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MLS Narrative Power Rankings, 2/9: The Gateway Beckons

MLS to STL, reports from the MLS version of the USMNT, and Fernando Torres exists!

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

1. MLS to STL

Last Week: N/A

Movement: N/A

Much has been made about comments by Garber, the owners, the fans, and everyone's favorite abnormally large cabeza, Taylor Twellman, about the potential of St. Louis for MLS expansion, and it looks like the league is serious going forward with the Gateway City as reports emerged of stadium sites being scouted. I feel like I don't need to defend St. Louis's reputation as a good soccer market, but look, those people have liked soccer for forever with little to no actual pro soccer to speak of. They support U.S. games well. Their huge Bosnian population brings a European flair to the soccer crowd and fills out stadiums for preseason friendlies featuring Continental powers. St. Louis makes a nice, round four Midwestern teams in MLS after Minnesota begins play. It's a pretty good idea. They should do it. On to the next one.

2. #ThankYouStu

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While technically not an MLS-specific story, I can't help but pour one out for Stuart Holden, who announced his retirement this week after I made a joke about Nigel de Jong signing with LA and both of his knees spontaneously combusting upon hearing the news (sorry about that). Stu Holden could have been a really, truly great player if he had the opportunity to keep going. Injuries prevented his international career from ever truly taking off, always seeming to be hurt just as he was on the verge of breaking into the starting XI, and after one truly memorable season at Bolton, Manchester United defender Jonny Evans opened his knee up and the journey downhill began. Eternally optimistic and always a bright presence in whatever team he seemed to be playing for, the ex-Dynamo man will be missed.

3. Food for Thought

Last Week: 5, kind of

Movement: Up 2, also kind of

While the friendlies were predictably disjointed, the U.S. team gave Jurgen Klinsmann plenty to think about after the conclusion of the January camp ended with a 1-0 victory over our friendly foes from Canada. Jozy Altidore was the undisputed winner of the camp, looking lean and fit, not to mention scoring two goals over the two games. Lee Nguyen and Darlington Nagbe both appeared to help their cases as well, providing bright spots in attack. After that? we pay attention to Ethan Finlay's anonymous display against Iceland, or his picture-perfect assist against Canada? Do we look at Steve Birnbaum's dominance in the air or his tendency to get lost on the ground? Where does Jermaine Jones fit anymore, who is the best goalkeeper in the U.S. pool, and will Mix Diskerud ever reveal how good of a player he actually is? The only solid answer we got from the friendlies was that Gyasi Zardes really isn't that great of a player, and yet his spot in the lineup seems to be just as assured as Michael Bradley's at this point.

4. Perez Moving North?

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This story gets in here purely for Blas Perez's villain factor. Reports suggest the Whitecaps could be in the mix for the big Panamanian. This is pretty understandable, considering how anemic Vancouver's attack was down the stretch. After Octavio Rivero's early-season outburst, the Whitecaps bowed meekly out of the playoffs to eventual champions Portland, drawing 0-0 at Providence Park and losing in Vancouver 2-0. In addition to making plenty of enemies, Blas Perez scores goals. Madness ensues.

5. Fernando Torres Is Apparently Still Alive

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And MLS clubs want him (allegedly). Three MLS clubs are reportedly willing to bring the Spaniard in for a DP contract. Still only 31, Torres could find the ever-elusive form that made him the most feared striker on the planet. Or, he could get muscled out of the league like he did in England and spiral into a depressive cycle of self-loathing and missed opportunities. Who knows!

Honorable Mention: New England's Jermain Jones Contingency Plan Just Hit a Snag

Did we miss any stories that you care about? Let us know in the comments section below!