By RYAN TOLMICH
Entering Thursday’s action in preseason form, D.C. United were always going to be a bit behind the eight ball heading into the team’s CONCACAF Champions League matchup with Alajuelense. However, Ben Olsen and co. could not have imagined things would have gone as poorly as they did.
D.C. United were undone by a myriad of mistakes, as the reigning Eastern Conference regular season champions fell, 5-2, in Costa Rica at the hands of Alajuelense.
The disaster started virtually from the get-go, as the Costa Rican side put D.C. United on the back foot from the opening whistle. The pressure finally pushed D.C. United to crack in the 15th minute when goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra conceded a penalty and picked up a yellow card for a foul in the box, allowing Alajuelense’s Ariel Rodríguez to finish from the spot.
The hosts scored again just seven minutes later through Jose Ortiz, before Fabian Espindola gave D.C. United hope with a headed finish just two minutes later. Continue reading
By FRANCO PANIZO
Club Tijuana has gone 11 straight games across all competitions without tasting defeat, and will likely need to extend that streak to 12 if it wishes to keep its stranglehold on the top spot in Liga MX.
With Club America and Cruz Azul hot on their tails, the Xolos will be aiming to pick up maximum points at home when they host Pachuca on Friday night. Greg Garza should fill in at his regular starting spot for a Tijuana side that has not lost since the Clausura season opener, and will try to help his defense post a third straight league cleansheet against a Pachuca attack that has scored five goals in its last two games. The Xolos lead America and Cruz Azul by just two points in the standings, so anything less than a win could see them end up tied on points for the league lead after the weekend.
While Garza and Corona are hoping to earn another victory this weekend, Tim Ream will look to get back on the field. Ream sustained a back injury in Bolton Wanderers’ game last Saturday, and missed the club’s midweek clash with Middlesborough as a result. If Ream returns to the fold this Saturday, he will attempt to help Bolton snap a three-game losing streak against a Brighton & Hove Albion team that is just above it in the Championship standings.
Another player in one of Europe’s second divisions that could use a win is Alfredo Morales. The 24-year-old Morales and 2. Bundesliga leaders Ingolstadt have hit a minor bump in their season after failing to win either of their past two matches, but will try and get back on track in Monday’s home game against 1860 Munich on Monday. Ingolstadt is six points clear of second place, but will still want to come out victorious as it attempts to move one step closer to gaining automatic promotion.
Here is who the Americans Abroad tango with this weekend:
Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports
By DAN KARELL
Coming off a frustrating stint with the Chicago Fire in 2014, Benji Joya has found himself in soccer limbo.
With his contract out at Santos Laguna, the former U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team midfielder has been on the trial circuit, trying to earn an MLS contract for the upcoming season. Following a brief stint with the Seattle Sounders, Joya has joined up with the Colorado Rapids in the hopes of securing a roster spot.
Sources told SBI though that if the Rapids don’t offer the 21-year-old a contract, he has options else where. The sources said that there was interest from both the New England Revolution and D.C. United, as well as possible options in Colombia or Switzerland.
In the mean time, Joya is playing games for the Rapids. He featured in their 1-0 victory in the Desert Diamond Cup against FC Tucson, coming off the bench in the 64th minute.
By ADAM TROXTELL
Only league position will keep Liverpool in Europe now.
The Reds were knocked out by Besiktas on penalties, 5-4, after the Turkish side tied up the round of 32 match 1-1 on aggregate in Thursday’s second leg. Dejan Lovren missed the final penalty for Liverpool when he sent his shot over the bar.
Entering the second leg with a 1-0 lead, Liverpool was aware of the need to take quick advantage away from home. All nine of the Reds’ shots on goal were sent away by Cenk Gonen in goal as Besiktas worked toward a lead.
Tolgay Arslan gave it to them in the 73rd minute. Demba Ba picked up a loose ball in the Liverpool box before setting up Arslan to finish inside the left post.
Ba hit the bar with under 10 minutes to go, and extra time became imminent. When 120 minutes wasn’t enough, the former Chelsea man, along with Gokhan Tore, Veli Kavlak, Atiba Hutchinson and Tolgay Arslan put away their penalties.
Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Joe Allen kept pace for Liverpool, but Lovren skied his shot. Now the Reds have to fight for fourth place in the English Premier League to qualify for the UEFA Champions League once again.
Here is a full recap of Thursday’s Europa League action:
By FRANCO PANIZO
Only one American remains in the UEFA Europa League, and he is the same player who was receiving his share of criticism earlier this week.
Tim Howard helped Everton move into the tournament’s Round of 16 on Thursday, as the Toffees picked up a 3-1 victory in the second leg of their series against Swiss side Young Boys. Howard started in goal for Everton on Wednesday despite struggling over the weekend, and the veteran goalkeeper came up with one save in the match at Goodison Park. The Premiership club received offensive contributions from Belgian duo Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas on the day, and advanced via an impressive 7-2 aggregate score.
Fabian Johnson and Borussia Moenchengladbach were not as fortunate. Johnson and Moenchengladbach entered the day needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit after falling in the first leg of their series with Sevilla, but the Spanish club once again got the better of the Bundesliga outfit with a 3-1 win. Johnson, who continues to struggle to earn a consistent workload at Moenchengladbach, contributed off the bench by playing the final 12 minutes.
Herculez Gomez was also involved in a cup competition in recent days, and he delivered by scoring two goals for Puebla in a narrow defeat to Toluca. Gomez bagged his third and fourth goals of the Copa MX on Tuesday, but his notable showing was for naught as the Camoteros suffered their first defeat in the tournament. Puebla lost the Group 5 match, 4-3.
Here is how the Americans Abroad performed during the midweek action:
Photo by Chris Nicoll/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
Free agency has been a main sticking point for MLS players throughout their Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with the league, but there’s at least one team owner that thinks those conversations are pointless.
Real Salt Lake’s Dell Loy Hansen came out and issued some strong words as to why he thinks free agency will not come to MLS in 2015, telling radio station ESPN 700 on Wednesday that the single-entity structure of the league does not make it feasible.
“There’s some great agreement that everyone can reach, but every time I read, ‘We’re going to work on free agency,’ well, that’s kind of one of those real waste-of-time conversations,” Hansen told the RSL-owned station. “I think everyone’s very intense on (agreeing to a deal). I know that the league and the owners are seriously looking at that.”