By FRANCO PANIZO
If a short turnaround did not already make things difficult enough for Tim Howard, his opponent this weekend surely will.
Coming off a strong performance in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-0 defeat to Ukraine on Wednesday, Howard will look to lead Everton into battle as the Toffees visit Arsenal in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup. The talented and (as we were recently reminded) very vocal Howard is likely to be tested against a Gunners team attempting to keep its hopes of lifting some silverware this season alive. He will probably need to turn in another performance like the one he had against the Ukrainians earlier this week if the Toffees are to have a shot at pulling off the upset at the Emirates.
Howard is not the only American still in the FA Cup. Jozy Altidore remains in the tournament as well, and he will hope to earn some minutes for Sunderland after not dressing in last weekend’s Capital One Cup final defeat to Manchester City. Altidore has extra motivation for this showdown, too, as the game is against his former club, Hull City.
DaMarcus Beasley is not competing in any tournament matches, but the chances that he makes his way back into Puebla’s starting lineup for a league game should be improved after delivering a winner in last week’s triumph over Queretaro. Beasley has been in and out of the starting XI for the past month, but Friday’s clash with Toluca could present him another opportunity to further cement his place as a starter.
Here is who the Americans Abroad square off with this weekend:
By CAITLIN MURRAY
There’s plenty of soccer on TV this weekend with Major League Soccer returning and some big games abroad.
The campaign for the FA Cup continues with Arsenal set to host Everton for the quarterfinal match Saturday. Everton has never won at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, having drawn in their last two visits, but they will be traveling to face an Arsenal side still feeling the sting of their league defeat against Stoke City last weekend.
Everton may need to play without captain Phil Jagielka as a hamstring injury looks like it won’t be resolved soon, manager Roberto Martinez has told media.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be looking to continue their 26-game unbeaten streak against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge and collect three points to solidify their position at the top of the Premier League.
In Italy, second-place AS Roma visits third-placed Napoli in a key Serie A match. It’s the first time these two teams have faced since Napoli thrashed AS Roma in the Coppa Italia.
Here’s a rundown of this weekend’s soccer on TV:
By CAITLIN MURRAY
The future of Major League Soccer is looking bright – at least according to a new poll out by ESPN.
MLS has caught up with Major League Baseball in popularity among Americans aged 12 to 17 as both leagues have 18 percent of that demographic calling themselves avid fans. While MLB was founded in 1869, MLS has been around since 1996.
“It is phenomenal that in just one generation it has gone from zero adherents to tying MLB,” Rich Luker, the study’s creator, told ESPN FC, “especially when you recognize this is the first generation to only know the United States with a professional soccer league. MLS is in their generational DNA.”
Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
A two-year unbeaten streak for U.S. Women’s National Team is over.
Sweden defeated the USWNT 1-0 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal Friday on a spectacular header from Lotta Schelin and a missed penalty kick from Abby Wambach.
It was coach Tom Sermanni’s first loss since taking the helm of the USWNT in January 2013. But perhaps even more stinging, the loss came at the hands of the coach he replaced, Sweden’s Pia Sundhage, who started the 43-game unbeaten streak.
Sundhage finished her U.S. coaching career with a 88-6-10 record overall and had led the USWNT to a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, winning all six matches in that campaign, before leaving at the end of 2012 to return to her native Sweden.
In the 15th minute, forward Amy Rodriguez was taken down one-on-one, drawing a questionable penalty kick opportunity, but Wambach failed to convert. Her low, relaxed attempt was easily read by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who stopped it near the post.
By CAITLIN MURRAY
With one day to go before their season starts, the New York Red Bulls have signed three players. Defenders Chris Duvall and Ambroise Oyongo and midfielder Eric Stevenson have joined the club, the Red Bulls announced Friday.
Duvall, 22, was selected 22nd overall in the 2014 SuperDraft while Stevenson, 23, was the 34th pick. Oyongo, 22, joins the Red Bulls coming off a stint with Coton Sport FC in Cameroon since 2010.
“We are pleased to sign all three players,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh said in a statement. “They all showed in preseason that they have potential and we look forward to their contributions to the team in the coming season.”
The Red Bulls will open their season Saturday visiting the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Canada.
What do you think of this news? What will the three signings bring to the Red Bulls? How are they going to do this season?
Share your thoughts below.
By DAN KARELL
French midfielder Paul Pogba could be the most sought after transfer target of the summer.
Both Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have made the 20-year-old Juventus man their No. 1 target this summer, and according to a report in Gazzetta Dello Sport, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has already met in person with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli. PSG are reportedly willing to spend upwards of €70 million ($97.3 million) to sign Pogba.
Spanish publication Marca report that Real Madrid have also contacted Juventus inquiring about Pogba.
Pogba, last year’s FIFA Under-20 Golden Ball winner, has kept a regular place in the Juventus side this season after breaking through in 2012/2013. Pogba has played 34 times for Juve in all competitions this season, scoring eight goals.
Here are some more stories to kick off your Friday:
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
With fellow title contenders Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool off from English Premier League action, Chelsea have a perfect opportunity this weekend to get one step closer to the title.
The first-place Blues, who are on a 13-match unbeaten run in EPL play, will head into Saturday’s clash against fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur with a 4-point lead on second-place Arsenal. Although Tottenham have won more matches away from home than any other club in the EPL, Chelsea will be favored to grab all three points at home and put more pressure on their major rivals in the race for the title. Chelsea are still unbeaten in league play at home under Jose Mourinho, and visiting Spurs are winless in their last 16 trips to Stamford Bridge across all competitions.
Tottenham will look for a result in order to stay in the midst of the race for a Champions League spot, but they will visit the Bridge with several major injury concerns, especially in defense. Their low-scoring offense has also come under fire in recent weeks, and it will go toe-to-toe Saturday against a Chelsea defense that has only allowed two goals in their last five league games at home. Saturday’s match against Chelsea will open a grueling month of March for Spurs, one that includes matches against Arsenal, Benfica and Liverpool.
Another clash between a league leader and a Champions League contender will take place in Italy, where first-place Juventus will host fourth-place Fiorentina in Turin. Sunday’s match at Juventus Stadium will be the first of three March matches between the two sides, who will also square off in the Europa League Round of 16. Fiorentina handed Juventus their lone Serie A loss of the season back in October, a 4-2 thriller for the Viola, and the defending champions would want nothing more than another home victory on their quest to a third consecutive league title.
Here is a closer look at the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
D.C. United has shown Eddie Johnson the money.
Johnson has signed a deal with D.C. United as a Designated Player, the club announced on Thursday. The move was expected almost immediately after Johnson joined D.C. via a trade from the Seattle Sounders, but it had not been worked out until now.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but an SI.com report states that Johnson signed a two-year deal that will see him earn an average of $600,000 a season.
“Eddie is an elite striker who is in the prime of his career, and we are thrilled that he has made a commitment to D.C. United,” said D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper. “We look forward to Eddie’s contributions on and off the field.”
Johnson has been one of the best forwards in MLS since returning in 2012. The 29-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team forward netted a combined 23 times and delivered five assists for the Sounders in regular season play the past two seasons, but was moved this offseason after becoming unhappy about his contract situation with the club.
During a game last year, Johnson celebrated a goal by making a pay-up gesture and uttering the words “Pay me.”
“I want to thank D.C. United for showing faith in me,” said Johnson. “I’m extremely proud to wear the Black-and-Red, and I am excited to get the season started with my new teammates.”
Here are more notes from around MLS: