By FRANCO PANIZO
Only one American remains in the UEFA Europa League, and he is the same player who was receiving his share of criticism earlier this week.
Tim Howard helped Everton move into the tournament’s Round of 16 on Thursday, as the Toffees picked up a 3-1 victory in the second leg of their series against Swiss side Young Boys. Howard started in goal for Everton on Wednesday despite struggling over the weekend, and the veteran goalkeeper came up with one save in the match at Goodison Park. The Premiership club received offensive contributions from Belgian duo Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas on the day, and advanced via an impressive 7-2 aggregate score.
Fabian Johnson and Borussia Moenchengladbach were not as fortunate. Johnson and Moenchengladbach entered the day needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit after falling in the first leg of their series with Sevilla, but the Spanish club once again got the better of the Bundesliga outfit with a 3-1 win. Johnson, who continues to struggle to earn a consistent workload at Moenchengladbach, contributed off the bench by playing the final 12 minutes.
Herculez Gomez was also involved in a cup competition in recent days, and he delivered by scoring two goals for Puebla in a narrow defeat to Toluca. Gomez bagged his third and fourth goals of the Copa MX on Tuesday, but his notable showing was for naught as the Camoteros suffered their first defeat in the tournament. Puebla lost the Group 5 match, 4-3.
Here is how the Americans Abroad performed during the midweek action:
Photo by Chris Nicoll/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
Free agency has been a main sticking point for MLS players throughout their Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with the league, but there’s at least one team owner that thinks those conversations are pointless.
Real Salt Lake’s Dell Loy Hansen came out and issued some strong words as to why he thinks free agency will not come to MLS in 2015, telling radio station ESPN 700 on Wednesday that the single-entity structure of the league does not make it feasible.
“There’s some great agreement that everyone can reach, but every time I read, ‘We’re going to work on free agency,’ well, that’s kind of one of those real waste-of-time conversations,” Hansen told the RSL-owned station. “I think everyone’s very intense on (agreeing to a deal). I know that the league and the owners are seriously looking at that.”
By ADAM TROXTELL
Chelsea’s clash with Tottenham in the English League Cup Final highlights a busy Sunday of soccer on TV.
It’s a rematch of the 2008 final, one that Blues fans will want to forget after London-rivals Spurs came back to win 2-1. That was Tottenham’s first, and so far only, trophy after a nine year drought.
Prior to that game, in-form Liverpool hosts second-place Manchester City as both clubs chase down teams ahead of them in the standings. The Reds are trying to keep pace with Southampton, Arsenal and Manchester United in the race for UEFA Champions League spots, while Manchester City can cut the deficit at the top of the table to just two points with a victory Sunday. Man United hosts Sunderland on Saturday, and the Gunners face Everton on Sunday.
Similar clashes take place in Spain on Sunday, with fifth-place Sevilla playing third-place Atletico Madrid. First place holders Real Madrid host sixth place Villarreal, who is currently six points behind Valencia in the final Champions League spot.
In Mexico, Tijuana will try to maintain its spot at the top of Liga MX on Friday night with a win against Pachuca. Xolos took first place away from Cruz Azul, who will try to take advantage of any slip ups against Toluca on Sunday.
Here is this weekend’s soccer on TV (schedule after the jump):
By RYAN TOLMICH
San Antonio’s efforts to become the latest of MLS’s expansion franchises has received a major backer, one from outside the borders of the United States.
The San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday that Mexican Football Federation president Justino Compean has written to MLS commissioner Don Garber to advocate for expansion into San Antonio. Compean, who oversees Mexico’s national team, also sent copies of his letter to San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman and members of the San Antonio City Council.
“The city has the infrastructure, resources and diversity that makes San Antonio the ideal place for MLS expansion,” Compean wrote, according to the San Antonio Express-News . “I am very pleased that these local leaders have initiated the effort to bring professional soccer to San Antonio and I look forward to having them as my partner.”
The league has plans to expand to 24 teams by 2020, with 20 teams set for play as of 2015. Miami, Los Angeles and Atlanta account for three of the open slots currently set for expansion, while San Antonio, Minnesota and Sacramento have been battling for the 24th and final spot.
As of 2015, the city is represented by the NASL’s Scorpions, who captured last season’s Soccer Bowl title.
What do you think of Compean’s comments? Do you expect San Antonio to join the MLS ranks in the near future?
Share your thoughts below.
By AARON CRANFORD
Owen Coyle is set to enter his first season in charge of the Houston Dynamo, but he’s had his eye on MLS and the Dynamo for quite some time.
In recent years, Coyle has managed Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and, most recently, Wigan Athletic. He moved to Bolton in Jan. 2010, and that’s where he started to show his interest in MLS and Houston. With one of his first signings for Bolton, he brought over former Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden.
Time passed, and Coyle continued to ply his trade in England. He took over Wigan in the summer of 2013 after Roberto Martinez left the managerial role for the same position at Everton. Coyle was hired to lead and keep Wigan in the EPL, but after half of the 2013-2014 EPL season, he was sacked after having a rough few weeks of results. Time passed again, but after all that time, he still had his eyes on MLS.
“Year by year, I could see the teams growing and the league growing, and I’ve said it before, in a few year’s time, the MLS is going to be one of the top leagues in global soccer,” Coyle told SBI. “The EPL, the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, MLS is going to be mentioned in the same breath as those leagues because of the way the league is improving and the teams are improving.” Continue reading
Photo by Fernando J. Tirado/Ventura County Fusion
By RYAN TOLMICH
Adam Moffat has made a career out of hitting long-range strikes, and it appears that the midfielder has carried his flair for the spectacular with him to the New York Cosmos.
The Scottish midfielder hit a 25-yard strike in the 12th minute, leading the Cosmos to a 1-0 victory over the Ventura County Fusion on Wednesday. The win marks the second in as many tries for the Cosmos, who topped the South China Football Team last week in a penalty kick shootout.
“We were able to give minutes to some guys who didn’t get a lot of playing time in Hong Kong and I think offensively we were able to create a lot of chances,” head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a press release. “We could have done a better job capitalizing on those chances, but I think we’re showing that offensively we have more resources than we did in the past.”
The Cosmos will be back in action Saturday against reigning USL Pro champions Sacramento Republic.
Here are some more of Thursday’s NASL news and notes: Continue reading