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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

Chelsea hosts third place Manchester United, Arsenal and Reading vie for an FA Cup Final place, and Barcelona takes on Valencia in a top-four clash in La Liga.

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Rais Mbolhi decision forthcoming from Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin told SBI on Thursday that a decision on goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi will be made soon.

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Red Bulls roll past Earthquakes

The New York Red Bulls continued their unbeaten run, scoring two first-half goals en route to a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena on Friday.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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By ADAM TROXTELL

The future of the top four in both England and Spain hinges on a pair of key matchups this Soccer Saturday.

Manchester United travels to London where league leading Chelsea awaits, eight points clear of the third-placed Red Devils. Victory for the Blues will further cement their claim to the English Premier League title, but anything less leaves the door at least slightly open for challengers.

A late Robin Van Persie goal saved the Red Devils from defeat at home the last time these teams met. Man United has won six league games in a row, while Chelsea has not lost in 12 games.

Elsewhere in England, Reading and Arsenal contest the first FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.

With Real Madrid a little closer this time, league leaders Barcelona will try to ensure they remain on top of La Liga for at least one more weekend in a home match against fourth place Valencia. Sevilla came back to draw the Catalan side 2-2 last weekend, allowing Los Blancos to cut the gap between first and second to just two points.

Club America can go level with CD Guadalajara in first place of Liga MX with a win against Queretaro.

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 | 12 Comments

Earthquakes frustrated with dismal first half in loss to Red Bulls

Fatai Alashe San Jose Earthquakes New York Red Bulls 88

Photo by Jim O’Connor/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — The San Jose Earthquakes knew that by the time they got into the game, it was already far too late.

The Earthquakes put forth a strong final 20 minutes on Friday, but it was not enough to overcome their slow first 70 in a 2-0 road loss to the New York Red Bulls. San Jose was doomed by its overall lack of sharpness and defensive toughness in the first half, which was evident with pass after pass missing the mark against a New York team that also had its share of unforced turnovers.

Eventually, the Red Bulls found a groove and the walls caved in for the Earthquakes. Two goals in a span of six minutes in the first half put Dom Kinnear’s men in a hole, and it was one that they were never able to climb out of.

“You can’t just show up and think that you’re going to play well,” captain Chris Wondolowski told SBI. “You always have to come out and have the right mentality and be willing to grind out whatever it is, especially on the road. If you just go out there and put your toe in tackles and do those things, then you’re going to get punished.”

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Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes | 1 Comment

Red Bulls not satisfied with performance despite extending unbeaten run to five

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Photo by Jim O’Connor/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls had clearly been the better side in the first half. They had created chances. They had a two-goal lead. Red Bull Arena was buzzing in full support.

All that still did not stop head coach Jesse Marsch from going into the locker room at halftime to shout at his men. Marsch wanted better regardless of how pretty New York was already sitting, and his players agreed.

The Red Bulls defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, on Friday night, but both Marsch and the team were not satisfied with the overall performance despite being pleased with the final result. New York felt it was often too sloppy with its passing, that it failed to truly put the game out of reach and that there was a bit of a letdown from an intensity standpoint in the final 15-20 minutes.

Mind you, this was all coming from a club that was now undefeated through five games and in first place of the Eastern Conference. But you sure would have been hard-pressed to figure that out judging by the mood in the Red Bulls’ largely quiet locker room.

“You look at last week and there’s so many good teams that thought they were good teams, and then whether they underestimated their opponent or just didn’t bring the same sort of fight to the game, they came out flat. We showed some of that today,” said goalkeeper Luis Robles, whose voice was hoarse from so much shouting. “We were fortunate to get two goals, and to hold them off, but there were definitely moments when they were the better team. Continue reading »

Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- New York Red Bulls | 16 Comments

Carter-Vickers, Steffen and Roldan headline roster for U.S. U-20 camp

Cameron Carter-Vickers U-20 USMNT Panama

By IVES GALARCEP

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s preparations for the Under-20 World Cup will take Tab Ramos’ squad to Austria, where 20 players have been chosen to take part in a training camp starting on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and midfielder Junior Flores are among the players who will gather in Linz, Austria for the one-week camp. The U.S. Under-20s will play friendlies against Qatar and Croatia.

Jordan Allen, Christian Roldan and Zach Pfeffer will take part in their first U.S. Under-20 training camp of the year.

Here is the 20-man roster:

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Posted in U.S. Under-20 National Team | 13 Comments

USMNT goal is a dream fulfilled for student-athlete Jordan Morris

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Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

By Friday afternoon, Jordan Morris will be bound to the normality of college classes just like any other student; but, Wednesday night presented the forward with a chance to live his dream.

A college student by day, Morris was thrust into the spotlight that evening, helping to lead the U.S. Men’s National Team to a 2-0 victory over heated rivals Mexico.

Just 20-years-old, Morris has grown up with the rivalry, one that was as one-sided as any before he was born. Wednesday, the Stanford forward had his part to play.

Scoreless as the teams emerged from halftime, Morris found himself alone on goal just minutes into the second half. With the weight of his youth, and the Mexican defense, chasing him down, Morris remained calm and fulfilled a goal he’s had for himself since he first kicked the ball as a youngster in Seattle.

“It was a super emotional time,” Morris said after the game. “I dreamed about it last night, I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little kid. Scoring goals, especially in such a big game, it was unbelievable. I kind of honestly blacked out a little bit and didn’t know what was going on. It was such an emotional time.” Continue reading »

Posted in U.S. Men's National Team | 57 Comments

Revs Notes: Agudelo appreciative of USMNT chance; Nguyen staying positive; and more

Juan Agudelo USA-Mexico (USA Today Images)

Photo by Soobum Im/USA Today Sports

By CARL SETTERLUND

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo said he wanted to make the most of his first call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team in over a year, but he wasn’t getting his hopes up for too much more than a late substitution Wednesday against Mexico.

USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann had something else in mind, subbing off one goal scorer for another as Agudelo replaced Jordan Morris in the 65th minute.

Seven minutes later, Agudelo was pointing to the sky to celebrate his first USMNT goal since 2011.

“To be honest, I appreciate the amount of time that (Klinsmann) gave me to prove myself,” Agudelo said before the Revolution’s training session on Friday. “I wasn’t expecting that much time and I’m just happy I was able to make the most of it.”

Agudelo admitted the moment “definitely overcame me” after putting the United States up 2-0 in the 72nd minute, saying it reminded him of his first USMNT goal against South Africa in 2010.

Although the long ball to set up his goal recalled Kelyn Rowe’s pass on Agudelo’s first goal of the MLS season two weekends ago at Colorado, Agudelo thought it was classic Michael Bradley.

“Kelyn played a little bit of a longer ball,” Agudelo said. “I thought of it more of a Michael Bradley playing Jozy Altidore ball. He usually plays that ball a lot and I was just able to bring it down and do something with it.”

Agudelo had to fight his way back into the USMNT pool after a misadventure in Europe, and that experience made him appreciate wearing the red, white and blue even more. In fact, he said seeing his name on the back of a USMNT jersey again was a highlight of his call-up.

“It’s something that’s really good for him and the club. We really feel that Juan is in a great position,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said. “I’m excited for him because it’s been a long, hard road to get back and he’s done a lot of work to get there.”

Here are a few other notes from Revolution training:

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Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- New England Revolution | 20 Comments

Rais Mbolhi decision forthcoming from Philadelphia Union

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photo by Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

NEW YORK — Has Rais Mbolhi played his last game for the Philadelphia Union? That’s a question that will soon be answered.

For the second straight game since Union head coach Jim Curtin announced the Algerian goalkeeper’s benching, Mbolhi was not in uniform for the club in its 1-1 road draw vs. New York City FC on Thursday night. The 28-year-old Mbolhi is in fact not even with the team right now. He was recently reported as being in France, and it remains unclear as to if he will ever return to Philadelphia.

The Union plan to have it all sorted soon, though.

“We’ll see. It’s kind of week by week,” Curtin told SBI after being asked if Mbolhi was coming back. “He’s taking some time away right now, but we’ll have a decision soon.”

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Posted in Featured, MLS- Philadelphia Union, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Red Bulls roll past Earthquakes

Sacha Kljestan New York Red Bulls San Jose Earthquakes 41

photo by Jim O’Connor/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — The New York Red Bulls have been one of the best teams throughout the early stages of the MLS season, and they reminded the San Jose Earthquakes of that very fact on Friday.

New York continued its undefeated start to the 2015 campaign, cruising to a 2-0 victory over San Jose at Red Bull Arena on Friday. Sacha Kljestan and Mike Grella scored six minutes apart in the first half, but the Red Bulls were the better side throughout the 90 minutes, out-shooting the Earthquakes 21-10 and winning the possession battle 57-43.

Kljestan netted the winner and opened his Red Bulls account in the 29th minute off a low cross that was redirected by Bradley Wright-Phillips, and Grella followed that up with a 35th-minute strike from close range.

The Earthquakes had opportunities late to make things interesting, but an inability to finish combined with some strong saves from Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles left the visitors with no points.

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Posted in Featured, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes | 2 Comments