LA Galaxy Collage

SBI MLS Season Preview: LA Galaxy

The defending champion LA Galaxy begin life without Landon Donovan as they look to repeat behind an attack led by MLS MVP Robbie Keane.

Ignacio Piatti Montreal Impact 29

CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Impact attempt to capitalize at home, DCU in need of big comeback

The Montreal Impact will attempt to seal the deal vs. Pachuca, D.C. United are praying for a miracle, and more in this upcoming week’s CONCACAF Champions League action.

Red Bulls Collage

SBI MLS Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

After losing the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, the New York Red Bulls are set to usher in a new and younger era under new head coach Jesse Marsch.

Soccer Tuesday: Your Running Commentary

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By ADAM TROXTELL

Aston Villa is searching for its first win with Tim Sherwood in charge against local rivals.

West Brom visits Villa Park for the first of two times this week in English Premier League action on Tuesday. The Baggies are unbeaten in their last five outings and will try to hand their Midlands rivals a third consecutive defeat.

After falling to Newcastle on Saturday, Villa sits 19th in the Premier League standings and can climb out of the relegation zone with a win. Fellow strugglers Sunderland visit Hull in search of a vital win, while Southampton tries to regain ground in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot against 12th-place Crystal palace.

Midweek domestic cup action is taking place in both Germany and France. The DFB Pokal round of 16 kicks off with Bayer Leverkusen playing 2. Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund will try to take Bundesliga form into its road trip to face Dynamo Dresden. Dortmund beat rivals Schalke 3-0 on Saturday for a fourth consecutive league win.

Later in the day, Santos Laguna will try to exact revenge on Queretaro, who trounced them 5-0 the last time the teams met in Copa MX action. Brazil’s Cruzeiro hosts Argentine club Huracan in Copa Libertadores group play, while Montreal Impact take a 2-2 aggregate score into the second leg against Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions League.

If you will be watching today’s action, feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions, and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (today’s soccer on TV schedule after the jump):

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Posted in European Soccer, Mexican Soccer, South American Soccer | 1 Comment

After fulfilling dream of building church, FC Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead looks to compete for starting spot

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Photo by Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports

By ADAM TROXTELL

After he was drafted by FC Dallas in 2013, Ryan Hollingshead first had to deal with some unfinished business that could easily have halted his career.

He had to ask FCD for a year off to return to California, where he was due to help his brother, Scott, complete their dream of building a church from the ground up. It’s a process that, much like the path of a young soccer player, holds no promise of instant success.

“I think I went into that with an open mindset, not planning everything out,” Hollingshead said about his decision to delay his professional career. “I didn’t go in thinking this was for life, but I also didn’t think ‘let’s get this going and get back to Dallas.’ I was willing to be there.”

If it had taken longer than eight months to get Harvest Bible Chapel in Sacramento up and running, Hollingshead said, there’s a good chance he would not be in preseason now, adapting to a new role that has so far paid dividends. Upon switching to the right wing from midfield, the UCLA-product scored three goals in three preseason games, two against Columbus Crew and one against D.C. United.

He’s now competing for a starting spot and has caught the eye of head coach Oscar Pareja. Continue reading »

Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- FC Dallas, SBI MLS Spotlight | 3 Comments

U.S. U-17’s demonstrate stout defense in victory over Trinidad & Tobago

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By RYAN TOLMICH

For much of the build-up to the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, the focus was on the attacking talent wielded by the U.S Under-17 Men’s National Team. With highly touted prospects Haji Wright, Christian Pulisic and Joe Gallardo, the U.S. has an attacking force that was tabbed to lead the way for the team in Honduras.

While the players atop the field did contribute a pair of goals via Gallardo and Wright, it was the defense that really asserted their dominance in Monday night’s 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago.

Led by captain Huge Arellano, left back John Nelson, right back Matthew Olosunde and center back Tanner Dieterich, the backline prevented T&T from emerging with many bonafide opportunities, save for a 35th-minute Arellano clearance following a deflection from goalkeeper William Pulisic.

“It started off pretty slow for us,” Arellano said, via U.S. Soccer. “We had to pick up the pace and obviously compete against them. That really brought up the tempo of the game and it pushed us. We came out with the shutout and that’s what we try to play for, defensively.

“Communication is a big factor, especially in backline. Me and Tanner (Dieterich) were able to do our part in the center, and Johnny (Nelson) and Matt (Olosunde) covered us out wide. And having Will (Pulisic) back there, we knew we were supported.”  Continue reading »

Posted in U.S. Under-17 National Team | 1 Comment

SBI MLS Season Preview: LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy Collage

By MARK EDWARD HORNISH

It’s good to be king.

The LA Galaxy, fresh off of their third MLS Cup Championship in four years, enjoyed the sort of off-season pageantry most clubs can only dream of. They went to the White House and met the President – again. They toured Europe, and were feted by foreign heads of state. Their captain was named MLS MVP. Their retiring legend had the league’s trophy named after him. Their coach received the Werner Fricker Award for career excellence.

And oh, by the way, they signed a certain highly-regarded Liverpudlian midfielder to a DP contract that should keep Galaxy ticket sales and jersey sales in the stratosphere compared to any other MLS club not named the Sounders for years to come.

Yet even the mighty Galaxy have question marks heading into the 2015 season.

The loss of Landon Donovan leaves a gaping hole in the Galaxy midfield, and the Galaxy scoring sheet. Donovan scored 13 goals in all competitions last year and added twenty assists. Steven Gerrard will not join the team until mid-July, leaving an awful lot of offense to be found among a small group of veteran midfielders and a rookie or two. It remains to be seen if Stefan Ishizaki, Baggio Husidic, and Juninho, or perhaps academy product Bradford Jamieson IV, are up to the task.

That said, the Galaxy have an embarrassment of riches on the front and back lines, and boast many players versatile enough to slot into the midfield while the Champs await the arrival of Sir Steven.

The bigger question then is how will the Galaxy deal with the threat of complacency? How many times can you climb the same mountain before it gets old? Head coach Bruce Arena has a veteran squad, a roster packed with known quantities, but it remains to be seen if the Galaxy can muster the magic once again. Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, MLS- LA Galaxy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Impact attempt to capitalize at home, DCU in need of big comeback

Ignacio Piatti Montreal Impact 29

Photo by Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

The Montreal Impact may have let a two-goal lead slip away in Mexico, but they still have a chance to close things out at home and don’t even need a win to advance.

The Impact are set to host Pachuca in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals series on Tuesday, and are in good position to move on in the tournament. No, playing at home does not guarantee anything, but Montreal will move into the semifinals with a win or a 1-1 draw following last week’s entertaining and chippy 2-2 draw.

There is a strong local buzz around the game at Olympic Stadium and more than 30,000 fans are expected to attend, which should give the Impact a good home field advantage. While that will certainly help, it is the Impact’s defense that could determine the club’s fate in the competition. The back line struggled to cope with Pachuca’s increased pressure after Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and will need to do a better job of containing what will surely be an urgent attack from the Liga MX side.

On the offensive side, Frank Klopas’ side will likely look to hit on the counter again. The Impact did well with that tactic in the opening leg, as Dilly Duka and Justin Mapp smartly exploited the space in front of them and created some good looks on goal. More of the same from them would have Montreal in prime position to advance, especially if Pachuca grows desperate and begins to throw numbers forward.

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Posted in CONCACAF, CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, Mexican Soccer, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- Montreal Impact | 11 Comments

SBI MLS Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

Red Bulls Collage

By FRANCO PANIZO

A legendary loss, a controversial coaching change, and a partial roster reconstruction. It’s the start of a new era for the New York Red Bulls.

The 2014 season did not end as the Red Bulls had hoped, but was still seen largely as a positive one after the club made it to within a goal of the MLS Cup final. The successful playoff run they enjoyed still was not enough to prevent drastic changes, as star player Thierry Henry left the club and subsequently retired before new sporting director Ali Curtis dismissed fan favorite head coach Mike Petke.

Filling Petke’s place almost immediately was Jesse Marsch, a coach with experience throughout various levels of the game and who has been deemed to be more in line with the club’s vision for the future. What that vision consists of is playing a more up-tempo style, and integrating and developing more youth players that will be able to contribute both in the short term and further down the road.

Marsch has a tough task ahead, however. He not only has to placate a rabid fanbase that is still livid over Petke’s firing, but do so with a roster that doesn’t include Henry, Tim Cahill or Jamison Olave. What Marsch does have at his disposal is a chunk of the established core of last year’s team, with Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips, midfielder Dax McCarty and goalkeeper Luis Robles all returning to the fray.

Those veterans and several others will need to buy into Marsch’s system and perform to their standards if the Red Bulls are to have any shot at matching or surpassing last season’s success. It’s a new-look New York team this year, but not one without the usual expectations to deliver.

Here’s a closer look at the 2015 New York Red Bulls:

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Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- New York Red Bulls | 4 Comments