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SBI MLS Player of the Month: Ike Opara

Ike Opara has been named SBI MLS Player of the Month for his attacking prowess and league-leading performances in defense.

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USMNT 1, Switzerland 1: The SBI Breakdown

From Jozy Altidore’s moment of madness, to Danny Williams’ impressive showing, here is a look back at some of the key developments from the U.S. Men’s National Team’s tie vs. Switzerland.

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21 for New Zealand: Projecting the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster (March Edition)

With the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team having wrapped up its March camp, SBI takes a look at the 21 players who could make it to this summer’s World Cup.

SBI MLS Rookie of the Month: Fatai Alashe

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Photo by Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

By MATT STYPULKOSKI

Fatai Alashe hasn’t taken long to make an impact for the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Michigan State product – who was taken No. 4 overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft – has appeared in three of the Earthquakes’ first four games, including two starts.

After a late cameo in the season opener, Alashe helped the Earthquakes pull out a 3-2 win in his first start, despite being reduced to 10 men against the reigning Supporters’ Shield-winning Seattle Sounders. One week later, he notched the first goal in the history of Avaya Stadium, scoring from a corner just five minutes into the new building’s christening.

As a result, Alashe was called up to the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team for this past week and has also earned SBI’s MLS Rookie of the Month honors.

Alashe edged out Chicago Fire midfielder Matt Polster, Colorado Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg and New York City FC forward Khiry Shelton for this month’s award.

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What do you think of Alashe’s selection as SBI Rookie of the Month? What has made Alashe so effective as of late? Which rookies have impressed you most so far this season?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in MLS- San Jose Earthquakes, SBI MLS Rookie of the Month | Leave a comment

SBI MLS Team of the Month: FC Dallas

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By MATT STYPULKOSKI

Through the first month of the season, FC Dallas tops the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

Of course, the race is still in its infancy, but FC Dallas opened the season with three straight wins – against the San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia Union – before finally dropping points with a scoreless draw against the reigning Shield-winners, Seattle Sounders, this past weekend.

The resulting 10 points have put FC Dallas one point ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the only other team to notch three victories in March, and also earned the club SBI’s Team of the Month honors.

Blas Perez has led the way for FC Dallas up top, notching three of the team’s six goals. And while the club may be best known for its attacking capabilities, it has performed equally well at the back thus far, conceding just once.

FC Dallas beat out the Whitecaps and the New York Red Bulls for this month’s award.

What did you think of FC Dallas’ performances throughout March? What team impressed you most this past month?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in MLS- FC Dallas, SBI MLS Team of the Month | 1 Comment

SBI MLS Player of the Month: Ike Opara

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Photo by Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

Following Sporting KC’s 1-0 victory over New York City FC last week, head coach Peter Vermes referred to Ike Opara as “a monster”, and the defender’s play in the month of March sure lived up to the billing.

Opara scored a pair of goals in Major League Soccer’s opening month while proving to be an absolute force on the defensive end, earning the centerback recognition as SBI MLS Player of the Month.

While Opara’s pair of finishes, including the winner against NYCFC, are certainly icing on the cake, it has been the centerback’s contributions on the defensive side of things that have been particularly special. Ranking in the top two in interceptions, clearances and duels won, Opara has been an absolute wall at the back anchoring a Sporting KC defense that has been reeling from suspensions, injuries and offseason departures.

Opara’s play on both sides of the ball was enough to earn the defender SBI MLS Player of the Month, beating out Octavio Rivero, Javier Morales, Kaka, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Tyler Deric for March’s honors.

What do you think of Opara’s play in the month of March? Which player stood out to you last month?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, SBI MLS Player of the Month | 1 Comment

USMNT 1, Switzerland 1: The SBI Breakdown

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By FRANCO PANIZO

It may not have ended the way some fans and observers had hoped, but the U.S. Men’s National Team made positive strides in its 1-1 friendly against Switzerland

The Americans conceded another late goal after Jozy Altidore was sent off on Wednesday, but there were plenty of good things for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to draw from the match. From looking more dangerous in the attack than in the previous game vs. Denmark, to defending better as a unit, the U.S. showed in Zurich that it might just be finding a groove before its CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense this summer.

Not everything was positive, however. Altidore provided the latest example of him losing his temper, and forward partner and up-and-coming prospect Gyasi Zardes had a tough time finding a rhythm against the Swiss. Then, there was the whole conceding late thing again.

Here is what SBI is taking away from the U.S.’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, International Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team | 28 Comments

21 for New Zealand: Projecting the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster (March Edition)

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By FRANCO PANIZO

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos got a look at some new players this month, but how many of them could sneak onto the squad ahead of the World Cup is a lingering question.

The U.S. wrapped up its March camp in England over the weekend with a pair of losses, but the games provided Ramos a chance to see how both old and new players are doing in the run-up to this summer’s World Cup in New Zealand. Some regulars – like Romain Gall and Matt Miazga – were missing from this camp, and their absences opened the door for newcomers like Dutch-American defender Desevio Payne and forward Maki Tall.

The two European-based youngsters both earned starts in the U.S.’s most recent friendly against England’s U-20s, but whether they showed enough to raise their stocks and firmly place themselves in the U.S. picture is unknown. Even as hard as it might be to assess which players have really helped their cause because of their overall lack of playing time at the club level, the recent call-ups do provide a glimpse of where some of them and others on the fringes stand.

So who might reach New Zealand in two months’ time? Here is SBI’s latest projection of the 21 players that could make it to the World Cup. and there are indeed some changes from February’s projected squad:

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Posted in Featured, U.S. Under-20 National Team, U.S. Youth National Teams, Under-20 World Cup | 4 Comments

SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 4)

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Photo by Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports 

By RYAN TOLMICH

In a week where many of the league’s teams were hampered by international call-ups, some teams took the opportunity to make a statement while some faltered due to some notable absences.

The league’s hottest team, FC Dallas, continued their unbeaten streak, but were forced to settle for a draw with the Seattle Sounders, while the reigning champion LA Galaxy weren’t so lucky in a late-game 1-0 loss to D.C. United.

Among the teams who marched to victory was the New York Red Bulls, who topped the Columbus Crew, 2-1, for a statement road victory. Meanwhile, the Fire also marched to victory, the team’s first, with a win over the Union.

Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 4:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, SBI MLS Power Rankings, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Must-See Video: Cosmos prank Alecko Eskandarian

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Wednesday Kickoff: Mexico tops Paraguay; Hiddink blasts ‘shameless’ booing of Iniesta; and more

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By RYAN TOLMICH

Eduardo Herrera kicked off his El Tri debut with a bang.

The Pumas UNAM forward scored in just the third minute of his debut, leading Mexico to a 1-0 friendly win over Paraguay.

Having made 10 changes from Saturday’s lineup against Ecuador, Mexico wasted little time in getting on the board via Herrera, who put home a Juan Carlos Medina cross with his first touch of the game.

With the victory, Mexico go unbeaten in their pair of U.S.-based friendlies and will return to the field on April 15 in San Antonio to take on the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Wednesday morning: Continue reading »

Posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA, International Soccer, Mexican Soccer | 5 Comments