Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MLS News for 2013 Season

Transfers News and Schedule for 2013 Season

As most players enjoy a break from soccer, the coaches are still hard at work negotiating and navigating the tricky transfer market.

One of the biggest news stories this off season is the return of S├ębastien Le Toux to the Philadelphia Union. In an odd situation last year Le Toux was traded away from the Union despite being the teams highest scorer over the last two season.

After a season playing for Vancouver and then New York, the Union fired their head coach Peter Novak, and brought in John Hackworth who started the wheels turning to get Le Toux back.

The Union had a rather dismal 2012 season which saw them add several good players, but lack a center forward. Bringing S├ębastien Le Toux back to the team not only makes the fans happy, it also gives the Union a target center forward with a goal scoring track record.

Home Game Openers for 2013 Announced

The schedule, and more importantly the home game openers for next season, have been announced by the MLS.

All teams will play at home no later than week 4, with most teams getting their home opener in the first or second week.

The Philadelphia Union will have their home opener on March 2nd, one of the first games of the 2013 season. They will face Sporting KC in what will certainly be a test to see if the Union have made improvements since last year.

While waiting for the 2013 season to get underway, many may be interested in the Preseason schedule

More MLS News coming soon!.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The MLS Cup 2012 - Last game for Beckham

Beckham confirms that the MLS Cup 2012 will be his Last at the Galaxy

david beckham galaxy 2012Super soccer star David Beckham has had a great run in the MLS while playing for LA. Several seasons of hard work culminated last year when the Galaxy won the 2011 MLS Cup. Some thought Beckham would hang up his boots then, after accomplishing one of his major goals - winning the Cup. 

But Beckham returned in 2012 and LA are in the final yet again. It was not as easy to get to the final, and Beckham has decided it will be his last game as a player for LA. 

I am sure his teammates and all the Galaxy fans hope Beckham s final game ends in a win.

What has Beckham done for the MLS?

Beckham has done quite a bit to help Major League Soccer reach where it is today. He was one of the first big soccer superstars to come to the MLS (other than Pele years ago) and opened the door for people such as Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane to follow. 

He also helped to lift the level of play by presenting an example of what quality free-kicks should be like. How many different MLS players have now had a chance to see a world class set-piece taker whip a ball into the box? Nearly all of them.

Looking to the Future of the MLS

With Beckham on his way out, there is a space left open, not only on the Galaxy, but in the MLS for a new superstar to fill. It is hard to tell who or how many world class players may be attracted to the MLS and where they might end up, but it is clear the MLS is becoming more and more of a world class soccer league. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The MLS Cup 2012 - LA Vs. Houston

The MLS Cup 2012 is set to be a rematch of last year's Cup

The LA Galaxy defeated Seattle 4-2 in a two game series to advance to the MLS Cup while Houston beat DC United 4-2 as well, over a two game series.

The Houston Dynamo will play the Galaxy in LA at the Home Depot Center on December 1st to see who will win the MLS Cup 2012.

A Flashback to the 2011 MLS Cup

LA played Houston last year for the MLS Cup and got the win after a tremendous season in which they won the Supporters Shield (most points during the regular season).

Beckham Holds 2011 MLS Cup
It was a sweet victory for LA as stars David Beckham and Landon Donovan as they had played exceptionally over the entire season.

It was the Galaxy's first Championship win since signing Beckham several seasons earlier.

The final score for the 2011 MLS Cup was LA Galaxy 1, Houston 0. What can we expect for this year?

Reaching the 2012 MLS Cup - Houston and LA

Both Houston's and LA's path to the MLS Cup was anything but pretty.

LA Struggled for the first third of the season, losing games both at home and on the road. They looked nothing like the unstoppable force they had been the year before.

However, after the Euro Cup in the summer, International Star Robbie Keane came back to the Galaxy on a scoring rampage. He ended the season with 16 goals and propelled LA into the playoffs, although they finished a slightly humiliating 8th place overall.

Houston also had some struggles during the regular season losing many of their road games. But, with a strong home record (and a new stadium), they did just enough to reach the playoffs in 9th place overall, and last in the Eastern Conference.

Once LA and Houston reached the 2012 MLS Playoffs, they turned into totally different teams, each defeating the top team in their conference and powering through the rest of the competition, leading to a repeat of the 2011 MLS Cup Final.

What to Expect in the 2012 MLS Cup Final

In 2011, the game ended in a tight, 1-0 victory for the Galaxy. I would expect with the Galaxy playing at home again, and the likes of Robbie Keane playing up front, they come out hard against Houston and try to score early and often.

Houston is a veteran playoff team with MLS Cup wins in 2006 and 2007, not to mention last year's near win. They will hold their defensive lines and try to take advantage of set pieces and bursts of possession.

It is shaping up to be an exciting game and will be live on ESPN on December 1st. Don't miss out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

MLS News- Final Games of the 2012 Season

2012 MLS Season Concludes this Weekend

Major League Soccer wraps up it's 34 game season this weekend with no teams unsure about their playoff positions.

For some, such as the Philadelphia Union, their playoff hopes were shattered weeks ago. All 10 playoff spots are already secured with five teams from each conference. 

While it may seem like an anticlimactic ending to the season, I see it more as a calm before the playoff storm.

2012 MLS Playoff Standings

Here are the standings from each conference:

Western Conference
  • San Jose
  • Seattle
  • Salt Lake
  • LA
  • Vancouver

Eastern Conference
  • Kansas City
  • D.C.
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Houston 
While some jostling of playoff positions could take place this weekend, for teams like the Union it is more about pride, and building for next season.

The MLS Playoffs will come quickly once the season ends, so keep an eye out for many exciting games before the MLS takes it's winter break.

Friday, October 12, 2012

International Break - World Cup Qualification

This weekend, October 12th-16th, is an International Break for club soccer teams in order for national teams to play two games in World Cup Qualification for Rio 2014.

Club Soccer, including the English Premier League and Major League Soccer will return next week.

While the European World Cup Qualification games usually get most of the press, the USA in CONCACAF qualifying are trying to make some good news for themselves.

They are currently in a three way tie with Guatemala and Jamaica, each with 7 points.

Only the winner will advance, with the 2nd place in the group going into a playoff with the second place teams from the other groups.

The USMNT plays Antigua and Barbuda on October 12th away from home, and will then play at home in Kansas, against Guatemala on Tuesday the 16th. (USA v Guatemala will be live on ESPN2, and ESPN3.com)

The US will be hoping, and expecting to win both games, but as the last Olympic qualification process showed us, nothing is secure, with the US failing to qualify for London 2012.

There are quite a few European Qualification Games going on. These usually consist of huge mismatches between soccer sharks and minnows. But the games can have surprises, and almost always present an entertaining game.

ESPN3.com offers many of these games streamed live online for free. Visit espn.go.com/watchespn to view all available games.

Coming up on Tuesday, October 16th at 2:55 ET, France will play Spain in an unusual match up of two fantastic national soccer teams challenging for top spot in their qualification group.

More to come soon on the USMNT World Cup Qualification results.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Union Win with Two Goals from Freddy Adu

The Philadelphia Union ended an 8 game win-less streak in their home game against the Houston Dynamo.

The Union have been struggling with goals recently, scoring only 2 goals in the last 5 games. But they got three goals in their 3-1 win over Houston at PPL Park.

Freddy Adu scored two goals to put his season total at five.

His first goal came from a cross by rookie Ray Gladdis, who sent the ball into the box and eventually to the feet of Adu who put it in the back of the net.

Adu's second goal came from a PK, which he converted.

Unfortunately, the night ended for Freddy Adu with a possible injury.

The Union needed all three points if to keep any hopes of reaching the playoffs alive. Mathematically they could still make the playoffs, but it is long shot.

The Union's next MLS game is against a surging Columbus Crew who are striving to reach the playoffs. Can the Union be a speed bump in their path? We will have to wait and see in next week's game.

Highlights of the Union's 3-1 win over Houston:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

MLS Action Heats up as Playoffs Draw Near

With just weeks left in the MLS regular season, games are starting to really heat up with playoff spots on the line.

Only 10 points separate 3rd place Chicago Fire from 11th place Montreal Impact, who have a total of 40 points.

While San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting KC appear to be battling it out on their own for the Supporters Shield, they are only 7 and 5 points respectively, ahead of Chicago.

For many teams now, a win can mean reaching the playoffs, and a tie or loss might mean missing out on any chance of winning the MLS Cup.

Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, Portland, New England, Chivas USA and Colorado Rapids may already be out of playoff contention as these teams all have less than 30 points. They are now playing for pride, and develop a better team for next season.

As I watch the EPL with their relegation system, I can't help but wonder how much harder the bottom teams would play at the end of the season in the MLS if they knew the last 3 would be dropped from the league.

I think the MLS needs to become a little stronger before that occurs, but it does make for great entertainment.

Be sure to follow the MLS as it reaches the last weeks of the season, and team compete for playoffs and the MLS Cup.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

USA Beat Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying

The US Men's National Team were able to get three points with a home win over Jamaica in the World Cup 2014 Qualifying group stage on September 11th ,2012. 

The game was played in the Columbus crew stadium in Columbus Ohio with a huge crowed in support of the Americans. 
The US dominated from the fist minute of play and looked like they would score multiple goals in the first half but nothing went in despite several fantastic shots.

Two screaming shots hit the post in the first half, and one deflection was tipped by the goalkeeper into the post. 

The US got close in the first half, but could not find the back of the net.

In the 55th minute they were finally rewarded for their impressive performance up to that point.

Jamica conceded a free-kick about 30-35 yards from goal and Gomez took the opportunity to curl a shot on goal.

The Jamaica goalkeeper got two hands to the ball in a diving save, but was unable to alter the trajectory, and the ball landed in the back of the net.

The rest of the game was a bit disappointing for the US who seemed to take their foot off the gas, and relinquish possession to Jamaica who had several efforts on goal.

It was a nervous final 30 minutes but USA finished the game 1-0.

This result leaves the World Cup Qualifying group in a three way tie for first with Jamaica, Guatemala and USA each on 7 points.  USA leads the group, however, on goal difference.

Several more qualifying games will occur before the top two teams advance to the next stage of World Cup 2014 Qualification.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

International Break for FIFA World Cup 2014 Quealifications

This past weekend (September 7-11th) is an international break from club soccer for national teams to have an opportunity to play a few games in the group stage of the World Cup 2014 qualification.

For many European teams, these are some of the first national team games since the Euro Cup in which Spain put on a dominating performance in the final winning it 4-0 over Italy.

There are quite a few interesting match-ups in World Cup 2014 qualification where teams are placed in groups, and the top two usually advance from the group.

Often the games are David and Goliath battles, with large soccer countries taking on much smaller countries. But the Davids rarely win.

A few of the notable games already played include:

England 5-0 Moldova
Germany 3-0 Faroe Islands
Italy 2-2 Bulgaria
Netherlands 2-0 Turkey
Jamaica 2-1 USA

Visit the FIFA Website for more on World Cup Qualification Games.

USA Loses to Jamaica 2-1

In a surprising game in Jamaica, USA lost to Jamaica 2-1 in World Cup Qualifying.

After an early goal by Clint Dempsey, Jamaica scored two beautiful free-kicks to win the game.

Clint Dempsey's goal was scored in the 1st minute of play, and set a new record for fastest goal scored by the US in World Cup play.

The Jamaicans responded with two free-kicks, one in each half, that beat Tim Howard and gave Jamaica a valuable 5 points.

This leaves USA in a must win situation when the play Jamaica again on September 11th. This game will be played at home for the US and they will look to get the full three points as they strive to get to the top of their group.

USA's World Cup Qualifications Current Standings (9/11/12)

Jamaica is the surprise leader of the group after 3 games played.

  • Jamaica - 7 Points
  • Quatermala - 4 Points
  • USA - 4 Points
  • Antigua and Barbuda - 1 Point
With only the top two teams advancing, the US will have to start winning if it wants to avoid serious abuse from fans for not qualifying for the World Cup 2014.

Tonight (9/11), the US will have an opportunity to get three points as it plays Jamaica at home in Columbus Ohio. The game will be live at 8pm on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

Be sure to watch and cheer on the USMNT!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Champions League Groups Announced for 2012/13

The Champions League, arguably the best league in the world, announced the groups for its group stage in the 2012-13 season starting September 15th.

The UEFA Champions League invites the top soccer teams from many of the leagues in Europe to play together in one league with the goal of winning the title, champions of Europe.  In this league, 32 teams from top leagues such as La Liga, Serie A, EPL, and many others, are placed in eight groups with four teams in each.

During the group stage of the Champions League, each of the four teams in a group play against each other, and the two teams with the best results (most points) advance to a knockout playoff format competition.

To view the complete list of groups, read this article on the Analysis and Predictions for the Champions League 2012-13

This year, one group stands out as being particularly interesting and nicknamed the 'group of death'.

Group D: The Group of Death

In group D are: Manchester City, Real Madrid, Ajax, and Dortmund. At first glance, Manchester and Madrid stand out as the favorites to win it. But once you take a closer look and realize that each club in this group won their home league last season, you realize this is a group packed with talent. 

Although it still seems likely Manchester and Madrid will advance, Dortmund and Ajax will fight hard to survive past the group stage and one slip up could lead to an early exit for any of the four.

The likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern Munich are also scattered throughout the various groups. It will be exciting as the games unfold to see who might challenge the defending champions, Chelsea, and try to take the title Champions of Europe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Philly Union News and the Origin of the Word 'Soccer'

PPL Park - Source:  Something Original
The Philadelphia Union grabbed a valuable point on the road when they played DC United to a 1-1 ties on August 19th, 2012.

The Union Had a handful of chances in the first half but only managed to get up by one goal. DC United came back in the second half to score a goal making the game 1-1. There was significant late drama at the end of the game including three red cards, and a missed penalty by DC United. With the penalty miss, the Union happily took the one point as they strive to earn enough points to reach the playoffs this season.

The Union are currently in 8th place out of 10 teams in the Eastern Conference of the MLS. DC United is sitting in the last playoff spot at 5th place. The union have had several encouraging wins in their last five games, but the last two have been small stumbles from a team that must get points if it wants to make the playoffs.

Catch the highlights to the Union's drama filled tie vs DC United from MLSSoccer.com

And current MLS Standings for the Union

The Origin of the Word 'Soccer'

I recently discovered that the word 'soccer' was not created by Americans who wanted to spite the English by making up a new name for European football. In fact, the word actually came about as a nickname for football that was created by a university student in England.

Read my full article on the Origin of the Word 'Soccer' to find all the details.

Because of my discovery that soccer is as English as calling the sport football, I will proudly refer to the game as soccer, whether I am in America or a pub in England. I hope not to upset anyone with this, but how can anyone be upset if Englishmen created the word soccer, and used it for nearly one hundred years before it caught on in America?

My biggest question is why soccer is not still used in England today. It is simply a nickname for the sport, which has become unpopular to use because, as far as I can tell, it is used in America.

Anyway, I hope this will give a few people a moments hesitation the next time they try to correct someone for calling football, soccer, and soccer, football.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Does the MLS All-Star Game mean to Major League Soccer?

Tonight, (Wednesday, July 25th, 2012) The MLS All-Stars will play the European Champions, Chelsea in a friendly at PPL Park in Philadelphia, PA.

The question that tends to come up each year around this game is, what does this game mean? Well, depending how you look at it, this game can mean a lot of things, or very little.

Most MLS fans see this game as a yardstick comparing the MLS to other clubs around the world. In past games, the MLS All-Stars have had mixed results. Sometimes they win, other times they lose. But this game does seem to have some extra expectations. Maybe because Chelsea are European Champions., Or perhaps it is because more and more stars from around the world are playing in the MLS. Either way, the result of the MLS All-Star game will have reverberations around the league, and even the world.

The MLS All-Stars do have a challenge on their hands. Although they are a team made up of the best players in the league, they have little experience playing with each other. Chelsea, on the other hand, has much more experience playing together and even though they might not have all their players, they have a formidable lineup.

In the end, if the All-Stars lose, I don't think much will be said about it. After all, Chelsea did win the Champions League. But if the MLS All-Stars win, I think it will be one step closer to bringing Major League Soccer up to par with the rest of the world, as well as gaining a little respect.

The MLS All-Star game will be live on ESPN and ESPN3.com at 8:30pm Wednesday, July 25th.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Union Future Looking Bright with Three Game Winning Streak

PPL Park Home of the Philadelphia Union 
courtesy Philadelphia Union 
The Philadelphia Union are on a three game winning streak at the midpoint of the MLS season.  In each of their wins the Union displayed good passing and possession and most importantly, goals, which brought them each win.

In the Union's Major league Soccer game against Toronto FC on July 8th 2012, they recorded an impressive 3-0 victory over their opposition. Although the Union are just one place ahead of last place Toronto, in their last meeting Toronto was the victor.

The Union played well throughout the game against Toronto and goals by Adu, McInerney, and Farfan sealed the victory. This was the Union's second win in a row, after surprisingly beating the Galaxy 2-1 the week before.

While the Union's victory over Toronto was complete, they faced a more difficult challenge in the form of the Montreal Impact, who they played on July 14th 2012 at PPL Park.

Goalkeepers Zac MacMath for the Union, and Donovan Ricketts for Montreal each made invaluable saves during the first 80 minutes which kept this MLS game scoreless. But in the 82nd minute, Lionard Pajoy broke the deadlock and knocked a lose ball into the back of the Impact's net.

But Montreal came level just minutes later when an Impact corner kick was curled in at the Union goal, deflected off a player, and ended up in the back of the net. A 1-1 tie was not what the Philadelphia Union wanted or needed as they try to salvage their season and win games. So in extra time, defender Carlos Valdez took it into his hands and grabbed a late game winning goal (his first of the season), to give the Union the full 3 points they need.

Watch full match highlights of the Union's 2-1 win over Montreal.

The Union seem to have found the scoring ability they lacked for most of the season. If they can continue to win games, they are likely to make the playoffs, and have a chance for the Cup.

Philadelphia will play Aston Villa in a friendly on Wednesday, but return to MLS play on Saturday as they take on the New York Red Bulls. The game against New York will be broadcast live on ESPN at 2:30 PM EST July 21st.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Union Secure 2-1 Win Over LA Galaxy

The Philadelphia Union beat the LA Galaxy 2-1 after a stoppage time goal scored by Michael Farfan. It was an important victory for the Union as they attempt to get their season back on track with new coach John Hackworth.

Union Win 2-1 vs LA
The Union faced an immediate onslaught for the first 20 minutes or so as the Galaxy pressed them and took several shots. But Philadelphia made it through the initial push, and began to settle in and pass the ball around. The half looked to end scoreless but just before the whistle, Michael Farfan made a drive to the end-line past his defender and sent a low cross that Jack McInerney elegantly back-healed into the side netting on the far end of the goal. And before anyone knew it, the Union were up 1-0 at halftime.

The Galaxy made a few changes, notably to their back line, and came out in the second half looking for an equalizer. The Union did well and kept the Galaxy from scoring until the 73rd minute when a ball sent across the goal found Chad Barrett who finished it to make it 1-1.

LA continued to look for goals but it was the Union who got the late winner.

In the 95th minute, Michael Farfan got the ball just outside the area and dribbled towards goal under minimal pressure. a low curling shot to the back post left the Galaxy keeper no chance, and give the Union a 2-1 victory.

This victory is crucial for the Union after an unfortunate loss last week in Houston as they try to make up for lost points. The good news for the Union is they have been playing very well recently and have 3 games in hand on the Montreal Impact who are 1 point ahead in the Eastern Conference Standings.

The Philadelphia will play Toronto on Sunday and plan to extend their winning streak to two games.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spain Play the Perfect Game in Euro Cup Final

On July 1st, 2012, Spain beat Italy 4-0 to become European Champions. They also defended their '08 Euro Cup title, and became the first team to win three major tournaments in a row (Euro '8, World Cup '10, Euro '12).

Spain are Champions
But what the world watched in the 2012 Euro Cup Final was not the same Spanish team that won in '08 or at the World Cup, it wasn't even the same as the team that made its way to the final. No, the Spanish team that showed up in the final was a perfect team.

From the goalkeeper Casillas, who made several key saves to keep the clean sheet, to the defense who effectively shut down the Italian attack, to the substantial midfield that not only blocked Pirlo from passing, but created goal scoring opportunities in wonderful passing efficiency. The Spanish played the best any team has ever played, and they did it with the world watching.

Each goal came about because of quick passing and perfect accuracy. The fact they scored 4 goals against a good Italian defense and one of the best goalkeepers in Buffon, shows how deadly they were.

Some might say it goes too far to call Spain's performance in the Euro Final 'perfect', or to say they are the best team in history. But the fact that no other team has put together a show like Spain did in the final, and no other team has won three major tournaments in a row, seem like overwhelming factors in their favor. I think Spain are due their recognition.

While I look forward to Spain's next involvement in a tournament (World Cup 2014), I recognize that it will be nearly impossible for them to play better than they did in the Euro Final. From now on, people will compare their performance to that game, and will likely be disappointed when they don't meet that expectation. I am just glad I was able to watch the game in which Spain proved they are the best.

If you are looking for more on the final, read Euro Cup Final 2012 - Spain Beat Italy 4-0

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Euro Cup 2012 Semifinal Preview – Germany Vs. Italy

Euro Cup 2012 Stats for Germany vs Italy

UEFA Euro Cup 2012 

Germany and Italy are set to clash to see who will advance to the Euro Cup 2012 Final against defending champions Spain. The tickets are sold, and predictions are in, as these two soccer superpowers play for the last spot in the Euro Cup 2012 Final.

Date and Time for Euro Cup 2012 Semifinal – Germany vs. Italy

Germany will play Italy on Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 20.45CET (2:45 pm EST) from Warsaw, Poland.

How Germany and Italy Reached the Euro Cup Semifinal:

  •       Won group ‘B’ (Aka: The Group Of Death):
  •       Beat Denmark 2-1
  •       Beat Portugal 1-0
  •       Beat Netherlands 2-1
  •       Easily beat Greece in quarterfinal 4-2 to advance to semifinal

  •       Finished second in group ‘C’:
  •       Tied Spain 1-1
  •       Tied Croatia 1-1
  •       Beat Ireland 2-0
  •       Tied England in quarterfinal match 0-0, won 4-2 in penalty kicks

Predictions for Euro Cup 2012 Semifinal between Germany and Italy

70% of fans on UEFA.com predict Germany will beat Italy to advance to the final. Most are expecting an exciting game with the possibility of goals for both sides. After going scoreless against England, Italy will look to adjust its lineups to provide better scoring opportunities. Germany, meanwhile, scored 4 goals against Greece, but let in two. They will look to continue their attacking momentum, while keeping a tight defense.

Key Players to Keep an Eye on;

For Germany:
Germany Striker Gomez has already scored three times and will look to continue his run. In the midfield, Ozil will launch the Germans attacking plays and look to reach their forwards such as Gomez.

For Italy:
Long time goalkeeper Buffon stopped a PK to allow Italy to reach the semifinals. Italian midfielder Pirlo provided precise passing and will look to guide the attack.

For full match info, also check out UEFA Euro Cup 2012 Official Website

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Union Stun Sporting KC 4-0 at PPL Park

Most improbably, most unexpectedly, the Philadelphia Union trounced one of the best teams in MLS, Sporting KC, 4-0 on June 23rd.

let me put this huge home win into perspective. Before the match began, Sporting KC had conceded the fewest goals in the league. Not only that, but the Union had scored the fewest goals in the MLS as well! All that changed at PPL Park when the Philadelphia Union systematically beat SKC, scoring two goals in each half.

Jack Mclnerney scored two goals in the first half to pave the way for the Union's first win in weeks.  Antoine Hoppenot and Lionard Pajoy also got on the scoreboard with a goal each. 

While the Union's season has been very disappointing thus far, is this a turning point for the team? I think it can be if the team chooses to do better and play as well as they have the potential to do. With the recent change of head coach for the Union, this win is a very positive result. 

As a Union fan, this dominating win for the Union is very inspiring. check out the highlights for the Union's 4-0 win vs. Sporting KC, or watch the video below!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MLS Full of Action After International Break

After a few weeks off, Major League Soccer is back in full swing with plenty of action and news after week 13. Some teams in the MLS came back strong after the break, either turning around what had been a string of poor performances, or continuing their winning ways. Other teams found themselves struggling  to win. Here is a roundup of some of the interesting games from week 13 of the 2012 MLS season.

Sporting KC vs. Toronto FC
Sporting KC was one of the teams coming back from the break that continued to win games. KC played Toronto FC beating them 2-0. Both goals in the game were exciting finishes, with the second an extraordinary volley powered into the net by Julio Cesar. Check out the highlights to see the volley for yourself or watch the video below. Unfortunately for Toronto, they continue to lose this season with only one win in 13 weeks.

Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA
With a resounding 3-0 win, Real Salt Lake maintain their top position on the challenging western conference. The attacking power of RSL was too much for Chivas who conceded multiple chances, and thee goals to RSL. In the western conference where many of the teams are vying diligently for playoff spots, Chivas will have to make changes if they hope to do the same.

LA vs. Portland Timbers
LA Galaxy grabbed 3 much needed points beating the Timbers 1-0. The Galaxy have not found this season anywhere as easy as last, when they won the MLS Cup. But a solid win may help kick-start their push towards the play offs in a few months. The Portland Timbers will hope to make up points in their next match, an exciting game against Seattle.

DC United vs. Philadelphia Union
I was really rooting for the Union in this game, hoping a change in head coach might be enough to help them get a much needed win, but DC United won 1-0. The Union showed themselves as a strong team, controlling much of the midfield, but a quick goal by DC was all they needed to win, and top the Easter Conference ahead of Sporting KC. DC United has been a team hard to beat for many competitors. The struggling Union will hope to get some points when they play Sporting KC next, but I don't think I would bet on it.

Major News:
Besides a few signings and transfers, the biggest news is Philadelphia Union coach Peter Novak parting ways with the team. Last season went very well for the Union under Novak's control. But this season has been dismal and disappointing for all involved. The Union's assistant coach will take over until a permanent head coach is found.

The Union's performance this year has been puzzling. they are currently second to last, with only  Toronto below them, and they even lost to Toronto a few weeks ago. I hope they change of their Coach will give them some new energy to at least pull together for the rest of the season and look towards the next. 

See full MLS standings here

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Portugal Beat Denmark in Thrilling 3-2 Win at Euro 2012

Portugal massively needed to win against Denmark in the Euro Cup 2012 round 2 of the group stage to keep hope alive for advancing to the knockout stage, and they did just that.
Portugal scored two goals in the first half by Pepe and Helder Postiga and looked to be well on their way to 3 points. However, Denmark answered at the end of the first half, and again in the second half to make it 2-2. They game reached a frantic pace as Portugal, the 9th ranked team in the world pushed forward to try to score on Denmark, the 10th ranked. 

With only minutes to go, substitute Verela scored the game winning goal to make it 3-2 and keep hopes alive for Portugal to advance to the next stage.

The game kept a lively pace throughout most of the match with chances more often in favor of Portugal. Christiano Ronaldo was much more active in this match compared to his performance Vs. Germany, yet he just didn't have the same lethal ability as he so often has had this past season for Real Madrid.

The Euro Cup 'Group of Death' has so far lived up to the hype and excitement, with several more important games to come. 

Next game for Portugal: Netherlands on June 17th.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro Cup 2012: Best Games Thus Far

Each team in the Euro Cup has now had a chance to play a match in the group stage. There were some big match ups, such as Germany Vs. Portugal, Italy Vs. Spain, and France Vs. England. Each of these games were entertaining and full of excitement in their own way, but the best games thus far came by more unlikely teams.

Best Matches at the Euro's so far:
Stadium in Kiev for Euro 2012
Poland Vs. Greece: 1-1

Poland and Greece were the first game of the tournament and played to fair score of 1-1. However, the game was filled with drama as there were two red cards handed out, and a PK save by the newly subbed on Polish goalkeeper. This game proved to be a fit beginning to what is expected to be an action packed tournament.

Russia Vs. Czech Republic: 4-1

This was the second match of the European Championship, and the Russian side came out and showed they are an attacking force to be reckoned with. They simply overwhelmed the Czech's, leaving many to expect the Russians to advance from group A. 

Russia plays Poland in the next match on Tuesday at 2:45pm Eastern. This game is expected to share some of the same excitement as the first matches and should not be missed!

Ukraine Vs. Sweden 2-1

Ukraine versus Sweden was the most recent game that saw an incredible back and forth game for the first half with chances for both teams. Ukraine's Shevchenko and Sweden's Ibrahimovic would prove to be the Goal scorers, and stars of the game. the chances for both teams through out the game made for a much more exciting game compared to the slow England Vs. France tie. Both Ukraine and Sweden looked strong with powerful attacking players. At the final whistle the game concluded 2-1 in Ukraine's favor with two good goals by 35 year old striker Shevchenko.

After four days of games there have already been surprises, beautiful goals, and great games. One can only expect the matches to get better and better from here. Be sure to catch the action live on ESPN, and online at ESPN3.com! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brazil Tops USMNT 4-1 in Soccer Friendly

That’s the headline you will see most places; that the US lost to Brazil 4-1. What you won’t see many places in the news is that the US team looked like they could make a comeback in the beginning of the second half.

With a goal just before halftime, after a half where Brazil really dominated, the US team came out in the second half looking threatening and a little more confidant.

The 2012 USMNT Jersey
Unfortunately, Brazil managed another goal on a counter attack in the 56th minute which made a comeback much more difficult.

Yet in spite of the 3-1 score, the US team continued to create chances, with several great shots that where only stopped by even more brilliant saves by the Brazil goalkeeper. The score easily could have been 3-3. I must be fair and say it could also have been 1-6. But in the end, Pato score a beautiful goal to reach the 4-1 score line.

It seems like many people are taking the wrong information away from this game. People are thinking, ‘well, I guess the US team isn’t a top level team yet.’ But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think this showed that the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) has a lot of heart, and is improving every game. This was the first game in a year where Dempsey and Donovan played together. It was also a game where Brazil played very well. Even though the score was 4-1 and Brazil controlled much of the game, I think on another day, it could go in the US teams favor, like it did back in ’94.

This game was a great practice game for the USMNT, as they prepare for World Cup qualifying. I hope they recognize the improvements in the team, and play with confidence in their next games. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Euro 2012 Coming to ESPN!

It's about a week away, and I can feel the excitement growing within me.

The UEFA Euro Cup 2012 begins June 8th 2012 and will last for nearly a month, until July 1st. This competition brings together sixteen of the best teams in Europe to compete for the title of Euro Cup Champions. This competition is all about pride, fame and bragging rights for the European country that wins.

You might be wondering, Why am I (an American) so excited about a competition that only involves Europe and Europeans?

Euro 2012. Source - UEFA
Two Reasons I am excited for Euro 2012;

1. First, I believe its safe to say the biggest collection of the best soccer players is in Europe so this competition will feature many incredible players and teams. The likes of Germany, Spain, England, France, Portugal, and Netherlands will be playing against each other, just to name a few.

2. Second, All the games will be shown in America on the ESPN Network.

Yep, you read it right, ESPN will be airing every game live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN3.com. Just writing that makes me exited.

This means that for nearly a month there will be games between some of the best teams in the world on almost everyday.

In case you are still not excited, let me run though some of the match ups I am looking forward to in the Euro Cup 2012.

June 9th: Germany Vs. Portugal - With stars on both sides, this will be an exciting clash.
June 10th: Spain Vs. Italy - Another incredible match up. Spain was 2010 World Cup winners, Italy won in 2006.
June 11th: France Vs. England - Both teams have something to prove, and should play hard for a win.
June 13th: Netherlands Vs. Germany - Two excellent teams filled with world class players

I hope you get the point, there will be quite a few exciting games, and these are just from the group stage. Once teams make it out of the group stage, the games can get even more enthralling and the stakes increase dramatically.

I hope you will be watching the Euro Cup 2012, I know I will be! No matter who you cheer for, it will be an incredible competition made even better by the ability to watch it live on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com

Link to ESPN3.com for those who might be unfamiliar with it.
Also, UEFA Euro 2012 official website

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Union Struggling to Replace Key Players

Lets face it, the Philadelphia Union are having a hard time playing as a team and scoring goals. I think one of the factors influencing the Union's performance is the instability of their lineup and holes left by key players.
Although coach Peter Novak often shifted players around last season, the Union had a lot of stability in their defense with few changes occurring. This resulted in one of the best defenses in the MLS for 2011 led by veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon.

PPL Park home of the Philadelphia Union
It is a different story this year. Young Zac MacMath has taken over the starting goalkeeper position and after a few shaky games, has done quite well. But losing their veteran goalkeeper and captain is hard to replace.

Yet he was not the only vital player traded away. Sebastien Le Toux, the Union's leading goalscorer in 2010 and 2011, was traded away at the beginning of the season. Then, about 5 games into the 2012 season, the Union's current captain and central defender, Danny Calif was traded to Chivas USA in a curious fashion.
Le Toux scored more than 50% of the Union's Goals

These three players made up the heart of the Philadelphia Union last season, and removing them has left a hole too big for any other players to fill. The Union's Coach has brought in a number of new players and several of them have been looking pretty good, but no one has been able to replace the goal scoring ability of Le Toux, or the leadership of their veteran goalkeeper and central defender. 

In the end, many hoped the 2012 season would bring an opportunity to make a run at the MLS Cup after reaching the playoffs last year. However, it appears to me that this will be a building season allowing newly acquired players to try to fit in and get accustomed to things in Philadelphia. 

So far, the Union Coach has been shifting players around, and trying different formations without much to show for it. Hopefully they will find a combination that works and keep their best players for next year, instead of trading them away as they did last season.

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Team? Philadelphia Union!

Yep, you guessed it, I'm a fan of the Philadelphia Union.

I have been keeping track of Major League Soccer (MLS) since about 2004. I originally started following it because I just liked to watch the highlights of the games, and the MLS website did a great job putting up video highlights after each game.

During the next few years I kept track of the league, but had no real favorite team. In 2007, I moved to Pennsylvania and rumors of a team in Philly started to swirl around the same time. Finally, in 2010, Philadelphia got their very own professional team, the Union. I was an instant fan of the union mostly because of my proximity. In the next few seasons I was able to go to several games at PPL Park and thoroughly enjoyed these games.

I currently do not live close enough to Philadelphia to go to any games, but I still enjoy checking on the team each week to see how they are doing. I believe, no matter where I live, I will always be a fan of the Union.

I think it makes watching Major League Soccer much more interesting when I am cheering on one or a few particular teams. For those reading here, you might already have a favorite team, if so, post it in a comment! If you don't have a favorite team, look around at teams near you, or at a team you really enjoy watching. If nothing else, be sure to check out the Union's website and consider them!

I'm a Union fan, and I look forward to cheering for them in their next game! Who will you cheer for?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Under Construction

Under Construction!

Expect more here in the future relating to Soccer in the MLS and other leagues around the world!