Hope Solo by Geoff Burke USA TODAY

Hope Solo suspension shines light on USWNT’s backup goalkeeper inexperience

Hope Solo was treated like the only goalkeeper option for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Now what will coach Jill Ellis do?

Sepp Blatter 3 (Getty Images)

Monday Kickoff: Sepp Blatter criticizes UEFA; Juan Roman Riquelme announces retirement; and more

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has dared a candidate from UEFA to challenge him in the upcoming elections.

Shaun Maloney Scotland (Getty Images)

Shaun Maloney joins Chicago Fire via transfer from Wigan

Shaun Maloney has joined the Chicago Fire on a transfer from Wigan Athletic, the Fire announced on Sunday.

Hope Solo suspension shines light on USWNT’s backup goalkeeper inexperience

Hope Solo by Geoff Burke USA TODAYPhoto by Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

By CAITLIN MURRAY

It seemed that Plan A was always for Hope Solo to be starting in goal for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

The USWNT played in 24 matches in 2014. Solo started in 21 of them. She voluntarily missed one in June for what U.S. Soccer called a “family commitment” and was arrested for allegedly assaulting two family members the following night.

As Solo went through her legal troubles – which could’ve resulted in jail time and force her to miss this summer’s World Cup – coach Jill Ellis started No. 2 goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris just once when Solo was available. It was at World Cup qualifying against Haiti, a low-tier team that recorded a single shot against the U.S. in 90 minutes, which wasn’t even on goal.

Solo’s criminal case was later dismissed but it appeared unlikely to result in a conviction from the start. The alleged victims had reportedly changed their stories and were uncooperative. If those around Solo and the USWNT thought she would be around for the long haul, to Canada 2015 and beyond, they weren’t alone.

“When I decide to walk away, it will be my decision and it will be because I’m not having fun anymore,” Solo told SBI before World Cup qualifying when asked if she planned to retire after Canada 2015. “Do I expect to go another cycle after this cycle? Absolutely, if that’s what I set out to do and if I’m fully committed 110 percent.”

“I’m tired of all these questions about, is this my last cycle? I told Jill, I was like, ‘Jill, I’ll be around. You’re going to have to kick me out of this team before I leave.’ ”

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Posted in Featured, U.S. Women's National Team, Women's Soccer | 7 Comments

Monday Kickoff: Sepp Blatter criticizes UEFA; Juan Roman Riquelme announces retirement; and more

Sepp Blatter 3 (Getty Images)

By DAN KARELL

Sepp Blatter looks well on his way to winning a fifth consecutive FIFA presidential election, and while he’s ahead, he’s fired a warning shot towards his biggest opposition, UEFA.

Blatter said that the European soccer governing body, who’s members haven’t been shy in their opposition to Blatter’s policies and fumbling of public relations, was lacking in courage to oppose him in the upcoming elections. Currently only former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne, former player David Ginola, and AFC and FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein have pledged their candidacy for the presidency.

“I have been asked by the national associations to be our candidate again because nobody that is strong was in,” Blatter told CNN. “So I go there… All those who want to get rid of me should come. All this opposition is coming now, it’s unfortunate to say – but it’s true – it’s coming from Nyon, from UEFA. They don’t have the courage to come in. So let me go [on] – be respectful.

“Football is a team sport. Let’s go together with the team. I invite the confederation of UEFA and especially the leaders of UEFA that are so bitterly attacking me: Join! Join! Football is a unity.”

Blatter insisted later in the interview that he is still in the middle of his efforts to reform FIFA and that his “mission” is not yet finished.

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

Posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA, International Soccer, South American Soccer | 1 Comment

U.S. U-20s 2, El Salvador 0: Match Highlights

PaulArriolaCelebratesUSAU20MNT1-ElSalvador2015 (Mexsport)

Posted in CONCACAF, U.S. Under-20 National Team, U.S. Youth National Teams | 1 Comment

Shaun Maloney joins Chicago Fire via transfer from Wigan

Shaun Maloney Scotland (Getty Images)

The Chicago Fire have had a busy offseason transforming their roster, but for all the moves made this winter, none may be as their latest acquisition.

The Fire have completed the long-rumored signing of Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney, the club announced on Sunday. Maloney joins the Fire via a transfer from English League Championship side Wigan, and will be the club’s newest Designated Player.

The Scottish national team midfielder has already arrived in Chicago, and will be formally introduced in a press conference on Monday.

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Posted in Featured, MLS- Chicago Fire, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

TimReamBolton1-QueensParkRangers2014 (Getty)

By FRANCO PANIZO

There weren’t too many strong performances from Americans playing abroad this weekend, but two veteran defenders stood out for helping their clubs post respectable shutouts in tough environments.

Tim Ream was one of those two players, as he went the distance at Anfield on Saturday to help Bolton play to a scoreless draw in their FA Cup tilt with Liverpool. Ream was on the left side of a new-look, three-man back line for the Trotters on Saturday, and was able to keep the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho off the board to a force a replay at home on Feb 4. or 5.

Michael Orozco was the other veteran to help his side post a cleansheet in one of soccer’s biggest cathedrals this weekend. Orozco and Puebla entered Estadio Azteca on Saturday and came away with a valiant Liga MX point after holding Club America to a goal-less draw. Orozco played from whistle to whistle, but teammate Herculez Gomez did not get off the bench despite scoring in Puebla’s last two matches across all competitions.

There was another positive development in Mexico, as Joe Corona continued to make his way back from injury. After scoring in his return in a mid-week Copa MX affair, Corona came off the bench to help Club Tijuana close out a 2-1 win over Tigres UANL and Saturday. Corona played the last 15 minutes of the game, securing the result that marked Xolos’ third-straight victory in all competitions.

Here is how the Americans Abroad performed this weekend:

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | 11 Comments

Sunday European Rewind: Arsenal advances in FA Cup; Juventus extends Serie A lead; and more

Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal celebrates scoring his goal to make the score 2-1 with team mates

By ADAM TROXTELL

It’s been about two years since Arsenal last played Brighton and Hove Albion, but the script hasn’t changed.

The Gunners beat their Championship opponents 3-2 to book a spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Brighton gave a much improved second half performance to keep things interesting, but cup holders Arsenal were always in control of the match.

Theo Walcott scored the winning goal against Brighton in 2013, and this time he opened the scoring for Arsenal in just two minutes. It was the winger’s first goal since New Year’s Day of 2014.

Mesut Ozil also scored a rare goal to double the Gunners’ lead in the 24th minute, but Brighton entered the second half on a mission. Chris O’Grady pulled one back for the Championship club just five minutes into the half.

Victory for Arsenal was assured when Tomas Rosicky set himself up for goal number three. The Czech midfielder sent a no-look pass to Olivier Giroud, who chipped back to the wide open Rosicky for a powerful finish.

The Gunners are just the second top 10 English Premier League team to win in the FA Cup fourth round. West Ham was the first after sealing a narrow road win on Sunday.

In Italy, Juventus cruised to extend their lead at the top of Serie A. Lyon also won to stay in first in Ligue 1.

Here are the rest of Sunday’s results from the top leagues in Europe.

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