Thursday Kickoff: Chelsea lose Costa for Man United clash; Pogba extension imminent; and more

Chelsea will almost certainly be without star forward Diego Costa because of a new groin injury, leaving Jose Mourinho with another injury problem to deal with.

USMNTStartingXI1-Ecuador2014 (USATodaySports)

USMNT fall six places to No. 23 in latest FIFA rankings

Due to qualification matches elsewhere in the world and a pair of 1-1 draws in October, the USMNT fell six places to No. 23 in the latest FIFA World Rankings.

Late Red Bulls equalizer deprives Impact top CCL seed with draw

The New York Red Bulls spoiled a perfect group run for the Montreal Impact, equalizing late to draw.

Thursday Kickoff: Chelsea lose Costa for Man United clash; Pogba extension imminent; and more

DiegoCostaChelsea1-Arsenal2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Chelsea will likely be without their top scorer on Sunday when they face Manchester United.

Diego Costa is on the verge of being ruled out of the highly-anticipated matchup in Old Trafford with a groin injury, adding to his already long-term hamstring injury that he’s struggled to overcome. In addition, Costa was briefly hospitalized last week with a severe “stomach bug,” and hasn’t trained regularly since then.

The 26-year-old has scored nine goals in seven English Premier League games this season, but he has missed Chelsea’s last two games, at Crystal Palace and against Maribor in the UEFA Champions League with injury.

The most recent groin problem has reportedly left manager Jose Mourinho fuming, because he feels Costa was misused while on international duty with Spain.

Without Costa, Chelsea will likely go with either Didier Drogba, who is dealing with match fitness issues, or Andre Schurrle, who is coming back from flu-like symptoms. Loic Remy is unlikely to play after departing early in Chelsea’s 7-1 thrashing of Maribor with a groin injury.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

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USMNT fall six places to No. 23 in latest FIFA rankings

USMNTStartingXI1-Ecuador2014 (USATodaySports)

Photo by Dylan Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

By DAN KARELL

The U.S. Men’s National Team woke up this morning outside of the top 20 ranked teams in the world.

FIFA released their latest world rankings on Thursday as the USMNT fell six places to No. 23, following a pair of 1-1 draws to Ecuador and Honduras in October. The U.S. now sit one place behind the Czech Republic and one place ahead of the Czech’s neighbors, Slovakia. The last time the U.S. was ranked outside the top 20 in the world was in July 2013.

Much of the reason for the precipitous fall has to do with the fact that other nations are currently playing qualifying matches, either for Euro 2016, the 2015 African Cup of Nations, or the 2015 Gold Cup. In CONCACAF, the U.S. remain behind top ranked Costa Rica, who are ranked 16th in the world, and Mexico, who are 17th. Trinidad and Tobago, who are now the fourth-best ranked team in CONCACAF, jumped 37 places to No. 49 following three wins in October.

There was plenty of movement in the world top ten as well. Germany, Argentina, and Colombia remain the top three ranked teams, in that order, but Belgium jumped over the Netherlands into fourth place, with the Dutch following in fifth. Brazil checks in at sixth place, France moved up two places to seventh, Uruguay fell one spot to eighth, and Portugal moved up to ninth in front of tenth place Spain.

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What do you think of this development? Worried about the USMNT’s fall? Think they can move back up with wins over Colombia and Ireland next month?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, FIFA, U.S. Men's National Team | 6 Comments

Late Red Bulls equalizer deprives Impact top CCL seed with draw

Impact vs Red Bulls by Jim OConnor USA TODAY
Photo by Jim O’Connor/USA TODAY Sports

By CAITLIN MURRAY

The New York Red Bulls weren’t playing for much Wednesday. After all, they had already been eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League. And so, they fielded a young, inexperienced side against Montreal Impact’s veterans.

But the Red Bulls bowed out holding onto some dignity at home as they spoiled the Impact’s hopes for perfection, equalizing late for a 1-1 draw to finish group play.

The Red Bulls’ Connor Lade, who has been on loan with the New York Cosmos since July, scored the equalizer and ruined the party for the Impact, who were looking to secure an all-important top-four seed with a win.

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Posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, MLS- New York Red Bulls | 6 Comments

RSL roll over Chivas USA in regular season finale

JoaoPlataRSL1-ChivasUSA2014 (USATODAYSports)

Photo by Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports

By TYLER GRAY 

SANDY, Utah. — Chivas USA had beaten Real Salt Lake the two previous encounters this season, but RSL had the final say on Wednesday evening.

RSL strolled to a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto Stadium thanks to goals from forward Alvaro Saborio and midfielder Kyle Beckerman, with Chivas USA finishing the match with ten men due to a silly red card from Marvin Chavez. It was the third-straight shutout for RSL as they wrapped up their regular-season schedule.

“It feels great,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said following the match. “Obviously we’re extremely blessed to have such an incredible group of men in that locker room. As far as the staff, we came together quickly; that started in the preseason. It’s a great group to work with. We are all passionate about the team. But we still all have a lot of work to do and that is exciting. It’s a credit to the guys in the locker room; to the core group of that have been here for a while.”

RSL had already secured the opening goal in the 36th minute via a penalty kick after Saborio was taken down in the box by Bobby Burling during a free kick. Saborio took his penalty well, rifling a shot to the left, not showing any hesitation to give his squad a 1-0 lead with his eighth goal of the year.

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UCL Rewind: Real Madrid overwhelm Liverpool; Najar goal not enough against Arsenal; and more

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By RYAN TOLMICH

In the club’s toughest Champions League test in five years, Liverpool were issued a swift lesson on just how hard it is to match up with the world’s best.

Karim Benzema scored a pair of first-half goals to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday at Anfield. Benzema’s finishes were preceded by a 23rd minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, whose goal was the Portuguese star’s 70th of his Champions League career, leaving Ronaldo just one goal behind Real Madrid legend and recent New York Cosmos signing Raul for the all-time mark.

Arsenal also emerged from Wednesday’s action victorious, albeit in much more stressful fashion, due to a 2-1 victory over Belgium’s Anderlecht due to late goals from Keiran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski. Anderlecht opened the scoring through former D.C. United winger Andy Najar before Arsenal snatched the three points via Gibbs’ and Podolski’s finishes in the 89th and 91st minutes, respectively.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid swarmed Sweden’s Malmo FF, 5-0, and Olympiakos stunned Juventus with a 1-0 victory.

Check out the rest of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League scores below:

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Posted in European Soccer | 5 Comments

MLS Ticker: Galaxy sign DeLaGarza to multi-year contract; Parkhurst survives injury scare; and more

AJDeLaGarzaLAGalaxy1-FCDallas2014MLS (USATODAYSports)

Photo by Tim Heltman/USA TODAY Sports

By DAN KARELL

On the verge of making a deep playoff run, the LA Galaxy have locked down one of their top defenders to a long-term deal.

The Galaxy announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed A.J. DeLaGarza to a new multi-year contract, the third new contract he’s signed with the club since being drafted in 2009.

“We’re thrilled to sign A.J. to a multi-year contract,” LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “He is one of the most versatile defenders in MLS and has been an important part of our organization’s success both on and off the field over the past six years. We look forward to A.J.’s continued leadership as an LA Galaxy member.”

Since joining the Galaxy, DeLaGarza has made 155 appearances and 150 starts, the most of any defender selected in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. This season, DeLaGarza has dished out two assists in 28 games, with 27 starts.

Here are some more stories from around MLS:

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Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- Orlando City | 2 Comments