Lee Nguyen New England Revolution 64

MLS Ticker: Nguyen unhappy over Revolution contract situation; Mbolhi rejoins Union; and more

Lee Nguyen is not happy with his current contract with the New England Revolution; Rais Mbolhi returned to training for the Philadelphia Union; and more news and notes from around MLS.

Benny Feilhaber 1 (USA TODAYS Sports)

SBI MLS Spotlight: Benny Feilhaber’s improved fitness allowing him to thrive with Sporting KC

Benny Feilhaber is thriving as more of a two-way midfielder for Sporting Kansas City these days, and a big reason for that is his improved fitness.

The SBI Show: Episode 204 (Recapping MLS Week 9, talking CCL, and more)

Co-hosts Garrett Cleverly and Ives Galarcep break down the MLS Week 9 action, and dig into the topic of whether MLS needs to start spending more to truly compete on the global stage.

Tevez shines as Juventus take a 2-1 lead to Madrid

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By COLE KELLOGG

Juventus hadn’t played in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League in a dozen years, but you couldn’t tell on Tuesday.

The Italian champions jumped all over Real Madrid in the early going of their first-leg clash in Turin, and Carlos Tevez helped them capitalize, setting up a first-half Alvaro Morata goal before converting a second-half penalty he helped draw as Juventus posted a 2-1 victory.

Morata opened the scoring against his former club early in the match as he tapped home a hard-driven ball from Carlos Tevez that Iker Casillas could only get finger tips on before it found Morata wide open on the back post.

Just before the half-hour mark, the visitors got on the board through a combination from James Rodriguez and Ronaldo. The Colombian volleyed in a cross from the right side of the box and the Ballon D’Or winner scored the free header from inside six yards. The goal was Ronaldo’s 76th in UEFA Champions League play, the career record.

Juventus had the majority of the  attacking play early on in the first half, with Tevez leading the way against a shaky Real Madrid defense.

Martin Atkinson awarded a penalty to Juventus in the 56th minute of play after Daniel Carvajal fouled Tevez in the penalty area. The Argentine put the resulting penalty past Madrid captain Iker Casillas.

The Italians reverted to a back 3 around the hour mark, replacing Stefano Sturaro with centerback Andrea Barzagli.  Minutes later, Chiellini got horribly bloodied up after taking an elbow to the face. The Italian defender had to come off temporarily for a new uniform.

Three minutes from time, it looked as if Roberto Pereyra would make an immediate impact on the match for Juventus. Fernando Llorente found his way around the Madrid defense and goalkeeper, but his ball to the center of the box couldn’t get to Pereyra.

A Pirlo free kick in stoppage time led to the last real chance of the match. Casillas was positioned well, though, and was able to get to the header from Llorente.

Posted in European Soccer, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

NASL Week Five: The SBI Rewind

Cosmos vs Ottawa0299

Photo by New York Cosmos

By RYAN TOLMICH

The New York Cosmos continued to make pushes this week, both in the standings and in the city of New York.

The Cosmos continue to be class of the league, securing yet another victory in an unfamiliar home in Brooklyn. With a three-point lead atop the standings, the Cosmos have proved to be a force wherever they play, whether it’s at Shuart Stadium, on the road or even under the lights of a historic amusement park.

Hot on the Cosmos’ heels are a series of teams with standout performers leading the way, but one team that continues to struggle is the league’s reigning champions, the San Antonio Scorpions, who look all but doomed in the Spring campaign.

Here are some of SBI’s takeaways from NASL Week 5:

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SBI MLS Goal of the Week: Sebastian Giovinco

GIovinco 1 (USA TODAY Sports)

Bill Steicher/USA Today Sports

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MLS Ticker: Nguyen unhappy over Revolution contract situation; Mbolhi rejoins Union; and more

Lee Nguyen New England Revolution 64

photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

The New England Revolution might be on a roll, but not all things are rosy at the club right now.

A Tuesday report from New England Soccer Today stated that 2014 MLS MVP candidate Lee Nguyen is not pleased with the club’s unwillingness to renegotiate his deal and skipped practice last week to make his feelings known. Nguyen, 28, is currently making approximately $175,000 a year, but wants an improved contract after helping the Revolution reach last year’s MLS Cup final with an 18-goal, five-assist campaign.

Currently in the second year of a four-year contract with the Revs, Nguyen reportedly informed the club of his desire for a new contract during the offseason. The Revolution were resistant to the idea after having signed him to an improved deal prior to the 2014 season.

The decision left the veteran midfielder frustrated, and he contemplated skipping training early in the year before actually doing so early last week. Nguyen ultimately returned to practice, but did not start in his usual playmaker role in New England’s 2-1 home win vs. the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

This season, Nguyen has one goal and two assists in eight league appearances (seven starts).

Here are more notes from around MLS:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Montreal Impact, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- Philadelphia Union | 17 Comments

SBI MLS Spotlight: Benny Feilhaber’s improved fitness allowing him to thrive with Sporting KC

Benny Feilhaber 1 (USA TODAYS Sports)

photo by Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

Two weeks ago, Roger Espinoza teased Benny Feilhaber about his lack of goals. Feilhaber responded in the best of ways, striking twice in the very next game to punctuate a strong month that saw him either score or create more than half of Sporting Kansas City’s goals.

Feilhaber had quite an April, as he directly involved in five of the club’s eight April goals. The veteran midfielder bagged a brace against the Houston Dynamo on April 25, which included a dramatic volley in the 95th minute that gave Kansas City a 4-4 draw, and assisted on three more goals during the course of its three other matches. He also set up numerous other opportunities that were just narrowly missed or mis-hit.

While it was the 30-year-old Feilhaber’s offensive contributions that grabbed plenty of national attention, he also helped his club by doing all of the little things defensively. Feilhaber looked as involved as he’s ever been on that side of the ball, getting stuck in, tracking back and breaking up numerous plays to help win possession for his team.

He looked more like a complete two-way player and less like the offensive-minded playmaker that a few years ago didn’t have the chops defensively, a development he attributes to Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes, as well as improved fitness.

“I used to be a guy that didn’t have the best fitness, and I definitely got tired throughout games,” Feilhaber told SBI last week. “When you get tired you tend to lack in some areas, typically the area that you’re weak at, so that’s always been the defensive side for me.

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Posted in Featured, MLS Spotlight, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, SBI MLS Spotlight | 15 Comments

The SBI Show: Episode 204 (Recapping MLS Week 9, talking CCL, and more)

Diskerud Alonso MLS (USA TODAY Sports)

By IVES GALARCEP

The cream has begun to rise to the top of the MLS standings, as we watched the Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution dispose of their New York opponents in a pair of MLS Week Nine’s headlining matches.

Episode 204 of The SBI Show looks back at a weekend with several intriguing matches, including Seattle’s thrashing of NYCFC and the Revs’ victory against a short-handed New York Red Bulls side that suffered its first loss of the season.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also look back at the CONCACAF Champions League finals, and Montreal’s improbable run. We also dive into whether MLS is doing enough to really compete on the international stage.

Give Episode 204 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, Podcasts, U.S. Men's National Team | 2 Comments

Birmingham City part ways with U.S. U-23 defender Packwood, offer Spector new contract

WillPackwoodBirminghamCity1-NottsCounty2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Will Packwood’s eight-year spell with Birmingham City has come to an end.

Following the end of the 2014/2015 season, Birmingham announced that they had parted ways with a number of players, including the 21-year-old American centerback Packwood. The decision ends an eight-year stay at the club, which began in the team’s youth divisions but finished with Packwood languishing on loan at League Two club Cheltenham Town.

Packwood, who currently is a member of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, was a promising prospect for Birmingham before suffering a horrific leg break in January 2013, an injury that kept him out for ten months. Since then, Packwood has spent time on loan at League Two’s Bristol Rovers, League One’s Colchester United, and Cheltenham Town, where he played five times this spring but couldn’t help the club avoid relegation from the football league.

While Packwood will be seeking new pastures, Birmingham City did reveal a new contract offer to American defender Jonathan Spector, a new two-year deal with an option year attached.

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | 23 Comments

Midday Ticker: Brazil unveils squad for Copa America; Bayern and Univision announce partnership; and more

NeymarBrazil1-Japan2014 (AP)

By ADAM TROXTELL

Plenty of star names will take part in Brazil’s quest for continental glory, but one particular English Premier League title winner will not feature.

Chelsea’s Oscar was left off of Dunga’s 23-man Copa America squad, confirmed on Tuesday by the Brazilian coach. Dunga said the attacking midfielder has sustained an injury late in the Premier League season and, after communicating with Chelsea staff, he decided not to call Oscar up for the tournament in Chile.

“His period of recovery will be somewhat prolonged, so he will not be in the best condition,” Dunga told reporters. “We think he will be better prepared for the World Cup qualifiers, which begin soon after the Copa America.”

Bayern Munich’s Dante was also not called up, with Atletico Madrid’s Miranda the preferred option. Liverpool attacker Coutinho, Santos and former Real Madrid man Robinho, and Chelsea’s Willian also made Dunga’s squad.

Here are some more news and notes for your Tuesday afternoon:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer | 21 Comments