By ADAM TROXTELL
With Barcelona back within reach of first place, league leaders Real Madrid face even more pressure on the road against Athletic Bilbao.
A draw against Villarreal last Sunday leaves Real Madrid two points ahead of its El Clasico rival in the Spanish Primera Division. Los Blancos were held to a draw the last time they visited San Mames Barria, but they have won eight of the last nine encounters against Bilbao stretching back to 2010.
Barcelona plays Rayo Vallecano the following day, having beaten the Madrid-based side each of the last seven times the teams have met. Elsewhere in Spain, third place Atletico Madrid plays fourth-place Valencia.
The English FA Cup quarterfinal round pits Aston Villa against rivals West Brom on Saturday. Liverpool faces Blackburn on Sunday in the first meeting between the teams since 2012.
In Italy, Napoli will try to solidify its position in third place when Inter Milan pays a visit on Sunday. The Naples side edged Inter 1-0 in Coppa Italia play last month, but the teams played out an exciting 2-2 draw when they last met in Serie A.
Cruz Azul will try to halt a two-game skid against Atlas in a match between the sixth and seventh placed teams in Liga MX. Elsewhere, Pachuca will try to bounce back from CONCACAF Champions League elimination with a game against the only Mexican team remaining in that competition, Club America.
The weekend ends with a trio of MLS games in the league’s opening weekend. Expansion teams Orlando City and New York City FC start things off on Sunday, followed by Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls. Seattle Sounders and MLS Cup finalists New England Revolution wrap up the weekend in the late kickoff.
Here is this weekend’s soccer on TV (schedule after the jump):
By ADAM TROXTELL
Both Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse and Manchester United’s Jonny Evans will be charged over a spitting incident.
The pair were caught on video apparently spitting at each other when they clashed during Man United’s road game against Newcastle on Wednesday. The FA has announced that while the match officials did not see the incident, both will face disciplinary action.
The incident occurred in the 38th minute. Cisse fell to the ground while battling Evans for a loose ball during the match, and Evans appears to spit at the Senegalese striker as he rose.
Cisse attempts to grab Evans before he appears to spit back. The Newcastle man apologized for his actions on Thursday, but Evans has denied spitting during the incident.
Both players have until Monday night to respond to the charge. The minimum ban for spitting is six games, though Cisse could get a longer suspension since he was already banned for violent conduct earlier this season.
Here are some more news and notes for your Thursday afternoon:
By MICHAEL PENG
While the competition is sparse in the world of soccer on Thursday, the meeting between Juventus and Fiorentina will take center stage and serve as the marquee matchup in a series of cup matchups.
The two Serie A sides will square off in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals in Turin. Juventus, the reigning league champions and current leaders, drew 0-0 with Fiorentina on the road in the two clubs’ only meeting this season on Dec. 5.
Elsewhere, Coupe de France will also be in action, featuring matches between Brest and Auxerre, as well as Concarneau and Guingamp.
Last but not least, renowned South American sides River Plate and Atletico Nacional are set to face Tigres UANL and Estudiantes, respectively, in Copa Libertadores.
If you will be watching today’s action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (Today’s soccer TV schedule is after the jump): Continue reading
By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO — When Orlando City SC announced earlier this week they officially filled the Citrus Bowl with 60,000 fans, that proved to be only a bluff of what their true potential was.
That potential was achieved on Wednesday during the teams media day when club president Phil Rawlins announced that 2,000 standing-room only seats will be added to accommodate Orlando City’s high demand of tickets for Sunday’s inaugural game vs. New York City FC.
“We’ve been able to work out a deal to add 2,000 more standing-room only tickets,” Rawlins told reporters. “They will be a first come, first serve base. So total capacity for our game on Sunday will be sold-out 62,000. That’s a testament to the interest in the team and our fan support. We’re delighted to have a great fan base and tremendous supporters to witness the event.”
With the Citrus Bowl being capped at 20,000 seats after the home opener, Rawlins also said the club is close to selling out its second game on March 21st when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.
On the season ticket front, sources have confirmed with SBI that there are only handful of season tickets left before the club reaches its limit of 14,000.
Here are some more notes from Orlando City’s media day: Continue reading
By FRANCO PANIZO
In a match-up involving two of the three Americans who regularly see the field in the English Premier L, it was Geoff Cameron who helped his team come out on top with a solid performance off the bench.
Stoke City defeated Everton, 2-0, on Wednesday to pick up its third straight league victory, and Cameron played a part in making it happen by turning in a 73-minute shift as a substitute. Cameron was thrust into duty in the early going after a teammate went down with an injury, and the versatile American slotted in at centerback. Cameron then helped Stoke record a second straight shutout while simultaneously handing Tim Howard and the Toffees their second successive 2-0 defeat.
Ventura Alvarado and Club America enjoyed the same kind of victory on Wednesday night. America finished off Costa Rican side Saprissa to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, grabbing a 2-0 victory in the return leg of the series at Estadio Azteca. Alvarado started and played 59 minutes for the Liga MX club, which trounced Saprissa by a 5-0 aggregate score.
Two other Americans contributed to their team’s respective victories, as Amando Moreno and Conor O’Brien both made plays that allowed for more breathing room. Moreno scored the insurance goal and second of his career in Club Tijuana’s 2-0 Copa MX victory against Universidad de Guadalajara on Tuesday, and O’Brien delivered the assist on the final goal in Wiener Neustadt’s 3-1 triumph over Grodig a day later.
Here is how the Americans Abroad did during the midweek action: