Soccer By Ives Archives for January 2013

MLS Match Day One: Your Running Commentary

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The 2013 MLS Season kicks off today with matches across the country as the 18th season of Major League Soccer brings with it plenty of intrigue and excitement.

The day's action kicks off at PPL Park, where Sebastien LeToux makes his return to the Philadelphia Union against a strong Sporting Kansas City side.

Saturday Ticker: World Cup 2022 Might Be Played in Winter, FIFA’s Anti-Racism Chief Lashes Out on Financial Punishments, and more

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There is a possibility of Qatar's 2022 World Cup being played in the winter, according to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Valcke maintains that if medical evidence of the World Cup being played in Qatar's blistering heat shows that it is dangerous to the players' health, then the tournament could be moved to the winter.

Kimura, Alexander set for Rose City return with RBNY

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Photo courtesy of the New York Red Bulls

By FRANCO PANIZO

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. Playing at JELD-WEN Field under normal circumstances is intimidating. Playing there in a season opener is even worse.

The New York Red Bulls have the honors (or bad luck) of having to play out the second scenario, as they visit Caleb Porter and the new-look Portland Timbers on Sunday in their first game of 2013.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Portland Timbers

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By IVES GALARCEP

By almost any measure, the 2012 season was one to forget for the Portland Timbers.

From the team's terrible record, to the disappointing form of Kris Boyd, down to finishing next to last in the West while expansion classmate Vancouver reached the playoffs in year two, there was plenty to get down about in the Rose City.

U.S. U-20s advance to CONCACAF final after easy win over Cuba

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

Tab Ramos may get his wish of playing Mexico, after all.

The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team advanced to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship final on Friday evening, defeating a lackluster Cuban side, 2-0, off a pair of quick goals from Mario Rodriguez and Daniel Cuevas that came three minutes apart.

Gomez powers Santos Laguna to win over Jaguares

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Santos Laguna is off to a winning start in March, and they can thank Herculez Gomez in a big way for that.

Gomez lifted Santos to a 3-1 win over Jaguares de Chiapas on Friday night and he was involved in all three of his club's goals, scoring twice (his second tally included a well-timed nutmeg) and assisting another in a span of eight minutes in the first half.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Real Madrid and Barcelona kick off today soccer action when the two clubs meet for the sixth time this season.

Barcelona have the opportunity to extend their gigantic lead in Spain's Primera División, and a win today will avenge their 3-1 loss to Madrid on Tuesday. The match won't possess the usual hype of an El Clásico, however, with Madrid set to rest the majority of their starters ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Manchester United.

U.S. Under-20s vs. Cuba: Match Day Commentary

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The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team has already secured a place in the Under-20 World Cup, but there is still hardware to play for down in Mexico as they face Cuba in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship semifinals (6pm, Fox Soccer Channel).

The Americans will be without Luis Gil and Cody Cropper, who both have returned to their club teams, while quarterfinal star Jose Villarreal is on the bench today nursing an ankle injury.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Our pre-season picks for the 2013 MLS Awards

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By IVES GALARCEP

The MLS season is almost here and it's time to start thinking about who the best of the best in MLS are heading into the league's 18th season.

The writing staff at SBI got together and voted on who we see winning the league's major awards in 2013, and while some of the picks aren't all that surprising, some offer interesting insight into who we see shining in MLS this year.

U.S. Soccer unveils Centennial Jerseys

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By IVES GALARCEP

U.S. Soccer is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and has now released the new uniforms to commemorate the occasion.

New uniforms for the Women's and Men's National Team are now available, along with a bunch of other products commemorating the 100th anniversary of U.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 13 (Talking Club Tijuana, Jozy Altidore and breaking down the MLS Eastern Conference)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The 2013 MLS season kicks off in 24 hours and The SBI Podcast wraps up part two of our preview of the upcoming season by breaking down the MLS Eastern Conference.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I discuss all 10 teams in the East, and break down their chances of making the playoffs, or winning it all.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Houston Dynamo

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By IVES GALARCEP

For 45 minutes in the 2012 MLS Cup Final, the Houston Dynamo looked like they could win a championship. The Los Angeles Galaxy may have rallied and ultimately pulled out the trophy-winning victory, but what we saw from the Dynamo was a glimpse of just how good they could be.

SBI Fantasy MLS Preview: Week One

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By CASEY CANNON

Hello and Welcome to the Soccer by Ives Fantasy Corner – now accepting competitors coupons! Every week I dig through statistics, news, and rumors to provide the reader with the kind of fantasy advice that only a statistically unlikely monkey can provide.

I want to take a moment to talk about the MLS Mothership.

SBI MLS Preview: Los Angeles Galaxy

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By OMAR SHAMOUT

The LA Galaxy are looking to become the first "three-peat" winners of the MLS Cup during the 2013 season.

The Galaxy started 2012 in anything but championship form, and the team will be hoping that an offseason free of overseas tours provided adequate time for rest and recovery after a grueling stretch run.

Tim Howard a doubt for Everton match against Reading

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BY DAN KARELL

Tim Howard is in danger of ending one of the all-time iron man streaks this weekend.

The 33-year-old goalkeeper has played in 210 successive Premier League matches for Everton, stretching back to when he signed for the club on a permanent basis in 2007.

MLS Week 1: A Look Ahead

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By THOMAS FLOYD

Winter's chill may still linger in many markets, but it matters not. Forget the freezing temperatures and forecasts of snow that dot the country. Three short months after the Los Angeles Galaxy claimed their second straight league title, MLS is back for its earliest start yet.

Toronto FC signs Robert Earnshaw

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BY DAN KARELL

On the eve of the start of the 2013 Major League Soccer season, Toronto FC have announced that they have signed forward Robert Earnshaw from Championship club Cardiff City. As per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Earnshaw most recently played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, spending five months there on loan, scoring two goals in ten appearances, mostly coming off the bench.

This Weekend’s Soccer On TV

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By MICHAEL KLINE

This is shaping up to be one of those kinds of dream weekends that soccer fans circle the calendar for. With top clashes in every top league in Europe headlining the schedule, and Major League Soccer kicking off the 2013 campaign, there will be more than enough soccer action to keep fans satisfied this weekend.

European Weekend Preview: North London Derby, El Clasico, Juve-Napoli, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Two intense rivalries and a 1 vs. 2 clash headline a massive weekend in European soccer.

We start with the always heated North London Derby, where Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will battle for crucial league positioning on top of the usual local bragging rights.

MLS disciplinary committee suspends and fines De Rosario

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BY DAN KARELL

Major League Soccer's Disciplinary Committee has announced that DC United captain Dwayne De Rosario has been suspended for two matches and fined an undisclosed amount, following a red card for violent conduct in a pre-season match.

De Rosario was shown the red card in the 60th minute of a match against the Philadelphia Union on February 23, after a tackle to Philadelphia's Danny Cruz.

Friday Kickoff: Beckham hints at PSG stay, Benitez has owners backing, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

David Beckham's stay in Paris may not end when the current season finishes in May.

During a promotional event for Adidas in the French capital, The Englishman hinted that he may want to stay with Paris Saint-Germain into next season. In response to a question about his contract going longer than five months, Beckham said "not yet it doesn't.

MLS Season Preview: FC Dallas

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BY DARRELL LOVELL

FC Dallas had a 2012 the club would rather forget. Injuries and a lack of consistent form made for a challenging campaign that left the club with more questions than answers.

Making matters worse was a strong run at the end that fell just short of the last spot in the playoffs once stars like David Ferreria and Blas Perez made their way into the starting XI.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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By FRANCO PANIZO

If Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo can build on their midweek performance, Atlas is in deep, deep trouble

Having each scored a goal in Club Tijuana's Copa Libertadores rout of Bolivian side San Jose on Tuesday, the Xolos duo will aim to improve on their most recent outing while trying to help Tijuana win their fourth straight game across all competitions.

100 USMNT Moments: A look back to the first USA-Mexico qualifier in Columbus

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Rapids acquire Mwanga in trade with Timbers

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By FRANCO PANIZO

When Danny Mwanga signed a new deal with the Portland Timbers back in December, many thought he was being considered an integral part of the club's future.

So much for that.

Danny Mwanga's time with the Timbers came to a close on Thursday, as Portland dealt him to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Colorado Rapids

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The foundation has been laid and now the Colorado Rapids will have to build on it.

After a disappointing, injury-plagued first year under head coach Oscar Pareja, the Rapids are aiming to show progress in the Colombian's possession-based and attack-minded system in 2013.

SBI MLS Season Preview: The Pre-Season Rookie Best XI (and we rank the rookie class)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The 2013 MLS Draft didn't have as much star power as some past years, at least in the eyes of many scouts, but that doesn't mean this year's rookie class is necessarily weak.

A strong class of Homegrown Player signings, coupled with a solid crop of high first-round picks, has this year's class of rookies looking like a deep group that could really blossom in years to come.

SBI MLS Season Preview: The Breakout Best XI

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By IVES GALARCEP

Every year in MLS a new crop of players enters the league, either via the draft or international player market, and does well to boost the level of talent in MLS.

Something else that happens every year is a crop of returning players emerges to make the jump from back-up to key starter, from rookie to improved second-year player, from late-season curiosity to full-season star.

Must-See Assist: Jozy Altidore

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AJAX AZ Gudmundsson by Counterpoint1

Thursday Kickoff: Dortmund confirms Lewandowski exit, Mexico qualifies for U-20 World Cup, and more

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

BY DAN KARELL

Barring a stunning change of heart, Robert Lewandowski will no longer be a Borussia Dortmund player after June 30, 2014.

BVB Sporting Director Michael Zorc announced the news on Thursday that the club would not offer the Polish international forward a contract extension, signing the likes of Manchester United and Bayern Munich to begin a bidding war.

SBI MLS Season Preview: New England Revolution

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By MICHAEL KLINE

The New England Revolution will attempt to push last year's rocky season to the back of their memory, as the second year of their rebuilding phase begins.

Manager Jay Heaps' first season with New England saw few tangible improvements, as the Revs started 2012 promisingly, but finished with only three wins in their last 17 matches to close out the season.

Wednesday Evening Ticker: Benitez blasts Chelsea fans, Bayern defeats Dortmund, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Since joining Chelsea on an interim basis in November, Rafael Benitez has been under fire from a portion of Blues fans. On Wednesday, the former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager told reporters that he has had enough.

Benitez announced that he will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, saying that the Chelsea board made "a massive mistake" in giving him the title of interim manager.

Big changes ahead as Red Bulls transition from Backe to Petke

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Hans Backe and Mike Petke couldn't be more different if they tried; that is the resounding message from the few Red Bull players who survived last season's roster purge.

"I think they are definitely different coaches," Dax McCarty said. "Mike wants to be involved in every little thing that goes on, from the nutrition from the treatment from the gym sessions all the way down to training.

Altidore scores twice to lead AZ to Dutch Cup Final, ties Dempsey mark for goals in a European season

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Jozy Altidore just keeps on scoring goals.

The U.S. Men's National Team Forward just enjoyed one of the best games of his career, score two goals and delivering an assist in AZ's 3-0 Dutch Cup semifinal win vs. Ajax on Wednesday.

The goals increased Altidore's season total to 23 in all competitions, with 16 coming in Eredivisie play and the other seven coming in Dutch Cup action.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

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By VINCE MADURI

Real Salt Lake may have come within a singular goal of being able to keep their team together for one more run at another title.

In CONCACAF Champions League group play, RSL needed one goal against Herediano at home to send the club through to the knockout stages, securing extra allocation money to fit the team under the cap in 2013.

A look at the proposed New York Cosmos stadium

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SBI MLS Season Preview: Philadelphia Union

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By THOMAS FLOYD

Very few things went right for the Philadelphia Union in 2012. Star Sebastien Le Toux was dealt under odd circumstances. Coach Peter Nowak's tenure came to a messy end. Goals were few and far between. And a playoff team plummeted to near the conference cellar.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 12 (Talking U.S. U-20s, Holden and a preview of the MLS Western Conference)

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

With the 2013 MLS Season just three days from kicking off, The SBI Podcast will be taking a look at the upcoming campaign and we start our close look with a preview of the Western Conference.

Co-Host Garrett Cleverly and I break down the West, and the teams that should compete for the top spot in the conference, as well as the team most likely to be the pleasant surprise of the season.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Chivas USA

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By FRANCO PANIZO

There was no denying that Chivas USA needed change after an abysmal 2012 season that saw them finish as the second-worst team in the league.

Few could have envisioned this much.

Aside from appointing a new head coach in the mercurial Jose 'Chelis' Sanchez, Chivas USA disposed of most of the players on last year's roster and replaced them with latino players.

Red Bulls Notes: Petke backs Henry’s competitiveness, Meara update, and more

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By FRANCO PANIZO

NEW YORK Thierry Henry is as competitive a player as there is in MLS and New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke loves that.

A former fiery player himself, Petke admires Henry's relentless desire for perfection and the 37-year-old head coach believes it does more harm than good in the locker room despite what some sections of fans and media believe.

USMNT Daily Update: As Holden takes important step in comeback, we can start thinking about the USMNT possibilities

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By IVES GALARCEP

Stuart Holden has spent almost two years away from the playing field for Bolton. With the exception of training sessions and couple of recent cup appearances, Holden has spend much of his time rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee and enduring the second lengthy absence of his career.

SBI MLS Season Preview: D.C. United

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By THOMAS FLOYD

Ben Olsen hasn't been bothered by D.C. United's fairly quiet offseason. He's happy with the group he has. No need to tinker. And considering the club came within a game of the MLS Cup last year, it's hard to argue the point.

But the coach does know all of the cohesion the group established during a resurgent 2012 campaign won't mean a thing if the principles he's established waver.

Fire add Amarikwa in swap with Toronto

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By TYLER DAY

The Chicago Fire announced Wednesday a deal with Toronto FC to bring in forward Quincy Amarikwa, adding much needed attacking depth.

The Fire sent back a first round selection in the 2014 MLS Supplemental Draft in exchange for Amarikwa, a U.

Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

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By IVES GALARCEP

When Dylan Carreiro's long-range shot beat Cody Cropper and gave Canada a surprising 1-0 lead on the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team, the goal was either going to lead to the U.S. team's demise, or be a wake-up call for a squad that hadn't really shown their best form yet.

Castillo and Corona score in Club Tijuana Libertadores rout

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U.S. Men's National Team defender Edgar Castillo and midfielder Joe Corona both scored goals to help Club Tijuana record a 4-0 thrashing of Bolivian side San Jose in Copa Libertadores action on Tuesday night in Mexico.

Edgar Castillo opened the scoring for the Xolos, while Corona added the team's third goal just three minutes into the second half to help Club Tijuana secure first place in their Copa Libertadores group after two matches.

Wednesday Kickoff: Real Madrid wins Copa Clasico, Roura to stay as manager until Vilanova returns, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

In at least one competition this season, Real Madrid will finish higher than Barcelona.

The Madrid club defeated Barcelona 3-1 on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou, winning 4-2 on aggregate, and moving on to the Copa Del Rey final in April. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (two) and a header from 19-year-old Raphael Varane pushed Jose Mourinho's side through, and likely saved his job for the time being.

U.S. Under-20s vs. Canada: Match Day Commentary

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The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team takes on Canada today with a place in the Under-20 World Cup on the line (6pm, Fox Soccer Channel).

The Americans come in having won their group, and having posted a pair of 1-0 shutout victories over Haiti and Costa Rica. They take on a Canada side that lost to Cuba before rallying to trounce Nicaragua and book their place in this all-important CONCACAF Under-20 Tournament quarterfinal in Puebla, Mexico.

MLS Ticker: Wondolowski signs DP deal, Frings retires, and more

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By MICHAEL KLINE

San Jose Earthquake all-time leading goalscorer Chris Wondolowski, 30, became Major League Soccer's newest designated player on Monday, when he signed a four year deal, the first three of which are guaranteed, with The Earthquakes.

Wondolowski's time with the club dates all the way back to September 10, 2005, where he made his first appearance as an Earthquake in a 3-0 win against Chivas USA.

U.S. Under-20s face Canada with World Cup berth at stake

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By IVES GALARCEP

USA-Canada might not be regarded as much of a rivalry, but recent results on the soccer field, both in men's and women's soccer, have helped to cultivate a budding rivalry worthy of the proximity of the neighboring nations.

From Canada's upset win over the U.

Soccer Tuesday: Your Running Commentary

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BY DAN KARELL

Much of the world will watch together as Barcelona and Real Madrid re-kindle the madness that is El Clasico, when the two meet on Tuesday in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey semifinals at the Camp Nou.

Last time around, the teams tied 1-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas' opener being cancelled out by the young Frenchman Raphael Varane, helping save Madrid in the tie.

SBI MLS Season Preview: San Jose Earthquakes

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By VINCE MADURI

The San Jose Earthquakes enjoyed a dream season in 2012, blowing away all expectations on their way to a Supporters Shield-winning season, led by Chris Wondolowski's record-setting scoring campaign.

Despite their success though, there are question marks about whether the Earthquakes can duplicate, or even improve upon, that success.

SBI MLS Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Extreme makeovers are nothing new in the world of the New York Red Bulls, but this offseason was a roller coaster even by the Red Bulls' standards.

From the moment D.C. United knocked New York out of the playoffs last fall, the transformation began (though many would argue it started with the firing of Erik Soler).

Dempsey sidelined 1-2 weeks with calf strain, should be back in time for qualifiers

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By IVES GALARCEP

When Clint Dempsey wasn't in uniform for Tottenham in Monday's win against West Ham, the alarm bells started ringing among U.S. Men's National Team fans about what might be wrong with the American star.

As it turns out, Dempsey has a calf strain that Tottenham manager Andres Villas Boas expects to keep Dempsey sidelined for 1-2 weeks.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Chicago Fire

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By TYLER DAY

A promising pre-season and a revamped midfield have the Chicago Fire poised to erase the bitter taste of last year's late-season collapse.

Just five months ago in mid-September 2012, fresh off seven wins in eight matches, the Fire stood second in the Eastern Conference ready for a deep playoff run.

Tuesday Kickoff: Beckham to make first PSG start, Inter Milan fined for racist chants, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

On the heels of an impressive 15-minute debut for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, David Beckham has been handed a place in the starting XI in advance of his new club's match against Marseille in the Coupe de France.

Beckham's flick pass on Sunday in the 90th minute helped lead to the second goal of PSG's 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Marseille, with the two powerhouses now facing off once more in the cup competition.

Monday Evening Ticker: Bale’s last second strike moves Spurs to third, Lazio ends Serie A skid, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

There might not be a more in-form player in the world right now than Gareth Bale.

The Tottenham winger scored twice his club's dramatic 3-2 win over West Ham United on Monday, including a 90th minute winner from distance Bale's other goal opened the scoring for Spurs, who moved into third place in the Premier League table with the win.

Mexican League Rewind: Morelia halts Pachuca run, Atlas’ streak snapped, and more

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By IVES GALARCEP

Morelia has had an up-and-down season in the Mexican Clausura, but they recorded their biggest win of the season on Saturday, beating Pachuca and snapping the Tuzos' three-match winning streak.

Hector Mancilla scored two goals to help Monarcas rally and score a win that kept Pachuca from climbing into the Top Four in the standings.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps

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BY DARRELL LOVELL

The Vancouver Whitecaps looked to be right on track in 2012. The club started its second campaign strong and looked primed to be a key challenger in the Western Conference playoff race.

Then the ‘Caps hit the reset button.

Midway through the season Martin Rennie shifted course, jettisoning stars such as Eric Hassli and Sebastien Le Toux.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Toronto FC

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By VINCE MADURI

"Change" is the predominant word around Toronto these days, as the club is coming off a league-worst 23-point season.

The club has changed its president and general manager, hiring Kevin Payne away from D.C. United after 18 illustrious years of work and four MLS Cup titles.

USMNT Daily Update: 23 for 2014 (February 2013 Edition)

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By IVES GALARCEP

In the wake of the U.S. Men's National Team's World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras it is easy to come away feeling as though some players who were once considered locks as likely members of a projected 2014 U.S. World Cup are suddenly not such safe bets (let alone the fact that the Hex-opening loss has some folks fearing that the U.

SBI Fantasy MLS: Prepping for the new season

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By CASEY CANNON

Hello and welcome to the Soccer By Ives Fantasy Report, now in 3D! Every week during the MLS season we will look to make this the best source for fantasy soccer analysis anywhere outside of Singapore.

Today you have three tasks to complete.

Assignment One: go to http://fantasy.

Monday Kickoff: Balotelli suffers more racial abuse, Swansea wins League Cup, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

In his first Milan derby since his transfer to AC Milan in January, Mario Balotelli was racially abused by fans from his former club during the 1-1 match on Sunday evening.

Inter Milan fans at the San Siro waved bananas at Balotelli whenever he had possession of the ball, or was running near their section.

MLS Season Preview: The SBI Power Rankings

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By IVES GALARCEP

The MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy were crowned less than three months ago, but plenty has changed across the league in the weeks since the 2012 MLS season ended.

Several top players have left some of the league's top teams, while general managers across MLS were busy revamping rosters in hopes of either closing the gap on the champions, or with the goal of reaching the playoffs after missing out in 2012.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Columbus Crew

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By VINCE MADURI

The Columbus Crew missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and will look to rebound this coming season behind several new faces.

Federico Higuain was the signing of the 2012 season after arriving from Argentine club Colon in midseason. In only 13 appearances, Higuain managed to create the third most chances per 90 minutes of play in the league.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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By FRANCO PANIZO

It may not have been a dream performance, but for the first time in five months Brek Shea can say he played in a competitive game.

Three weeks removed from having made the move from FC Dallas to Stoke City, Shea made his debut for Premiership club in a 1-0 loss to Fulham on Saturday.

European Weekend Rewind: Man City blanks Chelsea, Milan clubs play out thrilling draw, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

A penalty save from Joe Hart became the spark that Manchester City needed to dispatch Chelsea 2-0, giving the defending champions their first league win since January 19.

The goalkeeper committed a foul on masked Chelsea striker Demba Ba in the box early in the second half, setting Frank Lampard up for a chance at his 200th club goal.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Montreal Impact

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By IVES GALARCEP

When you take a look at the Montreal Impact roster, you don't see a ton of changes, or the kind of excessive roster overhaul you can find on the squads of other teams that missed the MLS playoffs last year. In fact, you can argue the Impact have had one of the least active off-seasons in the league from a player personnel standpoint.

MLS Pre-Season Recap: Sounders win Desert Diamond Cup, Fire grab Carolina Challenge Cup

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The Seattle Sounders are starting to make a habit of beating Real Salt Lake, even without their first-choice starters.

Just days after being RSL in group play in a clash of first-team lineups, the Sounders trotted out a second-team lineup on Saturday night and still managed to beat out a RSL side playing mostly starters.

Impact top Crew for Disney Pro Soccer Classic title, D.C. United beat Union, and more

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By VINCE MADURI

The Montreal Impact narrowly defeated the Columbus Crew to win the Disney Pro Soccer Classic on Saturday in the final pre-season action for both teams before the start of the 2013 season.

After playing a scoreless first half, midfielder Justin Mapp scored the lone goal off a volley in the 54th minute to lead the Impact to tournament victory.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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By MICHAEL KLINE

Manchester City kicks off another wonderful Sunday full of soccer action with a high-profile match against Chelsea. Manchester City trail league-leaders Manchester United by 15 points going into their match against The Blues, and anything other than three points will essentially eliminate them from the title race completely.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Sporting Kansas City

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By VINCE MADURI

Sporting Kansas City took another step forward in 2012 following a massive club breakthrough the previous year, winning the U.S. Open Cup and finished only three points behind San Jose for the Supporters' Shield.

The black eye on Sporting KC's season, however, was an early playoff exit from the Eastern Conference playoffs, and yet another playoff loss to the Houston Dynamo.

SBI MLS Season Preview: Seattle Sounders

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By VINCE MADURI

Even though the Seattle Sounders took a step forward in 2012 by posting the first playoff series win in the club's MLS history, the Sounders still came away from 2012 without a trophy. A fact that kept the club from calling the season a success by their lofty standards.

Saturday Ticker: Bradford City could refuse Europa League spot, Mancini talks future at Man City, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

On the eve of one of the most important matches in club history, Bradford City co-chairman Mark Lawn told reporters that he does not expect the Bantams to compete in next year's Europa League.

Lawn told The Sun that Bradford City would turn down the offer of playing continental competition if financial concerns were too great for the League Two outfit.

Kamara scores first EPL goal to help Norwich City rally to win

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By IVES GALARCEP

Sporting Kansas City forward/midfielder Kei Kamara is off to a dream start during his loan spell with English Premier League side Norwich City, notching a vital equalizer on Saturday for his first EPL goal.

Kamara came off the bench and paid immediate dividends, heading home the tying goal before helping set up a stoppage-time winner as Norwich City posted a 2-1 comeback victory against Everton.

Must-See Goal: Rafael

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Villarreal’s header lifts U.S. Under-20s to win vs. Costa Rica, will face Canada for place in World Cup

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By IVES GALARCEP

Tab Ramos wanted more possession and better team defending from the U.S. Under-20 National Team heading into Friday's match against Costa Rica and he got both.

It helped that the Costa Ricans seemed to offer little in the way of resistance.

The Americans dominated possession for stretches, but struggled to generate real chances until Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jose Villarreal skied up to head home a Luis Gil corner kick in the second half to help give the U.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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The top teams in three of the top leagues in Europe will look to extend their double-digit leads on Saturday.

Bayern Munich kicks off the day with a home match against Werder Bremen. The runaway Bundesliga leaders host an 11th-place Bremen side that has failed to secure a single point against the league's top four teams this season.

U.S. Under-20s vs. Costa Rica (Match Day Commentary)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The U.S. Men's Under-20 National Team has already booked its place in the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament, but today's match against Costa Rica (6:30pm, Fox Soccer Channel) still has plenty on the line.

The U.

Sources: Chicago’s Soldier Field to host 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final

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By IVES GALARCEP

Just two days after CONCACAF announced that the 2013 Gold Cup would open at the Rose Bowl with the Mexican National Team, sources have confirmed to SBI that the 2013 Gold Cup Final will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Soldier Field hosted the 2007 Gold Cup Final won by the United States (which defeated Mexico thanks to Benny Feilhaber's memorable game-winning goal).

It’s Fantasy MLS Time (Join the SBI Fantasy MLS League)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The new MLS season is just a week away and it's time to start thinking about Fantasy MLS.

SBI will be running a league once again and we are inviting all of our readers to join in on the fun. We will be using the official MLS fantasy game this year. The game appears to have undergone some needed upgrades, and no longer requires a Facebook log in so it should be more appealing to those of you who passed on joining the league last year.

U.S. Under-20s prepare for Costa Rica

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This Weekend’s Soccer on TV

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By MICHAEL KLINE

Bayern Munich is currently on track to capture the Bundesliga title at the earliest point in the 50-year history of the German league, and will look to make a step closer this weekend when they welcome Werder Bremen to the Allianz Arena.

Bremen are faced with the daunting task of knocking off the German titans, who have been in tremendous form as of late.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 11 (with special guests Tim Howard and Dan Kennedy)

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Photos by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

We reached the 11 episode mark for The SBI Podcast and the latest episode is an ode to goalkeepers as we brought on two of the top American goalkeepers in the game to join us as guests.

U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard joined us from England, and we discussed a wide range of topics including the state of the U.

European Weekend Preview: Milan Derby takes center stage, Man City hosts Chelsea, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

After stunning the soccer world by defeating Barcelona 2-0 in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16, AC Milan turns its attention to another monumental match.

The Rossoneri will face hated city rivals Inter in Sunday's late Serie A match, one that could have massive implications in the race for the final spot in next season's Champions League.

Landon Donovan on playing for the USMNT again

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Friday Kickoff: Wenger won’t resign, upsets galore in Libertadores, and more:

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Currently in the midst of his worst season in charge since he joined in 1996, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has declared that he has no intention of resigning from his post, despite calls from fans and some in the media that it may be time for him to leave.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his side's match on Saturday against Aston Villa, Wenger refused to comment on his contract, which currently runs through the end of 2014.

Europa League Rewind: Zenit holds on vs. Liverpool, Spurs advance, and more

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If there was something missing from Thursday's UEFA Europa League action, it certainly was not drama.

Sixteen teams advanced to the next round of the competition, including a Zenit St Petersburg side that suffered a big scare against Liverpool. The Russian club nearly allowed Liverpool to come back in the two-legged series, giving up three unanswered goals at Anfield to lose, 3-1, but still advancing on away goals on a 3-3 aggregate courtesy of an early strike at from Hulk.

Sermanni releases 23-player USWNT roster for Algarve Cup

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

The U.S. Women's National Team is a couple of weeks away from partaking in the 2013 Algarve Cup, and now we know who is headed to Portugal to participate in the tournament.

U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni named a 23-player roster for the competition on Thursday and it includes forwards Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach as well as midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Carli Loyd.

Real Salt Lake sign young Colombian forward Garcia

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By FRANCO PANIZO

Real Salt Lake added some more attacking punch to their team on Thursday, signing young Colombian forward Olmes Garcia to a multi-year deal.

The 20-year-old Garcia joins RSL after the club paid a transfer fee to his former team, Deportes Quindio of Colombia's top flight.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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By FRANCO PANIZO

Repeating as champions is never an easy task, but Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht are making it look like it is.

Kljestan and red-hot Anderlecht are currently in first place in the Jupiler Pro League and they can add to their healthy eight-point lead when they visit Club Brugge on Sunday.

Europa League: Your Running Commentary

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Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel and Tottenham are in France today to take on Lyon in the second leg of their Round of 32 Europa League action.

Dempsey isn't in the starting lineup for today's second leg, but figures to feature in the second-half in Lyon. Friedel is in the starting lineup once again after starting in the first leg.

USMNT Daily Update: A closer look at the Landon Donovan situation

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By IVES GALARCEP

So he isn't finished with the U.S. Men's National Team after all.

Okay, let's face it, it was probably a stretch to think that Landon Donovan would never play for the United States again because of his decision to not return to soccer until late March, and thereby missing key qualifiers vs.

MLS Ticker: Reo-Coker to join Whitecaps, Seaton U.S. future in question, and more

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BY DARRELL LOVELL

Nigel Reo-Coker future has finally been settled. Reports late Wednesday night confirmed that the English midfielder has agreed to a move to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The deal will is for four years and will not be at Designated Player status in the first season.

Marosevic, Lopez latest additions to booming Cosmos roster

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

After a relatively quiet start to the winter, the New York Cosmos have gone on an acquisition spree. Friday morning, the team announced further reinforcements with the signing of former Toronto FC striker/midfielder Peri Marosevic and Guatemalan striker Henry Lopez.

Thursday Kickoff: Schalke dispute Drogba’s eligibility, Spurs fans attacked in Lyon, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

One of Wednesday evening's Champions League sub-plots was the return of Didier Drogba to the European stage, 9 months after scoring the final penalty to seal Chelsea's European title.

Though he didn't score in his new side Galatasaray's 1-1 draw with Schalke 04, the German club are considering appealing to UEFA, on the grounds that Drogba may not be approved to be a Galatasaray player, due to an ongoing dispute with the Ivorian's former club in China, Shanghai Shenhua.

Must-See Goal: Jermaine Jones

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U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Jermaine Jones became just the second American to score a goal in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday when he finished off a beautiful sequence with a perfect strike just before halftime of Schalke's 1-1 draw at Galatasaray.

Jones joined DaMarcus Beasley, who scored for PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

D.C. United pick up Ruiz via MLS Allocation Process

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By IVES GALARCEP

D.C. United were looking to boost their stable of forwards and they have turned to a player with a track record of scoring goals in MLS.

D.C. acquired Guatamalan striker Carlos Ruiz via the MLS Allocation process on Wednesday, becoming the fifth team in MLS that Ruiz has called home.

Wednesday Evening Ticker: AC Milan upsets Barcelona, Jones equalizes for Schalke at Gala, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

For the first time in 133 matches, FC Barcelona has lost by a multi-goal margin.

The Spanish giants were shutout 2-0 by AC Milan in the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup in the Champions League, placing their quest for a treble in serious jeopardy.

Fire win again, Dynamo rally in Carolina Challenge Cup

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By MIKE McCALL

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Following an opening round of matches that allowed teams to test out their Starting XI, Wednesday night's contests at the Carolina Challenge Cup were a bit more subdued. Vancouver opted for a younger lineup against substitute-happy Houston, and Chicago playing its starters for a half against the USL PRO's Charleston Battery.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 10 (With special guests John Hackworth and Michael Parkhurst)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The latest episode of The SBI Podcast is up, and Episode No. 10 features guests from the Americans Abroad realm as well as Major League Soccer.

Philadelphia Union head coach John Hackworth joins us from Orlando, where the Union are in the midst of their pre-season.

Wednesday Kickoff: Club Tijuana win Libertadores opener, Pele tells Neymar to join Barca, and more

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Mexican champion Club Tijuana got their inaugural appearance in Copa Libertadores off to a dream start, posting a 1-0 victory over Colombian champions Millonarios on Tuesday night in Bogota in the group stage opener for both sides.

Richard Ruiz scored the game-winner for Tijuana, heading home a cross from U.

Revamped Fire midfield working well together

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By MIKE MCCALL

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Following his team's 3-2 win over Houston to open the Carolina Challenge Cup on Saturday, Chicago midfielder Jeff Larentowicz offered his assessment of how the Fire's revamped midfield is coming together.

"We're getting it slowly," he said.

UEFA Champions League: A look ahead to Barcelona-AC Milan and Galatasaray-Schalke

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FC Barcelona may be the heavy favorite in today's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash with AC Milan, but it might be a mistake to count out the Italians.

Yes, Barcelona is riding impressive form, and Milan won't have cup-tied Mario Balotelli in their squad, and could be without injured starStephan El Shaarawy, but the storied club still has enough quality to make things difficult for the Spanish giants.

SBI Old School Q&A (Some of Your Questions Answered)

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By IVES GALARCEP

It's time to answer some SBI reader questions in the latest installment of Your Questions Answered.

In case you missed it, we featured an SBI Old School Q&A post recently, which allowed readers to submit their questions onto the site for me to answer.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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A day after Bayern Munich sent a loud message that they are indeed a strong title contender, the UEFA Champions League favorites from Barcelona take the field at the San Siro today to take on AC Milan (2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel).

Barcelona will be fielding a full-strength lineup today against AC Milan, with the attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi pulling the strings against a Milan defense that will have its hands full.

MLS Notes: Silvestre signs with Timbers, Houston acquires Andrew Driver and more

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By VINCE MADURI

MikaëlSilvestre's tour of training stints around Cascadia is over, as the Portland Timbers confirmed Wednesday the club has signed the 35-year-old centerback to a contract.

"Mikaël will bring a tremendous amount of experience and a presence on the field and in the locker room," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said in a statement.

Tuesday Evening Ticker: Bayern manhandle Arsenal, Porto edge Malaga, and more

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By MICHAEL KLINE

Arsenal's hopes to end their infamous trophy drought, which has lasted since 2005, took a turn for the worst as Bayern Munich comfortably dismantled Arsenal's frail defense, winning 3-1 in front of Arsenal's home crowd.

Toni Kroos put the German side ahead within seven minutes following a sublime hit from the edge of the box.

MLS Ticker: Whitecaps sign Leveron, Dynamo deal Watson to Dallas, and more

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

The Vancouver Whitecaps made a key addition to their defense, adding Honduran Olympic Team defender Johnny Leveron on Tuesday.

Acquired via free transfer after his contract with Honduran side Motagua expired, Leveron joins a loaded stable of centerbacks on the Whitecaps roster.

BREAKING- Sounders acquire Joseph from Chivas USA

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By IVES GALARCEP

The Seattle Sounders took a look at Shalrie Joseph up close recently and Sigi Schmid suggested that it seemed unlikely the Sounders would go after the long-time standout midfielder.

Apparently things have changed.

Chivas USA have traded Joseph to the Sounders for a second-round pick in the 2014 MLS Draft, sources confirmed to SBI on Tuesday.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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Bayern Munich will look to continue their dominant form today when they travel to London to take on a vulnerable looking Arsenal side that few are giving much of a chance to survive this UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-up.

Bayern is running away with the Bundesliga, and playing some of the best soccer on the world.

U.S. Under-20s 2, Haiti 1: A Look Back

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By IVES GALARCEP

The best word to describe the U.S. Under-20 National Team's performance against Haiti on Monday is disjointed. The team did win the match, but did so in about as uninspiring a way as possible. There was no flow to their game, no midfield control, no build-ups and none of the technical quality we would have hoped for from this group of players.

USWNT to face Canada on June 2nd in Toronto, first meeting since Olympics

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It is a rematch you can bet Canada has been waiting for, and one that should offer plenty of entertainment and tension.

The U.S. Women's National Team will take on Canada in a friendly in Toronto on June 2nd, the Canadian Soccer Association announced on Tuesday.

The meeting will the first between the countries since the Americans defeated Canada in the Olympics semifinals in a hotly-contested and controversial match.

UEFA Champions League: A look ahead to Arsenal-Bayern and Porto-Malaga

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It looks every bit like a mismatch that could get ugly, but there is something about the Bayern Munich-Arsenal Champions League Round of 16 match-up that suggest it could wind up being far more competitive than anyone could imagine.

On paper it should be a romp. Bayern Munich enters the series looking unstoppable, having torn through the Bundesliga, and their Champions League group with ease.

Tuesday Kickoff: FIFA approves goal-line technology, Cuba upsets Canada U-20s, and more

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By IVES GALARCEP

The days of goal-line controversies could be coming to an end after FIFA approved the use of goal-line technology ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

FIFA made the decision on Tuesday, clearing the way for goal-line technology to be used in the 2013 Confederations Cup and then the World Cup.

Monday Evening Ticker: Man United tops Reading in FA Cup, Lazio stunned by last-place Siena, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Manchester United is moving on to the final eight in this year's FA Cup after defeating Reading 2-1 on Monday.

Although these two teams produced seven combined goals in the first 37 minutes of their first league meeting this season, neither scored in the first half.

U.S. U-20s hang on to top Haiti in CONCACAF U-20 Championship opener

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team got off to a winning start in their quest to qualify for this summer's Under-20 World Cup, but they did so by the skin of their teeth.

Riding a pair of first-half goals from Luis Gil and Daniel Cuevas, the U.S. hung on to claim an ugly 2-1 win over Haiti in the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship opener at Estadio Universitario BUAP in Puebla, Mexico on Monday evening.

CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying: USA vs. Haiti (Live Match Commentary)

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

Three games. That is what the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team has to worry about to qualify for the Under-20 World Cup. Two group matches and an all-important quarterfinal match are what stand in the way of a young American team snapping the current two-qualifying tournament skid U.

New investor da Silva has big plans for Orlando City, including hard push for MLS

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By VINCE MADURI

ORLANDO, Fla. On Monday, Orlando City unveiled new owner Flávio Augusto da Silva, a Brazilian businessman who is the third largest shareholder of media giant Abril Educação. The announcement comes as the latest in several strategic moves the club hopes will position it to gain admittance to Major League Soccer in 2015.

MLS Pre-Season Rewind: Johnson’s hat-trick helps Timbers tie Earthquakes, Sounders beat RSL, and more

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If the Portland Timbers were hoping to make Ryan Johnson the target striker in their 4-3-3 formation, then Sunday's performance in the Portland Pre-Season Tournament bodes well for the Timbers' plans for the Jamaican striker.

Johnson delivered three goals in Portland's 3-3 draw vs. the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday night.

USMNT Daily Update: With Donovan missing from March qualifiers, Klinsmann must consider wing options

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By IVES GALARCEP

When the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field at Estadio Azteca next month, they will be doing so without Landon Donovan in the starting lineup for the first time since 2001.

The 12 year span since the last time the U.S. didn't have Donovan for a trip to Azteca might only consist of three matches, but there is something strange about the idea of the leading scorer in U.

Mexican League Rewind: Santos Laguna ties Tigres, Pachuca hands Cruz Azul first loss

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By IVES GALARCEP

UANL Tigres kept their unbeaten record intact this past weekend in Mexican league action, but they needed a comeback against a dangerous Santos Laguna side to do it.

Darwin Quintero's second-minute strike put the Mexican League leaders in an early hole, but Jose Torres' squad stepped up yet again, with a Juninho equalizer helping Tigres salvage a point at Estadio Universitario.

Must-See Goal: Francesco Totti

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The SBI Podcast: Episode 9 (Talking Donovan, Rogers, Chivas USA, and more)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The Major League Soccer season is still two weeks away, but there were some major news stories making waves this week on the MLS landscape, with Landon Donovan and Robbie Rogers serving as the key newspapers in recent days.

In the latest episode of The SBI Podcast, co-host Garrett Cleverly and I discuss Donovan's decision to delay his return to the LA Galaxy until late March, and we talk about the news of Robbie Rogers' decision to come out as a gay man and step away from pro soccer.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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By FRANCO PANIZO

Jozy Altidore simply continues to add to the argument that he is the most in-form American right now.

Altidore scored his latest goal for AZ Alkmaar on Saturday, netting the club's first goal in a 2-2 draw against Roda JC Kerkrade. The goal was Altidore's 16th in the Eredivisie and 21st in all competitions this season and it put him two behind the Eredivisie's leading goal-scorer, Vitesse forward Wilfried Bony.

European Weekend Rewind: Blackburn shocks Arsenal in FA Cup, Messi nets 300th in win, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Arsenal's infamous trophy drought grew closer to the dreaded eight seasons mark on Saturday. One of the Gunners' last and perhaps their best chances to win a championship this season ended with a 1-0 home loss to Blackburn Rovers.

In a FA Cup competition filled with upsets through the first few rounds, this weekend's Fifth Round action had only one shock result.

Monday Kickoff: Mourinho linked with Paris St. Germain, Wenger angry at “wrong” reports and more

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BY DAN KARELL

It's looking more and more likely that Jose Mourinho will be managing a new team next season.

The Real Madrid boss increased speculation of his La Liga exit when he stated that he'd be interested in coaching in Ligue 1, leaving many to believe he could be the next man for the Paris Saint-Germain job, if the Paris club sack Carlo Ancelotti.

U.S. Under-20 Pelosi suffers broken leg with Liverpool

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By IVES GALARCEP

U.S. Under-20 national team standout Marc Pelosi was not released by Liverpool for Under-20 World Cup qualifying, and now it looks as though he won't be taking part in the Under-20 World Cup either even if the Americans qualify.

Pelosi suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg on Sunday playing for Liverpool's U-19 team.

Donovan to return to Galaxy in late March, will miss upcoming USMNT qualifiers

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By IVES GALARCEP

Landon Donovan' will rejoin the Los Angeles Galaxy in late March, the Galaxy announced on Sunday.

Donovan and the Galaxy reached an agreement to let Donovan extend his time away from the team, and now he won't return to training until late March.

"After a series of collaborative discussions between Landon, his representative and our key club leaders, we have agreed to allow Landon to remain on an extended leave of absence and return to training with the team during the final week of March," Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said in a team-issued statement.

Impact and Crew book places in Disney Pro Soccer Classic final while Union roll past TFC

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By VINCE MADURI

ORLANDO, Fla. The Montreal Impact did enough to book their place in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic final, but not before enduring a physical battle in a 1-1 draw vs. D.C. United.

Andrea Pisanu and Kyle Porter scored the goals in a testy clash of Eastern Conference foes.

Fire and Whitecaps open Carolina Challenge Cup with wins

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By MIKE McCALL

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The opening day of the Carolina Challenge Cup was a showcase for several new faces who will be expected to be key contributors for their MLS teams this season.

The Chicago Fire revamped their midfield this off-season, and all three key midfield additions impressed, contributing to goals and helping the Fire hold off Eastern Conference rivals Houston, 3-2.

MLS Pre-Season: Sporting Kansas City vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (Live Stream)

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MLS Pre-Season: Red Bulls vs. Revolution (Live Stream)

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Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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By MICHAEL KLINE

Brentford and Leeds United will be looking to catch the FA Cup upset fever ahead of their fifth round matches on Sunday against Premier League powerhouses.

A day after Oldham made Arsenal the latest FA Cup upset victim, Brentford will travel to London to face defending tournament champions Chelsea, while Leeds United heads to the Etihad to take on Manchester City.

MLS Pre-Season: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders (Live Stream)

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MLS Pre-Season: Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew (Live Stream)

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Saturday Ticker: Blazer to leave FIFA ExCo, Drogba scores in Gala debut, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

The top American official in the world of soccer announced Saturday that he will not be seeking re-election to a fifth term on FIFA's executive committee.

Chuck Blazer, who has served on the committee for the last 16 years, was widely expected to step down after his involvement in the vote-buying scandal over 2011 FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed bin Hammam.

MLS Pre-Season: Union vs. Toronto FC (Live Stream)

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MLS Pre-Season: Your Running Commentary

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Fourteen of 19 MLS teams will be in pre-season tournament action today as the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Carolina Challenge Cup and Desert Diamond Cup all feature matches.

D.C. United and the Montreal Impact kick things off in Orlando as the first match of a four-match schedule at Disney World.

MLS Pre-Season: D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact (Live Stream)

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MLS Notes: Reports link Saviola to Sounders, Reo-Coker close to Whitecaps move, and more

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

The Seattle Sounders are heading into the 2013 MLS season with an available Designated Player spot, and the rumors are sure to fly as links to big-name players emerge.

Add Javier Saviola to that list. The Argentine striker, who counts Barcelona and Real Madrid among his former club, has been linked to a summer move to the Sounders by multiple Argentine journalists via Twitter on Friday.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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Defending Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund's match with surprising fourth-place side Eintracht Frankfurt headlines Saturday's action in the world of soccer.

After dispatching Bayer Leverkusen to gain control of second place in the league two weeks ago, Dortmund slipped last weekend 4-1 to Hamburg.

Fire Notes: Klopas brings trialists to Charleston, Pineda still recovering, and more

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By TYLER DAY

The Chicago Fire began their third leg of training camp Wednesday in South Carolina, wherethey will take part in the Carolina Challenge Cup for the third-consecutive season.They will play two MLS clubs, Houston Dynamo on Saturday and VancouverWhitecaps on Saturday, Feb.

MLS Notes: Carolina Challenge Cup set to kick off, RBNY add Wolyniec to staff, and more

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By FRANCO PANIZO

If you are eagerly anticipating the start of the MLS season, there is some more preseason soccer on tap that might hold you over until March 2.

The 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup is set to get underway on Saturday with two games involving three MLS sides and one USL Pro club.

This Weekend’s Soccer On TV

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By MICHAEL KLINE

Defending German champions Borussia Dortmund will host fourth place Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, in the Bundesliga's notable match-up of the weekend.

While excelling in the Champions League so far this season, Borussia Dortmund haven't defended their domestic title the way they had hoped, trailing league-leaders Bayern Munich by fifteen points with only thirteen matches left to be played.

Rogers comes out as gay man, retires at 25

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By IVES GALARCEP

Robbie Rogers is retiring from the game of soccer at the age of 25. Not because of an injury, but because he is embarking on a new chapter in his life after developing the courage to reveal that he is gay.

The former U.S. National Team player and Columbus Crew midfielder came out in a letter written on his website.

European Weekend Preview: FA Cup action returns, Dortmund faces Eintracht Frankfurt, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

After an exciting return to continental play during the midweek, English clubs will be starting another round of cup competition this weekend in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

The upset-filled Fourth Round left only seven Premier League clubs alive in the tournament, and there will only be one matchup between top-flight sides this weekend.

Friday Kickoff: Bale shines in Tottenham win, Atletico suffer shock defeat, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Tottenham Hotspurs kept their hot run of form going on Thursday evening, when they defeated French club Lyon 2-1 at White Hart Lane.

Gareth Bale, as he has so many times this season, played the hero, scoring two tremendous free kick goals, the second coming in the third minute of extra time to win the game for the North London club.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 8 (with special guest Brek Shea)

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By IVES GALARCEP

The latest episode of The SBI Podcast is here and this week we dive into both the U.S. Men's National Team and Major League Soccer, with some interviews from some of the bigger names on the scene.

Our special guest this week is American midfielder Brek Shea, who joins us from England.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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AS Roma fans are champing at the bit after seeing their club go winless in league play since the start of the new year, but Michael Bradley and the rest of the Giallorossi can change all that with a win this weekend.

Roma will try to pick up their first victory since December, a stretch of even matches without a victory, when they host Juventus in one of the weekend's bigger match-ups.

Must-See Goal: Samuel Umtiti

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Holden in line to make Bolton’s game-day squad vs. Nottingham Forest

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Stuart Holden has been making steady progress on the field since returning to full health, but he has yet to be named to a game-day roster for Bolton Wanderers in league play.

That might change this weekend.

Holden appears set to make Bolton's 18-man roster for their Saturday visit to the City Ground to take on Nottingham Forest.

MLS Ticker: Salazar named Dynamo’s newest Homegrown player, Earthquakes re-sign Corrales and Fucito, and more

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By VINCE MADURI

The Houston Dynamo have signed their fifth homegrown player, Eighteen-year-old Bryan Salazar. The first Dynamo Homegrown Player to pass through all levels of the Houston Academy system, Salazar officially joined the team after a press conference held Thursday in Houston.

Chivas USA to trade Riley to D.C. United

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The latest player to leave new-look Chivas USA appears to be defender James Riley.

Riley tweeted his thanks to Chivas USA fans and the previous regime in charge of the club on Thursday afternoon before stating that he was hopping on a plane to join D.C.

Sounders win while RSL, RBNY tie in opening Desert Diamond Cup games

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The opening round of the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup took place on Wednesday night, and the Seattle Sounders got off to a flying start.

The Sounders defeated the New England Revolution, 2-0, to jump into first place in the tournament's four-team table. Both goals came in the first half, with U.

Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea in action as Europa Round of 32 kicks off

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By IVES GALARCEP

Clint Dempsey and Tottenham will look to move a step closer to a European trophy today when they take on French side Lyon in Europa League Round of 32 action, which kicks off today throughout Europe.

The English Premier League is well-represented in the knockout rounds, with Liverpool facing a stiff test in one of today's early matches as they take on big-spending Russian side Zenit St.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Borussia Dortmund 2: Match Highlights

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USMNT down to No. 32 in latest FIFA rankings

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The U.S. Men's National Team has tumbled out of the Top 30 of the latest FIFA World Rankings, released on Thursday.

The USMNT fell four places to No. 32, a result no doubt precipitated by the team's disappointing home draw vs. Canada in January and last week's World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras.

Real Madrid 1, Manchester United 1: Match Highlights

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Ramos finalizes U.S. U-20 roster with addition of Serna

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U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team head coach Tab Ramos rounded out the roster that will attempt to qualify for this summer's 2013 U-20 World Cup on Wednesday, summoning midfielder Dillon Serna as the 20th member of the squad.

Serna will join the U.S. team in Puebla, Mexico ahead of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after recently signing a homegrown deal with the Colorado Rapids.

Thursday Kickoff: Mourinho blames Ramos for draw, Toluca scores big Libertadores win, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Following Wednesday evening's 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid boss Jose Mourinho blamed defender Sergio Ramos for the Manchester United goal.

Red Devil Danny Welbeck struck the first goal of the match in the 20th minute with a header into the far post off a corner kick, where he was unmarked.

Desert Diamond Cup: Red Bulls vs. RSL (Live Stream)

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Wednesday Evening Ticker: Ronaldo scores, but Man United earns draw, Dortmund equalizes late, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

The Champions League Round of 16 continued on Wednesday with two thrilling draws, setting up intriguing return legs in a few weeks.

Real Madrid played out a thrilling 1-1 draw with Manchester United at the Bernabeu. The hosts controlled the beginning of the match, but it was United who got on the board first, scoring against the run of play in the 20th minute.

Crew, Impact post their second wins of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic

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By VINCE MADURI

ORLANDO, Fla. The Disney Pro Soccer Classic continued Wednesday with a few convincing wins on day two.

The Columbus Crew rolled over the Philadelphia Union in the day's opening match, with the tandem of Ethan Finlay and Ryan Finley doing the damage.

The Montreal Impact joined the Crew as teams with two wins to start the Disney Classic, beating the Tampa Bay Rowdies, with Marco DiVaio leading the way with two goals.

Wambach scores winner in 200th cap to lift USWNT over Scotland

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Abby Wambach could not have asked for a better way to celebrate her latest milestone.

Playing in her 200th game for the U.S. Women's National Team, Wambach scored the winner in the Americans' 3-1 victory over Scotland at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. on Wednesday night.

Timbers land pair of former Akron players in deals with Chivas USA and Whitecaps

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By IVES GALARCEP

The Portland Timbers have been stockpiling former Akron University players while Chivas USA has spent a chunk of the off-season unloading players without Mexican roots, so it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise when the two teams got together to execute a trade that help both teams continue their trends.

Thin on time, Red Bulls continue to vet players for 2013 season

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Nineteen days ago, Mike Petke was officially named the New York Red Bulls head coach. Eighteen days from today, they kick off their season against the Portland Timbers.

Needless to say, the team has a lot of catching up to do.

Having played all of two preseason friendlies this offseason, the "undefeated" Red Bulls begin a four game, ten day stretch as part of this year's Desert Diamond Cup in Arizona.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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If you are looking for exciting UEFA Champions League match-ups you won't find a better pair of Round of 16 match-ups than the ones on offer today, as Manchester United visits Real Madrid (2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel) and Borussia Dortmund takes on Shakhtar Donetsk (2:45pm, MSG+/Fox Soccer Plus).

Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson renew acquaintances at the Bernabeu, where Cristiano Ronaldo will be facing off against his former club in what should be an offensive showcase.

MLS Preseason: Disney Pro Soccer Classic Day 2 (live stream)

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The second day of the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic is underway in Orlando, Fla. and all eight teams involved will be looking to further fine-tune things ahead of their respective seasons while also trying to move closer to the tournament final.

Major League Soccer is again providing a live video stream of all four of today's matches, and SBI will be showing them here.

It’s Old School SBI Q&A Time

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By IVES GALARCEP

Good morning everybody. I haven't been able to get together an SBI Live Q&A lately, and since I'm probably not going to be able to get one together for this week, I wanted to give readers a chance to send some questions in for me to answer.

Man United-Real Madrid headline day two of Champions League Round of 16 action

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The most high-profile match-up of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 kicks off today, when Real Madrid take on Manchester United at the Bernabeu in first leg of their series.

Real Madrid will need to make the most of home-field edge in the first leg of what is shaping up to be an entertaining and potentially high-scoring affair.

Wednesday Kickoff: Juventus, PSG record important wins, Libertadores kicks off, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

The UEFA Champions League swung back into action last night, with goals galore from Tuesday night's matches.

Italian leaders Juventus soundly defeated Scotland giants Celtic 3-0 in front of a raucous crowd at Parkhead, leaving Neil Lennon to proclaim that only a miracle would allow his side to advance to the next round.

100 USMNT moments: Lalas heads to Italy

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Celtic 0, Juventus 3: Match Highlights

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Valencia 1, Paris St. Germain 2: Match Highlights

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Mid-Day Ticker: Mourinho eyes England return, Inter fined for racist chants, and more

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Jose Mourinho's days at Real Madrid appear to be numbered if you believe the rumors floating around Spain, and 'The Special One' provided some insight into his next destination if he does, in fact, leave the reigning Spanish champions.

In an interview ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Manchester United, Mourinho admitted he plans on a return to the English Premier League.

UEFA Champions League: Your Running Commentary

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The first two matches of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 kick off in Scotland and Spain, where first-leg action features Juventus traveling to Glasgow Celtic (2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel), and Paris St. Germain visiting Valencia (2:45pm, MSG+, Fox Soccer Plus).

Both Celtic and Valencia are the underdogs in their pre-quarterfinal series, but both come in confident.

USMNT Daily Update: Shea needed back in the fold, takes a step forward with goal in Stoke reserve debut

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By IVES GALARCEP

Brek Shea is working his way toward full fitness and a chance to make his English Premier League debut sooner than expected, and he took a big step toward that on Tuesday after scoring a goal and playing a full match for Stoke City's reserves.

Having only recently returned to England over the weekend after sorting out his work permit paperwork, Shea wasted no time showing Stoke coaches what he can bring to the table, heading home a goal in a closed-door friendly against Burnley at the Britannia Stadium.

Henry evokes Guardiola’s hiring at Barca when discussing Petke’s head coaching debut with RBNY

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By IVES GALARCEP

HARRISON, N.J. It was a natural question to ask Thierry Henry after the New York Red Bulls hired a coach with no head coaching experience. Did the team consult with him bout the decision to hire Mike Petke. Henry confirmed that the team did speak to him about the hiring, but made it clear it was only to let him know who they had chosen to hire.

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 kicks off today

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The first four participants in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 will take the field today as Celtic face Italian champions Juventus and Valencia take on big-spending Paris St. Germain.

Celtic will enter the first leg at Celtic Park confident of their chances after beating Barcelona in the group stages to help book their place in the Round of 16.

Holden plays 90 in Bolton development squad win

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By IVES GALARCEP

Stuart Holden's return from surgery continues to inch closer to completion after the American midfielder played a full 90 minutes in the Bolton Development Squad's 1-0 win vs. Bury in a Manchester Senior Cup match on Monday.

Returning to action after a recent harsh tackle threatened to present a setback, Holden returned to action and played well for Bolton in what was his first full match since returning to action after missing a year and a half while recovering from extensive knee surgery.

Diskerud signs two-year deal with Rosenborg

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The lengthy winter search for a club has brought U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud right back to the same team he most recently played for.

Diskerud has signed a two-year deal with Rosenborg, rejoining the same Norwegian side he spent the second half of 2012 with. A return to Rosenborg has been on the cards for some time, after talks between the young U.

Monday Evening Ticker: West Brom stun Liverpool, Nigeria coach resigns following AFCON win, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

West Bromwich Albion was on the verge of falling behind 1-0 to Liverpool on Monday as Steven Gerrard lined up for a spot kick against Ben Foster.

Twenty minutes later, the Baggies were walking out of Anfield with a 2-0 win.

Foster's penalty save, his seventh stop of the match, sparked a struggling West Brom side to generate its first offense of the match.

U.S. Under-20s add Kiesewetter to roster, Fox Soccer to air qualifying tournament

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Head coach Tab Ramos has added German-born forward Jerome Kiesewetter to the U.S. Under-20 qualifying roster, U.S. Soccer announced on Monday.

Kiesewetter, who turned 20 last Saturday, is currently on the books with German side VfB Stuttgart, and playing with Stuttgart II of The German third division.

Tuesday Kickoff: Bayern CEO calls for Winter World Cup, Villa admitted to hospital, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Add Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to the list of high profile officials calling for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be staged in the winter months.

Rummenigge returned to Germany following a visit to Qatar last week, where he had the opportunity to meet many officials and tour some of the potential stadiums.

Report: USSF closing in on venues for HEX home games

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By IVES GALARCEP

After waiting so long to find out the home venue for the first CONCACAF Hexagonal Round qualifying home match, U.S. fans look like they might not be waiting so long to find out the identities of the remaining venues.

Less than a week after U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati revealed that the remaining four home qualifiers will be played at MLS venues, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl tweeted out a list of venues he is hearing will be chosen (and no, there are no surprises):

Source: USSF aiming for home WCQ venues June 11 (PAN) Seattle; June 18 (HON) Salt Lake; Sept 10 (MEX) Columbus; Oct 11 (JAM) Kansas City.

USMNT Daily Update: Can Klinsmann’s midfield preferences work?

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By IVES GALARCEP

Remember the days of the "Empty Bucket"? Those days when the U.S. Men's National Team played a 4-4-2 under Bob Bradley, and neither central midfielder was a pure playmaker? Those days when the complaints about the national team being to defensive-minded rained often, even when the team was producing results?

Mexican Weekend Rewind: Tigres rolls, Club America tops Tijuana, and more

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By IVES GALARCEP

Club America handed defending champion Club Tijuana their first loss of the Clausura season on Saturday to leapfrog the Xolos and stay within striking distance of unbeaten league leaders UANL Tigres.

An Osvaldo Martinez penalty and Paul Aguilar second-half strike gave Club America a 2-0 lead on the visitors in Mexico City, and while a Pablo Aguilar strike gave Tijuana some hope late in the second half, Las Aguilas held on for the victory.

Red Bulls acquire Alexander from Portland for allocation money

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By IVES GALARCEP

The New York Red Bulls traded away Kenny Cooper both for the allocation money he could bring in, and the salary cap space his departure would create, and now the team has made the first move since dealing Cooper to FC Dallas.

The Red Bulls have acquired midfielder Eric Alexander from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money, sources confirmed to SBI on Monday.

European Weekend Rewind: Southampton upsets Man City, Barcelona delivers six-goal beauty, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

It sounds like the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords all across Europe.

After this weekend's matches, three of the best leagues on the planet the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga all have leaders who hold double digit advantages over second-place teams.

Monday Kickoff: Nigeria wins third African title, Ferguson chooses title-clinching strategy, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Nigeria is back on top of the African football landscape, after a gritty 1-0 victory over Cinderella side Burkina Faso in the African Cup of Nations final.

Nigerian midfielder Sunday Mba scored the game's only goal in the 40th minute in stunning fashion, flicking the ball over a defender with his right foot, before finishing into the far post with his left.

USWNT off to winning start after rolling in 2013 opener

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The Tom Sermanni era is officially in full swing, and we may have also gotten a glimpse of what could one day be the Christen Press era.

Press became just the third play to score two goals in their U.S. Women's National Team debut (joining Cindy Parlow and Sherrill Kester) to help the U.S. post a 4-1 rout against Scotland in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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By IVES GALARCEP

While the U.S. Men's National Team's loss to Honduras on Wednesday put a sour taste on the week for American soccer players, the weekend helped to provide plenty of bright spots around the globe.

In England, Brad Guzan made some clutch late saves to help Aston Villa post a crucial 2-1 victory against West Ham United.

Galaxy Notes: Arena’s squad drops scrimmage to RSL, Juninho and Stephens back, and more

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By OMAR SHAMOUT

The weather was dreary on Friday at the Home Depot Center and so was the soccer. Real Salt Lake defeated the LA Galaxy, 1-0, in the first preseason game for Bruce Arena's team against MLS opposition.

One of the game's few bright spots was the spectacular goal by RSL's Ned Grabavoy.

Nelsen drops TFC coaching debut as Disney Pro Soccer Classic kicks off

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By VINCE MADURI

ORLANDO, Fla. Ryan Nelsen spent his first game on the sidelines for Toronto FC, albeit in a preseason game as the Reds were beaten, 1-0, by the Columbus Crew in the opening match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.

Columbus controlled the game with 56% possession and some tough, aggressive defense which resulted in three yellow cards and 13 fouls.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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Manchester City's latest stumble has put Manchester United in prime position to build a virtually insurmountable lead atop the English Premier League, but an opponent with its own big aspirations stands in the way.

Everton can pull within three points of fourth-place Tottenham with a victory on Sunday, but the Toffees will be taking on a Manchester United side that can extend the lead on Man City to 12 points.

Beasley bags brace in Puebla win

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For all of the clamoring for Landon Donovan to return to the U.S. Men's National Team, we were reminded on Saturday that Donovan isn't the only national team veteran who might be worth another look.

DaMarcus Beasley scored a pair of goals for Puebla on Saturday, coming off the bench to deliver a pair of right-footed goals in Puebla's 3-1 victory vs.

USWNT vs. Scotland: Live Stream

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[not available]

Saturday Ticker: Ferguson upset with FA and EPL, Mali finishes third in AFCON, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

Sir Alex Ferguson attacked both the Premier League and the English Football Association on Friday, attacking decisions on match scheduling and fitness information leaks.

The longtime Manchester United boss accused the league of handicapping teams involved in the Champions League after the league decided to keep United's match against Everton on Sunday, reducing his time to prepare the club for its battle with Real Madrid next Wednesday.

MLS Pre-Season: Disney Soccer Classic (Live Stream)

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The MLS Pre-Season is well underway and today will offer a quartet of matches for fans to take in as the Disney Pro Soccer Classic kicks off in Orlando.

Major League Soccer is providing a live video stream of all four of today's matches, and SBI will be showing them here. Here are the four matches:

1pm- Columbus Crew vs.

An ugly end at Chivas USA brings Llamosa a bright future with the Cosmos

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

A chance meeting with New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese at last year's MLS Cup paved the way for Carlos Llamosa to return to New York as the Cosmos' latest assistant coach.

"(Savarese) asked me how things were at Chivas," the former Goat's assistant told SBI, "and I told him they weren't too stable.

USMNT Daily Update: What changes might we see in the March qualifiers?

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Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

There are six weeks between now and the next U.S. Men's National Team World Cup qualifier, a ton of time to think about what went wrong in the loss to Honduras, and plenty of time for players to play themselves into position to break into the USMNT starting lineup.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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The huge Serie A double header of Juventus/Fiorentina and Lazio/Napoli headline a jam-packed Saturday in the world of soccer.

Napoli and Lazio sit two and three in the league table, hot on the heels of league-leading Juventus. Fiorentina is only a point down from both Milan clubs, who currently occupy Serie A's Europa League spots.

MLS Notes: Joseph training with Sounders, Red Bulls sign Izquierdo, and more

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By IVES GALARCEP

In one of the stranger scenes in recent memory in Major League Soccer, long-time standout midfielder Shalrie Joseph showed up at Seattle Sounders training. No trade with Chivas USA had been announced, leading to some serious head-scratching.

The Sounders revealed that Joseph is a camp invitee, with sources telling SBI that the Sounders and Chivas USA are in trade talks to send the veteran midfielder to the Pacific Northwest.

This Weekend’s Soccer on TV

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By IVES GALARCEP

This weekend's must-see fixture is the African Nations Cup final when Nigeria and Burkina Faso duke it out in Johannesburg.

Burkina Faso will be taking part in its first ever African Nations Cup final, and they have been handed a big boost following a successful appeal of striker Jonathan Pitroipa's controversial red cardin the semi-final match against Ghana.

The SBI Podcast: Episode 7 (A look back at the USA-Honduras qualifier)

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By IVES GALARCEP

It was about as disappointing and lethargic a performance as we have seen the U.S. Men's National Team and while it was one to forget for American fans, the latest episode of The SBI Podcast breaks down Honduras' 2-1 win against the United States.

Cherundolo has minor knee surgery, timetable for return unclear

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By IVES GALARCEP

Anyone hoping that Steve Cherundolo would hurry back from injury to reclaim his spot as the U.S. Men's National Team starting right back is going to probably have to wait a while longer.

Cherundolo underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee on Thursday.

Friday Kickoff: Toure brothers return for City, Pitroipa available for Burkina Faso, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Manchester City will continue their pursuit of Manchester United in the Premier League table this weekend with the aid of brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure, who have both returned from South Africa after Ivory Coast was knocked out in the quarter-final round.

In addition, Roberto Mancini was given another boost with the news that injured captain Vincent Kompany had trained with the club this week, and could be set for a return after two weeks on the sidelines, though the club will make their decision today on whether Kompany will feature.

European Weekend Preview: Man United hosts Everton, Lazio battles Napoli, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

With a nine-point lead over second-place Manchester City in the Premier League and a date with Real Madrid in the Champions League next Wednesday, it could be tempting for Manchester United to tone it down in this weekend's league match.

But Sir Alex Ferguson and his men know that any dropped points could be dangerous in a title hunt.

Gil, Cropper and Villarreal headline U.S. Under-20 roster for CONCACAF qualifying

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By IVES GALARCEP

Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil, Southampton goalkeeper Cody Cropper and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jose Villarreal headline the 18-player roster selected to represent the U.S. Under-20 national team in CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifying.

Head coach Tab Ramos has selected a team with a good mix of MLS players, international -based players and college players.

Mid-Day Ticker: Messi inks Barca extension, Hodgson warns Lampard to not make MLS move, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

FC Barcelona continued its contract extension crusade on Thursday, extending the club's contract with Lionel Messi for two more years.

Messi, who is now tied down to the Catalans until June 2018, joins teammates Xavi and Carlos Puyol in extending contracts with their lifelong club.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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By FRANCO PANIZO

If the U.S. Men's National Team's World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras on Wednesday left a bad taste in your mouth, this weekend's high-profile tilts might just be the perfect remedy.

Tim Howard, one of the better U.S. players on Wednesday, will be involved in one of those games, as Everton visits his former club, Manchester United, on Sunday.

Honduras 2, USA 1: SBI’s Player Grades

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Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras It was an ugly team effort by the U.S. Men's National Team, and trying to find bright spots is one of the tougher tasks you will undergo in the wake of Wednesday's 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras.

MLS Notes: Castrillon set for surgery, Traore on trial in Seattle, MLS return for Nunez and more

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BY DARRELL LOVELL

Weeks after learning that Martin Rivero would be lost to surgery for an extended time, reports Wednesday confirmed that his fellow Colorado Rapids teammate Jaime Castrillon will join him under the knife.

The Colombian midfielder will undergo left knee surgery to repair an injury suffered late last season.

Wednesday Evening Ticker: England ousts Brazil, AFCON final is set, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

England successfully defended Wembley Stadium with a 2-1 win Wednesday, snapping a losing streak against Brazil that spanned 23 years.

Joe Hart's early penalty kick save gave England the spark it needed to grab the lead in the first half, as Wayne Rooney slotted home a rebound.

Honduras 2, USA 1: Match Highlights

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Honduras 2, USA 1: Match Observations

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By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras It is the worst possible start for the U.S. Men's National team as they embark on gauntlet that is the Hexagonal Round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but the good thing about turning in such a flat and uninspired performance in their HEX opener is the fact they have nine more matches to turn things around.

Thursday Kickoff: Jamaica ties Mexico, Blanc linked to Roma job, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

While American soccer fans may be feeling doom and gloom, the situation isn't much better south of the border, following Mexico's goalless draw against Jamaica on Wednesday at the Estadio Azteca.

The Reggae Boys ended Mexico's 18-match winning streak at home in competitive matches, as the visitors frustrated El Tri all evening, and never tired late in the match, despite the altitude of Mexico City.

USMNT relinquish lead, fall to Honduras in Hex opener

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The performance was underwhelming. The result was even worse.

The U.S. Men's National Team got off on the wrong foot in their first game in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday afternoon, suffering a 2-1 loss to Honduras at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula.

USA vs. Honduras: Match Day Commentary

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By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras Now is when things get real.

The U.S. Men's National Team takes on Honduras today in the opening match of the Hexagonal Round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying (4pm, beIN Sport).

It is a hot and sunny day at Estadio Olympico and the U.

Where will you be watching USA-Honduras?

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The U.S. Men's National Team will attempt to move a step closer to Brazil 2014 when they kick off the Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Honduras on Wednesday afternoon, a game that has been highly anticipated for months.

The Americans' visit to Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula will be televised on beIN Sport, a network which is still not offered in all parts of the U.

KICK TV: Previewing the USA-Honduras qualifier

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Soccer Wednesday: Your Running Commentary

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As far as international fixture dates go, today will offer up a stacked and unique variety of matches for American fans looking to get their soccer-viewing fix.

The CONCACAF Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying kicks off today, not only with the United States taking on Honduras, but with Mexico facing Jamaica and Panama taking on Costa Rica tonight.

Road to Brazil: USMNT begins CONCACAF Hexagonal

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The SBI Podcast: Episode 6 (Previewing the USMNT qualifier vs. Honduras)

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By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras The Hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying kicks off on Wednesday, with the U.S. Men's national team opening play against Honduras and The SBI Podcast focuses on the U.S. team heading into this crucial match.

Co-host Garrett Cleverly and I discuss the American squad, the likely starting lineup, and the challenges presented by Honduras.

Wednesday Kickoff: Marquee friendlies galore, Milan official drops Balotelli slur, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

For the first time in nearly three months, international football returns to most of the world, with European powerhouses highlighting Wednesday's FIFA international schedule.

England, in their Football Association's 150th birthday year, are hosting Neymar and Brazil at Wembley Stadium, with the match being Luiz Felipe Scolari's first since he took charge of Brazil for the second time.

Decision day looms as Chandler stands on verge of (finally) being cap-tied

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By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras It is a process that has spanned two years and two different U.S. Men's National Team coaches. Timmy Chandler's path to being cap-tied to the United States has gone on longer than most would have expected, and longer than some U.S. players would have liked, but it appears the wait will finally come to an end here on Wednesday when he is expected to play for the United States in the Hexagonal World Cup qualifying opener against Honduras.

Is this the USMNT’s new centennial jersey?

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By FRANCO PANIZO

The U.S. Men's National Team has long been rumored to be releasing a new jersey as part of U.S. Soccer's centennial anniversary, and now we know what it might look like.

Images of what is believed to be the new U.S. jersey, which will be part of U.S.

USMNT ready for start of the Hex and the challenge of a young and dynamic Honduras squad

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras You would think that having posted victories here in their past two trips would have the U.S. Men's National Team feeling bullshit about leaving the murder capital of the world with a precious three points, but the team is all too aware that the intensity of the Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying will make every game of the cycle extremely difficult.

Change of scenery has Edu back in the USMNT mix

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By FRANCO PANIZO

MIAMI When Maurice Edu switched addresses from Stoke City to Bursaspor last month, the hope was that he would find consistent playing time after failing to do so with the Potters.

In his first few weeks with the Turkish club, Edu has gotten just what he asked for and more.

Red Bulls sign McCarty to new deal

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By IVES GALARCEP

Dax McCarty was arguably the most consistent player and most valuable player on the 2012 New York Red Bulls, and the Red Bulls are rewarding him for that excellent form with a new contract.

McCarty has signed a new with the Red Bulls, the club announced on Tuesday.

Donovan’s absence noticeable, but USMNT ready to start HEX without him

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By IVES GALARCEP

MIAMI As the sun sizzled and the sweat formed on the brows of American soccer's best players on Monday afternoon, you could see most of the familiar faces present at U.S. Men's National Team practice. From Tim Howard to Michael Bradley, the nation's best went through the paces of preparing for a crucial WorldCup qualifier, and with the exception of a few key players that were en route from Sunday matches abroad, the group felt complete despite one obvious absence.

Tuesday Kickoff: Lewandowski linked with Bayern, Ronaldo confident of beating Man United, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Pep Guardiola has been rumored to have his eyes on a number of forwards to bring in for Bayern Munich next year, but according to Sky Sports Italia, a move for Borussia Dortmund target man Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich is as good as done.

The 24-year-old Polish international has been rumored for a move to English giants Manchester United, though nothing has ever materialized in him leaving German soil.

Monday Evening Ticker: More int’l players dropout due to injuries, panel to discuss offside rule change, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

The list of injured players staying out of this week's international action keeps growing.

In the Monday Kickoff, SBI reported that Xavi, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Raphael Verane, Daniel Sturridge, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick will miss their nations' midweek matches.

Klinsmann discusses call-ups, omissions for Honduras qualifier

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Every U.S. Men's National Team roster unveiling comes with extensive discussion. Who was brought in, left off and why are always the main topics dissected ad nauseam.

Jurgen Klinsmann's released roster for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Honduras was no different.

Toronto FC ships Hassli to FC Dallas for conditional pick

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Eric Hassli has his wish granted after requesting a trade from Toronto 20 days ago. The striker is headed to Dallas in exchange for a conditional second-round draft pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

The designated player enjoyed a successful stint in Vancouver, scoring 12 goals in a year and a half with the club before being shipped to Toronto.

Centerback pool in a state of transition as USMNT heads into HEX

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Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

MIAMI It was not always easy for the U.S. Men's National Team to crack open defenses and find the back of the net during the last round of World Cup qualifying, but to many fans and pundits the side's weakness does not lie up front.

Red Bulls deal Cooper to FC Dallas for allocation money

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By IVES GALARCEP

The New York Red Bulls have spent much of the off-season trying to trade Kenny Cooper, but finding a team with both the salary cap space to fit Cooper's significant 2013 salary, and the allocation money to give the Red Bulls.

FC Dallas became just such a team after their sale of Brek Shea, and on Monday the team that had Cooper before will have him once again after securing a trade for the big striker.

Who should the USMNT start vs. Honduras?

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By IVES GALARCEP

MIAMI Now that we know who has been called into U.S. Men's National Team camp, it is time to start thinking about which 11 players Jurgen Klinsmann will call on to take the field in San Pedro Sula to face Honduras on Wednesday.

The Hexagonal World Cup Qualifying opener will be a stiff test, and Klinsmann is sure to turn to his veterans to try and grab a result in Central America.

USMNT Daily Update: How the roster is shaping up heading to Honduras

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By IVES GALARCEP

MIAMI As players begin to make their way here ahead of the U.S. Men's National team stopover on their way to Honduras for Wednesday's crucial World Cup qualifier, we are slowly getting a sense of just what this team will look like when Jurgen Klinsmann unveils the roster for the upcoming USMNT camp.

European Weekend Rewind: Balotelli makes dream debut for Milan, Ronaldo own goal sinks Madrid, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

AC Milan had high hopes for Mario Balotelli when they signed the troubled Italian striker away from Manchester City, but even the 'Rossoneri' couldn't have expected him to make such an immediate impact.

Balotelli enjoyed a dream debut for his new club, scoring both goals in AC's 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday.

Monday Kickoff: Widespread match-fixing uncovered, injuries force international dropouts, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

At a press conference in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the European Police announced that after investigating more than 700 football matches across Europe, they found 380 of them to have been fixed, including Champions League, World Cup qualifiers, and European Cup qualifying matches.

Besler, Torres and Kljestan among 24 players called into USMNT camp ahead of Honduras qualifier

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By IVES GALARCEP

Veterans Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley headline the U.S. Men's National Team roster chosen to travel to San Pedro Sula ahead of Wednesday's vital World Cup qualifying clash against Honduras, a roster heavy on European-based players.

Graham Zusi, Eddie Johnson and Matt Besler headline a contingent of seven MLS-based players.

Studio 90: Bradley and Altidore discuss upcoming qualifier

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Klinsmann talks start of HEX round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying

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Americans Abroad: Weekend Rewind

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By FRANCO PANIZO

U.S. Men's National Team fans should feel better about the Americans' chances in Honduras on Wednesday after two key members of the squad returned to their clubs' respective lineups this weekend.

Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones ended their spells on the sidelines on Saturday, putting in long shifts that should help convince U.

More details emerge about Duka-Oduro trade

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By IVES GALARCEP

The trade hasn't been made official yet, but more and more details are emerging surrounding the trade reported by SBI on Friday evening sending Dilly Duka to the Chicago Fire for Dominic Oduro.

The Chicago Daily Herald reported on Saturday that the trade also includes the rights to Robbie Rogers, which the Crew are sending to the Fire.

Soccer Sunday: Your Running Commentary

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The final two spots in the African Cup of Nations semifinals are up for grabs on Sunday, with the highly-anticipated showdown between mighty Ivory Coast and Nigeria serving as the headliner.

Didier Drogba and the Ivorians will look to vanquish a Nigerian side that will enter the match as considerable underdogs.

Sunday Kickoff: Real Madrid suffers defeat, Roma sacks Zeman, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

Saturday's match between Granada CF and Real Madrid began just like many Real matches during the past three seasons. With a Cristiano Ronaldo goal.

This time, it was into the wrong net.

The 27-year-old Portuguese international got a flick off an opposing corner kick in the 22nd minute, that went over new goalkeeper Diego Lopez's head and into the back of the net, giving Granada the 1-0 lead.

MLS Pre-Season: Dynamo vs. Whitecaps (Live Video Stream)

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MLS Ticker: Hassli trade to Dallas brewing, Timbers part ways with Boyd, and more

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By IVES GALARCEP

FC Dallas isn't wasting any time spending the big chunk of allocation money gained from Brek Shea's $4 million transfer to Stoke City, with the club revealing on Friday that talks were underway with Toronto FC for the services of French striker Eric Hassli.

Clint Dempsey discusses the Super Bowl

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BREAKING- Crew trade Duka to Fire for Oduro

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By IVES GALARCEP

The Columbus Crew made no secret of their desire to part ways with young midfielder Dilly Duka, and now the team has pulled off the deal to ship off the out-of-favor midfielder.

The Crew are trading Duka to the Chicago Fire for forward Dominic Oduro, sources confirmed to SBI on Friday.

MLS Pre-Season: Sporting KC vs. Portland Timbers (Live Video Stream)

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Petke’s first coaching experience taking a path Kreis knows well

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BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Mike Petke is in the midst of embarking on the first head coaching job of his career, and the former MLS standout has Robin Fraser by his side to help his transition to the top job.

That may sound like a set of unique circumstances, but it is a scenario Jason Kreis knows all too well.

Galaxy Notes: Five players score in pre-season romp, Zardes impresses, and more

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By OMAR SHAMOUT

The Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the U.S. Under-17 national team, 5-0, on Friday in their first match of the pre-season. The goals came from

Mike Magee (9'), Robbie Keane (PK, 15'), Jose Villareal (49'), Greg Cochrane (50') and Jack McBean (76') provided the goals for the defending MLS Cup champions.

Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

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The first two quarterfinal matches of this year's Africa Nations Cup highlight this busy Saturday in the world of soccer.

Ghana will take on Cape Verde Islands in the opening match in Port Elizabeth. The Black Stars won Group B with very little trouble, netting six goals in their three group stage matches.

USMNT Daily Update: Who should Klinsmann bring to Honduras?

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By IVES GALARCEP

The U.S. Men's National Team will gather in Miami on Sunday to start preparations for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Honduras, and after a three-week January camp for MLS and Scandinavian-based players, we will finally see a full-strength U.S. team on display.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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By FRANCO PANIZO

After more than a month on the sidelines, Jermaine Jones is set to make his return to Schalke.

Jones has finished serving his three-game suspension for the red card he received in a loss to Stuttgart on Dec. 8, and he should be back in Schalke's lineup on Saturday as they take onSpVgg Greuther Furth.

A look at the MLS winter player exodus

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By IVES GALARCEP

It was a bittersweet January transfer window for followers of Major League Soccer, with more talent leaving the league than in any previous January, and more players departing to top leagues than ever before.

The multi-million dollar transfers of Brek Shea and Andy Najar headlined what wound up being a far busier January than anyone could have imagined.

Inside the 2013 MLS SuperDraft (Episode 4)

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This Weekend’s Soccer on TV

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BY MICHAEL KLINE

The Barclays Premier League returns to full action this weekend, with Manchester City and Liverpool headlining the English fixtures.

The defending English champions, Manchester City, will attempt to keep this season's title hopes alive with a win on Sunday against Brendan Rodgers' transitioning side.

MLS Ticker: Dawkins joins Aston Villa on loan, Olsen given D.C. United extension, and more

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Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By VINCE MADURI

The exodus of MLS players to England included a player who already came to MLS from across the point, with Simon Dawkins returning to his native country on a loan move to English Premier League side Aston Villa.

The Tottenham player had spent the past two seasons on loan with the San Jose Earthquakes, and enjoyed an outstanding 2012 along with the rest of his teammates.

Americans Abroad: Weekend Preview

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By FRANCO PANIZO

After more than a month on the sidelines, Jermaine Jones is set to make his return to Schalke.

Jones has finished serving his three-game suspension for the red card he received in a loss to Stuttgart on Dec. 8, and he should be back in Schalke's lineup on Saturday as they take onSpVgg Greuther Furth.

Friday Kickoff: QPR big spenders on deadline day, Chicharito headlines El Tri squad, and more

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BY DAN KARELL

English Premier League sides combined to spend £120 million in the 2013 January transfer window, twice as much as last season, but a far cry from the record set in 2011 of £225 million spent.

Yesterday alone, teams spent £35 million making last minute upgrades to their teams, hoping the players could keep them from relegation, or help them into a lucrative Champions League position.

European Weekend Preview: Dortmund face Leverkusen, Man City host Liverpool, and more

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BY JUSTIN FERGUSON

The top battle in this weekend's European action takes place in Germany, as Bayer Leverkusen hosts Borussia Dortmund for control of second place in the Bundesliga.

Leverkusen's scoreless draw last week at Freiburg opened the door for Dortmund, who has outscored opponents 13-1 in its last three matches, to move just one point back in the league table.