Posted April 15, 2014

Hillsborough 25th anniversary tributes: In sights and sounds

English Premier League, Liverpool

While the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed and killed at an FA Cup semifinal at Sheffield’s Hillsborough Stadium, was commemorated across England over the weekend, Tuesday marked the actual 25th anniversary of the tragedy, and it was a day of tribute, emotion and remembrance.

Liverpool’s home ground, Anfield, hosted a touching memorial service, where a number of dignitaries gave speeches and symbolic gestures were made to remember those who lost their lives. Everton and Liverpool, bitter enemies on the field, put aside their city rivalry to join together in a united front. Everton manager Roberto Martinez offered poignant remarks at Anfield, in addition to gracious Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, while Everton’s home ground, Goodson Park held a memorial service of its own.

Behold, both above and below, some of the sites and sounds of an emotional day in Liverpool.

Continue Reading

Posted April 15, 2014

MLB fields coordinator: NYCFC, Yankees sharing Yankee Stadium not ideal, but doable

MLS, MLS Expansion, New York City FC
Yankee Stadium soccer

Yankee Stadium has hosted a few soccer matches, including a friendly between Spain and the Republic of Ireland in 2013. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Sharing is never easy, especially when it comes to Yankee Stadium and the needs of both a Major League Baseball and a Major League Soccer team. And while having both teams use the venue as their home is not ideal, Murray Cook, MLB’s fields and facilities coordinator, tells SI.com “it is doable.”

The New York Times reported Monday night that New York City FC will play its first three MLS seasons, starting in 2015, in Yankee Stadium, with the official announcement expected next week. With Manchester City FC and the Yankees teaming up to bring MLS to New York City, Yankee Stadium was the logical business choice for a stopgap home.

But logistics have to work on the field too.

“Is it ideal?” Cook ponders. “It is not the greatest, but it works. It is doable.” Continue Reading

Posted April 15, 2014

Q&A with Hillsborough 30 for 30 director Daniel Gordon

Grant Wahl, Liverpool
Liverpool fans

Liverpool fans display their support in the quest for justice while commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield this past Sunday. (Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, ESPN will show Hillsborough, its latest documentary in the 30 for 30 series. Director Daniel Gordon’s two-hour movie is the most comprehensive film account to date of the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool FC fans were crushed to death due to horrific overcrowding at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield at an FA Cup semifinal on April 15, 1989 (exactly 25 years ago).

It’s a remarkably powerful and well-done film, one that will fill you with emotions: Sorrow over the tragic and unnecessary loss of so many lives; outrage over the police cover-up of the investigation and erroneous attempts to blame the fans themselves; and, in the end, a measure of satisfaction that justice finally appears to be coming after 25 years of pain for the families who lost their loved ones that day.

Hillsborough is important work, the best 30 for 30 I’ve seen (along with The Two Escobars), and you should watch it even if you aren’t a soccer fan. On Monday, I sat down in New York with Gordon — whose standout films over the years include The Game of Their Lives (on North Korea’s 1966 World Cup team), 9.79 (a 30 for 30 on Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis) and Match 64 (on the 2010 World Cup final) — to discuss the film: Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

Report: MLS expansion team NYCFC will play first three years at Yankee Stadium

Alexander Abnos, MLS, MLS Expansion, New York City FC
Yankee Stadium soccer

Yankee Stadium hosted a friendly between Spain and the Republic of Ireland in 2013. (Mike Stobe, Getty Images)

Major League Soccer’s New York expansion team will begin play in one of the city’s most iconic venues.

According to a report in the New York Times, New York City Football Club (NYCFC) will play their first three MLS seasons at Yankee Stadium, the home field of their co-owners the New York Yankees. NYCFC, a joint venture between the Yankees and Manchester City of the English Premier League, had been searching for a concrete stadium plan since being announced as MLS’ 20th team on May 21, 2013. The team begins play next season.

Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden to attend USMNT match at World Cup in Brazil

2014 World Cup, Avi Creditor, U.S. men's national team, U.S. Soccer
Joe Biden

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, applauds during the U.S. men’s national team’s World Cup clash with England in 2010. He’ll be at this summer’s event in Brazil, as well. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

For a second straight World Cup, the U.S. men’s national team will have a high-ranking American spectator in its corner.

United States Vice President Joe Biden will be attending a U.S. game at this summer’s tournament in Brazil, the White House announced on Monday, though it did not specify which one. Biden, who also attended the World Cup in South Africa, was part of a State Department function on Monday along with Secretary of State John Kerry, who welcomed the World Cup trophy to Washington D.C. on its tour en route to Rio de Janeiro. Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

Megan Rapinoe: ‘Big personality’ needed to be USWNT head coach

Liviu Bird, NWSL, U.S. women's national team, Women's Soccer
Megan Rapinoe

U.S. women’s national team winger Megan Rapinoe (15) says a big personality is required to be the WNT coach. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

SEATTLE — Tom Sermanni’s philosophy as the United States women’s national team head coach was the right one, Megan Rapinoe told reporters Sunday. It might have been his lack of an imposing personality that got him fired.

“I think a lot of what Tom brought, just in terms of his philosophy and the way that he wanted to play: really high-tempo, pressing, attacking style,” Rapinoe said of what she would like out of a new coach. “For this group, because we have so many big personalities, I think the manager also has to have a big personality but in a way that sort of knows how to deal with everything. Maybe that was an area that U.S. Soccer felt that Tom’s style isn’t so dominant and direct and in-your-face; it’s much more laid back. Maybe we need a mix.” Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI: Week 6

Clint Dempsey, Liviu Bird, MLS, MLS Best XI
Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey, center, has had plenty to smile about in recent weeks after a goal-scoring barrage. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Besides Clint Dempsey’s two-goal follow-up to his hat trick against Portland, in-your-face individual performances were sparse in Major League Soccer last weekend. On the attacking side, no other player scored more than one goal in a game.

At the same time, a couple of the league’s more creative midfielders shined with the ball at their feet. Vincent Nogueira tallied an assist, and Yannick Djaló provided San Jose with a much-needed boost off the bench. Perhaps the Earthquakes have finally found a way to replace Simon Dawkins, although Djaló is also property of another club, on loan from UEFA Europa League semifinalist Benfica for now.

Here is Planet Fútbol’s MLS Best XI for Week 6:

Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

MLS Power Rankings: Week 6

Liviu Bird, MLS, MLS Power Rankings
Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake is the last unbeaten team left in MLS after a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Sport)

Only one Major League Soccer team is still undefeated after a month and a half of the 2014 season. Real Salt Lake’s 2-2 tie against the Philadelphia Union provided one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, and Jeff Cassar’s team took another point on the road.

FC Dallas, the other undefeated team heading into the weekend, led twice at home against the Seattle Sounders but ran into a hot Clint Dempsey and lost, 3-2. On the other end of the spectrum, five teams remain winless, including the two conference champions from 2013.

Here are the power rankings after six weeks of MLS play:

Continue Reading

Posted April 12, 2014

Watch: USMNT captain Clint Dempsey scores twice to hand Sounders win over Dallas

Clint Dempsey, FC Dallas, Liviu Bird, MLS, Seattle Sounders, U.S. men's national team
Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports

This was Dempsey’s fifth league game in a row with either a goal or an assist. (Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports)

After scoring a hat trick in the Seattle Sounders’ 4-4 comeback draw last week, Clint Dempsey scored two more on Saturday. His free kick from distance was an equalizer for the Sounders at FC Dallas after conceding in the first 10 minutes, and then he scored the winner in the last five minutes to give Seattle a 3-2 win.

Continue Reading

Posted April 14, 2014

Watch: World Cup hopefuls Beckerman, Edu trade late goals in Union-RSL draw

Kyle Beckerman, Liviu Bird, MLS, Philadelphia Union, Real Salt Lake
Maurice Edu

U.S. midfielder Maurice Edu picks the ball out of the goal after rescuing a point for the Philadelphia Union vs. RSL with a late score. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Sport)

Two players battling for midfield places on the United States national team at the 2014 World Cup, Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu, faced off on Saturday. Both capped off solid performances with goals in the last 10 minutes.

Continue Reading