill. The English international, who scored in Tottenham's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, won't officially join Toronto until March. We're still awaiting for official word from MLS and Toronto on Part 2.

-- Win or lose, Cristiano Ronaldo says he's going. The Real Madrid star is the favorite ahead of Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery to finally get his Ballon d'Or at the awards gala at Zurich's Kongresshaus (live on Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Soccer 2 Go, 12:20 p.m. ET). Abby Wambach, the 2012 winner, is again up for the women's award in competition with Nadine Angerer and Marta. The coaches of the year will also be named.

TUESDAY, Jan. 14
The adidas MLS Player Combine concludes with two games at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Fla. It will be the last chance for players like Steve Birnbaum, Christian Dean, Andre Blake and Patrick Mullins to make the case why they should go with the No. 1 pick in Thursday's SuperDraft. Also of interest will be how 19-year-old Jamaican Andre Lewis, a future Reggae Boyz star, and the two players from the Caribbean Combine, 18-year-old Quinton Christina (Curacao) and 21-year-old Stefano Rijssel (Suriname), do.

There's a video with seven reasons to attend the NSCAA Convention (schedule). We'll give you one: everyone and their brother will be in Philadelphia. It's called the biggest soccer coaches gathering in the world, but it is also a chance for everyone working in soccer to connect once a year. There are, of course, seminars and clinics. The NSCAA will hold its awards dinner on Friday night and All-American luncheon on Saturday. U.S. Youth Soccer is holding is annual workshop in conjunction with the convention. Opening Thursday night is the exhibit hall. You can't miss Soccer America at Booth 406, right in front to the right as you enter the hall.

Who'll go No. 1 in the MLS SuperDraft (live on ESPNews and ESPNWatch, noon ET)? As the week began, there was no consensus about whom D.C. United will take with the top pick or whether it will even keep the pick. The one thing that is for sure is that the hall at the Pennsylvania Convention Center will be packed as Sons of Ben see what the Philadelphia Union does with the No. 2 and No. 6 picks. Will that be cheers or boos we hear from the Philly fanatics? (Draft order)

FRIDAY, Jan. 17
-- The NWSL College Draft will also be held in Philadelphia. North Carolina's Crystal Dunn, who has already established herself as a regular on the national team, is expected to go to the Washington Spirit with the No. 1 pick. The expansion Houston picks at No. 2, while the Chicago Red Stars have the third and fourth picks. (Draft order)

-- Two berths in the Under-20 Women's World Cup will be on the line in the Concacaf Under-20 Women's Championship semifinals (live on Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Soccer 2 Go). The USA, which closes out group play in Cayman on Monday night against Guatemala, cruised into the final four with 6-0 and 3-0 wins over Costa Rica and Jamaica, respectively.

The Sons of Ben will be holding pre- and post-SuperDraft parties and organizing a Supporters Summit, but they will also hold their annual Help Kick Hunger event (ticket info) taking place at the Field House to support Bernadine Center in Chester, home to PPL Park.

SUNDAY, Jan. 19
This is usually a top-of-the-table clash: Chelsea-Manchester United (live on NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET), but the EPL teams, both under new management this season, have had contrasting seasons. Things have worked OK for Jose Mourinho, in his second stint at Chelsea, which is in the top three, but David Moyes is enduring a nightmare first season at Old Trafford. Saturday's 2-0 win at Swansea City eased the pressure on Moyes after three straight losses to start the New Year, but United sits in seventh place, 10 points off the lead, 11 if Arsenal wins on Monday. United star Wayne Rooney, whom Chelsea had courted in the offseason, was "sent off" for hot-weather training to recover from a groin injury. United was hoping he'll be ready for the match at Stamford Bridge.

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