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SBI MLS Team of the Week: Toronto FC

Led by Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC snapped their winless streak with an impressive victory at Orlando City to earn recognition as SBI MLS Team of the Week.

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SBI MLS Player of the Week: Ethan Finlay

Columbus Crew winger Ethan Finlay provided two goals and an assist, earning recognition as SBI MLS Player of the Week.

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Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

A trio of players in the Americans Abroad contingent finished April with noteworthy outings, including Fabian Johnson and Alejandro Bedoya.

Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell gets his day with goal, assist against RSL

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Photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

By CARL SETTERLUND

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When New England Revolution midfielder Jermaine Jones proclaimed club teammate Scott Caldwell as his U.S. Men’s National Team successor earlier in April, most people probably brushed it off as a mix of hyperbole and fondness for an unheralded member of the team.

Jones might not have been wildly off the mark, though, as the Revs’ unsung defensive midfielder has continued his stellar form from the 2014 MLS Cup playoffs into the 2015 season.

On Sunday against Real Salt Lake, the player behind the scenes got a little closer to the action as Caldwell picked up an assist and, more notably, his first MLS goal in a 4-0 rout at Gillette Stadium.

“It’s definitely not the first thing on my mind each game,” said Caldwell, who is better known as the player who does the dirty work to free up Lee Nguyen, and often Jermaine Jones, in front of him.

“It was a good feeling definitely to get that monkey of my back, but it was more important just to get the three points, and it was a great team performance the whole night,” Caldwell said. Continue reading »

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SBI MLS Team of the Week: Toronto FC

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Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

In the midst of a four-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s contest, Toronto FC was in need of a victory.

TFC got exactly that Sunday with a commanding performance in a visit to Orlando City, earning a 2-0 victory to claim SBI MLS Team of the Week.

Facing plenty of pressure from an Orlando City side that dominated possession through the opening half, TFC remained rigid and tough, features that had been lacking in recent weeks. When given the chance, Jozy Altidore proved clinical by scoring both TFC goals, leading the way in a dominant second half that saw TFC do well in holding on to snag a well-earned three points.

The performance was enough to earn TFC honors as SBI MLS Team of the Week, beating out the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution for this week’s honors.

What did you think of TFC’s performance? Which team stood out to you this past weekend?

Share your thoughts below.

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SBI MLS Player of the Week: Ethan Finlay

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Photo by Andrew Weber/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

Held scoreless heading into Saturday night’s meeting with the Philadelphia Union, Ethan Finlay made sure to break his drought in emphatic fashion.

The Columbus Crew winger provided a pair of goals and an assist, leading the way in a 4-1 rout of the Union to earn honors as SBI MLS Player of the Week.

After starting the game with an assist to a wide-open Kei Kamara, Finlay found himself on the board himself in the 32nd minute by timing his run and getting a foot to a Waylon Francis cross. Finlay showed off his wheels on his second goal, dusting the Union’s Fabinho and finishing first time to seal a dominant victory for the Crew.

Finlay beat out Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore, Sporting KC’s Benny Feilhaber and the New England Revolution’s Juan Agudelo for this week’s honors.

What did you think of Finlay’s play? Which player stood out to you this past weekend?

Share your thoughts below.

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Galaxy work through Red Bulls’ touted high pressure to grab hard-fought road point

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photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — Omar Gonzalez had the ball at his feet on a number of occasions on Sunday, but when the LA Galaxy centerback looked up to survey his options he did not many of his teammates.

Instead, Gonzalez saw several white jerseys sprinting directly at him. It was the New York Red Bulls applying their touted high pressure, a tactic that was effective yet not enough to knock off the rigid Galaxy.

Los Angeles and New York played to a hard-fought 1-1 draw in their only regular season meeting of 2015 on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. A fortuitous Felipe header in the second half negated Bradford Jamieson’s early opener, preventing the Red Bulls from suffering their first defeat of the season.

That New York was even in a position to lose the match came down to LA’s stingy defending and smart gameplan. The Galaxy conceded a good amount of possession and were off the mark with their passing – finishing the game with 67 percent accuracy – but their combination of physical toughness and intelligent decision-making allowed them to work through the Red Bulls’ successful high-pressure system.

“Trying to play quick through the midfield,” said Galaxy centerback AJ DeLaGarza when asked how the club handled New York’s tactic. “I thought we did all right with it, but at the same time we knew away from home that you want to be safe. If you’re being high pressured like we were, we just play the ball up.

Continue reading »

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Red Bulls midfield embraces freedom to create more attacking success

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Photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

For a majority of their unbeaten start, much has been made of the defensive prowess of the New York Red Bulls midfield and the constant pressure they apply on the defensive end. However, Sunday’s performance against the LA Galaxy was yet another reminder that the Red Bulls unit has the ability to get forward as well, even its goal came via a lucky bounce.

In Sunday night’s 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, it was Felipe that proved to be the Red Bulls goalscorer, etching his name as the sixth different Red Bull to find the back of the net in as many games.

With the goal, Felipe joins Beadley Wright-Phillips, Mike Grella, Lloyd Sam, Sacha Kljestan and Damien Perinelle in this list of Red Bulls goalscorers, demonstrating once again that the team’s midfield group can do much more than pressure the opposition.

While the group’s pressing style remains its calling card, Felipe and co. also take the opportunity to get forward and contribute on the attacking end, something that paid major dividends in Felipe’s positioning on the Red Bulls goal.

“We’ve been working on the defensive part, but that time I followed the action,” Felipe said of his finish, one that saw a blocked shot bounce off his face in the perfect example of right place, right time. “The ball came right to my head. That was the goal. I was completely lucky, but the important thing is that I scored. I don’t score many.” Continue reading »

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Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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By FRANCO PANIZO

April ended in kind ways for a trio of Americans playing abroad.

Fabian Johnson was among that group, helping Borussia Moenchengladbach stay on course for a UEFA Champions League spot. Johnson set up a clutch winner for the club, feeding teammate Max Kruse in the 90th minute to lift Moenchengladbach to a 1-0 victory. With four games remaining in the Bundesliga campaign, Moenchengladbach sits in third place and holds the final guaranteed Champions League spot.

While Johnson set up a late goal in a win, Alejandro Bedoya scored one to save his side from defeat. Bedoya found an 88th-minute equalizer for FC Nantes, earning the club a valuable road point in a 1-1 draw with Toulouse. The goal was Bedoya’s third this season, and second through four games this month.

Aron Johannsson was the other player to tally this weekend, though his strike did not come with as much drama Johannsson netted for the sixth time in the Eredivisie campaign by giving AZ Alkmaar a first-half insurance goal in their 2-0 win vs. FC Twente. The goal was Johannsson’s first at the club level since March 8, and helped AZ stay within range of the Netherlands’ lone assured UEFA Europa League spot.

Here is how the Americans Abroad did this weekend:

Continue reading »

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European Weekend Rewind: Bayern grab Bundesliga crown; Chelsea inch closer to title; and more

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By AYDIN REYHAN

In England, Chelsea inched ever closer to a Premier League title, while the Bundesliga saw the crowning of its own champion in the form of Bayern Munich.

Chelsea moved one step nearer to claiming the Premier League crown thanks to a 0-0 draw against Arsenal. As a result, Chelsea need just six points to claim the trophy.

Bayern did just that over the weekend, snagging the Bundesliga title thanks to Wolfsburg’s 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen.

Meanwhile, Italy’s Juventus will have to wait a bit longer to clinch their own domestic crown after falling to Torino on Sunday.

Here is everything that went down in Europe’s best leagues this weekend:

ENGLAND

Chelsea is now just six points away from the title as they managed a scoreless-draw away at the Emirates against Arsenal. Arguably, the Blues were denied two penalties in the first half so the scoreline is more than fair along with the chances created by the Gunners.

 

Everton taught Manchester United a lesson as they scored three unanswered goals in an emphatic 3-0 victory. James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas all made sure that this game would be one to remember for midtable Everton, as Man United has now dropped to fourth as they remain on 65 points.

Manchester City edged past Aston Villa by a score of 3-2 to push themselves back into second for the time being. Sergio Aguero and Alexander Kolarov put the home side up only to see their lead vanish thanks to strikes from Tom Cleverley and Carlos Sanchez. Fernandinho was able to come up huge in the 89th minute with a sensational volley after controlling the ball with his chest to create space after a corner.

Here are the results from the Premier League this weekend:

Southampton 2-2 Tottenham

Burnley 0-1 Leicester

Palace 0-2 Hull

Newcastle 2-3 Swansea

QPR 0-0 West Ham

Stoke 1-1 Sunderland

West Brom 0-0 Liverpool

Man City 3-2 Aston Villa

Everton 3-0 Man United

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

SPAIN

Barcelona blanked Espanyol 2-0 on the road in the Catalan Derby with strikes from Neymar and Lionel Messi in the opening 45 minutes. The sour note of the match was the questionable red card shown to Jordi Alba which was followed with a red given to the home side’s Hector Moreno in the final minutes. Alba was ejected in the 54th minute which means the hosts had 36 minutes to use their one-man advantage but were unable to do so.

Real Madrid remembered that they lost 2-0 at Celta Vigo last year, ensuring this weekend’s result was to be much different. They did allow goals from Nolito and Santi Mina, but that did not matter much since Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and a Javier Hernandez brace ended the matter with a 4-2 scoreline. With this win, Real Madrid stills its second with 79 points, just two behind Barcelona.

Antoine Griezmann continued his scorching league-form with a brace in Atletico Madrid’s 3-0 win over Elche. Raul Garcia hit home the other in between his two strikes. Atleti sits in third with 72 points.

Here are the results in La Liga this weekend:

Cordoba 0-1 Bilbao

Espanyol 0-2 Barca

Atletico 3-0 Elche

Getafe 0-1 Levante

Sociedad 0-0 Villarreal

Malaga 1-1 Deportivo

Almeria 2-0 Eibar

Sevilla 2-0 Rayo

Celta Vigo 2-4 Real Madrid

Valencia-Granada (Monday)

GERMANY

Bayern Munich won their third-straight Bundesliga title with a 1-0 home-win over Hertha Berlin. Bastian Schweinsteiger hit home the game’s only goal inside 80 minutes. With Wolfsburg losing at Moenchengladbach, the deficit stayed at the increased amount of 16 points, which is impossible to overcome with only four game left to be played.

 

Borussia Moenchengladbach cut Wolfsburg’s deficit in first down to four by defeating them, 1-0, at home courtesy of Max Kruse’s 90th-minute winner. With four games remaining, finishing in second is nowhere near out of the question.

Hoffenheim is now only two points out of 6th (Europa League qualifying spot) after winning, 2-1, on the road against Hannover. With Augsburg dropping the points this week, confidence to gain that position is high for the game-winners.

Here are the results from the Bundesliga this weekend:

Mainz 2-0 Schalke

Dortmund 2-0 Frankfurt

Koln 1-1 Leverkusen

Hamburg 3-2 Augsburg

Hannover 1-2 Hoffenheim

Stuttgart 2-2 Freiburg

Bayern 1-0 Berlin

Paderborn 2-2

Moenchengladbach 1-0 Wolfsburg

ITALY

Juventus lost the derby against Torino on the road by a score of 2-1. Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring for the visitors before Matteo Darmian and former Old Lady player Fabio Quagliarella completed the comeback. This was the first time Torino earned all three points against their rivals in 20 years. Juve still sits atop Serie A with a 14 point lead.

Napoli made sure Sampdoria would not catch up to them in fourth with a 4-2 victory in front of their home fans.  Lorenzo Insigne and Manolo Gabbiadini each hit once for the hosts with Gonzalo Higuain’s double completing their scoring. Raul Albiol’s own-goal and Luis Muriel’s strike made some noise for the visitors.

Fiorentina missed the chance to jump into fifth after their 3-1 home defeat against Cagliari. Duje Cop hit a brace while Diego Farias completed the scoring in the final minute. The hosts found the back of the net through Alberto Gilardino inside the 75th.

Here are the results from the Serie A this weekend:

Udinese 2-1 AC Milan

Inter 2-1 Roma

Atalanta 2-2 Empoli

Genoa 3-1 Cesena

Hellas Verona 3-2 Sassuolo

Lazio 1-1 Chievo

Parma 1-0 Palermo

Torino 2-1 Juve

Fiorentina 1-3 Cagliari

Napoli 4-2 Sampdoria

FRANCE

Paris-Saint Germain were once again without Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is continuing to serve his suspension. However, allowing Edinson Cavani to play centrally in the 4-3-3 paid dividends as they defeated Lille 6-1 with the Uruguayan scoring twice and assisting once. PSG still sits second with 68 points, level with Lyon, with a game in-hand.

Lyon won, 4-2, at Reims to continue the Ligue 1 chase to the title as a two-way race against PSG. Corentin Tolisso, Alexandre Lacazette, Clinton Njie and an own-goal Mickael Tacalfred brought the points back home with the visitors. With four games remaining, these two still have it all to play for.

Monaco is now in third with 62 points after a thrilling 3-0 sweep at Lens. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, Anthony Martial and Bernardo Silva made sure of all three points.

Here is what happened in Ligue 1 this weekend:

Marseille 3-5 Lorient

PSG 6-1 Lille

Bordeaux 1-1 Metz

Caen 0-2 Guingamp

Evian 1-2 Bastia

Rennes 2-1 Nice

Toulouse 1-1 Nantes

Saint Etienne 1-0 Montpellier

Lens 0-3 Monaco

Reims 2-4 Lyon

PSG-Mets (Game in-hand to be played on Tuesday)

 

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Monday Kickoff: Mourinho hits out at ‘boring’ chants; Super Clasico ends in draw; and more

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By RYAN TOLMICH

As Chelsea continued to set course for a scoreless draw with Arsenal to all but wrap up the title, chants of “boring” filled the Emirates, a fact that caused Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to call for fans to look in the mirror.

Mourinho, who has a long standing rivalry with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, jibed that the chants are a result of Arsenal’s own title drought, one that dates back to 2003-04, as well as Wenger’s decision to remove Olivier Giroud late in the game despite Arsenal’s chase.

“You know, I think boring is 10 years without a title. That’s very boring,” said Mourinho. “You support the club and you’re waiting, waiting, waiting for so many years without a Premier League title, so that’s very boring.

“But maybe they were not singing to us. Maybe, when you want to win a game and you’re at home and you take your number nine [Olivier Giroud] off, maybe the home fans want more. Maybe they want to play Giroud and [Danny] Welbeck together up front to try to win the game.”

Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Monday morning: Continue reading »

Posted in European Soccer, Featured, Mexican Soccer | 6 Comments