Sacha Kljestan's strong 2011-2012 season continues.
The American midfielder tallied his fifth goal of the season Wednesday, opening the scoring in Anderlecht's 2-1 victory over Zulte-Waregem. The win wrapped up the regular season for Anderlecht, which finished atop the Belgium Pro League standings and will take a three-point advantage into the six-team league playoff hexagonal, where the top two finishers qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
When Kljestan headed home Lucas Biglia's corner kick in the seventh minute, he matched his career high for goals in a single season. Kljestan scored five times in the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons while playing for Chivas USA (and he did score another goal in the 2008 MLS playoffs).
What's your take on Kljestan's season? Hope to see him be a part of World Cup qualifying?
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Photo by Brad Smith/ISIphotos.com
Three Eastern Conference teams with serious postseason aspirations. Six games. No wins.
That's far from how the New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and D.C. United planned on starting a season filled with promise and hope.
For the Red Bulls, the club has come out flat in two games, the team's new signings have not shown all that well and there's very little in the way of creativity coming out of the midfield. The Union's new-look lineup is not yet producing in the wake of the Sebastien Le Toux trade, and while goalkeeper Zac MacMath has looked strong at times since taking over for Faryd Mondragon, he has also made a couple of errors that have led directly to goals.
D.C. United, meanwhile, has yet to receive a return from Designated Player Hamdi Salihi, who was left out of this past weekend's match, and reigning league MVP Dwayne De Rosario has yet to get going after dealing with a groin strain during the preseason.
On the bright side, each team has reasonable explanations for its poor start as well as reasons to think that things will get better:
Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba is receiving all kinds of support from around the soccer community as he continues his recovery from a sudden cardiac arrest, including one touching gesture from an MLS star who happens to be one of his former teammates.
New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry flew to London Tuesday for a brief visit with the recovering Muamba, a teammate of his at Arsenal from 2002-2007. Sources confirmed to SBI that while Henry left for London, he is fully expected to return ahead of Thursday's training session.
Muamba, whose heart stopped beating for 78 minutes and required 15 shocks to be restarted after the cardiac episode according to statements made by Bolton's team doctor, remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital.
After Valencia wraps up what they hope is a spot in next year's UEFA Champions League, the storied Spanish side will head to the United States for a pair of friendlies against MLS teams.
Currently in third place in La Liga behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia will play the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on May 23 followed by being the Houston Dynamo's opponent in the Dynamo Charities Cup on May 31 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Led by in-form Spanish international striker Roberto Soldado and rising defender Jordi Alba, Valencia has managed to stay afloat near the top of the Spanish table despite losing players like David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata and Raul Albiol in recent years.
The friendlies are part of season-ticket packages for both clubs, and the trip will mark Valencia's first to the United States. The club has played an MLS team before, though, defeating the Colorado Rapids 4-3 at Estadio Mestalla in March, 2007.
Excited for the two matches? Do you plan on attending?
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Photo by Joe Toth/ISIphotos.com
As the seasons begin to wind down across the globe, the fights atop league tables either for championships or places in the Champions League and Europa League begin to get more fierce. All of that is at stake when Everton meets Arsenal and Manchester City hosts Chelsea in two of the more important games going on this Wednesday.
The on-going jockeying for table position and the fight to ward off relegation is also prevalent in Spain, where half of the league is in action. La Liga leaders Real Madrid will hope to pad their five-point advantage over Barcelona against a struggling Villarreal side desperately in need of points to cement its place in the top flight for next season.
Domestic cup play continues across Europe as well, as Napoli and Siena meet in the semifinals of the Coppa Italia and Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich clash in the semifinals of the DFB Pokal. In France, the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France features a battle between powers PSG and Lyon.
If you will be watching any of Wednesday's games, please feel free to share any thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below. Enjoy the action (TV schedule is after the jump):