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22 March 6:38 pm

It was with a huge helping of sadness that I read the news about Seattle Sounders striker O’Brian White on Thursday, as I have seen up close what a superbly talented soccer player he is.

With a reoccurring blood clot in his left leg forcing the Seattle Sounders to buy out his contract — the Sounders will still have first refusal if he should make a recovery — White will be forced to sit on the 2012 season just when he could have shone most.

The towering forward is full of brute force and I have seen him in full flight, and running at me with the ball, during his college days at the University of Connecticut.

During the 2007 season, my freshman year as a soccer player at the University of Pittsburgh, White terrorized defenses at will, scoring 27 goals and adding 7 assists in 24 games. He was awarded the Hermann trophy for the Nation’s top college soccer player. It was well deserved.

He was quite simply one of the most powerful and dominating strikers I have played against. As a defensive unit on a cold night in Storrs, Conn., we tried to shut him down. White scored a hat trick and we lost 4-0 to the No.1 ranked Huskies. He was untouchable and to potentially lose his talent from the league for good would be a huge shame not just for White, but for MLS as a whole.

I can remember lining up at center back as a 19-year-old straight out of England in front of more than 5,000 screaming UConn fans and wondering what weaknesses he had. It was apparent very quickly that he didn’t have any. White had it all. He bullied our defense all night long with his brute strength, he made clever runs wide and in the channels, his first touch was impeccable and when he got half a chance, he buried it.

A year later, he tore ligaments in his knee. It took him three years to get back to where he was, and had just come into his own with the Sounders when the blood clots hit.

I’m certainly hoping he makes a full recovery and gets to show what he can do on the big stage, because I know exactly what he is capable of. It'll be a shame if fans in the US and Canada don't get that chance, too. 

22 March 5:49 pm

Cet été, les regards des amateurs de sport du monde entier seront tournés vers Londres, pour les Jeux de la XXXe Olympiade. Les qualifications de la zone Concacaf pour le tournoi masculin de soccer débutent ce jeudi. Règlement oblige, dans cette catégorie, ce sont les équipes nationales espoirs (-23 ans) qui s’y collent. Huit pays se disputent deux places qualificatives. Les États-Unis et le Mexique partent favoris, mais il faudra aussi se méfier du Honduras et du Canada.

Des joueurs de MLS ont été convoqués par cinq équipes, en plus grand nombre dans les rangs américains et canadiens. Dans l’équipe à la feuille d’érable, seuls Russel Teibert, Doneil Henry et Matt Stinson peuvent revendiquer une place de titulaire à Vancouver ou Toronto.

Du côté des États-Unis, il y a davantage de joueurs établis, notamment Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo et Brek Shea, régulièrement appelés chez les « A ». On retrouve aussi plusieurs titulaires potentiels qui auraient été utiles à leur club respectif en ce début de saison : Sheanon Williams (dont la sélection a créé une nouvelle polémique à Philadelphie) mais aussi Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Zarek Valentin, Teal Bunbury, Sean Johnson et Michael Stephens.

Voyez le programme complet du tournoi, et suivez-le sur vos écrans.

22 March 5:04 pm

The link between Fulham Football Club and the US soccer world over the years has become so strong that they are often colloquially referred to as “Team America” in the UK. 

It’s hard to argue with that playful nickname and their long history of enticing players from the US to try their luck in the EPL is one Fulham are very proud of, according to the Cottagers website.

Several US national team stars such as Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and now Clint Dempsey have turned out for the West London side at Craven Cottage, all earning high praise for their performances from fans and pundits alike.  

On Fulham’s official club website on Thursday they highlighted an article coming up in the clubs Fulltime magazine. The EPL side, who are led this season by US superstar Dempsey with 18 goals, are quick to point out their strong links with MLS soccer in particular.  

“While our Premier League rivals are only now just discovering the delights of America’s top league, it’s fair to say that we’ve been unearthing its hidden treasures for 13 years.”

So just like any good relationship, the benefits are reciprocal. Former Fulham and US national team captain Brian McBride explains.

“Fulham have been major players in increasing awareness of what American soccer players have to offer,” said McBride.  

Well said Brian, long may the loving relationship continue.

21 March 10:16 pm

Thierry Henry can be a bit moody and machiavellian on the field, but off the field he's proven time and again to be a man of charity, conscience and kindness.

So it was no surprise that the New York Red Bulls striker hopped on a plane to visit Fabrice Muamba, the 23-year-old English midfielder who's made a stunning recovery after suffering from cardiac arrest in Bolton's abandoned match against Tottenham on Saturday.

Henry was the brightest light in North London when Muamba was just another kid in the Arsenal academy. But the Gunners legend didn't forget.

Doctor: Muamba 'in effect' dead for 78 minutes

 

21 March 3:05 pm

Un coup franc joué dans l’esprit du jeu se tire à l’endroit où est commise la faute et avec un mur à la bonne distance (9,15 mètres). Sauf que les joueurs ont tendance à vouloir grappiller du terrain…

La solution ? L’aérosol magique ! Une petite bombe pulvérise une peinture blanche qui permet de marquer tant l’endroit où doit se trouver le ballon que celui où doit se placer le mur. Les traces s’effacent rapidement et le terrain n’en souffre pas.

Dès lors, impossible d’avancer discrètement quand l’arbitre a le dos tourné… Ce dernier peut se concentrer sur d’autres choses, notamment les tirages de maillot de l’autre côté du mur. Cela permet de gagner un temps considérable et d’éviter les discussions du genre « Mais j’ai pas bougé, M’sieur l’arbitre ! »

Originaire d’Amérique latine, cette innovation moins chère et moins controversée que la vidéo est utilisée depuis de nombreuses années au Brésil et a servi lors de la dernière Copa America. La Major League Soccer l’a adoptée la saison dernière et ne peut que s’en féliciter : ses arbitres, sceptiques dans un premier temps, disent désormais que l’aérosol magique est un outil nécessaire et efficace. Alors, quand le verra-t-on à la Coupe du monde ?

20 March 5:00 pm

El Káiser vestirá el rascacielos más prominente de la Ciudad de Nueva York con los colores de su club.

El defensa del New York Red Bulls, Rafa Márquez, iluminará el Empire State Building con los colores del equipo, el viernes, 23 de marzo previo al partido en casa ante el Colorado Rapids de este domingo.

A Márquez se unirá el Presidente de Negocios Operacional, Chris Heck, en un evento donde Rafa “subirá el switch” e iluminar una de las torres icónicas del mundo con los colores blanco y rojo representativos del equipo.

Los Red Bulls arrancan la temporada en su estadio ante Colorado Rapids este domingo, 25 de marzo a partir de las 4 pm ET.

20 March 4:30 pm

Yes, Toronto FC defender Ty Harden was embarrassed on the first goal by the Seattle Sounders last Saturday. But Sounders boss Sigi Schmid was just injecting salt in the wound with this comment that was picked up by Seattle Times beat writer Joshua Mayers:

No doubt it was a sick move. Watch it again here:

20 March 2:13 pm

Columbus Crew no jugó un partido oficial este fin de semana, pero eso no detuvo al chileno Milovan Mirosevic, quien anotó un golazo de tiro libre en un partido de exhibición ante el equipo universitario Michigan State.

Si Milo puede hacer esto en la temporada regular, creo que el Crew no tendrá de que preocuparse…

20 March 11:55 am

La MLS se germanise. Quelques jours après la signature d’Arne Friedrich à Chicago (il participe à son premier entraînement ce mardi), on annonce aujourd’hui que son compatriote Michael Ballack traversera l’Atlantique cet été.

Michael Becker, agent de l’ancien capitaine de l’équipe nationale allemande, a déclaré que son client « souhaitait évoluer en Major League Soccer » et a même pointé une destination de préférence : New York. Sauf que le club semble lui préférer Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa)… Des déclarations qui ne manquent pas d’animer les débats sur les réseaux sociaux.

Le milieu de terrain de Leverkusen intéresse d’autres clubs de MLS. Il y a quelques semaines, son nom revenait notamment parmi les sérieux prétendants à une place de joueur désigné à l’Impact de Montréal, qui n’est certainement pas seul sur les rangs.

Un autre Allemand fait déjà les beaux jours d’un club de MLS : Torsten Frings, à Toronto. Cependant, en sauvant ce qui ressemblait à un but tout fait ce samedi à Seattle, l’ancien joueur de la Mannschaft s’est blessé : il sera hors-circuit pour quatre à six semaines. Une absence qui risque de peser lourd en demi-finale de Ligue des champions contre Santos Laguna.

19 March 6:02 pm

You probably read that headline and thought... I bet he's talking about the record-breaking crowd that packed Olympic Stadium on Saturday. Or maybe what it all meant to Davy Arnaud, the Impact's captain and goalscorer.

You'd be wrong.

The moment that will stick with me the longest came on Friday evening. Not a soul was in the stands. The game itself was still almost 24 hours away. Chicago were winding down their training session, meandering to the benches as a contingent of 20 or so members of the Fire's Section 8 supporters group waited by the sideline to glad hand and shoot the breeze with the guys they were there to see play the next afternoon.

Waiting with them was a seven-year-old boy from Ottawa named Ethan Stroud. Wrapped tightly around his neck was a Fire scarf, but what really stood out was the intricate Chicago crest etched into the back of his head. While Ethan was busy talking to every Fire player who came in his general vicinity, soaking up the words and attention he recieved as he collected autographs on the back of the jersey that bore his last name and the No. 12, I spent a few minutes talking to his mother, Allison Darke.

She told me Ethan, who was born in Chicago, was adopted and that life hadn't always been this easy for the gregarious young man who rarely stopped smiling in the 10 minutes I watched him make what will surely be lifelong memories. He was born blue from lack of oxygen. He is paralyzed down part of his right arm. He hasn't let it slow him down.

He loves soccer, plays every chance he gets, five times a week much of the year. He plays on three teams. According to his mom, Ethan is the "first one in the van and the first one out of the van" when it comes time to head to practice or games.

"He doesn't have an 'I-can't-do-it button,'" she says.

His parents took him back to Chicago last July for his seventh birthday, an opportunity to visit the city where he was born. They didn't have time to catch a Fire game. That would come the next day among the 70 or so Section 8 supporters tucked in the far corner of the Big O's second deck.

At that moment, though, there was nothing more important to Ethan than what was going on around him. After Logan Pause, Dominic Oduro, Dan Gargan, Frank Klopas and the rest of the Chicago players and coaching staff made him feel welcome -- an understatement to say the least -- and signed his new prized possession, he did what any kid in their right mind would do. He ripped off his jacked and pulled the Fire's colors over his shoulders.

I walked away with the feeling that the next day's events would be special, no doubt, but nothing I did or saw that weekend could measure up to the pure, unadulterated joy Ethan got out of that experience.

Those 10 minutes reminded me what life (and soccer) should be all about. Optimism. Hope. Perseverance. Humanity. Too often, it's easy to forget that.

Then a moment like that comes along, and all it takes is a seven-year-old boy having the time of his life to deliver a reminder that what you're doing is just a drop in the bucket.