Friday, November 13, 2009

World Cup Qualifying preview; UEFA Playoffs

Four UEFA spots in the 2010 World Cup are up for grabs this week. Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine will be duking it out for the right to spend next June (and possibly July) in South Africa.

Here are the UEFA Playoff matchups, starting on Saturday.

Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Portugal
Game 1 @ Portugal, Saturday.
Game 2 @ Bosnia-Herzegovina, November 18.

France vs. Ireland
Game 1 @ Ireland, Saturday
Game 2 @ France, November 18

Greece vs. Ukraine
Game 1 @ Greece, Saturday
Game 2@ Ukraine, November

Russa vs. Slovenia
Game 1 @ Slovenia, Saturday
Game 2 @ Russia, November 18

Portugal's chance of qualifying for South Africa 2010 have been shaken up with the absence of star midfielder Cirstiano Ronaldo (Ankle) and the fact that Bosnia will host the final leg of the playoff. Still, Portugal is favored to defeat offensive-minded Bosnia.

Despite Ronaldo's absence, look for Portugal to squeak out a tight victory over Bosnia. Also look for France, Russia and the Ukraine to book their spots in the World Cup by next Wednesday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

European Look-back

English Premier League

The match of the week occured at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea (30 points) put some distance between them and Manchester United with a 1-0 win over ManU on Sunday. John Terry was the man responsible for the match's lone strike, as he guided a Frank Lampard free kick into the back net, even as United made a case for Chelsea striker Didier Drogba being offside during the play.

However, Manchester United (25 points) heads into the international break not only bemoaning the loss but also the fact that they are now equal to Arsenal for second in the Premiership standings. Arsenal saw to that by routing Wolverhampton Wanderes 4-1 at Molineux.

Liverpool's struggles continued, as they had to come from behind to draw with Birmingham City 2-2 at Anfield on Monday. The Reds broke the scoring ice thanks to a superb left foot volley by David Ngog in the 12th minute. Birmingham however rose to the occasion, as Christian Benitez equalized with a header following a scramble in the box and Cameron Jerome gave the visitors the lead with a strike from about 30-35 yards out. Liverpool however caught a break in the 71st minute when Birmingham keeper Joe Hart was caught handling a ball outside of the penalty box, thus awarding Liverpool a penalty shot, which Steven Gerrard buried for the equalizer.

La Liga
Barcelona remains at the top of the table while Real Madrid just hung on for the three points in the Madrid Derby.

Barcelona (26 points)kept themselves in first with a 4-2 win over Ream Mallorca. Pedro was the main man for the Catalan giants, as his brace was complemented with goals from Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi. Mallorca had the match tied at one, but Pedro's second goal in the 40th minute along with Henry's strike in the 44th minute put the match out of reach.

Real Madrid meanwhile jumped out to a 3-0 lead against In-city rival Athletico Madrid, but had to hold on for dear life, as Diego Forlan got Athletico on the score sheet in he 79th minute and Sergio Aguero brought Athletico to within a goal of Real in the 81st minute, but in the end, Real Madrid (25 points) held on and remained one point back of Barcelona.

Sevilla kept the third spot in the La Liga table with a 3-2 win over Villareal and Valencia made it four wins in its last six matches with a 3-1 win over Real Zaragoza.

Serie A
Inter Milan still holds a sizable advantage in the Serie A standings, though it did lose a bit of ground in the table.

Inter had to come from behind to salvage a point against Roma on Sunday. Mirko Vucinic gave Roma the lead thirteen minutes in, but Inter Milan (29 points) got the equalized just three minutes into the second half thanks to Samuel Eto'o.

Juventus (24 points) capitalized on the opportunity, routing Atalanta 5-2 to pull within five points of Inter Milan. AC Milan meanwhile continued its run of form with a 2-1 win over Lazio that pulled them into third place with 22 points. Sampdoria (21 points) meanwhile is slipping fast, as its 1-0 loss to Cagliari leaves them tied with Fiorentina for fourth in Serie A.

Bayer Leverkusen built a little bit of distance between them and Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga standings over the weekend.

Leverkusen (26 points) did it's part with a 4-0 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt at BayArena on Friday, but Werder Bremen saw the full three points slip away in the second half of its match against visiting Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. Mesut Ozil gave Werder Bremen the lead in the 36th minute, but Dortmund got the equalizer courtesy of Lucas Barrios in the 54th minute, thus preventing Bremen from staying tied for first with Leverkusen. Werder Bremen (23 points) is not only in second place, but they have to share with Hamburd SV for the next couple of weeks.

Bayern Munich is falling behind in the Bundesliga table, as its 1-1 draw against Schalke 04 left them tied with TSG Hoffenheim for seventh place. Schalke 04 is fourth in the table with 22 points and VfL Wolfsburg and Mainz are tied for fifth with 231 points apiece.

MLS Playoff weekend #2; a look back

One top seed is moving on to its conference final while another top team is heading home in shcoking fashion.

Playing the role of home team in the final leg of its playoff series against in-stadium rival Chivas USA, the Los Angeles Galaxy dominated possession for the majority of the match and Landon Donovan's penalty kick in the 73rd minute sent the Galaxy to a 1-0 win over Chivas USA (3-2 on goal aggregate) at the Home Depot Center on Sunday evening.

In addition to controlling possession, the Galaxy also had a majority of scoring chances, though it was unable to find the back of the net, but that changed in the 71st minute when Galaxy forward Mike Magee was fouled harshly in the midsection by Yamith Cuesta in the penalty box, awarding the Galaxy the penalty. Chivas keeper Zach Thornton guessed right, but Donovan instead shot the ball to the middle where Thornton first stood.

The Galaxy will host the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center on Friday night at 11pm/8pm. THe Dynamo stamped its ticket to the Western final with an overtime victory, also by a score of 1-0, in its second leg of its playoff series against Seattle Sounders FC. After another 90 scoreless minutes, Houston finally found daylight five minutes into the first overtime, as Brian Ching's volley in the box beat Sounders keeper Kasey Keller to the left net and gave the Dynamo a lead they never relinquished.

In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Columbus Crew saw its bid for back-to-back MLS Cups come to a bitter end on Thursday night, as Real Salt Lake came back from two goals down in the second match of its series to elimnate the Crew 3-2 (4-2 on aggregate) at Crew Stadium. The Crew's Guillermo Barros Schelotto got Colubus going with goals in the 19th and 35th minute, but Javier Morales pulled one back for RSL, then just before halftime, the Crew's Frankie Hedjuk was called for a foul on Fabian Espindola in the box and Robbie Findley buried the penalty shot to restore RSL's aggregate lead. Andy Williams scored for Salt Lake in the 74th minute to put the series out of reach.

Unlike Columbus, the Chicago Fire were able to complete its comeback against the New England Revolution at Toyota Park on Saturday. John Thorrington scored the equalizer in the 25th minute with a shot in the box that beat Revolution keeper Matt Reis to the left net. The Fire officialy won the series in the 81st minute when Nyarko charged into the Revolution box and played a ball to Cuauhthemoc Blanco, who then beat Reis to the right side. The Fire will play Real Salt Lake for the Eastern Conference title on Saturday.

Monday, November 2, 2009

European Look-Back

English Premier League

Not much changed in the Premiership standings this past weekend. Chelsea still remains atop the table with 27 points folwing a 4-0 drilling of Bolton Wanderers. Manchester United though remained close to the blues by defeating Blackburn Rovers 2-0, allowing United to remain two points back of Chelsea.

One result that did stand out over the weekend was Fulham defeating Liverpool 3-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Bobby Zamora got Fulham going with a 23rd minute strike, but Fernando Torres equalized for the reds in the 42nd minute. Fulham persisted, and Erik Nevland put the home side back in front in the 73rd minute and it went downhill for Liverpool from there on, as two players were red-carded and US midfielder Clint Dempsey sealed the match for Fulham with a 87th minute goal.

La Liga
Real Madrid gained some ground on FC Barcelona over the weekend. Real Madrid did its part by beating Getafe 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Madrid was lifted by Gonzalo Higuain's brace. Higuain scored his two goals in the second half in a three-minute span (53rd and 56th minute).

Meanwhile, Barcelona let three points slip away, as it played to a 1-1 draw with host Osasuna on Saturday. Seydou Keita scored for Barca in the 72nd minute and the visitors seemed headed for victory, but Barca shot itself in the foot, as a bad clearence attempt by Gerard Pique resulted in an own goal.

Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid (22 points) in the standings is just one point now. Sevilla remains close to the two Spanish giants with 19 points. One team that is climbing up the La Liga table is Valencia, who has only lost once this season. Valencia picked up its third win in its last five matches with a 1-0 win over Malaga. Valencia is currently fourth with 18 points.

Serie A
One Milan club is starting to take control of the Serie A standings while the other Milan club is climbing up the table.

Inter Milan increased its lead over Juventus and Sampdoria to seven points, though Palermo made them work for it, as Inter outlasted the hosts 5-3 on Thursday. Inter Milan scored four first half goals, but Palermo erupted with three second half goals to close the gap. Inter though weathered the storm, and Alberto Diego Milito's 83rd minute strike sealed the three points for Inter Milan (28 points).

AC Milan meanwhile is starting to regain its form after a 2-0 win over Parma. The Rossoneri were carried by Marco Borriello's brace. Borriello scored 12 minutes in, then sealed the win with a stoppage time goal that gave Milan its third win in its last four Serie A matches, leaving with 19 points, two behind Juve and Sampdoria.

Someone finally decided to seize first place in the Bundesliga table.

That someone was Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen (23 points) needed an 88th minute strike by Stefan Kiebling to salvage a 2-2 draw against Schalke 04 on Saturday, but Leverkusen got some help from Borussia Monchengladbach, as it defeated host Hamburg SV 3-2. Hamburg SV (22 points) led 2-1, but Dante equalized for Monchengladbach in the 76th minute and Rob Friend's 82nd minute strike gave the visitors a shocking win.

Hamburg's loss not only knocked them out of first place, but also enabled Werder Bremen to catch them for second place in the table. Werder Bremen did its part with a 2-2 draw against Nurnberg. Bayern Munich (19 points) lost ground in the Bundesliga table, as its 0-0 draw against VfB Stuttgart combined with TSG Hoffenheim's 1-0 win over SC Freiburg left Munich in sixth place, one point behind Hoffenheim.

MLS Playoff weekend #1: A look back

The West's top two seeds are in favorable position while the East's top two are backed into corners follwing the first weekend of MLS playoff action.

Halloween came a day late to the Home Depot Center, as strange mistakes on both sides played a major role in the 2-2 draw of the first ever Playoff Superclasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.

Chivas got in front just four minutes into the match, but two bad clearence attempts by Chivas resulted in two Galaxy goals. The first error came in the 14th minute, when defender Yamith Cuesta failed to clear a ball out of the penalty area and Mike Magee scooped up the loose ball and buried the equalizer. The second error came in the 41st minute when forward Maicon Santos tried to clear a ball away, only to see his punt attempt go back into the Chivas box and to the direction of Landon Donovan, who buried the point blank shot.

In the second half however, it was the Galaxy's turn to be bitten by the error bug. Defender Omar Gonzalez attempted a back pass to either Sean Franklin or keeper Donovan Ricketts, but the ball instead went to the feet of forward Mykael Galindo, who evaded Ricketts and buried the open net shot. Both clubs are hoping the mistakes are few and far between in next Sunday's final leg.

Meanwhile, defense and rough play was the sticking point in the 0-0 draw between the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field last Thursday. The defense came early in the first half when a shot attempt by Patrick Ianni was cleared at the goal line by Brian Mullan. The rough play however stood out more than anything else. Seattle forward Nate Jaqua was knocked in the head by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark int he 27th minute. The hit was bad enough for Jaqua to require a jersey change and a bandage on his head the rest of the match. Houston was called for 18 fouls and six cards (three on each side) were issued out in the match.

In the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire head home needing to win by two goals or more after both sides came up short in their first legs of their respective playoff series. Columbus looked poised for a draw in its playoff opener against Real Salt Lake on Halloween night, but a strike in the 88th minute by Robbie Findley enabled Real Salt Lake to come out with a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Chicago is also in a deep hole after the New England Revolution came from behind to record a 2-1 win over the Fire at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Chris Rolfe gave Chicago the lead in the 17th minute, but Emmanuel Osei equalized for the Revolution just before halftime, and Shalrie Joseph won the match for New England in the 75th minute as Joseph pounced on a loose ball in the box and buried the point-blank shot. Chicago had a chance to grab the lead back in the 71st minute, but a shot attempt by Baggio Husidic went off the crossbar, hit the field, but didn't clear the goal line.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MLS Playoff Preview

Western Conference
Los Angeles Galaxy (W1) vs. Chivas USA (W4)
The Superclasico get taken to a whole new level as the two occupants of the Home Depot Center gear up for two matches that promises to be just as intense as their three regular season meetings.

The Galaxy not only went undefeated against Chivas this season, b ut didn't allow Chivas to find the back of the net. The three matches however were grinders for Los Angeles. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first meeting back on April 11, but LA took the last two matches by scores of 1-0. A first-half goal by Edson Buddle was the difference in the second meetig two months later and Beckham's 80th minute strike vaulted Los Angeles to the Superclasico trophy.

Prediction: Chivas USA finally finds the back net against Los Angeles, but the Galaxy pushes more goals across and takes the series 3-1.

Houston Dynamo (W2) vs. Seattle Sounders (W3)
Two teams that appear to evenly match heading into their playoff series, starting on Thursday. Seattle has had Houston's number during the regular season, winning the first meeting 2-1 in Seattle on July 11 and playing to a 1-1 draw in the second match in Houston on August 23. The Sounders also defeated the Dynamo 2-1 win in the US Open Cup back on July 21.

Both teams appear to be warming up heading into their playoff series. Seattle won its last three regular season matches while Houston went 2-1-2, including a 3-2 in last Sunday to wrap up the second spot in the West.

Prediction: Should be a hard-fought two games, but look for Houston's playoff experience to be the difference as the Dynamo edge the Sounders 2-1.

Eastern Conference
Columbus Crew (E1) vs. Real Salt Lake (E4)
The Crew open defense of their MLS Cup title on Saturday, as they travel to Utah for the first leg of their series against Real Salt Lake.

For the second straight season, the Crew are the top seed for the MLS playoffs and feature pretty much the same team that won it all two years ago. The Crew coasted for most of the regular season to the top playoff spot in MLS while Real Salt Lake looked to be on the outside looking in a few weeks ago, but won two of its last three regular season matches to get into the playoffs.

Prediction: The Crew have the advantage in every part of the field. Columbus advances to the Eastern Conference final 3-0.

Chicago Fire (E2) vs. New England Revolution (E3)
Another playoff series that appears to be too close to call. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Chicago back on May 9 and a 0-0 draw in New England a few weeks ago.

Both teams needed wins in the final week of the season to qualify for the playoffs. Chicago edged out Chivas 1-0 last Thursday to wrap up the second seed in the East while New England defeated Columbus by the same score on Sunday to take the third seed. New England is in despite being hampered by injuries all season, missing forward Taylor Twellman (cocussion) for the whole season and midfielder Shalrie Joseph for a good part of the season due to a combination of injuries and national team callups.

Prediction: Look for Chicago to squeak out a tight series 2-1.

Monday, October 26, 2009

European Recap

English Premier League
The teams currently occupying the top two spots in the Premiership swited spots over the weekend, as Chelsea regained the top spot in the league.

Chelsea did its part on Saturday, as a brace by Frank Lampard helped the blues to a 5-0 rout of Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea also got help from Liverpool, as they defeated Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

The win not only stalled Manchester United, but brought a sigh of relief to Liverpool, whish was sliding down the standigs prior to Sunday'a match. Manchester United found itself behind the eight ball towards halftime, as Nemanja Vidic recieved two yellow cards in the first half, and Liverpool finally capitalized with a Fernando Torres goal in the 64th minute. David Ngog sealed the match with a stoppage time strike.

La Liga
FC Barcelona returned to form and in the process, put some distance between them and Real Madrid.

Barca routed Real Zaragoza 6-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday. Barcelona was carried by Seyduo Keita's hat trick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace. Lionel Messi added an 80th minute strike to the tally. The win along with Real Madrid's 0-0 result against Sporting Gijon now puts Barcelona (22 points) three points ahead of Real Madrid (19 points).

Serie A
Inter Milan is still atop the Serie A standings, though shaking off Juventus and Sampdoria still remains a tough task.

The first half was the key for Inter Milan (22 points) in its 2-1 win over Catania on Saturday. Sulley Muntar scored in the 13th minute and Wesley Sneijder scored the eventual game winner in the 31st minute. Sampdoria (20 points) remained two points back of Inter thanks to Daniele Mannini's brace in Sampdoria's a 4-1 rout of Bologna. Juventus meanwhile got a 72nd minute strike from Carvalho De Oliveira Amauri and held on for a 1-0 win over Siena.

AC Milan is showing some life. Milan grabbed three points for a second straight week, as it came from behind to defeat host Chievo Verona 2-1. Chievo's Giampiero Pinzi scored seven minutes into the match and seemed headed for a big win, but Alessandro Nesta rescued the Rossoneri from another embarrasing defeat. Nesta equalized in the 81st minute, then won the match for Milan with a strike in stoppage time.

Milan (15 points) is now part of a three-way tie with Fiorentina and Palermo for fourth place in Serie A.

Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg SV went into the just-concluded weekend tied for first in the Bundesliga table, and nothing has changed since.

Bayer Leverkusen (22 points) had to come from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund. Lucas Barrios struck in the eight minute to give Dortmund the lead, but Leverkusen got the equalizer from Manuel Friedrich in the 65th minute, and Leverkusen got out of BayArena with a point.

Hamburg SV however was the team that saw an opportunity lost, as it played to a 3-3 draw with Shcalke 04 (20 points). Hamburg lead 3-2 and seemed certain for victory, but Kevin Kuranyi scored for Schalke 04 in stoppage time to not only split the points, but also prevent Hamburg from seizing the top spot in Bundesliga.

Third-place Werder Bremen (21 points) kept its spot in the Bundesliga standings with a 4-1 rout of VfL Bochum, while Bayern Munich climbed up to 18 points and fifth place with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

MLS playoff matchups set.

Major League Soccer's second season gets underway this week, starting on Thursday, and here are the matchups (All games time are listed in Pacific Standard Time).

Western Conference
Los Angeles Galaxy (W1) vs. Chivas USA (W4)
Game 1 @ Chivas USA, Sunday, November 1, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN2).
Game 2 @ Los Angeles Galaxy, Sunday, November 8, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

Houston Dynamo (W2) vs. Seattle Sounders FC (W3)
Game 1 @ Seattle, Thursday, October 29, 7 p.m. (ESPN2).
Game 2 @ Houston, Sunday, November 8, Noon, (Telefutura/Regional).

Eastern Conference
Columbus Crew (E1) vs. Real Salt Lake (E4)
Game 1 @ Real Salt Lake, Saturday, October 31, 3 p.m. (Regional Television).
Game 2 @ Columbus, Thursday, November 5, 5 p.m. (ESPN2).

Chicago Fire (E2) vs. New England Revolution (E3)
Game 1 @ New England, Saturday, October 21, 4 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel).
Game 2 @ Chicago, Saturday, November 7, 5:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel.

Check back later in the week for my series-by-series preview.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MLS in CONCACAF Champions League

One MLS team is in the quarterfinals, another is out and a third team will have its fate decided today.

The Columbus Crew played to a 1-1 draw with the Puerto Rico Islanders on Tuesday. Trailing 1-0 after , Emilio Renteria scored the equalizer in the 74th minute to get the Crew to eight points, three better than Saprissa, but the Crew holds the tiebreaker over Saprissa, having them defeated them on the road and earning a draw at Crew Stadium.

While the Crew move on, the Houston Dynamo saw its Champions League campaign come to an end as they fell to host Metaplan 3-2. Houston needed a win to advance to the knockout round, but fell behind early in the match 2-0 until goals by Geoff Cameron in the 28th minute and keeper Toby Hall just before halftime gave Houston new life. Metaplan however got the winning goal in the 56th minute, as Emerson Umana scored off a deflected free kick.

DC United played to a 1-1 tie with host Toluca. Chris Pontius scored for DC United just five minute into the match, but Toluca got the equalizer in the 62nd minute. Lawson Vaughn fouled Israel Lopez in the box, and Lopez buried the penalty shot. DC United needs Jabloteh to defeat or tie Marathon tonight to ensure qualification to the next round.

UEFA Champions League: A look back

A thriller at Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday was the highlight of the week that was in UEFA Champions League play over the week.

AC Milan stole an important three points from Real Madrid with a come-from-behind 3-2 win. Raul scored for Madrid in the 19th minute, but Milan came back with two goals inside a four-minute span, as Andrea Pirlo equalized in the 62nd minute and Alexandre Pato gave Milan the lead with a 66th minute strike.

Milan responded, as Royston Drenthe curled a shot past Milan keeper Dida in the 76th minute, but Pato won the game for Milan with 10-yard strike in the 88th minute. Milan now finds itself in a tie with Milan for first place in Group C.

Elsewhere, FC Barcelona lost at home to FC Rubin Kazaan 2-1, which allowed them as well as Dynamo Kiev to catch Barca atop the Group F standings, but Liverpool is slipping fast in Group E, as it lost to Lyon 2-1 and is now third in the group.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Look-ahead: MLS' Last Week of the Regular Season

Playoff spots and a regular season in the Western Conference are up for grabs as the 2009 MLS regular season closes this coming weekend.

In the Western Conference, four teams; Chivas USA, the Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC, have a chance to come out as regular season conference champions. Chivas, Houston and Los Angeles currently share first place with 45 points while Seattle is one point behind the three teams.

Chivas USA has the best chance to take the title, as it plays two matches this weekend. Those two matches won't be easy however, as it travels to Chicago to face a Fire squad desperate to clinch a playoff spot, then returns home Sunday afternoon to face the Dynamo.

The Galaxy appear to have the easiest road to the West title, as it faces the last place San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night. Los Angeles has the tiebreaker advantages over every team except Seattle. The Sounders though won't have it easy in its regular season finale, as it faces a red-hot FC Dallas squad that is looking to squeak into the playoffs.

The Western Conference race won't be the only focal point of the final weekend. Three playoff spots are up for grabs and seven teams are still alive in the chase. The Fire lead the way with 40 points and are currently second in the Eastern Conference. The Colorado Rapids have 40 points, but four teams, FC Dallas, DC United, Toronto FC and the New England Revolution, all have 39 points. Real Salt Lake has a punchers chance of making the playoffs, as it has 37 points going into the final week.

Donovan collects honors

Landon Donovan won his sixth Honda Player of the Year award and was also named Honda player of the decade.

It is Donovan's second three-peat of the award. Donovan also won the award from 2002 to 2004 and had won it the previous two years. Donovan enjoyed another stellar year while suting up for the US National Team, helping the US qualify for the 2010 World Cup as well as a second place finish in the Confederations Cup back in June.

Donovan garnered 424 points in the voting process. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, who plays for Everton in the Premiership, was second with 267 points and Jozy Altidore finished third with 175 points.

Monday, October 19, 2009

La Liga; A look back

Real Madrid gained some ground on Barcelona in the La Liga standigs as it defeated Valladolid 4-2 on Sautrday. Raul was the catalyst for Madrid, as he scored two goals inside a four minute span.

Barcelona meanwhile played to a scoreless draw with Valencia the next day, which means Real Madrid (18 points) is now a point behind Barca for first in La Liga. Sevilla was not able to capitalize though, as it lost to Deportivo La Coruna 1-0.

EPL; a look back

The big result came at Villa Park on Saturday, as Aston Villa came from behind to defeat Chelsea 1-0. Didier Drogba scored in the 15th minute, but Richard Dunne equalized for Villa in the 32nd minute and James Collins put Villa up for good in the 52nd minute.

Chelsea's loss combined with Manchester United's 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderes enabled United to take possession of the top spot in the Premier League. Arsenal meanwhile is climbing up the table after a slow start. Aresnal defeated Bermingham City 3-1 for its fourth straight EPL win. The Gunners are in fourth place in the Premiership with 18 points. However, the win over Birmingham came with a price, as midfielder Theo Walcott suffered a knee injury and is out three to four weeks.

While Arsenal is moving up the charts, Liverpool is going down. Liverpool lost to Sunderland in controversial fashion, as Darren Bent struck a ball five minutes into the match that went off a balloon that was on the field in the penalty area and went into the back net.

A look back at MLS weekend 29

After the past weekend of MLS play, not a whole lot has changed atop the Western Conference standigs, but teams that saw their playoff chances look bleak on Friday now have a whole new perspective heading into the last weekend of the MLS regular season.

In the west, Chivas USA, the Houston Dynamo and the Los Angeles Galaxy remain jammed into a three-way tie for first place in the conference. Chivas did sit atop the conference temporarily when it played to a 2-2 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night, but that advantage was nullified the next day, as the Dynamo and Galaxy played to a scoreless draw at Robertson Stadium.

The Galaxy currently hold the tiebreaker advantage over both Chivas and Houston. The Galaxy won two of three against Chivas this season and also have a win against the Dynamo in their pocket. Seattle still remains a threat in the West, as it sits a point behind the three teams after it defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3-2 ti clinch a playoff berth. Sounders midfielder Freddie Ljundberg

Meanwhile, two teams in the Eastern Conference revived their playoff hopes. DC United recorded a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC defeated Real Salt Lake by the same score. Both teams are now tied with FC Dallas and the New England Revolution at 39 points, one point back of the Colorado Rapids.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

US rallies for draw

Despite having to finish up its World Cup Qualifying against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium on Wednesday night, to the United States men's national team, the sport itself took a back seat to very serious matters.

Early Wednesday morning, teammate and striker Charlie Davies was seriously injured in a car accident that occured outside Washington DC. The accident claimed the life of 22-year old Ashley J. Roberta. Davies was seriously injured in the crash and in expected to be at Washington Hospital Center Medstar for at least a week. The injuries Davies sustained in the crash could keep him out of next year's World Cup in South Africa.

For the US, taking the field against Costa Rica in the wake of the tragic news must have been very tough, yet they were there at RFK Stadium, trying to solidify first place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings, which it did, as the US rallied from a two-goal deficit to preserve a 2-2 tie against Costa Rica.

The draw combined with Trinidad and Tobago alsoo playing to a 2-2 draw against Mexico clinches the top spot in the Hexagonal for the US. Costa Rica meanwhile is now forced into a home-and-home playoff with COMNEBOL's fifth place team, Uruguay, after Honduras defeated El Salvador 1-0 to book its first trip to the World Cup since 1982. Costa Rica and Uruguay will face off against each other starting on November 14.

Early on, it appeared Costa Rica might be the ones booking a vacation next summer in South Africa. Bryan Ruiz scored goals in the 20th and 23rd minute to stake the Ticos to a 2-0 lead.

Michael Bradley broke the scoring ice for the US in the 71st minute, but the US had to wait until stoppage time to finally catch the Ticos, as Jonathan Bornstein scored the equalizer on a corner kick.

The draw though came with a price, as defender Oguchi Onyewu tore a tendon in his left knee and is out three to four months.

Davies was honored by the fans and his teammates during the match. The fanes held up cards reading the number nine, Davies jersey number, in the ninth minute and forward Jozy Altidore had Davies' number under his shirt.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Davies injured in car crash

United States striker Charlie Davies was seriously injured in a car crash outside Washington DC in which another person inside the vehicle was killed.

The accident occured at 3:15 AM Tuesday morning on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Davies was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he had surgery this afternoon. Davies' injures are described as "serious, though not life-threatening."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

USA headed to the World Cup

When Julio Leon scored two minutes into the second half, it looked like it would be another tough World Cup Qualifying road match for the United States.

Instead, the US resonded big time, as Conor Casey picked a great time to score his first two goals of his national team career and a goal off a set piece lifted the US to a 3-2 win over a feisty Honduras squad at Estadio Francisco Morazan at San Pedro Sula on Saturday night.

The win sends the US (to its sixth straight World Cup and preserves its lead over Mexico int he CONCACAF Hexagonal standings. Honduras slips to fourth in the standings after Costa Rica's 4-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, so if the standings hold up, Honduras would be forced into a two-match playoff against the fifth place squad in CONMEBOL, which right now is Uruguay.

Julio Leon gave Honduras the lead in the 47th minute, as his set piece sailed past US Keeper Tim Howard to the left corner. It didn't take long though for the United States to get the Equalizer, as defender Oguchi Onyewu sent a long ball downfield to the Honduras box, where Charlie Davies headed the ball to Casey, who then beat Honduran keeper Noelle Valladares to the ball, heading it into the back net.

The US finally surged ahead in the 65th minute when Donovan sprung Casey loose with a perfect through ball and Casye chipped a shot past Valladares, beating him to the right post. The US added to its lead when Donovan sent a set piece free kick past Valladares to the same spot as Casey's second goal.

Still the US had to hold on in the final moments. Leon pulled one back for the Catrachos in the 78th minute when he caught Howard out of his line and shot the ball past Howard and several US players into the back net. Honduras then caught a break in the 85th minute when US midfielder Stuart Holden was called for a handball in the box, giving Honduras a penalty shot. However, former Galaxy player Carlos Pavon sent the shot over goal and the US breathed a huge sigh of relief. Pavon had a chance to redeem himself two minutes later when he had an open look at goal, but instead, added insult to injury as his open header also went harmlessly high.

The United States plays the last of its World Cup Qualifying matches on Wednesday, as it hosts Costa Rica at RFK Stadium.

Friday, October 9, 2009

USA-Honduras Preview

The United States findes itself in great position to officialy book a trip to South Africa for next summer's World Cup, but it will have a tough road this weekend if it hopes to achieve its goal.

That tough road begins tomorrow night in San Pedro Sula, as it faces off against Honduras in Estadio Olimpico. The United States currently leads the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings with a one-point advangate over Mexico. Honduras occupies the third and final automatic qualifying spot in the standings and is also three points back of the United States. Honduras needs a two-goal win on Saturday to shift the tiebreaker advantage against the US in its favor.

The USA's struggles on the road in the Hexagonal stage of World Cup Qualifying has been well documented. The USA had to struggle to come away with three points on the road against last-place Trinidad and Tobago on September 9. Ricardo Clark's strike in the 61st minute was the difference in the match as the US survived a sharp Trinidad and Tobago squad to take the full three points.

Prior to that, the US had to scrap to split points with El Salvador back in March, was thoroughly dominated against Costa Rica at Saprissa Stadium back in June and lost a nailbiter against Mexico at Azteca Stadium back in August.

To make things even tougher for the US, midfielder Clint Dempsey is unavailable for Saturday's match after he sustained an sprained shoulder while playing for Fulham last weekend. His availability for the US' final match of the Hexagonal state against Costa Rica on Wednesday is up in the air.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eurpoe; a look back

Premier League
A change of hands at the top of the Premier League standings occured over the weekend. Chelsea's 2-0 over Liverpool combined with Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland allowed Chelsea to take back the top spot in the Premiership.

Arsenal had the weekend's largest margin ov victory, as it defeated the Blackburn Rovers 6-2 to pull into a tie for with Liverpool for fifth place while Portsmouth finally registerd its first points of the season by defeating the Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.

La Liga
Someone is finally sitting alone atop the La Liga table, and that someone is FC Bacrelona.

Barca continued its winning ways with a 1-0 win over Almeria at Camp Nou. Real Madrid was the team that blinked first, as it fell to host Sevilla 2-1. The loss not only knocked Madrid out of the top of the La Liga standigs, but also allows Sevilla to share second place with Real for the next two weeks.

Four other teams are in double digits in points int he La Liga standigs. Deportivo La Coruna sits in fourth place with 12 points, Valencia is fifth with 11 points and Mallorca and Athletico Bilbao are tied for sixth with 10 points.

Serie A
It has the making of a very exciting Serie A season.

Sampdoria is still in first place in Serie A, but they now share it with Inter Milan. Sampdoria played to a 1-1 draw with Parma while Inter defeated Udinese 2-1 to catch Sampdoria at 16 points. Several other teams though are giving chase. Juventus and Fiorentina are tied for third with 14 points, Genoa is alone in fifth place with 13 points and four teams; Chievo Verona, Udinese, AS Roma and Parma all have 11 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Napoli, which is sitting 15th in the Serie A table has fired manager Robert Donadoni, as the team has collected only seven points in seven matches. Walter Mazzarri will take over.

Just like Serie A, the Bundesliga is also shaping up to be a tight race.

Bayer Leverkusen and Hambug SV are tied for first with 20 points. Both teams held their positions over the weekend, as Leverkusen shutout Nurnberg 4-0 and Hamburg defeated Hertha Berlin 3-1. Hamburg though recieved some grim news, as striker Mladen Petric is out until January due to ankle surgery.

Both Leverkusen and Hamburg are four points ahead of the next team, Schalke 04. Werder Brenem is one point behind Schalke 04, TSG Hoffenheim Mainz are both at 14 points, VfL Wolfsburg is at 13 points, Bayern Munich is as 12 points and Eintracht Frankfurt is at 10 points.

Injuries riddle U.S. team ahead of Qualifiers

The U.S. national team will have to go without midfielder Clint Dempsey for its last two CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying matches, which begins Saturday against Honduras at Estadio Olimpico at San Pedro Sula.

Dempsey was ruled out of Saturday's match against Honduras after the Fulham midfielder suffered a shoulder sprain and had to leave Fulham's match against West Ham United in the 83rd minute. Whether or not the injury is serious enough to keep out of the United States' last qualifier match against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium on October 14 is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, Edgar Castillo, the defender/midfielder who recently switched from the Mexico Federation to the United States suffered a hamstring injury and was unavailable for his first selection to the team. The injury though will only sideline him for two weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MLS Weekend Oct. 2-4; A Look Back

Several teams locked playoff berths, others moved closer to doing so and others are now teetering on the brink of missing out.

The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at the Home Depot Center on Friday night. That win along with Chivas USA's 2-0 win over DC United puts Los Angeles back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the year it won the MLS Cup.

The win also put the Galaxy in first place in the Western Conference. LA is still there, but it was to share it with the Houston Dynamo for the next two weeks. The Dynamo played to a 1-1 draw against the Kansas City Wizards in Houston on Sunday afternoon. The two teams will decide the conference title against each other in Houston on October 18. A draw will work to the Galaxy's advantage, as it defeated the Dynamo 1-0 at the Home Depot Center back on June 28.

So the Galaxy and Dynamo (44 points each) are tied atop the West, but Chivas and Seattle Sounders FC are both only three points back of the two clubs. Seattle picked up a 1-0 win over the host Columbus Crew on Saturday, making head coach Sigi Schmid's return to Crew Stadium very sweet for the man who a year earlier led the Crew to the MLS Cup. Chivas owns the tiebreaker over Seattle based on their 2-0-1 record against the Sounders this season. Both teams overtook the Colorado Rapids, whose 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution leaves them two points ahead of the Revolution and four ahead of DC United with two weeks left in the regular season.

Seattle's defeat of Columbus also prevented the Crew from putting a stranglehold in the Eastern Conference title. The Fire are five points back of the Crew and both teams won't have it easy finishing the season, as both teams face off against teams looking to further cement their playoff status.

Columbus will face the Revolutuion twice, the first time at New England on October 10th and the second time on the 24th. The Crew will also face DC United on the 17th. The Fire close out their regular season against the Revolution on the 17th and Chivas USA on October 22.

MLS Standings
Western Conference Standings
Los Angeles Galaxy; 11-6-1, 44 points
Houston Dynamo; 12-8-8; 44 points
Chivas USA; 12-9-5, 41 points
Seattle Sounders; 10-7-11, 41 points
Colorado Rapids; 10-8-10, 40 points
Real Salt Lake; 9-11-7; 34 points
FC Dallas; 9-12-6; 33 points
San Jose Earthquakes; 7-12-7, 28 points

Eastern Conference Standings
Columbus Crew; 12-5-10, 46 points
Chicago Fire; 10-7-11, 41 points
New England Revolution; 10-9-8, 38 points
DC United; 8-8-12, 36 points
Toronto FC; 9-10-8, 35 points
Kansas City; 8-11-8, 32 points
New York Red Bulls; 4-18-6, 18 points

Friday, October 2, 2009

Serie A Look-ahead

Don't look now, but Sampdoria is sitting atop the Serie A standings while AC Milan is struggling and sitting in the middle of the pack.

Sampdoria has only lost once in its first six matches, giving them a league-high 15 points. It's lead though is tenuous, as Juventus is only a point behind them and both Inter Milan and Fiorentina are only two points back. AC Milan meanwhile is struggling, playing to a scoreless draw with AS Bari last Sunday and losing to Udinese the week before. Milan is tied with three other clubs for eighth int he table.

Sampdoria will look to pad its lead when they host Parma on Sunday. Inter Milan will face Udinese at San Siro, Juventus will travel to Renzo Barbera to face Palermo and AC Milan will try to right the ship against host Atalanta.

LA Liga Matches

Saturday, October 3
Udinese @ Inter Milan
Catania @ AS Bari

Sunday, October 4
Parma @ Sampdoria
Juventus @ Palermo
AC Milan @ Atalanta
Lazio @ Fiorentina
Napoli @ AS Roma
Genoa @ Bologna
Chievo Verona @ Cagliari
Livorno @ Siena

La Liga look-ahead

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona enter the upcoming weekend looking to stay on top of the La Liga table while Sevilla tries to stay close to the two giants.

Sevilla, three points back of both Real and Barca in the La Liga table, will get its first shot at crashing the La Liga party when it hosts Real Madrid at Estadio Ramon Pizjuan. Sevilla's chances of upsetting Real Madrid could really be boosted if Cristiano Ronaldo can't go on Sunday. Ronaldo injured his ankle during Real's 3-0 Champions League win over Mariselle on Wednesday. Barcelona meanwhile hosts Almeria at Camp Nou on Saturday.

LA Liga matches

Saturday, October 3
Almeria @ FC Barcelona
Real Zaragoza @ Athletico Madrid
Deportivo La Coruna @ Tenerife

Sunday October 4
Real Madrid @ Sevilla
Espanyol @ Villareal
Valencia @ Racing Santander
Osasuna @ Getafe
Malaga @ Xerez
Mallorca @ Sporting Gijon
Athletic Bilbao @ Valladolid

US Roster for World Cup Qualifiers named

US head coach Bob Bradley named his squad for the World Cup Qualifying matches against Honduras (Oct. 10 at Stadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula) and Costa Rica (Oct. 14 at RFK Stadium, Washington DC).

Goalkeepers - Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton: 14/8 SO)

Defenders - Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 24/3), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 4/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover: 19/0), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards: 1/0), Clarence Goodson (IK Start: 1/0), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan: 18/1), Jonathan Spector (West Ham: 3/0)

Midfielders - Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 13/4), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 7/1), Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 20/5), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus: 4/0), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo: 3/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 6/0)

Forwards - Jozy Altidore (Hull City: 11/6), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids: 5/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 16/6), Kenny Cooper (1860 Munich: 1/1), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux: 5/2), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 33/11).

Premier League look-ahead, October 3-4

The highlight match of the coming weekend takes place on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea hosts Liverpool.

Chelsea is tied with Manchester United for first in the Premiership and Liverpool is only three points, so Liverpool will look to join the frey (provided Man U slips up against Sunderland on Saturday, which is highly unlikely).

Here are the full slate of matches

Saturday, October 3
Sunderland @ Manchester United
Tottenham @ Bolton
Wigan Athletic @ Hull City
Portsmouth @ Wolves
Birmingham @ Burnley

Sunday, October 4
Liverpool @ Chelsea
Blackburn @ Arsenal
Stoke City @ Everton
Fulham @ West Ham United

Thursday, October 1, 2009

MLS Weekend preview October 2-4

With the regular season rapidly winding down, several teams head into the weekend with opportunities to clinch playoff spots. FC Dallas got things started off on Wednesday, as it kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win over New England.

Two of the teams that have a chance to clinch playoff berths face off at the Home Depot Center on Friday night, as the Los Angeles Galaxy host the Chicago Fire on ESPN2. The winner of the match will have the pleasure of rooting for Chivas USA to defeat DC United the following day to cement their playoff spots.

The teams two marquee players, the Galaxy's David Beckham and the Fire's Cuauhtemoc Blanco, are both questionable for the match. Beckham sat out the Galaxy's last match with an injured achilles tendon, as did Blanco with a strained hamstring. Beckham resumed full training with the Galaxy on Wednesday and should be availble for Friday's match while Blanco is still questionabe.

Another match of significance takes place on Saturday, as Seattle Sounders FC travels to Columbus to face the Crew. More importantly, it will be the first visit back to Crew Staduim for Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid since leading the Crew to the MLS Cup last season.

MLS Matches
Friday, October 2
Chicago Fire @ Los Angeles Galaxy, 8 pm (ESPN2)

Saturday, October 3
Seattle Sounders FC @ Columbus Crew, 4:30 pm.
Chivas USA @ DC United, 4:30 pm.
New England @ Colorado Rapids, 6 pm.
New York Red Bulls @ San Jose Earthquakes, 8 pm.

Sunday, October 4
Kansas City Wizards @ Houston Dynamo, Noon (Telefutura).

USA-Honduras to go on as scheduled

Despite ongoing violence due to policital unrest in Honduras, the USA-Honduras World Cup Qualifier match, scheduled to be played at Estadio Olimpico at San Pedro Sula on October 10, will go on as planned.

UEFA Champions League review

Changes atop the group standings were evident during the last two days of UEFA Champions League play, as Manchester United and FC Barcelona seized first place in their respective groups.

Manchester claimed first in Group B with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. Edin Dzeko gave Wolfsburg the lead in the 56th minute, but it lasted all but three minutes, as Ryan Giggs equalized in the 59th minute and Michael Carrick scored the game winner in the 78th minute.

Also moving into the top spot, this one in Group F, was FC Barcelona, who defeated Dynamo Kiev 2-0 at Camp Nou to overtake Kiev in the standings. In Group A, Bayern Munich's 0-0 draw against Juventus allows Bordeaux to move into a first place tie in the standings.

Real Madrid took control of Group C with a 3-0 win over Mariselle behind two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka scored on a penalty kick in the 61st minute. Meanwhile, AC Milan, already struggling in Serie A play, fell to FC Zurich 1-0 at the San Siro.

CONCACAF Champions League review

DC United moved one step closer to moving onto the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament as it routed San Juan Jabloteh 5-1 at RFK Stadium. Christian Gomez scored two goals and assisted Thabiso Kumalo's goal in the 43rd minute.

The Columbus Crew saw an opportunity to seal a quarterfinal birth slip away as it played to a 1-1 draw with Saprissa. Robbie Rogers scored for the Crew on a penalty kick in the 27th minute and Columbus seemed headed for victory, but Alexander Robinson scored on a penalty kick in stoppage time to salvage the point. Columbus can sitll clinch a trip to the quarterfinals if it defeats the Puerto Rico Islanders on October 20.

Unlike Columbus and DCU, the Houston Dynamo are now teetering on the brink of elimination after falling to Pachuca 1-0. Edgar Benitez's strike in the 23rd minute held up and helped Pachuca book its ticket to the next round. Houston can still advance to the quarterfinals, but only if it defeats Isidro Metapan on October 21 and Pachuca defeats Arabe Unido.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

List of WPS Free Agents

Women's Professional Soccer released the names of players from eight teams who were waived or declared free agents. (the Philadelphia Independence were the only team not to declare free agents or waive any players).

Players like Cristiane, Carli Lloyd, Heather Mitts and Leslie Osborne among others are available if the price is right. Here is the full list of free agents from the eight teams.

Atlanta Beat - Sara Larsson.

Boston Breakers - Nancy Agustyniak Goffi (waived), Candace Chapman (waived), Abby Crumpton, Fabiana, Kristin Luckenbill, Heather Mitts, Sophia Mundy, Ashley Phillips, Erika Sutton.

Chicago Red Stars - Free Agents: Cristiane, Heather Garriock (Waived), Jamiel Johnson (Waived), Carli Lloyd, Mary Therese-McDonnell, Frida Ostberg, Michelle Wenino, Lydia Vandenbergh.

FC Gold Pride - Marissa Abegg (waived), Adriane (waived), Greer Barnes, Erika (waived), Formiga (waived), Lindsay Massengale, Megan McCrary, Leslie Osborne, Sissi, Tiffany Weimer (waived).

Los Angeles Sol - Liz Bogus, Brittany Cameron, Han Duan (waived), Martina Franko (waived), Lyndsey Patterson, Keri Sanchez, Lisa Sari, Julia Schnugg, Christie Shaner (waived), Aly Wagner, McCall Zerboni.

Saint Louis Athletica - Niki Cross, Daniela (waived), Sheree Gray, Erin Kane, Ashlee Pistoruis, Lisa Stoia, Melissa Tancredi, Sarah Walsh (waived), Erin Walter, Christie Welsh.

Sky Blue FC - Cori Alexander, Mele French, Katie Hooker, Collette McCallum (waived), Kelly Parker (waived), Lauren Sesselman, Julianne Sitch (wiaved).

Washington Freedom - Kristin DeDycker, Parissa Eyorokon (waived), Katie Forbis, Emily Janss (waived), Christen Karniski, Joanna Lohman, Kati Jo Spisak (waived).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WPS news

Amy Rodriguez Philly-bound

The Boston Breakers have traded Amy Rodriguez along with the fifth pick in the 2010 WPS Draft, to be held in January, to the Philadelphia Independence for the second overall pick as well as the 11th pick.

The trade gives the expansion Independence a player which it could build around. Rodriguez, a member of USC's 2007 national championship team and the US National team that captured the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, was taken first overall in the 2009 WPS General Draft and was expected to rise to stardom immediately in Boston, but couldn't find her spark and had a rather cold relationship with Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco. Rodriguez will now look to re-discover her mojo with the Independence.

Sky Blue FC Hires new Coach

New York-New Jersey based Sky Blue FC, which won the inagural WPS championship despite going through three head coaches in one season, including installing Christie Rampone as player-coach, have hired Pauliina Miettinen as their latest head coach.

Miettinen, a Finnish international and current head coach of Finnish Club PK-35, played her college ball at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, where she helped them to three Division II titles. Miettnen has been an assistant at Franklin Pierce, Barry University and Florida State.

Here's hoping she has as much success as Rampone

Monday, September 28, 2009

List of UEFA Champions League matchups for Wednesday, Septepber 30

Continued from preview post.

Wednesday, September 30
Group A
Juventus @ Bayern Munich
Maccabi Haifa FC @ Girondins de Bordeaux

Group B
Besiktas JK @ CSKA Moscow
VfL Wolfsburg @ Manchester United

Group C
FC Zurich vs. AC Milan
Olympique Mariselle @ Real Madrid

Group D
Chelsea @ APOEL FC
Athletico Mardid vs. FC Porto

UEFA Champions League Preview

Some big matchups are on tap for the next round of UEFA Champions League play.

One matchup that carries implications in the standings occurs in Group B, where Manchester United and Vfl Wolfsburg both have three points headind into their matchup at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Another matchup that could change the standings will be in Group F, where FC Barcelona faces Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday. Dynamo currently sits in first place, two points ahead of Barcelona.

Here is the complete lists of Champions League matchups for September 29-30.

Tuesday, September 29
Group E
Liverpool @ ACF Fiorentina
Lyon @ Debreceni VSC

Group F
Inter Mian @ FC Rubin Kazan
Dynamo Kiev @ Barcelona

Group G
VfB Stuttgart @ Unirea Urziceni
Sevilla @ Rangers

Group H
Olympiakos @ Arsenal
Standard de @ AZ Alkmaar

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wigan upsets Chelsea

The story of the weekend in the Premiership has to be Chelsea falling to Wigna Athletic 3-1 at The DW Stadium on Saturday.

The loss marked the first time this season that Chelsea has lost a match, and coupled with Manchester United's 2-0 win over Stoke City means the two clubs are now tied atop the Premiership table, with Liverpool and Tottenham only three points behind.

Wigan's first blow came in the 16th minute when Titus Bramble opened the scoring. Wigna took the lead into the halftime break, but gave it up just a minute into the second half, as Didier Drogba scored the equalizer.

However, the match turned in the 53rd minute when Chelsea keeper Petr Cech recieved a red card for tripping Hugo Rodallega. Rodallega then put the penalty shot past Henrique Hilario to wrestle the lead back. Paul Scharner then struck in stoppage to complete the stunning victory for Wigan.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soccer week in review

USA-Honduras at a Neutral site????????
The World Cup Qualifying match between the United States, scheduled to be played on October 10 at San Pedro Sula may be moved to an alternate site amid the political unrest that is currently gripping Honduras.

Airports in Honduras have been closed down due to widespread violence in the wake of ousted president Miguel Zelaya's return to the country. FIFA and CONCACAF is monitoring the situation and hope to make a desicion sometime next week.

Chivas beats Chivas
Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA met in the first ever "ChivaClasico" played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Wednesday.

After a scoreless first half, Guadalajara finally took control, as two goals by Omar Arellano, the first in the 74th mintue and the second coming five minuteIs later, propelled the parent club to the win over the MLS version of Chivas.

In La Liga action........
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid romped to easy victories on the road. Barcelona defeated Racing Santander 4-1 behind Lionel Messi's two goals while Madrid got goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in Real Madrid's 2-0 win over Villareal.

Barca and Madrid are currently tied atop the La Liga table with 12 points, while Sevilla FC is only three points behind.

And in Serie A...........
Inter Milan defeated host Napoli 3-1 on Wednesday. Samuel Eto'o, Alberto Diego Milito and Ferreira Lucio found the back of the net for Inter. AC Milan was not as fortunate however, as it was upset by Udinese at Stadio Friuli. Antonio Di Natale scored the winning goal in the match in the 22nd minute.

Juventus narrowly avoided the same fate as AC Milan on Thursday, as a goal by David Trezeguet in the 86th minute enabled Juventus to salvage a 2-2 draw against Genoa. Juventus and Inter Milan are tied atop the Serie A standings with 13 points. Sampdoria sits one point behind Inter Milan and Juventus while Genoa, Fiorentina and Parma are all one point behind Sampdoria. AC Milan is part of a four-way tie for eighth in the table.

And finally, CONCACAF Champions League...........
DC United recharged it chances of reaching the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Thursday night as Luciano Emilio's brace propelled DC United to a 3-0 win over Marathon at RFK Stadium.

The result leaves the two teams tied for second in the Group B standings, six points behind group leader Toluca.

Scoreless in the first half, Emilio scored for DCU just tow minutes into the second half. Emilio assisted Jamie Moreno's strike in the 57th minute and Emilio finished off the match with a goal in the 71st minute.

DC United's next CCL match takes place next Wednesday, as it hosts winless San Juan Jabloteh.

MLS look ahead, September 26-27

The week actually got started on Wednesday, as the Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes played to another 1-1 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

The highlight match of the weekend is the Los Angeles Galaxy facing off against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on Saturday. The Galaxy (are two points behind the Crew and the Houston Dynamo for first place in the playoff standigs.

The Galaxy though might be shorthanded for this crucial matchup, as late word has surfaced that David Beckham did not travel with the team to Columbus, staying behind to treat an injury, and could miss the match altogether.

Stay tuned.

Other Week 27 MLS Matches (all times list are Pacific Standard Times)

Saturday, September 27
Seattle Sounders FC @ New England Revolution, 4;30.
Real Salt Lake @ FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Toronto FC @ Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids @ Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m.
New York Red Bulls @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 28
San Jose Earthquakes @ DC United, Noon (Telefutura).

MLS announces 2010 Home openers

Major League Soccer has announced the 2010 home openers for all 16 MLS teams.

After a rousing 2009 debut, Seattle Sounders FC will kickoff the 2010 MLS season at Qwest Field, as it plays host to the newest edition to MLS, the Philadelphia Union, on Thursday, March 25. The match will be televised on ESPN2 at 6:30/9:30.

The Philadelphia Union will have to wait until April 10 to make its home debut in Philadelphia, as it will host DC United at Lincoln Financial Field on April 10. The match will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel at noon/3 p.m.

Another highlight for the 2010 MLS openers will feature the New York Red Bulls debuting its brand new home, Red Bull Arena, against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, March 27.

The Columbus Crew, Chivas USA, FC Dallas, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes will join the Red Bulls and Sounders in playing their 2010 season openers at home. The Dynamo, Rapids and DC United will have their home openers in Week 2 on April 3 and the Fire, Revolution and Real Salt Lake along with the Union will have their 2010 home debuts in Week 3.

MLS plans to announce the schedules for all 16 teams at a later date. Until then, here is the complete list of MLS 2010 openers.

All times listed are Pacific Standard Times

Week 1
Thursday, March 25
Philadelphia Union @ Seattle Sounders FC, 6:30 pm (ESPN 2)

Saturday, March 27
Toronto FC @ Columbus Crew, 1 p.m.
Chicago Fire @ New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
DC United @ Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo @ FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Real Salt Lake @ San Jose Earthquakes, 6 p.m.
New England Revolution @ Los Angeles Galaxy, 8 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

Sunday, March 28
Colorado Rapids @ Chivas USA, Time To Be Determined (Telefutura)

Week 2
Saturday, April 3
Chicago Fire @ Colorado Rapids, TBD
New England Revolution @ DC United, 4:30 p.m.
Kansas City Wizards @ Houston Dynamo, 5:30 p.m.

Week 3
Saturday April 10
DC United at Philadelphia Union, noon (Fox Soccer Channel).
Toronto FC @ New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes @ Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders FC @ Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m.

Premier League look-ahead, September 26-27

Not a lot of intruguing matchups for the coming. The most interesting story heading into the coming weekend of matches will be whether or not Portsmouth, who is winless in its first six EPL matches, can finally pick up points against Everton.

Here is the Premier League schedule for the weekend

Saturday, September 26
Everton @ Portsmouth
Bolton @ Birmingham
Aston Villa @ Blackburn
Hull City @ Liverpool
Manchester United @ Stoke City
Burnley @ Tottenham
Chelsea @ Wigan Athletic
Arsenal @ Fulham

Sunday, September 27
Wolves @ Sunderland

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crew stumble again vs. Cruz Azul

After taking a 5-0 beating at the hands of Cruz Azul at Estadio Azul back on August 27, the Columbus Crew looked to have a better showing in the second leg of the matchup at Crew Stadium.

However, instead of payback, Cruz Azul inched ever closer to a berth in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, as goals by Pablo Zeballos and Alejandro Vela propelled Cruz Azul to a 2-0 win over the host Crew.

Both Cruz Azul goals came in the first half, with Zeballos' goal coming in the 14th minute and Vela's strike coming in the 39th minute. A minute before Vela's goal, Cruz Azul's Horacio Cervantes elbowed Steven Lenhart while the two were positioning for a corner kick. No call was made however and a near-scrum ensued.

Cruz Azul leads the Crew by four points in the Group C standings with two matches left to play. The Crew still have a chance to grab the second spot in the group if it defeats Saprissa on the road next Tuesday.

DC United will be the last MLS team to resume CONCACAF Champions League play, as they host Marathon at RFK Stadium tommorow night.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CONCACAF Champions League: Houston vs. Arabe Unido

The Dynamo pull into a second place tie with Arabe Unido in Group A with a 5-1 win. Houston, now two points behind Pachuca, owns the tiebreaker advantage over Arabe Unido on goal differential.

Stuart Holden scored two goals, which were the Dynamo's final two in the match, to seal the win. Houston outshot Arabe 16-6 in the match.,,12856~1805307,00.html

The Columbus Crew host Cruz Azul tommorow looking to avenge a 5-1 defeat earlier in the month, and DC United host Marathon on Thursday.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Manchester classic

It was an opportunity for Mancehster City that came up short in heart-breaking fashion.

Yet in the end, Manchester United showed why it is still one of the top clubs in the world, let alone the big dog in Manchester, as a stoppage time strike by Michael Owen enabld Man U to steal a 4-3 win over Man City at the Old Trafford.

United never trailed in the match, but each time it jumped ahead, City rallied for the equalizer. The last equalizer came from Craig Bellamy, whose goal in stoppage time appeared to have salvaged a draw for City, but extended stoppage time gave United enough time, and Owen won the first leg of the Manchester derby with a strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Columbus Crew 2, Chicago Fire 2

Guillermo Barros Schelotto came to the rescue for the Columbus Crew on Sunday, as his two goals rallied Columbus from a 2-0 halftime deficit and the Crew salvaged the draw with the Fire in a crucial Eastern Conference showdown at Toyota Park.

The draw enables the Crew (11-4-10, 43 points) to remain in the drivers seat in the East, as it is still three points ahead of the Fire (10-6-10, 40 points). More importantly to the Crew, they are now tied witht he Houston Dynamo in the race for the Supporters Shield.

The Fire broke out quickly to start the match. Peter Lowry scored six muntes later and added another goal in the 35th minute. The Crew however pulled one back on a Schelotto score in the 55th minute. Schelotto later converted a penalty kick in the 78th minute for the equalizer.

Final: Galaxy 2, Toronto FC 0

Second half highlights

The Galaxy sealed the match in the 83rd minute, as Beckham crossed a ball to Landon Donovan in the box and Donovan touched the ball to Buddle, who beat Stefan Frei to the left post.

Toronto had one good chance at the start of the second half. Chad Barrett collected a loose ball, led a break for goal and fed a ball to Ali Gerba. Gerba shot over Ricketts, but was foiled by the crossbar.

Buddle had two good looks prior to his goal, but both of them went over the crossbar.

Beckham got into a scrum with Amado Guevara, resulting in yellow cards for both, then narrowly missed another chance for a brace, as his shot attempt in the 80th minute went wide left, though not by much.

Read my match report for American Soccer News here

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Start of the second half

One change for the Galaxy; Chris Klein is in for Eddie Lewis.

1-0 Galaxy at the half.

Beckham accounts for the lone score in the eighth minute and could've had two, but his one-timer off a cross from Eddie Lewis hits the left post.

Toronto had some good looks at goal. TFC nearly capitalized on a turnover by Beckham in the 16th minute and had some looks inside the box, but some timely tackling by Omar Gonzalez bailed him out.

Another Toronto chance came in the 32nd minute when TFC's newest acquistion, midfielder Julian De Guzman, crossed a ball to Ali Gerba, who got his foot on the ball, but so did keeper Donovan Ricketts, who kick save and a beauty sent the ball out of play.

Galaxy Goal!!!

Beckham works a give-n-go of sorts with Chris Birchall that ends with Beckham shooting well inside the box and beating Frei to the left post.

The Galaxy's first scoring chance.......

came in the sixth minute, when Beckham from right-center, feeds a perfect ball to Donovan in the box, but his shot is stopped by Stefan Frei, who re-directs the shot to the left.

As promised

Here are the starting lineups, Lots of changes to the Galaxy lineup.

Los Angeles Galaxy Toronto FC
GK - Ricketts GK - Stefani Frei
D - Sean Franklin D - Marvell Wynne
D - Gregg Berhalter D - Nana Attakora
D - Omar Gonzalez D - Nick Garcia
D - Todd Dunivant D - Jim Brennan (C)

MF - Chris Birchall MF - Sam Cronin
MF - David Beckham MF - Julian De Guzman
MF - Stefani Miglioranzi MF - Dwayne De Rosario
MF - Eddie Lewis MF - Amado Guevara

F - Landon Donovan (C) F - Chad Barrett
F - Edson Buddle F - Ali Gerba

Update from Home Depot Center

Both teams have started warming up on the field.

Guess who is back warming up for the Galaxy; Defender Sean Franklin, who has missed the last four months with a Hamstring injury, is back in uniform warming up with the other 10 starters. Forward Edson Buddle is also warming up with the starters.

Back with the lineups for both teams soon.

Live from the Home Depot Center

Hey all. Comin to you live from the Home Depot Center, where tonight, the LA Galaxy will try to rebound from its ugly 6-2 loss last week when it hosts Toronto FC tonight at 7:30 p.m. pst.

Read my match preview for American Soccer News right here.

back in a few with the starting lineups.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Premier League weekend

September 19
Burnley vs. Sunderland (Set your recorders and TiVo's to 4:30 a.m. on ESPN 2)
Arsenal vs. Wigan Athletic
Aston Villa vs. Portsmouth
Bolton vs. Stoke City
Hull City vs, Birmingham
West Ham United vs. Liverpool

September 20
Manchester United vs. Manchester City
Wolves vs. Fulham
Everton Blackburn
Chelsea vs. Tottenham

Some pretty big matchups in the Premiership, starting with the Manchester derby between United and City at Old Trafford. Both sides along with Tottenham stand at 12 points, three behind front-running Chelsea.

Speaking of the Blues and Hotspur, both sides will meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Chelsea looking to maintain its edge in the table. Liverpool looks to jump into the race as it travels to East London to face West Ham United while Arsenal looks to get back on track as it hosts Wigan Athletic.

MLS Weekend September 18-20.

Note: All start times are Pacific Standard.

New England Revolution @ New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids @ San Jose Earthquakes 7:00 p.m., (ESPN2).

Chivas USA @ Seattle Sounders FC, Noon (Fox Soccer Channel).
Real Salt Lake @ Houston Dynamo, 5:30 p.m.
FC Dallas @ Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m.
Toronto FC @ Los Angeles Galaxy 7:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew @ Chicago Fire, Noon (Telefutura).

Two matches that stand out for the coming weekend are Chivas USA/Seattle Sounders and Columbus Crew/Chicago Fire.

Both Chivas and Seattle look to improve on their respective positions in the Western Conference. Seattle stands in third place in the West with 37 points and can catch the Dynamo for first place in the conference with a win and a Houston loss. Chivas meanwhile can climb up to as high as second place with a win and some help from San Jose and Toronto FC.

As for Columbus/Chicago, the Crew at 42 points stand three points ahead of the Fire in the race for the Eastern Conference title, so a Crew win all but assures the Crew of its second straight conference title while a Fire means a sprint to the finish line.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MLS Tidbits

Union to Open at Linc?????

The home debut of MLS' newest team, the Philadelphia Union, might be held at a different venue.

Apparently, the Union's new home Stadium, located in Chester might not be ready in time for the first week of the season, prompting MLS to delay the announcement of home dates until next week.

Full story right here.

FC Dallas signs Leyva from Juniors Program

FC Dallas announced that Bryan Leyva, a 16-year old midfielder out of its juniors program has signed with the team. Leyva becomes the first player to sign with FC Dallas through its youth system.

Leyva also represents Mexico's under-17, which is preparing for the U-17 World Cup, which will be held later this year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MLS to break during World Cup 2010

Major League Soccer today announced it will not play any matches during the 2010 World Cup

The World Cup will start on June 11 and the last MLS matchday prior to the tournament will be on June 10. The group phase of the World Cup is to end on June 25 and MLS also announced it will not play any matches on the days of the World Cup semifinals and championship match.
MLS also announced that the 2010 MLS season will start on March 25 and conclude with the MLS Cup final on November 21 and with the addition of the Philadenphia Union to the league, it will play a balanced 30-match schedule with each team playing against each other twice a year.

Official link to the story is here.

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