MLS’ 19th season will commence Saturday with plenty of anticipation. It’s a World Cup year, and MLS has quite a stake in the summer’s tournament, with players like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Julio Cesar, Jermain Defoe and a host of others potentially starring on the world’s stage. The need for replacement referees on the eve of First Kick certainly casts a shadow over the opening weekend, but the games will go on regardless.
Sporting Kansas City is the defending champion. The New York Red Bulls hold the Supporters’ Shield. Millions of dollars were shelled out to bring quality from overseas and keep quality on North American soil. So how will the 2014 season pan out? Our expert panel, consisting of Grant Wahl, Brian Straus, Alexander Abnos, Liviu Bird and Avi Creditor, takes a stab at predicting the future.
Without further ado (Edu? Adu? Oduro?), here is a Best XI of prediction questions and answers for the season ahead: Continue Reading
Major League Soccer plans to kick off its 19th season with replacement referees.
On Friday morning, the Professional Referee Organization, which manages officials in the U.S. and Canada in cooperation with the two national federations and the pro leagues, announced that match officials have been locked out “following a rejection by referees of a no strike/no lockout agreement.”
PRO and the Professional Soccer Referees Association have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for months. But with no deal in place, MLS games now will go ahead with “a highly-qualified pool of replacement officials all of whom have officiated at the professional level,” according to PRO.
That replacement pool includes foreigners with FIFA certification now living in the U.S., former MLS refs and minor league officials “who PRO believes are qualified to officiate at the MLS level.” PRO put them through their paces at a training camp last week. Continue Reading
MLS is back and with it comes either brand-new primary, secondary or alternate uniforms and sometimes a combination of those for all 19 clubs. For the second straight year, MLS and kit provider adidas teamed up to hold a festival of uniforms, dubbed Jersey Week. But this year everyone got into the mix.
While some changes were subtle and others had a bit more pop — and by pop we mean how Sporting KC went all rugby on us and Portland offered up one of the best retro looks you’ll ever see — we’ve run down what’s new and all of what you’ll see on the field in 2014.
Take a look below: Continue Reading
Before he was a Ballon d’Or winner and one of the best to ever play the game, Lionel Messi was just a kid. Exactly 10 years ago, at age 16, that kid played his first game with Barcelona B.
Merritt Paulson, the 40-year-old owner of the Portland Timbers and Thorns, wasn’t always a “soccer guy.” Oh, he grew up watching the World Cup, but his interest was mainly in other sports, and he worked as an executive at NBA Entertainment until 2007.
Then he bought the Timbers and went down the soccer rabbit hole.
“It’s just an immersion,” said Paulson, who took it one step further last weekend by being elected to U.S. Soccer’s board of directors, replacing Kevin Payne. “One of the neat things about soccer is how infectious it is. The more you learn about it, the more you know what you don’t know. It’s such a nuanced sport, and it really does get in your system in a way that over time few other sports do.”
“I’m a zealot and unbelievably passionate about helping grow the sport of soccer,” he continued. “In that vein, I think this new post on the federation board is a terrific honor.” Continue Reading
D.C. United forward Eddie Johnson has signed his Designated Player deal and Chicago Fire forward Mike Magee, the reigning MLS MVP, is close to one of his own, thus bringing an end to the league’s two most high-profile standoffs a few days before the start of the season.
Both players entered 2014 under contract, but both wanted, and likely deserved, a raise.
Johnson’s contract was announced Thursday afternoon, but United didn’t disclose the terms. SI.com understands that Johnson, who’s been in camp with United since returning from U.S. national team duty, was offered a two-year deal worth an average of $600,000 per season. That’s still below the $875,000 he made as a rising star in Kansas City in 2005, but it represents a big bump from the $156,333.33 in annual compensation earned last season. It makes Johnson, 29, the highest paid player in D.C.
The U.S. men’s national team will meet Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in its send-off series of friendlies right before the World Cup, SI.com has learned.
The Azerbaijan game is set to take place at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on May 27. The Turkey game will happen in Harrison, N.J., at Red Bull Arena on June 1, and the Nigeria game will take place in Jacksonville, Fla., at EverBank Field on June 7. The USA is slated to depart for Sao Paulo, where it will be based in Brazil for the World Cup, the following day.
The 2014 MLS season kicks off Saturday, when defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City heads to CenturyLink Field for a high-profile clash against the Seattle Sounders. Thus embarks a nine-month journey to MLS Cup.
Along the road, records will fall and statistical landmarks will be achieved. Here are five milestones worth keeping an eye on as the season approaches: Continue Reading
The beginning of every year brings the same thing: a fresh piece of paper waiting for the story of the season to be typed on it.
A new crop of international stars has joined Major League Soccer, some looking for redemption and some still established stars. The old guard, including Landon Donovan, is still here. They’re all looking to be in top shape for the World Cup in June and playoff push in October.
Preseason results mean little in the grand scheme of things when the real competition starts, but based on those games and offseason acquisitions, here’s how the league shapes up at First Kick: Continue Reading
While the U.S. men’s national team suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Ukraine, its World Cup group opponents were also in action.
Ghana also fell, with a mostly second-choice side succumbing 1-0 to Montenegro after a 1st-minute penalty. Germany and Portugal, however, were more fortunate.
Germany was less-than-impressive but still managed to defeat fellow World Cup participant Chile 1-0 behind an early goal from Mario Gotze. Of the three U.S. opponents, Portugal won most convincingly, taking down World Cup-bound Cameroon 5-1 behind two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, and tallies from Raul Meireles, Fabio Coentrao and Edinho.
More on all three games below: Continue Reading