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
By FRANCO PANIZO
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Jurgen Klinsmann often encourages his U.S. Men’s National Team players to push themselves to the highest levels, but one youngster who recently went against that line of thinking and has reaped tremendous benefits is Alfredo Morales.
Morales is an every-game starter for FC Ingolstadt these days, which is part of the reason that they are enjoying an incredible and undefeated start to their season. The 24-year-old Morales’ performances in central midfield have helped the club post a 6-0-4 to reach the top of the 2. Bundesliga table, and also seen him reenter the U.S. picture after being out of it for quite some time.
That Morales finds himself in these favorable situations is not simply down to him working hard. Rather, a calculated decision made on his part in May 2013 to move away from childhood club Hertha Berlin, which had gained promotion to Germany’s top tier, paved the way for him to enjoy these successes. It was a difficult choice, but a necessary one.
“Sometimes there is the point where you have to move, you have to go somewhere,” Morales told SBI. “Because I play for Hertha Berlin 13 years and when you come from the whole youth system and you know everybody – I love the city, I love the club, everything’s cool – but sometimes you’re always like a little boy.
“Yeah, maybe I could play there but now I decided to go the 2. Bundesliga and I think it’s the best decision I could make.”
By TATE STEINLAGE
Sporting Kansas City entered the night needing only a draw to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals for the second-straight year. Standing in their way, though, were Deportivo Saprissa and a rowdy “Monster’s Cave” crowd.
It proved to be too much in the end for the defending MLS Cup champions. Heiner Mora and Ariel Rodriguez scored for Saprissa, eliminating a two-goal deficit in Group 2 to jump Sporting KC in the standings on away goals, en route to a 2-0 shutout victory.
“I thought we battled,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said over the phone after the game. “We’re playing away from home at their place, we’re going to push the game — they know they have to run after it — and we’re going to try to not open ourselves up.
“From that point of view, I thought we did some good things. Unfortunately, they scored two and we couldn’t get one in.”
Rodriguez celebrated the feat with thousands chanting and screaming his name. It was his goal in the 47th minute that punched Saprissa’s ticket into the next round. Dates and matchups for the quarterfinals will be announced by CONCACAF at a later date.
By FRANCO PANIZO
Everton’s stranglehold on Group 5 did not get tighter, but the club is still sitting pretty after grabbing another result on the road.
The Toffees remained atop their UEFA Europa League group after the third round of matches on Thursday, securing a valuable point in a scoreless draw at French club Lille. Tim Howard helped Everton stay undefeated at the midway point of their group stage campaign, making three saves to record his first cleansheet of the 2014-15 competition. The Premiership club now looks like a good bet to advance, as two of their final three matches in this phase of the tournament are at home.
While Howard and Everton’s chances of moving in the Champions League were raised, Jose Torres made sure his team stayed alive in their respective tournament. Torres scored a superb game-winner on Wednesday by bending a free kick into the top near corner of Tigres’ 2-0 Copa MX quarterfinals win against Toluca. The goal was his first of the season.
There was another positive development in England’s second division, as Emerson Hyndman started and played 73 minutes in Fulham’s 3-3 draw with Rotherham United on Tuesday. The appearance was Hyndman’s first in about a month, and ended a three-game spell of inactivity for the young midfielder.
Here is how the Americans Abroad performed during the midweek action:
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.