By DAN KARELL
Barcelona have a chance to move seven points clear of arch-rival Real Madrid when the two meet in today’s El Clasico encounter.
The Catalan side hold a four-point lead over Real Madrid and remain undefeated in the 2014 La Liga season, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side are feeling confident, especially with new signings Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez settling in. The game could also see history as Lionel Messi sits only one goal behind Telmo Zarra’s La Liga goalscoring record of 251 goals, and the match could be stopped to honor Messi if he breaks the record.
Both Liverpool and Manchester City look to rebound from disappointing mid-week performances in the UEFA Champions League, with Man City visiting West Ham in the lunchtime kickoff and Liverpool hosting Hull City. Arsenal meanwhile visit Jozy Altidore and Sunderland.
Elsewhere in action on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen face Schalke 04, the Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy battle for the Supporters Shield, and in Mexico, the Clasico Regiomontano takes place with Monterrey hosting Tigres UANL.
If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (Today’s schedule is after the jump):
Photo by USA TODAY Sports
By IVES GALARCEP
Major League Soccer fans will endure a wide range of emotions this week as the CONCACAF Champions League failures of some teams come just as other teams prepare to take important steps toward the MLS playoffs.
Episode 173 of The SBI Show takes a look back at a disappointing group stage for American MLS teams, with just one of four advancing to the CCL quarterfinals after Sporting KC and Portland were eliminated. D.C. United join the Montreal Impact as the lone MLS representatives in the knockout rounds.
Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also look ahead at MLS Week 34, including the key Seattle Sounders-LA Galaxy clash, as well as the New York Red Bulls’ visit to Sporting Kansas City. We also discuss the season’s first edition of ‘El Clasico’, between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and more.
Give Episode 173 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:
Photo by Guy Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
As Friday’s matchup with the Houston Dynamo headed into extra time, the Chicago Fire looked destined to extend their MLS record with their 19th draw of the season. However, a late goal from Florent Sinama-Pongolle ensured the Fire would close out the season with a maximum three points.
Sinama-Pogalle scored in stoppage time in midfielder Logan Pause’s sendoff game, as the Fire picked up a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo, who saw the Dominic Kinnear end in a loss.
The Frenchman’s winner came in the 91st minute via a cross form midfielder Grant Ward, as Sinama-Pogalle’s near post run was rewarded with a pinpoint ball from Ward. Sinama-Pogalle responded with a thumping header to lock up a late victory for the Fire. Continue reading
Photo by Creighton Athletics
By AARON CRANFORD
SBI No. 7 Creighton and Big East Offensive Player of the Week Fabian Herbers will host No. 15 Georgetown Saturday, and they will be searching for their first win against a ranked conference foe this season.
The Blue Jays only have one loss on the year, but they were defeated by Saint Louis midway through and drew against Xavier Sunday. Only one of their wins has come against ranked opposition, and that was against Stanford in their opening match in August .
They have a tough four days ahead, as they play the Hoyas and No. 8 Marquette, but Herbers will try to lead his side after scoring in both matches last weekend. The Hoyas have not looked like their former self in their past two matches, suffering losses to both Providence and Seton Hall, but they will be looking to bounce back Saturday.
Friday, No. 23 Louisville faces off against Clemson, who topped No. 13 Coastal Carolina during the week (ESPN3, 7:30 p.m.). Since losing four consecutive matches, the Cardinals have rebounded, winning three in a row and topping Syracuse last Friday.
Clemson ended the Chanticleers eight-game winning streak Tuesday and will now hope to ruin the Cardinals momentum.
Photo by Bill Striecher/USA TODAY Sports
By CAITLIN MURRAY
As if there was ever really any doubt, the U.S. Women’s National Team will be in Canada for the World Cup next summer.
A dominant USWNT cruised past Mexico in PPL Park on Friday, 3-0, assuring the Americans a spot in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Mexico is not out of it as they can still qualify.
As has been the case throughout this CONCACAF qualifying tournament, the USWNT looked dominant but let chance after chance go by. The Americans out-shot Mexico, 21-to-1.
“Overall, this tournament has been great and it’s taught us a lot,” brace-scorer Carli Lloyd told Fox Sports afterward. “We’ve been playing against bunker teams.”
Indeed, Mexico looked less interested in scoring goals than they were in minimizing USWNT goals. They had some help, as the Americans hit the woodwork three times on the night and failed to capitalize on several Mexican back line breakdowns with poor finishing.
By FRANCO PANIZO
If Aron Johannnsson’s performance for AZ Alkmaar’s reserves earlier this week was any indication, he might just be ready to make his competitive return.
Johannsson made his way back from groin and ankle injuries on Monday by scoring in a reserve game for AZ, and that outing could help convince the coaching staff that he is healthy enough to partake in the club’s league encounter with FC Groningen on Saturday. The 23-year-old forward has not seen time in a competitive match since making his lone World Cup appearance in June, and is likely champing at the bit to get back in the mix to help an AZ side that is currently in ninth place in the Eredivisie.
While Johannsson will be focused on trying to make his comeback official, Edgar Castillo will be out for payback. Castillo and his club, Atlas, were eliminated from the Copa MX by Puebla on Wednesday, but the two sides will coincidentally meet again in a league fixture on Saturday that is sure to be plenty intense. Michael Orozco did not feature for Puebla in the midweek match, but should resume playing in his regular starting spot this weekend to make the clash with Castillo and Atlas even more intriguing.
Another potential match-up abroad involving Americans could take place in Germany, as Hertha Berlin and Hamburg lock horns on Saturday. Brooks seems the more likely of the two U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup scorers to start, but there is a chance Green could too given that he has had another week to fully heal the bruised ribs that have troubled him in recent weeks.
Here is who the Americans Abroad battle this weekend: Continue reading