MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

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

1) 3 in For MVP – But No BWP

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

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

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

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

2) Chivas USA Expansion Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Don Garber’s Manifest Destiny

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

Don Garber  .(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

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

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

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

4) A Stadium for DC United?

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

Courtesy of DC United

Courtesy of DC United

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry (Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NWSL Executive Director Steps Down
NWSL Executive Director Steps Down avatar

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

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

Cheryl Bailey (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Mix Needs a Move

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Will Youth Be Served?

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

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

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

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

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

4) Accountability- Part 1

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

(Getty Images)

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

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

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

5) Accountability – Part 2

Klinsmann (ISI Photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FSU (ISI Photos/ Steven Limentani)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UCLA (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgetown (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Beckerman – midfielder : Real Salt Lake

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

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

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

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

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

Alejandro Bedoya- midfielder : Nantes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clint Dempsey – forward : Seattle Sounders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Howard – goalkeeper : Everton

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

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

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

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

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

Fabian Johnson – fullback/midfielder : Borussia Monchengladbach

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

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

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

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

Jermaine Jones – midfielder : New England Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jozy Altidore won the award in 2013.

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

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UYSA and E4A Bring Motivational Program to ODP
UYSA and E4A Bring Motivational Program to ODP avatar

UYSA and Especially For Athletes (E4A) has partnered up to bring the special E4A program to ODP each year. This unique opportunity will give players the training and education to inspire other young athletes athletes by using their influence and attention to promote a positive social and learning enviornonent.

Courtesy of UYSA

Courtesy of UYSA

According to the E4A website:

Especially for Athletes (“E4A”) is a movement specifically designed to inspire athletes and those with whom they associate, to maximize their athletic potential and to use their talents and social influence to assist and lift others. E4A is seeking to build a culture of athletes focused on changing lives through better use of the attention and influence they have access to. 

Why the reason for athletes to do more? Here are some statistics showing the struggles our youth face.  

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among US adolescents aged 15–24.  Although the suicide rate in the United States has remained stable over the past 40 years, the estimated rate among adolescents and young adults has nearly tripled. 

Over 160,000 adolescents skip school daily in the United States out of the fear of being bullied.   

Recent surveys of college students showed that 80% admitted to cheating in high school, and 2012, 3.6 percent of 8th graders, 14.5 percent of 10th graders, and 28.1 percent of 12th graders reported getting drunk in the past month. 

E4A provides education, training and motivational tools to inspire athletes to focus on doing more, and becoming more than just a great athlete.  Schools, teams, youth organizations, and individual athletes are encouraged to become E4A certified and join the growing group of athletes of all ages and skill levels including NBA, NFL and Olympic athletes in committing to the E4A promise and wearing proudly their Eyes Up-Do the Work wrist band. 

For the full story, please visit the UYSA website.

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Colorado Soccer Association & Native Rank Team Up to Offer New Soccer Technology
Colorado Soccer Association & Native Rank Team Up to Offer New Soccer Technology avatar

Courtesy of CSA

Courtesy of CSA

Greenwood Village, CO — If you’re not going Google, you’re geriatric. At least Native Rank, a boutique marketing firm in Downtown Denver thinks so. And after teaming up with the Colorado Soccer Association, they’re ready to implement technology into the game once more, this time amidst no controversy. Letting computers call goals in the World Cup was a successful progression for the game— the right technology can make the right impact. Marley Wilson, Director of Business Development at Colorado Soccer agrees, and is letting Native Rank call Colorado soccer players, coaches and fans to action through Google’s Grant program.

Colorado Soccer will be hosting Native Rank in a webinar on Tuesday, November 25that 1pm Mountain time for its members to learn more about the benefits offered to their clubs through Google’s Grant for non-profits. Webinar attendees will get industry leading insight on a strong digital presence and why it becomes more important every day, and how the grant will help maximize exposure.

Google’s bottom line trumps the economy of entire nations, but what they give back is just as astounding, and the opportunity to reap those benefits is available to non-profit organizations all over the world. As a Google Partner, Native Rank has become the largest vendor of Google Grants in the country, and manages it for the likes of USA Volleyball, ESPN’s Jimmy V Foundation, The George Karl Foundation, and is excited to now add the Colorado Soccer Association to those ranks.

“We are proud to partner with another great local organization in the Colorado Soccer Association,” said Nate Manning, Director of Sales at Native Rank, “this special relationship will benefit Colorado Soccer’s member clubs by taking advantage of Native Rank’s expertise in the digital world to provide top page results on the first page of Google. We are very excited about the future of this relationship.”

If you have any questions about the Google Grant, Native Rank or any digital marketing needs, contact Nate Manning: nmanning@nativerank.com

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U.S. Fall to Colombia
U.S. Fall to Colombia avatar

The U.S. MNT fell 2-1 to Colombia tonight at London’s Craven Cottage, surrendering a late goal for the third match in a row.

Any thought that the United States would enjoy an advantage at the home ground of “Fulham America” was vanquished before the game ever began, as the stands filled at the cozy Cottage with yellow clad Colombia supporters.

Jozy Altidore (Getty Images)

Jozy Altidore got on the scoresheet from a spot kick. (Getty Images)

Still, the game started well for the Americans against the World’s number three ranked FIFA nation when Jozy Altidore scored from a penalty kick just 10 minutes into the game.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected a diverse squad of young players and veterans, and it was 18 year old Rubio Rubin who drew the early penalty, although the Utrecht attacker could well have been called for a push on the Colombian defender.

Over 90 minutes Colombia were undoubtedly the better team, but to their credit, the Americans attempted to play attacking soccer, rather than conservatively parking the bus. Klinsmann sent out DeAndre Yedlin at right fullback and Fabian Johnson at left midfield in a 4-4-2, that featured Rubio up top alongside Jozy Altidore.

Jermaine Jones in action against Colombia. (Getty Images)

Jermaine Jones in action against Colombia. (Getty Images)

Klinsmann also gave veteran Jermaine Jones another start at central defense, and the Germerican midfielder acquitted himself well against Colombia’s James Rodriguez led offense.

With John Anthony Brooks lined up alongside Jones and with Greg Garza putting in another solid performance at left back, the back four fared well in a first half that ended with the U.S. leading 1-0.

That first half would prove to be the highlight for the Americans who found themselves relying on desperate defending throughout much of the second half, as they clung to the lead. Yedlin, playing in London, where he will soon hope to feature for Tottenham, had a tough night. The speedy Seattle fullback was responsible for several giveaways, but he also flashed signs of his potential with a couple of dangerous attacking runs.

Klinsmann made one tactical switch at the break, moving Yedlin to the midfield and bringing Johnson back to right back. A bad Yedlin turnover nearly proved costly early on, but once Colombia took control Yedlin was rendered mostly a non factor.

Rubio Rubin (Getty Images)

Rubio Rubin had a good opportunity but failed to get it on target. (Getty Images)

Rubin nearly made a splash with a second half diving header that he was unable to put on frame. Alejandro Bedoya had served up a nice cross for Rubin, who also spurned a good feed from Kyle Beckerman in the opening stanza.

Bedoya would pick up a knock and leave the game after a intermittently impressive 66 minutes, replaced by Alfredo Morales. Bobby Wood and Lee Nguyen also made an impact in second half substitute appearances.

Wood took over for Rubin in the 67th minute and for the second game running, he really should have scored. After missing a sitter in Hartford, in the Landon Donovan farewell match, Wood was wasteful versus Colombia with an 81 minute miss.

Camilo Vargas deserves credit for a fine save, but Wood should have put his chance away on a play that was orchestrated by Nguyen. Playing for the U.S. MNT for the first time in seven years, Nguyen made a sizeable impression in what was just a 12 minute performance. The New England Revolution attacker showed plenty of invention in his cameo, a brief sample of his MLS MVP worthy season.

Since the World Cup the U.S. has shown a disturbing penchant for blowing games in the latter stages and it can’t be forgotten that the Americans also conceded late against Portugal and Belgium in Brazil.
With Klinsmann preaching accountability, it is worth asking is it not the manager’s responsibility to earn results in tight games?

Now it is on to Ireland where the U.S. will take on a more beatable opponent in the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, albeit one in the heat of a European qualifying campaign. Coming off of 1-0 qualifying loss to Scotland Ireland will be up for it. Nevertheless Tuesday would be as good a time as any for Klinsmann’s charges to work on reversing that disappointing recent trend, the late game collapse.

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Colombia
Date: Nov. 14, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Craven Cottage; London, England
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. local)
Attendance: 24,235
Weather: 52 degrees, clear

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

USA – Jozy Altidore (penalty) 10th minute
COL – Carlos Bacca (James Rodriguez) 60
COL – Teofilo Gutierrez (Edwin Cardona) 87

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin (16-Julian Green, 86), 13-Jermaine Jones, 6-John Brooks, 3-Greg Garza (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 70); 15-Kyle Beckerman; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (4-Alfredo Morales, 67), 10-Mix Diskerud (8-Lee Nguyen, 78), 23-Fabian Johnson; 17-Jozy Altidore (capt.), 9-Rubio Rubin (19-Bobby Wood, 67)
Subs Not Used: 5-Matt Besler, 12-Nick Rimando, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Timmy Chandler
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

COL: 12-Camilo Vargas; 3 -Pedro Franco, 4-Santiago Arias, 7-Pablo Armero, 23-Jeison Murillo; 6-Carlos Sanchez, 8-Abel Aguilar (27-Edwin Cardona, 74), 11-Juan Cuadrado (15-Juan Quintero, 89), 10-James Rodriguez (capt.); 17- Carlos Bacca (20-Adrian Ramos, 79), 19-Teofilo Gutierrez (21-Jackson Martinez, 89)
Subs Not Used:1- Leandro Castellanos, 2-Cristian Zapata, 16-Eder Balanta, 22-Jose Cuadrado, 24-Daniel Bocanegra, 25-Alexander Mejia, 26-Carlos Carbonero, 28-Brayan Angulo, 14-Yimmi Chara
Head Coach: José Pékerman

Stats Summary: USA / COL
Shots: 7 / 16
Shots on Goal: 4 / 9
Saves: 7 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 8
Fouls: 12 / 13
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
COL – Abel Aguilar (caution) 29th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution ) 35

 

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NCAA Division I Women’s Final 64
NCAA Division I Women’s Final 64 avatar

The NCAA finalized the bracket for Division I Women’s Soccer, in which 64 teams will battle it out for to become national champion when the tournament concludes on December 7 in Boca Raton, Florida.

UCLA won their first college cup in 2013 (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

UCLA won their first college cup in 2013. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Essentially, the tournament consists of four brackets of 16 teams with the winners of each bracket meeting in the College Cup to determine the champion. Let’s dive in to take a look the top four seeds of four quarters of the bracket!

Quarter 1

UCLA (18-0-2) will be favorites to defend their championship after going through the season undefeated and avoiding defeat in their last 41 matches. They begin their hunt for a second all-time title at home against San Diego.

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

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

Virginia (18-2-0) sits opposite UCLA as the number two seed in Quarter 1. The Cavaliers fared well in ACC play this year, with both of their defeats coming at the hand of Florida State- once in regular season play, the other in the ACC Tournament final.

Kentucky (15-6-0) and Pepperdine (15-2-3) are seeds three and four respectively after performing admirably in conference play. Kentucky lost to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament Final, while Pepperdine defeated North Carolina and Kentucky en route to the National Championship.

Quarter 2

Texas A&M (18-2-2) are making their 20th appearance in the National Championship, but have never made it to the College Cup, which serves the semi-finals and finals of the National Championship. They take on debutants Houston Baptist in the opening round.

Penn State lost to UNC in the 2012 Final. (GotSoccer Images)

Penn State lost to UNC in the 2012 Final. (GotSoccer Images)

The number two seed in Quarter 2 is Penn State (17-3-0), who finished atop the Big Ten regular season standings before being upset by Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The number three and four seeds belong to West Virginia (16-2-3) and Notre Dame (12-5-2), who come into the Championship after battling through strong schedules in each of their conferences. West Virginia won the Big 12 Tournament after going undefeated in conference play, while Notre Dame got favorable results in a strong ACC conference including the likes of Florida State and North Carolina.

Quarter 3

ACC Champions Florida State (18-1-1) host South Alabama in the first round. Despite making seven appearances in the College Cup, they have yet to win a championship, losing to UCLA in the final last year.

FSU lost to UCLA in last year's final.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

FSU lost to UCLA in last year’s final.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The number two seed belongs to North Carolina, who will look to add to their 21 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships. The Tar Heels finished 12-3-2, with all of the dropped points coming against fellow seeded teams.

The SEC and Big Ten contribute more teams in the form of South Carolina (13-5-3) and Wisconsin (18-2-2), who occupy the third and fourth seeds respectively. South Carolina took points off big teams this season, upsetting the likes of Texas A&M and Florida. Wisconsin comes into the National Championship off a string of strong performances en route to becoming Big Ten Tournament Champions.

 

Quarter 4

Stanford (17-1-2), whose only loss of the season was against the Bruins, take on California State Fullerton and will hope to add a second Women’s Soccer Championship title to their triumph in 2011. Wins at North Carolina and against Florida will give them the motivation they need to go the distance after finishing the regular season behind UCLA in the PAC-12.

Florida are marking their 18th appearance in the Championship.(Courtesy of the University of Florida.)

Florida are marking their 18th appearance in the Championship.(Courtesy of the University of Florida.)

The Florida Gators (14-4-1) overcame a few formidable opponents before claiming the number two seed in the National Championship. Texas A&M and Florida State are just two of the many teams that fell victim to Florida during the season.

Texas Tech (14-3-2) and Washington (12-6-2) are seed three and four respectively.

An early win at Notre Dame was the highlight of Texas Tech’s season, which paved the way to a seed in this year’s Championship, while Washington overcame heavy defeats to Stanford and UCLA to finish the season with a respectable record.

National Championship Details

The first round kicks off this weekend, with the College Cup concluding in Boca Raton, Florida on December 5-7. The weather should be in stark contrast to that of last year’s edition, in which UCLA beat FSU in cold, rainy conditions in North Carolina.

This year’s competition should be as open as ever, with 31 conferences earning automatic berths. The remaining 33 teams were selected at-large. The top 16 teams are seeded and cannot play each other in the first or second rounds and the first four rounds of play will be hosted on campuses until the College Cup is help in south Florida.

UCLA will be hoping to hold onto their crown. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

UCLA will be hoping to hold onto their crown. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

All 64 teams will believe they have a chance to be a member of the final four teams participating in south Florida come early December and we are sure to encounter come entertaining games and upsets along the way.

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

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MLS Conference Finals Set
MLS Conference Finals Set avatar

It’s easy to imagine Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber sporting an ear to ear grin as he looks ahead to the league’s conference finals that will see New York face off against New England, while the Seattle Sounders go up against the Los Angeles Galaxy on the Left Coast.

Donovan and Dempsey will face off against each other in the semis.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Donovan and Dempsey will face off against each other in the semis.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

The league’s biggest markets and biggest stars have made it to the league semifinals, with storylines aplenty, including a showdown between the Galaxy and the Sounders in front of Seattle’s passionate  fans at what figures to be a packed CenturyLink Field.

The Sounders were the last of the four clubs to secure a conference final berth, advancing on the league’s newly implemented away goals rule.

Osvaldo Alonso’s header earned a 1-1 tie for the Sounders in the in the first leg of this series in Frisco, Texas, on November 2. When Monday night’s sequel ended in a 0-0 stalemate in Seattle, Osvaldo’s away goal proved to be the decisive blow.

The high flying Los Angeles Galaxy had already laid down a marker when they demolished Real Salt Lake 5-0 in the second leg of the series Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California to claim a spot opposite Seattle in the Western Conference Finals.

Donovan will be hoping to go out on top. (Getty Images)

Donovan will be hoping to go out on top. (Getty Images)

After the opening leg of this series ended in a 0-0 draw, Landon Donovan’s hat trick set the Galaxy on its way to an easy victory in Sunday’s second act, adding further spice to the most dramatic storyline of these playoffs, the retirement of the all time American great.

Donovan and his fellow DP Robbie Keane are the Galaxy’s brightest stars, and the only MLS duo who could conceivably outshine Seattle pair Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.

Seattle edged L.A. for the Supporters Shield after a pair of bad tempered games over six days last month that ended in a 2-2 tie and a 2-0 win for Seattle. Having already claimed the U.S. Open Cup, in addition to the Shield, the Sounders are looking to complete an MLS triple by adding the MLS Cup.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on fire for the Red Bulls.(Howard C. Smith)

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on fire for the Red Bulls.(Howard C. Smith)

On the strength of a 2-0 first leg win New York advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, winning only its third ever playoff series, eliminating DC United 3-2 after United topped the Red Bulls 2-1 in D.C. in the second leg. DC had a remarkable one year turnaround this season to secure the best record in the East, but Thierry Henry led fourth seed New York did just enough to move on. Henry’s “will he or won’t he,” retirement saga lends another dimension to New York’s run for a first ever MLS Cup, just months before moneybags New York City Football Club enters the league to challenge the Jersey based side in the New York market.

NYRB will face a hot New England team that crushed Columbus 7-3 over two legs. MVP candidate Lee Nguyen, U.S. World Cup midfielder Jermaine Jones, and a revitalized Charlie Davies set the tempo for the Revolution as the Revs buried the injury weakened Crew.

With the league honoring the FIFA international break playoff action does not resume until November 29, when Red Bulls and the Galaxy host the Conference Final openers.

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Klinsmann Names 25 for Euro Trip
Klinsmann Names 25 for Euro Trip avatar

United States Men’s National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named a 25 man traveling squad for a two game set this month against Colombia and Ireland.

Colombia should be a good opposition for the Americans.(Getty Images)

Colombia should be a good opposition for the Americans.(Getty Images)

The Americans open the series at Craven Cottage in London, England, where they take on James Rodriguez and Colombia this Friday, November 14, before heading over to Dublin, Ireland, to face the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, November 18.

Despite a concession from Major League Soccer to stand down for these FIFA international dates, Klinsmann has selected just three players from MLS clubs that are still chasing the MLS Cup.

New England duo Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen will be crossing the Atlantic, as will young Seattle/Tottenham fullback DeAndre Yedlin.

Dempsey will not trade with the U.S.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Dempsey was not selected and will not travel with the U.S.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

U.S. MNT captain Clint Dempsey has been denied a homecoming at Craven Cottage, where he made a name for himself with Fulham. Dempsey’s coach Sigi Schmid will be happy to see his veteran spared the long trip, especially if the Sounders see off FC Dallas tonight, and advance to the Western Conference Finals versus the Los Angeles Galaxy.

New England coach Jay Heaps will have to wait and see how Jermaine Jones, his influential 33 year old midfielder handles the travel, although like Nguyen and Yedlin, Jones may be released back to his club after the Colombia game.

League MVP candidate Nguyen receives his first call up under Klinsmann, and the comeback kid will be hoping to earn his first U.S. cap(s) since he picked up three back in 2007.

The 21 year old Yedlin is reportedly close to securing a Latvian passport, which would allow the speedster to join Tottenham as soon as January. Yedlin signed with the London club following his breakout performance for the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Klinsmann has again included NASL attacker Miguel Ibarra and college star Jordan Morris. The two are part of a curious, six man forward group headed by Jozy Altidore.

Rubio Rubin was a stand out performer for the U17's in 2011.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Rubio Rubin was a stand out performer for the U17′s in 2011.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Altidore, who continues to ride the pine at Sunderland, is joined by youngsters Bobby Wood, Rubio Rubin, and 31 year old San Jose Earthquake striker Chris Wondolowski, still trying to live down his missed game winner in the dying seconds of World Cup play against Belgium.

Rubio has been impressive for Utrecht, in the Netherlands, but the rest of the group certainly have plenty to prove, which may well be Klinsmann’s point.

GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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EPL Week 11′s Previews and Predicitons
EPL Week 11′s Previews and Predicitons avatar

It’s Week 11 in the EPL and after a quarter of the season Chelsea leads the way and remain the only side in the EPL still unbeaten, but there is still a long way to go and there are sure to be a few swings and roundabouts before the season ends in May.

Steven Gerrard was so devastated by Liverpool's loss last season that he did not attend the PFA awards where his team mate Suarez picked up the player of the year award.(Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard was so devastated by Liverpool’s loss last season that he did not attend the PFA awards where his team mate Suarez picked up the player of the year award.(Getty Images)

This week’s big game see Liverpool take on Chelsea, as they try to avenge last season’s defeat by the Blues which cost them the EPL title. But that is not the only match taking place this weekend and there are sure to be a lot goals, excitement, shocks and controversy in the EPL’s other games, so sit back grab a nice warm cup of cocoa as GotSoccer takes you through some of the news, predictions and previews of week 11.

News

West Ham takes monthly awards

West Ham has won the monthly EPL manager and player of the month awards for October.

Sam Allardyce picks up the manager of the month award after leading West Ham to victories over QPR, Burnley and champions Manchester City, as they recorded three wins from three in October.

Diafra Sakho has been a huge influence in West Ham's rejuvenation. (Getty Images)

Diafra Sakho has been a huge influence in West Ham’s rejuvenation. (Getty Images)

New striker Diafra Sakho made it a clean sweep for the Hammers by picking up the EPL player of the month award for October. The Senegalese forward, who signed from Metz during the summer, scored in all three victories and equaled Mickey Quinn’s 22-year-old EPL record of scoring six goals in his first six starts.

“It’s been a surprise for everybody, even himself, even though he probably wouldn’t admit it,” Allardyce said. “He’s fit – he missed last week’s game – he’ll come back into the side against Aston Villa on Saturday and hopefully continue where he left off for a week and score.”

While Allardyce never doubted the quality of his new additions he is surprised at how fast they have settled.

‘I’d have expected them to have got to this level together in December or January but not all to have made such a big contribution as they have. That has made the rest of the players play even better as well. You always play better with better players. That’s no disrespect to the players I’ve had in the last couple of years but these lads are younger with qualities better suited to the Barclays Premier League.”

Last season Allardyce faced pressure from the West Ham fans that were calling for him to be fired because of his negative tactics, and many believe their turnaround in form is due to a shift in their style of play. However, the former Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United manager insist he hasn’t changed his outlook of soccer.

“My philosophy has never changed,” said Allardyce. “How the team plays best and how the best way of playing suits the team individually and collectively, the goal is always to get better and better, and always to play to win more games and be entertaining.

“It’s never changed. So my philosophy is always about staying focused, trying to make the team better.”

 

Hodgson critics Wembley NFL games

England boss Roy Hodgson has questioned the FA’s decision to host an NFL game at Wembley six days before England’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Slovenia.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, which will be the third such NFL event hosted at England’s national soccer stadium this year.

“I don’t really think you could expect me to say ‘excellent, delighted, well done’,” said Hodgson.

“If I was asked if it was a good thing or not, I would have to say not.”

The FA re-laid the surface of Wembley four-years ago following complaints from then England manager Fabio Capello, however, Hodgson feels the field is still not in great shape.

“The pitch, unfortunately, is not in the best of nick anyway, which we’re all a bit unhappy with.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play at Wembley. (Getty Images)

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play at Wembley. (Getty Images)

The NFL is now in its eighth year of its partnership with Wembley, and has a further three games lined up for 2015, one of which will take place on 4 October – just five days before England host Estonia in their last home Euro 2016 qualifier.

Wembley is also set to host two rugby games at next year’s Rugby World Cup – New Zealand v Argentina on 20 September and Ireland v Romania a week later, as well as the Rugby League Challenge Cup final in August.

“It is a decision Wembley has made and I know the ground staff will work very, very hard to give us the best pitch they can give us,” said 67-year-old Hodgson, who hopes Club England managing director Adrian Bevington will report to the FA board on the matter.

“Hopefully in the future the pitch will recover to its normal level and when it has done that we will be better able to support this type of activity,” he added.

 

“Three years to rebuild Man Utd” says van Gaal

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says it could take up to three years for the club to reach their full capacity.

United has taken just 13-points from their opening 10 games, which is their worst start to a league campaign since 1986. Louis van Gaal admits the club’s results have been below the standards expected by the club’s fans, but feels the club is still in transition.

Louis van Gaal has found his appointment much more challenging than he anticipated.(Getty Images)

Louis van Gaal has found his appointment much more challenging than he anticipated.(Getty Images)

“It’s not good enough,” van Gaal, 63, said. “But on the other hand, we are in a process, as I have said from the beginning.

“The process shall take more than one year; it shall take three years.”

“I feel for the fans in the first place and the board because they have a great belief in me, my staff and my players,” he added.

The former Holland coach told the media to judge him after ‘three-months’ earlier in the season, though he later said that it was ‘stupid’ to tell the media to judge after such a short period of time.

The Red Devils spent $237.4m on players during the summer, but have only won three games in the EPL so far. The currently sit 10th in the EPL table, five points adrift of the coveted Champions League spot.

Predictions

Week 10

Result

My Predictions

Luke

Neil

Mabs

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

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

Last week Luke and I got FIVE correct results, including ONE perfect score to give us a total score of SEVEN-Points. That score ended my Neil’s two-week winning run and brought me my eighth win in ten weeks.

Can I make nine win this week or will a challenger take top spot? We will have to wait and see. Feel free to leave your predictions at the bottom of the page.

Week 11

My Predictions

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

SATURDAY

Liverpool v Chelsea

Last season this fixture all but ended Liverpool’s hopes of winning the League for the first time in 24-years when the Red’s lost 2-0 to Chelsea. We’re only 10-games into the current season but already the titles long beyond the Reds, nevertheless this game could be Brenden Rogers’ biggest game yet as Liverpool Manager.

Rogers sent out a B-team against Real Madrid midweek, which many saw as the Liverpool manager conceding defeat before kick-off and resting his players with a hope to getting a good result against Chelsea. If Liverpool win at the weekend all will be forgiven, but should they lose then the pressure will really be on Rogers.

The Reds lost 1-0 away to Newcastle last week before going down by the same score to Real Madrid midweek. They currently sit 7th in the EPL 12-points off of visitors Chelsea.

Chelsea have been a tad shaky of recent but are still unbeaten in the league. (Getty Images)

Chelsea have been a tad shaky of recent but are still unbeaten in the league. (Getty Images)

The Blues edged past their west London neighbors QPR last week winning 2-1 to maintain their unbeaten run. However, the EPL leaders were not at their best and midweek were disappointing in the Champions League drawing 1-1 with minnows Maribor.

Liverpool are set to recall a Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli who were left out of the starting line-up against Real Madrid, but Daniel Sturridge remains sidelined with a calf problem.

Chelsea look set to start Diego Costa despite the striker being left out of the Spain squad to recover from his persistent hamstring trouble. Elsewhere, Loic Remy, John Obi Mikel and Cesar Azpilicueta all return on Saturday.

Liverpool have been poor this season, while Chelsea have been excellent. However, the Blues have shown signs of fatigue in the last week and Liverpool might fancy their chances having rested a lot of their starters midweek.

But the Blues have a good record of recent against Liverpool—Chelsea have lost just one of their last six league and cup games against Liverpool (W3, D2), and while I think Liverpool will be more than up for this game, their defense is so leaky—The Reds have kept just two clean sheets in their last 16 league games—because of that Chelsea are bound to score a goal or two.

Prediction: 0-2

 

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United mini run came to an end last week with a defeat to neighbors Man City. The Red Devils played most of the game with ten men and a makeshift defense after Chris Smalling was red carded and Marcos Rojo dislocated his shoulder. Nevertheless, the Red Devils showed great spirit and were unlucky not to get anything from the game.

Visitors Crystal Palace lost 3-1 at home to Sunderland on Monday and are now without a win since September. The Eagles have been playing decent enough and have been unlucky with a few decisions, but their biggest problem has been their defending—they have conceded two or more goals in each of those four matches, and in eight of their 10 league games this season.

Di Maria has been United's most outstanding player thus far and they will be hoping that he can shine this weekend. (Getty Images)

Di Maria has been United’s most outstanding player thus far and they will be hoping that he can shine this weekend. (Getty Images)

Manchester United defensive troubles continue with Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Rafael are all injured and Chris Smalling is banned. Meaning Michael Carrick and Paddy McNair are likely to play in the center back roles, with Antonio Valencia at right-back and Luke Shaw at left-back.

Palace are without suspended captain Mile Jedinak, who was sent off in Monday’s defeat against Sunderland. While, Wilfried Zaha is ineligible against his parent club.

United have never lost to Palace in the EPL (W8, D2) and will be confident of getting back to winning ways. However, the Red Devils are operating with a makeshift defense at the moment, so Palace might just feel the time is right for them to visit. Nevertheless, United still look scary going forward and I expect them to win this one comfortably.

Prediction: 3-1

 

QPR v Man City

Manchester City have had an odd couple of weeks, first they went three games without a win and everything was doom and gloom and then they won the Manchester derby and everything was rosy again. I expected them to kick on after that victory, but they put in their poorest performance yet this season with a 2-1 home loss to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League and seem like a team in disarray.

QPR lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the west London derby last week, but were good value for money and were unlucky not to come away with a draw. The Hoops have looked a lot better in recent weeks especially in defense, and offer a threat up top in the form of Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin.

QPR’s Joey Barton and Nedum Onuoha could both return to face former club City. Midfielder Jordon Mutch is also fit again, but Rio Ferdinand will complete a two-match ban.

David Silva (R) is out with injury and will miss this week's tie. (Getty Images)

David Silva (R) is out with injury and will miss this week’s tie. (Getty Images)

Frank Lampard has recovered from a thigh problem and could return for City, but captain Vincent Kompany is out is out with a calf injury, while David Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov are also out.

All seven of QPR’s points this season have come at home (W2 D1 L2), and they may fancy their chances of springing an upset against this out of form City team. However, City are unbeaten in their last four EPL meetings with QPR (W3, D1), and despite their recent struggles I expect them to win this comfortably.

 

SUNDAY

Swansea v Arsenal

Swansea got a good draw away to Everton last week and continue to punch above their weight in the EPL. The Swans have been tremendous at home this season collecting 10-points from a possible 15.

Arsenal comfortably beat Burnely 3-0 last weekend at home and could have won by a lot more. The Gunners were also cruising midweek in the Champions League, winning 3-0 against Belgian outfit Anderlecht, but then managed to throw that lead away to eventually draw the game 3-3. Arsene Wenger accused his players of complacency afterwards and said midfielder Aaron Ramsey should concentrate more on his midfield duties rather than trying to score goals.

Swansea are without midfielder Jonjo Shelvey after the midfielder picked up a red card against Everton last week. But Jordi Amat and Dwight Tiendalli are back in full training following respective knee and groin injuries and could feature.

Wilshere should play some part in the game. (Getty Images)

Wilshere should play some part in the game. (Getty Images)

Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta is ruled out with a hamstring injury, but Jack Wilshere should be back after missing the last two games and Theo Walcott could make his first start since January.

Swansea are playing well at home and will be confident ahead of the visit of Arsenal, especially as the Gunners are still playing with a makeshift defense. However, the Londoners are unbeaten in the last five meetings in all competitions since a 2-0 home defeat in December 2012. Arsenal have not been playing well in recent weeks, but have still managed to pick up results and I think they will just about edge this one tomorrow.

Prediction: 1-2

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2014 MLS Cup Playoffs
2014 MLS Cup Playoffs avatar

The Major League Soccer playoffs continue this weekend with places in the Conference finals at stake. The away goals rule complicates matters this year, although it brings the league in line with most of the rest of the soccer world.

David Beckham hoists the cup after winning the 2012 MLS Cup Championship. (Getty Images)

David Beckham hoists the cup after winning the 2012 MLS Cup Championship. (Getty Images)

Last week’s results put New England and New York firmly in charge of their own destinies, while Seattle and Los Angeles also hold lesser advantages.

Let’s take a quick look at the matchups.

11/8
DC United vs New York Red Bulls (2:30 ET)

New York head down I 95 to take on their old rivals with a 2-0 lead following last week’s decisive win at Red Bull Arena.

DC had some injury problems for that first game, and particularly missed Luis Silva, who was replaced by an ineffective Eddie Johnson. Still coach Ben Olsen wasn’t making any excuses, saying afterwards, “New York put a whopping on us.”

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on fire for the Red Bulls.(Howard C. Smith)

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on fire for the Red Bulls.(Howard C. Smith)

If DC are to reverse this result they will need a better share of the midfield battle, where Dax McCarty and Eric Alexander gave New York a solid edge in the dirty work battle. United will also need to slow veteran Thierry Henry, who if he is in fact retiring, seems bent on leaving with an MLS Cup.

Playmaker Peguy Luyindula and goal machine Bradley Wright-Phillips (3 goals in 2 playoff games this year) will also need to be addressed by DC.

Prediction: N.Y. to advance

11/9
New England Revolution vs Columbus Crew (5:00 ET)

The Columbus Crew have made admirable progress this season under new coach Gregg Berhalter and new owner Anthony Precourt, but the Crew have dug too deep of a hole, traveling to New England down 4-2.

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

Lee Nguyen has shone in the MLS this season. (ISI Photo/Andrew Katsampes)

New England got two goals from Charlie Davies, MVP candidate Lee Nguyen burnished his credentials with his 10th match winner or the year, and Chris Tierney struck with a beauty of a free kick.

Jermaine Jones again showed his value to the Revolution continuing with his tenacious and abrasive ways, and although a late Columbus pk from Gonzalo Higuain gives the Crew slim hope, the four away goals allowed last Saturday will signal the end of the Crew’s playoff run.

Prediction: New England to advance

11/9
Los Angeles Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake (7:30 ET)

Flying in the face of poor playoff attendance league wide, Real Salt Lake fans flocked to Rio Tinto Stadium last Saturday. Still despite the crowd’s enthusiasm, a dominant RSL couldn’t put a shot past L.A. keeper Jaime Penedo.

Dononvan will be hoping he can close his career on a winning note. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Dononvan will be hoping he can close his career on a winning note. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

The 1-1 draw lends L.A. a slight advantage as they head home to the StubHub Center, unless RSL can use the away goals rule to upend L.A.

The Galaxy are unlikely to be overrun at home as they were in Utah, and the feeling here is that Salt Lake will rue all those missed chances from game one.

Prediction: Los Angeles to advance

11/10
Seattle vs FC Dallas (10:30 ET)

In this match Seattle’s Marco Pappa both giveth and taketh away, first gifting FCD a penalty kick and then delivering a perfect free kick assist for the equalizer.

A foolish, and poorly executed tackle by Pappa, set the stage for Dallas to take the lead in the 34th minute through Michel’s well struck penalty kick. 20 minutes later Pappa was given a chance to make amends, and he did so with a perfectly placed free kick that Cuban hardman Osvaldo Alonso headed home for the leveler.

Dempsey will be hoping to lead his team to some silverware. . (Getty Images)

Dempsey will be hoping to lead his team to some silverware. . (Getty Images)

Dallas looked like they had snatched a late, late winner, but Seattle keeper Stefan Frei came up huge to deny a stoppage time rasper from FCD striker Fabian Castillo.

Now the clubs head to Seattle and what is expected to be a raucous CenturyLink Field crowd. That crowd, and stars Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and company should just about see the Sounders through to a mouthwatering Conference Final showdown with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Prediction: Seattle to advance

One note, the MLS playoffs are taking a breather for the coming FIFA international break. The Conference Finals will get underway on 11/23 with leg one play. Second leg matches will be held on 11/29 and 11/30, with teams, and times to be determined. The MLS Cup is scheduled for 12/7.

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