BaggioHusidicLAGalaxy1-VancouverWhitecaps (USATodaySports)

CONCACAF Champions League Preview: New season kicks off with group stage action

The CONCACAF Champions League group stage for the 2015/2016 campaign kicks off on Tuesday, with all five MLS teams in action this week.

Aug 1, 2015; Commerce City, CO, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard (8) and defender A.J. DeLaGarza (20) celebrate the goal of forward Robbie Keane (7) in the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Challenges remain in second half of season for LA Galaxy’s star-studded cast

With a star-studded cast and experienced talent at several positions, reigning MLS champions LA Galaxy appear poised for a big second-half to the season.

Aron Johannsson AZ Alkmaar 72

The SBI View: Werder Bremen move is right place, right time for Johannsson

U.S. Men’s National Team forward Aron Johannsson is making the right move by leaving AZ Alkmaar and joining Werder Bremen.

Tuesday Evening Ticker: Ajax knicked out of UCL; Roma agree Dzeko fee; and more

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By COLE KELLOGG

On Tuesday night in the Amsterdam ArenA, a perennial European soccer power lost the opportunity to play in the UEFA Champions League group stage in the upcoming season.

Ajax missed out on a chance to be a part of the UCL group stage after five consecutive years as Ajax lost on aggregate, 5-4, to Rapid Vienna in the third round of qualifying.

The famous Dutch side lost 3-2 on Tuesday after rallying from a two-goal deficit at home. Ajax leveled the score in the 75th minute through Nemanja Gudelj with hopes to force extra time, but Rapi went back in front just two minutes later.

After a first-leg score of 2-2 in Austria, Frank de Boer’s men needed a victory at home to go through to the next stage of the competition.

Elsewhere in Champions League qualifying, AS Monaco made it past Swiss side Young Boys, 7-1 on aggregate, Dinamo Zagreb advanced past Molde on away goals, as did APOEL, advancing past FC Midtjylland on away goals.

Here are some more news and notes for your Tuesday evening: Continue reading »

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CONCACAF Champions League Preview: New season kicks off with group stage action

BaggioHusidicLAGalaxy1-VancouverWhitecaps (USATodaySports)

Photo by Jake Roth/USA Today Sports

 

By MICHAEL PENG

Since the inception of the CONCACAF Champions League’s current name and format in 2008, no MLS side has been able to claim the title of the best club in North America, but the five clubs representing the league this season will get another crack at it starting on Tuesday night.

D.C. United, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps, Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy each hope become the club that would make the MLS proud this Champions League season and break the stranglehold that Mexican clubs have had in this competition over the last seven years.

Last year saw the Montreal Impact come close to achieving that goal with a pleasantly surprising run into the final, but a dominating second half in the second leg match by Club America gave the Liga MX side its record-tying sixth title in this competition, dating back to the Champions Cup era.

Six clubs will start kick season off on Tuesday night, while five more matches will take place in the following two days.

Here is a look at the early actions of the group stage:

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Challenges remain in second half of season for LA Galaxy’s star-studded cast

photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

The LA Galaxy have made a habit in recent years of kicking things into another gear during the second half of their seasons. Like a light switch that they just turn on, the Galaxy tend to find results on a more consistent basis, make a deep playoff run, and usually find a way to lift an MLS Cup trophy when the games get more intense and important.

LA is hoping history repeats itself this season, and there’s undoubtedly a chance of that happening given the star-studded cast that has been assembled out near Hollywood.

You need only to look at the biggest names on LA’s roster to see just how powerful the club can be. Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes are players that comprise a championship-level core in MLS, but it is not as if the Galaxy’s talent stops there.

From MLS All-Star Juninho in center midfield to goal-scoring midseason acquisition Sebastian Lletget to reliable veteran defender A.J. DeLaGarza, the Galaxy boast arguably the most talented team in the league right now. Throw in the fact that it is the incomparable and savvy Bruce Arena that is leading the charge and you have a recipe for success.

Still, that is all on paper, and, as we know, matches are not won on paper.

Continue reading »

Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- LA Galaxy | 9 Comments

Brazil to face Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena for September friendly

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Photo by Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

By RYAN TOLMICH

Ahead of the team’s fall friendly against the U.S. Men’s National Team, Brazil is set to face-off with another of CONCACAF’s elite.

Brazil will take on Costa Rica on Sept. 5 in a friendly at Red Bull Arena, it was announced on Tuesday. The match-up comes just three days before Brazil travels to Foxborough, Massachusetts, for a clash with the U.S. Men’s National Team at Gillette Stadium.

Facing off in Harrison, New Jersey, the match between Brazil and Costa Rica will be the South American nation’s second in the state in as many years. The Brazilians defeated Ecuador, 1-0, at MetLife Stadium last September.

With the upcoming friendly falling on a FIFA international date, both teams will be able to call in some of their top stars for the friendly.

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SBI MLS Save of the Week: Andrew Dykstra

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Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports

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The SBI View: Werder Bremen move is right place, right time for Johannsson

Aron Johannsson AZ Alkmaar 72

 

By RYAN TOLMICH

Navigating the pitfalls of European soccer has proven to be a tough task for members of the Americans Abroad contingent in recent seasons, but the latest player to make a move has seemingly ticked all of the right boxes with his new club.

News broke Tuesday that U.S. Men’s National Team forward Aron Johannsson is bound for German club Werder Breman, departing the familiar, and generally attack-happy, Eredivise for the much more disciplined Bundesliga.

The move up is a logical one for Johannsson, who departs AZ Alkmaar after two-and-a-half seasons and 29 goals. After making his name in Iceland, Denmark and Holland, a move to Germany is a logical next step on the road to club success.

Yet, the move is easy to be met with skepticism, especially given the recent track records of several Americans making major moves.

In recent seasons, Jozy Altidore and Julian Green have made moves that were seen as ones that would give them a step up in competition as well as a place to shine. In Sunderland, Altidore was meant to be the prototypical Premier League target striker, while Green was meant to be the wonderkid that would prove his mettle in a loan to Hamburg.

Continue reading »

Posted in Americans Abroad, Featured, U.S. Men's National Team | 10 Comments

SBI MLS Goal of the Week: Taylor Kemp

photo by Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

Posted in Major League Soccer, MLS Weekly Awards, MLS- D.C. United, SBI MLS Goal of the Week | 3 Comments

SBI MLS Team of the Month: FC Dallas

photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports

By FRANCO PANIZO

FC Dallas’ may have endured a nightmare start in July, but that still did not stop the club from enjoying a superb month that pushed it towards the top of the table in the Western Conference.

Four wins, two shutouts, and 13 goals were among the accomplishments that highlighted FC Dallas’ strong July showing. Dallas got off on the wrong foot by getting routed by Sporting Kansas City, 6-2, in U.S. Open Cup play on the first of the month, but quickly put that in the rearview mirror and responded with four straight MLS victories.

The undefeated stretch in league play included wins over the New England Revolution, Orlando City, D.C. United, and Portland Timbers, and earned FC Dallas the SBI MLS Team of the Month award for July. Dallas beat out fellow Western Conference sides the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids for the honors.

Oscar Pareja’s men, which are off to a losing start in August, currently sit one point behind Vancouver in the Western Conference standings with a game in hand.

What do you think about FC Dallas winning this award? How impressed were you by the club’s July showing? Find it even more remarkable given how it started with that lopsided Open Cup loss?

Share your thoughts below.

Posted in Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- FC Dallas, SBI MLS Awards, SBI MLS Team of the Month | Leave a comment