photo by Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The MLS All-Star Game is an opportunity to showcase the league’s best talent, and two of the newest superstars to make the jump from Europe combined for a pair of first-half goals in another victory.
Kaka and David Villa scored three minutes apart in the first half, and that, combined with a strong performance from goalkeeper Nick Rimando, was enough to give the league’s top players a 2-1 win over Tottenham in the annual MLS All-Star Game.
Kaka opened the scoring at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the 20th minute with a perfect penalty kick. The MLS All-Stars captain then turned into a provider, feeding Villa for a one-timed effort in front of goal.
Harry Kane cut the deficit in half with a 35th-minute bomb from outside the penalty area, but Rimando superbly denied him three times before to keep the MLS All-Stars in a position to come out victory for the second straight year.
U.S. Men’s National Team youngster and former MLS player DeAndre Yedlin also saw time in the game played in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,671. Yedlin came off the bench in the 63rd minute for Spurs, who had chances in the second half to pull level.
photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Landon Donovan had his first coaching experience on Tuesday, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that he is considering doing it again.
Donovan led the MLS Homegrowns in their match vs. Club America’s U-20s on Tuesday night as part of MLS All-Star Week. His team lost on penalty kicks after surrendering its first-half lead, but not even the defeat could take away from how much fun Donovan had.
In fact, he had such a great time on the sidelines that you should not rule out seeing him there again in the near future.
“This was a week to sort of dip my toe in and see how it felt. I really had a great time,” said the 33-year-old Donovan. “I don’t know what the future holds. It depends, obviously, on a lot of things, but I really enjoyed it. If I get another opportunity, then maybe I’ll consider it, yeah.”
Donovan, wearing a polo shirt and some athletic pants after suggestions from his wife, admitted to have a little anxiety on the bench. A former player who was very determined to focus on the things he could control during his historic career, Donovan found it tough not being able to go out on the field to make an impact. He sat on the bench for much of the first half, but got up and became more animated as the match wore one.
photo by Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Ethan Finlay struggled to fall asleep on Sunday. That night, Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter called Finlay to let him know he had made the MLS All-Star Game roster.
Finlay was left speechless and also extremely excited. It was a surreal a moment for him, but one that also served as a reminder of how far he had come in the past year and a half thanks to hard work and a necessary change in mentality.
Since the start of 2014, few players in MLS, if any, have made the kind of drastic improvements that Finlay has. The 24-year-old midfielder has gone from being a limited player who came off the bench and provided little to the attack to an every-game starter who consistently finds ways to make an impact.
Finlay’s turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable. His first two seasons in MLS saw him fail to score or assist in 34 appearances. The two seasons since have yielded a much more gratifying return, with Finlay netting 18 goals and assisting on 19 others.
The introduction of Berhalter as Crew head coach in 2014 played a part in that turnaround, but was not the only factor.
“I think a switch kind of turned in me,” Finlay told SBI. “When your back is up against the wall as I felt like I kind of was I made a decision that I’ve got to pick it up. This is on me. The onus is on me. I took that literally and made a great opportunity for myself and I’m thankful for Gregg and the staff for giving me the opportunity and I’ve tried to run with it.”
photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — DeAndre Yedlin will play for Tottenham in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game. Whether or not he does so in the upcoming Premiership season has yet to be determined.
Yedlin is entering his first full season with Spurs after making the move from the Seattle Sounders last winter. Questions and speculation persist about whether he will go on loan, or stay with Tottenham and battle for playing time at right back, where the team has strong options.
The speedy fullback was limited to just a single appearance of 11 minutes during his first five months with Tottenham, and his role for the upcoming season is unclear with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier on the roster.
There have been rumors in recent weeks about Yedlin potentially going out on loan in order to have a better shot at earning minutes, but the 22-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team player is uncertain as to what the future will hold.
“I’m not sure about the plan ahead for next season,” said Yedlin ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with the MLS All-Stars. “I’m still waiting on that, but right now, just focused on this game and the rest of preseason.”
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By RYAN TOLMICH
While several of the Western Conference’s biggest contenders faltered, FC Dallas made a major statement to remain atop the table.
Throttling the Portland Timbers, 4-1, FC Dallas has asserted itself as the West’s best team, while the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City fell to disappointing setbacks in the forms of momentum-halting defeats.
In the East, D.C. United put together a masterful comeback to break the hearts of the Union, while the Columbus Crew, Toronto FC and New York City FC continue to score goals in bunches while trying to establish themselves as legit contenders.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 21, as voted on by SBI’s editorial staff:
By DAN KARELL
Miguel Herrera was fired on Tuesday as the Mexican National Team head coach, less than 24 hours after reports that he had punched a journalist in Philadelphia and two days after winning the 2015 Gold Cup.
Mexican FA president Decio De Maria confirmed the news in a press conference this afternoon, telling reporters that Herrera’s violent actions had no place in Mexican society.
“Violence does not fit in society, family and much less in any sport,” De Maria said at the press conference. “Nobody who wants to impose with aggression and not with ideas and concepts on the principle of freedom of expression can be a member of the Mexican Football Federation.
“The Mexican fans deserve respect and people of integrity that represent what we want our national team to be, a great show, family friendly, that unites us in our passion.”
On Sunday, El Tri won their seventh Gold Cup title with a 3-1 victory over Jamaica at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. On the way home to Mexico, Herrera allegedly physically assaulted journalist and broadcaster Christian Martinoli (best known to American soccer fans for this) at Philadelphia International Airport.
By AARON CRANFORD
Taking advantage of Targeted Allocation Money, the Philadelphia Union announced Wednesday that they had opened their wallet for some Swiss talent.
The Union acquired Tranquillo Barnetta on a free transfer after the 30-year-old had made 30 appearances for Schalke 04 in the 2014-15 Bundesliga season, assisting five and scoring three goals.
The club used TAM, which has helped teams from across MLS bring in additional star talent by allowing each club to use up to $100,000 per year for five years in additional spending money on players outside of the normal salary budget. The Union are not the first team to take advantage of the new rule, as the LA Galaxy were able to bring in Giovani Dos Santos, the Montreal Impact signed Didier Drogba and more have already used TAM to help build their 2015 squad.
“To add a player of Tranquillo’s quality will help us tremendously in what we’re trying to build,” Union technical director Chris Albright said. “He’s a player with a real pedigree who chose to continue his career here in Philadelphia over other options. His experience and leadership will also be a great addition to our group as we push for the playoffs and make a run at The Open Cup.”
Barnetta has made 75 appearances for the Switzerland national team, with his last call-up coming in Oct. 2014. He has been a member of the nation’s last three World Cup runs, including the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Here are some more notes in MLS this Wednesday: Continue reading
BY COLE KELLOGG
Jose Mourinho took Rafa Benitez’s wife to task after her recent comments criticizing the Chelsea manager.
The Special One put Benitez on full blast after her critique. “I think she needs to occupy her time, and if she takes care of her husband’s diet she will have less time to speak about me,” said Mourinho. “The only club where her husband replaced me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time.”
Benitez has chosen to not add more fuel to this fire, not engaging reporters when asked about the comments while in China for Real Madrid’s preseason tour.
Benitez’s wife sparked this battle of words in her interview with Spanish newspaper La Region. “We tidy up his messes,” said Maria Benitez on the phenomenon.
The Chelsea manager is known for his ability to work the media, and this outburst is just the latest in a long line of fiery comments made against his opposing managers in world football.
Here are some more news and notes from this Wednesday afternoon: Continue reading