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

Gareth Bale’s heroics lifted Real Madrid to a 2-1 Copa Del Rey win over Barcelona to win the title, and big clubs are lining up to sign Laurent Koscielny from Arsenal.

MLS welcomes Atlanta as newest expansion franchise

Atlanta has been awarded an MLS expansion franchise to begin play in 2017, officially making it the league’s 22nd franchise.

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

Second-half goals from Thierry Henry and Lloyd Sam were enough to give the New York Red Bulls a 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night.

SBI MLS Player of the Week: Clint Dempsey

Dempsey FCD Getty

By CAITLIN MURRAY

Clint Dempsey has done it again.

After leading the Sounders to a jaw-dropping rally and draw last week in Portland on a hat trick, he returned for round two to wage a comeback win in Dallas this week.

Scoring two goals and forcing an own goal from a strategic shot into traffic, Dempsey pushed his side to erase a 2-1 deficit and grab a 3-2 victory against FC Dallas, a team that went into Week 6 unbeaten.

Dempsey’s first goal on Saturday was about as good as a free kick can be hit, with the ball buckling off the crossbar’s underside and back behind the goal line.

Critics of Dempsey — who had been growing louder and louder with every match the striker went without scoring — will be hard-pressed to dismiss his stellar back-to-back performances for the Sounders. More importantly, Dempsey is playing confidence-building soccer as the U.S. Men’s National Team looks ahead to the World Cup this summer.

Dempsey beat out Javier Morales, Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle for this week’s honors.

What did you think of Dempsey’s performance? Which player impressed you the most in Week 6?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, MLS- Seattle Sounders, SBI MLS Player of the Week | 40 Comments

Klinsmann observes and takes part in U-18 USMNT training camp

Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

Posted in Featured, U.S. Soccer, U.S. Youth National Teams | 50 Comments

Liga MX Round 15: A Look Back

AchilleEmanaCruzAzul1-Pachuca2014 (Mexsport)

By DANIEL PRICE

Cruz Azul drew 2-2 with Pachuca in the Estadio Azul, after battling back from two goals down in dramatic fashion. The free-flowing and open game saw the sides rack up 15 shots each, providing an engaging and entertaining spectacle for both sets of fans and the neutrals alike.

The first half finished goalless, but the game exploded into life in the second period. Enner Valencia broke the deadlock for the visitors in the 57th minute thanks to a mistake from substitute goalkeeper Guillermo Allison, and the same player doubled the lead only five minutes later.

As the game entered the final five minutes it appeared Cruz Azul were heading for their second home defeat of the season, but Christian Gimenez gave the fans hope with a fortunate penalty before former Philadelphia Union player Michael Farfan grabbed a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time.

After resting several key players in anticipation of the CONCACAF Champions League final on Wednesday, Cruz Azul will be very happy with their comeback. The draw means they maintain a two point lead over Toluca at the top of the league, while Pachuca drop to sixth.

Here’s a closer look at the best of Liga MX from Clausura Round 15:

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Posted in Mexican Soccer | 1 Comment

Monday Kickoff: Arsenal facing injury crisis; Atletico not concerned over Costa’s knee; and more

ArseneWengerArsenal2-Everton2014EPL (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The sweat must be dripping from Arsene Wenger’s brow as he worries in anticipation of a midweek English Premier League clash against West Ham.

Following a 120-minute performance from Wenger’s squad on Saturday afternoon, the Gunners usual strength in midfield has been decimated with almost everyone dealing with either injury or fatigue. At the moment, only Mikel Arteta and Kim Källström are fit to start, with a number of others to take fitness tests on Tuesday morning.

Wenger might even risk bringing back Laurent Koscielny early as he continues to gain fitness after suffering a calf injury two weeks ago.

“Who could be available who was not in the squad on Saturday?” Wenger told The Telegraph. “Maybe (Tomas) Rosicky, we’ll have to test him. Maybe Koscielny, we’ll have to test him. There are plenty of uncertainties. I have to make up my mind late on. The main uncertainties are (Ignacio) Monreal who had to come off.

“(Lukas) Podolski had a little problem but I think he will be all right, then (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain because he was not even supposed to play on Saturday. (Aaron) Ramsey who had to come off for muscle tightness. They are the main problems.”

Here are some more stories to start off your week:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer | 21 Comments

European Weekend Rewind: Liverpool defeat Man City; Barcelona fall to Granada; and more

CoutinhoLiverpool (Getty Images)

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

After going 24 years without a league title, Liverpool now have one hand on this season’s English Premier League trophy.

Liverpool pulled seven points ahead of fellow title contenders Manchester City with a thrilling 3-2 win at Anfield on Sunday. The high-scoring Reds raced out to a 2-0 lead on the visiting Citizens inside the first half-hour and endured a second-half Manchester City rally before striking a crucial goal in the final 15 minutes of play in front of their home fans.

Golden Boot leader Luis Suarez did not get on the score sheet for Liverpool on Sunday, but he supplied a perfect through ball for Raheem Sterling’s sixth-minute opener. Martin Skrtel doubled the lead for Liverpool in the 26th minute, but Man City rallied in the span of five minutes early in the second half with David Silva scoring from close range and drilling a shot that became a Glen Johnson own goal. The two sides went back and forth until the 78th minute, when a poorly attempted clearance from Man City captain Vincent Kompany turned into a golden opportunity for Phillip Coutinho’s match-winning strike.

In Spain, Barcelona dropped to third place in La Liga this weekend with another stunning loss away from their home at Camp Nou. Yacine Brahimi scored in the 16th minute against the defending champions, and his strike was enough to push his Getafe side to a 1-0 victory against Barcelona, who were already coming off a disappointing loss to league-leading Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals. Barcelona, who had 29 shots and 81 percent of the match’s possession, were unable to find a way past a clutch Orestis Karnezis, and now the Catalans are four points behind league-leading Atletico in La Liga.

Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 5 Comments

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

Juan Agudelo FC Utrecht (Getty Images)

By FRANCO PANIZO

Juan Agudelo came off the bench for FC Utrecht late in the first half on Sunday, and he did not take very long to make an impact.

After entering Utrecht’s clash with SC Heracles Almelo in the 36th minute, Agudelo waited just four minutes before scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory with a well-placed and powerful header. The goal broke Agudelo out of a two-month scoreless slump and was his second since joining Utrecht on loan from Stoke City in late January. The tally also helped the club secure another season in the Eredivisie and boosted Agudelo’s chances of receiving an invite to the U.S. Men’s National Team’s preliminary World Cup camp next month.

Two other players from the Americans Abroad contingent found the back of the net this weekend. Michael Farfan came off the bench late to rescue a point for Cruz Azul by scoring a stoppage-time equalizer on a rebound in a 2-2 draw with Pachuca on Saturday. Alfredo Morales opened his scoring account for FC Ingolstadt 04 with an early strike in an eventual 2-1 loss to SC Paderborn 07 on Friday.

More good news came out of Turkey, as Jermaine Jones and Besiktas moved into the UEFA Champions League qualifiers spot in the Super Lig. Besiktas tied Konyaspor, 1-1, on Friday and that, combined with Galatasaray suffering a 2-1 defeat to Sivasspor, moved the Black Eagles into the coveted second-place position. Jones started and went the distance for his club.

Here is how the Americans Abroad performed this weekend:

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | 53 Comments

Earthquakes, Crew settle for draw in physical battle

Chris Wondolowski Sam Cronin

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Federico Higuain’s late first-half goal was canceled out by Chris Wondolowski’s early second-half header as the San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew settled for a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Despite a defeat to Toronto FC last week, Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter went with the exact same starting 11, and while they came out in the opening 20 minutes with more energy, they failed to find any targets in the box on crosses. Fullbacks Josh Williams and Waylon Francis found plenty of space forward but their crossing let them down on a number of occasions.

As San Jose began to impose themselves in the game and nearly took the lead through a Shea Salinas redirected shot in the box, the Crew found their scoring shoes just before halftime.

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes | 11 Comments

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

Liverpool's Aly Cissokho and Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta compete for the ball

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

The path to the English Premier League title will cut right through historic Anfield today as two contenders collide on Merseyside.

First-place Liverpool have not lost in EPL play since the calendar turned to 2014, and the high-scoring Reds have a four-point on their Sunday opponents, third-place Manchester City. The Citizens have two matches in hand, but a loss to Liverpool could put their title hopes in serious jeopardy as we head into the final few matches of the campaign. Manchester City defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Ethiad Stadium earlier this season, and they boast an impressive road record heading into Anfield on Sunday.

Elsewhere in England, second-place Chelsea will hope to pull ahead in the league title race with a victory at Swansea City later in the day. EPL squad Hull City will also be in action Sunday, taking on Sheffield United at Wembley Stadium for the chance to play Arsenal for the FA Cup Final next month.

In Italy, Napoli and Lazio battle it out in an important Serie A match for both sides’ European dreams. Atletico Madrid are hoping to take full advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up on Saturday and go three full points ahead of city rivals Real Madrid in La Liga’s race for the title when they visit Getafe. Finally, in France, Paris Saint-Germain look to move past their disappointment in the Champions League quarterfinals with a road win at Olympique Lyon.

If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action. (Today’s TV schedule is after the jump):

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, Mexican Soccer, South American Soccer, Your Running Commentary | 91 Comments