CarloAncelottiRealMadrid1-ElcheLaLiga2014 (Getty)

Thursday Kickoff: Real Madrid interested in extending Ancelotti; Chivas reinforce front-line; and more

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said he’d be “delighted” to offer Carlo Ancelotti a contract extension as the club aims for its third title of 2014.

HerculezGomezTigresUANL3-2014 (Mexsport)

Gomez returns to Puebla

Herculez Gomez has moved to Puebla, where he broke into Liga MX in style with ten goals in the 2010 Clausura season.

USMNTStartingXI2-RepublicofIreland2014 (Getty)

USMNT finish 2014 at No. 27 in FIFA Rankings

The U.S. Men’s National Team rounded out 2014 by moving up one spot to No. 27 in FIFA’s December World Rankings.

Thursday Kickoff: Real Madrid interested in extending Ancelotti; Chivas reinforce front-line; and more

CarloAncelottiRealMadrid1-ElcheLaLiga2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

On the verge of winning their third title of 2014, Real Madrid are interested in keeping manager Carlo Ancelotti around for the long-haul.

Speaking in Morocco during the Club World Cup, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said he’d be “delighted” to extend Ancelotti’s contract. The Italian boss deserves plenty of credit, not only for leading Real Madrid to the UEFA Champions League and Copa Del Rey crowns but for managing a team filled with big egos and a seeming imbalance of attacking players over defenders.

We’d be delighted to renew his contract when the season ends,” Perez said. “There were initial question marks about getting him in as coach, but I always wanted him. I saw what he achieved at Milan, Chelsea and at PSG. One day I was at a Champions League game with my friend Galliani, I was introduced to Carlo and he was keen to present the whole team to me. He creates a great family atmosphere apart from doing a great job as coach. This is important.”

Ancelotti joined Real Madrid ahead of last season after winning two consecutive titles at PSG. Ancelotti is currently in the second year of a three-year contract.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

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Posted in European Soccer, Featured, Mexican Soccer | Leave a comment

Gomez returns to Puebla

HerculezGomezTigresUANL3-2014 (Mexsport)

By DAN KARELL

With his career at somewhat of an impasse, Herculez Gomez has decided to return to the place where his career highlights began.

Puebla FC announced late Wednesday that they’ve signed Gomez ahead of the Clausura season this spring, which kicks off on Jan. 10. Gomez comes from Tigres UANL, where he only spent half a season.

Nearly five years ago, an out-of-contract Gomez took a risk and left MLS for Liga MX, signing with Puebla. The decision turned into gold as Gomez scored ten league goals, finishing tied for the goal-scoring lead in Mexico and breaking into the U.S. Men’s National Team for the 2014 World Cup.

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Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured | Leave a comment

USMNT finish 2014 at No. 27 in FIFA Rankings

USMNTStartingXI2-RepublicofIreland2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The U.S. Men’s National Team finished 2014 on a slight high note, though it was mostly thanks to the demise of the Ivory Coast.

The USMNT were one of four teams in the top 30 to move up in FIFA’s December World Rankings, finishing 2014 as the No. 27 team in the world. Following a 2-0 defeat to South Africa, Ivory Coast dropped four places, allowing Greece, Ukraine, Ecuador, and the USA to move up the rankings.

It’s a precipitous fall for the USA, who finished 2013 ranked No. 14 and rose as high as No. 13, only to fall to a low of No. 28 last month on the back of a run of one win in their last eight games.

There was little movement elsewhere, though Serbia did jump eight spots and Zambia moved up 16 places within the top 50.

In CONCACAF, Costa Rica remains the highest-ranked team at No. 16, followed by Mexico at No. 20, the USA, Trinidad and Tobago at No. 55, and Panama at No. 57.

The top ten remains the same as well: World Cup winners Germany lead, followed by Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, and Uruguay.

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What do you think of these rankings? Did you expect the USMNT to finish 2014 higher? Like their chances in 2015 to rebound and get back in the top 20?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, FIFA, U.S. Men's National Team | 2 Comments

Kljestan on the mark in Anderlecht’s Belgian Cup victory

Sacha Kljestan Anderlecht

By FRANCO PANIZO

It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but it counted all the same.

Sacha Kljestan found the back of the net on Wednesday to cap the scoring in Anderlecht’s 3-0 win over Zulte-Waregem in the first leg of their Coupe de Belgique quarterfinals series. Kljestan struck two minutes after entering the game, bundling a cross over the goal line with his knee in the 86th minute before celebrating it modestly.

The goal was the 29-year-old midfielder’s first since scoring in a Pro League tilt back on Oct. 29, and his second across all competitions in a season that has seen him struggle for consistent playing time. It came on the same day that fellow American John Brooks scored in a German Bundesliga affair.

Kljestan and Anderlecht will attempt to close out the series and move onto the tournament semifinals when they host Zulte-Waregem in the decisive leg on Jan. 21.

You can see the goal here:

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Posted in Americans Abroad | 2 Comments

Report: Gyau suffers setback as knee struggles with increased workload

Joe Gyau Borussia Dortmund 0

By FRANCO PANIZO

What was looking to be an incredibly quick comeback now appears to be a test of patience and mental fortitude for Joe Gyau.

Gyau was seemingly on his way to making a lightning-fast recovery from the left knee injury he sustained back in October, returning to full training for Borussia Dortmund in mid-November. But the 22-year-old winger suffered a setback during the past week, as his knee struggled to cope with an increased workload.

Gyau had recently been playing games for Dortmund’s second team, making three appearances since Nov. 21. He was left off this past weekend’s roster, however, due to the knee issues.

While it is not clear how much of a setback this is for Gyau, it seems unlikely that he will crack back into the relegation-threatened club’s first team until after the Bundesliga’s winter break. Borussia Dortmund play their final game before the new year this Saturday, and don’t return to action until Jan. 31.

Gyau made one substitute appearance for Dortmund this season before suffering his knee injury in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-1 draw vs. Ecuador on Oct. 10. He had surgery to repair the damage, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann stated just before then that the speedy winger would be out of action until at least January.

What do you make of this development? Worried that Gyau might be trying to rush back too soon? What do you think are his chances of making the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2015 Gold Cup roster?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Americans Abroad | 19 Comments

U.S. U-18 tops Germany U-18 in first of two friendlies

JavierPerezUSMNT2-WorldCup2014 (USATodaySports)

Photo by USA TODAY Sports

By DAN KARELL

Goals from Mauricio Pineda and Brooks Lennon gave the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team a memorable win midway through their winter training camp in Marbella, Spain.

The U.S. U-18s defeated Germany U-18s, 2-1, in the first of two friendly matches between the two nations. Pineda, the brother of Indy Eleven midfielder and former Chicago Fire Homegrown signing Victor Pineda, volleyed home a goal in the 19th minute to put the Americans ahead.

In the 76th minute, Lennon gave the U.S. a two-goal lead by smashing home a rebound after a shot by Real Salt Lake-AZ teammate Sebastian Saucedo was saved. Germany’s Prince Osei Owusu scored a penalty kick in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time to cut the deficit in half but the German squad ran out of time to tie the score.

The USA and Germany play each other again on Friday.

Here’s the U.S. U-18 MNT’s starting lineup:

USA: Klinsmann; Duncan, Redding, Pineda, Peleaz; Lindley, Swanson, Yueill; Saucedo, Elney, Mansaray

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What do you think of this result?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in U.S. Soccer, U.S. Under-18 National Team, U.S. Youth National Teams | 15 Comments