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December 18, 2009 5:40 PM

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draws

A player and a manager figure to have rather eomtional homcomings when UEFA Champions League play resumes.

The draws for the Round of 16 were released today and features several juicy matchups, none more so than AC Milan vs. Manchester United and Inter Milan vs. Chelsea.

Inter Milan/Chelsea will see Inter manager Jose Mourinho matched up against his former team since his controversial departure from Stamford Bridge in 2007. Mourinho has actually faced off against his former employer this past summer at the Rose Bowl in July as part of the World Football Challenge (Chelsea won 2-0), but this time, Mourinho will make his return to Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United/AC Milan figures to get the most attention, as AC Milan midfielder David Beckham, currently on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, will finally get the chance to play at Old Trafford since his departure from ManU in 2003. Beckham starred in Manchester United's midfield from 1995-2003, but left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 after his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson was strained.

Here are the other UEFA Champions League matchups

Real Madrid vs. Lyon
Bayern Munich vs. Fiorentina
FC Barcelona vs. Stuttgart
Olympiakos vs. Bordeaux
Arsenal vs. FC Porto
Sevilla vs. CSKA Moscow

December 16, 2009 5:54 PM

Donovan to stay with Galaxy

With rumors of a possible loan move to Eurpoe lurking, the Los Angeles Galaxy announced today that it had reached agreement with Landon Donovan on a new four-year contract with the Galaxy.

The agreement keeps Donovan in a Galaxy shirt through the 2013 season. Donovan first signed a five-year contract with the MLS and the Galaxy prior to the 2005 season and was set to expire at the conclusion of this past season, but MLS also held two option years for the upcoming season as well as 2011.

Donovan will apparently still head out to a Eurpoean side on loan, probably a short-term loan going from the start of the new year til a week (or two) before the start of the 2010 MLS season. English Premier League side Everton is considered to be the frontrunner for Donovan's services, though other European clubs are said to be interested.

Donovan scored 12 goals for the Galaxy in 2009 and was named Most Valuable Player for his efforts.

December 4, 2009 7:59 PM

World Cup 2010 draw

After days (weeks, months, etc.) of anticipation, 2010 World Cup hopes were raised (or dashed, depending on which nation you're from) as 32 nations learned which group they would be in and which nations will be joining them in the World Cup draw, hald in South Africa.

If you a United States fan, you're probably liking your chances of advancing out of the group stage next summer. The US was placed in group C and joing them will be England, Slovenia and Algeria. England breezed through its World Cup qualifying campaign while Algeria and Sloveina had to get in via playoffs.

A lot will depend on which US team shows up in South Africa next June. Will it be the team that mariculously pulled off the 2-0 upset of Spain in the semifinals of last year's Confederations Cup and pushed Brazil down to the wire? Or it will be the side that struggled a good part during its qualifying campaign? Either way, it appears the only match in the group in which the US will play the role of underdog will be against England, which will be the first match of the World Cup for both teams on June 12.

The "Group of Death" appears to be Group G, which features Brazil, Ivory Coast, North Korea and Portugal. Group G features three of the top players in the world in Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil's Kaka and Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba. Brazil should be the favorites in the group.

Here are the remaining World Cup group listings

Group A
France, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay

Group B
Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea

Group D
Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia

Group E
Cameroon, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands

Group F
Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia

Group H
Chile, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland

December 3, 2009 3:59 PM

Soccer tidbits 12-3-09

With one day left until the World Cup draw, here's some news to share as we eagerly anticipate where which nations will be grouped for South Africa 2010.

Chivas USA hires new coach
In a move that was somewhat expected, Martin Vasquez was hired as the new head coach of Chivas USA on Wednesday.

Vasquez, who has played and coached in both MLS and the Mexico Primera Division, is familiar with Chivas, having served as an assistant during the club's first three years in exsistense (2005-2007). Vasquez last served as an assistant at Bayern Munich under former Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann. Prior to that, Vasquez has had assistant stints witht he Los Angeles Galaxy in 2004 and the San Diego Spirit of the old Women's United Soccer Association from 2001-2002.

Revolution's Heaps retires
New England Revolution defender Jay Heaps retired on Wednesday after an 11-year career.

Heaps was drafte by the Miami Fusion in 1999 and played for the Fusion for two-and-a-half seasons before being traded to the Revolution in June 2001, where he would be a staple on the Revs' backline the rest of his career. Heaps also played for the US National team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this past summer, where he made four appearences.

Women's Soccer news
Two WPS teams signed international players during the last two days. The Chicago Red Stars signed English midfielder Katie Champan while Sky Blue FC signed Finnish striker Laura Kalmari.

Champan has played for English power Arsenal Ladies since 2006 and has 72 caps for the English National team while Kalmari has played for Swedish club AIK Stockholm. Kalmari has made 111 appearences for the Finland national teams and is their all-time leading scorer.

Also, the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany will be the last tournament to be held with only 16 teams, as FIFA announced that the field will add eight more teams, starting with te 2015 tournament.

December 1, 2009 4:57 PM

Soccer Tidbits 12-1-09

New MLS deal for Landon Donovan???

According to the Washington Post, MLS is looking to renegotiate the contract of the Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan.

If an agreement is reached, Donovan's new contract could add more years and possibly double his salary. MLS has two option years on Donovan's current conract, starting with the 2010 season, and pays him $900,000 a year.

RSL trades keeper to Philadelphia Union
Real Salt Lake backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz will finally get a shot to prove himself in the city of brotherly love.

Seitz, a member of the United States 2008 Olympic squad, was traded to the expansion Philadelphia Union for allocation money on Monday. The deal had actually been agreed to during last Wednesday's expansion draft, but both teams had to wait until Monday for the trade to be completed.

Seitz, long regarded as a future standout keeper, was drafted by RSL fourth overall in 2007, has spent all three years of his career backing up Nick Rimando. It became apparent that Seitz's future laid elsewhere after Rimando played a crucial role in Real Salt Lake's unexpected run to the 2009 MLS Cup.

Continue to Soccer Tidbits 12-1-09

November 30, 2009 5:09 PM

European lookback

First off, sorry for the long break. Work and the move to Real Clear has kept me from posting, but I will definitely be looking to post more from here on.

Now let's look back and reflect.

English Premier League

Chelsea maintained it's lead atop the Premiership table with a convincing 3-0 rout of Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Chelsea was carried by Didier Drogba's brace, with the first goal being set up by Ashley Cole's perfect cross into the box, which Deogba shot off the right post across the goal line.

Chelsea's defeat of Arsenal enabled Tottenham Hotspur to maintain third place in the Premiership. Tottenham needed a 77th minute strike from Michael Dawson to salvage the point against Aston Villa and thus keep it's position in the standings. Villa meanwhile saw Liverpool, who defeated Everton 3-0, catch them for fifth place in the Premiership. Manchester United was carried by Wayne Rooney's hatrick, two of them coming on penalties, in its 4-1 win over last-place Portsmouth.

La Liga

The anticipation to the 2009-2010 edition of the El Clasico has been brewing since June.

Real Madrid went on a off-season spending spree that saw them land Kaka from AC Milan and Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester for record fees, while reigning Champions League winner FC Barcelona swaped strikers with Inter Milan, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic going to Barcelona and Samuel Eto'o heading off to Italy.

It was Barca's off-season acquisition that paid off in the first leg at Camp Nou on Sunday, as Ibrahimovic's strike in the 56th minute was all the Catalans needed to out-last its nemisis. The match was evenly contested, but Barca won the possession battle, controlling the ball 62 percent of the time in the match. Real Madrid did out-shoot Barcelona 16-9, but only two of those shots were directly at goal.

Of course, it wasn't all about the El Clasico in Spain. Sevilla FC stayed in third place in the La Liga standings, as they played to a 2-2 tie against Malaga, while Deportivio La Coruna's 1-0 win over Racing Santander combined with Valencia's 1-1 draw with Mallorca allowed La Coruna to pull into a tie with Valencia for fourth place.

Serie A

Don't look know, but here comes AC Milan

The Rossoneri are unbeaten in its last nine Serie A matches. Milan's latest collection of points occured at the expense of Catania, which Milan defeated 2-0 at Angelo Massimino Stadium on Sunday. The match wasn't an easy one for Milan though, scoreless heading into stoppage time, Milan seemed headed for a draw, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came in as a substitute and scored two stoppage time goals to rescue the full three points for the Rossoneri.

Milan's win enabled them to overtake Juventus for second in the Serie A standings. Juve suffered a 2-0 setback against Cagliari on Sunday. Nene struck for Cagliari in the 30th minute and Alessandro Marti sealed the win with a goal in the 89th minute. AC Milan (28 points) as well as Juventus (27 points) still have quite a way to go in order to catch Inter Milan (35 points). Inter though didn't have it easy against Fiorentina, as Inter needed a penalty by Alberto Diego Milito in the 85th minute to escape Giuseppe Meazza with the three points.

 

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen opened up a little more space between them and Werder Bremen atop the Bundesliga table.

Leverkusen did its part with a 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart at BayArena on Sunday mostly due to Stefan Kiebling's hatrick, but Leverkusen got some help from Vfl Wolfsburg, which played to a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen a day earlier. Wolfsburg had Werder Bremen on the ropes, holding a 2-1 lead until Per Mertesacker equalized in the 85th minute to salvage the point for Werder Bremen.

Schalke 04 remained in third place after losing to Borussia Monchengaldbach 1-0 at Borussia Park on Saturday, while Bayern Munich climbed into fourth place in the standings by increasing its unbeaten streak to seven matches with a 3-0 win over Hannover at AWD Arena.

November 2, 2009 7:42 PM

European Look-Back

English Premier League

Not much changed in the Premiership standings this past weekend. Chelsea still remains atop the table with 27 points folwing a 4-0 drilling of Bolton Wanderers. Manchester United though remained close to the blues by defeating Blackburn Rovers 2-0, allowing United to remain two points back of Chelsea.

One result that did stand out over the weekend was Fulham defeating Liverpool 3-1 at Craven Cottage on Saturday. Bobby Zamora got Fulham going with a 23rd minute strike, but Fernando Torres equalized for the reds in the 42nd minute. Fulham persisted, and Erik Nevland put the home side back in front in the 73rd minute and it went downhill for Liverpool from there on, as two players were red-carded and US midfielder Clint Dempsey sealed the match for Fulham with a 87th minute goal.

La Liga
Real Madrid gained some ground on FC Barcelona over the weekend. Real Madrid did its part by beating Getafe 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Madrid was lifted by Gonzalo Higuain's brace. Higuain scored his two goals in the second half in a three-minute span (53rd and 56th minute).

Meanwhile, Barcelona let three points slip away, as it played to a 1-1 draw with host Osasuna on Saturday. Seydou Keita scored for Barca in the 72nd minute and the visitors seemed headed for victory, but Barca shot itself in the foot, as a bad clearence attempt by Gerard Pique resulted in an own goal.

Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid (22 points) in the standings is just one point now. Sevilla remains close to the two Spanish giants with 19 points. One team that is climbing up the La Liga table is Valencia, who has only lost once this season. Valencia picked up its third win in its last five matches with a 1-0 win over Malaga. Valencia is currently fourth with 18 points.

Serie A
One Milan club is starting to take control of the Serie A standings while the other Milan club is climbing up the table.

Inter Milan increased its lead over Juventus and Sampdoria to seven points, though Palermo made them work for it, as Inter outlasted the hosts 5-3 on Thursday. Inter Milan scored four first half goals, but Palermo erupted with three second half goals to close the gap. Inter though weathered the storm, and Alberto Diego Milito's 83rd minute strike sealed the three points for Inter Milan (28 points).

AC Milan meanwhile is starting to regain its form after a 2-0 win over Parma. The Rossoneri were carried by Marco Borriello's brace. Borriello scored 12 minutes in, then sealed the win with a stoppage time goal that gave Milan its third win in its last four Serie A matches, leaving with 19 points, two behind Juve and Sampdoria.

Bundesliga
Someone finally decided to seize first place in the Bundesliga table.

That someone was Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen (23 points) needed an 88th minute strike by Stefan Kiebling to salvage a 2-2 draw against Schalke 04 on Saturday, but Leverkusen got some help from Borussia Monchengladbach, as it defeated host Hamburg SV 3-2. Hamburg SV (22 points) led 2-1, but Dante equalized for Monchengladbach in the 76th minute and Rob Friend's 82nd minute strike gave the visitors a shocking win.

Hamburg's loss not only knocked them out of first place, but also enabled Werder Bremen to catch them for second place in the table. Werder Bremen did its part with a 2-2 draw against Nurnberg. Bayern Munich (19 points) lost ground in the Bundesliga table, as its 0-0 draw against VfB Stuttgart combined with TSG Hoffenheim's 1-0 win over SC Freiburg left Munich in sixth place, one point behind Hoffenheim.

November 2, 2009 6:54 PM

MLS Playoff weekend #1: A look back

The West's top two seeds are in favorable position while the East's top two are backed into corners follwing the first weekend of MLS playoff action.

Halloween came a day late to the Home Depot Center, as strange mistakes on both sides played a major role in the 2-2 draw of the first ever Playoff Superclasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA.

Chivas got in front just four minutes into the match, but two bad clearence attempts by Chivas resulted in two Galaxy goals. The first error came in the 14th minute, when defender Yamith Cuesta failed to clear a ball out of the penalty area and Mike Magee scooped up the loose ball and buried the equalizer. The second error came in the 41st minute when forward Maicon Santos tried to clear a ball away, only to see his punt attempt go back into the Chivas box and to the direction of Landon Donovan, who buried the point blank shot.

In the second half however, it was the Galaxy's turn to be bitten by the error bug. Defender Omar Gonzalez attempted a back pass to either Sean Franklin or keeper Donovan Ricketts, but the ball instead went to the feet of forward Mykael Galindo, who evaded Ricketts and buried the open net shot. Both clubs are hoping the mistakes are few and far between in next Sunday's final leg.

Meanwhile, defense and rough play was the sticking point in the 0-0 draw between the Houston Dynamo and Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field last Thursday. The defense came early in the first half when a shot attempt by Patrick Ianni was cleared at the goal line by Brian Mullan. The rough play however stood out more than anything else. Seattle forward Nate Jaqua was knocked in the head by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark int he 27th minute. The hit was bad enough for Jaqua to require a jersey change and a bandage on his head the rest of the match. Houston was called for 18 fouls and six cards (three on each side) were issued out in the match.

In the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire head home needing to win by two goals or more after both sides came up short in their first legs of their respective playoff series. Columbus looked poised for a draw in its playoff opener against Real Salt Lake on Halloween night, but a strike in the 88th minute by Robbie Findley enabled Real Salt Lake to come out with a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Chicago is also in a deep hole after the New England Revolution came from behind to record a 2-1 win over the Fire at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Chris Rolfe gave Chicago the lead in the 17th minute, but Emmanuel Osei equalized for the Revolution just before halftime, and Shalrie Joseph won the match for New England in the 75th minute as Joseph pounced on a loose ball in the box and buried the point-blank shot. Chicago had a chance to grab the lead back in the 71st minute, but a shot attempt by Baggio Husidic went off the crossbar, hit the field, but didn't clear the goal line.

October 28, 2009 8:44 PM

MLS Playoff Preview

Western Conference
Los Angeles Galaxy (W1) vs. Chivas USA (W4)
The Superclasico get taken to a whole new level as the two occupants of the Home Depot Center gear up for two matches that promises to be just as intense as their three regular season meetings.

The Galaxy not only went undefeated against Chivas this season, b ut didn't allow Chivas to find the back of the net. The three matches however were grinders for Los Angeles. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first meeting back on April 11, but LA took the last two matches by scores of 1-0. A first-half goal by Edson Buddle was the difference in the second meetig two months later and Beckham's 80th minute strike vaulted Los Angeles to the Superclasico trophy.

Prediction: Chivas USA finally finds the back net against Los Angeles, but the Galaxy pushes more goals across and takes the series 3-1.

Houston Dynamo (W2) vs. Seattle Sounders (W3)
Two teams that appear to evenly match heading into their playoff series, starting on Thursday. Seattle has had Houston's number during the regular season, winning the first meeting 2-1 in Seattle on July 11 and playing to a 1-1 draw in the second match in Houston on August 23. The Sounders also defeated the Dynamo 2-1 win in the US Open Cup back on July 21.

Both teams appear to be warming up heading into their playoff series. Seattle won its last three regular season matches while Houston went 2-1-2, including a 3-2 in last Sunday to wrap up the second spot in the West.

Prediction: Should be a hard-fought two games, but look for Houston's playoff experience to be the difference as the Dynamo edge the Sounders 2-1.

Eastern Conference
Columbus Crew (E1) vs. Real Salt Lake (E4)
The Crew open defense of their MLS Cup title on Saturday, as they travel to Utah for the first leg of their series against Real Salt Lake.

For the second straight season, the Crew are the top seed for the MLS playoffs and feature pretty much the same team that won it all two years ago. The Crew coasted for most of the regular season to the top playoff spot in MLS while Real Salt Lake looked to be on the outside looking in a few weeks ago, but won two of its last three regular season matches to get into the playoffs.

Prediction: The Crew have the advantage in every part of the field. Columbus advances to the Eastern Conference final 3-0.

Chicago Fire (E2) vs. New England Revolution (E3)
Another playoff series that appears to be too close to call. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Chicago back on May 9 and a 0-0 draw in New England a few weeks ago.

Both teams needed wins in the final week of the season to qualify for the playoffs. Chicago edged out Chivas 1-0 last Thursday to wrap up the second seed in the East while New England defeated Columbus by the same score on Sunday to take the third seed. New England is in despite being hampered by injuries all season, missing forward Taylor Twellman (cocussion) for the whole season and midfielder Shalrie Joseph for a good part of the season due to a combination of injuries and national team callups.

Prediction: Look for Chicago to squeak out a tight series 2-1.

October 26, 2009 11:54 PM

European Recap

English Premier League
The teams currently occupying the top two spots in the Premiership swited spots over the weekend, as Chelsea regained the top spot in the league.

Chelsea did its part on Saturday, as a brace by Frank Lampard helped the blues to a 5-0 rout of Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea also got help from Liverpool, as they defeated Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

The win not only stalled Manchester United, but brought a sigh of relief to Liverpool, whish was sliding down the standigs prior to Sunday'a match. Manchester United found itself behind the eight ball towards halftime, as Nemanja Vidic recieved two yellow cards in the first half, and Liverpool finally capitalized with a Fernando Torres goal in the 64th minute. David Ngog sealed the match with a stoppage time strike.

La Liga
FC Barcelona returned to form and in the process, put some distance between them and Real Madrid.

Barca routed Real Zaragoza 6-1 at Camp Nou on Sunday. Barcelona was carried by Seyduo Keita's hat trick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace. Lionel Messi added an 80th minute strike to the tally. The win along with Real Madrid's 0-0 result against Sporting Gijon now puts Barcelona (22 points) three points ahead of Real Madrid (19 points).

Serie A
Inter Milan is still atop the Serie A standings, though shaking off Juventus and Sampdoria still remains a tough task.

The first half was the key for Inter Milan (22 points) in its 2-1 win over Catania on Saturday. Sulley Muntar scored in the 13th minute and Wesley Sneijder scored the eventual game winner in the 31st minute. Sampdoria (20 points) remained two points back of Inter thanks to Daniele Mannini's brace in Sampdoria's a 4-1 rout of Bologna. Juventus meanwhile got a 72nd minute strike from Carvalho De Oliveira Amauri and held on for a 1-0 win over Siena.

AC Milan is showing some life. Milan grabbed three points for a second straight week, as it came from behind to defeat host Chievo Verona 2-1. Chievo's Giampiero Pinzi scored seven minutes into the match and seemed headed for a big win, but Alessandro Nesta rescued the Rossoneri from another embarrasing defeat. Nesta equalized in the 81st minute, then won the match for Milan with a strike in stoppage time.

Milan (15 points) is now part of a three-way tie with Fiorentina and Palermo for fourth place in Serie A.

Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg SV went into the just-concluded weekend tied for first in the Bundesliga table, and nothing has changed since.

Bayer Leverkusen (22 points) had to come from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw with Borussia Dortmund. Lucas Barrios struck in the eight minute to give Dortmund the lead, but Leverkusen got the equalizer from Manuel Friedrich in the 65th minute, and Leverkusen got out of BayArena with a point.

Hamburg SV however was the team that saw an opportunity lost, as it played to a 3-3 draw with Shcalke 04 (20 points). Hamburg lead 3-2 and seemed certain for victory, but Kevin Kuranyi scored for Schalke 04 in stoppage time to not only split the points, but also prevent Hamburg from seizing the top spot in Bundesliga.

Third-place Werder Bremen (21 points) kept its spot in the Bundesliga standings with a 4-1 rout of VfL Bochum, while Bayern Munich climbed up to 18 points and fifth place with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

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