PerryKitchenD.C.United1-ChicagoFire2014 (USATODAYSports)

D.C. United secure No. 1 CONCACAF Champions League ranking, quarterfinal dates set

D.C. United have earned the No. 1 seed heading into the Championship stage of the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League, and along with the Montreal Impact will host the second leg of the quarterfinals.

Aron Johannsson AZ Alkmaar 29

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

Aron Johannsson could make his official AZ Alkmaar return, Edgar Castillo seeks revenge, and more in this upcoming weekend’s Americans Abroad action.

Alfredo Morales USMNT 75

As he finds success on the club level, Morales also making progress with USMNT

Alfredo Morales has settled in as a starter for Bundesliga 2-leading FC Ingolstadt, and his club success has led to a chance to impress on the U.S. Men’s National Team.

D.C. United secure No. 1 CONCACAF Champions League ranking, quarterfinal dates set

PerryKitchenD.C.United1-ChicagoFire2014 (USATODAYSports)

Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports

By DAN KARELL

For the first time in the current format of the CONCACAF Champions League, an MLS team has secured the No. 1 seed in the knockout round.

D.C. United were rewarded for their perfect group stage campaign by being seeded as the top team in the Championship stage, with a place at the bottom of the bracket and a quarterfinal matchup against Costa Rican club Alajuelense. D.C. United are the lone American club remaining in the tournament after the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City, and Portland Timbers were all eliminated out in the group stage.

The other MLS side remaining in the tournament is the Montreal Impact, who are seeded fourth and have been drawn with Liga MX side Pachuca in the quarterfinals.

In addition to the seeding, CONCACAF also announced the order of the two-legged ties and the approximate dates for the games, though the exact dates and start times will be determined as we get closer 2015.

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Posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- Montreal Impact | Leave a comment

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

Aron Johannsson AZ Alkmaar 29

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 »

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As he finds success on the club level, Morales also making progress with USMNT

Alfredo Morales USMNT 75

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.”

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured, U.S. Men's National Team | 11 Comments

Saprissa knocks Sporting KC out of CCL contention

SportingKC-Sapressa-USAToday

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.

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Posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, MLS- Sporting Kansas City | 9 Comments

Americans Abroad: Midweek Rewind

Tim Howard Everton 76

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:

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Must-See Goal: Erik Lamela

Erik Lamela Tottenham

Posted in European Soccer, Must-See Goals, Must-See Videos | 9 Comments