BY COLE KELLOGG
NASL’s two Canadian teams are still leading the pack as the fifth week of the fall season kicks off this Friday night.
Expansion side Ottawa Fury FC is in first with a commanding 13 points, five points ahead of its nearest contender in FC Edmonton. The Eddies have been impressive themselves, only posting one loss in the opening five matches in the fall. Late on Sunday afternoon, those two sides will face off in Edmonton for what is undoubtedly the match of the weekend.
After winning the Spring Season, the New York Cosmos find themselves at the bottom of the table, with draws against Indy Eleven on either side of the team’s first loss of 2015. The Cosmos will host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in an attempt to regain form on Sunday.
Elsewhere around the league, the Jacksonville Armada will host Minnesota United, Freddy Adu and the Tampa Bay Rowdies travel to the Carolina RailHawks, and the Indy Eleven will play the Atlanta Silverbacks at home.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s action: Continue reading
By RYAN TOLMICH
Following the departures of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba is set to play a much bigger part at Juventus, despite all of the rumors linking him with a move abroad.
The French international admitted as much, insisting that he believes he is ready to step into a more prominent role with the Italian club. The 22-year-old, who has been the subject of numerous transfer rumors himself, insists that he is ready to step in and lead the midfield to what could be Juventus’ fifth straight title.
“I am happy to play wherever the coach needs me. I feel really good playing as an attacking midfielder behind two strikers. We’ll see what happens. It’s a role I enjoy,” Pogba said. “I think I can be [our midfield leader]. I hope it will happen, both for myself and for Juventus. Two great midfielders have left, but I have learned a lot from them. It’s now up to me to show that I have grown.
“We have lost some important players, but we have also brought in some experienced players. We are Juventus and we must always do well,” he added. “I think we can win a fifth title in a row if we really want it. It all depends on ourselves. It will be even more difficult than before and that’s why we have to be fully focused.”
Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Friday morning: Continue reading
photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Talk about a change of heart.
Two days after suggesting that the MLS All-Star game should go back to an East vs. West format, head coach Pablo Mastroeni felt differently on Wednesday night. He had led the MLS All-Stars to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham, and the result and performance against the talented Premiership club left him with a very gratifying feeling that made him change his mind about the annual game’s structure.
He was not alone either.
“We talked about the All-Star being conference against conference, but after today, I can say that it’s very good (the way it currently is), the sensation is very good,” said Kaka, the MLS All-Star Game MVP. “When you just met these kind of players and you have the new coach that put everything together and we beat a team like Tottenham, the feeling after the game is very good.”
While playing a European club has its benefits, including increased global exposure, there has been talk all week about whether MLS should go back to an East vs. West format. Fans and pundits have both argued that there is enough star power in the league now to fill two squads, especially with the likes of Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo now in the league competing with American standouts like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore.
Photo by New York Cosmos
By RYAN TOLMICH
After playing in the borough earlier this year, the New York Cosmos are bringing even higher stakes to Brooklyn.
The Cosmos announced Thursday that the club will play a playoff game at Coney Island’s MCU Park on Nov. 7. In addition, the club will also hold a youth camp in the borough from Aug. 3-7 for kids ages 6-15.
“It’s exciting for us to be playing a second game in Brooklyn in what is a pivotal postseason game for our club,” said New York Cosmos COO Erik Stover. “Brooklyn is a place where we love to play, we trained here before we made our visit to Cuba back in June and we hope we can put on another good show for our fans in Brooklyn.”
“Brooklyn has a great history with soccer,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese, who played striker for the LIU Blackbirds in his college years. “I played here in college, so I know firsthand the passion and the culture of soccer that exists here and we also experienced that when we played at MCU Park earlier this year.”
The Cosmos previously featured at MCU Park on May 2, defeating Ottawa Fury FC, 1-0, on a Lucky Mkosana finish.
Here are some more of Thursday’s NASL news and notes: Continue reading
Photo by Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
In the aftermath of controversial Gold Cup refereeing decisions, CONCACAF is going to take a closer look at the confederation’s officiating crews.
CONCACAF announced Thursday that acting President Alfredo Hawit will oversee a review of the confederation’s refereeing department. The review, which the confederation states is already underway, includes “a detailed evaluation of refereeing standards throughout the region in addition to an assessment of processes for determining referee assignments for each match”.
Hawit, who took charge of CONCACAF this summer in the aftermath of the FIFA scandal that crippled the organization’s hierarchy, has 24 years of experience in referee administration.
“The foundation of our game is fair play, and we must take the required steps to reinforce the importance of this principle,” Hawit said in a statement. “This review will allow the Confederation to take the next step towards improving refereeing across the region.” Continue reading
photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Kaka may have won the MVP award for his contributions in the final third, but it was the player at the other end of the field who the Brazilian gave credit to for “saving” the team.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando turned in the latest in an assembly line of strong performances on Wednesday, making three huge saves to help the MLS All-Stars defeat Tottenham, 2-1, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Rimando’s trio of stops all came against the same player, budding Spurs star Harry Kane, and what made the veteran’s 45-minute performance even more impressive was the fact that he did so well despite playing hurt.
“He was possibly not going to play tonight because he had a knee injury and he couldn’t really kick the ball,” said MLS All-Stars head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “I said to him, ‘Listen I’m not making any decision. You’e got a lot of experience I’m going to leave it on you to decide whether or not you play.’
“Yesterday after training he was kind of (like), ‘I don’t know,’ and by last night he said, ‘I’m feeling it. Even if I can’t hit the ball with the inside of my foot I want to play.'”
It turns out the injury that was hindering Rimando during this week was a contusion to his right MCL. He picked the knock up on the last day of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s campaign at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and might miss Real Salt Lake’s game on Friday against D.C. United because of it.
Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
The LA Galaxy have officially acquired the team’s newest goalkeeper.
Following the departure of Jaime Penedo on Wednesday, the Galaxy have acquired goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from Orlando City in exchange for a second round pick in the 2016 MLS Draft.
The move reunites the Galaxy with a familiar face, as the Jamaican goalkeeper, a sven-year MLS veteran, made 70 appearances for the club between 2009-11. During his first stay with the club, Ricketts helped the Galaxy claim the 2011 MLS Cup while also earning recognition as MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010.
“Donovan is one of the most experienced and successful goalkeepers in MLS,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “He is familiar with our team and has proven to be a player capable of winning championships. We are happy that he is once again a member of the LA Galaxy and look forward to his contributions to our club.” Continue reading