By Tony Edwards – San Jose, CA (Dec 6, 2011) US Soccer Players — Thursday's 5, with Tony asking about Eastern Conference teams moving forward, college players attending the Combine, and possibly the best best nickname in MLS.

Have any Eastern Conference teams actually gotten better this off-season?

Exaggerating for effect, but other than Kansas City, who would make the list of having improved? Toronto and Philadelphia have made international signings that look positive, but right now last year鈥檚 regular season conference champions look like favorites to repeat.  Granted, we haven't seen what the Red Bulls with their willingness to spend might do.  But other than that, is there really a threat to the status quo in the East? 

What does Bruce Arena, who has seen it all, think of players going overseas to train during the off-season?

Not a whole lot. Arena makes the valid point that with bigger clubs playing every few days, its not like Brek Shea is facing Jack Wilshere in training every day.  Simply put, there's no reason for the European clubs to treat MLS players as if they're on trial unless they're actually on trial.  There's also no reason to think simply training with a European club is a world of difference from what happens in MLS.

Speaking of players who are training overseas, who was named the Rapids MVP this past season?

Jeff Larentowicz. How many MLS players have better nicknames than 鈥淕inger Ninja?鈥?#0160; Larentowicz started all 34 games in the regular season for the Rapids last season, scoring seven goals.  That's 3051 MLS minutes in 2011, plus three starts and 270 more minutes in the playoffs.

Which schools have the most players on the initial list of those attending the upcoming MLS Player Combine?

UCLA and the University of Louisville, with four players each. The combine is January 6th through 10th in Fort Lauderdale leading up to the SuperDraft at the NSCAA Convention in Kansas City on the 12th.  Yes, once again the draftees will be going from sunny Florida to a cold weather city in January.

Which former MLS coach is trading orange for orange?

Colin Clarke, who moves from Puerto Rico to Carolina, to take over the RailHawks.  What will Clarke likely be missing with the move?  Well, other than the beaches in Puerto Rico, easier entry into the CONCACAF Champions League than any scenario in Cary, North Carolina.

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