The Seattle Sounders eliminated Mexico’s Tigres on Tuessday night in the CONCACAF Champions League. In front of their home crowd at CenturyLink Field, Seattle fell behind two goals on aggregate when Tigres scored in the 22nd minute. The referee sent off Tigres’ Manuel Viniegra just before halftime, and Seattle took full advantage. DeAndre Yedlin scored in the 52nd minute and Djimi Traore made it 2-2 on aggregate in the 59th. Eddie Johnson scored the winner in the 74th minute. Jonathan Bornstein started for Tigres. Jose Torres wasn’t in the squad.
By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 13, 2013) US Soccer Players – Threatened with relegation and feeling the pressure of playing in the top flight of English soccer, Reading FC fired manager Brian McDermott this week. McDermott was the man responsible for getting the club back into the Premier League in the first place, but because the team is in danger of immediately returning to the Championship, loyalty is not a luxury the club believed it could afford. Right now, Reading is in 19th place and four points from safety after four consecutive league losses.
Whatever one’s opinion on the “fairness” of Reading’s decision to fire him, McDermott himself was undoubtedly aware of the tenuousness of his position. A bad run, no matter the credit he built up taking the club to the Premier League, and he’d be gone. The longevity of a manager at that level measures in months rather than years, and only a string of trophies can guarantee job security from season to season. McDermott went from Manager of the Month in January to unemployed in March. Such is the lot of most English managers.
Meanwhile, the 2013 MLS season is underway, and it’s difficult to ignore how different Major League Soccer head coaches have it. Without the specter of relegation chasing them from game to game, even coaches at the league’s worst performing teams typically know they’re unlikely to get a pink slip before the year is done. MLS rarely rewards turnover. A playoff place is rarely so far away that a head-coaching change in the middle of the season makes much sense.
It’s impossible to disconnect the rules under which the two leagues operate from the amount of pressure applied to the typical coach. Relegation serves as an accelerant, pushing teams to make firing decisions much more rapidly. In North America, postseason playoffs give clubs a safety net, allowing coaches time to make adjustments and reverse negative trends without constantly worrying about their job status.
Let’s imagine a future when pressure on MLS head coaches reaches Premier League-like levels, even without the threat of relegation. For lack of a better analogy, imagine that the attitude that pervades the National Hockey league when it comes to coaches infiltrates American and Canadian top-flight soccer. Imagine an MLS where owners fall prey to the whims of fickle fan bases.
How would MLS change? Would a greater amount of pressure on the men in charge of lineups and tactics dramatically alter the product on the field?
MLS has the reputation as a cookie-cutter League, filled with teams playing similar styles. Parity might make MLS among the most competitive leagues in the world from top to bottom, but it also makes it difficult to develop a unique way of playing the game. Because the League is fast and physical, even teams that hope to slow things down and cultivate a more refined passing game tend to revert to rushing and kicking to compete. With more pressure and a thinner line between employment and unemployment, head coaches would be even more likely to forego the more difficult path in the hunt for points. Shorter tenures means less time to implement a new style and to find the players necessary to implement it.
Coaching is, by nature, a conservative profession. Names like Zeman and Bielsa stand out from their peers because they value offense over defense. They put scoring goals above preventing them, a philosophy that runs counter to coaching’s basic nature. In an MLS with more pressure but the same playoff safety net, it would take a truly unique coach (as unique as Zeman or Bielsa) to break out of a conservative mindset and “go for it.” Organizing a defense and relying on an adept goal-scorer or two is simpler in the short term. With uneven quality across a roster limited by the salary cap and weather that punishes high-effort teams during much of the season, sitting back is not only the easy way, it’s often the most prudent way.
Even worse, with a higher head coach turnover rate, clubs might find it difficult to develop a style of their own over a longer timeline, the way Jason Kreis has done at RealSalt Lake. If short-term results are paramount, and owners treat coaches as easily replaceable commodities, the head coach becomes less important as part of the club-building process. Like with Major League Baseball where the field manager ‘manages’ the players on the field, club presidents, technical directors, and general managers gain even more power in such a scenario. Like with baseball, continuity usually happens further up the food chain.
For MLS, the current environment fosters complacency in many cases, gives coaches little reason to stretch their teams. Would a set of hotter seats prompt coaches to rely on experienced players to the detriment of newer, younger, talent? Expectations should be higher than just reaching the playoffs for coaches placed under greater pressure. In most of the world, it’s not good enough do the bare minimum. In an MLS where that is also the case, the drama surrounding a coach stuck in a rut of dropped points would present its own sort of intrigue.
Imagine an MLS where making the playoffs one year doesn’t buy a coach a grace period for the next season. Imagine an MLS where a string of losses with a playoff place on the line in September results in a head coaching change. Imagine an MLS where every coach knows he’s in constant danger of losing his job. Imagine an MLS more like England, where leading a team to a spot in one of the world’s best leagues isn’t good enough to buy a coach much more than a stay of execution.
Would that be a better MLS?
Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the co-host of The Best Soccer Show. Contact him:email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/davisjsn.
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“we had an obligation to try and fight back and that’s what we did. The feelings we transmitted on the pitch were fantastic. When we show our identity, we’re very hard to beat.” Barcelona’s Andreas Iniesta.
- Gold Cup schedule. Using reserves in the CONCACAF Champions League. Using reserves in the UEFA Champions League. Barca’s comeback. Seattle’s win.
Sporting KC’s defense is out of kilter – from The Kansas City Star’s Tod Palmer: “It’s a psychological thing — and it’s something that has to change.”
NBC to air MLS marathon in new digs – from USA Today’s Michael Hiestand: including a show that will include live look-ins to four games.
MLS changes top tiebreaker for the end of the 2013 regular season to most wins – from The Seattle Times’ Joshua Mayers: 1. Most wins
Barcelona v AC Milan: The secrets behind Barca’s historic win – from BBC Sport: But how did they do it?
Barcelona do it their way to restore Champions League pride – from The Guardian’s Sid Lowe: “Even if we had lost, I would have said the same thing.”
Barcelona can cement their place as favorites to win the Champions League – from ESPN FC’s Gabriele Marcotti: The trademark high press was back, the rossoneri simply could not keep the ball.
Barcelona’s comeback among the greatest in Champions League history – from Goal.com’s Zac Lee Rigg: “It’s been a while since we played like this.”
Longmuir resurrects Old Firm colt proposal – from The Herald’s Michael Grant: and other clubs and supporters have been fiercely hostile to the idea.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oguchi Onyewu wasn’t in the squad for Malaga’s turnaround in their Champions League Round of 16 series with Porto. With Porto up a goal from the first leg, Malaga equalized on aggregate when Isco scored in the 43rd minute. The referee sent off Porto’s Steven Defour in the 49th minute. Malaga’s Roque Santa Cruz entered the game in the 74th minute and won the series on aggregate with a 77th minute goal.
“We back from a disappointing game in Portugal, although FC Porto’s goal was clearly offside,” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini said. “We intend to keep on playing the best football we can and continue on in the Champions League.”
The United States dropped a spot to 33rd in the FIFA World Ranking released on Thursday. The USA didn’t play during the rankings period. Mexico stay at 15th, with Panama at 41st, Honduras at 49th, Haiti at 51st, and Costa Rica at 53rd. FIFA announce next month’s rankings on April 11th. TOP TWENTY
The United States Soccer Federation officially announced a friendly against Belgium on May 29th in Cleveland. Belgium are 19th in the latest FIFA World Ranking released earlier today.
“Belgium is definitely a team on the rise,” USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “If you look at their roster, they have quality players from top to bottom who are on some of the biggest clubs in Europe. It’s a big opportunity for us and a great way to start the summer as we prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.”
The game is scheduled for 8pm ET at FirstEnergy Stadium and will be shown on ESPN2.
Ligue 1 on beIN Sport and Univision Deportes: Marseille – Ajaccio at 3:30pm in a 3rd vs 13th matchup. Scottish Premier League on Fox Soccer Plus: Motherwell – Hibs at 3:45pm. Motherwell are 2nd in the SPL in the non-Rangers era with Hibernian in 6th. La Liga on beIN Sport en Espanol: Deportivo – Celta Vigo at 4:30pm, a relegation battle between the 20th and 19th-place clubs. All Times Eastern
By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 15, 2012) US Soccer Players – Major League Soccer tends to be a slow-starting competition. In the early going, teams are still working out their plans and correcting problems. It’s a long season in this league, and teams know to pace themselves. That is unless you’re a player looking to impress a national team coach. With CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round of World Cup Qualifying on the schedule later this month, several veteran stars across the league have good reason to reach their top gear at this early stage. MLS players around the outer perimeter of Jurgen Klinsmann’s US National Team squad look to make an impression ahead of the pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico on March 22nd and March 26th.
Last month’s setback in Honduras is unlikely to spur the forward-looking Klinsmann to make sweeping changes to his roster. It’s that list of injuries to regulars in the squad that may open up spots. For a handful of players who’ve dwelled on the proverbial bubble of late, every minute of play counts in terms of proving their worth to him. It all serves to raise the stakes for many of the Yanks taking the field in this weekend’s round of MLS action, the final opportunity to show Klinsmann they deserve one of the precious tickets to Denver and Mexico City.
“Wondo” has played like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders this spring. The reigning MLS MVP and goal king has shown enough sustained striking excellence – for three seasons running, in fact - to earn a lucrative Designated Player contract from the San Jose Earthquakes, an invite to Klinsmann’s January camp, and a starting role in that month’s friendly against Canada. Yet he lasted just 45 minutes in that game before being substituted, did not make the final roster for the Honduras trip, and has not been his usual razor-sharp self in front of goal during the Quakes’ first two games of 2013.
In fact, the 30-year-old looked downright snake bit in San Jose’s opening weekend loss to Real Salt Lake, taking eight shots without reward. He saw his game-deciding penalty kick saved against New York on Sunday only to have Red Bull Roy Miller’s ludicrous encroachment violation bail him out and give him another – successful – shot for a 2-1 win. The Quakes visit Columbus this Saturday in the only MLS game with nary a trace of the “Rivalry Week” theme, but Wondo will want his own performance to carry an extra edge as he looks to snare another chance with the Yanks.
This winter the Philadelphia Union center back had to juggle his January call-up with a cross-country move back to his hometown and the birth of his first child. His work in Southern California nonetheless earned praise from Klinsmann, though he did not make the game day roster for the Canada match, leaving the full extent of the US coaching staff’s evaluation in doubt.
That said, he’s a steady, experienced performer in a position under some degree of flux at the moment. Omar Gonzalez endured a baptism by fire as a starter in Honduras, his first career qualifier, showing the nerves one would expect given the circumstances. The varying form and fitness levels of Klinsmann’s European-based center backs may represent an opening for Parke, whose Union host New England at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon. The Revolution’s skilled midfield might even present him with something of a domestic preview of the movement and dynamism on offer from Mexico and Costa Rica.
Given Klinsmann’s fondness for holding midfielders and his well-established trust in Beckerman, it was something of a surprise to see the RSL metronome left at home last month. He may have lost out due to match-up concerns with Honduras, or simply lacked the in-season match fitness that his overseas-based midfield competitors had simply by virtue of the calendar.
Either way, Beckerman appears to be just the type of option Klinsmann would enjoy having against ball-hogging opponents, with an ability to string together possession as well as destroy the enemy’s attempts to do the same in the USA’s defensive third. The dreadlocked Marylander will surely be amped up for Real’s rivalry game against the Colorado Rapids, his former team. An influential, disciplined display at Rio Tinto Stadium could well be the cue for the US staff to move him up their list, perhaps even onto the game day 18 for next Friday’s tussle with Costa Rica in Colorado.
The Houston Dynamo hero is one of the MLS-based vets who did make it onto the short list for the first Hexagonal qualifier. Though he did not take the field in San Pedro Sula, his skills set – left-footed, extremely accurate passer, set-piece specialist – remains attractive. His club team’s blue-collar style will have prepared him well for situations like the one that awaits the Yanks at Estadio Azteca. In fact, Houston just endured a similar scenario in their CONCACAF Champions League swan song against Santos Laguna on Wednesday. Plenty of defensive work and free kick opportunism are probably required if a positive result is to be snatched.
Davis remains one of the few lefties in the US player pool. If width in the attack proves as crucial for the team this month as most observers believe it to be, his selection makes a lot of sense. The Dynamo’s CCL run, combined with the fitness base built by his time in the US camp, should make him one of the sharpest MLSers under Klinsmann’s consideration.
Charles Boehm is a Washington, DC-based writer and the editor of The Soccer Wire. Contact him at:email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/cboehm.
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Clint Dempsey returned to action over the weekend, playing the second-half in Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Fulham. Dempsey hasn’t played in several weeks after straining his calf. Fulham scored in the 52nd minute to beat Spurs at White Hart Lane in a London derby. Spurs are 4th in the Premier League.
“It’s one of those defeats you have to reflect on, the desire was there, the effort was there but things didn’t go our way,” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “Everybody is disappointed with the result. We will regroup after the international break and look to bounce back against Swansea.”
Also in the Premier League, Geoff Cameron’s Stoke finished 0-0 against West Brom. Brad Guzan was in goal for Aston Villa’s 3-2 win against QPR. Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor equalized in first-half stoppage time with Andreas Weimann putting Villa up a goal in the 59th minute. QPR equalized in the 73rd, with Christian Benteke scoring Villa’s winner in the 81st minute. In the Championship, Jonathan Spector injured his ankle in the opening minute of Birmingham City’s 1-0 shutout of Middlesbrough and had to be substituted. Nikola Zigic scored the game’s only goal in the 81st minute. In League One, Frank Simek’s Carlisle United lost to Leyton Orient 4-1.
Jozy Altidore scored in AZ’s 3-2 loss to 1st-place Ajax at AFAS Stadion. Ajax were up two goals when Markus Henriksen scored for AZ in the 47th minute. Ajax made it 3-1 in the 59th, with Altidore scoring in the 74th minute. AZ are 14th in the Eredivisie table.
In Serie A, Michael Bradley subbed on in the 68th minute for Roma in a 2-0 shutout of Parma. Francesco Totti scored Roma’s second goal two minutes after Bradley subbed in. Sacha Kljestan’s Anderlecht drew 1-1 with Gent in Belgium. Anderlecht led from a 40th minute Milan Jovanovic goal with Gent equalizing in the 83rd. The referee booked Kljestan in the 9th minute. This was the final game of the regular season, with Anderlecht finishing first as the Pro League moves to the playoffs. In Austria, Terrence Boyd’s Rapid Vienna drew 1-1 with Admira. Rapid’s Arald Pichler opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with Admira equalizing four minutes later. The referee booked Boyd in the 23rd minute.
Jermaine Jones and Schalke were shutout 3-0 by Timmy Chandler’s Nurnberg in the Bundesliga. Markus Feulner opened the scoring in the 31st minute at the Grundig-Stadion with Alexander Esswein scoring in the 69th and Mike Fratz in the 87th minute. Chandler subbed out in the 84th minute. Danny Williams and Hoffenheim finished 0-0 with Mainz.
In Norway, Josh Gatt’s Molde lost 2-1 to Viking as the 2013 Eliteserien season kicks off. Molde led from a 9th minute Mattias Mostrom goal, but Viking were level by the 31st and scored their winner in the 57th minute. Mix Diskerud’s Rosenborg shutout Odd 1-0 on a 71st minute Mike Jensen goal. In Denmark, Clarence Goodson’s Brondby drew 1-1 with Midtjylland. Brondby’s Quincy Antipas opened the scoring in the 41st minute with Midtjylland equalizing in the 49th. The referee booked Goodson in the 74th minute. Charlie Davies subbed on in stoppage time for Randers 1-0 shutout of Silkeborg. Ronnie Schwartz scored in the 7th minute.
Liga MX, and Joe Corona subbed on in the 71st minute for Tijuana’s 2-2 draw with Monterrey. Tijuana’s Francisco Martinez opened the scoring in the 26th minute at Estadio Caliente, with Monterrey equalizing in the 31st and taking the lead three minutes later. Dubier Riascos equalized in the 87th minute. DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco started for Puebla in their 2-1 loss to Pachuca. Puebla’s Diego de Buen opened the scoring in the 27th minute with Pachuca equalizing in the 89th and scoring their winner in stoppage time. The referee booked Beasley in the 74th minute. Jose Torres subbed out in the 82nd minute for Tigres, drawing 1-1 with Chivas. Herculez Gomez’s Santos Laguna beat Atlas 2-1 at Estadio Jalisco. Atlas opened the scoring in the 63rd minute from an own-goal with Santos equalizing in the 79th and Carlos Quintero scoring their winner in the 89th minute. The referee booked Gomez in the 23rd minute.
Did Not Play: Brad Friedel (Spurs 1 – Fulham 0), Brek Shea (Stoke 0 – WBA 0), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa 3 – QPR 2), Zak Whitbread (Leicester City 1 – Derby County 2), Tim Ream and Stuart Holden (Bolton 0 – Ipswich Town 1), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga 0 – Espanyol 2), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander 1 – Xerez 1), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg 1 – Hamburg 0), David Yelldell (Bayer Leverkusen 1 – Bayern Munich 2), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres 1 – Chivas 1)
Injured: Tim Howard (Everton 2 – Manchester City 0), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim 0 – Mainz 0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 0 – ‘Gladbach 1), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana 2 – Monterrey 2)
By Clemente Lisi – Harrison, NJ (March 18, 2013) US Soccer Players – Rivalries define soccer. Without them, there would be less passion, less excitement and less hype. As Major League Soccer and NBC touted this week’s round of games as “Rivalry Week,” there was no bigger rivalry on display than New York versus DC United. The Atlantic Cup showdown is arguably the League’s best and biggest rivalry. After what happened Saturday afternoon, the rivalry between them has gotten even more intense.
With his team locked in a scoreless tie against DC United at Red Bull Arena, New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke tried to stay calm on the sidelines. He paced. He fidgeted. He even barked orders at his players.
“Push forward,” he shouted at one point midway through the second half. “Come on!”
Whenever DC United got the ball and played it on the left flank to Dwayne DeRosario, Petke stood up and reversed himself, waving his arms and yelling: “Get back! Get back!”
Around him, 22,022 fans braved the 37-degree temperatures and falling snow, chanting incessantly for 90 minutes. After all, there is nothing like a good, old-fashioned rivalry to get the juices flowing for the fans, players and coaches.
The game ended 0-0, although the Red Bulls were the ones to create most of the chances. Not only did New York come closest to scoring (in the 24th minute and again in the 56th when both Fabian Espindola attempts slammed against the crossbar), but the Red Bulls could have won the game at the end.
In a moment that screamed goal-line technology (and with MLS Commissioner Don Garber in attendance), Brandon Barklage’s stoppage-time attempt appeared to be a goal, but United goalkeeper Bill Hamid used a hand to swat the ball away. Replays were inconclusive. The debate will rage on.
A fed-up Petke stood motionless on the sidelines as the players on the bench around him jumped up and down in disbelief.
“Let me tell you, it sucks to sit back and watch it unfold. You just say, ‘What the hell do you have to do to get the ball into the net?’” he told reporters after the game.
Hamid, who had a great afternoon, said the ball never went in.
“I got there before it went over the line,” he said.
Saturday’s game – the first of three games between the teams during the regular season — marked the first meeting between the sides since last year’s tense playoff series, which was twice delayed (by Hurricane Sandy and subsequently by a snowstorm) before United ultimately prevailed.
Historically, these two teams have had little love for one another. Given the geographic proximity of the teams, New York and DC have been natural rivals since the league’s inaugural season in 1996. It is essentially the oldest rivalry in MLS, although the series has been lopsided. Entering the game, DC United held an overall edge of 31-20-8 all-time, including a 6-1-2 record in the playoffs.
Petke, who once played for New York and DC, said both teams have “built up the hatred” over the years.
“It has continued all this time, so for me this game and what it means never changed,” he said. “Even the players today, no matter where the teams are in the standings, have learned to be a part of this. It just lives on.”
For the Red Bulls, 2013 is the chance to once again hit the reset button – but memories never die. New York fans even unfurled a banner to set the tone – emphatically stating “Revenge is Here!” – before the opening whistle. Not to be outdone, a few hundred United fans made the trip north, sitting in a section tucked way up in the upper deck. The contingent also made its voices heard throughout the game.
Both sides had something to cheer about. For the Red Bulls, it marked the first time its overhauled roster played before a home crowd. For United, DeRosario was making his season debut, a much-needed offensive weapon if Ben Olsen’s team wants to go even further than last year’s Eastern Conference final.
In the league’s early years, the then-MetroStars played at Giants Stadium. The league considered the team its flagship franchise and expected it to recreate the days of the New York Cosmos. That never happened. Instead, it was DC United – under coach Bruce Arena — that emerged as the best team, winning the first MLS Cup and building on that a dynasty that lasted for much of the late 1990s. The MetroStars (and later Red Bulls) never lived up to its potential.
The Red Bulls hope that after 18 years of futility and an empty trophy case will culminate with a title in 2013. Thierry Henry, as usual, exuded the most passion on his team. He grimaced and gestured all game long each time his teammates misplayed a ball or turned it over. Henry even shook his head each time he made a mistake or shot the ball off target. For Henry, it has been a frustrating few years in New York.
He remains frustrated. Henry left Red Bull Arena without talking with reporters after yet another disappointment for New York. It was also another chapter in a rivalry between two teams that saw DC United get the better of New York once again.
Clemente Lisi is a New York-based writer. Contact him at: CAL4477@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
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