By FRANCO PANIZO
Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Tim Cahill, Clint Dempsey. What all those players have in common aside from being very talented is that they all initially struggled in MLS after joining the league in the summer.
They are not the only cases either. History has had a way of repeating itself with midseason acquisitions in MLS, but the Philadelphia Union are hoping that will not be the case with their newest player.
The Union signed Switzerland international Tranquillo Barnetta earlier this week in one of the biggest moves in club history. Barnetta – who was signed via Targeted Allocation Money – should provide an upgrade for a club that lacks star power and consistency, but a big question that remains is: how quickly will he be able to contribute?
While Philadelphia has said the 30-year-old midfielder will be available for Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls, the club knows that it cannot play him for 90 minutes. He is joining the Union following his offseason and will need to get back to full fitness.
Barnetta also needs to adapt to his new teammates on the field and get adjusted to life off of it as well. In the past, that process has taken up to as many as several months in some cases, but Philadelphia believes that Barnetta will enjoy a smooth adaptation period.
“I think every case is different, every player adapts differently, and the fact that Tranquillo is a humble, good person first will help in that transition,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “He doesn’t come with an arrogance or any feeling that he’s above MLS or anything like that. I think that is a good thing we have going on our side, and of course there’s going to be getting used to (your teammates).
By RYAN TOLMICH
While MLS continues through the summer months, European leagues prepare for domestic league action with a series of cup matches.
In England, Chelsea and Arsenal collide in the Community Shield, pitting the FA Cup winners against the league’s reigning champions. The matchup, which serves as an unofficial kickoff to the English Premier League season, provides an early taste of the highly-publicized and, at times, physical Jose Mourinho-Arsene Wenger rivalry to kickstart the English campaign.
German champion Bayern Munich takes on Wolfsburg in the DFP Supercup, while Paris-Saint Germain faces off with Lyon for the French Super Cup.
In other action, Barcelona faces Fiorentina in the International Champions Cup, the Vancouver Whitecaps collide with Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders and Ottawa Fury FC hosts FC Edmonton in a battle of the NASL’s top two teams.
Here is this weekend’s soccer on TV (schedule after the jump): Continue reading
By RYAN TOLMICH
Raul isn’t seeing the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet when it comes to his playing career, but the Spanish legend does see a bright future on the horizon for the United States as a soccer nation.
The New York Cosmos star was brought in to the club with two goals in mind: improve the team on the field while helping lead the way in the development of local players. The second goal remains an ongoing process, but the Spanish forward says there is no end in sight with regards to the first one as the Cosmos continue to push through the NASL Fall Season after claiming the Spring title.
“Well, at the moment it’s a little early to make that decision, not until I finish the season and evaluate everything,” Raul said. “Now what’s left is the most important part: even though we were the spring champions, we still have four months of competition with matches where we will be playing every three days for many weeks.
“I’ll see then if my body can handle that and make an evaluation. For now I am happy, although playing on artificial turf isn’t the greatest to be in your best condition. But I feel fine and still with the desire to improve.” Continue reading
By MIKE GRAMAJO
ORLANDO, Fla. — Two months after announcing their intent to privately fund their proposed soccer-specific stadium, Orlando City released updated images of their future home on Friday morning.
Orlando City president Phil Rawlins and club majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva revealed the club’s updated stadium renderings, which will be privately funded for $155 million and expand seating to 25,500, and expected to open toward the latter part of the 2016 MLS season.
“We are thrilled with the work to date and proud to unveil the latest set of renderings for our home in downtown,” da Silva said in a statement. “This new privately financed stadium will be a state-of-the-art venue for our Club and for our fans.
“It will also create more jobs for the community and bring significant economic impact to the city of Orlando and surrounding communities. With construction underway, we look forward to hosting the first games in the new stadium later next year.”
According to Rawlins, the time of construction would take about 12-14 months, meaning Orlando City will start and play a majority of the 2016 season at the Citrus Bowl before moving into their new facility. Continue reading
Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Following Wednesday’s MLS All-Star game, several of the league’s biggest stars are set to return to action.
Having seen his team fall in six of seven matches, Clint Dempsey returns to the struggling Seattle Sounders to lead the way in a Cascadia clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Meanwhile, the surging FC Dallas is bolstered by the returns of Blas Perez and Je-Vaughn Watson in a match-up with the lowly Chicago Fire.
Elsewhere, New York City FC will look to continue its recent hot streak against the Montreal Impact, Orlando City aims to bounce back at the Columbus Crew, and the New York Red Bulls look for revenge against the Philadelphia Union.
Here’s a closer look at all of this weekend’s MLS action: Continue reading
By COLE KELLOG
NASL’s two Canadian teams are still leading the pack as the fifth week of the fall season kicks off this Friday night.
Expansion side Ottawa Fury FC is in first with a commanding 13 points, five points ahead of its nearest contender in FC Edmonton. The Eddies have been impressive themselves, only posting one loss in the opening five matches in the fall. Late on Sunday afternoon, those two sides will face off in Edmonton for what is undoubtedly the match of the weekend.
After winning the Spring Season, the New York Cosmos find themselves at the bottom of the table, with draws against Indy Eleven on either side of the team’s first loss of 2015. The Cosmos will host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in an attempt to regain form on Sunday.
Elsewhere around the league, the Jacksonville Armada will host Minnesota United, Freddy Adu and the Tampa Bay Rowdies travel to the Carolina RailHawks, and the Indy Eleven will play the Atlanta Silverbacks at home.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s action: Continue reading
By RYAN TOLMICH
Following the departures of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba is set to play a much bigger part at Juventus, despite all of the rumors linking him with a move abroad.
The French international admitted as much, insisting that he believes he is ready to step into a more prominent role with the Italian club. The 22-year-old, who has been the subject of numerous transfer rumors himself, insists that he is ready to step in and lead the midfield to what could be Juventus’ fifth straight title.
“I am happy to play wherever the coach needs me. I feel really good playing as an attacking midfielder behind two strikers. We’ll see what happens. It’s a role I enjoy,” Pogba said. “I think I can be [our midfield leader]. I hope it will happen, both for myself and for Juventus. Two great midfielders have left, but I have learned a lot from them. It’s now up to me to show that I have grown.
“We have lost some important players, but we have also brought in some experienced players. We are Juventus and we must always do well,” he added. “I think we can win a fifth title in a row if we really want it. It all depends on ourselves. It will be even more difficult than before and that’s why we have to be fully focused.”
Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Friday morning: Continue reading
photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Talk about a change of heart.
Two days after suggesting that the MLS All-Star game should go back to an East vs. West format, head coach Pablo Mastroeni felt differently on Wednesday night. He had led the MLS All-Stars to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham, and the result and performance against the talented Premiership club left him with a very gratifying feeling that made him change his mind about the annual game’s structure.
He was not alone either.
“We talked about the All-Star being conference against conference, but after today, I can say that it’s very good (the way it currently is), the sensation is very good,” said Kaka, the MLS All-Star Game MVP. “When you just met these kind of players and you have the new coach that put everything together and we beat a team like Tottenham, the feeling after the game is very good.”
While playing a European club has its benefits, including increased global exposure, there has been talk all week about whether MLS should go back to an East vs. West format. Fans and pundits have both argued that there is enough star power in the league now to fill two squads, especially with the likes of Giovani Dos Santos, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo now in the league competing with American standouts like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore.