Happy holidays. Hope you are enjoying time with family and friends. I’ll return to regular duty next week. For now, let’s get caught up.....

The headline: Clint Dempsey scores again for Fulham

Behind the headline: Although he’s only 28, Deuce enters the conversation about the greatest American players to ever perform abroad. With Monday’s goal during a 1-1 draw at Chelsea – his fourth in his past six appearances for Fulham and ninth in 24 matches this campaign -- he increased his American Premier League record to 39 and his career total to 46 since moving to London from the New England Revolution five years ago. Where does Dempsey stand among Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, John Harkes, Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo? Others in the mix: Thomas Dooley, Roy Wegerle and Earnie Stewart, all of whom entered the U.S. picture after establishing their European careers.


The headline: Juergen Klinsmann names training camp roster

Behind the headline: You wanted fresh faces in the U.S. player pool, you got it. The Galaxy defensive tandem of Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza. Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, whose ambitious, confident runs in central midfield sent his stock soaring. Kansas City’s C.J. Sapong, the MLS rookie of the year who combines a physical presence with a finishing touch. Dallas defender George John, who has flirted with Greek national team opportunities. Houston’s Geoff Cameron, a two-way defender and midfielder. Plus, we’ll get another look at Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo, Bill Hamid, Michael Parkhurst, Chris Wondolowski, Kyle Beckerman and Teal Bunbury, among others.

The headline: Devon McTavish announces retirement

Behind the headline: McTavish, 27, became the fourth D.C. United player in recent years to retire prematurely because of concussion issues. His departure didn’t carry the weight of exits by Alecko Eskandarian, Josh Gros or Bryan Namoff. But he was a reliable player with local ties who filled a variety of roles over six seasons with United and was active in the community. After McTavish sat out almost all of this past season, United declined to exercise the option on his contract. He wasn’t selected in the re-entry draft, and after consulting with doctors, decided to hang up his boots.

The headline: Clyde Simms signs with Revolution

Behind the headline: Simms boasted the longest continuous service to United (seven seasons), but like mainstays McTavish, Marc Burch and Santino Quaranta, he wasn’t retained by the tinkering club. With Perry Kitchen pegged to play in defensive midfield in 2012, the writing was on the wall for Simms. Still, it’s going to be strange seeing him in a different uniform.

The headline: MLS training camps open as early as Jan. 15

Behind the headline: Didn’t the season just end? Yup. The gap between the 2011 MLS Cup and the 2012 first practices is eight weeks. USA Coach Juergen Klinsmann has stressed the importance of players remaining active year-round in order to maintain fitness and form for both club and country. By comparison, English Premier League clubs completed the last league campaign on May 22 and regrouped in early July.

The headline: New women’s team arrives in Washington

Behind the headline: No, the Freedom hasn’t been resurrected. No, WPS hasn’t returned to the D.C. area. The Maryland Capitols have risen in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, a national circuit with more than 60 clubs. They will play at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex, adjacent to FedEx Field. Other second-tier women’s teams in the area: D.C. United Women (Maryland SoccerPlex) and Northern Virginia Majestics (Manassas) in the W-League, and the Chesapeake Charge (Gambrills, Md.) in the WPSL.

The headline: USA women to play at FC Dallas Stadium

Behind the headline: You mean Pizza Hut Park, right? Not anymore. The restaurant chain exercised an opt-out clause after seven seasons. Until a new sponsor is found, the venue will take the name of the MLS club that calls it home. The USA women, presumably with an Olympic berth in hand by then, will face New Zealand in Frisco, Tex., on Feb. 11.