Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC
By SARAH HALLETT
It was a pivotal week in the National Women’s Soccer League as the first playoff spot has been claimed. To no one’s surprise, the Seattle Reign FC clinched a berth into the playoffs while last year’s champion Portland Thorns greatly improved their chances of reaching the post season, too.
A draw against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday was enough for the Reign FC to guarantee they will advance beyond the regular season. Meanwhile, the Thorns picked up four points this week thanks to a draw against the Red Stars on Thursday night and then a big win against the Breakers during the first nationally televised game of the season.
Sky Blue FC continues to enjoy its role as a spoiler this season as they delivered a big loss to the Washington Spirit, who are thick in the battle for a playoff spot. It was a loss that may come back to haunt the Spirit as they will close out the season facing the league’s top teams.
Though the Western New York Flash still sit in sixth place, they were able to draw with FC Kansas City on Friday night and only a few points outside of that last playoff spot. With a healthy Abby Wambach back for the last month of the season, their fortunes may turn around.
Here’s a closer look at the week’s results:
By MIKE GRAMAJO
Orlando City Soccer Club may not be in Major League Soccer just yet, but their march to a safer fan experience took another step on Monday.
In a letter issued to fans, club President Phil Rawlins announced the implementation of a fan advisory council and the suspension of 15 fans until December 2015.
The actions come in response to an incident at Al Lang Field earlier this month during a match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that ended with four arrests and 16 fan ejections.
OCSC also indefinitely suspended its two largest supporter groups, The Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm, until the groups agree to a new MLS code of conduct. The punishment comes a week after Iron Lion members were thrown out of a July 12 home game for obscene chants and threatening front office members during halftime. The club then issued a statement regarding that incident.
“Four fans were ejected for continuous use of inappropriate and offensive language,” Rawlins said in a statement. “Each of these individuals has subsequently been banned from attending future OCSC matches – home and away – until December 2015.”
Photo by Matt West/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
Talk about a U-turn.
Xavi has opted to remain at Barcelona and will not be joining New York City FC for its inaugural MLS season, according to the latest reports out of Spain. Xavi is expected to stick with the Spanish giants for the 2014-15 season in what is a surprising move given that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently said that Xavi would be on the move this summer.
The report states that the 34-year-old midfielder could stay with Barcelona until January and then join compatriot David Villa at NYC FC as a Designated Player, but it seems more likely that Xavi continues at Barcelona until at least next summer.
Neither club has officially commented on the matter, but a formal announcement is expected later this week.
If the Spanish midfielder opts to extend his time at Barcelona, the decision would mark the latest turn in the will-he, won’t-he saga that has had NYC FC fans buzzing for several weeks now.
What do you make of this development if true? Surprised Xavi might stay at Barcelona? Who should NYC FC look to next to potentially fill a Designated Player slot?
Share your thoughts below.
By FRANCO PANIZO
The race for the 24th MLS team is heating up, with Las Vegas being the latest city to thrust itself into the conversation for the expansion slot.
A Las Vegas group is working towards landing an MLS franchise in Sin City and recently told soccer fans in the area that landing a team is a realistic possibility. The group is led in part by Justin Findlay, who is the managing partner of Las Vegas-based Findlay Sports and Entertainment.
Findlay told locals that Las Vegas was on MLS’s short list for landing an expansion team late last week after MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott visited the city to speak to government officials, tour downtown and get a feel for how an expansion franchise could work in a city with no professional sports team.
“Hearing right from the horse’s mouth, this is really a possibility,” said Findlay. “We just have to convert on our plan. There are no reasons why these big, big dreams can’t happen.”
By FRANCO PANIZO
If you are hoping to see more of Julian Green in the near future, you will be happy to know Bayern Munich has just raised the odds of that happening.
Bayern Munich recently named Green to their first-team roster ahead of its preseason trip to the United States. The German club is scheduled to take on Chivas de Guadalajara on July 31 at Red Bull Arena and the MLS All-Stars at Providence Park on Aug. 6. Green might be available to play in both matches after Pep Guardiola included the 19-year-old winger in Bayern’s stacked first team.
An injury could prevent Green from suiting up, however. Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola said Tuesday that Green is dealing with a knee injury, but remained hopeful that the youngster will be able to recover in time to partake in the stateside friendlies.
“He will be rested, he will not be in the field for the next 2-3 days, but he is going to travel to the United States,” said Guardiola via a conference call. “I hope he’s going to play as much as possible, but we’re so, so happy that he’s with us because it’s never easy to be in the first squad. He deserves to try to keep going here and play with us.”
Photo by Joshua Weisberg/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
DeAndre Yedlin’s participation in the MLS All-Star Game will prevent him from partaking in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game.
Yedlin was removed from the original 20-man Homegrown Game roster on Tuesday due to his selection in the Aug. 6 match at Providence Park between the MLS All-Stars and Bayern Munich. That match comes two days after MLS debuts its Homegrown Game against the Portland Timbers Under-23 team, and the quick turnaround forced Yedlin’s withdrawal.
Two other players who also had to take themselves out of consideration for the Homegrown Game on Aug. 4 were Karl W. Ouimette and Wandrille Lefevre. The two Montreal Impact players have a CONCACAF Champions League group match on Aug. 5, and as such have to be with the club.
Yedlin, Ouimette and Lefevre were all replaced on the Homegrown roster, keeping the total number of players at 20. The replacement players are Philadelphia Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer, Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo and FC Dallas midfielder Danny Garcia.
Here are more notes from around MLS:
By DAN KARELL
Arguably the World Cup’s most exciting player is heading to Madrid.
Real Madrid welcomed with open arms their latest “galactico” signing, securing AS Monaco and Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez on a six-year contract. The transfer fee was undisclosed by Real Madrid but reports in Spain believe the fee to be in the region of 75 million euros ($101 million).
The 23-year-old completed his physical in Madrid on Tuesday morning and will be presented to media and fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium Tuesday evening.
Rodriguez captured the hearts and eyes of the world with tremendous performances at the 2014 World Cup, leading Colombia in its first trip to the quarterfinals and nearly defeating Brazil. James won the tournament’s Golden Boot with six goals and two assists, scoring in all five games he played.
Rodriguez joins Toni Kroos as Real Madrid’s two summer transfer signings so far, with more expected before the start of the season.
Here are some more stories to start off your Tuesday: