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:
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:
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):
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:
By CAITLIN MURRAY
When Don Garber spoke at a sports conference in Boston on Friday, the top question on tap was unsurprisingly about ongoing negotiations with the Major League Soccer players union. And Garber unsurprisingly had little to add to what has been said publicly already — he remains hopeful the upcoming season will start on time.
But Garber, the league’s commissioner, also hinted that MLS could see other changes in the future — if he gets his way — as he wants to position the league on the cutting edge in a sport that has resisted the introduction of new technologies.
“If I were king, we would have instant replay,” Garber said at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday. “We would have cameras on our players. We would be putting them in our goalposts. We would be having microphones on our field. Our guys would be wearing GoPro cameras.”
By MIKE GRAMAJO
After all of the hype and buildup, Orlando City is finally ready to take the field for its inaugural MLS campaign.
Orlando City will look to translate the club’s winning history from its USL days, and with the likes of Designated Player Kaka leading the way, the Lions have now shifted the focus on winning an MLS Cup as the league’s newest expansion side.
With head coach Adrian Heath, regarded as the most successful coach in the history of the USL after winning consecutive titles, at the helm, the Lions also bring a new flavor of soccer into MLS’ 20th season.
While the team has plenty of new faces, eight players from the 2014 USL season have made the jump to MLS: Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Luke Boden, Harrison Heath, Rafael Ramos and Estrela.
Orlando City had a busy, and early, MLS offseason. Bringing in the likes of veteran players such as Aurelien Collin from Sporting KCand Amobi Okugo from Philadelphia Union, Orlando City has managed to build a competitive roster that has the potential to contend from the get-go.
Here’s a closer look at Orlando City leading up to the 2015 regular season: Continue reading