Landon Donovan talks World Cup, Klinsmann and more

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than two months away, U.S. Men’s National Team star Landon Donovan recently opened up about playing in his fourth World Cup, his evolving role on the USMNT, his relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann, and much more.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

Danny Williams will have a chance to show just how healthy and in form he is for Reading, Tim Howard will try to help Everton reclaim the Premiership’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers spot, and more in this upcoming weekend’s Americans Abroad action.

Howard signs Everton extension through 2018

Tim Howard has devoted his future to Everton, signing a two-year contract extension on Thursday that will keep him at the club through the 2017-18 season.

Howard signs Everton extension through 2018

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard celebrates at the end of the game

photo by Matt West/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Tim Howard has been a staple for Everton for much of the past decade, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Everton announced Thursday that Howard has signed a contract extension with the club that will run through the end of the 2017-18 season. The standout, 35-year-old goalkeeper’s initial deal was set to expire in 2016, but the Toffees were keen on securing his services for longer due to his quality as a player and role model.

“He has been vital to our overall achievements. It’s not just about his performances,” Everton head coach Roberto Martinez told EvertonTV. “As a goalkeeper, you have a big say about what happens in your own goal and to keep the amount of clean sheets that we have this season – which is already two more than last season when we had very good numbers defensively – is impressive.

“Then you see his human values and the way he affects youngsters; he is the perfect role model for out football club. We have a good group of young goalkeepers who can follow that sort of example, and that is why it’s so significant he has agreed to stay with Everton for a long, long period.”

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | 7 Comments

A closer look at MLS’s recent expansion

Atlanta Falcons/Atlanta MLS Owner Arthur Blank, MLS Commissioner Don Garber

photo by Perry McIntyre/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Not all things are created equal. MLS’s recent expansion is a prime example of that.

Atlanta was added officially as MLS’s 22nd team on Wednesday and the club is set to begin play in 2017 in a shiny new stadium that will open that year and also house the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Announcing that as a done deal in downtown Atlanta was the culmination of several years of hard work by MLS commissioner Don Garber and Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons and the new MLS club, and the latest sign of the league and sport’s growth in the United States and Canada.

That said, the move also raised questions as to MLS’s current process for expansion. Several markets were told in recent years that they had to meet certain requirements – like having a deal for a soccer-specific stadium in place – in order to be in contention for an expansion franchise. But the past year has shown that those requirements were mere guidelines or a wish list that MLS was okay with overlooking if it felt certain markets had other selling points and plenty of potential.

From New York City FC to Orlando City to Miami to Atlanta, no two cities have had the same recipe for getting into MLS over the past 12 months. In fact, their entrances into the league have all differed a substantial amount.

Here is a closer look at MLS’s most recent expansion markets:

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Posted in Featured, MLS- Expansion, MLS- Miami, MLS- New York City FC, MLS- Orlando City | 101 Comments

Reports: Brooks benched over large back tattoo

JohnAnthonyBrooksHerthaBerlin2 (DPA)

By FRANCO PANIZO

John Brooks was a puzzling omission from Hertha Berlin’s game-day roster this past weekend, but now we might know why he was not in uniform.

Brooks was not made part of Berlin’s 18-man roster for the 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen this past Sunday because of a large back tattoo he recently got done, according to multiple reports from Germany. The skin on which the tattoo was done on is still healing and has reportedly led to Brooks being limited in training sessions, something that drew the ire of Leverkusen head coach Jos Luhukay.

“I don’t have any understanding for that,” Luhukay told Berliner Morgenpost. “The tattoo could lead to an inflammation, and, naturally, that is not good.”

The 21-year-old centerback has been in and out Hertha Berlin’s lineup this season mostly due to form and injuries. Brooks has 10 starts this season in 12 appearances and one goal. There is no word currently on if he will be available for the 10th-placed club’s road trip to FC Augsburg this Saturday.

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | 92 Comments

On Women’s Soccer: Is the USWNT’s 4-3-3 formation here to stay?

USWNT Starting Eleven Team Photo

By CAITLIN MURRAY

When Tom Sermanni was fired as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, it was clear U.S. Soccer didn’t have much confidence in his vision.

But when Jill Ellis took over last week – quite possibly as an audition for the permanent job – she saw something in his approach worth keeping: the 4-3-3 formation.

The USWNT has typically preferred the 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, a popular formation featuring a crowded midfield that can be difficult for opponents to penetrate. But could the 4-3-3 become a new staple for the team?

The 4-3-3 is a more attack-focused formation, giving the USWNT extra options up the field. That seems to mesh with the style the players are looking for – both Abby Wambach and Heather O’Reilly cited a move away from “aggressive” attacking soccer as possible reasons why Sermanni was ousted.

But it will ultimately be up to whoever is the next head coach – and that person will have a real conundrum at hand. Since the USWNT has so much attacking prowess, how can it be used at once without going to waste?

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Posted in Featured, U.S. Women's National Team, Women's Soccer | 14 Comments

Thursday Kickoff: Bale leads Madrid to cup title; Bayern, PSG linked with Koscielny; and more

GarethBaleRealMadrid2-BarcelonaCopaDelRey2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

On Wednesday evening, Gareth Bale was worth every penny of his reported $132 million transfer fee for Real Madrid.

Facing Barcelona in the final of the Copa Del Rey, the supersonic Welshman knocked the ball past Barcelona defender Marc Bartra at the midfield line along the sideline and instantly went into fifth gear. Bale sped past Barta in the 84th minute before poking home through Barca goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto’s legs to give Madrid a 2-1 advantage.

Though Neymar hit the post in the 90th minute, Madrid held on for their 19th Copa Del Rey title.

Madrid played without Cristiano Ronaldo, but Bale stepped up to the task, as did Angel Di Maria who scored the opener in the 11th minute. Barca leveled against the odds when Bartra finished with a header off a corner in the 67th minute but Bale’s late go-ahead goal held up for his first piece of silverware since joining Real Madrid.

Here are some more stories to start off your day:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer | 6 Comments

MLS welcomes Atlanta as newest expansion franchise

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Atlanta Falcons/Atlanta MLS Owner Arthur Blank, and Georgia World Congress Center Executive Director Frank Poe

photo by Perry McIntyre/ISIphotos.com

By CAITLIN MURRAY

It’s official: Atlanta has been awarded an expansion team in Major League Soccer.

Atlanta will begin play in 2017 as the 22nd franchise in MLS. The team, not yet named, will be owned by Arthur Blank, who also owns the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Blank agreed to pay $70 million as an expansion fee, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The payment can be delayed until just prior to their first game, expected to be in March 2017. Blank had first looked at owning an MLS franchise in 2004.

The team’s colors will be red, white and gold in line with the Falcons’ original colors, but a nickname and logo is forthcoming. Fans will be asked to provide suggestions for the name, according to an MLS press release.

“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” Blank said Wednesday. “We are going to build a first-class organization on and off the field that will be a source of pride for the entire community, and we believe our downtown stadium will become a destination for soccer fans throughout the Southeast for many years to come.”

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Expansion | 191 Comments

Mexico 4, U-18 USMNT 3: Match Highlights

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photo by ISIphotos.com

Posted in Match Highlights, U.S. Youth National Teams | 25 Comments

Second-half rally propels Red Bulls past Union for first win of 2014

Fabio Alves (Fabinho), Lloyd Sam

By IVES GALARCEP

HARRISON, N.J.– The New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union have carried some pretty clear and worrisome trends through the early part of the 2014 season. The Red Bulls have been a slow-starting team that has shown much better quality in the second half, though that hadn’t resulted in any wins before Wednesday. The Union have been playing some of the most attractive soccer in the league, but allowing defensive breakdowns to cost them points at almost every turn.

Both teams stuck to those scripts as the Red Bulls turned up the pressure in the second half and broke through with a pair of second-half goals to earn a 2-1 victory over the Union at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.

Thierry Henry opened the scoring with an unmarked goal off a quality Roy Miller run and pass in the 57th minute, then Lloyd Sam headed home an Eric Alexander cross just 10 minutes later.

The Union battled back to make it a contest in the 80th minute after Sebastien LeToux converted a penalty kick drawn after Ibrahim Sekagya handled a Maurice Edu shot in the penalty area.

Sekagya was shown a straight red card and LeToux converted the penalty to set up a promising final 10 minutes for the Union, but Philadelphia failed to take advantage of the Red Bulls being a man down, mustering just one Edu shot during that time span.

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Posted in Featured, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union | 19 Comments