NeymarBrazil1-Japan2014 (AP)

Midday Ticker: Brazil announces squad for Copa America; Mourinho to get new contract; and more

Oscar was left off Brazil’s Copa America squad, Chelsea reportedly set to offer Jose Mourinho a new deal, and more.

The SBI Show: Episode 204 (Recapping MLS Week 9, talking CCL, and more)

Co-hosts Garrett Cleverly and Ives Galarcep break down the MLS Week 9 action, and dig into the topic of whether MLS needs to start spending more to truly compete on the global stage.

Benny Feilhaber 1 (USA TODAYS Sports)

SBI MLS Spotlight: Benny Feilhaber’s improved fitness allowing him to thrive with Sporting KC

Benny Feilhaber is thriving as more of a two-way midfielder for Sporting Kansas City these days, and a big reason for that is his improved fitness.

Midday Ticker: Brazil announces squad for Copa America; Mourinho to get new contract; and more

NeymarBrazil1-Japan2014 (AP)

By ADAM TROXTELL

Plenty of star names will take part in Brazil’s quest for continental glory, but one particular English Premier League title winner will not feature.

Chelsea’s Oscar was left off of Dunga’s 23-man Copa America squad, confirmed on Tuesday by the Brazilian coach. Dunga said the attacking midfielder has sustained an injury late in the Premier League season and, after communicating with Chelsea staff, he decided not to call Oscar up for the tournament in Chile.

“His period of recovery will be somewhat prolonged, so he will not be in the best condition,” Dunga told reporters. “We think he will be better prepared for the World Cup qualifiers, which begin soon after the Copa America.”

Bayern Munich’s Dante was also not called up, with Atletico Madrid’s Miranda the preferred option. Liverpool attacker Coutinho, Santos and former Real Madrid man Robinho, and Chelsea’s Willian also made Dunga’s squad.

Here are some more news and notes for your Tuesday afternoon:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer | Leave a comment

Tim Melia’s shutout adds interesting twist to Sporting KC’s goalkeeper situation

Tim Melia

Photo by John Rieger/USA Today Sports 

By TATE STEINLAGE 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City spent a pretty penny this past offseason to bring in Luis Marin. The exact figure has not been made public, but for an international goalkeeper with national team experience, the cost likely isn’t cheap.

The price of admission may be even more eye-opening now that Marin has given up six goals in his last two starts and was benched Sunday in favor of Tim Melia, the former Chivas USA player who made the most of his opportunity by organizing a 1-0 shutout over the Chicago Fire.

With Marin still finding his footing in a new league and country, and Melia proving he has what it takes, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes finds himself in an interesting predicament. One that begs the question: Is the goalkeeping situation wide open right now?

“Seriously?” Vermes said when asked that very question Sunday. “What is this, quarterback day or what? Tim had a very good game and that’s it. That’s where we are right now.”

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Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Sporting Kansas City | 1 Comment

SBI MLS Rookie of the Week: Axel Sjoberg

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Photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

Facing off with two of the league’s most dominant sides within a space of three days, Axel Sjoberg’s baptism by fire continued this past week.

The hulking centerback passed the test with flying colors, playing 90 minutes in back-to-back draws to earn SBI MLS Rookie of the Week.

Tasked with taking on the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy just days apart, Sjoberg helped anchor a Rapids back line that put together back to back 1-1 results away from home. With a combined six interceptions in the two games, Sjoberg showed poise in limiting two of the league’s more high-powered offenses to just penalty-kick and corner-kick finishes.

Sjoberg’s role in what turned out to be a pair of strong defensive performances earned the Rapids defender SBI MLS Rookie of the Week, beating out Sean Davis, Fatai Alashe and Matt Polster for this week’s honors.

What did you think of Sjoberg’s performances? Which rookie stood out to you this past weekend?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in MLS- Colorado Rapids, SBI MLS Rookie of the Week | 2 Comments

SBI NASL Player of the Week: Lance Laing

Laing_FCEdmonton_NASL

Photo by FC Edmonton

By AARON CRANFORD

For the second week in a row, FC Edmonton winger Lance Laing continues to be productive going forward.

The speedy attacker scored a beautiful free kick and assisted the team’s second goal en route to a 2-2 draw vs. the 2014 Spring Season winners, Minnesota United, which also earned him recognition as SBI NASL Player of the Week.

Laing and counterpart Sainey Nyassi harassed the Minnesota United FC back line Sunday, but it was the Jamaica international who was the most fruitful and dynamic on the afternoon. He now has three assists in the Spring Season, tied for the league lead.

Laing’s goal, assist and overall play earned him recognition as SBI NASL Player of the Week, beating out Lucky Mkosana, Marcos Flores, Tiyi Shipalane and Alhassane Keita.

What did you think of Laing’s performance? Which player stood out to you in Week 5?

Share your thoughts below.

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SBI NASL Team of the Week: Jacksonville Armada FC

ArmadaFC_NASL

Photo by Jacksonville Armada FC

By AARON CRANFORD

Being an expansion club, Jacksonville Armada FC will have its ups and downs as it tries to figure things out in the NASL; but its performance Saturday was certainly one of those ups.

Armada FC stayed undefeated at home in their first year after a 2-1 win against the defending champion San Antonio Scorpions, earning it recognition as SBI NASL Team of the Week. The team can thank Alhassane Keita for providing the dramatic extra-time game-winner in front of 8,147 fans at Community First Park.

With their second win of the year, Armada FC is in the thick of things in the Spring Season table. If the ball continues to bounce its way, it could see a finish at the top of the table.

Jacksonville’s result and outing beat out the performances of the New York Cosmos and FC Edmonton for this week’s honors.

What did you think of Armada FC’s performance? Which team stood out to you in this past weekend’s NASL play?

Share your thoughts below.

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The SBI Show: Episode 204 (Recapping MLS Week 9, talking CCL, and more)

Diskerud Alonso MLS (USA TODAY Sports)

By IVES GALARCEP

The cream has begun to rise to the top of the MLS standings, as we watched the Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution dispose of their New York opponents in a pair of MLS Week Nine’s headlining matches.

Episode 204 of The SBI Show looks back at a weekend with several intriguing matches, including Seattle’s thrashing of NYCFC and the Revs’ victory against a short-handed New York Red Bulls side that suffered its first loss of the season.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also look back at the CONCACAF Champions League finals, and Montreal’s improbable run. We also dive into whether MLS is doing enough to really compete on the international stage.

Give Episode 204 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, Podcasts, U.S. Men's National Team | Leave a comment

NWSL Week 4: A Look Back

NWSL Christen Press by Daniel Bartel for Red Stars

Photo by Daniel Bartel / Chicago Red Stars

By LEOPOLDO PONCE

In the final week that any team in the NWSL had its U.S. Women’s National Team players, those that did made full use of the opportunity.

Sydney Leroux scored a decisive goal for the Western New York Flash, as the club recorded its first win of the season against the Boston Breakers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Chicago Red Stars remained unbeaten against Sky Blue FC.

A pair of Seattle Reign FC players, Merritt Mathias and Kim Little, provided the league with some offensive output and theatrics. Both end the week as possible candidates for NWSL player of the week.

Now with that in mind, let’s take a look back at this past week’s NWSL action.

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Posted in NWSL | Tagged | Leave a comment

SBI MLS Spotlight: Benny Feilhaber’s improved fitness allowing him to thrive with Sporting KC

Benny Feilhaber 1 (USA TODAYS Sports)

photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

Two weeks ago, Roger Espinoza teased Benny Feilhaber about his lack of goals. Feilhaber responded in the best of ways, striking twice in the very next game to punctuate a strong month that saw him either score or create more than half of Sporting Kansas City’s goals.

Feilhaber had quite an April, as he directly involved in five of the club’s eight April goals. The veteran midfielder bagged a brace against the Houston Dynamo on April 25, which included a dramatic volley in the 95th minute that gave Kansas City a 4-4 draw, and assisted on three more goals during the course of its three other matches. He also set up numerous other opportunities that were just narrowly missed or mis-hit.

While it was the 30-year-old Feilhaber’s offensive contributions that grabbed plenty of national attention, he also helped his club by doing all of the little things defensively. Feilhaber looked as involved as he’s ever been on that side of the ball, getting stuck in, tracking back and breaking up numerous plays to help win possession for his team.

He looked more like a complete two-way player and less like the offensive-minded playmaker that a few years ago didn’t have the chops defensively, a development he attributes to Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes, as well as improved fitness.

“I used to be a guy that didn’t have the best fitness, and I definitely got tired throughout games,” Feilhaber told SBI last week. “When you get tired you tend to lack in some areas, typically the area that you’re weak at, so that’s always been the defensive side for me.

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Posted in Featured, MLS Spotlight, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, SBI MLS Spotlight | 7 Comments