Soccer By Ives Archives for January 2008

SBI European Club Top 25

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Somebody finally slowed down Barcelona last week. Now there is a team this week capable of handing Barca its first loss in months.

Sevilla has moved up to No. 14 in the SBI Top 25 European club rnakings, but Freddy Kanoute's club could crack the Top 10 with a crucial home win against the seemingly unstoppable boys from Barcelona.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks.  We have a full slate of games on tap today for those of you who plan on getting your fill of soccer on TV in between your Christmas shopping and eating leftover turkey.

Here is a rundown of today's games:

9:30am- Setanta USA- Bolton at Sunderland 10am- FSC- Newcastle at Middlesbrough *11:30am- GolTV- Bayern Munich at Bayer Leverkusen 12:15pm- Setanta USA- Bristol City at Preston 12:30pm- FSC- Blythe at Bournemouth (FA Cup) 2pm- GolTV- Real Madrid at Getafe 2:30pm- FSC- Reggina at Juventus  2:55pm- Setanta USA- Bordeaux at Sochaux *4pm- GolTV- Barcelona at Sevilla 4:30pm- FSC- Lecce at Catania 5pm- Setanta USA- Fulham at Aston Villa 6:15pm- GolTV- Pereira at Deportivo Cali 6:45pm- Setanta USA- West Brom at Wigan 8pm- FSC- Dag & Red at Leceister (FA Cup) 10pm- Telemundo- Tigres at Atlante *11pm- Telefutura- Santos Laguna at San Luis 11pm- FSC- Hull City at Stoke City 1am- FSC- Adelaide United at Newcastle Jets

If you will be watching today's action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below (as always, please try to avoid commenting on games that will be shown on delay during the afternoon.

NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament: Round of 16 (Your Commentary)

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Good afternoon folks. This weekend features the Round of 16 for the NCAA men's soccer tournament as we move a step closer to the College Cup Final Four in Frisco, Texas.

Five of the eight spots in the Elite Eight will be determined today, with the other three being decided in games on Sunday.

NCAA: St. John's beats UC Irvine, advances to Elite Eight

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                Photo by Vincent Dusovic/St. John's Athletic Communications

Third-seeded St. John's scored two goals in a wild final 15 minutes to defeat UC Irvine, 3-2, at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday night.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks. The top-quality soccer action is already well under way, with Manchester United-Manchester City and Inter Milan-Napoli both in the second half of their games.

Here is today's list of games on TV:

  • 8:30am- Setanta USA- Manchester United at Manchester City

  • 9am- FSC- Napoli at Inter Milan

  • 9am- ESPN360.

Friedel plays in record 167th straight match

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You can call Brad Friedel big, imposing, dominating, but you must also call him reliable. The 37-year-old goalkeeper showed just how reliable on Saturday when he appeared in his 167th straight English Premier League match in Aston Villa's scoreless draw vs. Fulham, breaking the record previously held by English goalkeeper David James.

Blanco helps lead Santos to playoff win

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Who said Cuauhtemoc Blanco can't deliver in the playoffs in November?

The Chicago Fire playmaker missed out on an MLS Cup final this fall, but he moved one step closer to a Mexican League Apertura final when his penalty kick helped Santos Laguna beat San Luis, 2-1, in the second leg of their home-and-home series.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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It was a landmark weekend for Americans in Europe. From Brad Friedel record-breaking performance to Jozy Altidore's impressive start for Villarreal, several Americans Abroad enjoyed success across Europe.

Friedel set a new record for consecutive matches played, with 167 in a row in the English Premier League.

NCAA Quarterfinal field is set

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All eight places in the NCAA men's soccer tournament quarterfinals were booked this weekend, with North Carolina earning the last spot in thrilling fashion.

Michael Callahan's 86th-minute equalizer gave the Tar Heels life, then Brian Shriver's 94th-minute game winner set off the celebration as North Carolina knocked off University of Illinois-Chicago, 3-2, on Sunday night.

Euro Top 25: Arsenal topples Chelsea, Barca rolls and Man Utd downs City

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Chelsea looked to be in complete control on Sunday in its London Derby showdown vs. Arsenal. Up a goal and cruising, the Blues look poised to win and hold on to first place in the EPL. At least until Robin Van Persie delivered a pair of great goals three minutes apart to give Arsenal the 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Euro Top 25: Arsenal topples Chelsea, Barca rolls and Man Utd downs City

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Chelsea looked to be in complete control on Sunday in its London Derby showdown vs. Arsenal. Up a goal and cruising, the Blues look poised to win and hold on to first place in the EPL. At least until Robin Van Persie delivered a pair of great goals three minutes apart to give Arsenal the 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

NCAA Quarterfinal field (almost) set

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Defending NCAA men's soccer champion Wake Forest sent a scary message to the other teams trying to prevent them from repeating after smashing Dartmouth, 7-0, in their round of 16 match on Sunday. Corben Bone scored twice while Marcus Tracey delivered two assists to book a place in the Elite Eight, where the Deamon Deacons will face South Florida next week.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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It was a landmark weekend for Americans in Europe. From Brad Friedel record-breaking performance to Jozy Altidore's impressive start for Villarreal, several Americans Abroad enjoyed success across Europe.

Friedel set a new record for consecutive matches played, with 167 in a row in the English Premier League.

Blanco helps lead Santos to playoff win

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Who said Cuauhtemoc Blanco can't deliver in the playoffs in November?

The Chicago Fire playmaker missed out on an MLS Cup final this fall, but he moved one step closer to a Mexican League Apertura final when his penalty kick helped Santos Laguna beat San Luis, 2-1, in the second leg of their home-and-home series.

Friedel plays in record 167th straight EPL match

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You can call Brad Friedel big, imposing, dominating, but you must also call him reliable. The 37-year-old goalkeeper showed just how reliable on Saturday when he appeared in his 167th straight English Premier League match in Aston Villa's scoreless draw vs. Fulham, breaking the record previously held by English goalkeeper David James.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks. The top-quality soccer action is already well under way, with Manchester United-Manchester City and Inter Milan-Napoli both in the second half of their games.

Here is today's list of games on TV:

  • 8:30am- Setanta USA- Manchester United at Manchester City

  • 9am- FSC- Napoli at Inter Milan

  • 9am- ESPN360.

St. John's beats UC Irvine, advances to Elite Eight

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                Photo by Vincent Dusovic/St. John's Athletic Communications

Third-seeded St. John's scored two goals in a wild final quarter hour to defeat UC Irvine, 3-2, at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John's University to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday night.

NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament: Round of 16 (Your Commentary)

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Good afternoon folks. This weekend features the Round of 16 for the NCAA men's soccer tournament as we move a step closer to the College Cup Final Four in Frisco, Texas.

Five of the eight spots in the Elite Eight will be determined today, with the other three being decided in games on Sunday.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks.  We have a full slate of games on tap today for those of you who plan on getting your fill of soccer on TV in between your Christmas shopping and eating leftover turkey.

Here is a rundown of today's games:

9:30am- Setanta USA- Bolton at Sunderland 10am- FSC- Newcastle at Middlesbrough *11:30am- GolTV- Bayern Munich at Bayer Leverkusen 12:15pm- Setanta USA- Bristol City at Preston 12:30pm- FSC- Blythe at Bournemouth (FA Cup) 2pm- GolTV- Real Madrid at Getafe 2:30pm- FSC- Reggina at Juventus  2:55pm- Setanta USA- Bordeaux at Sochaux *4pm- GolTV- Barcelona at Sevilla 4:30pm- FSC- Lecce at Catania 5pm- Setanta USA- Fulham at Aston Villa 6:15pm- GolTV- Pereira at Deportivo Cali 6:45pm- Setanta USA- West Brom at Wigan 8pm- FSC- Dag & Red at Leceister (FA Cup) 10pm- Telemundo- Tigres at Atlante *11pm- Telefutura- Santos Laguna at San Luis 11pm- FSC- Hull City at Stoke City 1am- FSC- Adelaide United at Newcastle Jets

If you will be watching today's action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below (as always, please try to avoid commenting on games that will be shown on delay during the afternoon.

SBI European Club Top 25

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Somebody finally slowed down Barcelona last week. Now there is a team this week capable of handing Barca its first loss in months.

Sevilla has moved up to No. 14 in the SBI Top 25 European club rnakings, but Freddy Kanoute's club could crack the Top 10 with a crucial home win against the seemingly unstoppable boys from Barcelona.

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Admit it, after spending the recent Thanksgiving Holiday indulging in food and family time, you are ready to sit in front of a TV all weekend and watch some good soccer. Well, if that is your plan then this is your weekend.

Some of the biggest rivalries in Europe kick off this weekend, as well as some strong match-ups with major table implications from Germany to Spain.

MLS Expansion Mock Draft

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Seattle Sounders FC will move a long way toward shaping the look of their first roster today when announce the names of the 10 players they have selected in the MLS expansion draft.

There is plenty of talent to choose from for the Sounders as general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson (and soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid) will have the task of selecting 10 players from the large pool of talent left exposed by MLS teams on Monday.

NCAA tournament round-up (round two)

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                        Photo by ISIphotos.com

The NCAA tournament field has been reduced from 48 to 18, with two games remaining in the second round to be played this afternoon. The top three seeds -- Wake Forest, Maryland and St. John's -- all advanced, but fourth-seeded Michigan State was upset by Illinois-Chicago in a penalty-kick shootout.

Jaqua leads Seattle's 10 expansion picks

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FIRST ON SBI

 

                                                                          Photo by ISIphotos.com

Former Houston Dynamo striker Nate Jaqua was one of 10 players chosen in Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft for Seattle Sounders FC, sources with knowledge of the list told SBI on Wednesday afternoon.

Petke coming back to New York

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                                                           Photo courtesy of Metrofanatic.com

Former MetroStars standout defender and fan favorite Mike Petke is coming back to New York some six years after leaving.

Houston edges Luis Angel Firpo, reaches Champions League quarters

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Brian Ching's 13th-minute goal was enough to help the Houston Dynamo earn a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory against CD Luis Angel Firpo on Wednesday night.

The Dynamo defense rebounded well from its Western Conference playoff loss to the New York Red Bulls to post a shutout in a must-win match as goalkeeper Pat Onstad recorded five saves.

Happy Thanksgiving from SBI

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Good afternoon folks. It is Thanksgiving Day and while much of America will be taking in some American Football, I know there are plenty of you who still crave your soccer.

Even on a day like Thanksgiving, there is soccer to be seen and to be discussed. UEFA Cup action kicks off with a number of sexy match-ups.

A closer look at the MLS Expansion Draft

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As far as expansion drafts go, it is tough to say that Seattle Sounders FC had a great one.

Sure, the newest MLS expansion team scored some gems, including a bona fide target striker and some quality midfield threats, but the Seattle braintrust missed the mark on several of its picks, leaving you to wonder if soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid really did play a key role in the selections (you would think he did considering the selection of Schmid favorite Peter Vagenas.

You Write the Caption: Best of the Freddie Ljungberg Edition

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Hello all. It's time to pick the best entries from the Freddie Ljungberg Edition of You Write the Caption. With the MLS Expansion Draft having brought the 2009 Sounders closer into focus, what better time to poke fun at the new franchise's star player than now?

There were plenty of quality entries for this contest, but here are the ten I thought were the best.

Kinnear staying at Newcastle: The TFC effect

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Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear had the interim tag removed from his title on Friday, meaning Kinnear will be the Magpies manager for the remainder of the season. The development should put to rest very real concerns in Toronto that head coach John Carver would leave Toronto to join Alan Shearer's staff if and when Shearer took over at Newcastle.

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Admit it, after spending the recent Thanksgiving Holiday indulging in food and family time, you are ready to sit in front of a TV all weekend and watch some good soccer. Well, if that is your plan then this is your weekend.

Some of the biggest rivalries in Europe kick off this weekend, as well as some strong match-ups with major table implications from Germany to Spain.

Kinnear staying at Newcastle: The TFC impact

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Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear had the interim tag removed from his title on Friday, meaning Kinnear will be the Magpies manager for the remainder of the season. The development should put to rest very real concerns in Toronto that head coach John Carver would leave Toronto to join Alan Shearer's staff if and when Shearer took over at Newcastle.

You Write the Caption: Best of the Freddie Ljungberg Edition

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Hello all. It's time to pick the best entries from the Freddie Ljungberg Edition of You Write the Caption. With the MLS Expansion Draft having brought the 2009 Sounders closer into focus, what better time to poke fun at the new franchise's star player than now?

There were plenty of quality entries for this contest, but here are the ten I thought were the best.

A closer look at the MLS Expansion Draft

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As far as expansion drafts go, it is tough to say that Seattle Sounders FC had a great one.

Sure, the newest MLS expansion team scored some gems, including a bona fide target striker and some quality midfield threats, but the Seattle braintrust missed the mark on several of its picks, leaving you to wonder if soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid really did play a key role in the selections (you would think he did considering the selection of Schmid favorite Peter Vagenas.

Happy Thanksgiving from SBI

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Good afternoon folks. It is Thanksgiving Day and while much of America will be taking in some American Football, I know there are plenty of you who still crave your soccer.

Even on a day like Thanksgiving, there is soccer to be seen and to be discussed. UEFA Cup action kicks off with a number of sexy match-ups.

Houston edges Luis Angel Firpo, reaches Champions League quarters

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Brian Ching's 13th-minute goal was enough to help the Houston Dynamo earn a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory against CD Luis Angel Firpo on Wednesday night.

The Dynamo defense rebounded well from its Western Conference playoff loss to the New York Red Bulls to post a shutout in a must-win match as goalkeeper Pat Onstad recorded five saves.

Petke coming back to New York

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FIRST ON SBI

 

                                                           Photo courtesy of Metrofanatic.com

Former MetroStars standout defender and fan favorite Mike Petke is coming back to New York some six years after leaving.

Jaqua leads Seattle's 10 expansion picks

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FIRST ON SBI

 

                                                                          Photo by ISIphotos.com

Former Houston Dynamo striker Nate Jaqua was one of 10 players chosen in Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft for Seattle Sounders FC, sources with knowledge of the list told SBI on Wednesday afternoon.

NCAA tournament round-up (round two)

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                        Photo by ISIphotos.com

The NCAA tournament field has been reduced from 48 to 18, with two games remaining in the second round to be played this afternoon. The top three seeds -- Wake Forest, Maryland and St. John's -- all advanced, but fourth-seeded Michigan State was upset by Illinois-Chicago in a penalty-kick shootout.

MLS Expansion Mock Draft

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Seattle Sounders FC will move a long way toward shaping the look of their first roster today when announce the names of the 10 players they have selected in the MLS expansion draft.

There is plenty of talent to choose from for the Sounders as general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson (and soon-to-be head coach Sigi Schmid) will have the task of selecting 10 players from the large pool of talent left exposed by MLS teams on Monday.

MLS Cup: Shaking the MLS grapevine

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Good morning folks. It is the day after the 2008 MLS Cup and, as always, the MLS Cup weekend provided a great environment for stories to emerge, rumors to surface and the future plans of MLS teams to take shape.

Here are some of the highlights of what I heard from Major League Soccer's movers and shakers during the past five days in Los Angeles:

Chad Marshall is looking like a good bet to move abroad.

Who would you protect from the MLS Expansion Draft?

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We are less than two hours away from the deadline for MLS teams to submit their protected roster lists ahead of Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft for Seattle Sounders FC. Teams can protect 11 players, leaving the rest exposed (save for Generation adidas players).

With teams such as Columbus, Houston and Chicago boasting impressive depth, there should be some quality players available in this year's expansion draft as clubs make very tough decisions on who to keep and who to risk losing.

Real Salt Lake re-signs Jamison Olave

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                                                      Photo by ISIphotos.com

Real Salt Lake has re-signed Colombian defender Jamison Olave to a new contract that will keep him with RSL through the 2012 season.

Olave started 23 games for Real Salt Lake after coming over from Deportivo Cali, scoring two goals and providing an imposing presence in the back alongside fellow center back Nat Borchers.

Revs trade Cristman to Kansas City

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in what should be the first of several deals made today, the New England Revolution is sending forward Adam Cristman to the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for a 2009 3rd round draft pick and an allocation.

So why make the trade? The Revs had too many bodies to try and protect so they dealt Cristman and secured some valuable allocation money.

MLS Expansion draft lists released

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Here are the lists of players being exposed by all 14 teams in the upcoming MLS Expansion draft for Seattle Sounders FC (these are the players who will be available):

Chivas USA

Chiles, Kraig

Curtin, Jim

Ebert, Eric

Ferreira, Dejair

Flores, Jorge

Hamilton, Anthony

Kennedy, Dan

Mayen, Gerson

Nurse, Roberto

Paladini, Daniel

Parker, Lance

Razov, Ante

Savage, Keith

Suarez, Claudio

Talley, Carey

Thornton, Zach

Vaughn, Lawson

Victorine, Sasha

Wicky, Raphael

Zotinca, Alex

Chicago Fire

Banner, Michael

Brown, C.

A primer on MLS expansion draft strategy (why Pappa and Parke were left exposed)

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                                              Photo by ISIphotos.com

When the lists were released on Monday of players who would be made available in the expansion draft, two names that drew plenty of scrutiny from fans were those of Chicago midfielder Marco Pappa and New York Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke.

EPL Week 14: A look back

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Funny how quickly things can go from so promising and good to shaky and in danger of falling apart.

Thus is the situation at Arsenal, where the young and talented squad went from flying high after beating Manchester United to being in danger of imploding as word of infighting and locker room unrest has created an environment that has played some role in the Gunners suffering the cruel fate of falling out of title contention in November.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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Good afternoon folks. The UEFA Champions League returns this afternoon with another assortment of quality match-ups for you fans of top-quality European soccer. You have Villarrea-Manchester United and Lyon-Fiorentina as headliners, along with some other intriguing tilts, such as Arsenal-Dynamo Kiev.

Red Bulls list of exposed players missing three

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If you were wondering how it was that the New York Red Bulls protected 14 players ahead of Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft, the simple answer is they didn't.

The lists released by Major League Soccer for the exposed players in the draft was missing three Red Bulls who were left unprotected.

Seattle Sounders FC closing in on Schmid

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Just two days after becoming the first coach in MLS history to win MLS Cup titles with two different teams, Sigi Schmid stands poised to try to win a title with a third team.

Schmid is on the verge of accepting a deal to become the first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC, multiple sources within MLS told SBI on Tuesday.

Seattle Sounders FC closing in on Schmid

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Just two days after becoming the first coach in MLS history to win MLS Cup titles with two different teams, Sigi Schmid stands poised to try to win a title with a third team.

Schmid is on the verge of accepting a deal to become the first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC, multiple sources within MLS told SBI on Tuesday.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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Good afternoon folks. The UEFA Champions League returns this afternoon with another assortment of quality match-ups for you fans of top-quality European soccer. You have Villarrea-Manchester United and Lyon-Fiorentina as headliners, along with some other intriguing tilts, such as Arsenal-Dynamo Kiev.

Red Bulls list of exposed players missing three

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If you were wondering how it was that the New York Red Bulls protected 14 players ahead of Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft, the simple answer is they didn't.

The lists released by Major League Soccer for the exposed players in the draft was missing three Red Bulls who were left unprotected.

EPL Week 14: A look back

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Funny how quickly things can go from so promising and good to shaky and in danger of falling apart.

Thus is the situation at Arsenal, where the young and talented squad went from flying high after beating Manchester United to being in danger of imploding as word of infighting and locker room unrest has created an environment that has played some role in the Gunners suffering the cruel fate of falling out of title contention in November.

A primer on MLS expansion draft strategy (why Pappa and Parke were left unprotected)

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                                              Photo by ISIphotos.com

When the lists were released on Monday of players who would be made available in the expansion draft, two names that drew plenty of scrutiny from fans were those of Chicago midfielder Marco Pappa and New York Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke.

MLS Expansion draft lists released

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Here are the lists of players being exposed by all 14 teams in the upcoming MLS Expansion draft for Seattle Sounders FC (these are the players who will be available):

Chivas USA

Chiles, Kraig

Curtin, Jim

Ebert, Eric

Ferreira, Dejair

Flores, Jorge

Hamilton, Anthony

Kennedy, Dan

Mayen, Gerson

Nurse, Roberto

Paladini, Daniel

Parker, Lance

Razov, Ante

Savage, Keith

Suarez, Claudio

Talley, Carey

Thornton, Zach

Vaughn, Lawson

Victorine, Sasha

Wicky, Raphael

Zotinca, Alex

Chicago Fire

Banner, Michael

Brown, C.

Revs trade Cristman to Kansas City

Soccer By Ives at related • 0 views

in what should be the first of several deals made today, the New England Revolution is sending forward Adam Cristman to the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for a 2009 3rd round draft pick and an allocation.

So why make the trade? The Revs had too many bodies to try and protect so they dealt Cristman and secured some valuable allocation money.

Real Salt Lake re-signs Jamison Olave

Soccer By Ives at related • 1 view

                                                      Photo by ISIphotos.com

Real Salt Lake has re-signed Colombian defender Jamison Olave to a new contract that will keep him with RSL through the 2012 season.

Who would you protect from the MLS Expansion Draft?

Soccer By Ives at related • 3 views

We are less than two hours away from the deadline for MLS teams to submit their protected roster lists ahead of Wednesday's MLS Expansion Draft for Seattle Sounders FC. Teams can protect 11 players, leaving the rest exposed (save for Generation adidas players).

With teams such as Columbus, Houston and Chicago boasting impressive depth, there should be some quality players available in this year's expansion draft as clubs make very tough decisions on who to keep and who to risk losing.

MLS Cup: Shaking the MLS grapevine

Soccer By Ives at related • 12 views

Good morning folks. It is the day after the 2008 MLS Cup and, as always, the MLS Cup weekend provided a great environment for stories to emerge, rumors to surface and the future plans of MLS teams to take shape.

Here are some of the highlights of what I heard from Major League Soccer's movers and shakers during the past five days in Los Angeles:

Chad Marshall is looking like a good bet to move abroad.

MLS Cup: Post-Game thoughts

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                                                   Photo by ISIphotos.com

Good evening folks. It is the evening after the 2008 MLS Cup and while I will offer more analysis on Monday, I wanted to share some more thoughts on the match for the East Coast night owls and the West Coast members of the SBI Mafia.

Crew wins 2008 MLS Cup

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                                                           Photo by ISIphotos.com

After 13 years of waiting, Columbus Crew fans can finally celebrate an MLS Cup title.

The Crew capped a dream season with a solid championship performance, beating a game New York Red Bulls squad, 3-1, in the 2008 MLS Cup final.

MLS Cup: New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew (Match day)

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After a dozen years of waiting, the long and difficult path to a championship match has finally found a destination for two of Major League Soccer's original teams. The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew will meet today in the 2008 MLS Cup Final (3:30pm, ABC/Telefutura), the first MLS Cup final for both teams.

Osorio enjoys note-worthy first season with Red Bulls

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Ever wonder what it is Juan Carlos Osorio is writing down in his small pad during games? You're not the only one.

"I think that's the million-dollar question the whole team is asking," Gordon Kljestan said. "I think we'll all pay a lot of money to see what is in there. But whatever it is, it works and got us where we are.

Morales and Ralston snubbed from MLS Best XI

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                                                                        Photo by ISIphotos.com

 I have to apologize to Javier Morales.

His omission from the MLS Best XI was such a glaring one, such an improbable miscue by voters, that I didn't even realize he was missing.

Schelotto, Donovan headline MLS Best XI

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                                                                 Photo by ISIphotos.com

MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan were among the top names in the 2008 MLS Best XI, which was revealed on Saturday afternoon.

Clarifying Kandji's situation

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One of the stories lost in the midst of the New York Red Bulls improbable MLS Cup run is the circumstances surrounding Mac Kandji's future. As you learned earlier in the week, the Atlanta Silverbacks will not operate a team in 2009, a development that left Kandji's future up in the air since Atlanta still held Kandji's rights during his loan to the Red Bulls.

SBI MLS Cup Ticket contest: And the winner is...

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Congratulations to Erik Abarca for winning the SBI MLS Cup tickets contest, sponsored by SBI and  VW Road to MLS Cup

Erik won two tickets Sunday's MLS Cup final for his great entry which, I will admit, broke the 25-word limit in submissions, but did so in a compelling way that just couldn't be ignored.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Good afternoon folks. Today's club soccer action is already well underway (apologies for posting this late), but it isn't too late to start discussing today's matches. There are still some big-time matches going on, including Manchester United-Aston Villa, Inter Milan-Juventus and Sevilla-Valencia.

USA draws Brazil, Italy and Egypt in 2009 Confederations Cup

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                                                                    Photo by ISIphotos.com

When the U.S. national team won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup U.S. coach Bob Bradley stated how important it was for the U.

USA-Mexico to kick off 2009 World Cup qualifying

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Those of you who can't wait for the U.S. national team to face off against Mexico in World Cup qualifying next year won't have to wait too long. The CONCACAF super powers will square off in the opening match of 2009 qualifying in the United States.

The draw for the Hexagonal round of qualifying took place earlier this morning and the first of two USA-Mexico tilts was drawn first and is set for Feb.

Montreal bows out of MLS expansion race

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The race to secure one of Major League Soccer's two expansion slots in 2011 has been cleared up dramatically after commissioner Don Garber revealed on Friday that Montreal has removed itself from consideration.

Montreal's exit leaves Miami and St. Louis as the front-runners in a six-city race to be one of the two expansion cities added in 2011.

MLS Cup Notes

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Good afternoon folks. Apologies for the lack of posts but driving around LA to get to all the events doesn't always allow for the best flow of posting.

Let's get started with notes from today's training sessions:

Juan Pablo Angel sustained a left arm injury and rib injury in training after colliding with goalkeeper Danny Cepero.

MLS News & Notes: Cooper transfer looking inevitable, Donovan's loan done (or not) and more

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                                                                                                 Photo by ISIphotos.com

U.S. national team fans weren't the only ones who caught a glimpse of Kenny Cooper's performance against Guatemala on Saturday.

Altidore discusses the Red Bulls and Villarreal

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                                                                                         Photo by ISIphotos.com

Call it coincidence, or true twist of fate, but it is at least pretty interesting that in the same week that the New York Red Bulls are heading to the West Coast to play in their first MLS Cup final, one of their former young stars was also be shining in the Western part of the United States.

Afternoon Roundup: Blanco joining Santos Laguna on loan and KC Stadium clears hurdle

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With David Beckham already going on loan to AC Milan, and Landon Donovan's loan to Bayern Munich being finalized, you can apparently add Cuauhtemoc Blanco to the list of MLS stars making short-term moves this winter.

According to multiple reports surfacing on Thursday, the Chicago Fire will loan out Blanco to Mexican side Santos Laguna.

A closer look at Schelotto's MVP victory

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                                                               Photo by ISIphotos.com

As you may have learned on SBI this morning (or Sports Illustrated on Tuesday), Columbus Crew playmaker Guillermo Barros Schelotto has been named MLS Most Valuable Player.

USA 2, Guatemala 0: A second look

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                                                                    Photo by ISIphotos.com

If the U.S. men's national team's 2-0 victory against Guatemala was a glimpse into the future for the United States, then that future sure looks bright after several young standouts took full advantage of the chance to show that they plan on being factors in 2009 World Cup qualifying.

Your chance to win tickets to MLS Cup

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As MLS fans from Ohio, New York and New Jersey converge on the Los Angeles area this weekend for Sunday's MLS Cup final between the New York Red Bulls and the Columbus Crew, we will see hundreds of fans realizing a more than decade long dream of seeing their team play in Major League Soccer's championship game in person.

Donovan lands Bayern Munich loan

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With every passing day you watched Landon Donovan training with Bayern Munich, you just knew his trip to Germany would wind up being more than a training stint.

It has. According to multiple reports out of Germany and now confirmed on the Bayern Munich website, Donovan is set to join Bayern Munich on a short loan from the start of January through mid-March.

Schelotto wins MVP (as premature ad spoils the surprise)

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                                                                       Photo by ISIphotos.com

If the suspense over finding out who will be named MLS MVP was getting to you, you can relax, the wait ended even sooner than most thought it would.

CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matchnight: Your running commentary

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Good evening everybody, or late afternoon to those of us on the West Coast. It's time for the final matchday of the penultimate stage of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While the United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador have already booked safe passage, thee others nations will find a way into the final hexagonal stage tonight.

Johnson wins MLS Goal of the Year

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Real Salt Lake's Will Johnson was the winner of the 2008 Sierra Mist Goal of the Year for his flick and volley in a must-win game against FC Dallas on Oct. 18, the league announced today. Johnson's goal received the most votes in online fan voting.

SBI is heading to LA (It's Q&A Time)

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Good afternoon folks. I am on the plane and getting ready to leave for Los Angeles. SBI senior writer Dylan Butler will be keeping you all informed on the news of the day while I make my way to California ahead of Sunday's MLS Cup final.

While I'm flying I figured I could post a new Q&A session.

You Write the Caption: Best of the Wolyniec/Thriller entries

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Just when you thought I forgot about the John Wolyniec edition of You Write the Caption, here it is.

With Wolyniec and the Red Bulls preparing to play in MLS Cup this weekend, what better time than to take a look at the very best caption submissions for the above photo, which caught Wolyniec celebrating his goal in the Red Bulls 3-0 playoff win against Houston.

International Match Day

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If you have been craving some quality international soccer, then today is your day.

With an international fixture date on the menu, you will not only get some important CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, you will also get some attractive friendlies on the docket.

Mexico takes on Honduras with a chance to knock the Catrachos out of next year's qualifying with a win and a Jamaica win against Canada.

Atlanta Silverbacks to shut down in 2009

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The country's economic crisis has claimed a victim in the American soccer scene. The USL-1 Atlanta Silverbacks will not field a team in 2009, citing the economy as well as the potential arrival of an MLS expansion team in Atlanta in the coming years.

"This was an extremely difficult decision that was prompted by the dynamic events in our economy and the soccer community," Silverbacks general manager Michael Oki said.

Where will you be watching MLS Cup?

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Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls fans will be experience something 13 years in the making this weekend when they finally see their respective teams square off in the 2008 MLS Cup final on Sunday.

While hundreds of lucky fans will make the pilgrimage to Home Depot Center to see their home teams in the final, there will be thousands more who can't make the trip and will be watching the event back home.

The latest from Donovan's German Excursion

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While the U.S. national team prepares for its upcoming World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on Wednesday, Landon Donovan is half a world away, still training with Bayern Munich.

The fine folks at Bayern Munich were kind enough to shoot a video of today's training session, with a special focus on Donovan.

Albert Pujols joining St. Louis MLS expansion ownership group

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The St. Louis MLS expansion bid is set to receive a boost that could be the first step to putting the midwestern City over the top in its quest for an MLS franchise.

St. Louis Cardinals star and recently-named National League MVP Albert Pujols is set to join the St. Louis MLS expansion bid, a high-ranking official in the St.

NCAA men's tournament field set

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

The 48-team field for the 2008 NCAA men's soccer tournament was set on Monday, with Marcus Tracy and the defending champions from Wake Forest earning the No. 1 overall seed.

No.

Time to vote on U.S. Soccer's 'Best Of' series

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Attention U.S. Soccer fans. It is time have your say in choosing the best of the best in American Soccer.

Voting has begun in U.S. Soccer's 'Best Of' series, with the following categories up for grabs:

  • Best Soccer Bar
  • Best Soccer Specialty Store
  • Best Blog
  • Best Fan Photo
  • Best Video: All_Access
  • Best Performance: Team
  • Best Performance: Player

SBI has been nominated in the Best Blog category, along with fellow Designated Players The Offside Rules and duNord.

MLS Cup 2008: Red Bulls, Crew make opening remarks

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It isn't quite like Super Bowl hype, but the long week of MLS Cup talk started on Monday with a pair of media conference calls featuring the coaches and a select player from both the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.

On the Red Bulls side was Juan Carlos Osorio and wunderkind Danny Cepero, while the Crew was represented by Sigi the Scarf and the ageless wonder, Frankie Hejduk.

Red Bulls 1, Real Salt Lake 0: A Look Back

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Two days have passed, heart rates have returned to normal and all remaining remnants of smoke bombs and nerve-racking suspense have faded into the memory banks, and Saturday's Western Conference final victory by the Red Bulls over Real Salt Lake still brings a chill as you think about a game not many will forget.

What USA lineup would you like to see vs. Guatemala?

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

The last World Cup qualifier of the year for the U.S. men's national team is two days away, meaning the last chance for U.S. fans to see some of the team's younger prospects, as well as a chance to see some veteran faces back in the mix.

EPL Week 13: A Look Back

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Heurelho Gomes is a very good goalkeeper.

No, really, he is.

Okay, so maybe anybody will have a hard time believing that given some of the Brazilian goalkeeper's mistakes since joining Tottenham from PSV Eindhoven last summer. It was easier to ignore those mistakes when he was just one of many players underachieving.

Van den Bergh is Red Bulls Mr. Consistency

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

On the roller coaster that has been the New York Red Bulls most memorable season ever, there has been one constant – Dave van den Bergh. The Dutch midfielder is second on the team with eight goals, including the game-winning strike in the 28th minute to lift the Red Bulls to a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final Saturday night.

Your Questions Answered (Part 5 of 5)

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Good morning and welcome to the latest installment of Your Questions Answered. It took a long time, but I finally finished off the last Q&A session, from October, and have those remaining answers for you today.

Altidore and Cooper headline 20-man USA roster for Guatemala qualifier

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Jozy Altidore, Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu headline a roster of 20 players called in for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Guatemala at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Here is the squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan, Troy Perkins, Matt Pickens.

Luck and its role in the Red Bulls dream run

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Here we stand, a day after one of the exciting, heart-stopping and unforgettable playoff games in MLS history and there are plenty of people, both Red Bulls fans and neutrals, who are still scratching their heads at the improbability of the Red Bulls earning a place in the MLS Cup final.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks. Today is a relatively light day for soccer on TV, but what the schedule lacks in total games it makes up for in quality of match-up.

You have the Rome Derby, the Lyon-Bordeaux tilt and an intriguing Man City-Hull City clash.

Here is the full schedule of games today:

  • 8:25am- Setanta- Middlesbrough at Everton
  • 9am- FSC- Chievo at AC Milan
  • 11am- FSC- Manchester City at Hull City
  • 11am- GolTV- Villarreal at Malaga
  • 12:55pm- Telemundo- San Luis at Toluca
  • 2:30pm- FSC- Lazio at Roma
  • 2:45pm- Setanta- Bordeaux at Lyon
  • 3pm- GolTV- Barcelona at Recreativo Huelva
  • 5pm- GolTV- Santa Fe at Junior
  • 5pm- Setanta USA- Club America at Necaxa
  • 7pm- Setanta- Nacional at Danubio

For those of you looking for some post-game analysis and more stories from the New York Red Bulls 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in last night's Western Conference final, there will be plenty of analysis and interviews coming this afternoon so stay tuned for that.

Dane Richards called up for Jamaica qualifier, Angel staying

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Dane Richards had a wide smile on his face as he celebrated Saturday night's Western Conference final victory over Real Salt Lake with his Red Bulls teammates. He will have to cut his celebration a bit short as he prepares to travel to Jamaica on Sunday for its upcoming World Cup qualifier against Canada in Kingston on Wednesday.

Red Bulls heading to MLS Cup

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After 13 mostly disappointing and sometimes painful years of existence, the New York Red Bulls, the club formerly known as the MetroStars, are headed to the MLS Cup final for the first time in club history.

As you might expect, getting there was as far from easy as you could get.

Alexi Lalas: Bad GM, worse prognosticator

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For the second straight playoff game, former Los Angeles Galaxy/San Jose/New York Red Bulls general manager Alexi Lalas went on ESPN and stated very confidently that the Red Bulls wouldn't have much of a chance and would lose in the MLS playoffs, first to Houston, and then to Real Salt Lake.

New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake: Match Night Commentary

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Good evening everybody. I'm coming to you from Rio Tinto Stadium, where the New York Red Bulls are facing Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference final.

It's a frigid night in Utah and I can't help but get a sense of deja vu as a bitter cold grips a New York playoff game. It was eight years ago when I sat in an icy Soldier Field for the last (and only other) conference final appearance by this club, known then MetroStars.

New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake: Match Preview

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Two teams, two painful pasts, one chance to wash them away with a trip to the MLS Cup final.

RSL and the Red Bulls meet tonight in the Western Conference final and one of them will have a chance to celebrate a victory their fans have suffered more than enough to experience.

For those looking for some pre-game reading material on the match, here are some suggestions:

Here is a Real Salt Lake preview and a nice piece on the connections between RSL and the Red Bulls from Michael C.

Michael Bradley scores equalizer vs. Bayern Munich

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On a day that has seen several Americans enjoy strong performances in Europe, none enjoyed as good a day as Michael Bradley, who scored the equalizing goal in the 81st minute in Borussia Moenchengladbach's 2-2 tie vs. Bayern Munich.

Here is the goal:

So yeah, those of you talking about Michael Bradley struggling in Germany can relax.

Gulati: Subotic to Serbia report is "untrue"

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In the wake of a report out of Serbia claiming that Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic has chosen to play for the Serbian national team, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati has stepped forward to shoot down the report.

"We have spoken to Neven's representative and can confirm the story is untrue," Gulati said on Saturday.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks. If you plan on watching some soccer today on TV, here is your schedule of matches:

7:40am- Setanta- Liverpool at Bolton 9:40am- Setanta- Stoke City at Manchester United 10am- FSC- Aston Villa at Arsenal 11:30am- GolTV- Bayern Munich at Borussia Moenchengladbach 12:15pm- Setanta- Ipswich at Doncaster 12:30pm- FSC- Chelsea at West Brom 2pm- GolTV- Real Madrid at Valladolid 2:30pm- FSC- Inter Milan at Palermo 2:55pm- Setanta- St.

Report: Subotic chooses Serbia

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Neven Subotic has made his choice, and American soccer fan's aren't going to be happy.

According to a report out of Serbia picked up by Fox Sports, the Borussia Dortmund defender and former U.S. Under-17 national team player has decided to play for the Serbian national team.

Subotic has yet to speak publicly about a decision, but if he has chosen Serbia then it would end a lengthy saga that saw Subotic flirt with the possibility of playing for Germany before FIFA stepped in and ruled he would be unable to because he wasn't a German citizen before playing for the United States on the youth level.

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Admit it. Your diet of European soccer is heavy on the English and Spanish, with a dash of Italian.

Well, this is the weekend to try a little French, some German, and yes, some more Italian.

The best match-up of the weekend isn't Arsenal-Aston Villa, which is a good one, but rather the Ligue 1 clash between perennial French champions Lyon and rising force Bordeaux.

Crew 2, Fire 1: A Look Back

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Good evening all. Apologies for the lack of posts this afternoon (and the failure to deliver on Red Bulls/RSL preview and the Weekend soccer TV schedule). I am on the way to JFK for my flight to Salt Lake City and today and will look to crank out some posts in these hours before my flight.

Friends on opposite sides

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Photos by ISIphotos.com

When you consider all the scenarios that had to fall into place in order for Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls to meet in the Western Conference final this Saturday, you have to chalk it up to fate.

Morning Ticker: Drogba charged, Philly set to break ground and no call-up for Beckham

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Didier Drogba is in trouble.

His well-publicized return throw of a coin tossed at him during Chelsea's Carling Cup loss to Burnley could wind up costing him far more than he could have bargained for now that Drogba is facing a charge from the English FA over the incident.

What sort of suspension could he be looking at?

Crew tops Fire, clinches MLS Cup berth

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An ugly first half had the Columbus Crew looking like another Supporters Shield winner that would fall short of an MLS Cup title. An inspired second half reminded us how the Crew finished the regular season with the best record in the league.

Second-half goals from Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven helped Columbus erase a 1-0 halftime deficit and give the Crew a 2-1 victory in the Eastern Conference final at Crew Stadium on Thursday night.

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew: Your Running Commentary

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The MLS Eastern Conference final kicks off tonight with the Supporters Shield-winning Columbus Crew taking on the Chicago Fire (7:30pm, ESPN2).

The teams tied their two regular season meetings and both squads are loaded with award winners and all-stars.

Will the Crew maintain their impressive home form, or will the Fire show why they had the best road record in MLS this year?

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew: Match Preview

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The first ticket to the 2008 MLS Cup final will be punched tonight when the Chicago Fire face the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference final.

Two of the best teams in MLS all season, the Crew and Fire both bring in loaded lineups in a match-up that is difficult to predict the outcome of.

SBI European Club Top 25

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Can anybody stop Barcelona?

Yes, I know, Basel held them to a 1-1 tie in Champions League action last week, but that came after Barca hung up a five-spot on them the previous meeting. What we do know is that Barcelona is laying waste to the Spanish First Division, scoring four or more goals in four of their past five matches.

Sean Franklin named MLS Rookie of the Year

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

You might ask yourself how a defender on the absolute worse defense in Major League Soccer can win an award. While that is a valid question what you should ask yourself is just how good does a defender have to be to get noticed playing on the nightmare that was the 2008 LA Galaxy defense.

Morning Ticker: Drogba in hot water, Maradona threatening to quit, Ruud out for season and Castillo's nightmare continues

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Pop quiz. What's the only thing dumber than a coin-throwing soccer fan? A coin-throwing soccer player.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba responded to having a coin thrown at him during Chelsea's Carling Cup win against Burnley by firing the coin right back at the crowd.

Landon Donovan's European Vacation

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If you are scratching your head at the above photo, and the sight of Landon Donovan clad in Bayern Munich attire, then you probably missed the news that Donovan is spending 10 days training with the German champions, a stint that began on Tuesday.

While it is being called just a training stint, it is safe to say the 10-day stint is being used as a test drive by Bayern Munich, whish is strongly considering acquiring Donovan during the January transfer window.

EPL Week 11: A look back

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Arsenal's 2-1 victory against Manchester United last weekend was easily one of the most entertaining matches of the week, combining intensity and skill to a perfect degree as the European champions were beaten by a young but hungry Arsenal side in desperate need of a win.

Arsenal's stellar performance was just one of many this past weekend in the English Premier League.

Red Bulls practice report

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It was only the first full day of practice since Sunday's stunning upset win against the Houston Dynamo, but the Red Bulls were still showing the fight and intensity in training that they showed in beating the two-time champions.

There is definitely an air of confidence around the group as it went through its paces at Montclair State on Wednesday.

Who would you like to see start for the USMNT against Guatemala

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

With the berth into the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying already secure, the U.S. national team has the unique opportunity to play a World Cup qualifier with nothing on the line, which means having the chance to play some younger players and giving some new players a look.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

As far as second seasons in Europe go, Charlie Davies had himself a very good one.

The U.S. national team striker conclusing the Swedish season last weekend by scoring two goals to give him a season total of 14, that is 11 more than the three he scored in his first year with Hammarby.

Donovan wins Honda Award as clueless voters get it wrong

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In what has to be one of the more embarrassing results in American soccer award history, Landon Donovan has been named the 2008 Honda Player of the Year, beating out Tim Howard in a vote that can best described as a bad joke.

The announcement marked Donovan's fifth Honda Player of the Year award, and while he has certainly earned many of those, the 2008 prize will go down as the clearest example of a flawed voting set-up that has culminated in a result that has to diminish the credibility of a once-prestigious award.

Bradley calls in 19-man training camp roster ahead of Guatemala qualifier

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The U.S. national team has called in a preliminary 19-player roster for the team's upcoming World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on Nov. 19 in Colorado. Veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni and MLS star striker Kenny Cooper are among the selections.

Here is the rest of the group:

GOALKEEPERS: Brian Edwards (Toronto FC), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)

DEFENDERS: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)

MIDFIELDERS: Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Nick LaBrocca (Colorado Rapids), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)

FORWARDS: Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Chad Barrett (Toronto FC), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas)

This is not the entire group that U.

Right man for the job, or another Rapids mistake?

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

According to multiple MLS sources, the Colorado Rapids are set to name Gary Smith as the team's new head coach in a press conference later today. The hiring doesn't come as much of a surprise, but it begs the question of whether the Rapids are making their second poor coaching hire in a row.

A closer look at the Red Bulls' historic upset

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It has been two full days since the New York Red Bulls' stunning 3-0 playoff upset of Houston, and while attention has already turned to Saturday's Western Conference final showdown vs. Real Salt Lake, I wanted to take one last look back at a day that will go down in Red Bulls history:

--------------------------------

As the echoes of beating bass drums could be heard outside the locker room at Robertson Stadium, many the New York Red Bulls walked around the make-shift visitor's locker room slowly and achingly.

Morning Ticker: Donovan training with Bayern, more MLS awards and Howard set to be honored

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

In what could be a prelude to a loan move and potentially a full transfer, Landon Donovan is in Germany preparing to begin a week-long training stint with Bayern Munich.

Donovan could wind up joining Bayern as replacement for out-of-favor German striker Lukas Podolski, who appears on his way out.

SBI heading back to Jersey

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Good evening folks. I'm about to take off from Dallas to Newark on the return trip from Houston and wanted to check in with you all. Apologies for the lack of afternoon posting but the commute back home has made that tough.

For those of you who haven't seen it, here is my piece on the Red Bulls' stunning upset of Houston for ESPN.

What next for the Houston Dynamo?

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It is hard to say the Houston Dynamo stand in any sort of disarray following its shocking playoff loss to the New York Red Bulls. Two straight MLS Cup titles followed by posting the best regular-season record in the Western Conference make Houston as successful a team as their is in the league, with a strong roster and winning track record that hasn't been erased by one series upset.

You Write the Caption: John Wolyniec edition

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Good afternoon all. It is time for a special MLS playoff edition of You Write the Caption. I know I haven't gotten around to picking the Top 10 captions from the Freddie Ljungberg edition of YWTC but I promise to have that up this week.

The new You Write the Caption comes courtesy of Red Bulls striker John Wolyniec, who scored his first goal of 2008 in dramatic fashion, to help seal his team's 3-0 upset win against Houston.

MLS Final Four is set

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And then there were four.

After a weekend of clutch performances, and one historic upset, the final four teams are set for the MLS Conference finals. The Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire, the two best teams in the East this year, meet in the East final, while the underdog New York Red Bulls have crashed the Western Conference final, where they will meet fellow West final debutante Real Salt Lake.

Dane-gerous

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Speed kills, as Wade Barrett and the Houston Dynamo found out Sunday at Robertson Stadium. The Jamaican winger first fired a verbal salvo before the start of the Western Conference Semifinal Series, warning that he was going to "run that left back into the ground," referring to Houston's Wade Barrett.

Red Bulls trounce Dynamo in stunning upset

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

The New York Red Bulls pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in MLS playoff history on Sunday, knocking off the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo, 3-0, in the decisive second-leg of their Western Conference playoff series.

New York Red Bulls at Houston Dynamo: Match Day

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The final spot in the MLS conference finals is on the line today as the New York Red Bulls square off against the defending champion Houston Dynamo.

The Red Bulls saw their 1-0 lead erased late in game one, forcing them to settle for a 1-1 tie in the opening leg. Now the series will come down to today's match at Robertson Stadium, where the Dynamo only lost one game this year and stand unbeaten in playoff history.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning all. Today's soccer action is already well under way, with some top-quality matches kicking the day off this morning.

Here are the rest of today's games on TV:

*11am- GolTV- Bayern Munich at Schalke 04 11am- FSC- Newcastle at Fulham 1pm- GolTV- Recreativo Huelva at Sevilla 1pm- Telemundo- UAG Tecos at UNAM Pumas 2:30pm- FSC- AC Milan at Lecce 3pm- Telefutura- New York Red Bulls at Houston Dynamo 3pm- Setanta Sports- Lille at Paris St.

Real Salt Lake at Chivas USA: Your Running Commentary

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The first berth into the Western Conference final will be won tonight when Chivas USA plays host to Real Salt Lake in game two of their first-round playoff series.

Real Salt Lake comes into the match having won the first leg, 1-0, and can now advance to the West final with a win or a tie tonight.

Underdog Red Bulls face long odds in Houston

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

If history is any indication -- both in terms of the regular season and the club's playoff history -- the New York Red Bulls are likely toast in tomorrow's winner-take-all Western Conference playoff decider against the Houston Dynamo.

Kansas City Wizards at Columbus Crew: Your Running Commentary

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Good evening folks. the Columbus Crew stand 45 minutes away from qualifying for the Eastern Conference final as they hold a 1-0 halftime lead against the Kansas City Wizards in tonight's second leg at Crew Stadium, which means they will win their first-round series if they hold that lead.

SBI is heading to Houston

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Good afternoon folks. I'm coming to you from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport. No, I'm not working on the Kenny Cooper tell-all interview where he rips into Bob Bradley. I'm actually on a layover to Houston ahead of Sunday's Houston Dynamo-New York Red Bulls playoff game.

The most impressive scene I've seen in a while was that of five Red Bulls fans making the same flight down.

Your Questions Answered (Part 4 of 6)

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Good afternoon folks. It is time for the latest segment of Your Questions Answered. I was able to finish another portion of the record-setting Q&A session from last month. I'm hoping to have it all done by this week, and with so many long questions and answers in this batch, I figured it would be good to post these now.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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It's time to break out the coffee and have an early morning because Manchester United and Arsenal are ready to rekindle their heated rivalry.

The Gunners have been struggling all season, and now are facing injury concerns heading into today's showdown with the reigning EPL champions, who have turned on the style in recent weeks.

This weekend's soccer on TV

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Jose Mourinho can't be a happy man.

Not only is he facing heat from the Italian media because his Inter Milan isn't dominating Serie A, but Mourinho is also trying to pick up the pieces after a somewhat embarrassing 3-3 tie vs. Anorthosis Famagusta in Champions League play.

Some Ronaldinho magic

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Good afternoon folks. I'm finishing up the Weekend Soccer on TV post and will have that up soon. For now, enjoy Ronaldinho's 90th-minute game-winner for AC Milan in UEFA Cup action against Sporting Braga on Thursday:

Red Bulls Update

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The mood is a confident one in Red Bulls camp as they head toward their winner-take-all playoff match against Houston on Sunday.

Despite blowing a lead late in their Western Conference playoff opener, a 1-1 tie last Saturday, the Red Bulls look like a relaxed and confident bunch.

What next for the Revolution?

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You just knew the run would end for the New England Revolution would eventually, but watch injuries destroy the Revs late in the year left you wondering whether these Revs can come back in 2009, or whether it's time to rebuild.

Morning Ticker: Sweet revenge for Fire, Guzan earns praise and Onyewu's Liege wins

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Three years of playoff disappointments were healed on Thursday with three goals as the Chicago Fire toppled the short-handed New England Revolution, 3-0, at Toyota Park.

Displaying the dangerous offense and stingy defense that has the Fire a game away from the MLS Cup final, Chicago overwhelmed the Revs after the sides played an even first half until Chris Rolfe's goal just before halftime set the tone for the rout.

New England Revolution at Chicago Fire: Your Running Commentary

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The Chicago Fire will play host to the New England Revolution tonight in the second leg of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. The winner of tonight's match will book a place in the Eastern Conference final after the teams tied, 0-0, in the first leg at Gillette Stadium.

Guzan posts UEFA Cup shutout in Villa debut

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Serving as Brad Friedel's understudy at Aston Villa hasn't given Brad Guzan many chance to show his stuff, but one of those precious opportunities finally came on Thursday and Guzan made the most of it.

World Cup 2010 Update

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World Cup chief organizer Danny Jordaan met with media in New York City on Thursday afternoon to discuss the progress of the 2010 World Cup. I was at the event (which explains the lack of posts this afternoon) and have these nuggets to pass along.

  • The 2010 World Cup will be in South Africa and any suggestions or notions that it will be moved at this point are way off.

UEFA Champions League Rewind

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If there is a Fountain of Youth, Alessandro Del Piero just might have found it.

The Italian star is enjoying an amazing season, both in Serie A and UEFA Champions League, where he added two more goals on Wednesday to help Juventus topple Real Madrid for the second straight time.

Chad Marshall named MLS Defender of the Year

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Columbus Crew defender Chad Marshall has been named the 2008 MLS Defender of the year, edging out Chicago Fire central defender Bakary Soumare and Kansas City Wizards captain Jimmy Conrad for the award.

Morning Ticker: Ronaldo says no to Siena, Soehn to return for D.C. and a chance for Eddie Johnson

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Brazilian legend Ronaldo is close to returning from the knee injury that ended his time with AC Milan, but isn't quite ready to start accepting offers from small-time clubs.

The all-time leading scorer in World Cup history has rejected an offer from Serie A mid-table club Siena for his services.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution: A Look Ahead

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The first ticket to the MLS conference finals will be issued on Thursday night, with the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution facing off in a winner-take-all playoff series game two. Their first-leg match ended scoreless, leaving the Revs to have to travel to Toyota Park to beat a Chicago team they failed to defeat in four attempts.

UEFA Champions League: Matchday Four (Your Running Commentary)

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The second half of the UEFA Champions League Matchday Four is underway today with several key match-ups that should determine the next group of teams to earn berths into the final round of 16.

If you are watching today's matches, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below (TV schedule coming shortly).

Who gets your Hall of Fame vote?

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While the presidential election remains a hot topic today, there is another upcoming election that should have American soccer fans extremely interested. 25 former players are on the ballot for induction into the 2009 National Soccer Hall of Fame class and the list is loaded with MLS and U.

UEFA Champions League Rewind

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Tuesday was a day of shock results and upsets few could have seen coming.

Such as? Well, having Chelsea and Inter give up a combined six goals was shocking. Roma mustering a brilliant performance after a terrible start to the season was a bit shocking. Anorthosis Famagusta netting three to tie Inter was shocking (though not as shocking as the Inter blunders that led to all three goals).

Morning Ticker: Maradona begins new job, Adebayor out three weeks and Iniesta also sidelined

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Call Tuesday a day of surprising appointments to high-profile positions. On the same day that saw Barack Obama elected president of the United States, Diego Maradona was in Buenos Aires being introduced as the new head coach of the Argentine national team.

The legendary player was introduced as Argentina's coach on Tuesday, making a reality a hiring that few could have seen coming before last week.

Our new president: Barack Obama

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Good morning everybody. I know it doesn't have anything to do with soccer but I felt it needed to be mentioned that the United States of America made history last night by electing Barack Obama president. Whether you voted for him or not, you must agree that his election marks a significant moment in this country's history.

Your Questions Answered (Part 3 of 4)

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Good afternoon folks. It is that time again. I bet you thought you would never see the second half of the most recent Q&A answers. It only took me a month to get back around to them, but I am committed to finishing them off this week and this is the first part of that (i think it's safe to say there will be two more parts instead of one to cover the record-breaking number of questions).

Will 2009 be Beckham's last MLS hurrah?

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Just when you thought David Beckham would stick around Major League Soccer through the 2011 season, now comes word that the upcoming MLS season could be his last.

Champions League: Matchday Four (Your Running Commentary)

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The UEFA Champions League is back in action today, with Liverpool facing Atletico Madrid in the marquee match-up (and no, Fernando Torres will not play).

Here is a rundown of where you can watch today's matches:

  • 2:45pm- ESPN2- Atletico Madrid at Liverpool (LIVE)
  • 2:45pm- ESPN Deportes- FC Basel at FC Barcelona(LIVE)
  • 2:45pm- Setanta Sports USA- AS Roma at Chelsea(LIVE)
  • 2:45pm- ESPN360.

Morning Ticker: More on Soumare's Mali move, Newcastle tops Villa and Watford manager steps down

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Following up on Monday's story revealing that Bakary Soumare had decided to play for Mali, here are some other details that didn't make it into the story:

Soumare spoke to FC Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita about playing for Mali during the summer, when Barcelona was in Chicago to play a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara.

Busch wins MLS goalkeeper award, Fair Play award to Parkhurst

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Chicago Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch has been named MLS goalkeeper of the year, beating out Columbus Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer and New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday.

Bakary Soumare will play for Mali

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Bakary Soumare thought he was close to realizing a dream, but had little idea just how far away he was.

A native of Mali, Soumare spent his formative years as a soccer player in the United States, where his game was honed and reputation made. He owed much of his success as a player to his adopted home country and planned on repaying America by wearing its uniform.

SBI European Club Top 25

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Can anybody stop Barcelona?

Goals are flying like raindrops whenever Barca takes the field these days, and the latest blowout win has helped 'Les Cules' move all the way up to the top spot in the SBI European Club rankings.

Just how potent has Barcelona's attack been?

SBI European Goals of the Week

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Let's face it. Finding video clips of Europe's best goals isn't always easy.

You have EPL clips that come and go due to rights issues, with the same applying for the German Bundesliga. Luckily for us, it seems to be fairly easy to find the best goals in Spain and Italy on a regular basis.

Morning Ticker: Torres set to return, Chelsea cutting costs and Guatamala hires coach

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Just days after suffering its first loss of the season, Liverpool looks poised to get some good news as Fernando Torres appears set to return from the hamstring injury that forced him to miss five matches.

Torres could be in the lineup for Liverpool on Tuesday, when the Reds face Torres' former team, Atletico Madrid.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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Jozy Altidore's best birthday present came five days early, in the form of his first goal in Europe. Altidore came on as a 90th minute sub and promptly scored just seconds later in Villarreal's 4-1 win vs. Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

The landmark goal, which came just days before Altidore's 19th birthday, was just one of several highlights for Americans Abroad this weekend.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Good morning folks. It is a light day of soccer on TV today, but one of the few games being shown today happens to be one of the best.

Young and exciting Napoli travels to Milan to take on the star-studded squad AC Milan. It is an absolute must-see game so you need to at the very least TIVO it and watch it when you can if you're not going to watch it live.

Dynamo thrilled with 1-1 draw at Giants Stadium

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The Houston Dynamo were fine. A 1-0 loss at Giants Stadium wouldn't have been the end of the world because the Dynamo lost the opening leg of the Western Conference Semifinal Series in each of the last two years only to go on and lift the MLS Cup trophy.

Altidore scores his first goal in Europe

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You knew it would come eventually, but Jozy Altidore's first goal in Europe came on Saturday.

The U.S. national team striker came on in the 90th minute of Villarreal's match against Athletic Bilbao and finished off a perfect pass from Santi Cazorla just seconds later. The goal came six days before his 19th birthday.

Yura Movsisyan's back-heel winner

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There was only one game-winning goal scored in the first round of the MLS playoffs this week. It was by none other than Real Salt Lake Yura Movsisyan.

The same man who scored the key equalizer in the regular season finale against Colorado to get Real Salt Lake into the playoffs ended today's playoff opener against Colorado with a stunning 90th-minute back-heel goal that has to be seen to be believed.

Red Bulls show heart, but settle for tie after late Dynamo goal

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The New York Red Bulls have advanced out of the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs just once in their 13-year history and few observers gave them a chance to do that this year against the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo.

And yet, the Red Bulls, missing several starters because of suspension, injury and ineffectiveness, led 1-0 three minutes into the second half of the Western Conference Semifinal Series and carried that lead into the final five minutes of the game.

Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake: Your Running Commentary

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Good evening folks. The second series in the Western Conference playoffs has kicked off at Rio Tinto Stadium, with Real Salt Lake playing host to Chivas USA.

The game is already well under way (scoreless at halftime actually), but if you are watching please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Columbus Crew at Kansas City Wizards: Your Running Commentary

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The Supporters Shield winning Columbus Crew kick off its first playoff appearance in three years on the road against the Kansas City Wizards in the Eastern Conference playoffs tonight.

Both teams come in on strong end-of-season runs, though the Crew come in sporting the league's best record.

Houston Dynamo at New York Red Bulls: Matchday

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Good afternoon all. Today is the first match of Western Conference playoff series between the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo (4pm, MSG).

The Red Bulls enter the match as serious underdogs, with three starters out for the year either due to suspension or injury. Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio has shaken up his lineup yet again in the quest to find a group of players he can count on.

Angel ready to lead Red Bulls vs. Houston

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By DYLAN BUTLER

Juan Pablo Angel doesn't remember much about his first MLS playoff experience. He suffered a concussion early in the second half of a tight Eastern Conference Semifinal Series last year at Gillette Stadium and didn't see the Revs score the winner before then-Red Bulls coach Bruce Arena could bring on a substitute for the forward.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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If you were looking for a full day of soccer action to watch, then this is your day.

There is pro soccer action on TV all day, from now until past midnight, and while not all the matches on the schedule are headliners, you will at least have the option of watching some good action.

Some quality EPL tilts and the MLS playoffs lead the way for your viewing options.