Kohl’s Cares to give $10,000 scholarship for volunteer service
Kohl’s Cares to give $10,000 scholarship for volunteer service avatar

Arkansas State Soccer and the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program are recognizing young volunteers by choosing one outstanding individual to receive a $10,000 scholarship for the hard work and time they give to their community.

Girls and boys ages 6-18 must be nominated for consideration and will be chosen based on the benefits and outcomes of their volunteer service.

Nominations must be submitted between Feb.1- March 15.  To learn more and nominate someone you feel is deserving, please visit the ASSA website: Click Here

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U.S. U20 MNT – Turkey Here We Come!
U.S. U20 MNT – Turkey Here We Come! avatar

PUEBLA, Mexico (Feb 26, 2013) – The United States U20’s spotted Canada a 23rd minute goal before storming back to win the game 4-2, while claiming a place in this summer’s U20 World Cup in Turkey. The young Yanks were in control early until Dylan Carrerio’s long range blast put Canada ahead at Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos BUAP.

Luis Gil starting the scoring for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Dave)

Luis Gil starting the scoring for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Dave)

To quote a much older Yank, baseball legend Yogi Berra, it looked like a case of deja vu all over again for a U.S. youth team. But with the specter of joining the 2011 U20 and 2012 U23 teams as famous flops, the Americans responded. Daniel Cuevas got things started with a darting run through the Canadian defense, that he capped with a perfect cross for Luis Gil. Gil controlled beautifully and fired a fine equalizer for the U.S.

Canada’s hopes took a blow when captain and defensive leader Doneil Henry limped off. The Maple Leafs’ fine young keeper Maxime Crepeau, did what he could to keep his team in the hunt, saving first from Jose Villarreal and then from Gil, before Villarreal added a second U.S. goal in the 40th minute. Mario Rodriguez provided the low, hard cross and Villarreal finished with a deft touch.

A little bit of good fortune sent the U.S. into the break with a 3-1 lead, when Will Trapp’s long range shot deflected past Crepeau in first half stoppage time.

VV

Joya celebrates Villarreal’s second goal of the evening and the teams 4th of the night. (ISI Photos/Dave)

A key exchange early in the second half went a long way towards determining who was going to Turkey and who was staying home. The sequence started when U.S. captain Caleb Stanko tackled Samuel Piette, and the Canadian midfielder went down in the box. It could easily have been a penalty, and quite possibly a 3-2 game. But the ref waved play on, and a minute later Villarreal shot the U.S. to a 4-1 lead.

The Americans strung together a fine series of passes before Benji Joya passed up a shot to feed Villarreal. The L.A. Galaxy man knocked the ball past the defense and put his chance away. It seemed as if Villarreal had put the Canadians away too, but the underdogs were not so easily disposed of.

U.S keeper Cropper was called into action in the 56th minute and saved well from Caleb Clarke. But Piette gave the big Southampton man no chance when he pounced on a clearance from Trapp in the 64th minute, hammering home from about 25 yards, and cutting the U.S. lead in half.

Canada had the Americans somewhat unnerved, but Tab Ramos’ men regained their composure and if not for some outstanding play from Crepeau in the Canadian goal, a U.S. rout may well have been on.

The U20's celebrate their win and their advancement to the World Cup in Turkey. (ISI Photos/Dave)

The U20′s celebrate their win and their advancement to the World Cup in Turkey. (ISI Photos/Dave)

The U.S. finished with a flourish, with substitute Dillon Serna rattling Crepeau’s crossbar, before the Canuck keeper went full stretch to keep Mario Rodriguez off of the score sheet. As the clock ran down on their World Cup dream,  Canada lost their cool and a head butt saw Manjrekar James exit with a straight red.

For the United States it is on to the Concacaf World Cup qualifying semifinal, but far more importantly, it is on to Turkey, and the FIFA U20 World Cup.

CAN – Dylan Carreiro 23rd minute
USA – Luis Gil (Daniel Cuevas) 29
USA – Jose Villarreal (Mario Rodriguez) 40
USA – Wil Trapp 45+1
USA – Jose Villarreal (Benji Joya) 54
CAN – Samuel Piette 64

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 2-Boyd Okwuonu, 4-Caleb Stanko (capt.), 5-Shane O’Neill, 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 8-Benji Joya, 6-Wil Trapp; 9-Mario Rodriguez (19-Brandon Allen, 90+2), 10-Luis Gil (17-Danny Garcia, 77), 20-Daniel Cuevas; 7-Jose Villarreal (16-Dillon Serna, 84)
Substitutions Not Used: 11-Jerome Kiesewetter, 12-Kendall McIntosh, 14-Javan Torre, 18-Eric Miller, 22-Zack Steffen
Not available: 15-Mikey Lopez
Head coach: Tab Ramos

CAN: 18-Maxime Crépeau; 2-Jon Dollery, 3-Marco Lapenna, 4-Doneil Henry (capt.) (15-Manjrekar James, 33’), 5-Daniel Stanese, 6-Samuel Piette, 7-Ben Fisk, 9-Caleb Clarke, 12-Dylan Carreiro, 13-Alessandro Riggi (10-Kevin Aleman, 46), 16-Mauro Eustaquio (22-Stefan Vukovic, 76’)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Richard Gomes, 8-Zakaria Messoudi, 11-Michael Petrasso, 17-Anthony Jackson-Hamel, 21-Ben McKendry, 23-Allan Zebie,
Head coach: Nick Dasovic

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South Texas, USYS and National Guard to host free clinic
South Texas, USYS and National Guard to host free clinic avatar

South Texas Youth Soccer, U.S. Youth Soccer and the National Guard have teamed up to host a free soccer clinic March 9 at the New Territory Sports Clinic in Sugar Land, TX.

High school boys and girls can attend and receive a full day of fun training and souvenirs. Check out the South Texas Youth Soccer website to register: Click Here

Courtesy of

Courtesy of South Texas Youth Soccer

MARCH 9, 2013 -DAILY CAMP SCHEDULE:

9:20 – 9:50am         Arrival & Sign In Time

10:00 – 10:25am    Soccer Aerobics & Technical Training

10:30 – 11:00am     Tactical Session In Relation to Topic

11:05 – 11:35am     Small Sided Games (Emphasis on Daily Topic)

11:35 – 12:00 Noon Speech From (National Guard)

12:00 – 1:00pm      Lunch, Q&A about The National Guard

2:00-3:10pm          Scrimmage Games (Competition)

3:10- 3:20pm        Cool Down

3:25-3:30               Players Pickup!!

 

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Project GOAL helps students balance school with soccer
Project GOAL helps students balance school with soccer avatar

Looking for an affordable after school program? Non profit Project GOAL offers academic help and special coaching clinics to disadvantaged students to help balance school with soccer.

Project GOAL (Greater Opportunity for Athletes to Learn) operates in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls every Monday and Friday from 3-6 PM.

Sixth, seventh and eighth graders receive one and a half hours of homework help then head out to the nearest field or gym to work with former professional soccer players.

According to the Project GOAL website:

“GOAL ‘fills the gap’ created by major cuts in after-school programming and activities by offering an all around program that provides a ‘haven’ and structured activities for needy students, not only after school but during summer and school vacations. We welcome and we need your support, either financially or as a volunteer.”

Find out how to get involved! Learn more on the Soccer Rhode Island website.

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Dallas Sidekicks to take on Flash in Playoffs
Dallas Sidekicks to take on Flash in Playoffs avatar

Thursday Feb. 28 will be one of suspense as the Dallas Sidekicks take on Rio Grande Valley Flash at the Allen Event Center in a playoff match to see who will advance to the Final Four in San Diego, CA.

This will be an intense evening that you won’t want to miss! If the Sidekicks win the initial match, a winner-take-all mini game will follow.

Come on out and support the Sidekicks- if they advance, they will get the opportunity to bring the indoor soccer championship back to Dallas.

Get two games for the price of one and tickets are buy-one-get one free. Purchase them by clicking on the link found on the NTSSA Facebook page.

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Register for the NH Soccer Academy coaching seminar
Register for the NH Soccer Academy coaching seminar avatar

Mark Ruest of the NH Soccer Academy will be conducting a special coaching education seminar March 16, 23 and 30 at the new community center in Claremont, NH.

The seminar will run from 1:00/1:30 pm- 4:30 pm and will cost $250 to attend. You can get more information on the event and register at the NH Soccer Academy website.

The seminar series is designed for:

  • Individuals coaching in a competitive environment
  • Coaches working with players 12 years and older (Middle School / High School / Club Coaches)
  • Experienced coaches looking to give more to their players.

Topics:

  • Understanding Technique and How to Teach It
  • Principles of Play and Tactical Training
  • Player Functions and Systems of Play

*Bonus: Training session observations and reviews (3 Days / Optional)

 

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U.S. U20′s And Canada Square Off For World Cup Spot
U.S. U20′s And Canada Square Off For World Cup Spot avatar

The United States U20’s take on Canada tomorrow evening in Puebla, Mexico with World Cup qualification on the line. The Americans won Group A with a 2-0 record, beating Haiti 2-1 and Costa Rica 1-0, to advance to this quarterfinal knockout round.

Coach Ramos will be happy with their last performance. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Coach Ramos will be happy with their last performance. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Coach Tab Ramos and his team will be trying to reverse a disastrous run of form for U.S. youth teams that began with a loss to Guatemala at this same stage of the 2011 tournament in Guatemala. That loss kept the highly touted United States team out of the U20 World Cup and cost coach Thomas Rongen his job. Ramos served as Rongen’s top assistant, so he won’t need to be reminded of the stakes. The United States compounded that U20 flop when the U23 team failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, despite having the benefit of hosting the Concacaf qualifiers. That Mexico, the Yanks greatest rival, went on to win Olympic Gold, only served to rub salt in the wounds of a U.S. program still looking for answers after taking a 4-2 drubbing from El Tri in the 2011 Gold Cup Final.

Canada's Caleb Clarke will be a player to watch out for. (Getty Images)

Canada’s Caleb Clarke will be a player to watch out for. (Getty Images)

Canada advanced to this quarterfinal match-up with their nearest neighbors on the strength of a 5-1 romp over disappointing Nicaragua, having lost their opener 2-1 to Group B winners Cuba. Canada will look for confidence to a 2-1 victory over the U.S. last October in Spain. In that Marbella Cup encounter the Canucks edged the U.S. on goals from Samuel Piette and Caleb Clarke. Mario Rodriguez scored the American goal that day, but the man who set it up, Marc Pelosi wasn’t released by Liverpool for this tournament. After breaking his leg while playing for the Liverpool U21 team, Pelosi won’t be available should the U.S. qualify for the U20 World Cup this summer in Turkey.

This U.S. team looks to be very much a work in progress. The Americans pounced for two first half goals against Haiti, before conceding early in the second half, and then just about hanging on. The U.S. center back pairing of Caleb Stanko and Shane O’Neill rarely seemed to be on the same page against Haiti, not altogether surprising, as the two have rarely played together and are each more experienced midfielders. Ramos reacted by playing defensive midfielder Mikey Lopez from the start against Costa Rica, alongside fellow d-mid Will Trapp and replacing both of his fullbacks.

The changes worked, and despite the more defensive posture, the U.S. had a solid foundation that allowed their skillful front men to shine. Although the U.S. should have hit the target more that once versus the Ticos, there were times during this match that Ramos’ side approached the proactive, passing style of play that U.S. Soccer promised, but has rarely delivered, when Jurgen Klinsmann was handed the reins of the national team program.

Daniel Cuevas has had a solid tournament. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Daniel Cuevas has had a solid tournament. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Canada have some talented players led by Piette, Caleb Clarke, who notched two goals against Nicaragua and defender Doneil Henry, but if the defense holds the U.S. should be good enough to qualify tomorrow evening. Goalkeeper Cody Cropper hasn’t been overtaxed in this tournament, but he has looked sharp when needed. The defensive effort was better against Costa Rica, although Ramos would be delighted to be able to run Will Packwood, John Anthony Brooks or Walker Zimmermann out there in the heart of his defense.

But the U.S. hopes of claiming their place in the 2013 U20 World Cup this summer in Turkey will come down to how well Gil, Joya and the rest can control possession, and whether Jose Villarreal, Daniel Cuevas or someone else can take their goal scoring chances when they get them.

Interestingly, the players on this team may be better suited to implement the style of play that Klinsmann was brought in to implement, than the players available to Klinsmann on the full national side. But tomorrow evening when the U.S. takes on Canada in Puebla, style points won’t mean much. It will be all about the result, and if the U.S. plays to their potential, it will all end in a trip to the U20 World Cup this summer in Turkey.

In tomorrow’s late quarterfinal matchup at 9:00pm ET, Cuba should be too explosive for Costa Rica. Wednesday at 6:00pm ET, Panama is the pick here over El Salvador and in the late game, expect Mexico to be too strong for Jamaica.

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2013 ODP Championships
2013 ODP Championships avatar

U.S. Youth Soccer has announced the rosters for the 2013 ODP Championships to be held March 1-3 at the FC Dallas Stadium Complex in Frisco, TX.

Check it out below, and for more information, please visit the U.S. Youth Soccer website: Click Here

Rosters: 1996 Girls | 1996 Boys | 1997 Girls | 1997 Boys

  • 1996 Girls Teams: New Jersey, Indiana, Georgia, California South
  • 1996 Boys Teams: Eastern Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, California South
  • 1997 Girls Teams: Eastern New York, Michigan, North Texas, California South
  • 1997 Boys Teams: Virginia, Michigan, Florida, California South

2013 US Youth Soccer ODP Championships Schedule*

Semifinal Matches – Friday, March 1      
Time Age Group Team   Team Field
1 p.m. 97 Girls Cal South v Michigan 6
1 p.m. 97 Boys Michigan v Florida 7
3 p.m. 97 Boys Virginia v Cal South 6
3 p.m. 97 Girls North Texas v Eastern NY 7
5:30 p.m. 96 Girls Indiana v Georgia 6
5:30 p.m. 96 Boys Eastern PA v Wisconsin 7
8 p.m. 96 Boys North Carolina v Cal South 6
8 p.m. 96 Girls New Jersey v Cal South 7
           
Championship Matches – Sunday, March 3      
Time Age Group Field      
8 a.m. 97 Boys 6      
8:30 a.m. 97 Girls 7      
10 a.m. 96 Boys 5      
10:30 a.m. 96 Girls 8      
           
Consolation Matches – Sunday, March 3      
Time Age Group Field      
8 a.m. 97 Boys 5      
8:30 a.m. 97 Girls 8      
10 a.m. 96 Boys 6      
10:30 a.m. 96 Girls 7

 

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U.S. U20′s Top Group
U.S. U20′s Top Group avatar

Jose Villarreal headed the United States U20′s to the top of Group A in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying, with a 63rd minute goal from a Luis Gil corner kick, that would be all the U.S. would need to defeat Costa Rica 1-0 tonight in Puebla, Mexico.

Tab Ramos wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in their opening 2-1 win over Haiti, so the U.S. coach replaced four starters for tonight’s game. Ramos had expressed disappointment with his fullbacks after the Haiti game and tonight he replaced them both. Juan Pablo Ocegueda was subbed into the first game, tonight he was on from the start. Eric Miller got the start on the other flank, while Mikey Lopez, another sub from the opener and Daniel Garcia also got the start. Garcia took over for Daniel Cuevas, who picked up a knock in a Man of the Match performance versus Haiti. Cuevas is not thought to be seriously injured.

Coach Ramos made changes and was rewarded with a better performance. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Coach Ramos made changes and was rewarded with a better performance. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

The young Yanks were good from the start tonight, dominating the first half with a good passing game, although they never seriously threatened the Costa Rican goal in the opening 45 minutes. The Americans dominated possession, moving the ball smoothly among their attackers. Luis Gil, Benji Joya, Will Trapp, Mikey Lopez, Jose Villarreal and Garcia all impressed, with the Tico attack largely reduced to hit and hope.

Ramos made two changes at the break, taking out Trapp, with his yellow card, and fullback Miller, who had played well. First game starter Boyd Okwuonu replaced Miller and striker Mario Rodriguez, another first game starter, replaced midfielder Trapp. Costa Rica were somewhat better in the early stages of the second half, but when the U.S. goal came, it was well deserved.

Villareal got the all impotant winning goal that led his team to top their group(ISI Photos/David Bernal)

Villarreal got the all impotant winning goal that led his team to top their group(ISI Photos/David Bernal)

Villarreal is not the tallest player, but he showed great hops on his goal, outleaping the Costa Rican defense and powering home a well placed header. The Ticos nearly equalized 10 minutes later, when Giovani Cantillano rattled the U.S. crossbar after freeing himself up with a fine turn in tight quarters. U.S. keeper Cody Cropper hadn’t had much to do, but the Southampton man was alert on a couple of occasions to deny Costa Rica.

As Costa Rica grew increasingly frustrated, the Tico’s tackles became more and more reckless. Tempers briefly boiled over after one such hard foul, with both sides squaring off before cooler heads prevailed.

The victory sends the U.S. into a Tuesday quarterfinal against the winner of tonight’s late game between Canada and Nicaragua, while Costa Rica will face Cuba. Ramos will be happy with this improved performance, and if the United States can match tonight’s effort, and add just a bit more firepower, it should be on to Turkey for the U20 World Cup this summer.

USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 18-Eric Miller (2-Boyd Okwuonu, 46), 4-Caleb Stanko (capt.), 5-Shane O’Neill, 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 6-Wil Trapp (9-Mario Rodriguez, 46), 15-Mikey Lopez; 8-Benji Joya, 10-Luis Gil, 17-Danny Garcia (11-Jerome Kiesewetter, 90+1); 7-Jose Villarreal
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Kendall McIntosh, 14-Javan Torre, 16-Dillon Serna, 19-Brandon Allen, 20-Daniel Cuevas, 22-Zack Steffen
Head coach: Tab Ramos

CRC: 1-Jairo Monge; 3-Jamhir Ordain, 4-William Fernandez (capt.), 5-Erick Cabalceta, 6-Mauricio Nuñez, 8-Luis Sequeira (10-Dylan Flores, 82), 11-John Jairo Ruiz, 12-Joseph Mora (7-David Ramirez 46), 16-Fabian Garita (14-Rodrigo Garita, 54), 17-Mayron George, 20-Giovanni Cantillano
Substitutions Not Used: 2-Jose Sossa, 9-Gabriel Leiva, 13-Steve Garita, 15-Brandon Welleans, 18-Bryan Morales, 19-Jean Carlo Agüero
Head coach: Jafet Soto

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EPL Week 27- News, Previews and Predictions
EPL Week 27- News, Previews and Predictions avatar

It’s been almost a week and half since the last round of EPL games and many of us hardcore EPL fans have already begun to show the first signs of withdrawal symptom. But fret not for we shall suffer no more as the EPL springs back into action this weekend with a whole bunch of tantalizing fixtures, with Manchester City vs Chelsea the pick of the bunch.

News

Ferguson wants consistency from Nani

Nani needs to more consistent if he is to be offered a starting role. (Getty Images)

Nani needs to more consistent if he is to be offered a starting role. (Getty Images)

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has said he wants greater consistency from winger Nani.

The Portuguese international, whose contract expires in 2014, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford after struggling with form with United this term.

Nevertheless Ferguson is still keen to retain the services of the winger, though Nani is said to want a guaranteed spot in the starting eleven,

Ferguson said: “Nani is definitely one of the best match-winners in Europe. He scores incredible goals. He has an incredible talent for winning matches. We would like him to stay.”

“He has a year-and-a-half left and we’d prefer to keep him. He wants guaranteed first-team football and will get it if he plays like he did [against Reading].”

 

Newcastle can challenge for a trophy says Pardew

Ben Arfa definitely adds some creativity and will add to their attack. (Getty Images)

Ben Arfa definitely adds some creativity and will add to their attack. (Getty Images)

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew says his side has a real shot of winning the Europa League after the Magpies made it to the last 16 with a 1-0 victory over Metalist Kharkiv.

Pardew said: “With Ben Arfa coming back and Cheick to add to that, I really feel as though we can give this comp-etition a good go.”

Newcastle have not won a trophy since 1969 when they won the European Inter-Cities fair cup against Hungarian side Ujpest.

 

 

 

 

 

Laudrup DVD reminder for players

Swansea will be hoping to be the firs EPL team to pick up a trophy. (Getty Images)

Swansea will be hoping to be the firs EPL team to pick up a trophy. (Getty Images)

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup has compiled a DVD montage of Bradford’s giant killing exploits ahead of Sunday’s League Cup final to remind his players of the danger of being complacent.

The Swans are hoping to win their first ever major honor and are overwhelming favorites to beat their opponents who sit 72 places below them in English soccer.

However, Laudrup insists his side will not be taking anything for granted against a team that has already knocked three EPL sides on their way to Wembley.

“I can show the DVDs from the Wigan game, the Arsenal game and the two games against Aston Villa,” said Laudrup.

“I’ll be very proud,” he said. “It’s [Swansea's] first final, at Wembley, it’s huge. It will be a great day for everybody in this town so let’s hope it ends as well as it starts.”

 

Predictions

Week 26

Score

My Predictions

SATURDAY
Tottenham v Newcastle 2-1 2-1
Chelsea v Wigan 4-1 4-0
Norwich v Fulham 0-0 2-1
Stoke v Reading 2-1 0-0
Sunderland v Arsenal 0-1 1-2
Swansea v QPR 4-1 0-0
Southampton v Man City 3-1 0-1
SUNDAY
Aston Villa v West Ham 2-1 1-0
Man Utd v Everton 2-0 2-0
MONDAY
Liverpool v West Brom 0-2 2-0

A correct result is worth ONE point, while a correct score earns THREE points.

Last time out I got FIVE correct results, including TWO perfect scores, giving me a combined total of NINE points.

The record high score is 13-points from Week 14, lets see if I can get near to that tally in Week 27.

 

Week 27

My Predictions

SATURDAY
Fulham v Stoke 2-1
Arsenal v Aston Villa 3-0
Norwich v Everton 1-1
QPR v Man Utd 0-2
Reading v Wigan 3-2
West Brom v Sunderland 1-0
SUNDAY
Man City v Chelsea 2-1
Newcastle v Southampton 3-1
Bradford v Swansea 1-2
MONDAY
West Ham v Tottenham 0-1

 

SATURDAY

Fulham v Stoke

Bryan Ruiz will be hoping he can get his form back against Stoke. (Getty Images)

Bryan Ruiz will be hoping he can get his form back against Stoke. (Getty Images)

Fulham seem to be in free-fall at the moment, they have only won one of their last five games and now lie only six-points away from the relegation zone. However, their opponents Stoke are not in the best of form either, having only picked up four points since the turn of the year.

Kieran Richardson could make a comeback after recovering from calf-injury, but Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei are still out and face long spells on the sidelines.

U.S. international Brek Shea is in line to make his EPL debut for Stoke after recovering from a foot operation, while fellow new signing Marc Wilson may also feature after being named in the match squad.

Both teams are in a bit of a rut at the moment, but Fulham do have a good record against Stoke. They also have creative players, such as Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz, who can create a goal from nothing with a moment of magic, and that is why I think they will edge this one.

Prediction: 2-1

 

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud will be hoping he starts after being left on the bench mid-week against Bayern (Getty Images)

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud will be hoping he starts after being left on the bench mid-week against Bayern (Getty Images)

Arsenal are in desperate need of win to lift their spirits after suffering two consecutive defeats, first in the FA Cup and then in the Champions League, which leaves the Gunners facing the prospect of their eighth year without a trophy.

The North Londoners are all but out of the Champions League and now must turn all their attention to securing a spot in next season’s competition. Saturday would seem the perfect game from which to bounce back. Arsenal play Aston Villa who are contenders for relegation this season and traditionally have a poor record against the Gunners.

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna is out after hurting his knee during Wednesday’s Champions League game, however fellow full-back Nacho Monreal will return to the starting line-up after being cup-tied midweek.

Aston Villa will welcome back Gabriel Agbonlahor and Karim El Ahmadi who missed their last game through illness, while Charles N’Zogbia is also available after shaking off a thigh problem.

Arsenal really need to win this game to keep the pressure up on their rivals for a Champions League spot—Tottenham and Everton—who they will face in their next two EPL games.

The Gunners’ disappointing week has lead to call for Wenger to be sacked, and if they were to lose them game and their following two against Spurs and Everton, that could be a real possibility. However, the Gunners have played well in the league recently and I think they will easily take this one.

Prediction: 3-0

 

Norwich v Everton

Leighton Baines has been in outstanding form for Everton and will hope he can lead his team to victory. (Getty Images)

Leighton Baines has been in outstanding form for Everton and will hope he can be on target for his team (Getty Images)

Both of these sides enjoyed a good first half of the season, but have not performed as well during the second half.

Everton lost last week to Manchester United and look as if they may be beginning to run out of steam, which is a tad strange for the Toffees as they are traditional better during the second half of the season.

Norwich have not won since December 15, and have only picked up four points since the turn of the year, which has seen them slowly drift towards the relegation zone. However, the Canaries are still six points off the drop zone and should be safe come the end of May.

Norwich should welcome back captain Grant Holt who missed their last outing with a back injury. Alexander Tettey and Andrew Surman are both minor doubts, though goalkeeper John Ruddy is definitely out with a thigh problem.

I think this will be exciting and entertaining game, but both teams seem to be having trouble in front of goal and that is why I think this will end in a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

 

QPR v Man Utd

Rooney (R) is out for Saturday's game against QPR. (Getty Images)

Rooney (R) is out for Saturday’s game against QPR. (Getty Images)

QPR lost heavily away to Swansea in their last outing and look all but certain to be relegated—the hoops sit rooted to the bottom of the EPL, seven points from safety.

Harry Redknapp believes 37 points will be enough to save QPR, which is probably true. However, that would leave the Hoops needing to win 7 of their last 12 games, and that seems highly unlikely to happen for a team that has only won twice this season.

Meanwhile Manchester United have all but wrapped up the EPL, after Man City’s loss away to Southampton left them 12-points behind United.

QPR’s January signing striker Loic Remy is a serious doubt for the Manchester United’s visit with a groin problem, though Junior Hoilett and Samba Diakite are both fit again and could feature.

Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Paul Scholes all look set to miss out through injury, but Van Persie should return after sitting out United’s FA Cup win over Reading.

Despite QPR’s position, Loftus Road is still a tough place to go and I think they will give Manchester United a good run. Nevertheless, I still expect United to take this one.

Prediction: 0-2

 

Manchester City v Chelsea

Silva will be hoping to regain form and inspire Man City to victory and get his team's momentum back. (Getty Images)

Silva will be hoping to regain form and inspire Man City to victory and get his team’s momentum back. (Getty Images)

Manchester City’s aspirations of retaining their title is all but over after their shocking loss away to Southampton, and the champions now must focus on secure second spot in the league.

The Champions were awful against Southampton, with probably 10 of their 11 players performing well under par. To be honest, many of their players have failed to reach the standards they attained last season and I would not be surprised if there is a clear-out during the summer.

Chelsea have had an indifferent start to 2012, but they are only four points behind City in the league and could still realistically take the second spot.

Manchester City Captain Vincent Kompany looks set to miss to miss his fifth consecutive game as he struggles to overcome a calf injury, while Gareth Barry is also a doubt with an ankle problem.

Chelsea have no injury worries and are likely to recall Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, David Luiz, Eden Hazard and Demba Ba who were all rested during midweek in the Europa League.

Rafa Benitez is targeting a top two finish for the Chelsea, and if the Blues were to beat City they would be within one point of the Champions. Chelsea have a good record against City in the EPL and have won 10 of their last 15 visit to Manchester. However, they have lost on their last three travels to Manchester and I expect a reaction from City after their dismal display at Southampton, so I’m going for a City win.

Prediction: 2-1

 

Bradford v Swansea (League Cup Final)

Is Bradford City's fairytale about to come to an end? (Getty Images)

Is Bradford City’s fairytale about to come to an end? (Getty Images)

This final is like something out of a Hollywood movie, and for one set of fans it will have a fairytale ending.

Both teams are in the League Cup final for the first times in their respective Histories, and were both extreme outsiders to win the Cup when the competition started. It is the underdogs against the super underdogs.

Bradford have already dismissed three EPL teams—Wigan, Arsenal, and Aston Villa—on route to the final, and would be only the sixth team outside of the top flight to lift the trophy were they to win.

Swansea are having a terrific season under new boss Michael Laudrup, and will be chomping at the bit to win their first major trophy.

Bradford will assess Rory McArdle’s fitness before the game, after the defender returned from an ankle injury midweek.

However, there will be no such luck for Swansea’s Chico Flores who injured his ankle in the Swans 4-1 win over QPR., with the Spaniard out he is likely to replaced by Garry Monk or Kyle Bartley.

Bradford have done magnificently well to get to the final, and will not be fazed by the prospect of facing Swansea after dispatching the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa. However, I think this game may be one hurdle too many for the Bantams.

Prediction: 1-2

 

Monday

West Ham vs Tottenham

Bale has recently been compared to Messi and Ronaldo. (Getty Images)

Bale has recently been compared to Messi and Ronaldo. (Getty Images)

It’s the East-Enders versus North-Londoners as West Ham face Spurs in one of the EPL’s many London Derbies.

West Ham lost away to Aston Villa last week, but are stronger at home and will be looking to unsettle Tottenham with their direct and physical play.

Tottenham have been playing well, which in part has been due to the performances of Gareth Bale, who has been spectacular in recent weeks scoring five goals in his last five games. Spurs currently sit in fourth place, and are looking good for a spot in next year’s Champions League—which many feel Tottenham need to retain Bale’s service—however, if the Welshman carries on at this rate I would not be surprised if Real Madrid come knocking on Spurs door.

Jermaine Defoe is still out for Tottenham with an ankle injury, though Emmanuel Adebayor should take his place.

I expect West Ham to play well and try to bully Spurs into not playing their normal game. Spurs are having trouble scoring at the moment, and with Jermaine Defoe out injured they could struggle, however, Gareth Bale is in electric form at the moment and I expect him to inspire Spurs to win over their East London neighbors.

Prediction: 0-1

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Details announced for the VSA Annual General Meeting
Details announced for the VSA Annual General Meeting avatar

The Vermont Soccer Association Annual General Meeting will be held March 16, 2013 this year. For more information please visit the VSA website: Click Here

Where: The Doubletree Hotel 
South Burlington, VT

Registration: 8:30am with Continental Breakfast

Business Meeting: 9am-11:00am

Guest Speaker: Tony Petruzzi from Gracechurch Insurance

Each club must be represented as there will be important updates about the 2013 season.

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Come out for the annual Arkansas Soccer AGM
Come out for the annual Arkansas Soccer AGM avatar

Arkansas State Soccer Association is having their annual general meeting and workshop for administrators, coaches and club volunteers!

Come out Feb. 23 from 9 am- 4pm and experience tons of coaching sessions, software training and meetings to get your questions answered and get you informed on everything going on around Arkansas Soccer.

  • Location: The Summit Church - 6600 Crystal Hill Road, North Little Rock, AR 72118
  • Cost: FREE

Full details on the event can be found on the Arkansas Soccer website: Click Here

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2013 Kohl’s American Cup schedule announced
2013 Kohl’s American Cup schedule announced avatar

U.S. Youth Soccer has announced the schedule for the 2013  Kohl’s American Cup to kick off March 9-10 in Tampa, FL.

There will be 26 locations all over the nation for this anticipated event chock full of fun soccer activities, inflatable soccer games and prizes for young players and their families to enjoy. No matter what skill level, the Kohl’s American Cup is all about equal opportunities and benefits for all soccer players.

“We are excited to kick off another season of the Kohl’s U.S. Youth Soccer American Cup to highlight the many benefits of our sport, specifically fun and fair play, and further the experience with another year of great events scheduled,” said executive director of U.S. Youth Soccer, Jim Cosgrove in a press release.

To get involved and to find out about the Kohl’s Cup in your area, please contact your state soccer association. For the full U.S. Youth Soccer press release: Click Here

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Hope Solo To Miss Algarve Cup
Hope Solo To Miss Algarve Cup avatar

The United States Women’s team announced their roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup, and goalkeeper Hope Solo isn’t a part of it. The U.S. number one, instead will undergo surgery to repair ligament damage to her right wrist, and will be out of action for six to eight weeks. Solo’s regular understudies Nicole Barnhart and Jill Loyden will battle newcomer Ashlyn Harris, looking for her first cap, for first team minutes.

Hope Solo will miss the  Algarve Cup due to knee surgery (Getty Images)

Hope Solo will miss the Algarve Cup due to wrist surgery (Getty Images)

The Algarve Cup is played in Algarve, Portugal from March 6-13. The United States has won the Cup eight times. Coach Tom Sermanni has selected 23 players, all but one of whom played in the coaches recent two game debut winning streak versus Scotland.

Lindsey Horan will get her opportunity to show why PSG offered her such a lucrative deal. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Lindsey Horan will get her opportunity to show why PSG offered her such a lucrative deal. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

18 year old Lindsey Horan is the newcomer. Horan made waves in the U.S. women’s soccer world when she became the first player to skip college and turn professional. Horan, the U.S. U20 leading scorer in 2012, signed a lucrative deal with Paris Saint Germain, the same club that later inked Tobin Heath. Horan missed the U20 World Cup with a knee injury, but has since recovered.

The U.S. open their Group B schedule against Iceland on March 6, before going on to play China on March 8, and Sweden on March 11.

The Sweden match will be one to watch as it pits Sermanni against his hugely popular, and successful predecessor, Pia Sundhage. Sundhage stepped down during last fall’s U.S. Fan Tribute Tour, and fans and players alike took every opportunity to thank the departing coach, who led her charges to consecutive Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012. Sweden is hosting the 2013 Women’s Euro this July, and Sundhage jumped at the chance to lead her native country in their big moment.

The USWNT also announced that they will play the Netherlands in the Hague, at the home of Eredivisie team Ado Den Hague, on Tuesday April 5. That game will come after the U.S. challenges Germany on April 5, in Offenbach, Germany. The USWNT will also travel to Toronto, where they will renew their rivalry with Canada on June 2.

The U.S. roster for the Algarve Cup is listed below.

U.S. Women’s National Team Training Camp Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Ashlyn Harris (Duisburg), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg FC), Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-German), Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Olympique Lyonnais)
FORWARDS (5): Lindsey Horan (Paris Saint-German), Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö FF), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)

 

 

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