U.S. Brush Past Mexico to qualify for 2015 Women’s World Cup
U.S. Brush Past Mexico to qualify for 2015 Women’s World Cup avatar

It was all too easy for the U.S. WNT as they punched their ticket to the 2015 Women’s World Cup next summer in Canada with a 3-0 win tonight over Mexico.

Carli Lloyd ®  celebrating her goal in the first half. (Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd ® celebrating her goal in the first half. (Getty Images)

It was clear from the throw in of tonight’s CONCACAF semifinal at Pennsylvania’s PPL Park, that there would no repeat of Mexico’s shocking 2-1 upset win over the U.S. at the same stage of the 2010 edition of this World Cup Qualifying tournament.

Mexico seemed to concede this result before the referee’s opening whistle, leaving several expected starters on the bench, apparently content to pin their World Cup Qualifying hopes on beating Costa Rica in the events 4/5 game.

The Americans dominated possession from the start to such a degree that it was a surprise that it took almost six minutes for Carli Lloyd to put the U.S. in the lead.

A wide open Lloyd was the beneficiary of a perfect cross from a similarly unperturbed Tobin Heath, and Lloyd headed home for the 1-0 U.S. lead.

Heath has brought a new excitement to the women's team.'(Getty Images)

Heath (R) has brought a new excitement to the women’s team.’(Getty Images)

Leading the U.S. WNT into her first big tournament since taking over for Tom Sermanni, Jill Ellis gambled by leaving Abby Wambach on the sideline, even as the Americans came into the match minus Wambach’s fellow goal machine, injured star Alex Morgan.

With the U.S. in complete control Lloyd added a second goal from the penalty spot after Tobin Heath was tripped up in the box. The p.k. was a bit soft, in that Heath would have had a tough time catching up to the ball, but the creative winger was clipped by the Mexican defender.

Mexico had to be pleased to make it to the half trailing just 2-0, but El Tri would have no respite on the restart. Sydney Leroux almost made it 3-0 minutes into the second half, but her chance clipped the crossbar. Christian Press got that third goal for the Yanks off of a wonderful through ball from Leroux.

That would be the last contribution on the night from Leroux, who would check out in the 62nd minute, replaced by Wambach. It is difficult to imagine what the Mexican players were thinking when the world’s all time leading international goal scorer entered the match for the U.S. as a substitute.

Wambach, who earlier today was nominated for Women’s Player of the Year honors, nearly extended the U.S. lead seconds after entering the match, but a cross from Press was just behind her.

Mexico’s decision to more or less tank this game in favor of concentrating on the 4/5 match will have to be judged another day, but for the U.S. today’s win means another chance to win a first World Cup since 1999.

This easy U.S. win was keyed by their complete possession dominance, Lloyd’s goals, and brilliant play from several players, in particular the creative play of Tobin Heath.

Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup after (Getty Images)

Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup after beating T&T in a penalty shoot out. (Getty Images)

The U.S. will face Costa Rica in the final on Sunday afternoon, again at PPL Park, with both nations already qualified for the 2015 Women’s World Cup to be played next summer in Canada.

Las Ticas beat Trinidad and Tobago in extra time thanks to a heroic performance from goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz, who saved three consecutive shots from T&T shooters to secure the win.

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            2          1          3
MEX                            0          0          0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath) 6th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty kick)        30
USA – Christen Press (Sydney Leroux)        56

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Whitney Engen, 16-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday (9-Heather O’Reilly, 75), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Morgan Brian, 67); 14-Christen Press, 2-Sydney Leroux (20-Abby Wambach, 62), 17-Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Julie Johnston
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

MEX: 12-Pamela Tajonar (capt.); 2-Arianna Romero, 3-Bianca Sierra, 4-Alina Garcíamendez, 15-Christina Murillo (14-Monica Alvarado, 72); 6-Liliana Mercado, 7-Lydia Nayeli Rangel, 13-Kenti Robles (8-Teresa Noyola, 76); 18-Dinora Garza, 19-Tanya Samarzich, 20-Luz Duarte (10-Sandra Stephany Mayor, 55)
Subs Not Used: 1-Cecilia Santiago, 5-Paulina Solís, 11-Monica Ocampo, 9-Veronica Charlyn Corral, 16-Karla Nieto, 17-Veronica Perez
Head Coach: Leonardo Cuellar 

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 21 / 1
Shots on Goal: 7 / 0
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 4 / 12
Offside: 9 / 1

 

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Ballon d’Or – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Finalists
Ballon d’Or – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Finalists avatar

Abby Wambach was the lone American named today when FIFA announced the 10 finalists for the 2014 Ballon d’Or for the 2014 Women’s World Player of the Year. German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer heads the list, and the 2013 winner is joined by a diverse group of  women representing a total of seven countries.

Wambach has once again had a good year internationally.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Wambach has once again had a good year internationally.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Angerer is joined by countrywoman Nadine Kessler, making German one of three countries with two players among the 10 nominees. Sweden, with Nilla Fischer and Lotta Schelin and Japan, represented by Nahomi Kawasumi and Aya Miyama, are the other nations with multiple finalists.

One name surprisingly missing is Seattle Reign’s NWSL player of the year Kim Little. The Scottish international took the league by storm and had an outstanding year for her country. She should definitely feel disappointed not to have made the final 10.

Rounding out the list of 10 finalists are Brazilian superstar Marta, the five time Women’s World Player of the Year, Wambach the 2012 winner, France’s Louisa Nacib, and Veronica Boquette, of Spain. Here is the complete list.

Former Portland Spanish starlet Veronica Boquiete is up for the reward for the first time . (Getty Images)

Former Portland Thorn’s Spanish starlet Veronica Boquiete ( R)  is up for the reward for the first time . (Getty Images)

Nadine Angerer (Germany), Veronica Boquete (Spain), Nilla Fischer (Sweden), Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan), Nadine Kessler (Germany), Marta (Brazil), Aya Miyama (Japan), Louisa Necib (France), Lotta Schelin (Sweden), Abby Wambach (USA).

Also released today by FIFA are the 10 nominees for the top coaches in the world of women’s soccer. Fans of the U.S. WNT will note that former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage has been nominated for her work with her native Sweden. Sundhage will be looking to add to the 2012 Women’s Coach of the Year Award that she earned for leading the U.S. to that Olympic triumph in 2012. Below is the complete list.

Seattle Reign's Laura Harvey's success in the NWSL is recognised with her nomination. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Seattle Reign’s Laura Harvey’s (pictured) success in the NWSL is recognised but many will be disappointed with NWSL standout player Kim Little’s exclusion. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Philippe Bergeroo (France/France national team), Peter Dedevbo (Nigeria/Nigeria U-20 national team), Laura Harvey (England/Seattle Reign FC), Ralf Kellermann (Germany/VfL Wolfsburg), Maren Meinert (Germany/Germany U-20 national team), Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japan national team), Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Sweden national team), Asako Takemoto Takakura (Japan/Japan U-17 national team), Jorge Vilda (Spain/Spain U-17 national team and U-19 national team), Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Germany/Switzerland national team).

FIFA and France Football will name three finalists from both of these categories on December 1. The top 10 finishers for the men’s honors will be released on October 28th.

The winners will be presented at the annual Ballon D’Or gala in Zurich on January 12. That same night FIFA will also select its World PRO XI, the Puskas Award for the “most beautiful” goal of the year, the FIFA Presidential award, and the FIFA Fair Play award.

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EPL Week 9 – Manchester United face their Biggest Test
EPL Week 9 – Manchester United face their Biggest Test avatar

It’s EPL time once again guys and gals, and week 9 promises to be just as intriguing as the last. Man City and Liverpool will be hoping to bounce back after disappointing midweek performances in the Champions League, while Arsenal and Tottenham will hope to translate their good midweek results in Europe over into the EPL. Elsewhere there is the little matter of Manchester United versus Chelsea on Sunday.

So sit back and relax as we at GotSoccer take you through some of the news, predictions and previews of Week 9.

NEWS

Valdes to train with Man Utd

Former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes is set to train with Manchester United as part of his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.

The 32-year-old tore his ACL whilst playing for Barcelona in March causing him to miss the World Cup in Brazil.

Valdes has still many years left at the top level. (Getty Images)

Valdes has still many years left at the top level. (Getty Images)

Manchester United confirmed Valdes would work with their medical staff as part of his rehabilitation on their website.

Valdes is a free agent after turning down an offer to extend his contract with the Catalan club last season. He was rumored to be on his way to Monaco, Liverpool and Arsenal but injured his knee before any move could materialize.

Valdes worked with Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal when the Dutchman managed Barcelona in 2002-2003, though he did not become Barcelona’s number one until the arrival of van Gaal’s successor Radomir Antic’s.

 

Brendan Roger warns Balotelli

Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers has reminded Mario Balotelli of “the culture in English football, and in particular, Liverpool” after the striker swapped shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time.

The Italian international swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe as the teams left the field at half time. Liverpool were losing 3-0 at the time and Balotelli was soon watching from the bench with Adam Lallana taking his place for the second half.

Balotelli (R)   never looked like a real threat against Real Madrid. (Getty Images)

Balotelli (R) never looked like a real threat against Real Madrid. (Getty Images)

Ballotelli’s actions angered many Liverpool fans as he once again put in a disappointing performance. Former Liverpool player Graeme Souness was so enraged by Balotelli’s act that he could not bring himself to speak about it as a Sky Sports pundit on the night

Liverpool manager Rodgers said: “As long as he’s doing his best that’s all I can ask for. Whether his best will be good enough, remains to be seen.”

“But that’s the same for every player – not just for Mario.”

“Any action with Balotelli over the shirt swap will of course be kept within ourselves.

“We had a conversation on the culture in this country and, in particular, Liverpool – and that was it – matter closed.”

Balotelli has only scored once in eight games for Liverpool since joining from AC Milan at the end of August for $25.6m. However, it is his lackluster performances that have most disappointed the Liverpool faithful and questions are already being asked of his long-term future.

“He is working hard to try to fit into the team ethos here but only time will tell. We will see come January what the team needs.” Added Rogers.

 

PREDICTIONS

Week 8

Result

Anthony

Neil

Marc

Samuel

SATURDAY
Man City v Tottenham 4-1 3-0 2-2 3-1 3-1
Arsenal v Hull 2-2 2-0 3-0 2-1 2-1
Burnley v West Ham 1-3 2-2 1-1 0-2 2-1
Crystal Palace v Chelsea 1-2 0-2 0-3 1-5 1-3
Everton v Aston Villa 3-0 2-1 3-1 3-2 3-0
Newcastle v Leicester 1-0 2-1 1-0 1-1 1-2
Southampton v Sunderland 8-0 2-0 2-1 2-1 1-0
SUNDAY
QPR v Liverpool 2-3 0-1 0-2 0-3 0-1
Stoke v Swansea 2-1 1-1 1-2 0-1 1-2
MONDAY
West Brom v Man Utd 2-2 1-2 0-3 2-3 1-2
Total score 6-points 7-points 6-points 7-points

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.

Last week I got SIX correct results, including ZERO perfect scores to give me a humble total of SIX-points. Challengers Neil and Samuel both got FIVE correct scores, including ONE perfect score to give them a total of SEVEN-points, meaning I have been beaten for the first time this season.

But that is why we enjoy this predictions game, because the best and most knowledgeable do not always win. Can they repeat the feat and beat me? Or perhaps a new challenger will take the crown this week. If you want to join in the fun please leave your predictions at the bottom of the page. GOOD LUCK!

Week 9

Predictions

SATURDAY
West Ham v Man City 1-3
Liverpool v Hull 2-1
Southampton v Stoke 2-0
Sunderland v Arsenal 1-2
West Brom v Crystal Palace 2-1
Swansea v Leicester 2-1
SUNDAY
Burnley v Everton 0-1
Tottenham v Newcastle 2-0
Man Utd v Chelsea 2-2
MONDAY
QPR v Aston Villa 1-2

SATURDAY

West Ham v Man City

West Ham won 3-1 away at Burnley last week to continue their impressive start to the season. Last season West Ham fans were calling for manager Sam Allardyce to be sacked because of his negative tactics, but he has changed the Hammers’ style of play this campaign and it seems to have worked wonders with West Ham winning four of their opening eight games so far this season.

Aguero has looked dangerous and seems to be getting back to his best. (Getty Images)

Aguero has looked dangerous and seems to be getting back to his best. (Getty Images)

However, they face arguably their toughest test yet this season in the form of the champions Manchester City. The Sky Blues thumped Tottenham Hotspurs 4-1 last week with striker Sergio Aguero netting all four of his side’s goals. However, midweek they were disappointing allowing CSKA Moscow to draw level after leading 2-0 at half time.

West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and defender James Tomkins are available for selection after overcoming groin and thigh injuries respectively.

Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard misses out on the chance to face the club where he started his career after injuring his thigh against Tottenham last weekend. Samir Nasri is also out for City following a groin operation.

City are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with West Ham in all competitions (W8, D2). Indeed, City have scored 14 goals and conceded just one in their last four games against the Hammers, so will be confident of winning this game.

However, the Hammers are a much-improved side this season and have won over their fans with their adventurous style of play. City have yet to hit form and are still conceding sloppy goals at the back. I think West Ham will have attack City and will probably score, but the Champions have so many quality attacking players that they will outscore them.

Prediction: 1-3

 

Liverpool v Hull

Liverpool won a pulsating game at QPR last weekend beating the Hoops 3-2 thanks to a stoppage time own goal. The Reds were fortunate not to lose the game never mind win it, after QPR squirmed a series of guilt edge chances in the first half. However, they managed to take the lead and then recapture it twice with two goals in stoppage time. In fact, four of the game’s five goals came after the 87th minute.

However, the Reds were humbled midweek as Real Madrid put them to the sword with a 3-0 win at Anfield. Liverpool looked poor with Mario Balotelli especially disappointing.

Hull drew 2-2 away to Arsenal last week and will feel they should have left with all three-points after Danny Welbeck equalized for the Gunners in stoppage time. The Tigers made some good signings during the summer with Mohamed Diame the pick of the bunch. The Senegal captain was once again at the heart of all Hull’s good play and scored their opener, taking his tally for Hull to four goals in five games.

Sterling is struggling to create without Sturridge..(Getty Images)

Sterling (L)  is struggling to create without Sturridge..(Getty Images)

Liverpool look set to start striker Rickie Lambert after Mario Balotelli once again disappointed and caused controversy in the game against Real Madrid.

Hull’s injury trouble have been worsened by the absence of Michael Dawson and Nikica Jelavic who both could be out for up to six weeks because of injuries suffered at Arsenal. Goalkeepers Allan McGregor and Steve Harper both injured, meaning third choice Eldin Jakupovic is set to play.

Hull have only beaten Liverpool once in 18 meetings in all competitions (W1, D4, L13). However, that one win came in last season’s home game against the Reds. Liverpool are really struggling to match the form they showed last season and are really missing the presence of Daniel Sturridge up top.

Hull are a good side and will cause Liverpool trouble, but I think injuries to defender Michael Dawson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor are major blows and they will surely miss the sturdiness they provide on Saturday.

Prediction: 2-1

Sunderland v Arsenal

Sunderland equaled their record defeat in all competitions last week losing 8-0 away to Southampton. The loss was their heaviest in 32-years and caused the club’s players to offer to compensate all of the 2,600 Sunderland fans that traveled to watch the humiliating defeat.

The Black Cats were up against a good Southampton team, but many of the goals they conceded were poor and would not even be acceptable in the school playground.

Danny Welbeck has made a good start for Arsenal and has scored some important goals. (Getty Images)

Danny Welbeck has made a good start for Arsenal and has scored some important goals. (Getty Images)

Arsenal drew last week at home to Hull thanks to a stoppage time equalizer by Danny Welbeck. The Gunner’s actually took the lead in the game and looked set for a comfortable afternoon, but once they conceded they looked nervy and in the end were lucky not to lose the game, though they did have a chance at the death to win it. They also managed another great escape midweek in the Champions League scoring two goals in the last few minutes to beat Anderlecht.

Sunderland are without Sebastian Coates, Billy Jones, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ricky Alvarez who are all injured. New signing Anthony Reveillere who joined as a free-agent could start at full-back if he gets international clearance.

Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere after the midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season, meaning captain Mikel Arteta could return to the first team.

Sunderland desperately need a response after last weeks dismal performance, but they face a tough test against Arsenal who are on a nine-match unbeaten run against the Black Cats in the Premier League and are vying to win at the Stadium of Light for the fourth season in a row.

I expect the Black Cats will try and get in Arsenal’s faces and unsettle them, but I don’t think they have enough quality to hurt the Gunners and that’s why I’ll go for Arsenal to win this one.

Prediction: 1-2

 

SUNDAY

Manchester United v Chelsea

This game is undoubtedly the pick of Week 9’s game as Manchester United host EPL leader Chelsea.

The game is just as exciting because it pits two of the biggest and most intriguing coaches and egos against one another. The two coaches actually used to work together at Barcelona, where Mourinho acted as van Gaal’s number two for three-seasons.

Sunday’s game is Manchester United biggest test so far this season and will let them know how far they have come or still have to go until they can compete for the top trophies. United drew 2-2 away to West Brom last week, coming from behind twice. The Red Devils had a lot of the ball, but school boy defending at the back once again cost them and they will have to be a lot better if they are to have any chance against Chelsea.

Di Maria has been United's most outstanding player thus far and they will be hoping that he recovers in time. (Getty Images)

Di Maria has been United’s most outstanding player thus far and they will be hoping that he recovers in time. (Getty Images)

Chelsea maintained their fine start to the season with a comfortable 2-1 win away to Crystal Palace. The Blues looked in control from the first kick and their disappointment will be the red card received by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Manchester United midfielder Angel Di Maria is expected to overcome a thigh injury in time to face Chelsea, while Michael Carrick could make his first appearance of the season. However, Wayne Rooney once again misses out as he completes his last game of a three match suspension.

Chelsea look set to start Didier Drogba up front with Mourinho saying Diego Costa has “little chance” of playing and LoicRemy out injured.

Cesar Azpilicueta is suspended for the Blues, but Ramires could return from injury.

Chelsea have a terrific record against Manchester United in the EPL and are the only side to have beaten United more often in the EPL(15) than they have lost (13). Indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in their their last three league matches against Manchester United, conceding just one goal.

Manchester United seem to be improving and look especially impressive in the final third, however, their defending still leaves a lot to be desired and they always look likely to concede a goal a two.

I expect Chelsea to approach this game as they did against Man City by keeping things tight in defense and trying to hit on the counter. The absence of Diego Costa will be a big loss, but the Blues have plenty of other players capable of scoring a goal.

United have to take the game to Chelsea and I expect them to do so, however, that means they will leave gaps at the back for Chelsea to exploit.

Prediction: 2-2

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U.S. WNT take on Mexico in Semis
U.S. WNT take on Mexico in Semis avatar

The U.S. WNT play host to Mexico in a CONCACAF Championship semi-final at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania on Friday at 7:30 PM.

Amy Rodriguez got the game's opener and the winning goal in their 4-0 victory over Mexico in September. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Amy Rodriguez got the game’s opener and the winning goal in their 4-0 victory over Mexico in September. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The winner of Friday’s match will advance to the final of the regional tournament and qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Canada, while the defeated team takes on the loser of the other semi-final in a third-place match.

This match also serves as a rematch of the 2010 CONCACAF Championship semi-final, in which Mexico achieved their most famous result by defeating the Americans 2-1.

However, that is Mexico’s sole victory over the U.S. As recently as mid-September the CONCACAF foes met, which saw the U.S. dominate in 8-0 and 4-0 wins.

The U.S. reached this stage after narrowly defeating Trinidad and Tobago and convincingly overcoming Guatemala and Haiti in the group stage which saw Abby Wambach score three goals to pass Mia Hamm on the all-time CONCACAF Championship scorers, leaving her four goals from passing Michelle Akers (17 goals).

Mexico reaches the semi-finals for the fifth time after rebounding from a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica to defeat Martinique and Jamaica. Mexico are the highest scoring team in the CONCACAF Championship (13 goals) and are equal with the U.S. with shots (73).

The U.S. have just too much firing power for Mexico and should ease through.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

The U.S. have just too much firing power for Mexico and should ease through.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

The U.S. are favorites to win the event to qualify for their seventh straight World Cup, while Mexico have qualified twice before (1999 and 2011).

Costa Rica face off against Trinidad and Tobago in the other semi-final. The winners of the semi-finals and the third place match automatically qualify for next summer’s event, leaving the fourth place team to play Ecuador in a two-legged playoff to determine who will join the other 23 nations in Canada for the World Cup.

Despite being having only one win in thirty-one games versus the Americans, the Mexico can draw inspiration from that one win and will look to recreate the upset on Friday night.

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Kansas Youth Sports Symposium
Kansas Youth Sports Symposium avatar

For more information, please visit the Kansas Youth Soccer Association website.

Courtesy of Kansas Youth Soccer Association

Courtesy of Kansas Youth Soccer Association

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Indy Eleven 2015 Season Tickets On Sale Now
Indy Eleven 2015 Season Tickets On Sale Now avatar

Courtesy of ISA

Courtesy of ISA

After a thrilling first home victory over league-leading Minnesota United last week, followed by a second consecutive win over San Antonio, Indy Eleven is ramping up for the 2015 season!

Season tickets are on sale now with prices held at 2014 inaugural season levels. They can be purchased starting at $9 per game with expanded benefits.

Check out the pricing chart below, and for more information please visit the Indiana Soccer Association website.

Courtesy of ISA

Courtesy of ISA

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Indiana Soccer Halloween Costume Contest
Indiana Soccer Halloween Costume Contest avatar

Courtesy of ISA

Courtesy of ISA

Join Indiana Soccer’s 3rd Annual Costume Contest!

This year’s costume contest is for yourself and your pets!  Enter to win awesome prizes, just post a photo of you wearing your costume to the Indiana Soccer Facebook Halloween Costume Contest.

If you would like for your pet to participate, post a separate photo of your pet wearing its costume and they could win a special prize as well!  The photos with the most likes within their category will win.

Rules:  You need to post the costume photos and the pet’s costume photos separately, no later than November 7th, 2014.

The earliest you post it, the more likes you can get, so do not wait until the last moment. Use #INSoccerHalloween on your photos! You can ‘like’ your favorite costumes by November 10th, 2014 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be announced on November 11th, 2014!

Click on the following link to post your and your pet photo: Halloween Costume Contest. For the original post, please visit the Indiana Soccer Association website.

 

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NJ Youth Soccer National Championship & State Cup Championship Finals
NJ Youth Soccer National Championship & State Cup Championship Finals avatar

NJ YOUTH SOCCER NATIONAL CHAMPIONS SERIES AND STATE CUP CHAMPIONS TO BE CROWNED OCTOBER 26

logo

NEW JERSEY (October 21, 2014) ―The NJ Youth Soccer National Championship Series and State Cup championships will be held at the Marlboro Soccer Complex on Saturday, October 25 (semi-finals) and Sunday, October 26 (finals).

The tournament began in early September with hundreds of teams throughout the U11 to U14 age groups. There are two levels of competition.  First, there is the NJ Youth Soccer State Cup championship, where winners will advance to the regional and, if successful, the national stages of the US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup.  Second, there is the National Championship Series where the winners in each age group will go on to compete at the regional and, if successful, the US Youth Soccer National Championships held in Tulsa, OK in July 2015.

For schedules and more information, visit njyouthsoccer.com.

About NJ Youth Soccer Association: New Jersey Youth Soccer, a 501(c) (3) organization affiliated with U.S. Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, is comprised of more than 150,000 players from 5 to 19-years-old; 40,000+ coaches; and thousands of volunteers. Members collectively support the sport of soccer through training, practice, competition and the spirit of good sportsmanship. The association features recreational, travel soccer programs at multiple skill levels; Olympic Development Programs (ODP); tournaments including the National Championship series; coach and referee training and certification programs; and TOPSoccer, a program for children with special needs. The New Jersey U.S. Youth Soccer ODP provides training and competitive programs for players of the highest caliber for the purpose of increasing the success of the U.S. National Teams.

 

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MLS Will Compete With EPL for Talent
MLS Will Compete With EPL for Talent avatar

Following on the heels of last week’s Jurgen Klinsmann/Don Garber feud, Garber’s assistant, Dan Courtemanche is in the news for his interview with BBC Sport.

1) MLS Will Compete With EPL for Talent

In an interview that took place before the Klinsmann-Garber squabble, Courtemanche, MLS Senior Vice President, told BBC Sports just that. Channeling Commissioner Garber, the VP said, “one of our goals is to be one of the top leagues in the world by 2022.”

Courtemanche went on to say, “we also want to have world class stars – whether they are from the United Kingdom, throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America.”

Will the MLS one day be able to attract players like Ronaldo.(Getty Images)

Will the MLS one day be able to attract players like Ronaldo.(Getty Images)

And Courtemanche is aiming to avoid the retirement league tag that MLS is sometimes dogged by. “If you want to be among those top leagues you need to be signing players in the prime of their career.”

Courtemanche is also confident the the world’s biggest sporting event is destined to return to the U.S. for for the first time since 1994.

“We believe the World Cup will come back to the U.S. at some point. Wouldn’t it be great to have it here in 2026, if not 2030?”

2) Raul to Cosmos

Raul will (Getty Images)

Raul is set to join the Cosmos.(Getty Images)

No, the Cosmos are not an MLS team, but the NASL club stepped into the spotlight this week by signing the former Spain and Real Madrid superstar.

There is no indication that MLS were outbid for the Spain’s second all time leading scorer, who at 37 last played for Qatari side Al-Sadd.

This move is somewhat reminiscent of the old NASL, which made a habit of signing big name stars, often on their last legs.

Where this signing may differ is that in addition to his playing duties, Raul will also run the Cosmos Youth Academy.

3) Lee Nguyen for MVP?

Why not? Unlike the preceding items on this week’s Big – 5, this piece does not concern big name players coming to America.

To the contrary, Nguyen’s signing with the New England Revolution in 2012 barely caused a ripple in the either the news cycle, or the Revs salary cap.

Nguyen had played in the Netherlands, Denmark and even Vietnam, and after he was cut by Vancouver, the former Indiana Hoosier was in need of a career boost.

Lee Nguyen (ISI Photos)

Lee Nguyen has had an outstanding season in the MLS. (ISI Photos)

The boost has been mutual, with the attack minded midfielder thriving from the start, before breaking out in a big way in 2014.

Nguyen was honored as MLS Player of the Week for his two goal performance in New England’s 2-1 win Thursday night in Houston. That gives Nguyen 18 for the season, more than any other American, and an impressive eight of those goals have been game winners.

New England are in second place in the East with one game left, and Nguyen has been a big part of that. During his time playing in Vietnam, the Vietnamese-American was approached to play for his parents home country.

Nguyen was still eligible for Vietnam despite having earned three senior caps for the U.S. back in 2007. Nguyen didn’t bite, and now he looks like a solid bet to be invited to the U.S. MNT January camp. Will he head to that camp as the MLS MVP?

4) MLS in the CCL

CONCACAF Champions League play resumes over the next two days, with five MLS teams taking the field as group play wraps up.

Only the New York Red Bulls are eliminated, so we can expect their Wednesday night home game versus Montreal to be an intimate affair.

D.C. United have already made it through to the next round.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

D.C. United have already made it through to the next round.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The Impact have already advanced out of the group stages, allowing the Canadian side to at least somewhat salvage a 2014 season that does not include an MLS playoff berth.

DC United are the other MLS side already through, while both Portland and Sporting KC can advance with either a win or a draw.

5) Vancouver or Portland Playoff Bound?

With only one more regular season game to be played, just one playoff position remains up for grabs. The Vancouver Whitecaps are clinging to a one point lead over the Portland Timbers for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Vancouver will make the playoffs if they win their game.(Getty Images)

Vancouver will make the playoffs if they win their game.(Getty Images)

Vancouver host the disappointing Colorado Rapids Saturday night at 10 pm Eastern. Portland will kick off at third place FC Dallas at 8:30. Just one year ago Caleb Porter’s team won the Supporters Shield, now they need help just to qualify for the post-season.

Western rivals Seattle and L.A. will battle for the Supporters Shield Saturday afternoon in Seattle. The teams are level on 61 points after the Sounders came back from two goals down to tie the Galaxy 2-2, last Sunday at Los Angeles.

Several other games have implications on playoff seeding, with teams particularly anxious to avoid the 4/5 play in game.

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U.S. WNT Secure Semi-final spot with Big Win over Haiti
U.S. WNT Secure Semi-final spot with Big Win over Haiti avatar

The U.S. WNT cruised to a 6-0 win over Haiti to finish atop Group A and advanced to the semi-final of the CONCACAF Championship in Washington, D.C. at RFK Stadium.

The U.S. relied on another four-goal second half performance, just as they did in Friday night’s 5-0 win over Guatemala.

Lloyd has been lethal from the midfield.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Lloyd had one goal disallowed..(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Carli Lloyd had a goal correctly disallowed for offside while Abby Wambach had an angled shot saved well by Haitian goalkeeper Geralda Saintilus. The U.S., however, would not be denied by the officials or Haitian defense in the ninth minute.

An optimistic cross by Meghan Klingenberg was punched away by Saintilus while under pressure from Wambach. The clearance fell straight to Lloyd, who controlled with her chest and volleyed into the empty net.

Thirty minutes later, the U.S. were celebrating again as Wambach scored an insurance goal to put the WNT up 2-0. Christen Press floated a dangerous ball over the top which went off the boot of Haitian defender Roselord Borgella and onto the head of Wambach, who had the easy task of putting it on goal.

The second half not only brought more goals, but, perhaps, the goal of the tournament thus far. A cross from substitute Heather O’Reilly was cleared, but only as far as Meghan Klingenberg, who hit a half-volley from 30 yards beautifully into the back of the net.

Wambach(ISI Photos/Abby Wambach)

Wambach continues to prove that she is a danger in front of goal.(ISI Photos/Abby Wambach)

Wambach scored her second and the U.S. WNT’s fourth a few minutes later. A ball was only half-cleared by the Haitian defense and when Lloyd headed it back into danger, Wambach volleyed the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Wambach was replaced by Sydney Leroux shortly after the goal. Leroux did not waste any time influencing the game as her cross into the box found its way to Press, who slotted the ball through a wave of defenders into the net in the 65th minute.

Leroux narrowly missed out on a spectacular diving header and was inches away from getting a goal of her own, only to see her shot come off the post.

There would be another goal in the 82nd minute as Morgan Brian, on for Tobin Heath, timed her run to perfection to put away Press’ cutback.

The clinical second half from the U.S. left them in first place in Group A with nine points, who progress to the semi-finals with Trinidad and Tobago, who finished second after defeating Guatemala 2-1 in the earlier game.

The U.S. will play the second place team from Group B on Friday in Chester, Pennsylvania at PPL Park. If they win their next game, likely against Jamaica or Mexico, they will qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Canada.

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F

USA                            2          4          6
HAI                              0          0          0

USA – Carli Lloyd                                        9th minute
USA – Abby Wambach                                38
USA – Meghan Klingenberg                        57
USA – Abby Wambach (Carli Lloyd)          61
USA – Christen Press                                   65
USA – Morgan Brian (Christen Press)         82

Lineups:
USA: 18-Ashlyn Harris; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Whitney Engen, 16-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46); 14-Christen Press, 20-Abby Wambach (2-Sydney Leroux, 62), 17-Tobin Heath  (7-Morgan Brian, 63)
Subs Not Used: 1-Hope Solo, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Julie Johnston
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

HAI: 1-Geralda Saintilus; 4-Kencia Marseille (capt.), 6-Kimberly Boulos (8-Kensie Bobo,56), 9-Lindsay Zullo, 11-Woodlyne Robuste (10-Wisline Dolce, 60), 13-Marie Jean Pierre, 14-Samantha Brand, 15-Shanna Hudson (3-Generve Charles, 84), 17-Yvrose Gervil, 18-Roselord Borgella, 19-Clorene Rateau
Subs Not Used: 2-Natacha Cajuste, 5-Dieunise Jean Baptiste, 7-Manoucheka Pierre-Louis, 12-Cynthia Chery, 16-Sindy Jeune, 20-Schmid Charles
Head Coach: Shek Borkowski 

Stats Summary: USA / HAI
Shots: 20 / 1
Shots on Goal: 12 / 0
Saves: 0 / 6
Corner Kicks: 12 / 0
Fouls: 7 / 6
Offside: 6 / 1

 

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U.S. Look to Top Group A
U.S. Look to Top Group A avatar

The U.S. finishes Group A in the CONCACAF Championship against Haiti on Monday at 7:30 PM in Washington, D.C. at RFK Stadium after a much-improved performance against Guatemala Friday night.

Tobin Heath put in a good performance against Guatemala. (ISI Photos/Robin Alam)

Tobin Heath put in a good performance against Guatemala. (ISI Photos/Robin Alam)

The U.S. sits atop the Group A standing with six points, while Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago are tied with three a piece and Guatemala languishes pointless at the bottom of the table.

Friday saw the U.S. recover from their poor opening game to defeat Guatemala 5-0. A flurry of four goals in twenty second-half minutes helped put a narrow 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday behind them.

It was not all smiles, however, as Alex Morgan will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after being stretchered off with an ankle injury before halftime. The American forward, who has 49 goals in 77 appearances for the red, white, and blue, suffered an injury to the same ankle that kept her sidelined for nearly eight months.

Despite the injury, Morgan is confident that it will not hold her back nearly as long. “It really doesn’t feel that bad,” Morgan told FOX. “After doctors assessed it and it didn’t swell up too much, I felt a little relieved.”

The U.S. did not seem to be affected on the field after Morgan was removed, as Tobin Heath scored two goals, Leroux played provider twice, and Rapinoe excelled in the number 10 role with a goal and an assist.

Megan Rapinoe has been outstanding for the U.S. in both games. (ISI Photos/ Bill Barrett)

Megan Rapinoe has been outstanding for the U.S. in both games. (ISI Photos/ Bill Barrett)

“Things opened up and we converted our chances this time,” Rapinoe explained. Rapinoe will want to put in another man-of-the-match performance against a Haitian team that sits tied for second after their opening day victory over Guatemala, which was followed by a 1-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago.

The U.S. are 3-0 all-time versus Haiti, boasting a record of 23 goals scored, while not conceding a single goal. Since goal difference should play a major factor in who advances along with the U.S., expect a similar defensive approach to the game by Haiti.

While a point guarantees the U.S. first place in the group and a place in the semi-finals, they will want to win by a large margin to show a signal of intent to their rivals that they will definitely be more lethal when next summer’s World Cup rolls around.

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U.S. WNT too strong for Guatemala
U.S. WNT too strong for Guatemala avatar

The U.S. WNT recovered from their lackluster performance Wednesday to dispatch Guatemala 5-0 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois Friday night.

The U.S. got off to a flying start when Tobin Heath tapped the ball in after Sydney Leroux got to Ali Krieger’s cross in the 7th minute.

Morgan went off with a left ankle injury which previously kept her sidelined for 7 months. (Getty Images)

Morgan went off with a left ankle injury but was interviewed after the match and seemed upbeat. (Getty Images)

Leroux and Alex Morgan both missed chances to add on to the lead, before Morgan was stretchered off with a left ankle injury. Morgan sprained the same ankle in October 2013 and rushed back, only to suffer a stress fracture which saw her sidelined until June of this year.

Christen Press, Morgan’s replacement, had a goal controversially disallowed shortly before halftime.

The U.S. finally found their shooting boots and goals began pouring in as Carli Lloyd headed in Leroux’s cross one minute into the second half.

Heath's inclusion was justified and she brought a different diminution to the U.S. (Getty Images)

Heath’s inclusion was justified and she brought a different diminution to the U.S. (Getty Images)

Rapinoe’s sixth corner of the game led to the third goal as it was redirected towards goal by Lloyd and was diverted into the goal via the backheel of Heath for her second on the night.

Barely a minute later, Guatemala was picking the ball out of the net yet again after a Rapinoe free kick was headed in by defender Whitney Engen, who beat Guatemala’s offside-trap in the 58th minute.

Rapinoe, who thrived in the number 10 role, got a goal for herself as Lloyd’s blocked shot found its way to Rapinoe, who from the edge of the box, fired in a rocket passed the Guatemalan goalkeeper.

Despite not scoring again, the U.S. dictated play and had a few more chances to extend their lead.

The result leaves the U.S. WNT atop the Group A standings with a result against Haiti on Monday securing their spot in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Championship.

Haiti, who lost to Trinidad and Tobago in the earlier match Friday, is tied for second with the Caribbean nation.

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            1          4          5
GUA                            0          0          0

USA – Tobin Heath (Sydney Leroux)            7th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Sydney Leroux)   46
USA – Tobin Heath (Carli Lloyd)        57
USA – Whitney Engen (Megan Rapinoe)      58
USA – Megan Rapinoe           66

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (5-Kelley O’Hara, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 6-Whitney Engen, 16-Meghan Klingenberg (8-Amy Rodriguez, 68), 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 15-Megan Rapinoe, 2-Sydney Leroux, 13-Alex Morgan (14-Christen Press, 42), 17-Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: 3-Christie Rampone, 7-Morgan Brian, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 19-Julie Johnston, 20-Abby Wambach
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

GUA: 12-Alicia Navas; 2-Daniela Andrade, 14-Coralia Monterroso, 5-Londy Barrios, 3-Marilyn Rivera; 10-Kimberly De León (7-Alida Argueta, 77), 15-Christian Recinos, 6-Gloria Aguilar, 4-Mia Espino; 8-María Monterroso (19-Diana Barrera, 77), 13-Aisha Solorzano (18-Kellin Mayen, 71)
Subs Not Used: 1-Yoselin Franco, 9-Ana Lucia Martínez, 11-Vilma López, 16-Cinthya Lopez, 17-Jennifer Barrios, 20-Melany Cayetano
Head Coach: Benjamin Monterroso                 

Stats Summary: USA / GUA
Shots: 21 / 0
Shots on Goal: 11 / 0
Saves: 0 / 6
Corner Kicks: 11 / 0
Fouls: 14 / 10
Offside: 7 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Sydney Leroux (caution)        49th minute

 

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EPL Week 8 – Match Tickets outstrip the Cost of Living
EPL Week 8 – Match Tickets outstrip the Cost of Living avatar

English soccer tickets outstrip cost of living

The average price of the cheapest soccer tickets in England has risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011.

BBC Sport’s Price of Football study investigated how much fans were charged at 207 clubs across the country and found the average price of the cheapest ticket across England’s four professional divisions is $34.52, which constitutes an increase of 13% since 2011, compared to the cost of living that has only seen a 6.8% increase in England. The average price of the cheapest EPL season ticket has also increased 8.7% since 2012, from $792 to $817.24.

Arsenal's tickets are the most expensive the EPL. (Getty Images)

Arsenal’s tickets are the most expensive the EPL. (Getty Images)

The steep increases are surprising, especially given the recent record $4.98bn TV rights deal was expected to result in a fall in ticket prices. However, many clubs, especially EPL clubs, will point to the high demand for tickets. Indeed, despite the ticket price rises, Premier League attendances are on the increase. The average last season was 36,695.

It appears clubs are using the increases in revenue to attract and keep players—a study by Deloitte said Premier League clubs now spend 71p ($1.12) on wages for every £1 ($1.61) generated, the first time the 70p mark had been broken.

However, Justin King, former chief executive of UK supermarket Sainsbury’s, believes clubs need to ensure they are providing value for money to fans if they want to be sustainable.

“Any business that thinks it can simply rely upon the loyalty of its customers, regardless of how they treat them, in the end will fail. It’s an absolute fact,” he said.

“Therefore I would be asking clubs, ‘are your fans happier today than they were five years ago with the experience that they get, the value for money that they feel they’re getting?’”

The EPL certainly does not seem to be offering customer value when you compare it to the German Bundesliga, where big clubs Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke all charge less than $20 for their cheapest match-day ticket. Indeed, Borussia Dortmund, who have the average highest match day attendance in Europe, claim they are now attracting up to 1000 British fans to every home game.

Dortmund’s commercial director said some of the EPL club’s match-day revenues were impressive but insisted his club would not entertain the idea of charging such large amounts for tickets.

“If we were to ask for prices like this, we would lose the people,”

“The people are one of the most important assets for our club. We have to care for them.”

 

Linekar wants young stars at Euro U21

Former England striker and TV pundit Gary Linekar wants England’s young stars to feature at next summers European U21 Championship to gain experience.

Linekar, 53, tweeted: “Won’t happen, but I wish PL managers would support their young players’ international careers, not hinder them,”

Arsenal's starlet Oxlade-Chamberlain has come out and stated that he would play if selected. (Getty Images)

Arsenal’s starlet Oxlade-Chamberlain has come out and stated that he would play if selected. (Getty Images)

“All our star Under-21 players should go to the finals next summer if fit. Wonderful tournament experience. Other countries insist on it.”

“I get managers’ me, me, me attitude, but wouldn’t it be refreshing if, for once, they thought about the good of the national game?”

England U-21s secured their place in the Czech Republic with a 2-1 victory over Croatia on Tuesday to win the 4-2 on aggregate.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has voiced concerns about fatigue of young players, especially in the case Ross Barkely, who has just returned from a knee ligament injury.

“If the tournament was now it would be a good opportunity for him to get some playing time, but if it is at the end of a season where he has played consistently for 10 months then he needs to have a break,” Martinez said.

Barkley is one of several young players in the senior England team- along with Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Arsenal trio Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers – who England U-21 coach Gareth Southgate is reportedly keen to call up next summer.

However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels the experience has no real benefits.

“Once a guy has moved up to the full national team and you put him down [again to the Under-21s] he is never good,” he said.

“Apart from on the selfish front for us when a guy has played 50 games, it is better a guy has a good rest during the summer. But most of the time, when they move down, they are not completely at their highest quality.”

Week 7

Result

Anthony

Mabs

SATURDAY
Hull v Crystal Palace 2-0 2-1 3-2
Leicester v Burnley 2-2 3-0 4-1
Liverpool v West Brom 2-1 2-1 2-2
Sunderland v Stoke 3-1 0-0 2-2
Swansea v Newcastle 2-2 2-1 3-1
Aston Villa v Man City 0-2 1-3 1-3
SUNDAY
Man Utd v Everton 2-1 3-2 2-1
Chelsea v Arsenal 2-0 3-1 3-0
Tottenham v Southampton 1-0 1-1 2-1
West Ham v QPR 2-0 2-0 2-0

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.

Last week SIX correct results, including TWO perfect scores to give me a grand total of TEN-points. My Challenger Mabs got exactly the same scoring TEN-points, meaning I am still unbeaten so far this season.

Do you think you have what it takes to out predict me? If so, feel free to leave you predictions in the comment section below.

Week 8

Predictions

SATURDAY
Man City v Tottenham 3-0
Arsenal v Hull 2-0
Burnley v West Ham 2-2
Crystal Palace v Chelsea 0-2
Everton v Aston Villa 2-1
Newcastle v Leicester 2-1
Southampton v Sunderland 2-0
SUNDAY
QPR v Liverpool 0-1
Stoke v Swansea 1-1
MONDAY
West Brom v Man Utd 1-2

 

SATURDAY

Man City v Tottenham

Man City won 2-0 away at Aston Villa in their last game to maintain their chase of leaders Chelsea.  That win was their second on the trot and saw midfielder Yaya Toure bag his first goal, after a quiet start to the season.

City will have to start putting in convincing performances if they want any chance of catching Chelsea.(Getty Images)

City will have to start putting in convincing performances if they want any chance of catching Chelsea.(Getty Images)

Tottenham beat Southampton 1-0 at home to return to winning ways for the first time in four games.  A single goal from Christian Erikson was enough to see Spurs past the Saints and into sixth place in the EPL. However, the north Londoners still look shy up top and need to start scoring goals if they want to challenge for a Champions League spot.

Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala is set to miss out with a thigh injury, while Yaya Toure is likely to be rested as he is not due back from international duty until Friday.

Tottenham have injury concerns with Hugo Lloris and Nacer Chadli after both returned from international duty with injuries, while Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb also need to be assessed.

Manchester City won this game 6-0 last season and have a good recent record against Spurs—City have won six of their last seven league meetings with Tottenham, scoring 22 goals in the process.

I think Spurs will approach the game in the same way they did at Arsenal recently, keeping things tight and trying to hit on the counter. However, City have too much fire power for the Londoners and I expect them to win this fairly comfortably.

Prediction: 3-0

 

Arsenal v Hull

Arsenal lost 2-0 away to Chelsea in their last outing, but won’t be too down, as they played fairly well and could have gotten more out of the game on another day. That defeat was Arsenal’s first of the season, but the Gunners have drawn too many games this season and that is why they currently sit 8th in the EPL.

Steve Bruce reverted Hull to a 3-5-2 formation in their last game and it appeared to work a treat with the Tigers winning 2-0. That win helped Hull out of a mini rut—the Tigers had not won in their previous four games, with their last win coming in a 1-0 win over QPR in mid-September.

Arsenal may struggle at the back without Koscielny(Getty Images)

Arsenal may struggle at the back without Koscielny(Getty Images)

Arsenal look set to welcome back captain Mikel Arteta with the midfielder overcoming a calf strain. But they face defensive headaches with Calum Chambers suspended and Laurent Koscielny out with an Achilles injury, meaning left-back Nacho Monreal could deputize at center-back.

Mesut Ozil faces two months out with knee injury after he was diagnosed while on international duty, while Saturday’s game is too early for Theo Walcott who is recovering from a similar injury.

Hull’s only concern is newly signed midfielder Mohamed Diame, who played late on Wednesday for Senegal meaning he may start from the bench.

Hull did tremendously in their first season back in the EPL last campaign and have started the new campaign in a similar vein, however, the Tigers have lost their last 5 EPL games against Arsenal and while I expect them to put up a good fight I think Saturday’s game will be their sixth defeat.

Prediction: 2-0

 

Crystal Palace v Chelsea

An EPL week just doesn’t feel the same without a Derby match of some sorts and this week’s derby see south London v west London for bragging rights, as Crystal Palace host Chelsea.

Crystal Palace’s good run came to an end with a 2-0 loss away to Hull—that defeat was their first since 23 August and ended a run of four without a defeat. Many thought Palace would struggle when manager Tony Pulis left just before the start of the season, but if anything Palace look better, especially going forward.

Chelsea and Costa have taken the league by storm thus far. (Getty Images)

Chelsea and Costa have taken the league by storm thus far. (Getty Images)

EPL leaders Chelsea continued their fine start to the season with a solid 2-0 victory over rivals Arsenal. The Blues were not at their best and conceded possession to Arsenal for long periods, but they did enough to win the game and never really looked in trouble. The win was Chelsea’s sixth of the season and their draw at Man City is the only time they have dropped points this season.

Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann is ruled out with the knee injury he suffered at Hull with Adrian Mariappa expected to fill in.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa is a doubt with a hamstring problem. Andre Schurrle is out with flu, while Didier Drogba, Ramires and John Mikel Obi are all nursing injuries.

Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at Selhurst Park last season ended a 12-match winless run against Chelsea in the league dating back to 1990. The Eagles were good value for their win last season and will probably try to use the same in-your-face tactics again on Saturday. However, Chelsea is a much improved side from last season and I expect them to win this one.

Prediction: 0-2

 

SUNDAY

QPR v Liverpool

QPR’s poor start to the season continued with a 2-0 loss away to West Ham. The Hoops have lost five of their opening seven games this season—They did likewise in the 2012-13 and 1995-96 seasons, both of which ended in relegation.

Manager Harry Redknapp has complained his players lack fitness, but they seem to be lacking a lot more in desire. The Hoops have committed fewer fouls (60) and amassed fewer yellow cards (eight) than any other Premier Leagues side, which shows they are just too easy to play against.

Liverpool's Sterling made headlines due to his request not to start for England as he was suffering from fatigue. (Getty Images)

Liverpool’s Sterling made headlines due to his request not to start for England as he was suffering from fatigue. (Getty Images)

Liverpool returned to winning ways by edging out West Brom 2-1 at home. The Reds have really struggled up front this season and have looked one-dimensional since Daniel Sturridge got injured.

QPR remain without midfielders Joey Barton and Jordan Mutch, who both have hamstring problems. However, Niko Kranjcar could still feature despite breaking a toe in training, with the player reportedly prepared to have a pain-killing injection in order to play.

Liverpool look set to welcome back striker Daniel Sturridge after a six week absence, while midfielders Joe Allen and Emre Can are also fit again.

Liverpool have won nine out of 12 Premier League games against QPR (D1, L2), including five of their last six, so on paper this should be an easy Liverpool win. However, the Reds have not been the same free flowing attacking side they were last season and still seem shaky at the back—Liverpool has kept just one clean sheet in their last 16 matches in all competitions (including 13 Premier League games).

Nevertheless, I think Liverpool have the quality to just edge this one.

Prediction: 0-1

 

MONDAY

West Brom v Man Utd

West Brom took the game to Liverpool in their last outing and were unlucky to come away from Anfield with nothing. The Baggies have done well after a slow start to the season, with striker Saido Berahino being their outstanding performer—the England U-21 player has scored 5 goals in EPL games.

Falcao (L) looks to be finding his form. (Getty Images)

Falcao (L) looks to be finding his form. (Getty Images)

Manchester United recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a 2-1 victory over Everton. The Red Devils played tremendously in the first-half and could have put the game out of sight, but in the second-half they were poor and had to thank goalkeeper David De Gea, who saved a penalty and made a series of world-class saves at the death, for their victory. Di Maria was once again United’s outfield star man, while new signing Radamel Falcao also opened his United account.

West Brom have been playing positive stuff and will certainly fancy their chances against United’s fragile back-line. However, I think the Red Devils have so many class players in attack that they will probably just get their team out of jail in this game.

Prediction: 1-2

 

 

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2015 World Cup Qualifier: U.S. WNT vs. Guatemala Preview
2015 World Cup Qualifier: U.S. WNT vs. Guatemala Preview avatar

After a sub-par performance on Wednesday against Trinidad and Tobago in the opening game of the CONCACAF Championship, the U.S. WNT turns their attention to Friday night’s matchup vs. Guatemala at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Wambach expressed her disappointment with the teams performance against Trinidad and Tobago. (ISI Photos)

Wambach expressed her disappointment with the teams performance against Trinidad and Tobago. (ISI Photos)

The U.S. will try to improve upon their narrow 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Kansas City. While Abby Wambach scored the winner, she felt their performance left much to be desired.

“It was frustrating,” Wambach revealed. “We just couldn’t break them down. In this tournament, we knew that we were going to be up against teams bunkering back and making things difficult for us in the 18.”

The U.S. can expect more of the same against a Guatemala team that has conceded 22 goals across two games against the Americans.

Haiti players celebrate their goal midway through the second half of play. (Getty Images)

Haiti players celebrate their goal midway through the second half of play. (Getty Images)

Guatemala suffered an upset against 10-women Haiti in their first game, losing 1-0 after Haiti’s goalkeeper Cynthia Chery was sent off 17 minutes into the game.

With Wambach playing an unfamiliar #10 role in center-midfield and Sydney Leroux left on the bench, coach Jill Ellis is likely to change her lineup that, while not pretty, got the job done against Trinidad and Tobago.

“Right now, it’s about regrouping, getting ready and being happy that we have three points in the first match,” Ellis stated. “We created a lot of opportunities, but we should have done a better job finishing.”

The younger players will be the key to his style of play. (Getty Images)

Leroux (R) got five last time round against Guatemala. (Getty Images)

Leroux was a surprise exclusion from Wednesday’s match and history versus Guatemala warrants her inclusion in tomorrow’s game. The last meeting between the U.S. and Guatemala saw Leroux score five goals in a 13-0 blowout.

With frustration lingering and a convincing performance needed to boost confidence, expect a wider margin of victory against Guatemala tomorrow night to put them alone atop the Group A standings.

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