The last seven months haven’t been the finest of Clint Dempsey’s career.
Following his stunning move from Tottenham to Seattle in August 2013, Dempsey has struggled for both club and country, tallying just two goals in all competitions for the Seattle Sounders, Fulham (on loan) and the U.S. men’s national team. With the World Cup approaching, that lack of productivity has become more worrisome for U.S. fans, with Dempsey’s play a vital key to success this summer.
Jurgen Klinsmann sees his captain, who turned 31 this week, turning a corner, though. Despite a lackluster showing against Ukraine, Dempsey’s play has Klinsmann feeling upbeat with the countdown to Brazil continuing. In comments to U.S. Soccer, Klinsmann claims that Dempsey’s struggles are behind him and that he is on the right track. Continue Reading
Heather O’Reilly joined exclusive company in style, as the U.S. women saved face in their finale at the Algarve Cup on Wednesday.
O’Reilly became the ninth U.S. woman to reach 200 caps, scoring the final goal — the 40th in her international career — in the USA’s 3-0 win over North Korea in their seventh-place match at the competition in Portugal. O’Reilly joins Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Tiffeny Milbrett, Kate Markgraf and Abby Wambach in the 200-cap club. Wambach added to her world-record goal tally by scoring the first two Wednesday, and her mark now stands at 167.
More importantly, the goals helped the U.S. end an otherwise forgettable tournament on a high note. The U.S. women had dropped two straight — losing to Sweden and Denmark — to snap their 43-game unbeaten run and lose consecutive matches for the first time in 13 years.
The San Jose Earthquakes lived up to their “Never Say Die” motto on Tuesday night, as an Alan Gordon goal in the 95th minute earned the MLS side a 1-1 draw with Liga MX side Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals’ first leg.
However, the Earthquakes could have gotten more out of their home game against a Toluca side that has already proven to be among Mexico’s best in 2014. Chris Wondolowski had two golden chances to put San Jose ahead just after halftime, but Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera made two solid stops to keep things level.
The worst fears regarding U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden’s latest setback have been realized.
After attempting to return from an ACL tear with Bolton’s U-21s last week, Holden lasted 22 minutes before being forced off the field with a knee injury. Hopes that it was a minor setback were quickly dashed Tuesday, when Bolton announced that Holden will miss the next 6-9 months after ligament surgery in his right knee — the same knee in which he tore his ACL in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Panama last July.
The injury rules Holden, 28, out of contention for this summer’s World Cup, and it sets him on yet another long-term comeback course, something that has defined his career.
While the Champions League battles rage on in Europe, the North American version of the competition also resumes this week. Three of the five Major League Soccer teams to qualify for the competition are still in it, but they face tough Mexican opposition in the quarterfinals.
The three MLS teams are the lowest seeds in the final eight, and two of them, LA and Sporting KC opened the domestic season with losses on Saturday (the other, San Jose did not play). It’s safe to say that if any of them win their series, it will be an upset, and one that would carry MLS closer to capturing that elusive CCL title.
Here’s how the four CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchups stack up: Continue Reading
FC Barcelona officials call the Camp Nou upgrade the “ENEA” project: New Stadium Existing Structure.
And in every way, that’s what the club hopes to offer by 2021, by adding seats to what is already Europe’s largest soccer venue, reconfiguring the three tiers of seating in the 56-year-old structure, modernizing the facility’s amenities and offering up an entirely new look to the venue tucked into the Les Corts neighborhood in southwest Barcelona.
While the La Liga club already announced plans to drop any “New Stadium at New Site” plans in lieu of turning its 98,000-seat bowl-styled stadium into a 105,053-seat venue with a roof covering all seats, club officials continue to outline plans — including releasing a timeline of the proposed reconstruction — ahead of the club’s April 5-6 membership vote on the proposal. Continue Reading
MLS replacement referees will officiate league games in Week 2 as the struggle between the Professional Referee Organization and Professional Soccer Referees Association to find common ground continues.
The latest round of negotiations has been canceled, according to a PSRA press release, and regular league officials have been pulled from their assignments as a result. That means another week of uncertainty and another week of replacements with some major games on the horizon — none bigger than Saturday’s season debut for Toronto FC at Seattle.
“PSRA is disappointed to report that PRO has unilaterally canceled yet another scheduled negotiation session for today, Tuesday, March 11, 2014,” PSRA negotiations leader and vice president Steve Taylor said in a statement. “Additionally, PRO has removed all match assignments from PSRA officials for week 2 of the MLS regular season, effectively continuing the lockout of the referees. It is unknown at this time when PRO will agree to resume talks as required by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”
Both parties have filed charges against the other with the NLRB, as the ugliness between the two sides continues to boil over.
The world’s game has been referenced (and targeted) surprisingly frequently by America’s longest-running comedy series.
The Simpsons has crossed paths with Pelé, both Ronaldos (the Brazilian on the show and the Portuguese in a commercial) and, of course, Ariaga, Ariaga II and Bariaga, who played a part in that notorious 1997 Continental Soccer Association match which determined “once and for all which nation is the greatest on earth, Mexico or Portugal,” and set the stage for a riot that engulfed Springfield.
This spring, they’re at it again. The Simpsons and Fox have teamed up with several of the sport’s biggest clubs for a marketing and merchandising campaign that’s just a bit more ambitious than the time O Rei stopped by Springfield to hawk Crestfield Wax Paper. In addition, a World Cup-themed episode of the show will air on March 30.
Key players will be “Simpsonized” as part of the initiative. Last month, five Chelsea stars were given the unmistakable yellow tint and overbite, and Wednesday it will be Barcelona’s turn. Fox provided SI.com this preview of a “Simpsonized” Xavi Hernández, who’s the ideal player to hold it, hold it, hold it! Three of his FCB teammates will be unveiled Wednesday during Fox Sports 1’s broadcast of the Barcelona-Manchester City UEFA Champions League game. The show starts at 3 p.m. ET. “Simpsonized” Xavi is below:
In the upcoming Simpsons episode, Homer is named as a World Cup referee. But upon reaching Brazil, his integrity is tested by match fixers. The family’s last trip to Brazil came in 2002, when it was greeted by hotel bellhops who were juggling luggage like soccer balls.
Homer already has some officiating experience. While refereeing a 2007 youth soccer game, he red carded his own daughter for bad sportsmanship, tore of his shirt à la Brandi Chastain and threw up into a cone.
We’re assuming “Simpsonized” Xavi and his teammates will handle themselves better on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Homer will have to come to terms with the fact that in his show’s 25th season, soccer has hit the American mainstream.
Already, Major League Soccer teams have called preseason predictions into question, and we’re only most of the way through every team making its debut. A couple teams at the top lost, while a couple at the bottom got off to fast starts.
The league-instilled parity means any team can win any game, so the results of just one match shouldn’t cause too much euphoria or panic, but a few teams, such as the Vancouver Whitecaps, showed immense potential. Others, including the New England Revolution, will be happy it was only the first game of 34.
Here’s how the league shapes up after one round of games: Continue Reading
The U.S. women’s national team’s dominance is that overwhelming that when it falls on hard times it is often downright baffling. That’s probably the best way to describe what has occurred at the Algarve Cup in Portugal over the last week: Baffling.
On the heels of having their 43-game unbeaten streak snapped by Pia Sundhage-coached Sweden on Friday, a 5-3 loss to Denmark Monday marked two more lowlights for the U.S. women: The first time they have ever conceded five goals, and the first time they have lost consecutive games since 2001, according to ESPN stats guru Paul Carr.
The Algarve Cup doesn’t carry anywhere near the same significance as the World Cup or Olympics, so there is reason to take the drab 0-2-1 group-play showing with a grain of salt, but it does highlight some need for improvement and flaws in the build up to next summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.