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.