Orlando City Collage

SBI MLS Season Preview: Orlando City

Orlando City is ready to make its MLS debut, and boasts a strong roster led by Brazilian star Kaka and several top MLS veterans.

Saturday European Rewind: Rooney fires Man United to win; Dortmund crushes Schalke; and more

Wayne Rooney helped lead Manchester United to a romp over Sunderland, while Borussia Dortmund crushed Schalke in Saturday’s action in Europe.

Portland Timbers Collage

SBI MLS Season Preview: Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers are counting on continuity and a few new additions to help them have a bounce-back season in 2015.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Orlando City

Orlando City Collage

By MIKE GRAMAJO

After all of the hype and buildup, Orlando City is finally ready to take the field for its inaugural MLS campaign.

Orlando City will look to translate the club’s winning history from its USL days, and with the likes of Designated Player Kaka leading the way, the Lions have now shifted the focus on winning an MLS Cup as the league’s newest expansion side.

With head coach Adrian Heath, regarded as the most successful coach in the history of the USL after winning consecutive titles, at the helm, the Lions also bring a new flavor of soccer into MLS’ 20th season.

While the team has plenty of new faces, eight players from the 2014 USL season have made the jump to MLS: Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren, Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding, Luke Boden, Harrison Heath, Rafael Ramos and Estrela.

Orlando City had a busy, and early, MLS offseason. Bringing in the likes of veteran players such as Aurelien Collin from Sporting KCand Amobi Okugo from Philadelphia Union, Orlando City has managed to build a competitive roster that has the potential to contend from the get-go.

Here’s a closer look at Orlando City leading up to the 2015 regular season: Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Orlando City | 6 Comments

Saturday European Rewind: Rooney fires Man United to win; Dortmund crushes Schalke; and more

Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring

By ADAM TROXTELL

In search of goals, Manchester United turned to one of its most reliable sources in the past decade.

Wayne Rooney scored twice in the Red Devils 2-0 win against Sunderland, making him the first player in English Premier League history to score 10-or-more goals in 11 seasons. The goals came about 20 minutes apart in the second half, but they had been expected for much longer than that.

After surviving a spell of Sunderland dominance in the opening minutes, Man United totally bossed the game. The Black Cats were pinned back during the majority of the time and had to deal with nine shots on target.

The Red Devils were still unable to turn all of this into a goal, and as a result were about to replace Radamel Falcao. Just before that, the Colombian brought a long-ball down neatly in the box and was subsequently pulled down by John O’Shea.

Oddly it was another former Man United center back, Wes Brown, who was sent off in a decision that will surely be corrected by the FA. Regardless, Rooney dispatched the penalty for a 1-0 lead.

He then scored his first goal from open play since Dec. 26 when he headed in the rebound from Adnan Januzaj’s shot. With the win, Man United jumps over Arsenal into third place.

Elsewhere in Europe, a late effort from Borussia Dortmund sealed a win against rivals Schalke. Barcelona brushed Granada aside in La Liga play, and Lyon received a hit in its French league title fight.

Here is more from the action across Europe’s top leagues on Saturday:

Continue reading »

Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 1 Comment

The SBI Show: Episode 193 (CONCACAF Champions League, MLS labor talks, and more)

BenOlsen

 By IVES GALARCEP

The CONCACAF Champions League has long been a source of disappointment for Major League Soccer teams, and that same familiar storyline played out again on Thursday in Costa Rica with D.C. United’s destruction at the hands of Alajuelense.

Episode 193 of The SBI Show takes a look back at D.C. United’s 5-2 loss to the Costa Rican side, and digs into the continued issues MLS has with succeeding in CCL play. We also discuss Montreal’s impressive 2-2 tie with Pachuca.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I also discuss the MLS labor talks, and the likelihood of a strike, which is growing by the day as the two sides reach an apparent stalemate over free agency.

Give Episode 193 of The SBI Show a listen after the jump:

Continue reading »

Posted in CONCACAF Champions League, Major League Soccer, Podcasts, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

SBI MLS Season Preview: Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers Collage

By FRANCO PANIZO

Caleb Porter’s reign in Portland started with so much promise, but the unexpected stumbling block that was the 2014 season has the club in need of a bounce-back year.

A slow start to the season and an unhealthy dose of defensive miscues ultimately proved to be too much for the Timbers during the 2014 campaign, as they missed out on the playoffs during the final weekend of the regular season. It was a large disappointment for the Rose City, and for a Portland team that had reached the Western Conference Finals just a year prior in Porter’s first season in charge.

With the aim being to get back into the stacked Western Conference’s elite, the Timbers have addressed what they feel are their areas of need while keeping most of the rest of the roster untouched. Continuity is something the club wanted even after last year’s struggles, and they have that with the likes of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi all returning.

Portland is currently dealing with a number of injuries to key players, however. Valeri, starting defensive midfielder Will Johnson and his backup Ben Zemanski will all miss at least the first couple of months of the season, leaving the Timbers to have find alternative methods to get by until they return.

That might make it seem like the club is in store for a third straight season in which it comes slowly out of the gates, but the Timbers believe they have the answers to getting off on the right foot en route to successfully returning to the postseason.

Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Portland Timbers:

Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- Portland Timbers | 2 Comments

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND-MAINZ

 

By ADAM TROXTELL

Much more is on the line than bragging rights when Borussia Dortmund plays rival Schalke in Bundesliga action.

Known as the Revierderby, a surging Dortmund hosts Schalke in the midst of pulling away from the relegation zone. Three straight wins have pulled the former German champions three points away from danger.

Schalke will also look to grab a valuable win while chasing down a UEFA Champions League Spot. Die Knappen sit two points behind Monchengladbach and the final qualification spot. They were victorious the last time these teams met back in September.

Also chasing Europe, Manchester United can jump into third place with a win against Sunderland. In their last five meetings, the Red Devils have beaten Sunderland just once and tied twice.

Granada hosts a Barcelona side trying to keep pressure on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, and in France, league leaders Lyon can widen the gap between them and Paris Saint-Germain with a win against Lille.

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):

Continue reading »

Posted in European Soccer, Featured | 22 Comments

Luis Robles: Union still fighting for ‘some form of free agency’ despite MLS owners’ refusal to consider it

Luis Robles New York Red Bulls 96

Photo by Gary Rohman/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen might think that free agency discussions are a waste of time, but the MLS Players Union is far from agreeing on that point.

In the wake of recent comments from Hansen that stated that discussing MLS free agency is pointless given league’s single-entity structure, a players union representative has vowed that it intends to stay the course with what it wants from this round of collective bargaining negotiations.

That means that free agency is still among the chief issues — other forms of player movement and higher finances are others — that needs to be addressed if the MLS season is to start as planned a week from Friday.

“Economics play a big part, don’t get me wrong, but we’re more fighting for the idea that we can choose,” New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles told SBI. “Every other job in America has this ability to go out into the market, put in your resume and, if you have a few different job offers, weigh which one is best for you, best for your family, and then you can go out (and make a decision).

“Then there’s also this idea that that leverage exists, that the market dictates your value and all these things don’t exist right now and if we continue the current system then I think players will continue to fall into a situation where the league determines what their value is. Even though they need a guy that plays 27 out of 34 games and is playing 2-3 positions, but because the league doesn’t deem you to be one of their marquee guys, even though other teams are willing to pay a premium for you, you’re always going to be stuck in a situation of what the league says and what the league thinks.

Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- New York Red Bulls | 62 Comments