Hope Solo suspended for DUI incident – World Cup spot in jeopardy
Hope Solo suspended for DUI incident – World Cup spot in jeopardy avatar

U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo has been suspended for one month by U.S. Soccer, following the recent arrest of her husband Jerramy Stevens for DUI.

Solo made an awful error in the second half and was fortunate not to concede. (Getty Images)

Solo has been involved in several incidences that have embarrassed US Soccer in recent months.  (Getty Images)

Solo was participating in U.S. WNT camp in Carson, California and was a passenger in the car early Monday morning when her husband was charged.

This incident comes just six days after domestic violence charges against Solo were dismissed, stemming from a fight between Solo and her sister and nephew. U.S. Soccer had taken heat from various quarters for allowing Solo to continue to play for the national team while those charges were pending. This latest incident was apparently too much for U.S. Soccer to overlook, leading to the suspension.

U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis released this statement. “During our current National Team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates.” “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

In a statement on her Facebook page, the often combative Solo took responsibility saying, “I accept and respect the Federation’s decision, and more importantly, I apologize for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me.”  “I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months, and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team.”

The suspension throws off U.S. World Cup preparation, forcing the team’s undisputed number one goalkeeper to miss the team’s European trip featuring games versus France (February 8), and England (February 13).

This is all an unwanted distraction for Ellis and a team that has struggled since coach Pia Sundhage stepped down after leading the U.S. to Olympic Gold in 2012.

Tom Sermanni was tapped to replace the popular Sundhage, but the former Australia coach was fired by U.S. Soccer last April. Since taking over Ellis has compiled an impressive-sounding 16-1-4 record, but the team’s performance was far from commanding in a year end tournament in Brazil.

The Americans lost to Brazil and drew with China, ending the event with a 0-0 final against Brazil. Solo wasn’t entirely blameless in the 3-2 loss to Brazil, a loss that saw the Americans blow a 2-0 lead as Marta scored a hat trick.

During the tournament in Brazil FIFA released its final rankings for the year, and for the first time since 2008 the U.S. were not number one. The Americans had fallen to second behind Germany, and no one who had been paying attention could have been surprised.

The rankings came out after the U.S. defeated Argentina 7-0 for its lone win in Brasilia. Coincidentally goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made her full national team debut in that match.

Naeher had little to do versus Argentina, but it will be interesting to see who dons the gloves for the U.S. WNT next month in Europe. Would a good performance from the 26 year old Boston Breakers Naeher, or another keeper cause Ellis and U.S. Soccer to consider turning the page on troublesome Solo?

It is hard to deny Solo’s talent, and based strictly on that the 33 year old will be between the posts when the U.S. open World Cup play June 8 against Australia, in Winnipeg.

But as we have seen over the years with Solo, talent is only part of the equation.

 

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Gallardo’s Hat Trick Leads U.S. Past Cuba
Gallardo’s Hat Trick Leads U.S. Past Cuba avatar

The U.S. U-17 MNT opened the CONCACAF Championships/ World Cup Qualifiers in fine style tonight, easily dismissing a weak Cuban side 5-0 in Honduras, behind a hat trick from Joe Gallardo.

Gallardo (10) celebrating a goal he scored against England in 2013. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Gallardo (10) celebrating a goal he scored against England in 2013. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Gallardo’s burgeoning career was in jeopardy as recently as last August when the Monterrey striker suffered a broken leg, so tonight’s performance was especially rewarding for the Mexico based youngster.

Coach Richie Williams was at helm in 2013 when the Americans were eliminated from this tournament by Honduras. That is the only time that the U.S. has failed to qualify for the World Championship in this age group, so the coach will have warned his team not to look past Cuba.

Christian set up the first two goals for the Americans. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Christian set up the first two goals for the Americans. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Complacency hardly seemed to be a problem for the Young Yanks, who went ahead off of a fifth minute corner kick. Center back and U.S. captain Hugo Arellano outjumped a trio of Cuban defenders and headed home from a well placed Christian Pulisic corner kick.

Recently signed by Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, the U.S. number 10 is well on his way to earning next big thing status within U.S. Soccer circles.

And if not for two offside calls in the first half, tonight could have been quite the coming out party for the 16 year old Pennsylvania native. Twice in the first half Pulisic put the ball in the Cuba net, but twice the linesman’s flag spoiled the party for the Americans. To make matters worse the second call was blatantly incorrect.

The U.S. were all over the Cubans, but with the two offside calls, and a hit post by Gallardo, the Americans were letting the Cubans hang around.

Fortunately for the U.S. the Cubans were unable to mount any sort of an attack, and the one half chance they did generate was alertly snuffed out by keeper Will Pulisic, Christian’s cousin.

With the game being played almost entirely in the Cuban half, a second goal was inevitable. It finally came in the 40th minute, Gallardo’s first from a Pulisic assist. It took just three minutes for Alejandro Zendejas to make it 3-0, when the midfielder hammered home a loose ball from just inside the 18 yard box.

With the score 3-0 at the half the result was all but settled, all that remained was to see how bad it would be for Cuba, that and avoiding injuries. Defensive midfielder Eric Calvillo limped off in the first half, and star striker Haji Wright had Williams and company holding their breath when he was slow to get up after a first half knock.

Wright stayed in the game and Gallardo completed earned his hat trick with goals in the 65th and 88th minutes, with both assists going to substitute Luca de la Torre, who got a lot accomplished in his 36 minutes work.

Fellow midfielder Tyler Adams also did well when he stepped in for the unfortunate Calvillo in the 28th minute. Williams had earlier trumpeted his sides depth, and in a tournament where the games come fast and furious, squad depth is a big issue.

This young team will be happy with their performance. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

This young team will be happy with their performance. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

In the end this was a game that the Americans were expected to win, and win handily. With that accomplished, Williams can turn his attention to preparing for Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, March 2.

T&T fell 4-1 to Guatemala earlier tonight, setting things up nicely for Williams to erase the ghost of 2013.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F

USA 3 2 5
CUB 0 0 0

USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic) 5th minute
USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic) 40
USA – Alejandro Zendejas 43
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre) 65
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre) 88

Lineups:
USA: 1-Will Pulisic; 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson; 6-Eric Calvillo (18-Tyler Adams, 28), 20-Alejandro Zendejas (8-Luca de la Torre, 64), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Haji Wright (13-McKinze Gaines, 86), 9-Joe Gallardo, 11-Josh Perez
Subs Not Used: 12-Kevin Silva, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Thomas McCabe, 17-Pierre da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez
Head coach: Richie Williams

CUB: 12-Enrique Hernandez; 2-Felipe Hurtado (18-Neisser Sando, 54), 3-Dariel Morejon, 4-Carlos Borromeo (capt.), 15-Jeffrey Delgado; 5-Jansiel Blanco, 6-Jonathan Ramirez (17-Yordan Alonso, 66), 7-Raycharles Herrera (16-Brian Savigne, 87), 10-Eduard Puga, 13-Serguey Campillo; 8-Yosniel Gonzalez
Subs Not Used: 1-Lazaro Garcia; 9-Carlos Sebrango, 11-Nelson Betancourt, 14-Yon Hernandez, 19-Omar Romero, 20-Yordanis Barreto
Head coach: Fidel Salazar

Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 21 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 0
Saves: 0 / 8
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
CUB – Felipe Hurtado (caution) 39th minute
USA – Alejandro Zendejas (caution) 51
USA – Haji Wright (caution) 69

 

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EPL Week 27 – Previews and Predictions
EPL Week 27 – Previews and Predictions avatar

It is week 27 in the EPL and with only 11 games left to play things are really starting to heat up. As usual this week has an array of exciting games to choose from, but this Sunday could prove to be extra special with Liverpool playing Man City, Arsenal hosting Everton, whilst at Wembley there is the little matter of the League Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham.

News

Chelsea sign $61.7m-per-year shirt deal

Chelsea has signed a shirt with a Japanese tire manufacturer that is reported to be the second biggest in English soccer.

Chelsea revealing their shirt deal.

Chelsea revealing their shirt deal.

The EPL leaders signed a five-year deal with Yokohama Rubber Company that is reportedly worth $61.7m per season, eclipsing their current deal with Korean electronics giant Samsung that is worth approximately $27m per season.

“Chelsea and Yokohama are a perfect fit. Both are global organizations with a focus on performance and innovation, as well as having huge ambition and an unwavering culture of success,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said on the club’s website.

Manchester United currently boasts the biggest shirt deal with U.S. car brand Chevrolet who signed a seven-year deal with the Red Devils worth around $77.2m per season.

 

Wilshere has minor ankle procedure

Jack Wilshere’s return from injury has been put back with the midfielder having a minor procedure on his ankle to stop discomfort.

Jack Wilshere has struggled with a consistent ankle problem and has missed a large part of the season.(Getty Images)

Jack Wilshere has struggled with a consistent ankle problem and has missed a large part of the season.(Getty Images)

The Arsenal midfielder has not featured for the Gunners since his side’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United in November.

He had surgery on his ankle in November and returned to the bench for the north Londoners last week for their trip to Crystal Palace. However, Wilshere’s return to action has been temporarily postponed with the midfielder undergoing minor surgery.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said Wilshere had two pins removed from the joint to combat discomfort but said he would be missing for “days, not weeks”.

Arsenal host Everton at the Emirates on Sunday, and will be looking for a positive result and performance after a disappointing result midweek in the Champions League.

 

Predictions

Last Week’s predictions

Week 26

Result

My Predictions

Luke

Neil

SATURDAY
Aston Villa v Stoke 1-2 0-1 1-2 2-1
Chelsea v Burnley 1-1 3-0 2-0 2-0
Crystal Palace v Arsenal 1-2 1-2 0-2 1-2
Hull v QPR 2-1 2-0 1-1 2-0
Sunderland v West Brom 0-0 1-1 1-3 1-0
Swansea v Man Utd 2-1 1-1 2-1 1-3
Man City v Newcastle 5-0 3-0 3-1 2-0
SUNDAY
Tottenham v West Ham 2-2 2-0 2-1 2-1
Everton v Leicester 2-2 2-1 3-0 2-1
Southampton v Liverpool 0-2 1-1 0-1 2-2
TOTAL SCORE 7-points 9-points 5-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 FIVE correct results, including ONE perfect score to give me a total of SEVEN-points, but it was not enough to beat challenger LUKE who managed to get FIVE correct results, including TWO perfect scores to earn a total of NINE-points.

Do you think you can do better? If so, why not try your hand at week 27 by leaving your predictions at the bottom of the page. Good luck!

 

This Week’s Predictions

Week 27

My Predictions

SATURDAY
West Ham v Crystal Palace 2-0
Burnley v Swansea 2-1
Man Utd v Sunderland 2-0
Newcastle v Aston Villa 1-1
Stoke v Hull 2-0
West Brom v Southampton 1-1
SUNDAY
Chelsea v Tottenham (League Cup final) 2-1
Liverpool v Man City 2-2
Arsenal v Everton 3-1

Previews

SATURDAY

Man Utd v Sunderland

Manchester United suffered a disappointing defeat last week and will be hoping to bounce back with a positive performance and result against Sunderland on Saturday.

United lost 2-1 away to Swansea and while the final goal had an element of luck about it, the Red Devils can have little complaints as they played without any real conviction.

Louis van Gaal still seems to be struggling to find the perfect formation.(Getty Images)

Louis van Gaal still seems to be struggling to find the perfect formation.(Getty Images)

The defeat was only United’s second in 20 games, but they have played poorly for a while and it seems their luck finally ran out on. Luis van Gaal cannot seem to make up his mind about his best team and is constantly changing his system and team personnel, which is probably why United always look like bunch of pick-up players.

Sunderland drew 0-0 with West Brom last week, though they were unlucky not to win as they dominated and unfairly had a goal ruled offside. That draw means they now sit just three-points above the relegation zone and have only won once in their last nine games (D4 L5).

Manchester United will be without forward Robin van Persie who injured his ankle in last week’s defeat at Swansea. Michael Carrick has returned from injury but lacks fitness and is unlikely to feature.

Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini is probably out for the remainder of the season after undergoing ankle surgery, whilst Billy Jones and Jack Rodwell still are not quite fit enough for the trip to Old Trafford, though they could feature against Hull on Tuesday.

Manchester United have not played well for a while and need to get their act together soon, as although they currently sit fourth only four points separate third to seventh in the table and they have a tough run of fixtures coming up—they play Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea within the space of a month from mid-March.

Rooney and Falcao could start up front. (Getty Images)

Rooney and Falcao could start up front. (Getty Images)

The loss of van Persie might actually be a blessing for the Red Devils, as van Gaal will probably be forced to play Rooney up top with Falcao most probably his striking partner, meaning may actually play actual midfielders in midfield, which should bring more balance to the side. However, as everyone is beginning to find out, it is pretty hard to second-guess van Gaal who appears to employ the same random Game Theory tactics that Pete Carroll used in the Super Bowl.

Nevertheless, I think they will beat Sunderland, who cannot seem to buy a goal at the moment. But then again Sunderland did win here last season so you never know.

Prediction: 2-0

 

SUNDAY

Chelsea v Tottenham (League Cup Final)

The first showpiece final of 2015 sees two of the EPL’s biggest rivals square off at Wembley for the glory of lifting League Cup.

The London rivals are meeting for the third time in less than three months—Chelsea won the first 3-0 at Stamford Bridge, Spurs won the second 5-3 at White Hart lane, and we will see who takes the third at Wembley.

Diego Costa has looked good but could be a doubt. (Getty Images)

Diego Costa will be hoping to be the star on the day. (Getty Images)

Chelsea did not have a game midweek so will be well rested for the Final. The Blues are the favorites, but they are not in the best of form at present with only two wins in their last five EPL games. They drew last week to Burnley and could well have lost the game in the last minute.

Tottenham have the disadvantage of having played on Thursday night in the Europa League. The north Londoners lost 2-0 away to Fiorentina to end their European dreams, though they probably had one eye on Sunday’s final.

Chelsea is without midfielder Nemanja Matic who is suspended with Ramires and Obi Mikel competing to take his place.

Thibaut Courtois is likely to start in goal, while Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill are competing to partner John Terry in Defense.

Harry Kane could spoil Chelsea's party.(Getty Images)

Harry Kane could spoil Chelsea’s party.(Getty Images)

Tottenham have no fresh injury worries and should recall Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker to the starting line-up after all three were substitutes on Thursday.

Michel Vorm could also replace first choice keeper Hugo Lloris, as he has started every League Cup game so far.

Both these sides have won the competition four times, with Chelsea lifting the trophy last 2007 and Tottenham in 2008. Tottenham actually defeated Chelsea in 2008 to win the Cup, and will be confident of repeating the feat having recently ended a 10-match winless run against the Blues in all competitions with a 5-3 win at White Hart Lane.

However, Spurs have looked a bit tired in recent games and still seem too reliant on Harry Kane. I think they will give Chelsea a tough game, but I expect the Blues to just about edge this one, because they have more players that seem to be able to make the difference and if Chelsea really needs goal they can always call on ‘Wembley and cup final specialist’ Didier Drogba—The forward has scored in all eight games he’s played at Wembley with Chelsea and he’s scored nine goals in the nine finals he’s played with the club.

 

Prediction: 2-1

 

Liverpool v Man City

Both these sides suffered disappointment midweek in Europe and will be hoping to bounce back with a result in the EPL.

Liverpool won 2-0 away to Southampton last week to move to within two-points of a Champions League spot. The Red’s defense looked a bit shaky in the first-half, but they now look a threat going forward and are one of the in-form teams in the EPL at the moment. The Reds were knocked out of the Europa League by Turkish side Besitas midweek, but they did rest players with one eye probably on Sunday’s game with City.

Yaya Toure's return to midfield should make a difference to City . (Getty Images)

Yaya Toure’s return to midfield should make a difference to City . (Getty Images)

Man City pulverized Newcastle 5-0 last week and looked back to their free flowing best. However, they were humbled midweek with a 2-1 home loss to Barcelona in the Champions League and questions still remain over whether they have the mentality to compete at the highest level.

Philippe Coutinho returns for Liverpool after being rested midweek in Europe, but Jordan Henderson is a doubt with an ankle problem.

Yaya Toure returns for City after missing the loss to Barcelona through suspension, while Wilfred Bony is in contention to make his first start for City.

Liverpool won this game last season 3-2 and looked on course to win the EPL before they and Steven Gerrard slipped up in their last three games to allow City to win their second EPL title.

The Reds look much better going forward now that Daniel Sturridge has returned and will definitely fancy their chances against City’s defense, who have looked shaky recently.

Sturridge's return to the Liverpool lineup has improved their offensive play. (Getty Images)

Sturridge’s return to the Liverpool lineup has improved their offensive play. (Getty Images)

Liverpool’s defense does not look much better though, and that’s why I think there will be goals in this game.

Liverpool has a terrific recent record against City at Anfield—the Reds have not lost any of their last 11 games against City in their own backyard (W7 D4)—and that’s why I’ll go for a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

 

Arsenal v Everton

Arsenal need a positive result on Sunday against Everton after their horror show midweek in the Champions League.

Danny Welbeck has struggled to get goals for Arsenal. (Getty Images)

Danny Welbeck has struggled to get goals for Arsenal. (Getty Images)

The Gunners lost 3-1 at home to a well-organized Monaco team, as playground defending and woeful finishing coast them dearly, and they will need to put that nightmare behind them and concentrate on securing a place in next years competition now.

The 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace last week put Arsenal up to third in the EPL, but with only four points separating them and seventh place Tottenham the Gunners cannot afford many more performances or result like the one against Monaco.

Everton drew 2-2 at home to Leicester last week and have now only won once in their last 10 EPL games. The Toffees have struggled to match their form of last season and are 17 points worse off than they were after 26 games last season.

Romelu Lukaku has not been scoring as prolifically as he was last season, but Everton’s biggest problem has been their defending—the Toffees have dropped a league-high 17 points from winning positions this season.

Jack Wilshere’s return for Arsenal has been postponed due to a minor procedure on his ankle, while fellow midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are doubtful with hamstring problems.

Lukaku(Getty Images)

Lukaku should feature against Arsenal.(Getty Images)

Everton forward Romelu Lukaku should feature despite coming off midweek in Europe, while John Stones and Aaron Lennon should also return after missing out midweek through suspension and being cup-tied.

Arsenal is playing well in the EPL, but they may well be nervy following their midweek capitulation in the Champions League. Everton are not playing well in the EPL, but played well in Europe and will be looking to replicate that form domestically.

Everton has not won any of their last 18 league visits to Arsenal (D4, L14), and I don’t imagine they will be too adventurous on this visit. In fact, I think they will be happy to defend and hit arsenal on the counter much like Monaco did. However, I doubt Arsenal will be as wasteful in attack as they were midweek and this should be a routine win for the Gunners.

Prediction: 3-1

 

 

 

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

Although the threat of a strike by the player’s union persists, there is still time before the league’s kickoff, so hopefully the sides can get reach an agreement before 2014 MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy host the Chicago Fire on Friday night, March 6.

For now let’s have a look at the latest MLS Big – 5.

1) Is MLS Ready for its Closeup? Sky Sports to Broadcast MLS in England

MLS has taken what could be an important step in its never ending quest for legitimacy on the world stage by signing a four year contract with Sky Sports to televise the league’s games in England.

Sky Sports deal with the MLS (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Sky Sports deal with the MLS (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Sky will broadcast at least two MLS matches every week, as well as the All Star game, all league playoff games, and the MLS Cup final.

No financial terms were released, but the league reportedly garnered about $90 million in an eight year deal for domestic television rights with ESPN, Fox Soccer and Univision each taking part in the eight year deal.

The MLS Player’s Union will surely want to get a look at the numbers on the Sky deal as negotiations on a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) come to a head.

2) Duka Leads Montreal to CCL Draw at Pachuca

No, Montreal didn’t win this quarterfinal CONCACAF Champions League encounter on the road at Pachuca, but the Impact did position itself very well for next Tuesday’s home leg at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

No MLS club has ever won a CCL knockout round match in Mexico, and Montreal will rue this game as an opportunity missed.

Dilly Duka's brace was not enough to seal a victory. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Dilly Duka’s brace was not enough to seal a victory. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Goals in the 25th and 53rd minutes from Dilly Duka had Montreal on the road to a historic victory, but playing its first competitive match of the year, Montreal were unable to hold on.

Even so, the Impact picked up two very valuable away goals and will be expected to advance to the semifinal round.

DC United are the only other MLS side still alive, they face Costa Rican club Alajuelense tonight (February 26) in Costa Rica at 7pm on Fox Sports 2. United host the return leg March 4 at RFK Stadium.

3) Serie A Dream Dashed – Former New England Defender Soares Lands in Norway

The 26 year old center back was a mainstay with the Revolution for years, and with his contract expired Soares looked set to sign with Serie A side Hellas Verona.

A.J. Soares has endd up in Norway.( (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

A.J. Soares has endd up in Norway.( (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

That deal fell through, reportedly because of a clause in Mexican defender Rafa Marquez’ contract that entitles the ex El Tri captain to receive a sizeable bonus should the club sign a defender.

The Marquez story was later dispelled, and now Soares has landed in Norway with Viking.

4) NYC Soccer War?

Actually it is #nycoccerwarz, and at least one of the clubs is buying in. The NASL Cosmos fired the first salvo in the battle for soccer hearts and minds in the New York City metropolitan area, with an enormous billboard in the shadow of Red Bull Arena.

Area supporters can also align with MLS clubs New York Red Bulls or New York City FC if they choose to pick a side in the “warz.”

The rivalry should be healthy for the game. (ISI Photos/Michael Lawrence)

The local rivalry should be healthy for the game. (ISI Photos/Michael Lawrence)

In truth this seems like something of a phony war. Although the Cosmos of Pele and company played just a few miles from Red Bull Arena, few fans are likely to travel from New Jersey to Long Island, where the Cosmos play now, to see the NASL side.

And if you are familiar with the densely populated New York metro area, you’ll know that there are more than enough fans in each clubs catchment area for all three to succeed.

5) Edson Buddle Back to Galaxy?

Maybe, according to Bruce Arena who said that he may sign the veteran. Buddle played out his contract with Colorado last season and hasn’t done much for awhile now.

Edson Buddle (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Edson Buddle has previously disappointed in the MLS. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

In fact Buddle’s last productive season came when he scored 17 goals for the Galaxy in 2010. That production earned Buddle a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster, if not much playing time, and a job in Germany with 2 Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.

Germany didn’t pan out for the striker and Buddle hasn’t exactly lit up MLS since his 2012 return to the Galaxy. Still, Arena has developed a reputation for wringing solid performances from discarded veterans, so keep an eye on the man named after Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele.

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USMNT Roster for 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
USMNT Roster for 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship avatar

2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year nominees Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright will lead the American team into the CONCACAF U17 Championship beginning this Friday in Honduras.

Christian Pulisic celebrating his goal against England. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Christian Pulisic celebrating his goal against England. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The two U17 stars finished behind Tottenham Hotspurs fullback DeAndre Yedlin for the honor, but the duo did more than enough to warrant the nominations. Wright led Richie Williams’ side in scoring in 2014, with 18 goals in 22 games, while Pulisic kicked in 17 goals and seven assists. The two will lead a 20 man roster that opens Group A play on Friday by taking on Cuba.

Four nations will qualify for the U17 World Cup to be held from October 17-November 8 in Chile. The Young Yanks will also face Trinidad and Tobago (March 2), Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8), and Jamaica (March 11).

Group B will feature Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, and St. Lucia, and four of the 12 teams will earn a trip to represent CONCACAF next fall in Chile.

Pulisic recently became the latest U.S. youth international to sign with a top European club, when he put pen to paper on a deal with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. Wright, who was formerly a part of the L.A. Galaxy youth set up is currently listed as unattached, although he has consistently been linked with Schalke.

The U17's have performed well (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The U17′s have performed well and should easily qualify for the World Cup. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

This group compiled a 17-7-3 mark, while winning four tournaments in 2014 and will be expected to qualify handily for Chile. In fact, a failure to claim one of CONCACAF’s four spots in U17 World Cup would rightly be considered a grand failure. Williams need only look back to the criticism leveled at coach Tab Ramos when his U20 team advanced from the region’s U20 tournament in less than impressive fashion.

Here is the U17 roster:

GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)

DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)

FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Four countries from the CONCACAF region will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The Group A and B winners will clinch a berth for the World Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship title match on March 15. The group’s second- and third-place teams will advance to a playoff stage. Those four teams will be seeded, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds playing in one playoff and the No. 1 and 4 seeds in the other playoff game, both taking place on March 15. The two playoff victors will earn the other two berths for the U-17 World Cup.

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Sky Blue FC Drafts NJ Youth Soccer Alumni Daphne Corboz
Sky Blue FC Drafts NJ Youth Soccer Alumni Daphne Corboz avatar

Daphne Corboz  |  Photo Credit: Georgetown University

Daphne Corboz | Photo Credit: Georgetown University

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) held its 2015 College Draft on January 16th, with New Jersey based Sky Blue FC adding six selections over four rounds. The team mixed some New Jersey flavor among those picks, with Greenbrook native Daphne Corboz being taken in the third round.

Corboz was selected at No. 22 overall, coming off one of the most decorated careers in the history of Georgetown University. The explosive playmaker registered a total of 134 points over four seasons, scoring 47 goals and adding an additional 41 assists. Corboz, who attended Watchung Hills High School, made eight starts in 82 matches while playing at Georgetown.

“Despite the winters, the state seems to be able to breed a plethora of soccer talent. Winning the NJ Youth Soccer State Cup and Region I Championships, going on to compete for the National Title, and playing club soccer for PDA are some of my best soccer memories,” says Corboz. “I was also fortunate to be part of the Olympic Development Program, where I played with and competed against the top players, further developing my game.”

One additional player who Sky Blue FC had its target on during the 2015 NWSL College Draft was Freehold native Danielle Colaprico. The former Red Bank Catholic star had an excellent college career while playing at the University of Virginia, ending her collegiate campaign as the all-time leader in assists (44) and appearances (100) in program history. Colaprico was taken by the Chicago Red Stars at No. 9 overall, one pick before Sky Blue FC was to be back on the clock. Colaprico was also a long-time standout on the NJ Youth Soccer ODP program for several years.

Sky Blue FC has looked for New Jersey talent in previous drafts, most recently in 2014 when it made Monclair native Maya Hayes the 6th overall selection.

“I’ve always been a believer that in order to excel in this sport, you must have a good foundation to build upon. I was fortunate enough to have NJ Youth Soccer and ODP to help me build that foundation,” Hayes explains. “Both of these programs played an integral part in my development and helped me become the player I am today.”

The former Penn State standout made 13 starts in 23 matches for Sky Blue FC during the 2014 NWSL season, adding a goal and an assist to the score sheet.

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 156,000 players from 5 to 19-years-old supported by thousands of coaches and volunteers. Members collectively support the sport of soccer through training, practice, competition and the spirit of good sportsmanship. To learn more about New Jersey Youth Soccer, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or call (609) 490-0725.

 

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Solo is Back from Suspension as Ellis Names Algarve Cup Roster
Solo is Back from Suspension as Ellis Names Algarve Cup Roster avatar

Suspension served, Hope Solo is back with the U.S. WNT, and has been named to the upcoming Algarve Cup roster.

Solo returns to the squad after serving her 30 days suspension. (Getty Images)

Solo returns to the squad after serving her 30 days suspension. (Getty Images)

Solo served a 30 day suspension after her husband was arrested for DUI while driving a U.S. Soccer vehicle.The controversial goalkeeper was in camp with the team at the time, and had just seen domestic violence charges against her dropped, so U.S. Soccer decided enough was enough.

Now Solo is back following a “formal review” and will be expected to reclaim her number one status at the Portuguese tournament that runs from March 4-11.

Solo missed the team’s two game Euro jaunt, when the Americans lost a bad 2-0 decision to France, before underwhelming in a 1-0 win against England.

Ashlyn Harris kept a clean sheet against England. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Ashlyn Harris kept a clean sheet against England. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Ashlyn Harris played all 180 minutes in the two matches, and while the Washington Spirit keeper had some good moments, she clearly did not do enough to cause Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati ring the curtain down on the Hope Solo era.

Also returning to the fold for the Algarve Cup are captain Christie Rampone and midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who missed the tournament through injury, and striker Sydney Leroux. Leroux was with the squad for the recent two game set, but a knock kept the newlywed- to Sporting KC striker Dom Dwyer- sidelined.

Sydney Leroux got an assist on Rapinoe's goal. ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Leroux and Rapinoe definitely add some attacking flair to the U.S. ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Rapinoe and Leroux give Ellis two more attacking options, while the coach may turn to Rampone to lead a somewhat unsettled U.S. backline.

Ellis has said that the Algarve Cup will be where she nails down a first 11, and her top subs, but one wonders is the coach leaving that a bit late?

The defending Olympic champions were badly outplayed by a rising French side, and no one will have been fooled by the subsequent 1-0 win over England.

Ellis’ uncertainty over her defense is signalled by her decision to take 10 defenders to Portugal, as part of a 25 player traveling party. The coach will have to name a 23 player group for the tournament.

Becky Sauerbrunn and Whitney Engen were solid in the captain’s absence, but Ellis may look to the 39 year old Rampone to lead from the back.

Ellis' team have not looked convincing. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Ellis’ style of play has not looked convincing. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Ellis will also use the Algarve to see if she can find a way to squeeze some more goals out of her seemingly loaded attacking unit. Over its prior six matches the U.S. attack has failed to live up to the hype. Other than in a 3-2 loss to Brazil in December, and a facile 7-0 blowout of Argentina, the Americans have managed one goal twice; against England and in a 1-1 tie with China, and zero twice; versus France and 0-0 draw with Brazil.

The U.S. went 2-2-2 over that six game stretch, not exactly what was expected when Gulati showed Ellis’ predecessor Tom Sermanni the door.

The U.S. WNT have claimed the Algarve Cup nine times, more than any other nation. Sermanni’s demise began this time last year when he guided the team to a worst ever seventh place finish. Now here we are a year later, and Ellis is still trying to get it right for the World Cup.

When the Americans take to the Winnipeg Stadium turf on June 8 to face Australia, Solo will almost certainly be stationed in the U.S. goal, why bring her back otherwise?

Who will man the 10 positions in front of Solo? Tune in to Algarve Cup to find out.

U.S. Algarve Cup Schedule

March 4: U.S. WNT vs. Norway
March 6: U.S. WNT vs. Switzerland
March 9: U.S. WNT vs. Iceland

Norway and Switzerland have qualified for the 2015 World Cup.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (10): Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)

FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)

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EPL Week 26 – Previews and Predictions
EPL Week 26 – Previews and Predictions avatar

After a week-off for the FA Cup the EPL returns for Week 26. Chelsea will hope to extend their lead at the top of the EPL with win over Burnley, but any slip up and Man City could close the gap with a win over Newcastle.

Sterling (L) should be able to shine with the help of Liverpool's front line..(Getty Images)

Sterling (L) should be able to shine with the help of Liverpool’s front line..(Getty Images)

Elsewhere there is the London Derby between Tottenham and West Ham, while Southampon and Liverpool square off on Sunday in a game that could help decide who finishes in the Champions League Spots come the end of the season.

Predictions

Week 26

My Predictions

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

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

If you feel like making our own predictions please feel free to post them at the bottom of the page.

Previews

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea maintained their lead at the top of the EPL with a hard fought victory over Everton last week. The Blues were not at their best, but still managed to bag a last minute victory thanks to a deflected shot from Willian.

They were less convincing midweek and actually fortunate not to lose, drawing 1-1 away to PSG in the Champions League. But not playing well and getting results is usually what champions do and Chelsea and their fans will not mind too much as long as they keep picking up points.

Burnley on the other hand just cannot seem to get the results to match their performances. The Clarets played tremendously well away to Manchester United, but still managed to leave without any points.

Chelsea welcome back Costa back after suspension.  (Getty Images)

Chelsea welcome back Costa back after suspension. (Getty Images)

Chelsea welcome back striker Diego Costa who returns from a three-game suspension, while Oscar, Petr Cech, Juan Cuadrado and Kurt Zouma could earn recalls after being dropped midweek in the Champions League.

Burnley defender Stephen Ward is in contention for a place after recovering from a broken ankle sustained in December, but Dean Marney and Kevin Long are definitely out with knee injuries.

Burnley has not won a league game away to Chelsea since 26 April 1971, and with Chelsea top of the EPL and Burnley second from bottom one might expect that barren run to continue. However, Burnley play some neat stuff and posses one of the hottest young strikers in the EPL in Danny Ings—the 22-year-old has scored in five of his last six league appearances for Burnley.

Nevertheless, I expect the EPL leaders to have too much for the Clarets and too easily win this one.

Prediction: 3-0

 

Crystal Palace v Arsenal

Crystal Palace drew 1-1 with Newcastle last week but have failed to win in their last three home games. The Eagles started well under new boss Alan Pardew, but things now seem to have gone a bit stale for them.

Wilshere should play some part in the game after returning from injury. (Getty Images)

Wilshere should play some part in the game after returning from injury. (Getty Images)

Arsenal returned to winning ways last week with a nervy 2-1 win to EPL strugglers Leicester City. The Gunners started well and looked to be in thorough control of the game at 2-0. However, when Leicester scored they retreated deep and in the end were holding on.

Crystal Palace welcome back captain Mike Jedinak from an ankle injury picked up on international duty, while James McArthur may also return, but on-loan striker Yaya Sanogo is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Arsenal midfielder Jack WIlshere is fit again after three months out, but left back Hector Bellerin is a doubt, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unlikely to be risked.

Things just have not clicked so far for Palace under Alan Pardew, but they are still a tricky side to play against and will give any team a game, especially on their home turf. Arsenal weren’t convincing at home to Leicester, but all their star players are starting to return and when they get going they can create all sorts of havoc for opposing defenses.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 11 visits to Selhurst Park in all competitions (W6, D5) dating back to 1979. However, I think this will be a tough game for the Gunners, though I do expect them to just edge this one.

Prediction: 1-2

 

Swansea v Man Utd

Swansea lost 2-0 away to West Brom and have now won only one of their last seven EPL games. I don’t think it is a coincidence that their drop in form has happened at the time as Wilfred Bony’s departure—the Swans have scored just nine goals in their last 11 Premier League games and not more than once in a game during that run—and their failure to buy a quality forward during the transfer window could come back to haunt them.

Rooney and Co have looked dangerous in attack. (Getty Images)

Rooney and Co have looked dangerous in attack. (Getty Images)

Manchester United are still not playing well, but are still somehow getting results. The Red Devils were second best for long periods against Burnley last week yet still managed to win 3-1 and were not convincing in the FA Cup against League 1 side Preston North End. However, they do seem to have a lot of individual players that can score goals and that is getting them out of jail at the moment.

Gylfi Sigurdsson returns for Swansea after serving a suspension, while Wayne Routledge and Marvin Emnes are also available again after injury, though Kyle Bartley is out injured.

Manchester United could welcome back Robin Van Persie who missed out at the beginning of the week in the FA Cup game against Preston. Phil Jones also looks set for a return, but Michael Carrick remains out.

Swansea are looking to complete their first ever “double” over Manchester United in the EPL after they beat the Red Devils at Old Trafford on the opening game of the season. But the Swans are struggling at the moment, whilst United have only lost once in their last 19 games. However, the Red Devils haven’t played well in most of those games and seem almost to be getting lucky in every game and that’s why I expect this to be a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

 

Man City v Newcastle

Man City thrashed Stoke City 4-1 away to keep chase with EPL leaders Chelsea. The EPL champions looked back to their free flowing best with Sergio Aguero almost back to his old self. The Argentinean had looked rusty in recent weeks after two-months out with a knee injury, but last week he scored two and made another.

Newcastle got a good 1-1 away draw to Crystal Palace last week and seem fairly settled under interim boss John Carver. The Magpies started the season poorly, but then went on a terrific run and have now slowed a little. They currently sit eleventh and I expect them to be there about come the end of the season.

Wilfred Bony will bring more firing power for City and should see some playing time. (Getty Images)

Wilfred Bony will bring more firing power for City and should see some playing time. (Getty Images)

Manchester City could hand January signing Wilfred Bony his debut, while talisman Yaya Toure is also likely to return to the starting line-up.

Sergio Aguero has a back injury though should still play, but James Milner is definitely out with knee problem.

Newcastle’s defensive troubles continue with Paul Dummett ruled out for three months. Midfielder Cheick Tiote is definitely out, while Remy Cabellais a doubt.

Man City have not been at their best recently, especially at home where they are without a win in their last three (D1 L2). However, they looked back to their best last week and with Sergio Aguero starting to find his form again and Yaya Toure back from international duty I expect City to dominate and easily win this one.

Prediction: 3-0

 

SUNDAY

Tottenham v West Ham

Sunday’s action kicks-off with a Derby, as north Londoners Tottenham host east Londoners West Ham.

Harry Kane can't stop scoring for Tottenham. (Getty Images)

Harry Kane can’t stop scoring for Tottenham. (Getty Images)

Tottemham’s recent good run came to an end last week with a 3-2 away loss to Liverpool. The north Londoners came from behind twice, but finally succumbed to Liverpool thanks to a Mario Balotelli goal. That loss means Spurs are now three-points off a Champions League place, however, the performance of Harry Kane was once again a highlight and the young forward looks certain to have cemented himself a place in the next England squad.

West Ham got a good 0-0 draw away to Southampton last week in the EPL, but were then thrashed 4-0 by West Brom in the FA Cup. They managed with injuries to key players against Manchester United and Southampton, but the FA Cup game against West Brom appeared to be one game too many and they will not be looking forward to their trip to north London.

Tottenham have no new injury worries and could name the same side that lost to Liverpool last week.

West Ham’s defensive situation looks to be on the mend with Winston Reid, Matt Jarvis and James Collins all available after recovering from injuries. However, Andy Carroll remains out with a knee problem.

Tottenaham have been in terrific form recently and even though they lost to Liverpool they played well. They lost a bit of ground last week in their pursuit for a Champions League spot and will be desperate not to lose anymore ground.

West Ham have been having a terrific season and were in the top four just a few weeks ago, but they seem to be running out of steam at the moment. The Hammers won at White Hart Lane last season and a couple of weeks ago I might have backed them to maybe steal a win again, but with their drop in form and injuries to key players I think they will struggle on Sunday.

Prediction: 2-0

 

Southampton v Liverpool

Sunday’s final game could be the game of the weekend, as two clubs with ambitions for Champions League soccer battle it out.

Southampton drew 0-0 with West Ham last week allowing Manchester United to leapfrog them into third and Arsenal to move within a point of fourth place. The Saints have not been at their best since beating Manchester United, but somehow or another have been grinding results out to stay in contention for a European spot.

Sturridge's return to the Liverpool lineup has improved their offensive play. (Getty Images)

Sturridge’s return to the Liverpool lineup has improved their offensive play. (Getty Images)

Liverpool’s resurgence continued last week with a good 3-2 win over Tottenham. The win moved them to within four-points of Southampton and a Champions League spot. The return of Daniel Sturridge seems to have not only given the team a different dimension, but also lifted their spirits. Indeed, Mario Balotelli, who was struggling for goals, now has two goals in his last two games.

Southampton are boasted by the return of midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, but Matt Targett is a doubt with a head injury.

Raheem Sterling is in contention for a start after recovering from injury, but Steven Gerrard is still out with a hamstring problem.

The two clubs have a fairly even record in recent meetings with Southampton wining five and Liverpool four of the last nine meetings between the clubs—though Liverpool have won the last two meetings.

Southampton are unbeaten in their last nine EPL games, though they have only won one of their last nine EPL home games. Liverpool are also in good form and are the only EPL side yet to lose in 2015.

This game should be a pleasant one on the eye, as both teams like to play high tempo attacking soccer. However, I feel neither side will want to lose this game and I don’t expect either to commit too many players forward and that’s why I’ll go for a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

MLS season 20 is just around the corner, and here is our latest Big – 5.

1) Tim Howard to MLS?

Not likely. The rumor mill has all but fitted America’s bearded World Cup hero for a pair of NYCFC gloves, but the keeper has let it be known that he is quite happy Merseyside.

Howard looks set to stay put in England.(Getty Images)

Howard looks set to stay put in England.(Getty Images)

In response to the rumors, Howard recently told Sirius XM Radio that he plans to stay at Everton for the rest of his contract, at which point he plans to retire.

And his coach Roberto Martinez is happy to have him, telling ESPN that the 35 year, “is in the best moment of his career.”

2) Preseason Fun in the Sun for MLS Clubs

Many of the league’s clubs were in action in recent days at one of two warm up events, the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic and the the Desert Diamond Cup.

Michael Bradley's team will not be happy with the result.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Michael Bradley’s team will not be happy with the result.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

High spending Toronto FC was the only MLS club to lose at the Bradenton, Florida IMG Suncoast Pro Classic , falling 1-0 to USL side Oklahoma Energy FC. The New York Red Bulls had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Danish club HB Kove. The Columbus Crew dominated London FC, to the tune of 7-0 victory, and the Philadelphia Union ran out 3-0 victors over Costa Rica’s U23 team.

Meanwhile out in Tucson, Arizona at the Desert Diamond Cup the scores were Montreal Impact 6 – FC Cuautla 0, Colorado Rapids 2 – Sporting Kansas City 2, New England Revolution 0 – Real Salt Lake 1, and the Seattle Sounders 6 – FC Tucson 0.

3) Mike Grella Odyssey lands Him With Red Bulls

Grella, a cautionary tale in the age old Europe vs. MLS debate, has landed with the Red Bulls following a five year odyssey that has seen the 28 year old spend time with seven mostly English clubs, and one NASL club.

Mike Grella in action for Brentford in 2011. (ISI Photos/Mark Atkins)

Mike Grella in action for Brentford in 2011. (ISI Photos/Mark Atkins)

Grella, a forward, turned down Toronto FC for a shot with Leeds United, where he managed five goals in 40 games. The Long Island, New York native then bounced around the English Championship, and even had a spell in Denmark, before playing for the Carolina RailHawks last year.

Now, after impressing new Red Bull coach Jesse Marsch on trial, Grella can get his career on track. With Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill having moved on, the Bulls have just one veteran striker in Bradley Wright-Phillips, and the chance is there for Grella.

4) MLS Season Starts March 8

Season 20 is about ready to kick, with two teams in, Orlando SC and New York City FC, and one team out Chivas USA, while two teams are switching conferences.

Orland's coach Adrian Heath's team will be playing their soccer in(Getty Images)

Orland’s coach Adrian Heath’s team will be playing their soccer in the Eastern Conference.(Getty Images)

Owing to the logic of geography, newcomers NYC and Orlando will both compete in the Eastern Conference. Mathematical balance dictated that two clubs would have to move to the Western Conference making for two 10 team groups.

And although Houston and Kansas City were the obvious choices for relocation, adding the 2013 MLS Cup winning Sporting KC to a stacked Western Conference might not be great for competitive balance.

5) But What about a Strike?

Time is rapidly running out for the league and the MLS Players Union to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the two sides are far apart, with free agency the main sticking point.

Unlike in years past, the players have freely tossed around the possibility of striking for a bigger piece the pie. Negotiating with single entity Major League Soccer has never proved especially fruitful for the players. But with the league enjoying the benefits of an improved television contract, solid attendance figures and recent cash injections through expansion, the players are growing restless.

MLS draft  (Getty images)

MLS rules on player movement give most players very little freedom.(Getty images)

MLS rules on player movement have long been opaque, and at times malleable. And while those rules have helped the likes Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley land where they want to play, lesser names have virtually no freedom of movement.

The players are saying that they are fed up, and that they are willing to withhold their services. The league have shown no willingness to budge.

Can the league afford to strike? We may be on the verge of finding out.

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AYSA 3rd Annual “Coaches United Against Cancer” event
AYSA 3rd Annual “Coaches United Against Cancer” event avatar

Courtesy of AYSA

Courtesy of AYSA

Childhood Cancer strikes 175,000 youth per year – worldwide… The costs of treatment and research are ever increasing.

In an effort to provide much needed funding toward childhood cancer research, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was born. Founded in 2000, the southern California based foundation strives to work with communities and organizations across the United States to raise money in a very unique way… by having heads SHAVED!

Please join Arizona Youth Soccer and support the 3rd annual “Coaches United Against Cancer” event and raise money at these two locations:

PHOENIX AREA EVENT: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, Sports Authority: 9009 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale AZ  85250

TUCSON AREA EVENT: Wednesday, March 4, 2015, Anne Kathryn Schmidt “Kickin’ It Clubhouse”, Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, 3536 E. River Road, Tucson AZ 85718

For more information please visit the Arizona Youth Soccer Association website.

 

 

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KSYSA National C License Course
KSYSA National C License Course avatar

Courtesy of KSYSA

Courtesy of KSYSA

Kansas State Youth Soccer has been approved to host a National C License course in 2015.  The course will be held July 25 to August 2 at Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS.

Course Description

The National “C” License course addresses the challenges of working with 15-18 year-old players.  Candidates are challenged to observe a Youth National Team match to identify the roles and responsibilities of the players; and asked to asses how the principles of play impact the coaching process.  The for match for analysis provides the common context for the course

***As of January 2015, coaches must hold a National D License for a minimum of 12-months or hold an approved waiver by U.S. Soccer to register for a C course; no other waivers will be accepted.

Registration is open now! For more information please visit the KSYSA website.

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Indiana Soccer Players Receive NSCAA 2015 High School All-American Honors
Indiana Soccer Players Receive NSCAA 2015 High School All-American Honors avatar

Courtesy of ISA

Courtesy of ISA

Indiana Soccer Association is beaming as five star players from a handful of their member clubs received NSCAA 2015 High School All-American honors at the 2015 NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, PA on January 17th.

Kelsey Dossey, Isaac Huerta, Andrew Kaskie, Jordan Kleyn, and Reilly Martin received NSCAA HS All-American honors after a successful high school season this past fall. Congratulations on a job well done! Learn more about each player below, and for the full story please visit the Indiana Soccer Association website.

  •  Kelsey was a member of Westside United FC before moving to Zionsville Youth Soccer Association where she most recently played. She is a member of Indiana ODP, and has committed to play soccer at Missouri University.
  • Isaac formerly played at Goshen Stars Soccer Club before joining Elkhart Flames Soccer Club, where he continues to play. He has committed to play soccer at Goshen College.
  • Andrew played at Dynamo FC Soccer Club and is currently a member of the club.
  • Jordan was a member of Fusion Soccer Academy before the club merged into the United Soccer Alliance of Indiana, where he continues to play. He is also a member of Indiana ODP, and has committed to play soccer at Indiana University.
  • Reilly was a member of Indiana Fire before moving to Indy Premier Soccer Club where she most recently played. She is also a member of Indiana ODP, and has committed to play soccer at the University of Michigan.
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Morgan Scores 50th Goal as U.S. Edge England
Morgan Scores 50th Goal as U.S. Edge England avatar

Alex Morgan’s 50th career international goal was just about enough for the U.S. WNT to beat England tonight at Stadium MK, just outside of London.

Morgan got above England's Houghton to header home the game winner. (Getty Images)

Morgan got above England’s Houghton to header home the game winner. (Getty Images)

Badly needing a positive result after last week’s discouraging 2-0 loss to France, U.S. coach Jill Ellis won’t mind that England were denied a clear goal by poor officiating that would have made this a 1-1 tie.

But Ellis should be somewhat alarmed that when England sent forwards Eniola Aluko and Lianne Sanderson into the game as late substitutes, England suddenly became a much more troubling side.

England were strangely passive throughout most of this home game, choosing to sit back in a defensive shell, leaving their forwards outnumbered when they attempted to attack.

After a sloppy start that was over reliant on hopeful long balls, the U.S. settled down and began to control the match with good interplay between the forward and midfield lines.

Press had a good game and will be happy with her contribution. (Getty Images)

Press had a good game and will be happy with her contribution. (Getty Images)

Ellis disappointed a lot of observers by again starting Carli Lloyd as an outside midfielder, but in truth the dangerous Lloyd spent most of the match where she prefers, centrally. Christen Press, nominally the other U.S. winger spent even less time out wide than Lloyd, and the effect was to crowd the midfield, perhaps as a tactic to protect Morgan Brian, who had a rough outing against France.

In the end England simply did not possess the same threat that France did, allowing U.S. fullbacks Ali Krieger and Meghan Klingenberg to provide what width the U.S. attack needed on the night. Against France that was not possible, with the U.S fullbacks busily defending for their lives.

Morgan’s goal came in the 25th minute when Brian fed central midfield partner Lauren Holliday, and the former Lauren Cheney delivered a perfect left footed cross that Morgan headed home from a difficult position.

This was Morgan’s second match of the year after missing most of 2014 with ankle problems. The lethal striker showed some rust against France, indeed had Morgan finished a chance or two the result could have been different against Les Bleus.

That rust hasn’t all been chipped away just yet, but Morgan is getting closer, and tonight’s goal is a big one for the U.S. striker, and for the U.S. WNT.

Both Ellis and her England counterpart Mark Sampson were slow to go to the benches, and unlike a typical friendly we had to wait 70 minutes for the first personnel change, when England swapped defenders, as Demi Stokes made way for Alex Greenwood.

Jody Taylor was unlucky to have her equalizer to be disallowed. (Getty Images)

Jodie Taylor was unlucky to have her equalizer to be disallowed. (Getty Images)

By then England had been denied a clear and clean goal, when Jodie Taylor’s goal was wrongly overturned by the officials. Ashlyn Harris saved Kirby’s initial long range blast, turning it onto the crossbar, but Harris’s former Washington Spirit teammate, Taylor was there to put away the rebound.

Taylor’s goal that wasn’t had come as the U.S. were tightening its grip on the game, but the Americans inability to add a second goal had left this match in the balance.

That balance shifted with the 79th minute introduction of Aluko for Taylor and Sanderson’s entrance two minutes later for Jo Potter. Normally first team selections for Sampson, the duo gave the England attack a new found menace.

In the end the U.S. were able to withstand England’s late rush and after finishing this European jaunt will now turn its focus to the Algarve Cup in March.

Ellis has targeted the annual Portuguese tournament as the time for settling on her starting 11 for the 2015 World Cup.

She heads home from England with plenty of questions still to be answered, from personnel to formations. Wayward goalkeeper Hope Solo will be available for the Algarve Cup, provided she satisfies Ellis and U.S. Soccer’s conditions to return.

Ashlyn Harris did make a great save from Kirby before Taylor had the ball in the back of the net. (ISI Photos)

Ashlyn Harris did make a great save from Kirby before Taylor had the ball in the back of the net. (ISI Photos)

Ashlyn Harris was not bad in her two match audition, but she did not appear to do enough to hasten Solo’s demise. In other words expect a contrite Solo to return.

Questions remain all over the pitch for Ellis, but despite the flogging her team took from France, the coach still has a wealth of talented players at her disposal. In order to beat out teams like France, Germany, and host Canada to name but a few, it will be up to Ellis to find the right combination.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
ENG 0 0 0

USA – Alex Morgan (Lauren Holiday) 25th minute

Lineups:
USA: 24-Ashlyn Harris; 11-Ali Krieger, 6-Whitney Engen, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 25-Meghan Klingenberg (22-Crystal Dunn, 79); 23-Christen Press (5-Kelley O’Hara, 90+2), 15-Morgan Brian, 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd; 13-Alex Morgan (8-Amy Rodriguez, 90), 20-Abby Wambach (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 7-Shannon Boxx, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 14-Julie Johnston, 16-Lori Chalupny, 17-Tobin Heath, 19-Rachel Van Hollebeke, 21-Alyssa Naeher, 26-Tori Huster
Head coach: Jill Ellis

ENG: 1-Karen Bardsley; 2-Alex Scott, 5-Steph Houghton (capt.), 6-Laura Bassett (19-Jessica Clarke, 90), 3-Demi Stokes (14-Alex Greenwood, 70); 7-Jordan Nobbs (16-Fara Williams, 81), 8-Jill Scott, 4-Jo Potter (20-Eni Aliko, 79), 11-Karen Carney; 9-Jodie Taylor (22-Lianne Sanderson, 81), 10-Fran Kirby,
Subs Not Used: 12-Gemma Bonner, 13-Siobhan Chamberlain, 15-Casey Stoney, 17-Katie Chapman, 18-Jade Moore, 21-Carly Telford
Head coach: Mark Sampson

Stats Summary: USA / ENG
Shots: 12 / 3
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 10 / 2
Fouls: 3 / 7
Offside: 1 / 1

 

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

1) Villa Scores as New York City FC Beat St. Mirren

Fittingly the clubs first signing, Spanish superstar David Villa scored the first goal in NYCFC history, as the MLS newboys topped Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren 2-0 in a friendly played at the City Football Academy in Manchester.

New York's big signing Villa got their opening goal.(Courtesy of NYCFC)

New York’s big signing Villa got their opening goal.(Courtesy of NYCFC)

Tony Taylor added the second goal as the fledgling MLS team ramp up preparations for its first competitive match Sunday, March 8, against fellow expansion side Orlando City SC, in Orlando.

NYC did suffer a setback, with the club announcing that goalkeeper Ryan Meara is expected to miss up to six weeks with a knee injury. On loan from neighboring New York Red Bulls, Meara was expected to claim the team’s starting goalkeeper job. NYC should be ok for now, the club has solid cover in former MLS Cup winning keeper Josh Saunders.

2) Jermaine Jones Out For Revolution

The U.S. MNT’s recent two game set resulted in plenty of controversy, as well as a 1-1 record, and it also cost the New England Revolution its best player and catalyst, Jermaine Jones for 4-6 weeks.

Jermaine Jones underwent surgery for his  (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Jermaine Jones underwent surgery for a hernia. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Jones underwent sports hernia surgery on Tuesday, and if that estimate holds true the Revs midfield leader and U.S. MNT defender, looks set to miss at least New England’s March 8 opener in Seattle.

And as much as Jones enjoys performing on the big stage, the Revs next match, against NYC FC on March 15 at Yankee Stadium, may still be too soon for the 33 year old.

Jones’ late August arrival sparked New England’s run to the 2014 MLS Cup, where they fell to the L.A. Galaxy, so Jay Heaps won’t want to risk losing his team’s leader for an extended period.

3) Captain Bradley Changes Contract for Altidore

In a move that can only be described as inevitable, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney has named Michael Bradley team captain.

Michael Bradley was named Toronto's captain.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Michael Bradley’s contract was signed with Altidore in mind.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Bradley has quickly become the face of the Toronto franchise, so even the man he replaced, Steven Caldwell, can hardly have been surprised at this news.

After a bit of an up and down performance at last summer’s World Cup, Bradley returned to top form in the two recent U.S. friendlies, and is determined to lead TFC to its first ever MLS playoff berth this season.

To that end, and in a very captain like move, Bradley restructured his contract to make signing his fellow U.S. national team player Jozy Altidore easier for Toronto.

4) Red Bulls introduce Kljestan

This has been a tumultuous offseason for Major League Soccer’s original New York club. First Thierry Henry called it a career, then new GM Ali Curtis fired popular coach Mike Petke, and finally Curtis allowed Tim Cahill to head off to China with a year remaining on his contract.

Sacha Kljestan should make an impact for the Red Bulls.. (ISI Photos/Fedor Obmaikin)

Sacha Kljestan should make an impact for the Red Bulls.. (ISI Photos/Fedor Obmaikin)

Sacha Kljestan won’t be expected to solve all of New York’s problems, but the former(?) U.S. international should be a good fit as the team fights for its share of the New York soccer marketplace.

Kljestan sounded all the right notes at Tuesday’s introductory press when he said,“the challenge arose to try to come to New York with the Red Bull organization and try to be a leader, a team that has never won an MLS Cup; it’s a huge challenge. We want to make something that the fans are proud of, and the sporting challenge was the biggest draw.”

The former Anderlecht man played with his new coach Jesse Marsch with Chivas USA, and he played his college soccer at Seton Hall, just about seven miles down the road from Red Bull Arena, so Kljestan’s MLS re-entry should be a smooth one.

5) NYCFC Form Youth League

New York City FC has waded further into the sometimes murky waters of youth development, establishing a new youth league that will be run by the club.

The Manchester City/New York Yankees owned club had previously affiliated with 11 area youth clubs, the new league is the next step in what looks set to become a battle to dominate the youth market in the New York region. Players in that battle include not only the Red Bulls, but the NASL Cosmos, whose youth system is run by Spanish legend Raul.

NYC FC have form their own youth(Courtesy of NYCFC)

NYC FC have form their own youth league.(Courtesy of NYCFC)

The league will be for players in the U9, U10, and U11 age groups, and as the team puts it, “will follow the philosophy and techniques created within the City Football network.”

The club states that the league, “will help promote and regulate the development of soccer in the New York City Metro area.” That language is liable to ruffle feathers within New York’s established youth soccer organizations, not just NYC’s professional rivals.

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Kind Draw for U.S. at U20 World Cup
Kind Draw for U.S. at U20 World Cup avatar

Last night was a late one for coach Tab Ramos as he awaited the draw for the U20 World Cup live from Auckland, New Zealand, but Ramos should have enjoyed a decent night’s rest after the Americans were drawn into Group A alongside Myanmar, Ukraine, and host nation New Zealand.

Ramos’ Young Yanks open the 24 nation tournament against Myanmar on May 30, in the city of Whangarei, before traveling to Auckland, where they will face both the Kiwi’s, on June 2, and Ukraine on June 5.

Ramos must be delighted with the draw..(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Ramos must be delighted with the draw..(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

This will be Ramos’ second go round with this age group at a World Cup, and the draw was much kinder to the coach than it was two years ago in Turkey, when the “Group of Death” proved too much for the U.S.

Not to write of this year’s opposition, but the Americans certainly should fare better in New Zealand than they did in 2013, when Ramos and company came up against Spain, Ghana, and eventual champions France.

The Americans earned just one point in the tournament, sandwiching a 1-1 tie with France between a pair of 4-1 defeats.

“It’s always an exciting moment to know your group as the reality sets in for the World Cup stage,” Ramos told ussoccer.com. “New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar will certainly prove to be formidable opponents. At this phase, every country is a challenge, so we will need to be clicking on all cylinders tactically, physically and mentally. We made great strides during the qualifying tournament, and we’re confident that with our deep pool of players that we can have a successful run at the World Cup.”

The Americans did not impress at the CONCACAF U20 Championship in January, finishing third and needing a 2-0 playoff victory over El Salvador to qualify for the 2015 U20 Cup.

An opening draw with Guatemala, followed by a 1-0 loss to Panama put the U.S. in a hole, and raised serious questions regarding the quality of this side, one that had been highly touted coming into the tournament.

An 8-0 laugher over Aruba put the U.S. back on track, then came a 2-0 win over disappointing home team Jamaica. Los Angeles Galaxy prospect Bradford Jamieson IV shot the U.S. into a playoff against El Salvador when he scored the games only goal in the final group stage game against Trinidad and Tobago.
The United States team that heads to New Zealand will be backboned by an outstanding young keeper in Zack Steffen, who recently signed with Bundesliga club Freiburg.

Emerson Hyndman in action for Fulham. (ISI Photos/Joe Toth)

Emerson Hyndman in action for Fulham. (ISI Photos/Joe Toth)

Fullback Shaquell Moore and attacker Romain Gall made the CONCACAF Championship Best 11, but Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman emerged as the top American player at the tournament.

Hyndman left the January 29 El Salvador match with what turned out to be a broken collarbone, but with an expected six week recovery period, the U.S. string puller should be back to 100% fitness well before the U20 World Cup.

Ramos will also be hoping to add Rubio Rubin to his roster, the Utrecht striker would give this team a much needed finisher.

Rubio Rubin's addition will definitely bring more attacking threat to the team. (Getty Images)

Rubio Rubin’s addition will definitely bring more attacking threat to the team. (Getty Images)

The FIFA U-20 World Cup runs May 30-June 20 among seven sites in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Whangarei. The championship and third-place matches take place Saturday, June 20, at the 25,000-capacity QBE Stadium in Auckland.

The top two teams in each group, as well as the best four third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16 on June 10 and 11.

This is the 14th occasion that the USA has advanced to a FIFA World Youth Championship or World Cup at this age group.

Group A: New Zealand (host), Ukraine, USA, Myanmar
Group B: Argentina, Panama, CAF 3, Austria
Group C: Qatar, Colombia, Portugal, CAF 4
Group D: Mexico, CAF 2, Uruguay, Serbia
Group E: CAF champion, Brazil, Korea DPR, Hungary
Group F: Germany, Fiji, Uzbekistan, Honduras

U.S. U-20 MNT’s Group A Schedule:
May 30: USA vs. Myanmar; Northland Events Center, Whangarei
June 2: New Zealand vs. USA; QBE Stadium, Auckland
June 5: Ukraine vs. USA, QBE Stadium, Auckland

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