NJ Youth Soccer and Just One SC Host TOPSoccer Jamboree for Special Needs Children
NJ Youth Soccer and Just One SC Host TOPSoccer Jamboree for Special Needs Children avatar

NJ Youth Soccer’s TOPSoccer program gives children with disabilities an engaging and fun atmosphere to play the game, enjoy being part of a team and improve skills through regular practice. Players shown participated in a jamboree event on Dec. 14 in Newark.

NJ Youth Soccer’s TOPSoccer program gives children with disabilities an engaging and fun atmosphere to play the game, enjoy being part of a team and improve skills through regular practice. Players shown participated in a jamboree event on Dec. 14 in Newark.

NJ YOUTH SOCCER AND NEWARK’S JUST ONE SOCCER HOST TOPSOCCER JAMBOREE FOR KIDS WITH DISABILITIES

NEWARK, NJ (December 16, 2014) ― Children with challenges now have more places to play soccer every week, just like any other child. In partnership with the Just One Soccer League, NJ Youth Soccer held a TOPSoccer training program and player jamboree event for coaches, buddies and children at the Waterfront Gymnasium in Newark on Sunday, December 14. In total, more than 20 volunteers gathered in the morning to learn how to run a NJ Youth Soccer TOPSoccer program in their own organizations and more than 20 youth participants from Newark, Elizabeth and West Orange joined the afternoon celebration full of soccer activities.

TOPSoccer provides a curriculum to train coaches and volunteers to provide fun and engaging soccer activities for young athletes with mental or physical disabilities. NJ Youth Soccer offers free training and mentoring to affiliated organizations. The program, designed by U.S. Youth Soccer, emphasizes player-specific development, training, and meaningful participation rather than competition and winning.

“We are proud that the TOPSoccer Jamboree creates an opportunity to help NJ Youth Soccer clubs develop a program for children with special needs with the goal of building physical literacy, fitness and, most importantly, self-esteem,” said Rick Meana, NJ Youth Soccer’s director of coaching. “Through our work with the Just One Soccer League, Newark has an opportunity to cultivate a program that can enable young athletes with disabilities to enjoy playing in a safe and healthy learning environment.”

“Youth soccer in the Newark area is extremely popular and it’s important that we offer programs that include all the children in our community,” said Oscar Rodriguez, executive director of Newark-based Just One Soccer League. “The TOPSoccer program opens the door for our challenged children to get involved and look forward to playing with their group every week, just like their siblings.”

The December 14 event was conducted with generous support and donations from adidas, New York Red Bulls, Sky Blue FC, Topps Trading Cards and JAG Physical Therapy. To learn more about NJ Youth Soccer’s TOPSoccer program, visit www.njyouthsoccer.com.

About NJ Youth Soccer Association

New Jersey Youth Soccer, a 501(c) (3) organization affiliated with U.S. Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, is comprised of more than 156,000 players from 5 to 19-years-old; 40,000+ coaches; and thousands of volunteers. Members collectively support the sport of soccer through training, practice, competition and the spirit of good sportsmanship. The association features recreational, travel soccer programs at multiple skill levels; Olympic Development Programs (ODP); tournaments including the National Championship series; coach and referee training and certification programs; and TOPSoccer, a program for children with special needs. The New Jersey U.S. Youth Soccer ODP provides training and competitive programs for players of the highest caliber for the purpose of increasing the success of the U.S. National Teams.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

DC United Stadium Deal Approved
DC United Stadium Deal Approved avatar

DC United’s future in the nation’s capitol was assured today when the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously voted to approve a spending package for a new stadium for the club.

United has been hunting for a stadium of its own for over a decade, with the current ownership group making a new home a priority after taking control of the club in 2012.

Owners Will Chang, Erick Thohir, and Jason Levien began negotiations with outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray, and have delivered on their promise despite a mayoral change that sees Muriel Bowser taking charge in the new year.

The soccer specific stadium is to be built in the Buzzard Point neighborhood in the southwest section of the city, already home to MLB’s Washington Nationals, and is scheduled to open sometime in 2017.

A seating capacity of 20,000 is expected, although Levien has said that he would like the opportunity to expand down the road.

One of Major League Soccer’s founding clubs, United won the first two MLS Cup Finals in 1996 and 1997, also the claiming championship in 1999 and 2004.

Frustration at finding a suitable situation in D.C. had led the club to flirt with Baltimore and Virginia in years past, today’s agreement ends all that.

This deal should also provide United with a solid financial base. As the prime tenants of the new stadium, United will have access to income from various sources, including naming rights, corporate boxes, concessions, parking, etc.

The 2014 Eastern Conference champions will continue to play at crumbling RFK Stadium until the new stadium is ready.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

The 2014 season is in the books, but don’t think for a minute that MLS has gone into hibernation. We’ve already seen Orlando and New York stock up on talent through the expansion draft, and with plenty of news to cover let’s have a look at our first off season MLS -Big 5.

1) Henry Retires!

The French legend had already let it be known that he would not be returning to the New York Red Bulls, or any other MLS team, and late last night Henry announced via Facebook that he would, in fact, be hanging up his boots.

Henry in 2000 playing for Arsenal. (Getty Images)

Henry in 2000 playing for Arsenal. (Getty Images)

Henry will be returning to London to join Sky Sports, where he is a legend for his exploits in leading Arsenal to two English Premier League titles, including the undefeated “Invincibles,” in 2003-04.

2) DMB Runs from U.S. MNT

Though seemingly ageless, DaMarcus Beasley has decided to retire from the international game, while continuing his club career with the Houston Dynamo.

DaMarcus Beasley walks away from the U.S. National Team. (ISI Photos/Don Feria)

DaMarcus Beasley walks away from the U.S. National Team. (ISI Photos/Don Feria)

Beasley resurrected his U.S. career with a 2013 position switch from midfield to fullback, winding up as the starter in Brazil at his new spot.

Beasley played in the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cup, becoming the first player to see action in four Mundials for the U.S. MNT.

3) Revs Defender to Italy

Now we know why New England left A.J Soares unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft, and why neither NYC FC or Orlando SC selected the solid 26 year old center back.

A.J. Soares ( ) (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

A.J. Soares (R ) looks like he is off to Italy.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Soares is reported to be signing with Serie A club Hellas Verona, where he would become just the fourth U.S. player to join a team in the Italian top flight.

Soares would follow Michael Bradley, Oguchi Onyewu, and Alexi Lalas. Lalas is also in the news today for his move from ESPN to Fox.

Soares will join U.S. MNT nemesis, Mexico’s Rafa Marquez at Verona. This move opens a central defense spot at New England, one that will likely be filled by Andrew Farrell. Farrell was the number one pick of the 2013 MLS draft as a center back, but has slotted in capably at right fullback.

4) Owen Coyle Takes the Reins at Houston

The Houston Dynamo bucked the recent MLS trend of hiring young coaches who have played in the league, when they turned to former Bolton manager Owen Coyle to take over for Dominic Kinnear.

Owen Coyle (Getty Images)

Owen Coyle will take over a Houston’s Manager. (Getty Images)

Coyle becomes Houston’s second manager, following Kinnear, who had been at the helm since Houston moved from San Jose. Kinnear returns to San Jose to take charge of the new San Jose Earthquakes.

Coyle, who has managed in Scotland and England, is best known in the U.S for his work at Bolton, where he managed perennially rehabbing U.S. MNT player Stuart Holden.

5) Management Shakeups at RSL and NYRB

Last year coach Jason Kreis left Real Salt Lake to take the coaching position at New York City FC, now General Manager Garth Lagerwey looks to be departing for an undefined role in Seattle. Lagerwey is highly respected across the league for building a club that consistently challenges for titles in a small market. RSL won the MLS Cup in 2009.

 Jason Kreis (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Jason Kreis left Real Salt Lake last year to take over a position at New York City F.C. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Meanwhile Andy Roxburgh is stepping down as Director of Operations of the New York Red Bulls, having taken over in 2012. The former Scotland manager hired current Red Bulls coach Mike Petke, and built a solid team that earned the Supporters Shield in 2013.

Roxburgh’s departure is part of a transition at NYRB, led of course by the retirement of Thierry Henry.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

U.S. WNT Fall to Brazil
U.S. WNT Fall to Brazil avatar

The U.S. WNT surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Brazil in their second match of group play in the International Tournament of Brasilia.

USA celebrating scoring against Brazil. (Getty Images)

USA celebrating scoring against Brazil. (Getty Images)

Two first half goals from Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe put the U.S. in the drivers seat before Marta’s hat trick handed Jill Ellis her first loss as coach of the U.S.

The Americans got off to a flying start when Lloyd scored in the sixth minute. Tobin Heath flick-on landed at the feet of Lloyd for the midfielder to score her 58th goal for the red, white, and blue as she shot past Brazilian netminder Luciana.

Rapinoe scored three minutes later to double the Americans’ lead with a beautiful strike. She collected the ball on the right flank, beat a defender, and unleashed a powerful, dipping shot that looped over Luciana into the left corner.

Despite the U.S. leading two goals to nil, the opening ten minutes was an even, back-and-forth affair.

Marta was on fire for Brazil. (Getty Images)

Marta was on fire for Brazil. (Getty Images)

Marta, who has won the FIFA World Player of the Year award five times, cut the lead in half in the 19th minute when she dribbled around a number of U.S. defenders and blasted a shot from 12 yards out past the on-rushing Hope Solo.

The U.S. carried the one goal lead into the half, but Marta showed her class as she scored two second-half goals to give Brazil the win and to send them to the final of the tournament.

The first goal showed why Marta has been considered one of the best players during the last ten years. She brought the ball from within her own half, dribbled past helpless American defenders to the top of the box and shot across goal to the bottom right-hand corner.

Marta’s third goal of the game came after she dribbled through a crowd of American defenders before unleashing a drive from distance that squeaked inside in the post when Solo should have made a routine save.

The U.S. have picked up just 1 point from 2 games. (Getty Images)

The U.S. have picked up just 1 point from 2 games. (Getty Images)

The U.S. had two shots that hit the woodwork, the second of which came in the dying second from Christen Press, but the U.S. could not find their way past Luciana, who made several great saves to keep Brazil ahead.

“It wasn’t a good start, but we fought hard until the end and got the result that we needed against a very good team,” Marta explained. “I’m glad that I was able to take advantage of the chances that I had.”

The performance will give Marta the edge over opponent Abby Wambach heading into the voting for this year’s FIFA World Player of the Year award.

“It feels good to win a match like this, knowing that I was going against Wambach,” Marta admitted.

The U.S. take on group minnows Argentina needing to win and hope China PR lose to Brazil, all while making up a goal difference of 7 in the process.

Should the U.S. fail to make the final, morale will be low heading into next summer’s World Cup where they will face stiffer competition in Sweden, Australia, and Nigeria.

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

USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath)                                6th minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Abby Wambach)                   9
BRA – Marta                                                               19
BRA – Marta                                                               55
BRA – Marta (Beatriz)                                                65

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 25-Meghan Klingenberg, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 16-Lori Chalupny (11-Ali Krieger, 31);  12-Lauren Holiday (7-Morgan Brian, 65), 10-Carli Lloyd, 20-Abby Wambach; 15-Megan Rapinoe (23-Christen Press, 64), 2-Sydney Leroux (22-Samantha Mewis, 79), 17-Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Whitney Engen, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 13-Alex Morgan, 14-Julie Johnston, 18-Alyssa Naeher, 19-Crystal Dunn
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

BRA: 12-Luciana; 2-Poliana,  3-Bruna (capt.),  4-Tayla,  11- Andressa Alves, 7-Maurine (21-Beatriz, 59), 5-Thaisa, 20-Formiga, 8-Rosana (6-Tamires, 71), 9-Debinha, 10-Marta (17-Andressinha, 88)
Subs Not Used: 1-Andreia Suntaque, 13-Camila, 14-Monica,  15-Erika, 16-Rafaelle, 18-Fernandes, 19-Darlene,  22-Gabi, 23-Barbara
Head Coach: Oswaldo Alvarez

Stats Summary: USA / BRA
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls: 20 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Megan Rapinoe (caution)                   31st minute
USA – Hope Solo (caution)                            41
USA – Abby Wambach (caution)                   68
BRA – Tayla (caution)                                                89

Officials

 

 

 

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Virginia Crowned National Champions
Virginia Crowned National Champions avatar

#2 UCLA fell on penalties 4-2 to #16 Virginia after a goalless final in Cary, North Carolina, giving the Cavaliers their seventh national title.

Darius Madison struggled to make an impact as the lone striker, (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Darius Madison struggled to make an impact as the lone striker, (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Virginia took an extremely conservative approach to the game, leaving semifinal goalscorer Darius Madison isolated up front on the few times they pushed forward.

The Cavaliers seemed content to let UCLA pass around and look for an opening, which never came in the opening 45 minutes.

The most work Virginia goalkeeper Calle Brown had to do was a half hour in when he ran off his line to smother a header from his defender Scott Thomsen with UCLA forward Christian Chavez looming.

Virginia’s approach can be epitomized with one stat: their first shot did not come until the 35th minute, when a free kick from 35 yards out was optimistically shot towards goal by Thomsen, only to go high and wide.

UCLA forwards Larry Ndjock and Abu Danladi, who combined for both regulation goals in their 3-2 overtime win over Providence, struggled to get open for the UCLA midfield and did not pose any threat to Calle Brown in goal.

The half’s only shot on goal came two minutes before the break when Virginia midfielder Todd Wharton hit a low free kick from 25 yards into the grateful grasp of goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

Virginia showed more ambition going forward in the early stages of the second half before reverting back to their defensive approach of the first half.

Larry Ndjock was guilty of squandering a clear cut chance. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Larry Ndjock was guilty of squandering a clear cut chance. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Ndjock should have put UCLA ahead in the 54th minute but missed the target with his header when the goal was gaping.

Leo Stolz, who is a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, had two shots from distance in the space of ten minutes. His first, coming in the 65th minute, flashed across the face of goal while his second effort went narrowly over the top-right corner.

The teams’ frustration to find an opener boiled over with ten minutes remaining when UCLA defender Edgar Contreras and Virginia’s Madison clashed. Contreras’ head butt on Madison went unnoticed by the referee and Madison retaliated with a swipe at the defender’s face. Both players were lucky to receive yellow cards rather than marching orders.

The last chance of regulation came with three minutes remaining when UCLA defender Aaron Simmons, who had just come on as a sub, headed a corner kick narrowly wide.

The two storied programs could not be separated in regulation, so overtime beckoned.

UCLA, coming off of their overtime semifinal win on Friday night, had the best chance of the first ten minute overtime period.

Danladi had his first chance of the game five minutes into the opening period when a corner bounced in the six yard box, but his volley went straight into the grateful clutches of Calle Brown.

Ryan Zinkhan ( R) was solid in defense for Virginia. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Ryan Zinkhan ( R) was solid in defense for Virginia. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

It was obvious Virginia was holding on for penalty kicks with midfielder Ryan Zinkhan and defender Sheldon Sullivan combining for some great tackles and clearances to prevent UCLA from scoring the golden goal.

They achieved their goal when the referee blew for full time after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer.

It marked the first time since 2009 that the National Championship game went to spot kicks since, yes, Virginia beat Akron 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 game.

Virginia kicked first in the shootout and the two sides exchanged conversions, with Todd Wharton and Brian Iloski finding the back of the net.

The next round of penalties brought two misses- the first with Earl Edwards Jr. saving a low shot to his left; the second with Gage Zerboni nailing the crossbar.

With the score level at 1-1, Virginia got the upper-hand when Sam Hayward’s conversion was followed up by UCLA’s Willie Raygoza hitting the crossbar in similar fashion to Zerboni.

While Calle Brown did not have to make a save on the two misses, his 6’5” frame was surely an intimidation factor with the Bruins in the shootout.

Patrick Foss’ long run up ended with him slotting past Edwards Jr., while Ndjock matched his effort with a sudden death penalty.

Riggs Lennon stepped  up for the Cavaliers for the decisive penalty- convert and the title was Virginia’s; miss and UCLA would have a chance to extend the game.

Lennon converted his penalty with a shot low and straight down the middle.

UCLA’s Edwards Jr. and his fellow seniors fell to their knees in tears, missing out on ending their collegiate careers on top.

Virginia, headed by injured All-American midfielder Eric Bird, celebrated Virginia’s first national title since 2009.

A college with a storied history had suffered through a mediocre season ravaged by injuries to clinch the last seed in the bracket for the National Championship.

Virginia celebrating their win. (Courtesy of @ACCMSoccer)

Virginia celebrating their win. (Courtesy of @ACCMSoccer)

They saved their best performances for the last few games: defeating a Notre Dame team they had lost to 3-0 only a few weeks prior; scoring a 90th minute equalizer to edge Georgetown on penalties; keeping consecutive clean sheets in the College Cup to defeat UMBC and UCLA.

Virginia’s win will live long in the memory for the program, even though it was not the prettiest of wins.

Congratulations to College Cup participants UCLA, Providence, and UMBC for successful season and to Virginia for the National Championship title against all the odds!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

USSoccer’s Nelson Rodriguez to Speak at NJ Youth Soccer Annual Awards Dinner
USSoccer’s Nelson Rodriguez to Speak at NJ Youth Soccer Annual Awards Dinner avatar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone:  (609) 490-0725
Email: communications@njyouthsoccer.com

logo

MANAGING DIRECTOR OF ADVISORY SERVICES FOR U.S. SOCCER TO SPEAK AT NJ YOUTH SOCCER ANNUAL AWARDS DINNER

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (December 12, 2014) ― Nelson Rodríguez, a former New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS) Olympic Development Program coach and now U.S. Soccer’s Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services, will be the keynote speaker at NJYS’s annual awards event on January 9, 2015 at the Pines Manor in Edison. The dinner honors New Jersey players, teams, coaches and volunteers for outstanding performances and contributions during the year. This will be the 27th annual event for the organization.

U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann recommended establishing the new management role after this year’s World Cup to help Youth National Team players and their families navigate the most successful and appropriate career paths from high school through their professional careers, according to U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. Rodríguez was appointed to the position in November.

“I am proud to be a product of the NJ Youth Soccer and state licensing systems for coaches. It is an honor to be asked to speak at the annual dinner and I hope to impart some of my experiences while recognizing those who achieved so much success this past year,” said Rodríguez.

Previously Major League Soccer’s Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations, Rodriguez will offer guidance to players at all stages of their careers including player evaluations; education; potential club/league recommendations; support for professional players in transition; and assistance navigating FIFA player regulations. The NJ native also served as an executive with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and a member of the 1994 World Cup NJ Organizing Committee early in his career.

Rodriguez will initially spend time with the 16- and 17-year-olds currently in the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, FL as they prepare for the Under-17 World Cup qualifying tournament in February and March.

Nelson Rodríguez, U.S. Soccer’s Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services and former NJ Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program coach, will be the keynote speaker at NJYS’s annual awards dinner on January 9 in Edison.

Nelson Rodríguez, U.S. Soccer’s Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services and former NJ Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program coach, will be the keynote speaker at NJYS’s annual awards dinner on January 9 in Edison.

 About NJ Youth Soccer Association

New Jersey Youth Soccer, a 501(c) (3) organization affiliated with U.S. Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation, is comprised of more than 156,000 players from 5 to 19-years-old; 40,000+ coaches; and thousands of volunteers. Members collectively support the sport of soccer through training, practice, competition and the spirit of good sportsmanship. The association features recreational, travel soccer programs at multiple skill levels; Olympic Development Programs (ODP); tournaments including the National Championship series; coach and referee training and certification programs; and TOPSoccer, a program for children with special needs.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Virginia and UCLA to meet in Championship Final
Virginia and UCLA to meet in Championship Final avatar

Virginia and UCLA beat UMBC and Providence respectively to book their places in Sunday’s final, which kicks off at noon in Cary, North Carolina.

Unseeded University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s dream trip to the College Cup did not last long as they fell to Virginia in the first semifinal.

UMBC, playing in their fifth consecutive road game in the National Championship tournament, lost 1-0 to a Cavaliers team who were taking part in their 36th tournament- compared to just the fifth for UMBC.

Virginia defeated UMBC in the College Cup semis. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Virginia defeated UMBC in the College Cup semis. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

#16 Virginia’s winning goal came early as Pablo Aguilar took advantage of a defensive mistake to tee up Darius Madison in the fifth minute.

UMBC’s Marquez Fernandez took control of a pass in the center of defense, but was robbed of the ball by Aguilar. The Virginia midfielder had the quick composure to pass the ball out right to Madison, who took a touch before shooting low across the goal past Retriever goalkeeper Billy Heavner.

The goal was the first conceded by UMBC in the National Championship tournament having shutout Wake Forest, #4 Maryland, #13 Louisville, and #12 Xavier en route to the semifinals.

They nearly conceded a second minutes later as a low cross across the face of goal went untouched, with Madison nearly getting a foot on the ball.

The Cavaliers continued to dominate the early proceedings and should have been awarded a penalty kick, but Fernandez’s foul on Jake Rozhansky was ignored by the referee.

UMBC finally had a chance worth mentioning twenty minutes in when a corner kick was headed narrowly over by Oumar Ballo from two yards out.

Ballo, along with Virginia midfielder Eric Bird, received invitations on Thursday to the 2015 MLS Player Combine held in mid-January in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

UMBC maintained possession well but they could not convert it into quality chances and headed into the break down by one.

UMBC took a similar approach in the second half, but Virginia nearly took advantage of a counter attack six minutes in.

UMBC came close to equalising. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

UMBC came close to equalising. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Scott Thomsen stole the ball of a UMBC attacker, played a beautiful, raking pass to Ryan Zinkhan, who put a cross on to the head of Madison. He could not double Virginia’s lead though as he glanced the header wide.

Kay Banjo nearly equalized for the Retrievers with 18 minutes remaining, but his powerful shot from a tight angle went into the side netting.

A second chance came a few minutes later when Michael Scott was put clean through, but Virginia goalkeeper Calle Brown did well to rush off his line and smother the chance.

UMBC could not muster up another meaningful attack and were eliminated thanks to the early Madison goal.

Virginia’s journey in search for a seventh national title lives on, as they will take on UCLA who beat Providence in an overtime thriller for the second semifinal Friday night.

#2 UCLA, making their 13th appearance in the College Cup, were favorites heading into the matchup versus Providence, who were making their maiden appearance in the Final Four.

It took awhile for the teams to find a rhythm as they exchanged possession throughout the first quarter-hour. The first real chance did not come until the 13th minute, all courtesy of the skill of Providence’s Fabio Machado, another player invited to the MLS Combine.

The forward, whose skills and touch were displayed throughout the game, controlled a pass on the end line and proceeded to pull the back and around a UCLA defender. Machado played a dangerous cross across the face of goal, which was cleared narrowly over the bar by a defender.

Twenty minutes in and was UCLA on the front foot. Bruins forward Abu Danladi intercepted a ball and attacked a lone Providence defender with pace, cutting to his right side before goalkeeper Keasel Broome’s slide tackle spoiled the chance to put UCLA ahead.

The Bruins had another chance in the 39th minute, which came from the right foot of defender Grady Howe. A free kick was swung into the box and was cleared only as far as Howe at the top of the box, who volleyed it on goal, but was saved by goalkeeper Broome.

UCLA took advantage of the next chance in the 43rd minute, as Danladi and Larry Ndjock combined to send the Bruins up a goal at the break.

Danladi received the ball on the right wing, dribbled up and sent Ndjock through. Broome did well to save the initial effort from an angle, but could do nothing on the rebound as Ndjock stuck with the play and finished the chance.

Providence leveled the match in 65th minute with their first shot on goal. It was orchestrated by Phil Towler, who found Thomas Ballenthin wide on the left, who then put in a perfect cross where Mac Steeves rose highest to head it in.

Ballenthin’s dangerous crosses put Providence ahead nine minutes later as another cross from the left was headed on to the back post, where it found Steeves. The forward displayed perfect technique to volley the ball with his right past goalkeeper Earl Edwards, Jr.

UCLA's Earl Edwards Jr. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

UCLA’s Earl Edwards Jr. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

UCLA had come from behind in the last round to tie North Carolina 3-3 before winning on penalties, and they proceeded to do the same as Larry Ndjock headed in Danladi’s deflected shot to level the score at two-a-piece with ten minutes remaining.

The braces from Ndjock and Steeves forced overtime, the first time Providence has played overtime in this tournament, which is golden goal format.

UCLA had a penalty claim four minutes in when Friar defender Brandon Adler went through Leo Stolz, but replays showed the defender got a piece of the ball before making contact with the MAC Hermann Trophy finalist.

A corner kick in the second period of overtime brought the golden goal, but it was the most unfortunate way to bow out of the tournament- an own goal.

Brandon Adler, who got was lucky not to concede the penalty earlier in overtime, was the unlucky man as he deflected a shot that heading wide past his own goalkeeper.

UCLA marches on to the final to try and claim their fifth national title, while Providence goes home wondering what might have been had they held on to their lead with nine minutes left.

The Cavaliers and Bruins kick off on Sunday at noon to determine who will be the 2015 National Champions in a rematch of the 1997 final, which UCLA won 2-0.

UCLA seniors Leo Stolz, Earl Edwards Jr., Aaron Simmons, and Andrew Tusaazemajja have all been invited to the MLS Combine and will look to end their collegiate careers with the national title with Eric Bird, Matt and Calle Brown, and Ryan Zinkhan trying to do the same.

If the final is anything like any of the 46 games so far in this National Championship tournament, we should be in for a treat.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

NASL Clubs Introduce Ronaldo and Raul
NASL Clubs Introduce Ronaldo and Raul avatar

Brazilian legend Ronaldo has signed on as a minority owner of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League, just days after league rival New York Cosmos formally introduced Spanish star Raul in a dual role as a player and head of the team’s youth academy.

Ronaldo and Raul together at Real Madrid in 2005. (Getty Images)

Ronaldo and Raul together at Real Madrid in 2005. (Getty Images)

This splash of big name excitement comes just days after the Major League Soccer season ended, and conjures memories of the NASL’s glory days when Pele, Beckenbauer, and company battled in front of crowds of 70,000 plus.

The announcements can be seen as moves meant to challenge Major League Soccer’s place at the top of the U.S. Soccer pyramid by the second tier league. That designation as a second division club has never sat well with Cosmos C.O.O. Eric Stover, as the Cosmos plan to build a 25,000 seat stadium near Belmont Racetrack just across the New York City border in suburban Long Island, attests.

The Cosmos stadium plan has been working its way through New York government channels for some time now, with no word on a resolution.

Meanwhile Pele’s old club play at Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, capacity 11,929, where last season the team drew less than 5,000 fans per game.

Ronaldo is said to be taking a 25% stake in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers franchise, signalling a serious commitment on his part. But Fort Lauderdale averaged less than 4,000 fans a game last year, and it is hard to see a huge amount of fans turning out to watch the new owner wave from the a box at Lockhart Stadium.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

U.S. WNT Tie China in Opening Match
U.S. WNT Tie China in Opening Match avatar

The U.S. WNT and China scored one a-piece in the opening game of the International Tournament of Brasilia, with Hang Peng canceling out Carli Lloyd’s 23rd minute goal.

The tournament, which is also features Brazil and Argentina, will see the top two teams at the end of round-robin play meet in a final with the third and fourth place teams meeting in a third place match.

Carli Lloyd was once again the goal scorer for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Carli Lloyd was once again the goal scorer for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The United States were outplayed in midfield, but took the lead through Carli Lloyd who tapped into the empty net after Megan Rapinoe put in a hard, low cross across the face of goal. Lloyd reached the 50-goal milestone when she put two goals past China in a 3-0 win back on April 10.

China had numerous chances to level out the score before the break, but Hope Solo did well to rush off her line to smother chances and claim crosses.

Leroux almost got a second for the Americans. (Getty Images)

Leroux almost got a second for the Americans. (Getty Images)

After the break, Sydney Leroux had a great chance to double the Americans’ lead, but her shot from the right side of the box was well saved by Chinese goalkeeper Wang Fei.

Solo could do nothing about Hang Peng’s equalizing goal in the 67th minute. A cross from Tang Jiali found Peng 16 yards from goal, who settled the cross and sent a glorious right-footed volley over Solo into the top-left corner.

Leroux, who has nine goals in 2014, rushed a golden opportunity to put the U.S. back in front when she intercepted a pass from a Chinese defender and quickly put the shot into the stands not realizing she had time to dribble up and shoot.

Abby Wambach, who came on at halftime, could not add to her record of international goals when she headed her only chance of the game straight to the goalkeeper.

The U.S. struggled and could only get a tie against 14th ranked China. (Getty Images)

The U.S. struggled and could only get a tie against 14th ranked China. (Getty Images)

Jill Ellis, who fielded a strong lineup, can take few positives from a game in which the U.S. was out-possessed, slow to the ball, and could not take advantage of the few chances they created.

Becky Sauerbrunn, who was named woman of the match, put in a great performance in defense. She closed down Chinese forwards before chances were created, but did not receive too much assistance from Lloyd, Rapinoe, and Lauren Holiday in midfield, who failed to prevent the Chinese midfield from dominating play.

The U.S. take on Brazil next, who defeated Argentina 4-0 in the second game of the doubleheader.  Jill Ellis is sure to make adjustments to the lineup ahead of the match, with Alex Morgan and Wambach likely to feature more heavily in the team ahead of next summer’s World Cup.

The U.S.-Brazil game will be played on Sunday at 3:45 at Mané Garrincha Stadium. A win will put the U.S. back on track, but a loss will put Brazil in the final and a lot of pressure on the U.S. ahead of the World Cup, where they will play in the Group of Death versus Sweden, Australia, and Nigeria.

Check back with GotSoccer on Sunday for a recap of what will hopefully be a U.S. win over hosts Brazil!

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

USA – Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe)   23rd minute
CHN – Hang Peng                                 67

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 25-Meghan Klingenberg (5-Kelley O’Hara, 46); 12-Lauren Holiday (14-Julie Johnston, 59), 10-Carli Lloyd; 15-Megan Rapinoe (20-Abby Wambach, 46); 23-Christen Press, 2-Sydney Leroux, 17-Tobin Heath (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46)
Subs Not Used: 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Morgan Brian, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 13-Alex Morgan, 16-Lori Chalupny, 18-Alyssa Naeher, 19-Crystal Dunn, 22-Samantha Mewis
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

CHN: 12-Wang Fei; 2-Liu Shanshan, 3-Wang Shanshan, 5-Wu Haiyan (capt.), 8-Li Dongna, 11-Zhao Rong (18-Han Peng, 44), 15-Wang Shuang (17-Gu Yasha, 73), 19-Tan Ruyin, 23-Ren Guixin, 24-Tang Jiali (14-Goa Qi, 71), 25-Zhang Rui (10-Li Ying, 87)
Subs Not Used: 1-Zhang Yue, 4-Lu Jiayue, 6-Lyu Siqi, 9- Lou Jiahue, 16-Lei Jiahue.
Head Coach: Hao Wei

Stats Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 6 / 6
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 0 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 0
Fouls: 15 / 5
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Tobin Heath (caution)  24th minute
CHN – Goa Qi (caution)          89

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Galaxy give Donovan Perfect Farewell
Galaxy give Donovan Perfect Farewell avatar

It wasn’t a classic, but Landon Donovan got the Hollywood ending so many soccer fans were hoping for when his Los Angeles Galaxy beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Robbie Keane’s overtime goal today in Carson, California.

Donovan celebrates at the final whistle. (Getty Images)

Donovan celebrates at the final whistle. (Getty Images)

The match never rose to the heights expected, with stars such as Donovan and Keane lining out for the home team against players like Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen for New England.

27,000 fans filled the Galaxy’s home field on a pleasant Southern California day with temperatures in the upper 60’s. The Galaxy were the better side throughout the first half, and should have opened the scoring in the second minute, only to see Robbie Rogers spurn a golden opportunity, one nicely laid on by Donovan.

Sloppy was the word of the day as the two sides headed to their respective locker rooms at the half locked in a 0-0 draw. The quality of the match never really picked up in the second half, so it was no surprise that the breakthrough came on something of a busted play.

L.A. took the lead in the 52nd minute on a well taken goal from Gyasi Zardes, the first player from the league’s Homegrown Player program to score in an MLS Cup Final.

Zardes did his part well, but the ball fell to him from a deflected cross, and Zardes should never have been allowed so much time on the ball by a floundering Andrew Farrell, just steps from goal.

New England responded with some its best play of the game, and were rewarded when rookie substitute Patrick Mullin teed up Chris Tierney for the equalizer in the 79th minute. A life long Revs fan, fullback Tierney’s first touch was true, in contrast to so many poor touches on the day, and it took him past the L.A. defense as Tierney finished well.

Although he hadn’t played especially well, New England’s chances took a blow when Lee Nguyen had to be subbed off at the end of regulation.

Donovan leaves the MLS on a high. (Getty Images)

Donovan leaves the MLS on a high. (Getty Images)

Twice New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth got away with serious gaffes, as the star studded Galaxy attack were unable to take advantage.

The first extra time period came and went with no goals, and as the second period got underway, penalty kicks were beginning to look inevitable.

Then, MLS Most Valuable Player Robbie Keane finally came through. It had been a tough match for the well traveled Irishman, with Keane and Donovan struggling to get on the same wavelength all afternoon.

To his credit, Keane still had the confidence to take his one final chance in the 111th minute. L.A. midfielder Marcelo Sarvas sent an excellent long ball over the top of the Revolution defense, as Keane ghosted in.

Tierney, who had been one of New England’s better players on the day, kept Keane onside, as Keane controlled and finished with class.

An exhausted Revolution side did its best to mount a comeback, with Mullin testing Jaime Penedo, but it too late. With this loss New England become the first major U.S. sports franchise to lose five championship games, as the Galaxy win its fifth Cup, and Donovan his sixth.

Donovan and the Galaxy lifting the MLS Cup. (Getty Images)

Donovan and the Galaxy lifting the MLS Cup. (Getty Images)

For Donovan, it wasn’t a great performance, and the game itself was far from a classic. Still it is somehow fitting that in the final match of his career, Landon Donovan goes out a champion.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Fields leads FSU Past Virginia for their First National Title
Fields leads FSU Past Virginia for their First National Title avatar

Florida State’s Jamia Fields scored a late goal against ACC rivals Virginia to clinch their first ever national title in Boca Raton, Florida Sunday afternoon.

The meeting marked the third time the teams faced each other this season, with all three games seeing Florida State come out 1-0 winners.

FSU celebrating their national title win. (Courtesy of FSU)

FSU celebrating their national title win. (Courtesy of FSU)

It was a fairly quiet first half between the Seminoles and Cavaliers with the only chances coming off set pieces.

Virginia took a cautious approach to the game, playing a conservative game that was unusual given they possess the country’s highest scoring offense.

In addition to their four first half corners, Florida State posed a threat on throw ins. Their defender Megan Campbell has the ability to throw the ball in upwards of 35 yards.

Virginia’s goalkeeper Morgan Stearns did well to snuff out the set pieces, as did Seminoles goalkeeper Cassie Miller. Miller face five first half corners, but the Cavaliers could not take advantage.

The second half had a similar cagey start, as neither team were reluctant to push too many players forward.

The first clear-cut chance of the second half came in the 66th minute when Doniak controlled a pass with her chest at the top of the box, cut on to her right foot and put a shot across goal, but the ball went just wide.

Virginia did well closing down Cheyna Williams, who scored both goals in the semifinal win over Stanford , but could not close down Jamia Fields in the 83rd minute.

Williams played a part in the goal has she intercepted Stearns goal kick, dribbled towards the sideline and passed the ball off to Fields at the corner of the 18-yard box.

“Great finish by Jamia,” Virginia head coach Steve Swanson said. “It’s soccer. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Jamia Fields got the loan goal and game winner for FSU. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Jamia Fields got the loan goal and game winner for FSU. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Fields proceeded to cut inside, beat two defenders and unleashed a great, low shot into the corner from 20 yards. Stearns will feel upset that she got beat on her near post, but the shot was too fast and powerful for her.

With Virginia having nothing to lose, they pushed players forward as they searched desperately for an equalizer.

They were inches away on two occasions as time winded down, the first with 2:30 left in the game. A corner kick went off of Kristen Mcnabb, where it fell to Morgan Reuther. Her shot from 19 yards rocketed towards goal, but went narrowly over the crossbar.

Virginia’s last chance came a minute later when Veronica Latsko headed a cross just over the bar with Miller rooted to the spot.

That would be as close as they would come though, with the final whistle blowing a minute later, cueing a dog pile from the Seminoles on the field.

The scenes differed greatly on the opposite side of the field, where Virginia left the field in tears, coming so close to winning their first ever national title.

Florida State Mark Krikorian, who claims his third national title after two with Franklin Pierce in Division II, will be happy with the way his team rebounded after losing to UCLA in last year’s final.

“It’s a waste if we don’t learn things along way,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said. “What I’ve learned is it feels a whole lot better sitting here this year than last year.”

The Seminoles kept a clean sheet in all six games of the national championship tournament this season, with their last conceded goal coming against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament semifinal.

Virginia, who averaged over three and a half goals per game, will regret not taking more risks up until they were behind.

But Florida State will not care as they claim their inaugural national title after losing in the 2007 final to USC and last year to UCLA.

Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles on the 2014 triumph in the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer National Championship!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Holiday named 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year
Holiday named 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year avatar

Lauren Holiday has beaten out Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, and Christen Press to be named as the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year for 2014. Holiday solved the much discussed club versus country dilemma by performing throughout the year at the highest level for both the United States Women’s National Team, and Kansas City FC, her NWSL club team.

Lauren Holiday has shown her flexibility by shining in her new position. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Lauren Holiday has shown her flexibility by shining in her new position. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Voters recognized Holiday for her outstanding work in leading Kansas City to the NWSL title, where she setup Amy Rodriquez for both goals in KC’s 2-1 victory over the Seattle Reign.

Holiday was selected MVP of the Championship match, and she never missed a beat when she reported for national team duty. Playing for the number one ranked Women’s National Team in the world, competition for playing time can be intense.

With so much talent available, and so many talented youngsters pushing the veterans, who do leave on the bench, or off of the roster for that matter?

Coach Jill Ellis’ job, and Holiday’s own prospects, were vastly improved this season when Holiday proved herself both willing and able to learning the holding midfield role on the fly.

Holiday had demonstrated her versatility earlier in her career when she made the move from striker to attacking midfielder, back when she was still known as Lauren Cheney.

Holiday passed the 100 cap milestone this year, playing in 16 of the Americans 20 matches, including all five as the Yanks won the CONCACAF Championship, which also served as the region’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament.

In a World Cup year, Holiday has taken one worry off of Ellis’s list. Thanks to Holiday, Ellis can turn her attentions to solving the talent logjam in the attacking positions, admittedly an enviable problem, and settling on a back four, where a number of combinations have been attempted.

Despite making the transition to a more defensive role, Holiday has not lost her attacking instincts, as demonstrated by those two assists in the final, and eight goals and seven assists on the NWSL season.

In being named the 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, Holiday becomes the first player previously honored as U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Athlete of the Year to graduate to earning senior honors. Holiday was selected as the Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2007.

Lauren Holiday(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Lauren Holiday received 43% of the votes.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

“I’m extremely honored and was pleasantly surprised,” said Holiday of winning the award. “Playing for the Women’s National Team is the best job in the world. The players around me make us better every day. Also, FC Kansas City has been phenomenal for me and I’ve really continued to grow there; that’s a testament to my team and my coaches. I’m extremely honored.”

Holiday received 43 percent of the tabulated votes, followed by Carli Lloyd (25 percent) and Abby Wambach (18 percent).

Female Athlete of the Year Award was the last of the U.S. Soccer honors to be handed out for 2014; here is the complete list.

Male Athlete of the Year: Tim Howard
Female Athlete of the Year: Lauren Holiday
Young Male Athlete of the Year: DeAndre Yedlin
Young Female Athlete of the Year: Morgan Brian
Disabled Athlete of the Year Nominees: Gavin Sibayan

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

NCAA Men’s College Cup Final 4
NCAA Men’s College Cup Final 4 avatar

When the NCAA Men’s Soccer National Championship kicked off on November 20, it would have taken a brave man to bet that three of the four remaining teams would not have been ranked in the top ten.

But that is the way it has turned out as #11 Providence, #16 Virginia, and UMBC travel with #2 UCLA to Cary, North Carolina for the College Cup.

It all kicked off on Friday night, when the University of Maryland- Baltimore County traveled to face #12 Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska.

The match did not live up to the occasion, as both teams struggled to create scoring opportunities. The closest either team came to breaking the deadlock was when Creighton’s Fernando Castellanos’ shot floated over the crossbar from eight yards out.

UMBC netminder Billy Heavner and his opposite number, Connor Sparrow, did not have much to do during the game, combining for just four saves.

After 110 minutes of soccer, the match headed to penalties with Heavner saving the first spot kick from Fabian Herbers. UMBC’s Mamadou Kansaye dispatched the next kick before the side exchanged misses in the second round, Creighton hitting the post and Heavner saving Geaton Caltabiano’s attempt.

UMBC advance to the college cup after a penalty shoot out. (Courtesy of UMBC Athletics.)

UMBC advance to the college cup after a penalty shoot out. (Courtesy of UMBC Athletics.)

The next three penalties were scored by each team, and UMBC advanced to the College Cup 4-3 on penalty kicks. The win marks the first time an unseeded team has advanced to the final four since Massachusetts in 2007.

The next match made up for the lack of goals and quality in the UMBC-Creighton game, as Providence came from behind to defeat #3 Michigan State 3-2.

The Spartans got off the board first, with Adam Montague scoring in the eight minute from six yards out.

In the 36th minute, Providence equalised from a Daniel Neustadter’s screamer. Mac Steeves passed the ball to Neustadter, who one-timed the shot with the outside of his boot into the top-left corner of the goal.

Six minutes later, Providence grabbed the lead, they would not relinquish when Fabio Machado passed the ball into the middle to Dominik Machado, who had the simple task of passing the ball into the net past a helpless Zach Bennett in goal.

Fabio Machado got a goal for himself when he cut into the middle and struck it well from 25 yards. The ball curved into the top corner, giving Bennett no chance and Providence a 3-1 lead in the 62nd minute.

Michigan State almost cut the lead in half two minutes later, but Providence goalkeeper Keasel Broome pushed Fatai Alashe’s shot onto the crossbar.

Michigan State made the end of the game interesting when with twenty minutes left Jay Chapman scored from seven yards out, but the Spartans just could not find an equalizer, which meant Providence advanced to their first ever College Cup.

#16 Virginia scored a 90th minute equalizer and went on to win on penalties to knock #8 Georgetown out of the National Championship.

The first half served up many opportunities for both teams, but the chances went begging. Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Gomez made an excellent fingertip save to deny Virginia point-blank.

Georgetown deservedly took the lead in the 59th minute when Austin Martz took control of a deflected shot at the top of the box and powered a goal into the upper 90 past Virginia’s Calle Brown.

Despite Georgetown having much of the possession, Virginia continued to push for the equalizer, and found it with 52 seconds left in regular time. It was rather fortunate as the Cavaliers hoofed a ball in to the box, where it deflected off  a Georgetown’s defender and Virginia’s Todd Wharton headed the ball into net to force extra time.

Georgetown dominated extra play, but could not score the golden goal. The penalty shootout was near perfect as the first nine attempts found the back of the net, but Georgetown’s Arun Basuljevic felt the pressure and his effort went off to the upright.

Virginia, who lost to UCLA in the College Cup last year, will look to win its seventh National Title after winning in 1989, 1991-94, and 2009.

In the last quarterfinal, unseeded North Carolina fell to #2 UCLA on penalties after finished three-a-piece.

It did not look good early on for North Carolina, with midfielder Alex Olofson getting a red card just 20 minutes into the game for a dangerous tackle on Grady Howe.

The Tar Heels did not seemed fazed by the loss as Omar Holness scored a free kick five minutes before the break to give North Carolina the lead at halftime.

It did not sit well with UCLA, who stormed back in the second half with three goals in the space of six minutes.

Brian Iloski scored the first in the 69th minute when he controlled a chip over the top and shot past North Carolina goalkeeper Jonathan Campbell.

Chritian Chavez put the Bruins ahead when he finished after Abu Danladi put him through and Danladi doubled the lead with a breakaway from midfield, beating Campbell one-on-one

It looked liked UCLA had in the bag, but North Carolina overcame the odds and evened the game when Tyler Engel and Andy Craven scored within a minute of each other with 13 minutes remaining on the clock.

Engel’s goal came after a scramble in the box, followed by Andy Craven’s wonderful finish 30 seconds later when he was put through on goal by Raby George.

UCLA seemed to show the more initiative in the extra time periods, but were left wanting as Campbell made several impressive saves to keep the Bruins at bay.

Penalties were used yet again to decide a quarterfinal and North Carolina got off to the best possible start when Campbell saved the first spot kick from UCLA’s Iloski and Raby George dispatched his effort.

The sides exchanged kicks for the next three rounds, giving North Carolina a 4-3 edge heading into the last round of penalties. UCLA’s Leo Stolz, up for the MAC Hermann Trophy, put away his spot kick, which meant that all the pressure was on Glen Long.

The pressure proved too much as Long’s effort was saved by Earl Edwards Jr. With the shootout in sudden death, the sides exchanged penalties in the next two rounds until UCLA’s Chase Gasper converted his effort and UNC’s Warren Marshall failed to, seeing the Tar Heels just fall short of causing a huge upset and advancing to the College Cup.

In the semifinals, which take place on Friday in Cary, North Carolina, we will see UMBC try to take down another ranked opponent in the shape of #16 Virginia at 5 PM, with #2 UCLA taking on #11 Providence at 7:30.

With a spot in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Division I Championship on the line, we will be sure to see similar amounts of drama, quality, and heartbreak as we witnessed in the quarterfinals.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Canada 2015 – Women Draw Group of Death
Canada 2015 – Women Draw Group of Death avatar

Group of Death anyone? Like their male counterparts last summer in Brazil, the U.S. Women’s National Team has landed in what is being called the Group of Death at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

U.S. will have to be at their best to top this group.(Getty Images)

U.S. will have to be at their best to top this group.(Getty Images)

As the ping pong balls were selected Sunday afternoon on FoxSports 1, the Americans were joined in Group D by the toughest team in each pot. First came Australia, who always give the U.S. trouble, then Nigeria, generally regarded as Africa’s strongest side, and finally Sweden.

The Swede’s began the draw angry that they had not been seeded, even though as the number five ranked team in the world, Sweden are rated one spot higher by FIFA than Brazil, who did receive a seed.

Sweden defeated the U.S. at the 2011 World Cup, and are coached by none other than Pia Sundhage, the enormously popular former U.S. coach, who led the Americans to Gold Medal glory at the London Olympics in 2012.

Unlike Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, who surprised many by advancing from the Group of Death, coach Jill Ellis leads the number 1 ranked team in the world, and there will be few tears shed in the women’s soccer community for the defending Olympic Champions, who are hoping to reclaim the World Cup title for the first time since 1999.

U.S. has probably the most dangerous front-line in the World. (Getty Images)

The U.S. has probably the most dangerous front-line in the World. (Getty Images)

Host nation Canada will open the World Cup on June 6, when they face China in Edmonton. With the field expanded to 24 team for the first time, seven nations will be making their World Cup debut’s in the Women’s World Cup, threatening to dilute competition, even as FIFA seeks to grow the women’s game.

The seven debutants are the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, and Thailand.

Final Draw for Canada 2015. (Getty Images)

Final Draw for Canada 2015. (Getty Images)

Here are the Groups.

Group A: Canada, China, New Zealand, Netherlands.
Group B: Germany, Ivory Coast, Norway, Thailand
Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador
Group D: U.S.A., Australia, Sweden, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, South Korea, Spain, Costa Rica
Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico

With at least two teams advancing from each group, two favorites, former champions Germany and 2011 winners Japan look to have the easiest routes to the knockout rounds.

All games at this World Cup will be played on artificial turf, a situation the players are not happy about. Led by top players like Abby Wambach, a lawsuit has been filed against FIFA, claiming that it is discriminatory to force the world’s top female players to play on artificial surfaces, while no men’s World Cup match has ever been played on such a pitch.

The U.S. WNT will play its first two matches in Winnipeg, facing Australia on June 8, and Sweden on the 12, before closing out group play versus Nigeria in Vancouver, on June 16.

Before the draw it was announced that Lauren Holiday had been selected as the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Holiday had an outstanding year, although she was still something of a surprise winner, beating out Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Sydney Leroux, and Christen Press to claim the prize.

Congratulation to Holiday, and bring on the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment