Category Archives: Soccer

Are You Ready For Some Futbol?

The English Premier League has started up once again and it’s time to see who will be the best England has to offer this year. The regular season kicked off on August 16 and so far, eight teams have come away with victories on their first fixture. The biggest upset of the weekend was Swansea City taking down Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford. It was not a good start for new United coach Louis Van Gaal. It was Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea who broke the hearts of United fans. After this devastating loss, we will have to see if Gaal’s team can bounce back Sunday against Sunderland.

One of the most recent transfers coming to the Premier League this year is Italian youngster Mario Balotelli. The spontaneous striker will be leaving AC Milan and joining Liverpool, a team that already has a superstar forward in Daniel Sturridge, who was second in goals last season with 21. Balotelli won’t play in the big match-up this Monday against Manchester City, but he will definitely be ready to play August 30 against Stoke City. This will be the 24-year-old’s second stint in the Premier League, after playing for Manchester City from 2010-2013, scoring 20 goals in 54 appearances. Last season, Balotelli scored 26 goals in just 43 appearances. Liverpool fans hope that he will bring even more success to a team that finished second last year in the league behind Manchester City.

Speaking of Manchester City, the former league leaders will look to continue their success on the pitch with superstars like Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, and Sergio Aguero. All three of those players were in the top six last year in scoring. Manager Manuel Pellegrini did a great job in his first season with the team last year and if he continues to coach them the way he has, this team will continue to find success. With most of their star players returning, this looks like the team to beat this year once again.

In his first season as manager, Manuel Pellegrini led Manchester City to the league title with a record of 27-6-5. Credit: www.independent.co.uk
In his first season as manager, Manuel Pellegrini led Manchester City to the league title with a record of 27-6-5.
Credit: http://www.independent.co.uk

As for Arsenal, they could not find a way to finish out strong last season. With a chance to win the league last year, they dropped below Chelsea and Liverpool, but played well enough to move past Everton and finished fourth in the league. Now more pressure has been added on to this team with rumors of superstar midfielder Jack Wilshere being transfer listed. He is a remarkable young talent with a lot of promise. If Arsenal loses him, it will continue to tarnish their reputation as a selling club rather than a buying club, which is what you need to be in order to win in the big leagues. Arsenal will face Everton tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

Favorites have already been picked for this season and teams are focusing in on their targets. There will be joy and there will be heartbreaks. But that’s just soccer.

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MLS All-Stars Defeat Bayern Munich

Last night, the best players the MLS had to offer took on Bayern Munich at Providence Park in Portland. The result was a 2-1 win by the All-Stars, taking down one of the best German club teams. Bayern scored the first goal when Robert Lewandowski scored a curving beauty from 20 yards out. But from there, the All-Stars took over the game. The MLS’ defense held strong and allowed their offense to score their first goal in the 51st minute. The league’s leading goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips made it level at 1-1 with a 20-yard strike of his own. Then, U.S. legend Landon Donovan scored a goal in the 70th minute to take the lead for the All-Stars. It was Donovan’s sixth MLS All-Star goal and his 14th straight All-Star appearance. His six goals are now most by any MLS player in an All-Star game. He also plans to retire from the world of soccer at the end of the MLS season. He had a tremendous career and will be known as one of the greatest American soccer players to ever play the game.

The ending of the All-Star game had everyone talking. After the MLS All-Stars had won, Bayern Munich’s manager, Pep Guardiola refused to shake hands with the MLS All-Star coach Caleb Porter. Instead, Coach Pep gave Coach Porter a little finger wag and that was the end of it. Apparently, Guardiola was mad about how physical the All-Stars were playing in the game and making hard, unnecessary tackles. Oh well, I know a sore loser when I see one. Just learn to accept how the game played out and move on. That’s all I have to say about that.

The MLS regular season picks up this Friday when Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy take on the San Jose Earthquakes at 10:30 p.m. Five more games will be played on Saturday and an additional three on Sunday. Week 24 of the MLS season is underway and teams are still fighting for that final playoff spot.

MLS All-Star Update

The MLS regular season is a little more than halfway through, and there has been some great soccer as of late. The MLS All-Stars have already been announced and the best the MLS has to offer will play Bayern Munich on August 6 at Providence Park, the home of the Portland Timbers. Here is a list of the MLS All-Stars that will be competing in the big game: GK Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), GK Bill Hamid (DC United), CB Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), CB Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), DEF DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC), DEF Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), DEF Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders FC), DEF Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), MF Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), MF Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), MF Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), MF Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), MF Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), MF Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), MF Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), F Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), F Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), F Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders FC), F Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC), F Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), F Erick Torres (Chivas USA),  and F Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls).

Most of the players listed above played for the U.S. Men’s National Team during the FIFA World Cup. Twelve Americans made the list for the MLS All-Star team and eleven are international. Now, here’s how each team has been doing so far:

Kansas City has a one point lead over DC United for the Eastern Conference. United has shocked a lot of people by playing this well after finishing dead last in the entire league last year with only 16 points (3 wins, 7 draws and 24 losses). Now, they are 10-4-5 and have a goal differential of 9, the third best in the entire league. Their surprising efforts have come in due to the play of their All-Star goalkeeper Bill Hamid and their ability to play as one unit. Fabian Espindola deserves a little bit of credit for leading his team with seven goals this year. The 29-year-old forward from Argentina has been a huge help since joining the club earlier this year. His seven assists also leads the team and is tied for second in the entire league!

Back to Sporting Kansas City, they have three All-Stars on their team, but their best player didn’t even make the roster this year and that is Dom Dwyer. He is tied for second in the league with 14 goals with All-Star Erick Torres. The 23-year-old forward from England definitely has a bright future ahead and could open the eyes of some Premier League scouts.

Since 2012, Dwyer has scored 16 goals in 35 appearances for Kansas City. Credit: www.sportstalkflorida.com
Since 2012, Dwyer has scored 16 goals in 35 appearances for Kansas City.
Credit: http://www.sportstalkflorida.com

The team to beat right now is the Seattle Sounders. They have dominated their opposition, landing a 12-2-4 record and lead the league with 35 goals scored for them. They also lead the league with the most All-Star players with five. One of those five is National Team Captain Clint Dempsey. He has nine goals accredited to his name and fellow All-Star teammate Obafemi Martins is having one of the best years of his career. The 29-year-old Nigerian forward has eight goals and six assists in 16 appearances with the team this year. This one-two-punch combination has been deadly all year and will continue Seattle’s winning ways unless someone stops them.

Speaking of great seasons, Thierry Henry is continuing to defy his limits has he now leads the MLS in assists with eight and has scored four goals this year. The French Forward has been able to produce for New York even at the well-experienced age of 36. He has now made four straight All-Star appearances and will look to continue his amazing career after scoring 45 goals in 108 appearances for the Red Bulls.

Henry’s teammate, Bradley Wright-Phillips, is having one of his best seasons ever as well. The 29-year-old forward from England is leading the league right now with 17 goals in 19 appearances. It seems as if he’s bound to score at least one goal in every game he plays in! He will have to play just as hard for the rest of the season in order to catch up with Toronto FC just two points ahead of New York.

This is Bradley Wright-Phillips' first MLS All-Star appearance. Credit: www.theguardian.com
This is Bradley Wright-Phillips’ first MLS All-Star appearance.
Credit: http://www.theguardian.com

The next MLS game will be played this Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. and it will pit San Jose against Chicago. Stay tuned for the rest of the MLS season as everything starts to get more interesting with playoff pushes in focus.

Germany wins the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Germany defeated Argentina in extra time 1-0 to take home their fourth FIFA World Cup title! This is their first championship win since they beat Argentina back in 1990. It was substitute player Mario Gotze who scored the game-winning goal for his country. He was subbed in the 88th minute and then in the 113th minute, Andre Schurrle hit a cross that bumped into Gotze’s chest and then he immediately kicked it in the side of the net for the win. Before Gotze was brought on the field, his head coach, Joachim Loew gave him some motivation.

“I said to Gotze, ‘Show to the world that you are better than Messi and you can decide the game.'” (Credit: SB Nation)

What a moment! As for Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi, he ended up winning the Golden Ball award, which is given to the World Cup’s best player. However, it wasn’t near as satisfying as what all of the Germans are experiencing now. Staying with awards, German goalie Manuel Neuer was voted the tournament’s best goalkeeper. The thought of winning his first World Cup has still not sunk in yet for the world’s elite goalie.

“It’s incredible. The team did it beautifully,” said Neuer. “At some point we’ll stop celebrating but we’ll still wake up with a smile.” (Credit: ESPNFC.com)

Lionel Messi and Argentina had multiple chances of scoring, but the chemistry was a little off for the offense as they failed to score a single goal. Their defense was able to keep them in the game, but sooner or later, The Machine of Germany was bound to score at least one goal and they did at a perfect time.

Mario Gotze's goal in extra time won the FIFA World Cup for Germany. Credit: podcoost.com
Mario Gotze’s goal in extra time won the FIFA World Cup for Germany.
Credit: podcoost.com

Germany started the tournament with a 4-0 rout of Portugal. That was a sign of greater things to come from the Loew’s team. They defeated Algeria 2-1 in the first round of the knockout stage. Then they shutout France 1-0 on the 4th of July. After that, they shocked the world by destroying Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. Now they stand on top of the world for the next four years as FIFA World Cup champions.

Germany led all countries in goals with 18 and their superstar striker Thomas Mueller was second in the tournament with five goals. He was also second in assists with three, while his fellow teammate Toni Kroos led all players with four assists while also adding in two goals. Gotze finished the World Cup with six appearances and two goals. His rise to fame will surely continue as he is only 22 years old. Watch him in the future to develop into an elite player.

I always knew Germany was going to win, but Argentina put up a good fight. Unfortunately, Germany has a better overall team than Argentina does. It doesn’t matter if you have the best player in Lionel Messi, if you don’t have a supporting cast around him, he won’t win a whole lot of games. That is why Germany came out on top. With players like Mueller, Neuer, Kroos, Klose, Schurrle, Hummels, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker, Julian Draxler, Philipp Lahm, Gotze, Jerome Boateng, Christoph Kramer and Bastian Schweinsteiger, there’s no way this team could lose. They played together and functioned as one great unit. That is why they are World Champions. Now we will have to wait till 2018 when Russia will host the next FIFA World Cup. I’m looking at you USA!

The FIFA World Cup Final is Set

Argentina just defeated Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout after both teams went scoreless in regulation and extra time. Netherlands defense was able to shut down Lionel Messi and company, but they couldn’t score a goal themselves. Their defense did great, but their offense did not. Yesterday, Germany defeated Brazil in a heartbreaking 7-1 blowout. The Germans ended the first half 5-0 and they just couldn’t stop scoring the whole game. Neymar was absent because of a back injury and Thiago Silva was suspended because he picked up too many yellow cards. Those two players were the main reason why Brazil couldn’t deliver in the semi-final.

Thomas Muller and Germany will try to win their fourth World Cup Championship against Argentina. Credit: www.dailystar.co.uk
Thomas Muller and Germany will try to win their fourth World Cup Championship against Argentina.
Credit: http://www.dailystar.co.uk

Now it is Argentina and Germany meeting in the FIFA World Cup Final for a third time. The first time they met was in 1986 and Argentina won that round 3-2. Then the very next World Cup in 1990,  Germany got their revenge  and beat the Argentinians 1-0. Argentina has a total of two World Cup championships while Germany has three. Now it will be best two-out-of-three in this meeting for the World Cup Final.

Germany has scored the most goals out of any team in the World Cup this year with 17. That last match with Brazil probably helped out a little bit. Thomas Muller is second among all players with five goals to his name and is also credited with three assists. He will be the player that Argentina has to look out for. Miroslav Klose has a record 16 World Cup goals in his career, scoring two of them in this World Cup. Andre Schuerrle has three goals for Germany and Toni Kroos has two for his team. With a stacked team like Germany to face, Argentina will have a lot to deal with defensively.

As for the Argentinians, they have arguably the best soccer player in the world on their team, Lionel Messi. The 27-year-old superstar has four goals and an assist in this year’s World Cup. He has carried his team all the way to the Finals and now it’s time to see if he can do it one more time. He hasn’t had much help on offense, so he will have to rely on his defenders to keep Argentina in the game.

It’s going to be tough to call this one, but after seeing Germany destroy Brazil in the semi-finals, I have to go with them to win the World Cup. Look for Germany to score early and put Argentina in a position where they have to make hurried decisions in order to catch up. Argentina’s bad decision-making and lack of depth will be their downfall in the upcoming match.

USA Loses to Belgium in Extra Time

The United States have been knocked out of the FIFA World Cup by Belgium in the first round. Both teams were scoreless by the end of regulation, but Belgium was able to score two and the U.S. only scored one and after the dust settled, the final score was 2-1. The loss was a heartbreaking one after expectations were set pretty high for the men’s national team. In the 93rd minute, Kevin De Bruyne scored for Belgium to take the lead and then substitute striker Romelu Lukaku kicked one in 12 minutes later. The U.S. fought back when their substitute striker, 19-year-old Julian Green, knocked in his first international goal on his first touch to give his team a spark of hope. However, time ran out for the United States and their World Cup journey has come to an abrupt end.

Superstar goalkeeper Tim Howard had one of the best performances of his career with 16 saves. That’s the most by any goalkeeper in the World Cup since 1966! However, he couldn’t do it all by himself and the United States’ offense couldn’t produce anything during regulation time after both Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski had chances to score late in the game.

The U.S. team will have to wait another four years and hopefully Tim Howard will remain in good form by then. He is currently 35 years old and is getting near the end of his soccer career. Clint Dempsey should definitely return, but he will be 35 by the time the World Cup comes back around in 2018 at Russia.

One of the biggest struggles facing the men’s national team was Jozy Altidore’s hamstring injury in the first game against Ghana. Latest news says that he will be good to go for Sunderland’s next match. In 2018, Altidore will have to emerge as America’s top soccer player at the age of 28. For now, he is a 24-year-old looking to make his impact in the world of soccer. Other players like Graham Zusi, Michael Bradley and John Anthony Brooks will definitely return for the next World Cup and will be a big help for the United States in other international matches. Hopefully next time, the U.S. will have a good solid foundation to work with against other international clubs.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Clint Dempsey

The USA team tied with Portugal 2-2 last night in a heartbreaking effort. A win would have put the U.S. in the World Cup knockout stage. History could have been made, but it was all for naught when Portugal scored on a header in the 94th minute. Clint Dempsey, the team’s captain and starting striker, scored what could have been the game-winner in the 81st minute. His performance in the World Cup right now is inspiring. However, the one thing that inspires Dempsey is Jesus Christ.

Dempsey was born and raised in Texas where he played for one of the best youth soccer clubs in the state, the Dallas Texans. He played for Furman University and ended up getting drafted by the New England Revolution in the 2004 MLS Draft. From there, Dempsey has been a superstar soccer player. He is the second American player to score a goal in two different World Cups and the first to score in three World Cups. The 31-year-old has now scored 39 international goals in 107 appearances for the U.S. National team. The attacking midfielder has always credited his success on the field to the One who gave him his incredible talents.

“I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success God has given me,” Dempsey said. “Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him.”

Dempsey grew up as a Roman Catholic and knew about Christ through his grandmother. He also said that there have been times where God has tested his faith, including the loss of his 16-year-old sister.

“My parents had started me in the sport to help me learn good people skills,” said Dempsey to Sports Spectrum, “Little did I know that the sport I loved and the skills I learned would later play a role in my relationship with God. I grew up in a Catholic family and would go to church with my grandmother every Sunday. Through her, I learned that faith was important. When I was 12 years old, my life took a turn that would change me forever. My sister, Jennifer, died from a brain aneurysm and I was faced with questions about why things happen and what role God played in it all. For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength.”

When Dempsey attended Furman, he joined a Bible study and it was there where he gave his life to Christ.

“God’s Word brought me peace and a desire for a relationship with Him,” said Dempsey. “I found that questioning Him and searching for answers through Scripture helped me grow and gave me direction. Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future. I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”

Dempsey’s life has been a great testimony to what God has done for him. He has been blessed with the abilities of a superstar soccer player and now he will lead his team against Germany this Thursday. He is going to need a lot of prayer!

Spain Eliminated from the World Cup

After losing to Chile 2-0, Spain has been knocked out of contention for the World Cup. The defending champions were considered a dominant soccer powerhouse entering this tournament, but after getting blown out of the water by Netherlands 5-1 last Friday, it will be impossible for them to bounce back in their Group Stage. This is not the first time a defending champ has been knocked out of the group stage. Italy suffered in the last World Cup in 2010 and France did not make the knockout stage of the tournament in 2002. However, this is the first time in World Cup history where the defending champion is eliminated after just two games.

This travesty happened when Eduardo Vargas scored early in the 20th minute and then Charles Aranguiz closed out the first half with another goal in the 43rd minute for Chile. From there, Spain’s offense couldn’t recover and the team was devastated by the loss. Head coach Vicente del Bosque had led Spain to glory at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but this year he couldn’t garner any success. Spain will have to wait four more years for their chance, but by that time, veteran players like Andres Iniesta and Xavi might retire. World Cup fans will be excited to see who will take the crown this year, now that the defending champs are no longer in contention.

USA wins first World Cup Group Stage Match against Ghana

The United States started their World Cup journey with a bang, beating Ghana 2-1 in the Group G Stage match. Team Captain Clint Dempsey scored the first goal in under a minute to put USA up 1-0. It goes down as the fastest goal scored by an American in World Cup history! Then for the rest of the match, it was pretty much USA playing great defense until the 82nd minute when Andre Ayew of Ghana scored, breaking the hearts of almost every American fan. He was assisted by Asamoah Gyan on the play. However, the United States’ team would not go down lightly. Four minutes later, American substitute Graham Zusi found fellow substitute John Brooks on a corner kick that Brooks’ headed in the middle of the box. The 21-year-old defender scored his first World Cup goal and what a goal it was! The United States would hang on for the last several minutes, clinching their first victory.

USA did a horrible job of possessing the ball and had too many fouls, but they were able to overcome all of those mistakes to beat Ghana. The United States will play Portugal on June 22 at 6 p.m. while Ghana will have to take on Germany the day before at 3 p.m. Both matches will be tough to handle, but if the Americans can believe that they can win, then they will do just that.

 

Halfway Point of 2014 MLS Season

We are almost halfway through the MLS regular season and teams are starting to show their worth in the league. On top of the Eastern Conference is the New England Revolution and then Sporting Kansas City right on their tails. In the West, there is the Seattle Sounders dominating the competition and the entire league with 10 wins, 3 losses and 2 ties. They are the only team in the league with double-digit wins. They are also the only team in the league averaging more than 2 goals a game.

Leading the Sounders are Obafemi Martins and U.S.A. superstar Clint Dempsey. Martins has played and started in all 15 games and has 8 goals with 6 assists. Dempsey has only started 8 games, but yet he has 8 goals also as well as 3 assists credited to his name. This one-two punch of Martins and Dempsey is the reason why Seattle is dominating the league in scoring goals. For defense, goalkeeper Stefan Frel is 7th in the league in saves, 7th in shutouts and 12th in goals allowed. They might not be incredible stats, but Seattle’s offense is the main reason why they have been winning so many games.

As far as the best striker in the game, Bradley Wright-Phillips of New York is tied with Dom Dwyer of Kansas City for the most goals with 11. Diego Valeri of Portland leads the league in assists with 8. The midfielder from Argentina also has two goals to his name.

The Eastern Conference still looks to be the weaker region in the league. Six teams have losing records while the West only has three teams that are below .500. Toronto F.C. has the best defense in the league, allowing only 13 goals scored against them. The problem is that their offense has not very productive as they are second to last in goals scored. That has given them the result of a 6-4-1 record.

Goalkeeper Luis Robles of the New York Red Bulls leads the league in saves with 53 and Jon Busch of San Jose looks to be a dominant keeper as well with 49 saves and only 14 goals scored against him. He also has four shutouts to his name. The only problem for Busch is his Earthquakes’ offense. They have only scored 15 goals this entire season which has put them at second-to-last in the Western Conference standings.

The player to watch out for is Obafemi Martins. When Dempsey is not on the field, Martins becomes the ultimate play-maker for Seattle. If he keeps playing like he is now, the Sounders could go as far as the championship game. Keep your eyes peeled on teams like D.C. United, New York and Portland who are right on the cusp of making the playoffs. The rest of this season will definitely be fun to watch for these reasons listed above.