Posted April 17, 2014

U.S. national team goalkeeper Tim Howard signs Everton extension to 2018

Americans Abroad, Avi Creditor, English Premier League, Tim Howard, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Tim Howard

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard has pledged his future to Everton, signing an extension through 2018. (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Howard has helped Everton stay in the thick of the Champions League hunt, and he will be trying to do so for the next four years, as well.

Everton announced that the club has signed Howard to an extension through 2018, keeping him on Merseyside through the next World Cup cycle. Howard, 35, had signed an extension with Everton two years ago that lasted through 2016. Continue Reading

Posted April 17, 2014

Klinsmann: First U.S. U-21 ‘future Olympic’ team to gather next week

Avi Creditor, Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Jurgen Klinsmann

U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann, left, has stressed the importance of bridging the gap between the senior national team and the youth set-up. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The U.S. Under-23 side failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics was a massive embarrassment for U.S. Soccer, and it’s one that Jurgen Klinsmann does not want to see happen again in 2016.

As such, U.S. Soccer will be gathering an Under-21 team together for a camp next week to commence 2016 Olympic preparations, Klinsmann said in comments regarding youth soccer and development released by U.S. Soccer on Thursday.

“Next week with the first Under-21 group getting gathered together, which is basically our future Olympic team – we want to make sure that we start the process early enough that we learn out of mistakes from the past that the last cycle didn’t go to London 2012. So we have to qualify for Rio de Janeiro, again Brazil, in 2016, so that’s why we start that process already next week.” Continue Reading

Posted April 17, 2014

FC Barcelona opening youth academy in Florida this summer

Avi Creditor, Barcelona
La Masia, Barcelona

The values and tactics taught at La Masia, Barcelona’s famed youth academy, will be making their way to southern Florida. (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Major League Soccer isn’t the only one expanding to the southeast of the United States.

FC Barcelona announced that the club is opening a youth academy for children ages 6-13 at Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this August. The club has conducted soccer camps around the country for the last seven years – and the last five summers and three winters in Fort Lauderdale – but this will be its first permanent academy in the USA. Its technical staff will be made up of Barcelona coaches who will live in Florida and pass on the same values and and tactics taught at the club’s famed La Masia academy. Continue Reading

Posted April 17, 2014

Ex-Sounder Gspurning has front-row seat for outrageous Greek Cup atmosphere

Liviu Bird
Michael Gspurning

Former Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning had a front-row seat to an insane atmosphere in a Greek Cup match on Wednesday. (Ted S. Warren)

Former Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning had a perfect view of the ring of fire PAOK fans lit around their stadium during a Greek Cup semifinal on Wednesday. Now the backup for the Thessaloniki club, he watched as the pyrotechnic display wound its way around Stadio Toumbas and encircled the playing field.

“It’s absolutely a feeling you can’t express,” Gspurning told SI.com over the phone from Greece on Thursday. “You just sit there, and you just think, ‘Wow.’ ”

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Posted April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Altidore enters ’10 World Cup coming off frustrating Hull season

Jozy Altidore, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Jozy Altidore

Jozy Altidore entered the 2010 World Cup with high expectations despite a rough club season with Hull City. He’ll do the same in 2014 after a disappointing campaign with Sunderland. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

With the World Cup just mere weeks away there’s no better time to look back in the annals of U.S. Soccer to recall past teams, individuals and moments. Every Thursday from now until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we’ll dig into the SI Vault for a Throwback Thursday adventure, sifting through the USA’s history as the Americans look to create a new chapter this summer.

With Jozy Altidore enduring a disappointing first season with Sunderland ahead of what could be a massive summer for him in Brazil, our latest look back is Ben Reiter’s SI Magazine story from the May 3, 2010, issue, in which he profiles Altidore finishing up a rough season with Hull City prior to embarking on his first World Cup journey in South Africa.

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Posted April 17, 2014

With Atlanta on board, MLS shows there’s no one-size-fits-all expansion criteria

Brian Straus, MLS, MLS Expansion
Don Garber, Arthur Blank

MLS commissioner Don Garber, right, places a symbolic scarf around new Atlanta MLS franchise owner Arthur Blank. (David Goldman/AP)

Quick, pick the perfect current MLS market. The ideal. The one that has all the right ingredients.

Seattle, Portland and Vancouver come to mind first, but they play in stadiums with artificial turf. The fake stuff is either despised or tolerated, but certainly never preferred. The Timbers’ Providence Park might be a bit too small. BC Place is too large, and the Whitecaps have to share it with a football team.

It’s all going great in Kansas City right now, but what happens when Sporting’s championship core moves on? What if the wins dry up? That’s certainly possible for a “small market” club in the designated player era. Will the novelty wear off in a region that, until a few years ago, didn’t seem to care at all about supporting pro soccer? Then there’s the fact that Sporting Park, while gorgeous, is a solid 15 miles west of downtown. There are restaurants, stores and hotels scattered throughout the adjacent (and vast) Village West complex, but it’s hardly “urban core.”

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Posted April 16, 2014

New York Red Bulls secure first win of season; Thierry Henry scores his second goal

Avi Creditor, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union
Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry, center, helped the Red Bulls to their first win of the 2014 season Wednesday night. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Last season’s MLS Supporters’ Shield winners finally have their first win of the 2014 campaign.

It took seven games, but the New York Red Bulls are into the win column at long last after holding on for Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena.

Thierry Henry scored the goal that broke a scoreless deadlock and got the Red Bulls on their way, clinically finishing after a clean build-up. Costa Rican international defender Roy Miller delivered the decisive pass, cutting back at a tight angle after completing a run into the box off a feed from Eric Alexander. Henry one-timed it with precision from close range in the 57th minute for his second goal of the season.  Continue Reading

Posted April 16, 2014

Watch: Gareth Bale gives Real Madrid Copa del Rey triumph with incredible run, goal

Avi Creditor, Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Golazos, Real Madrid, Spain
Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale celebrates his tremendous goal that gave Real Madrid a Copa del Rey triumph over Barcelona. (Alberto Saiz/AP)

Gareth Bale proved to be worth every penny for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

Bale, who (depending on who you believe) fetched the biggest transfer fee in soccer history last summer in moving to Madrid from Tottenham, delivered an incredible game-winning goal in Madrid’s 2-1 triumph over Barcelona, leading the club — playing without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo — to its 19th domestic cup title.

Bale, who received the ball at the midfield line, got bumped off the ball and out of bounds by Marc Bartra — whose goal had tied the game up minutes before — only to recover, use his foot speed to regain possession and turn the corner on Bartra before beating Jose Manuel Pinto for the 85th-minute winner.

Watch Bale’s superb solo effort below: Continue Reading

Posted April 16, 2014

MLS in Atlanta: The $1.2 billion stadium Blank’s new team will share with the Falcons

MLS, MLS Expansion

Architect Bill Johnson told Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank he wanted to design him a NFL stadium with interest, something far more than a seating bowl and a roof over top. After 360 Architecture won the job for the Falcons’ stadium, he did just that with a wild eight-panel retractable roof that mimics a pinwheel, creating a pinpoint of natural light at the start of opening and then retracting to a 110,000-square-foot circular opening.

“We used the Pantheon in Rome with its circular opening and the sun streaming in (as inspiration),” Johnson tells SI.com. “We nicknamed this building the Pantheon and when we won the job, the name stuck and the idea developed.”

It developed right into a $1.2 billion stadium plan, which Blank plans to have ready for his Falcons — and his new MLS team, which he was awarded Wednesday — in 2017. Continue Reading

Posted April 16, 2014

MLS awards 2017 expansion franchise to Atlanta, owner Arthur Blank

Avi Creditor, David Beckham, MLS, MLS Expansion, Orlando City
Don Garber, Arthur Blank

MLS commissioner Don Garber, left, and new MLS Atlanta franchise owner Arthur Blank talk during the Nigeria-Mexico friendly in Atlanta last month. (Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon SMI)

MLS commissioner Don Garber has spoken at length over the past number of years about wanting the league to re-establish a footprint in the southeastern corner of the United States. With his third expansion-related announcement in five months regarding that portion of the country, he has surely gotten his way.

Garber and MLS awarded an expansion franchise to the city of Atlanta Wednesday evening, opening the lid on the worst-kept secret in the league. Atlanta’s team is MLS’ 22nd franchise, and it will begin play in 2017 at a downtown stadium being built for club owner Arthur Blank’s other team, NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. The 65,000-seat stadium will be limited to 29,322 capacity for MLS games, according to a league press release. Continue Reading