Fabian Johnson Borussia Moenchengladbach 7

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

Fabian Johnson scored a game-winner, Conor O’Brien also netted a decisive tally on a penalty kick, and more in this past weekend’s Americans Abroad action.

USMNT vs. Panama 2015 (USA TODAY Sports)

23 for 2015: Projecting the USMNT Gold Cup roster (February 2015 Edition)

Gyasi Zardes and Graham Zusi break into the latest edition of SBI’s projected U.S. Gold Cup roster.

TFC Collage

SBI MLS Season Preview: Toronto FC

Toronto FC look to finally fight their way to the postseason following the acquisitions of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

Fabian Johnson Borussia Moenchengladbach 7

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

Fabian Johnson has been in need of a pick-me-up at Borussia Moenchengladbach, and he may have just found it.

Johnson was given a rare start in the club’s meeting with Paderborn on Sunday, and gave manager Lucien Favre something to think about by scoring the game-winner in a 2-0 triumph. The goal came in the 18th minute on a left-footed strike from outside the penalty area that took a very kind deflection, and was Johnson’s first for Moenchengladbach. Playing as a left midfielder, Johnson was also involved in helping create the insurance goal nine minutes before the final whistle. He sprinted towards the end line on the play and hit a cross that was parried into the path of teammate Patrick Herrmann, who netted with a low shot.

There was another foreign-based American to score a decisive tally this weekend. Conor O’Brien was the author of the lone goal in Wiener Neustadt’s 1-0 win over Austria Vienna, converting a 34th-minute penalty kick to push his relegation-threatened side to an upset victory at home. The goal was O’Brien’s fourth of the season, and move Wiener Neustadt to within a point of safety in the Austrian Bundesliga.

While there was some good news from those two European-based players, there was also a negative development over in Mexico. Greg Garza suffered an injury in the first half of Club Tijuana’s game against Pachuca, and had to be replaced by fellow American Joe Corona in the 41st minute. The Xolos were able to overcome that loss, however, as they picked up a 3-2 victory that kept them in first place in Liga MX.

Here is how the Americans Abroad did this weekend:

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23 for 2015: Projecting the USMNT Gold Cup roster (February 2015 Edition)

USMNT vs. Panama 2015 (USA TODAY Sports)

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

By IVES GALARCEP

The month of February featured just one U.S. Men’s National Team match, but that 2-0 win against Panama was enough to help offer some more information on an ever-evolving player pool four months before the Gold Cup.

Gyasi Zardes and Miguel Ibarra were the players who saw their stock rise the most in February. Zardes stood out in the win against Panama, while Ibarra earned praise from Jurgen Klinsmann for his showing in the same match.

There wasn’t a ton of movement in our projected U.S. Gold Cup squad, though there were a few changes. Among them is Graham Zusi, who has come back from a lingering foot injury and should be back with the national team for the March friendlies.

Here is the February edition of SBI’s projected U.S. Gold Cup roster:

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Posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team, Uncategorized | 69 Comments

SBI MLS Season Preview: Toronto FC

TFC Collage

By RYAN TOLMICH

Heading into the 2014 season, Toronto FC was built upon a promise of being a “bloody big deal”. However, by the end of the day, it’s hard not to look back upon the past season as anything but a bloody big disappointment.

Despite all of the headlines, promises and potential, TFC missed out on the playoffs once again in 2014, leaving the club still searching for its first postseason appearance after eight seasons in existence.

That club will now look to remedy that situation in 2015, head coach Greg Vanney’s second season with the club. In an offseason headlined by the acquisitions of Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, TFC have once again constructed a team that, on paper, looks to be among the leagues best.

Whether that promise comes to fruition is a whole other issue, as 2015 has all the makings of what could be the first truly successful year in club history. With now-captain Michael Bradley leading the charge, TFC now appear ready to emerge from mediocrity to not only make a postseason appearance, but perhaps even challenge for an MLS Cup.

Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Toronto FC: Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, MLS- Toronto FC | 1 Comment

MLS Preseason Rewind: San Jose opens stadium with win; Altidore, Giovinco strike for TFC; and more

Avaya Stadium San Jose Earthquakes by Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY

 Photo by Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports

By ADAM TROXTELL

San Jose’s Avaya Stadium already appears to be a good home.

The Earthquakes triumphed 3-2 over California Clasico rivals LA Galaxy in their final tune-up ahead of the season and the first match held inside their new digs. The match was treated as a soft opening for the 18,000-seat venue, but there was nothing soft about the play on the field.

San Jose took the lead just before halftime after Shea Salinas’ cross found Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez in an awkward stance. The ball deflected off of him and into the net for an own goal at a crucial time of the match.

JJ Koval made it 2-0 in the 58th minute when he was found at the top of the box by Chris Wondolowski. Less than 10 minutes later, the Galaxy got one back when Robbie Rogers’ cross found the head of Jose Villareal.

As he has so many times this preseason, Adam Jahn restored San Jose’s two-goal lead by heading in a corner in the 67th minute. It was Jahn’s seventh goal of the preseason.

A late Robbie Keane strike was added for good measure in a goal-filled evening to open the Avaya. San Jose has its true home opener on March 22 against Chicago Fire, after the season opens against FC Dallas on March 7. The Galaxy open their season on Friday at home against the Fire.

Here are more recaps from MLS preseason action:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- LA Galaxy, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes, MLS- Toronto FC | 14 Comments

Sunday European Rewind: Chelsea lifts League Cup; Wolfsburg continues winning ways; and more

Chelsea-League-Cup-2015-Getty

By ADAM TROXTELL

A decade after Jose Mourinho won his first trophy with Chelsea, history is repeating itself.

Now in his second stint with the club, the English League Cup is still the first prize for the Portuguese manager as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium. While it lacked an element of flair, the Blues put in an efficient shift to win the first of three potential trophies this season.

The first half went by without many solid chances on goal, but Chelsea captain John Terry, who was there for the 2005 triumph, put the club on the path to victory just before halftime. A corner kick sent in by Willian bounced off of Eric Dier and fell at the top of the box to an unmarked Terry for an easy finish.

Tottenham attempted to control the tempo coming out of halftime, lest Chelsea should gain any more momentum. Spurs’ efforts were in vain, however, since they were unable to make a decisive pass out of midfield.

The inevitable occurred in the 56th minute when Cesc Fabregas found Diego Costa down the left. After rushing into the box, he sent a low shot that deflected off of Kyle Walker and past a bewildered Hugo Lloris in goal.

With a 2-0 lead, Chelsea settled back into a defensive shell that was nearly impossible to penetrate. It is the third League Cup trophy won by Mourinho at Chelsea.

Elsewhere in England, the Blues’ title charge remained intact as Liverpool beat Manchester City at Anfield. Lazio beat Sassuolo to maintain a challenge for European spots in Italy while Valencia did the same in La Liga play.

Here are more recaps from Sunday’s action across Europe’s top leagues:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 1 Comment

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

Samir-Nasri-Manchester-City-Daniel-Sturridge--Liverpool-Getty

 

By ADAM TROXTELL

A full slate of Sunday action in England begins with a modern Premier League classic.

Liverpool hosts Manchester City while on a streak of 12-games without a loss, and both teams will look for a valuable win. The Reds can draw level on points with fourth-place Arsenal, at least temporarily, with a victory.

Man City will try to take advantage of league leaders Chelsea being out of action and cut their lead to just two points. The Citizens were victorious when these teams met in August, thanks in part to a Stevan Jovetic brace.

Chelsea will not play in the Premier League this weekend because they’ll be at Wembley, battling London-rivals Tottenham in the League Cup Final. With a 5-3 thrashing of the Blues on New Year’s Day in mind, Spurs will try to copy their efforts from the 2008 final when they took the cup at the expense of Chelsea.

Finally, Arsenal attempts to maintain an advantage in the race for UEFA Champions League spots when Everton visits the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners had to come back from two goals down to draw Everton the last time they played, with Olivier Giroud netting the late equalizer.

In Spain, Real Madrid hosts a Villarreal side trying to keep pace with European qualification spots. Sevilla and Atletico Madrid meet under similar circumstances, and Paris Saint-Germain will try to take top spot in France with a win against Monaco.

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):

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 10 Comments