NCAA Men’s National Championship Roundup
NCAA Men’s National Championship Roundup avatar

Four seeded teams were eliminated this past weekend as the second round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer National Championship took place.

The majority of the 16 games were close with all but two of the games being decided by one goal or penalties.

#1 Notre Dame, #2 UCLA, and #3 Michigan State were among the favorites that advanced to the third round unscathed.

Notre Dame beat Ohio State 2-1 in a rain-soaked match Sunday night. Brandon Aubrey converted a penalty kick a half hour in before Ohio State equalized four minutes later. Danny Jensen scored of a corner kick following a scuffle in the box.

Notre Dame (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Notre Dame will be looking to hold onto their crown. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Ohio State thought they had taken the lead shortly afterwards, but a free kick goal was disallowed after the referee deemed that Jensen used his hand to deflect it on target.

Jon Gallagher scored the winner for the Fighting Irish in the 69th minute when he latched on to a through ball and slotted the ball in the far post.

UCLA required overtime, but defeated San Diego 2-1 to avenge their loss to the team earlier in the season. Leo Stolz scored both goals for the Bruins as they came from behind to defeat San Diego.

San Diego, who defeated UCLA 1-0 in September, went ahead after a great solo goal by Parker Price in the 20th minute.

Earl Edwards Jr.making a save for UCLA. (ISI Photos/Michael Jaonsz)

Earl Edwards Jr.making a save for UCLA. (ISI Photos/Michael Jaonsz)

Stolz scored a free kick from thirty yards to equalize in the 55th minute. Stolz scored the golden goal in the 97th minute, but not until after UCLA’s goalkeeper, Earl Edwards Jr., made a fantastic double save 40 seconds into overtime.

Oakland was eliminated by Michigan State, courtesy of Zach Carroll’s goal in the 67th minute. An evenly fought match was decided by the head of Carroll, who dispatched the ball from Dewey Lewis’ corner kick.

Oakland outshot the Spartans, but it all counted for nothing as Zach Bennett kept a clean sheet fort the twelfth time this season.

The next three seeds were not as lucky, as #4 Maryland, #5 Indiana, and #6 Stanford all fell at the first hurdle.

UMBC recorded the first-ever win in the second round by defeating Maryland by a goal to nil. Malcolm Harris’ 70th minute goal was all that was needed. Maryland had plenty of chances to score their first goal against UMBC, after the previous meeting this season ended 0-0.

Indiana, who has won the second-most national championships, was up-ended by Xavier 2-1 on Sunday.

Indiana were eliminated and failed once again to reach the heights of recent. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Indiana were eliminated and failed once again to reach the heights of recent. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Indiana’s Tanner Thompson missed an early penalty kick before the two sides exchanged first half goals through Xavier’s Matt Vasquenza and the Hoosier’s Grant Lillard.

Vasquenza was fouled in the box, which gave Will Walker the chance to put Xavier ahead. The senior took full advantage to send Xavier into the next round of the national championship.

In the last major upset of the round, UC Irvine’s Michael Sperber scored a golden goal to defeat Stanford 1-0 in Palo Alto, CA.

Stanford, who was undefeated against UC Irvine heading into the game, had a goal disallowed for offside early on. UC Irvine put up a fight in the early stages, but as time went on, Stanford gained a foothold in the game, thanks to recent U.S. MNT call-up Jordan Morris.

But UC Irvine goalkeeper Michael Breslin saved every shot he faced and allowed Sperber the opportunity to link up beautifully with Cameron Iwasa to shock the Cardinal on their home turf.

In a Monday night game, #7 Clemson defeated Coastal Carolina two goals to one to secure their first win in a National Championship game since 2006. Paul Clowes put Clemson in front with forty seconds remaining in the half.

Diego Campos scored Clemson’s second in the 57th minute, before Tom Gudmundsson cut the lead in half five minutes later. Despite attempting 15 shots to Clemson’s 8, Coastal Carolina could not get he equalizer against a Tiger defense led by goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.

#8 Georgetown came from behind to defeat Old Dominion 2-1 in double overtime to secure passage the third round. Old Dominion led through an own goal of a corner kick in the 26th minute, but Georgetown leveled through Brandon Allen with a 74th minute goal.

Georgetown's Arun Basuljevic celebrating his goal.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Georgetown’s Arun Basuljevic celebrating his goal.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Georgetown dominating proceedings throughout the rest of the game and overtime, but penalties seemed inevitable. Step in Arun Basuljevic. The freshman midfielder took a shot with five seconds remaining in the second overtime period to end the game in Georgetown’s favor.

Other notable results include North Carolina winning 2-1 at #10 Charlotte, #13 Louisville eliminating 10-time national champions Saint Louis, and Furman falling to #14 Washington on penalties.

The third round kicks off on Sunday, November 30 and if it is anything as entertaining as the second round, we should be in for a treat.

View all the results and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Men’s Soccer Website: Click Here

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New England Top New York while L.A. Hold off Seattle
New England Top New York while L.A. Hold off Seattle avatar

Harrison, N.J. – The New England Revolution brought their Road Warrior act to a packed Red Bull Arena Sunday afternoon defeating New York 2-1, and putting Thierry Henry’s chances of hoisting an MLS Cup on his way out of Major League Soccer in serious jeopardy.

Henry in New York's loss to New England. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

Henry in New York’s loss to New England. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

With Henry widely assumed to be playing his final games as a New York Red Bull, the red hot New England Revolution rolled into Harrison with a large and loud supporters section in tow to cheer them on.

New York’s fans passionately responded to the Revs supporters while also generating their own enthusiasm, and Red Bull Arena was alive with playoff fever. Seldom, if ever have the Red Bulls or their predecessors, the MetroStars, generated an atmosphere to match Sunday’s, with former English Premier League star Tim Cahill comparing it to playing, “a game back in the U.K.”

The Revolution opened this season’s playoffs by decimating Columbus 4-2 at Crew Stadium, before finishing them off with a 3-1 victory at home in Gillette Stadium.

It was no surprise then that the Revs came into Red Bull Arena with confidence, and in fact a bit of swagger, led by their uber confident U.S. international Jermaine Jones.

Jones debuted for New England on August 30, making a good New England side better, and the Revolution have been on fire ever since.

The rangy veteran picked up the assist on Teal Bunbury’s opening goal on Sunday, but all glory goes to Bunbury for his fantastic left footed curler. After taking a pass from Jones, Bunbury shook free from Red Bull fullback Ambroise Oyongo before firing past Luis Robles.

Oyongo, a speedy, attack minded fullback in for suspended regular Roy Miller, is known for his offensive game, and Revolution coach Jay Heaps came in confident that Bunbury could do well against the Red Bull replacement.

“A goal and an assist was pretty good from Teal,” a happy Heaps said after the game.” Speaking of Miller’s absence, Heaps said, “it didn’t matter to us. We saw the suspension, but we know that Oyongo’s got a lot of pace and Teal’s got a lot of pace, so it’s going to be a track meet out there.”

The first half was indeed played at frenetic pace, slowed only by the distribution of yellow cards by referee Allen Chapman, who handed out four first half cautions, on the way to a match total of 10.

For all of that, there were moments of skill amid the mayhem, including both Bunbury’s goal, and Oyongo’s pass to set up in motion New York’s 27 minute equalizer. The defender eluded Bunbury before releasing Peggy Luyindula behind the Revs defense. Luyindula was stopped cold by New England keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, but the Frenchman managed to hit the crossbar with a shot from his knees.

Poacher extraordinaire Bradley Wright-Phillips was on hand to head home the second rebound and the sides were level.

Jones scored the winner in the 86th minute on a counter attack when Lee Nguyen finally freed himself from the attentions of New York midfielder Dax McCarty.

Lee Nguyen was once again an impact player in the game. (ISI Photos)

Lee Nguyen was once again an impact player in the game. (ISI Photos)

Nguyen raced at the Red Bull defense, picking out Bunbury with a well weighted pass. Bunbury’s shot/pass was met by a sliding Jones, and New York was punished for pushing for a late goal when they might have done better to settle for a draw.

New York picked up six of the 10 cards, but none were more harmful than BWP’s foolish yellow for blocking Shuttleworth’s clearance on the hour mark. As a result Wright-Phillip’s will be suspended for next Saturday’s series finale in New England, leaving New York minus its top goal scorer, at a time when they sorely need goals.

So with BWP sidelined for the showdown in New England, Thierry Henry will surely end his boycott of Gillette Stadium’s artificial surface, right? Right.

When the question was posed after the match Henry was direct. “I’m playing, you happy.”
******************************************************************
3,000 miles west of Red Bull Arena the Los Angeles Galaxy edged the Seattle Sounders 1-0 in front of a raucous, sellout crowd of its own, sending that series to Seattle next Sunday with everything to play for.

The Galaxy dominated in front of the home crowd, but can count themselves fortunate to come away with a win, following some heroics from goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

Twice Penedo turned away seemingly certain goals from Clint Dempsey, and as good the Panamanian netminder did, Deuce will be disappointed in himself for not converting on at least one of his chances.

Seattle came in down two men, Osvaldo Alonso and Lamar Neagle. Alonso’s absence through injury was expected, but Seattle also had to do without Neagle, who missed out for personal reasons.

Marcelo Sarvas got the game winner for LA Galaxy. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Marcelo Sarvas got the game winner for LA Galaxy. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

After a period of intense pressure L.A. finally got the game’s only goal on a deflected shot from midfielder Marcelo Sarvas in the the 52nd minute. Galaxy fullback A.J. de la Garza did the spade work, finding Sarvas who needed a deflection off Sounder defender Chad Marshall to beat Stefan Frei in the Seattle goal.

The two principals in the Galaxy goal would later leave injured, perhaps tilting things Seattle’s way, if in fact Sarvas and de la Garza can’t go next week at CenturyLink.

Seattle should get a boost from the expected returns of Alonso and Neagle, but the Sounders will have to reawaken its slumbering offense if they hope to host the 2014 MLS Cup.

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NCAA Division I Women’s Quarterfinals
NCAA Division I Women’s Quarterfinals avatar

The quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship are set after the second and third round matches were played out over the weekend.

While the seeded teams make up all of the eight remaining colleges, the two most recent rounds were not without upsets, close calls, and nail-biting finishes.

Let’s preview the four matches that take place this weekend before the tournament moves to Boca Raton, Florida for the College Cup.

#1 UCLA take on #2 Virginia

In a rematch of the 2013 semifinal, UCLA play Virginia on Friday. UCLA will look to repeat the result after they defeated Virginia on penalties before going on to win their first-ever national championship.

UCLA eased past Harvard in the second round, defeating the Crimson 7-0. Ten separate players were involved in the goals, with Killion leading the way with two goals and an assist. Pepperdine were the next team that fell to UCLA, with Sam Mewis scoring in the 87th minute to secure a 1-0 victory. UCLA comes into the game versus Virginia on the back of a ten game shutout streak thanks to the exploits of Katelyn Rowland.

Virginia will be hoping they can avenge UCLA after their defeat last year. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Virginia will be hoping they can avenge UCLA after their defeat last year. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Virginia advanced the third round after beating Rutgers 3-0.  All three goals came in the space of seven second half minutes. Brittany Ratcliffe led the way with a goal and an assist. #4 Kentucky did not pose a threat in the third round, with the Cavaliers winning 7-0. Makenzy Doniak recorded a hat trick and two assists, with Morgan Brian notching two goals and two assists.

This quarterfinal match should be exciting with Sam Mewis’ 16 goals as a midfielder and Rowland’s goalkeeping reason why UCLA remain favorites. Virginia will hope to avenge their semifinal loss from a year ago and will rely upon netminder Morgan Stearns to keep the Bruins at bay and for Doniak to improve upon her record of scoring in 10 of the last 11 games.

#1 Texas A&M host #2 Penn State

The Aggies play Penn State on Saturday night with the winner advancing to the semifinals being held in South Florida next month. Texas A&M have never been to the College Cup, while Penn State will want to advance for the second time in three years.

Penn State comes into this quarterfinal matchup after two hard-fought wins. The first came in a narrow 1-0 win over UConn. Frannie Crouse scored the lone goal seven minutes in and the Nittany Lions held on for the win thanks to Britt Eckerstrom in goal. Their second win was a 2-1 result over Virginia Tech. It was an even game throughout, with Mallory Weber heading in the decisive goal in the 71st minute.

Texas A&M (Courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M are just too strong for Arizona. (Courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M beat Arizona 7-2 in the second round. During the regular season, Arizona held the Aggies to a 2-2 draw, but could do nothing as Texas A&M overpowered them in every aspect. The Aggies were 5-0 up at the break, thanks to Kelley Monogue and Allie Bailey scoring two goals each while Annie Kunz scored the first of the game. In the third round versus #4 Notre Dame, Monogue scored yet another brace to win 2-1. Notre Dame had the majority of the shots, but most of them were off target.

As the number one seed, Texas A&M should be considered favorites, but Penn State will look to continue their good run of results and work their way to a first-ever title, losing their only final in 2012.

#3 South Carolina travel to play #1 Florida State

South Carolina will play Florida State on Friday night after the biggest result in their history.

South Carolina did not look convincing in their first two games of the tournament: they did not score in either game and advanced courtesy of penalty shootouts. The Gamecocks finally scored a goal in the third round and beat #2 North Carolina 1-0. The Tar Heels, who have won 21 national championships, could not find a way past South Carolina. But Raina Johnson scored the decisive goal and Abbey Crider made a number of great saves as number one goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was injured.

FSU (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

FSU are proving to be quite the force. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Florida State posted their second and third clean sheets of the tournament after defeating Northeastern 3-0 and UCF 1-0. Kirsten Crowley had a goal and an assist versus Northeastern, while Kristin Grubka scored the lone goal in the third round game against UCF. Central Florida came into the game on the back of a memorable 3-2 win over #4 Wisconsin and fought well against the Seminoles, but Grubka found the net from two yards after a well-worked set piece.

Florida State has reached the semifinals the past three years, but has yet to win the title. South Carolina has never made it this far in the national championship, but will hope to add the Seminoles to their list of scalps, which already includes Texas A&M and Missouri.

#1 Stanford play #2 Florida

Stanford will need to beat Florida in order to take part in their sixth College Cup. Stanford has reached the semifinals in five of the last six years, while Florida will want to reach the stage for the first time since 2001. These two teams met in September, with Stanford winning courtesy of a Lo’eau LaBonta penalty.

Lo’eau LaBonta was the hero for Stanford. (ISI Photos/David Bernal)

Lo’eau LaBonta was the hero for Stanford. (ISI Photos/David Bernal)

Lo’eau LaBonta’s skill from the spot is the reason Stanford has reached the quarterfinals. Arkansas and Washington lost to Stanford in the second and third round respectively by 1-0 score lines. Both goals were penalties that were scored by LaBonta down the middle. The penalty versus Washington was actually saved, but LaBonta fired in the rebound.

Florida got into the quarterfinal after beating California 3-1 and #3 Texas Tech 3-2. The Gators scored two goals in the opening 13 minutes on their way to the win against California. In the third round Florida led a two-goal lead slip to Texas Tech, before Annie Speese scored the winner with nine minutes left to play. Speese also had an assist earlier in the game and Savannah Jordan also had a goal and assist.

The Gators will hope to reverse the scoreline from their meeting with Stanford earlier in the season. Stanford hosted the Gators on September 12 and won in overtime. Meanwhile, Stanford hopes to advance to the College Cup after missing out in 2013.

Every woman’s soccer program has the goal of winning the NCAA Division I National championship. The original field of 64 has been narrowed down to these eight teams, all of which have a great chance to make the trip to Boca Raton and lay claim to the best woman’s soccer program in the country.

View all results and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Women’s Soccer Website: Click Here

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Free SAT and ACT Prep Course Access for Indiana Soccer Members
Free SAT and ACT Prep Course Access for Indiana Soccer Members avatar

Courtesy of ISA

Courtesy of ISA

Indiana Soccer understands the expenses related to education for your children, whether it is in athletics or academics.

For this reason, they are always looking for opportunities to benefit loyal members and to save money.  This time, Indiana Soccer is providing EXCLUSIVE FREE access to acclaimed SAT and ACT Prep courses from eKnowledge, normally a $250 value! These courses from eKnowledge can be taken online or via DVD, which makes them ideal for our busy student athlete.

For the full story and sign up information please visit the Indiana Soccer Website.

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Arkansas Soccer Association Seeks Referees
Arkansas Soccer Association Seeks Referees avatar

arkansas referee committee

Arkansas Soccer Association is looking for referees! High school players, parents and coaches are encouraged to promote these classes and to spread the word to get referees for the club games.

To sign up for the courses please  click here for more information.

Grade 8 Course- 

Instructors : Paul Lewis and Matthew Peterson

  • Course Cost : $20
  • Registration : $50
  • Background Check : $5 (adults 18 or older only)
  • December 6, 2014
  • Lakewood Property Owners Association
  • 4500 Lakeshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72116
  • 8:15 AM – 2:00 PM  (online training required)

The instructors will notify you of the online training requirements prior to the course week.

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STYSA 2015 ODP Tryouts
STYSA 2015 ODP Tryouts avatar

Courtesy of STYSA

Courtesy of STYSA

South Texas Youth Soccer Association is holding ODP tryouts  for the 2015 ODP Training Pool on select weekends Jan-March for boys. Chosen players will represent South Texas during the Region III ODP Trials in July.

Check out the schedules below, and for more information on registration please visit the STYSA website.

Age: 01-02-03

  • Onsite Registration: 7:00a.m.
  • Check-In: 7:30a.m.
  • AM Session: 8-9:30 am
  • PM Session: 1:30-3 pm

Age: 00-99-98

  • Onsite Registration: 9:30 am
  • Check-In: 10:00 am
  • AM Session: 10:30am-Noon
  • PM Session: 1:30 PM-3 PM 
What to bring to try-out
o    A Big Smile
o    T-shirt and BIB # will be provided 
*  KEEP the BIB# 
– players MUST wear  BIB # at ALL training sessions
o    Ball
o    NO CLUB APPAREL will be allowed during try-outs
o    Shin guards
o    Cleats or turf shoes
o    Water
o    Sunscreen is recommended
o    Cold weather and rain gear in case of inclement weather
o    Your best effort to show us what you can do on the field!
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EPL Week 12 – Latest News and Predictions
EPL Week 12 – Latest News and Predictions avatar

After a short break for International games the EPL returns for all you guys and gals out there. After 11 weeks Chelsea lead the way and have yet to lose a game, but the EPL is always full of surprises so perhaps Week 12 will be the week they finally slip up.

Elsewhere, Man City entertain Swansea, Liverpool return to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace where they famously drew 3-3 last season, and there is also the small matter of Arsenal v Manchester United, which has produced some memorable moments down the years.

NEWS

Only a third of EPL English

English players make up just over a third of the EPL according to a survey conducting by the BBC.

The State of the Game study found that English players played 36.01% of total playing time, that figure was a rise on last year’s figure which was 32.36%. However, the rise was attributed to new promoted Burnley, who has used just one non-UK player this season.

Di Maria is one of many South American players that are doing well in the EPL(Getty Images)

Di Maria is one of many South American players that are doing well in the EPL(Getty Images)

In fact, if you take Burnley out of the equation the amount of time English players are getting on the field is the same as last year, but at the top clubs it is falling.

Six months ago FA chairman Gregory Dyke announced plans to get more English players playing in the EPL, while the Professional Players Association chief Gordon Taylor believes every club should be made to field at least three homegrown players.

Key Findings

  • Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and champions Manchester City used the most non-UK players in the EPL.
  • Argentines were the big movers, up to the third most represented non-UK country after France and Spain, and now outnumber Welsh players in the Premier League.
  • 33 of the 44 new signings made by last season’s top eight clubs were foreign.
  • A quarter of the 373 foreign players in the EPL played fewer than 10 games last season.
  • Burnley used the most English players (13) while Chelsea, Stoke and Man City each used the least (three).
  • In 2013-14 just five English players took part in all 38 matches.

 

Can the EPL learn from the Germans?

Study group the CIES Football Observatory last week reported that the ratio of foreign players in the German Bundesliga is 43.5% compared to the EPL, which is 55.07% non-UK and 63.92% non-English.

In 2002, Germany overhauled their youth system, which many view as a key factor in helping them create the talent to win the 2014 World Cup.

Phillip Lahm is one of the many home grown talent that plays in the Bundesliga(Getty images)

Phillip Lahm is one of the many home grown talent that plays in the Bundesliga. (Getty images)

Lutz Pfannenstiel, first-team scout at Bundesliga club Hoffenheim, said: “We were like other European countries, signing foreigners for the sake of it. When we restructured we decided as a country to go for young players and if possible German.

“Now any player from another country has to be absolutely outstanding. We no longer see the point in taking a player we can maybe find at the same level in Germany.”

 

Football fans against more Televised games

The Football Supporters Association is against televising more live EPL games and especially any 3pm kick-offs, according to chairman Malcolm Clarke.

Ofcom, who is the UK government – approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom, is currently investigating the selling of TV rights in the UK following a complaint by Virgin Media.

At present, live games cannot be shown in England between 14:45 GMT and 17:15 GMT.

The U.S. fan has access to more EPL televised games than the U.K fan. (Getty Images)

The U.S. fan has access to more EPL televised games than the U.K fan. (Getty Images)

Virgin argues fewer games are available for live viewing in the UK than other countries and customer are paying inflated prices for those games. However, Clarke believes more games on television will have a detrimental effect on the game in the UK and provide little benefit for fans.

“Most fans think we’ve probably reached television saturation point and it’s not in the game’s interests to increase the number even further,” said Clarke.

“A 3pm kick-off on Saturday is part of the tradition of English football. We’ve lost some of that with the number of games that are now being moved, which many fans are unhappy about.

“But if it goes a step further so that you have got live television games up against the normal 3pm kick-off, it could have a very adverse effect on gates lower down the leagues and we would be opposed to that.”

Clarke added: “We’ve seen no evidence so far that increased media rights benefit the ordinary fan, either sitting at home watching a game on television or going to the matches.

“It has benefitted owners, highly paid executives, players and agents but not us.”

 

Arsenal tried to sign Messi as teenager

Arsene Wenger has confirmed he tried to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona as a teenager.

Wenger revealed he had hoped to sign Messi, Gerrard Pique and Cesc Fabregas as part of a treble swoop.

Wenger said: “We wanted to take Fabregas, Messi and Pique. It worked only for Fabregas.”

Fabregas joined Arsenal and spent eight years with the Gunners before returning to Barcelona in 2011, while Pique joined Manchester United in 2004 before returning to Barca in 2008.

Messi has stayed loyal to Barcelona. (Getty Images)

Messi has stayed loyal to Barcelona. (Getty Images)

Messi, who was 15 at the time, is reported to have turned down a move to Arsenal after the Gunners refused to buy an apartment for his parents. The Argentine forward has since gone on to score 250 goals for the senior Barcelona team, breaking all types of record and is regarded by many as one of the greatest players of all time.

However, Wenger laughed off such suggestions and cited that had a deal been made it still may not have gone through, as Messi would have required a work permit.

Wenger added: “I think in the end he was not so keen to move.”

“It was not completely down to a flat in the end. It was down to the fact that Messi was comfortable at Barcelona.”

 

PREDICTIONS

Week 11

Result

My Predictions

Luke

Neil

Mabs

SATURDAY
Liverpool v Chelsea 1-2 0-2 1-1 1-3 1-3
Burnley v Hull 1-0 0-2 0-0 1-1 1-1
Man Utd v Crystal Palace 1-0 3-1 4-1 4-0 4-0
Southampton v Leicester 2-0 3-0 2-0 3-0 2-1
West Ham v Aston Villa 0-0 2-0 3-0 2-1 3-1
QPR v Man City 2-2 0-2 1-2 0-4 2-2
SUNDAY
Sunderland v Everton 1-1 1-2 1-1 1-2 1-2
Tottenham v Stoke 1-2 1-0 2-0 2-1 2-0
West Brom v Newcastle 0-2 2-2 1-1 1-3 1-1
Swansea v Arsenal 2-1 1-2 2-3 2-2 2-1
TOTAL SCORE  3-Points 7-Points 4-Points 9-Points

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

Week 12

My Predictions

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

SATURDAY

Chelsea v West Brom

Chelsea maintained their lead at the top of the EPL with a good 2-1 win away to Liverpool. The Blues trailed Liverpool for a while, but showed their quality and character to draw level and then take the lead, and were comfortable winners in the end—though Liverpool should have had a penalty late on after Gary Cahill clearly saved a Steven Gerrard shot with his arm in the box.

West Brom lost 2-0 at home to Newcastle in their last EPL game and will be hoping to bounce back with a good performance against Chelsea. The Baggies came close to winning at the Bridge last season, only for Chelsea to get a controversial last minute penalty to spare their blushes. However, Chelsea are a much improved side compared to last season, so West Brom have their work cut out.

Chelsea's Fabregas has been one of Chelsea's most offensive players this season. (Getty Images)

Chelsea’s Fabregas has been one of Chelsea’s most offensive players this season. (Getty Images)

Chelsea welcome back Andre Shurrle after a recent illness, while Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas could also feature for the Blues despite missing international duty with Spain due to hamstring injuries.

Craig Gardner could feature for West Brom after serving a ban, but Jonas Olsson and Sebastien Pocognoli are likely to remain out with Achilles and hamstring injuries respectively.

West Brom ended a run of eight successive defeats with a 2-2 draw at Chelsea in February, though they were left fuming when Chelsea were awarded a last-gasp penalty after Ramires appeared to dive in the box.

That would have been the Baggies’ first win at Stamford Bridge since 1978, but they face tough task this season as Chelsea are the only English professional soccer team to have won all of their home games in the league this season.

West Brom have improved this season, but so have Chelsea and I expect them to win this game comfortably.

Prediction: 3-0

 

Man City v Swansea

Man City came from behind twice to salvage a draw against EPL strugglers QPR. Queen Park Rangers played really well and could have put the game out of sight if it were not for the performance of keeper Joe Hart, who made a couple of great saves. But City really had Sergio Aguero to thank, as he scored two breathtaking goals.

Aguero has been dangerous and looks like getting back to his best. (Getty Images)

Aguero has been dangerous and looks like getting back to his best. (Getty Images)

The Argentine striker is currently the best striker in the EPL with nine goals in his last six games and is currently carrying City, but he can’t do it all alone and if he gets injured City could struggle—Aguero has scored 12 of City’s 22 goals this season, no other player has more than 2.

Swansea recorded a fine 2-1 victory over Arsenal in their last game to continue their good start to the season. The Swans were trailing the Gunners, but showed their quality to battle back and win the game. Summer signing Jefferson Montero was the man of the match and showed he has the pace down the wings to trouble any defense in the division.

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is fit ahead of schedule and should feature against Swansea. Eliaquim Mangala has also overcome a knock, but Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov are both expected to be out until next month with calf injuries.

Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is available after a one-match ban, while the Swans are also hopeful of Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge returning after injury. However, defender Federico Fernandez is definitely out with a calf problem.

Swansea is playing well and will be confident of getting a result against a City team that is not playing well. However, City has won all three of their EPL meetings against Swansea at the Etihad without conceding a goal—in fact, Swansea’s last win at Manchester City was way back in 1951 when they won 2-1—and I expect City to win this game without trouble.

Prediction: 2-0

 

Arsenal v Manchester United

Saturday’s EPL action draws to a close with a Blockbuster of a game as two of the EPL’s most successful teams lock horns. These two sides have dominated the EPL down the years, but both sides have struggled so far this campaign and will want to hit some form before they head into the hectic Christmas schedule.

Arsenal lost away to Swansea to continue their stuttering start to the season. The Gunners took the lead against the Swans before losing and have now dropped a league-high nine points from winning positions this season—as many as they did in the whole of 2013-14. The only positive Arsenal could take from the game was the performance of Alexis Sanchez, who scored for the sixth time in four games.

Daley Blind's injury will be a huge blow to Man Utd. (Getty Images)

Daley Blind’s injury will be a huge blow to Man Utd. (Getty Images)

Manchester United bounced back from defeat against neighbors Man City with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. The Red Devils brought Michael Carrick and Marouane Felliani into the midfield and while they may have looked more solid defensively, they were nowhere near as good an attacking threat, and if they play the same against Arsenal they will really struggle.

Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud has recovered from a broken leg ahead of schedule and could feature against Manchester United.

Captain Mikel Arteta returns from a hamstring injury, but Danny Welbeck is a doubt with a similar problem and Theo Walcott could miss out with a groin injury.

Daley Blind has joined Manchester United’s lengthy injury list, while Radamel Falcao still isn’t ready to make his comeback.

Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Angel Di Maria and David De Gea all picked up knocks whilst on international duty, but should be fine to face Arsenal.

Manchester United have a good recent record against Arsenal, losing just once in their last 14 games against the Gunners in all competitions (W10 D3 L1). In fact, Arsenal has lost to Manchester United 20 times in the Premier League, more than they have against any other team.

However, The Red Devils are not the team they used to be and have yet to win a game away from home this season. Both teams are struggling with injuries in defense and do not really have the personnel to play defensive soccer, so we should be in for an open game with lots of goals.

The injury to Blind is a big blow for United and could tip the game in Arsenal’s favor, but I think the game will end in a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

 

SUNDAY

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

This game will bring back unhappy memories for Liverpool and their fans. With 11-minutes left to play in last season’s game, Liverpool were 3-0 up and looking to add more goals as they tried to reduce the goal difference gap between themselves and Man City. However, Liverpool’s rush to get the ball after scoring their third goal seemed to incense the Palace players and it was the Eagles that managed to bang in the goals, scoring three times to end the game in a 3-3 draw.

That draw all but ended Liverpool’s dreams of winning the League, with striker Luis Suarez leaving the field in tears.

Palace lost away to Manchester United last week and didn’t really offer much resistance allowing United to have over 70% of possession. Nevertheless, they only lost 1-0 and the game could have been a lot different had former United player Frazier Campbell done better when clean through on goal.

Liverpool continue to struggle without the attacking threat of Sturridge. (Getty Images)

Liverpool continue to struggle without the attacking threat of Sturridge. (Getty Images)

Liverpool lost 2-1 to Chelsea last week to continue they poor run—the Reds are now without a win in their last three games. The Reds once again looked to be lacking ideas in attack and really are missing the presence of Daniel Sturridge up top. But they will have to find a solution soon, as the England forward suffered another setback and is set to be out for another six-weeks.

Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak returns from suspension but he and Yannick Bolasie will be assessed following long-haul flights while on international duty.

Liverpool could start summer signing Rickie Lambert with fellow forward Mario Balotelli suffering a small hamstring problem.

Crystal Palace is unbeaten in their last five league and Cup meeting against Liverpool at Selhurst Park, though they have only won one of ten meetings against the Reds in the EPL.

Liverpool are really struggling for goals at the moment and are not particularly defending well either, which is not a good combination. Palace seem to lack the intensity they had under former manager Tony Pulis, but are still a tough side to beat and will give Liverpool a good game on Sunday. If Liverpool had Daniel Sturridge fit and playing I would back them to win this comfortably, but without him I can see them struggling.

Prediction: 1-1

 

 

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Tim Howard Named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year
Tim Howard Named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year avatar

To the surprise of virtually no one, goalkeeper Tim Howard has been voted the 2014 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. Howard beat out five teammates, including three time winner Clint Dempsey, to win the honor for the second time, the first being in 2008.

Howard had an outstanding 2014 World Cup. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Howard had an outstanding 2014 World Cup. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Howard was favored to win the award, largely based on his 15 save performance against Belgium, in a 2-1 loss. The Everton number one becomes the fifth player to win Male Athlete of the Year at least twice, joining defender Marcelo Balboa (1992, 1994), goalkeeper Kasey Keller (1997, 1999 and 2005), forward Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010) and forward Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011 and 2012).

The award was presented live to Howard this afternoon on ESPN’s SportsCenter with Howard saying, “It’s an honor. I know the winners on the list who have come before me, so it’s special to have my name up there.” “The whole ride with the team for about a month and a half, when we got together for training camp and we flew down to Brazil, we had a really good time and that made 2014 so special to me.”

At 35 Howard became something of a media and social media hero following his performance against Belgium, inspiring a series of internet memes titled Things Tim Howard Could Save.

Tim Howard making a save in the game against Ghana at Brazil 2014. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Tim Howard making a save in the game against Ghana at Brazil 2014. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

The voting was done in a new manner this year, with votes coming from U.S. MNT players capped in 2014, U.S. MNT and Youth National Team coaches, Major League Soccer and North American Soccer League head coaches and select former players, administrators and media members.

Howard won handily with 64 percent of the votes, followed by Jermaine Jones (19 percent) and Kyle Beckerman (11 percent). Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, and Alejandro Bedoya were the other finalists.

Howard reached several U.S. national team milestones this year, becoming the Yanks all-time leader in career wins with 55, and goalkeeper appearances with 104, passing Keller for both marks.

Former Cosmos and U.S. MNT midfielder Rick Davis won the inaugural U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award in 1984.

Yedlin made a name for himself in Brazil for the U.S.(Getty Images)

Yedlin made a name for himself in Brazil for the U.S.(Getty Images)

U.S. Soccer also released its unveiled its nominees for 2014 Young Male Athlete of the Year, Young Female Athlete of the Year and Disabled Athlete of the Year. The nominees in each category are:

Young Male Athlete of the Year Nominees: Mukwelle Akale, midfielder; Emerson Hyndman, midfielder; Christian Pulisic, midfielder; Haji Wright, forward; DeAndre Yedlin, defender.

Young Female Athlete of the Year Nominees: Morgan Brian, midfielder; Rose Lavelle, midfielder; Samantha Mewis, midfielder; Mallory Pugh, midfielder; Katelyn Rowland, goalkeeper

Disabled Athlete of the Year Nominees: Meghan Maiwald, Deaf Soccer; Natalie Russo, Power Soccer; Gavin Sibayan, Paralympic Soccer

The nominees for U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year will be named in the next several days.

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

The FIFA break is over and the playoffs are back, so let’s check in with another MLS Big – 5.

1) 3 in For MVP – But No BWP

Robbie Keane, Obafemi Martins and Lee Nguyen are all very worthy finalists for the league Most Valuable Player Award, but New York Red Bulls sniper Bradley Wright-Phillips must be wondering what more he needed to do to make the shortlist.

Lee Nguyen has shone in the MLS this season. (ISI Photos)

Lee Nguyen is the only home grown player up for the award.. (ISI Photos)

Because equaling the league record for most goals in a season with 27 apparently was not enough. Wright-Phillips already has three playoff goals this year, so New England will be hoping that this snub doesn’t inspire the Englishman to even greater heights this Sunday when New York host the Revolution, and its MVP finalist Lee Nguyen.

2) Chivas USA Expansion Draft

Veteran goalkeeper Dan Kennedy went to keeper rich FC Dallas in Wednesday’s draft, while the rest of the league went for youth, or just took a pass.

Three may be a crowd in the FCD net, at least for now, as Kennedy joins Raul Fernandez and Chris Seitz in Dallas’ goalkeeping rotation.

Dan Kennedy was one of the few players(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Dan Kennedy was selected by FC Dallas.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

With Dallas unlikely to head into the 2015 season with three starting caliber goalkeepers on its roster, watch for one of the three to be moved before March.

Aside from Kennedy just six former Chivas players found a home Wednesday, with Thomas McNamara the oldest at 23.

Selecting second, expansion club NYC FC went for 20 year old midfielder Matt Dunn. McNamara then went to DC United with the fourth pick after Sporting KC passed.

Also selected were fullback Donny Toia, 22 by Montreal, 18 year old forward Caleb Calvert was grabbed by Colorado, while San Jose also tabbed a young striker, 21 year old Kris Tyrpak. Toronto then made the final selection of the draft with the 14th pick, taking 19 year Marco Delgado, who showed promise at both fullback positions this season for the departed Goats.

All the remaining teams passed, then all of the teams that made a first round choice elected to stand pat in the second round, leaving a couple of decent players unselected.

Best known among the unselected was Nigel Reo-Coker. The bustling two way midfielder was traded to Chivas USA from Vancouver mid-season, and his high price tag may have scared off interested clubs.

3) Don Garber’s Manifest Destiny

First came the great migration to the Northwest, with Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, then Major League Soccer set its sights on the Southeast, annexing Orlando, Atlanta, and possibly Miami, and now a restless Commissioner looks north to Minnesota.

Don Garber  .(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Don Garber has continued to deliver as promised..(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Actually, the league has confirmed that it will also be hearing pitches from Sacramento and Las Vegas, as MLS bares down on Garber’s goal of a 24 team MLS by the end of the decade.

All of these new contenders for expansion franchises must be making David Beckham and his Miami partners nervous. Remember, Beckham and company only get a Miami club if a downtown stadium can be secured.

4) A Stadium for DC United?

And while Miami continue to hunt for a stadium site, a league original, DC United also remain in the market. With the New England Revolution, DC’s stadium situation has long been an embarrassment to the league, with two of the league’s founding teams playing in cavernous American Football stadiums.

Courtesy of DC United

Courtesy of DC United

United has been negotiating for a stadium to be built in the Buzzards Bay area of the city, not far from the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.

It has been a long, complicated, and by times torturous process, but DC’s new mayor, Muriel Browser, has stated that she is in favor of building a new soccer stadium, and would be willing to use taxpayer dollars.

But, as mentioned before this is project is anything but straightforward, so despite the mayor’s encouraging remarks, nothing is close assured.

5) They’re Back ! It’s Playoff Time Again

The New York Red Bulls host the New England Revolution in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday at 1:30, before the action shifts to the West Coast where the L.A. Galaxy face rival Seattle Sounders.

Both games, indeed both series, seem liable to be close, hopefully frigid temperatures won’t compromise the quality of play in the eastern cities.

In the Eastern Conference New England are the more dynamic team, as we saw in their decisive playoff win over Columbus, when the Revs won 4-2 on the road 3-1 at home.

Henry (Getty Images)

Henry will be hoping he can go out on a high. (Getty Images)

The Red Bulls managed a 2-0 home win, before falling 2-1 at RFK, enough to advance. Thierry Henry’s potential swansong and any bitter feelings Wright-Phillips may have over the MVP snub add a little spice here, but if New England can hit for a road goal or two, the Red Bulls could be in trouble.

Out west L.A. and Seattle will resume hostilities, with the Galaxy at home for the first leg. One needn’t look too hard for storylines in this one. L.A. want to send Donovan off with a final MLS Cup, MVP candidates Robbie Keane (L.A.) and Obafemi Martins (Sea.) face off. Then this series will be the last time two all time U.S. greats, Donovan and Clint Dempsey face off, even the coaching battle offers something.

Seattle’s Sigi Schmid has won MLS Cup twice, in 2008 with Columbus and in 2002 with the Galaxy. To add a third Cup, Schmid will have to get past Bruce Arena, the league record holder with four MLS Cup wins. Arena won two Cups with DC United and two more with L.A.

There is little between these two clubs, but Seattle may be without rugged midfielder Ossie Alonso. That could be enough to tip the midfield battle the Galaxy’s way, we’ll see.

New England host the return leg in the Eastern Conference Finals on November 29, at 3:00 at Gillette Stadium, with Seattle expected to draw a huge crowd to CenturyLink a day later at 9:00 o’clock, all times Eastern.

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NWSL Executive Director Steps Down
NWSL Executive Director Steps Down avatar

It was announced today that once a replacement is found, Cheryl Bailey will step down as Executive Director of the National Women’s Soccer League to spend more time with her family.

Bailey previously served as General Manager of the USWNT from 2007 to 2011, overseeing the program during two World Cups and the 2008 Olympics. She used that experience to oversee the launch of the NWSL.

Cheryl Bailey (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Cheryl Bailey is stepping down. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

She was appointed the Executive Director less than five months before the season began in April 2013 and, since then, has established the league as one of the top women’s leagues in the world.

“It was important for me to give back to the sport that has given me so much, so I accepted this endeavor with the objective of starting a new league and creating a successful organization,” Bailey said. “I have committed myself 100 percent in order to achieve this goal, but now is the time for me to step away.”

Bailey is not exaggerating when she describes her commitment to the league over the past two years. While Executive Director, she oversaw marketing, operations, public relations, sponsorship, and competition.

Sunil Gulati, President of U.S. Soccer, was present when the announcement was made and offered Bailey his full support and gratitude.

“I would like to sincerely thank Cheryl for her commitment and dedication,” Gulati said. “Her leadership was influential in the launch of the league and she provided a wealth of knowledge and experience that was important to guiding the league during the last two years.”

After the financial struggle and folding of the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-03) and Women’s Professional Soccer (2009-12), Bailey guided the NWSL out of the ashes and established the league on the highest level of the U.S. soccer pyramid, ahead of the Women’s Premier Soccer League and W-League.

Currently with nine teams and rumors of expansion, Cheryl Bailey leaves her post with the NWSL regarded as one of the top women’s leagues in the world and home to some of the top players in women’s soccer.

Cheryl Bailey will continue to serve the position until a replacement is found. She will aid in the search for a replacement and will continue to serve as consultant to ease the transition.

If the replacement is anything like Cheryl Bailey, the league will continue to grow and flourish.

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5 Thoughts as U.S. Flop Against Ireland to End Year
5 Thoughts as U.S. Flop Against Ireland to End Year avatar

Jurgen Klinsmann took his show on the road for a year end double header, and received a beating at the hands of Colombia and Ireland for his troubles.

Following a not unexpected 2-1 loss to FIFA’s third ranked team in the world, the U.S. MNT made the short hop over to Dublin where they took a 4-1 beating from what amounted to an Ireland B or C team.

So, what did we learn from this year end debacle? Here are 5 Thoughts.

1) Mix Needs a Move

Mikkel Diskerud scored the lone U.S. goal against the Irish Tuesday, after admitting that the pace of the Colombia match had surprised him.

Diskerud got the lone goal.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Diskerud got the lone goal.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Diskerud, a Norwegian-American midfielder has some enticing elements to his game, not the least of which is an ability to come up with a timely goal. As fate would have it Mix, as he prefers, is free to make a move this winter, and it is clear that he needs to step away from his comfort zone, in order to step up his game.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman said that 10 to 15 scouts were at Aviva Stadium Tuesday night to have a look at Diskerud. So, how did he do?

OK. He scored a nice goal and combined well at times with Alejandro Bedoya, but there wasn’t a whole lot else. Mix still has enough talent to make a move. At 24 years old Mix is no longer a kid. It’s time to make a move, and it needs to be a good one.

2) Geoff Cameron Needs to Move Further Up the Field.

Cameron is a good, rangy, athletic player. He has size, strength, decent speed and can push forward from time to time. Unfortunately Cameron has a bit of a tendency to screw up in front of his own goal. He had a key miscue in the World Cup against Portugal, and on Tuesday his swing and a miss in front of goal led directly to Ireland’s third goal, which deflected off of the defenders leg and into Bill Hamid’s net.

Geoff Cameron is out due to injury. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Geoff Cameron could be more effective in the middle. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Play Cameron as a defensive midfield where he can use his skills a safer distance his own goal.

3) Will Youth Be Served?

When Tuesday’s embarrassing 4-1 loss to Ireland finally ended, 18 year old Rubio Rubin, 22 year old Bobby Wood, and 20 year old Stanford college player Jordan Morris were on the field for the U.S. MNT.

Bobby Wood in action against the Republic of Ireland. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Bobby Wood in action against the Republic of Ireland. (ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

18 year old Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman is another youngster to receive a recent call up to the senior side. Will he be back, and when? And the others? It is early in the World Cup cycle, but the Gold Cup comes next summer, then there is Olympic Qualifying and in 2016 Copa America.

Will the young guns be ready? And just as importantly, if called can the next generation bring something different to the table?

4) Accountability- Part 1

U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann talks about accountability quite a bit. Then he selects Jozy Altidore, and even hands him the captain’s armband.

(Getty Images)

Altidore needs to be playing regular club soccer and proving himself weekly before he should be considered for the captaincy.(Getty Images)

This is not to suggest that Altidore be buried, but he never plays for Sunderland, therefore he never scores for Sunderland. A bad penalty kick that found the net against Colombia is not reason enough to keep running Altidore out there. Tuesday night he hit the crossbar. Close, but not close enough. Strikers have to score goals. Enough with the close, enough with the service, enough. Goals.

And if Altidore needs to leave Sunderland to score those goals again, then he should get a move on.

5) Accountability – Part 2

Klinsmann (ISI Photos)

Klinsmann’s job has proven a lot tougher than he had anticipated.(ISI Photos)

Jurgen Klinsmann took over as the coach of the U.S. MNT in July 2011. He has coached this national team through a World Cup. He came in talking about a proactive, ball control style. No more hit and hope. This week, much of the talk was of passing the ball out of the back.

But constant tinkering has his defenders looking very uncertain, and his midfield is ineffective without veterans Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley.

The U.S. MNT seems a long way still from establishing any identity beyond the long standing loveable scrappers with good goalkeeping. Nothing new there.

And while it is still early in this cycle, we are deep into the Jurgen Klinsmann era. Accountability, and change, starts at the top.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
IRL 1 3 4

IRL – Anthony Pilkington (David McGoldrick) 7th minute
USA – Mix Diskerud (Chris Wondolowski) 39
IRL – Robbie Brady (David McGoldrick) 55
IRL – James McClean 82
IRL – Robbie Brady 86

Lineups:
USA: 22-Bill Hamid; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 21-Timmy Chandler (24-Jordan Morris, 76); 15-Kyle Beckerman (2-Tim Ream, 87); 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 10-Mix Diskerud (9-Rubio Rubin, 77), 4-Alfredo Morales (3-Greg Garza, 65); 18-Chris Wondolowski (19-Bobby Wood, 46), 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan, 12-Nick Rimando, 14-Miguel Ibarra, 16-Julian Green, 25-Sean Johnson
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

IRL: 23-Shay Given (22-Rob Elliot, 85); 6-Cyrus Christie, 20-Alex Pearce, 5-Ciaran Clark, 17-Robbie Brady; 13-Anthony Pilkington (11-James McClean, 64), 18-Stephen Quinn, 12-David Meyler (capt.); 14- Anthony Stokes (7-Aiden McGeady, 60); 21-David McGoldrick (9-Shane Long, 77), 10-Daryl Murphy (8-Jeff Hendrick, 77)
Subs Not Used: 2-Seamus Coleman, 4-John O’Shea, 15-Richard Keogh, 16-Darren Randolph, 19-Jon Walters
Head Coach: Martin O’Neill

Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 13 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 11 / 6
Fouls: 15 / 11
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Kyle Beckerman (caution) 37th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 65
USA – Geoff Cameron (caution) 85
IRL – Aiden McGeady (caution) 90
USA – Fabian Johnson (caution) 90+2
IRL – David Meyler (caution) 90+4

 

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NCAA Women’s National Championship First Round Recap
NCAA Women’s National Championship First Round Recap avatar

The NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer National Championship got underway this past weekend and brought with it plenty of drama and few upsets.

All but one of the seeded teams advanced to the second round, with the only casualty being #3 West Virginia. The Mountaineers lost on penalties to Georgetown after no goals were scored over the course of 110 minutes.

The number one seeds all advanced to the second round after convincing wins over their opponents.

UCLA's Rowland has set a new NCAA record. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

UCLA’s Rowland has set a new NCAA record. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

#1 UCLA hit the ground running as three early goals saw them defeat San Diego 5-0. There were five different goal scorers and Bruins goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland kept her 53rd clean sheet, which is a NCAA record.

After the game, head coach Amanda Cromwell gave credit to her team’s blistering start to the game. “Any team you let hang around is just going to get more confident,” explained Cromwell. “So we just wanted to get on top of them early, and scoring three goals that quick was great.”

The other seeded teams in UCLA’s bracket advanced to the second round, with two of them requiring penalties. #2 Virginia ran out comfortable winners, defeating High Point 8-0 behind a hat trick from Morgan Reuther and a NCAA record five assists from Morgan Brian.

Both #3 Kentucky and #4 Pepperdine advanced after defeating SIUE and USC, respectively. Spot-kicks were required in both games after the favorites dominated regulation but could not outscore their opponent.

#3 Kentucky had 17 corners and 31 shots, but could not find the back of the net. The Wildcats had Taylor Braun to thank, as the freshman goalkeeper saved two penalties to prevent SIUE from embarrassing Kentucky on their home turf.

Despite conceding first, #4 Pepperdine came back to defeat USC on penalties after regulation finished 1-1. The shootout saw both keepers save the first attempts, before Hannah Seabert saved a second attempt in fourth round of shots.

In another section of the bracket, #1 Texas A&M beat Houston Baptist 5-0 and #2 Penn State defeated Buffalo 4-1.

Kelley Monogue scored two goals for Texas A&M, who advanced to the second round of the National Championship for the 17th consecutive season. Houston Baptist were dominated in every aspect of the game, which was the first ever in the National Championship.

#3 West Virginia were the only seeded team to lose in the first round. After regulation and overtime that did not yield a single goal, Georgetown overcame West Virginia on penalties to secure passage to the second round. Despite being outshot 30-12, Georgetown kept the clean sheet and stayed level with the Mountaineers over 110 minutes.

Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan did not play down the result and will look to cause another upset against Virginia Tech in the second round. “I’m really proud of this team. To come here and play a team of this caliber on their home field and to come away with a result, it just makes me very proud.”

#4 Notre Dame advanced to the second round after a narrow 1-0 win over Valparaiso. Kaleigh Olmstead’s volley with 50 seconds remaining secured victory for the Fighting Irish.

All four seeded teams in Stanford’s quarter of the bracket went through after Stanford, Florida, Texas Tech and Washington won their games in regulation.

Stanford left it late and proved it is a game of two halves. (ISI Photos/David Bernal)

Stanford left it late and proved it is a game of two halves. (ISI Photos/David Bernal)

It was not all smiles for Stanford, as they overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit to win 5-2. One of the biggest upsets in women’s college soccer history was on the cards when Cal State Fullerton scored two goals in the opening half hour and headed into the break two goals to the good. It was not until the 60th minute that Stanford responded through a Chioma Ubogagu free kick.

Within 28 minutes Stanford had scored four more, two of which came courtesy of Ubogagu, who clinched her hat trick in the 88th minute. “I really believe in the team and everyone on the field,” revealed Ubogagu. “I’m just really proud that we showed great character, especially in the second half.” Stanford face Arkansas in the second round and will look to avoid an early scare.

Florida was victorious over Mercer, while Texas Tech routed Prairie View 8-0. Florida scored two goals in the last ten minutes to advance to the second round, while Texas Tech’s Janine Beckie scored a hat trick in the first 22 minutes to guide the Red Raiders to the next round.

McKenzie Karas scored the lone goal for Washington as they defeated Rider 1-0. Rider were making their debut in the NCAA Tournament and defended valiantly as they were outshot 21-3, but Washington proved too much for the debutants.

FSU (ISI Photos/ Steven Limentani)

FSU were convincing in their win over South Alabama. (ISI Photos/ Steven Limentani)

In the last quarter of the bracket, Florida State dispatched South Alabama 5-0, while North Carolina advanced to their 33rd straight second round appearance in the National Championship by defeating South Dakota State 2-0.

The Seminoles scored four second half goals to send South Alabama packing, while their ACC rivals, North Carolina, outshot South Dakota State 19-2 and scored two first half goals to meet Colorado in the second round.

South Carolina were not as convincing in their first round match. The Gamecocks and Clemson could not find the back of the net over 110 minutes, so penalties were required to see South Carolina through to the next round. Sabrina D’Angelo saved two penalties in the shootout to send the Gamecocks through.

D’Angelo redeemed herself from a mistake against the same opposition earlier in the season to send South Carolina to the second round. “That goal [versus Clemson in a 1-0 loss on 9/5] was totally my fault earlier on in the season,” D’Angelo admitted. “So to come up big in penalties was huge.”

#4 Wisconsin defeated DePaul 2-0 in snowy conditions to setup a matchup versus UCF in the second round. With the temperature in the 20s, Cara Walls scored both goals and Genevieve Richard kept a clean sheet in the blizzard-like conditions.

While the first round was filled with drama and heartbreak, the favorites remain in the tournament. But as the tournament goes on, the underdogs will gain confidence and momentum and will hope to upend the favorites to make the College Cup when it rolls around in December in Boca Raton, Florida.

The second round kicks off on November 21st, with the third round taking place two days later. Be sure to check back on the 22nd with a recap of the second round and a preview of the exciting matchups to come.

View the rest of the qualifying teams and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Women’s Soccer Website: Click Here

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Final 48 named for NCAA Men’s Soccer
Final 48 named for NCAA Men’s Soccer avatar

The bracket for the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer National Championship has been released, which includes 48 teams that will duke it out over the next four weeks, culminating in what should be a fantastic weekend in Cary, North Carolina on December 14th.

Notre Dame will be hoping that they can retain their crown.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Notre Dame will be hoping that they can retain their crown.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

24 conference winners earned a berth in the National Championship, with the remaining teams were selected at-large. 16 teams are seeded and receive byes to the second round, while the other 32 teams play first round fixtures to advance to play a seeded team.

Let’s take a look at the top 8 seeds, as well as a few unseeded teams that have a storied past in this event.

Defending champions Notre Dame (11-4-4) earned the first seed after competing in the toughest conference, the ACC. Out of their 19 games in the regular season, they squared off against 11 schools that made the bracket, seven of which are seeded this year. Notre Dame take on the winner of Akron (2009 champions) and Ohio State in the second round.

UCLA (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

UCLA came in with a second seed. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

UCLA (11-4-4), the second-most experienced team in the National Championship, has been seeded number two. This comes despite finishing behind #6 Stanford in the PAC-12 standings. After a slow start to the season UCLA got results against fellow contenders Stanford and #14 Washington, compiling an impressive 7-2-1 record away from home. UCLA will be cautious in their second-round matchup as the face the winner of San Diego and Cal St. Fullerton. San Diego faced UCLA earlier this year, winning 1-0 in a tense game.

The Big Ten contributes the 3, 4, and 5 seeds in the shape of Michigan State, Maryland, and Indiana.

Michigan State (11-4-5) finished fifth in the Big Ten standings, but earned the third seed in the bracket due to a strong finish, which included defeating #5 Indiana, Penn State and drawing Northwestern and #1 Notre Dame. The Spartans have won the National Championship twice, with both titles coming in ‘67-‘68. Oakland and Kentucky play each other in the first round to see who will face the Spartans this weekend.

Rounding out the top four is Maryland (13-5-3), who overcame Ohio State, #3 Michigan State and #5 Indiana to win the Big Ten Championship and will look to add to their three National Championship titles, with their last coming in 2008. The winner of Wake Forest and UMBC play Maryland on Sunday.

Indiana have once again struggled and are not proving to be the power house they once were. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Indiana have once again struggled and are not proving to be the power house they once were. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Indiana (12-4-5), who fell to Maryland in the Big Ten final, is the fifth seed after a tough schedule. The Hoosiers compiled a 7-4-3 record in the 11 games against teams in this years bracket. Indiana had a great year up until the Big Ten final and will play either Monmouth or Xavier in the second round.

PAC-12 champions Stanford enter the National Championship as the number six seed. Stanford, who started conference play with a 3-1-2, finished 4-0 to beat UCLA to the PAC-12 title by one point. The Cardinal awaits the winner of the first-round match between UC Irvine and UNLV.

Two-time National Champion Clemson (11-6-3) are the seventh seed after defeating Notre Dame, #13 Louisville, Wake Forest, and North Carolina on their way to becoming the ACC Champions. Clemson won the Division I title in 1984 and 1987 and will play either FGCU or Coastal Carolina in the second round.

The last seed we will look at is Georgetown, who finished 12-4-4 this season. The Hoyas lead a list of four teams from the Big East to make the National Championship, the others being #11 Providence, #12 Creighton, and Xavier. Old Dominion and St. Francis Brooklyn play each other in the first round, with the winner advancing to pay Georgetown.

Georgetown (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Georgetown are one of four teams from the Big East to make the final 48.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Some notable programs are amongst the unseeded teams, including Saint Louis and North Carolina. Saint Louis has won the most National Championships with ten. However, all ten came between 1959 and 1973.

North Carolina, who has won Division I’s ultimate prize on two occasions, were granted an at-large berth and will look to become the first unseeded team to win the Championship since UC Santa Barbara accomplished the feat in 2006.

The top 16 seeds teams receive first round byes, before the second round kicks off on November 23. The third round takes place a week later, before the quarterfinals take place on December 5-6. The College Cup (semifinals and final) is contested on December 12 and 14 in Cary, North Carolina.

View the rest of the qualifying teams and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Men’s Soccer Website: Click Here

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Howard Leads Nominees for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year
Howard Leads Nominees for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year avatar

Tim Howard leads a group of six World Cup veterans as finalists for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. Howard, who won this honor in 2008, is joined by three time winner Clint Dempsey, who is seeking to join Landon Donovan as the awards only four time winner. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has also claimed the honors on three occasions.

The U.S. MNT won many new fans at the 2014 World Cup.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

The U.S. MNT won many new fans at the 2014 World Cup.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson, and Jermaine Jones also received recognition for their play in 2014.

All six players were important members of the United States run to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and all were key players as the team advanced from the “Group of Death,” before bowing out to Belgium in the Round of 16.

Let’s take a look at each of the six finalists.

Kyle Beckerman – midfielder : Real Salt Lake

Beckerman went from having an outside chance of making the U.S. World Cup roster, to starting in Brazil, to finally becoming such a valued presence, that his omission from the starting lineup versus Belgium is still being discussed.

Kyle Beckerman in action for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Kyle Beckerman in action for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

The heady 32 year old defensive midfielder took full advantage when Jurgen Klinsmann handed him an opportunity to revive his international career.

Unlike fellow MLS veterans Brad Davis and Chris Wondolowski, Beckerman proved worthy of the game’s biggest stage, and continued to show his worth with a solid effort in a friendly against Colombia last Friday.

Alejandro Bedoya- midfielder : Nantes

An all action midfielder Bedoya admitted to GotSoccer in an exclusive chat at the Empire State Building shortly after returning from the World Cup, that he felt as if could have provided a bit more to the U.S. attack in Brazil.

“Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment,” Bedoya admitted, before offering an explanation.

“Of course I tried to get involved as much (as possible),” Bedoya told GotSoccer that July afternoon high above Big Apple. “Fans expectations of me are a little bit flawed, I think, because I play out wide they were expecting me to be a winger, and get by with my speed or with stepovers, but that’s not my game.”

Bedoya in action against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Bedoya in action against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Bedoya is a third generation soccer professional, whose father and grandfather both played in Colombia, and the the New Jersey native has never been shy about putting his talent to the test.

Since leaving Boston College, Bedoya has played in Sweden, Scotland and now France, and this nomination is a tangible acknowledgement of his efforts.

Clint Dempsey – forward : Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey captained the U.S. team in Brazil, leading the way with a goal just 29 seconds into the team’s opening match against Ghana, the fastest goal in World Cup play by an American.

Dempsey in action against Portugal at the 2104 World Cup . (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Dempsey in action against Portugal at the 2104 World Cup . (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Dempsey suffered a broken nose later in that game, and would also lose his strike partner Jozy Altidore for the rest of the Cup as the U.S. defeated Ghana 2-1 in Natal.

Undeterred, Dempsey added a second goal in the following game against Portugal, a 2-2 draw, becoming the first American to score in three World Cups.

With Landon Donovan’s retirement Dempsey becomes the most recognizable U.S. MNT field player, as well as the face of Major League Soccer.

Dempsey has won this honor three times, 2007, 2011 and 2012, good for second place with Kasey Keller. A win this year would put Dempsey level with, who else, Landon Donovan, as the only four time winner of the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.

Tim Howard – goalkeeper : Everton

Howard’s heroic 16 save effort against Belgium was not quite enough to get the Americans past Belgium in the Round of 16 match, but it was enough to finally make the 35 year old New Jersey native an “overnight success,” in his own country.

Howard set the highest record of saves in a World Cup since records began. (Getty Images)

Howard set the highest record of saves in a World Cup since records began. (Getty Images)

Already a top keeper in England, and the U.S. number one since before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Howard’s photogenic beard and welcoming personality made the former New York New Jersey MetroStar and Manchester United keeper a natural for the media spotlight.

Following in the tradition of U.S. goalkeeping excellence Howard is a strong favorite to add this award to the one he picked up in 2008, which would put the Everton number one in front of Brad Friedel, and just one behind Keller.

Fabian Johnson – fullback/midfielder : Borussia Monchengladbach

The versatile Johnson has excelled in a variety of roles since committing to the U.S. MNT is 2011, and may well be the first choice for coach Jurgen Klinsmann at three positions, both fullback spots and a right midfield.

Johnson (R) celebrating the game winning goal in his first official game for the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup. (Getty Images)

Johnson (R) celebrating the game winning goal in his first official game for the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup. (Getty Images)

Johnson had an outstanding World Cup for the U.S. at right fullback, making it somewhat surprising that the German-American has been unable to lock down a starting spot at his new Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach.

Jermaine Jones – midfielder : New England Revolution

The first of a recent wave of dual nationals to join the U.S. MNT, Jones brought a resume full of Champions League and Bundesliga experience to a somewhat callow United States side in 2010.

The rugged central midfielder has his detractors, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann is clearly not among them. Klinsmann always includes Jones when discussing his team leader’s, and he values Jones’ toughness and confidence, as well as his considerable talent.

Jones celebrating his bullet of a goal against (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jones celebrating his bullet of a goal against Portugal.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jones played every minute for the U.S in Brazil and his goal against Portugal was a 25 yard bomb that lifted the Americans in a game that finished 2-2.

In what looks like a bid to keep Jones around through Russia 2018, Klinsmann has recently begun the process of converting the energetic midfielder into a central defender.

The six man list is evenly split between European and MLS based players. Howard, Johnson and Bedoya represent the Euro based contingent, while Dempsey, Jones, and Beckerman earn their keep in the U.S. domestic league.

Jozy Altidore won the award in 2013.

The GotSoccer Choice for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year is Tim Howard

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