By AARON CRANFORD
The end of the English Premier League season is fast approaching, and Aston Villa took a huge step forward to avoid relegation after Christian Benteke netted an injury-time penalty to give them the 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Villa manager Tim Sherwood claimed his first win in charge of the home side while they stopped their two-game losing streak in the process.
Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Villa the lead in the 23rd minute with a header, but West Brom midfielder Saido Berahino scored a header of his own, his 12th goal of the year, in the 66th minute to deflate the jovial mood in Villa Park. However, in extra time, Ben Foster took down Matthew Lowton in the penalty area to set up Benteke’s game-winning penalty.
These two will meet again this Saturday.
Check out more of Tuesday’s action and news below: Continue reading
By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
It’s good to be king.
The LA Galaxy, fresh off of their third MLS Cup Championship in four years, enjoyed the sort of off-season pageantry most clubs can only dream of. They went to the White House and met the President – again. They toured Europe, and were feted by foreign heads of state. Their captain was named MLS MVP. Their retiring legend had the league’s trophy named after him. Their coach received the Werner Fricker Award for career excellence.
And oh, by the way, they signed a certain highly-regarded Liverpudlian midfielder to a DP contract that should keep Galaxy ticket sales and jersey sales in the stratosphere compared to any other MLS club not named the Sounders for years to come.
Yet even the mighty Galaxy have question marks heading into the 2015 season.
The loss of Landon Donovan leaves a gaping hole in the Galaxy midfield, and the Galaxy scoring sheet. Donovan scored 13 goals in all competitions last year and added twenty assists. Steven Gerrard will not join the team until mid-July, leaving an awful lot of offense to be found among a small group of veteran midfielders and a rookie or two. It remains to be seen if Stefan Ishizaki, Baggio Husidic, and Juninho, or perhaps academy product Bradford Jamieson IV, are up to the task.
That said, the Galaxy have an embarrassment of riches on the front and back lines, and boast many players versatile enough to slot into the midfield while the Champs await the arrival of Sir Steven.
The bigger question then is how will the Galaxy deal with the threat of complacency? How many times can you climb the same mountain before it gets old? Head coach Bruce Arena has a veteran squad, a roster packed with known quantities, but it remains to be seen if the Galaxy can muster the magic once again.
Here is a closer look at the 2015 LA Galaxy:
By RYAN TOLMICH
Throughout Ben Olsen’s D.C. United tenure, things have been quite cyclical. Olsen’s time with the club has gone from bad, to good, down to really, really bad and, last year, really, really good.
For Olsen, this season is all about bringing some consistency into the fold.
Last season’s D.C. United squad rode the league’s stoutest defense all the way to the top of the Eastern Conference. Relying on a bunch of newcomers and discarded veterans, the club’s successes last season came as a surprise, if not a downright shock.
D.C. United won’t be shocking anyone this year, as the team has returned nearly all of last season’s contributing members. Roster-wise, 2015 is much of the same: same award-winning goalkeeper, same defiant defense, same breakout attacking unit that will be looking to once again prove their mettle.
The 2014 season proved that D.C. United was capable of rebounding from anything, turning a historically bad campaign the prior year into a historically good one.
Now, D.C. United just needs to show an ability to maintain a high level, and potentially even contend for a title.
Here is a closer look at 2015 D.C. United: Continue reading
By ADAM TROXTELL
Aston Villa is searching for its first win with Tim Sherwood in charge against local rivals.
West Brom visits Villa Park for the first of two times this week in English Premier League action on Tuesday. The Baggies are unbeaten in their last five outings and will try to hand their Midlands rivals a third consecutive defeat.
After falling to Newcastle on Saturday, Villa sits 19th in the Premier League standings and can climb out of the relegation zone with a win. Fellow strugglers Sunderland visit Hull in search of a vital win, while Southampton tries to regain ground in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot against 12th-place Crystal palace.
Midweek domestic cup action is taking place in both Germany and France. The DFB Pokal round of 16 kicks off with Bayer Leverkusen playing 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund will try to take Bundesliga form into its road trip to face Dynamo Dresden. Dortmund beat rivals Schalke 3-0 on Saturday for a fourth consecutive league win.
Later in the day, Santos Laguna will try to exact revenge on Queretaro, who trounced them 5-0 the last time the teams met in Copa MX action. Brazil’s Cruzeiro hosts Argentine club Huracan in Copa Libertadores group play, while Montreal Impact take a 2-2 aggregate score into the second leg against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions League.
If you will be watching today’s action, feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions, and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (today’s soccer on TV schedule after the jump):
Photo by Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports
By ADAM TROXTELL
After he was drafted by FC Dallas in 2013, Ryan Hollingshead first had to deal with some unfinished business that could easily have halted his career.
He had to ask FCD for a year off to return to California, where he was due to help his brother, Scott, complete their dream of building a church from the ground up. It’s a process that, much like the path of a young soccer player, holds no promise of instant success.
“I think I went into that with an open mindset, not planning everything out,” Hollingshead said about his decision to delay his professional career. “I didn’t go in thinking this was for life, but I also didn’t think ‘let’s get this going and get back to Dallas.’ I was willing to be there.”
If it had taken longer than eight months to get Harvest Bible Chapel in Sacramento up and running, Hollingshead said, there’s a good chance he would not be in preseason now, adapting to a new role that has so far paid dividends. Upon switching to the right wing from midfield, the UCLA-product scored three goals in three preseason games, two against Columbus Crew and one against D.C. United.
He’s now competing for a starting spot and has caught the eye of head coach Oscar Pareja. Continue reading
By RYAN TOLMICH
For much of the build-up to the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, the focus was on the attacking talent wielded by the U.S Under-17 Men’s National Team. With highly touted prospects Haji Wright, Christian Pulisic and Joe Gallardo, the U.S. has an attacking force that was tabbed to lead the way for the team in Honduras.
While the players atop the field did contribute a pair of goals via Gallardo and Wright, it was the defense that really asserted their dominance in Monday night’s 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago.
Led by captain Huge Arellano, left back John Nelson, right back Matthew Olosunde and center back Tanner Dieterich, the backline prevented T&T from emerging with many bonafide opportunities, save for a 35th-minute Arellano clearance following a deflection from goalkeeper William Pulisic.
“It started off pretty slow for us,” Arellano said, via U.S. Soccer. “We had to pick up the pace and obviously compete against them. That really brought up the tempo of the game and it pushed us. We came out with the shutout and that’s what we try to play for, defensively.
“Communication is a big factor, especially in backline. Me and Tanner (Dieterich) were able to do our part in the center, and Johnny (Nelson) and Matt (Olosunde) covered us out wide. And having Will (Pulisic) back there, we knew we were supported.” Continue reading