Kick Off: FIFA considering Costa Rica's protest after snowy loss in Denver
Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today:
1. FIFA CONSIDERING COSTA RICA’S COMPLAINT
It seems as if Costa Rica’s complaint to FIFA is being heard, big time. The Costa Rica soccer federation made a protest regarding the snowy playing conditions in Friday’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to the USMNT. This morning FIFA has announced it "will now analyze the content of the letter and next steps will be determined in due course." Los Ticos claimed that the "physical integrity" of players and officials was affected, "ball movement became impossible" and field markings were not visible. We haven’t heard the last of this.
2. JONES OUT, LINEUP DECISIONS LOOM
Elsewhere, the biggest news breaking overnight from the USMNT camp is that midfielder Jermaine Jones will miss the crunch Word Cup qualifier with Mexico on Tuesday. The Schalke star suffered an ankle sprain and took two stitches in the win over Costa Rica on Friday night. So with Jones out, who comes into the US lineup? Soccer By Ives has its projected lineup and over at Goal.com, they look at who will start for Mexico, after El Tri’s worst-ever start to World Cup qualifying.
3. SOLD-OUT AZTECA AWAITS
With both lineups in flux, one thing is certain: a sold-out Azteca Stadium. As of Sunday only 1,300 tickets were left, according to Soccer America, as a crowd in excess of 100,000 will pack into the iconic venue. Our very own Simon Borg will be in the Azteca, so make sure to follow @SimonBorg for all the latest updates from Mexico City.
4. HISTORIC BORDER BATTLES
Of course the last time the US visited Mexico City, they came away with a 1-0 friendly win – their first-ever victory at the Azteca – but ESPN looks back to 1997, when the USMNT gained the nation's first-ever point in the hostile surroundings. While XI Quarterly has a Google Hangout with two journalist who know the US-Mexico rivalry better than most, as they look at border rivalry that exists above and beyond soccer.
5. PRESSURE COOKER
But although historically the US have struggled to get results in the Azteca, Tuesday may be a good time to travel there. Mexico have failed to win their first two qualifiers, after blowing a two-goal lead against Honduras on Friday. And local media are piling the pressure on head coach José Manuel "El Chepo" de la Torre and his team.
6. MEXICAN MEDIA GATECRASH “CLOSED DOOR” US TRAINING SESSION
But the Mexican media aren’t just scrutinizing their own national teams every move. The U.S. Soccer Federation sent out some pictures of a large group of local journalists clambering to the rooftops of houses surrounding the USA’s “closed door” training session, to spy on Klinsmann and his men. Récord reporter, Álvaro Cruz, triumphantly tweeted: "Klinsmann caught us taping him from up high and they sent the police, but it was impossible to prevent Mexican journalism from winning this game."
7. IMPACT ROLL ON
Meanwhile, the Montreal Impact just keep rolling on. Their victims this weekend were the New York Red Bulls, who succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in the Olympic Stadium. Four wins out of four for Montreal on league action, and here's some reaction in French from Marco Schällibaum and his players.
8. CHIVAS ON FIRE, CHICAGO SLUMPING
Talking about on a roll, El Chelís has got his Chivas USA side firing on all cylinders as they clinically dispatched Chicago 4-1 at Toyota Park on Sunday. And following the damaging defeat, Fire boss Frank Klopas admitted changes will be made sooner rather than later: “Right now it just seems like we’re not getting things done. So we have to evaluate and make some decisions and do what’s best for the team.”
9. MAGEE’S THE MAN
With several of the Galaxy’s regular stars away on international duty, Mike Magee stepped up big once again. He smashed home the winning goal from the penalty spot to take his personal tally to four goals in three games. He talked about the game-changing moment when Rapids skipper Drew Moor lashed out at Marcelo Sarvas. “That's not like Drew Moor,” Magee said. “He's a great guy. I've known him for a long time. ... It's sad to win a game that way. Actually, it's not sad at all. We'll take it. Sad for them, I guess.”
10. LA'S KEANE INJURED, OUT VS. AUSTRIA
LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane battled hard for his side in a 0-0 tie away to Sweden, too hard apparently. The Irish skipper suffered a calf injury and will not play in the Republic of Ireland’s crucial showdown with Austria on Tuesday in Dublin. La will be hoping Keane is back to full fitness soon.
11. SAN JOSE GET IT DONE, HOUSTON’S STREAK CONTINUES
Two teams who know how to get it done when it matters, did exactly that on Saturday. San Jose secured a narrow 1-0 win over Seattle at Buck Shaw, thanks to Chris Wondolowski. And Houston extended their unbeaten run at home to 33 games after trailing 1-0 to Vancouver at the break. Giles Barnes and Warren Creavalle bagged their first goals for Houston in the vital comeback.
12. WHAT’S UP IN SEATTLE?
So after making the CCL semis, you can forgive the Sounders for having their heads elsewhere. But sitting bottom of the Western Conference and enduring the franchise worst-ever start to an MLS season may worry some in the Emerald City. But players and management are staying calm. “If we stay calm and work together, we know we can gain the points and victories in the tough schedule coming up,” Michael Gspurning said. Plus the Sounders were missing the attacking trio of Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Mario Martínez.
13. SPEAS DEDICATES GOAL TO URSO
The Columbus Crew recorded an impressive victory away at D.C. United on Saturday. And Homegrown star Ben Speas scored his first-career goal for the Crew and pointed to the heavens. Columbus’ midfielder dedicated the strike to his former college and Crew teammate, Kirk Urso, who passed away suddenly last season. "I thought about that yesterday and I knew my first goal was going to be to [for] him and I wanted to get it today," Speas said. "It's just special."
14. US U-20s TO LEARN WORLD CUP FATE TODAY
Tab Ramos’ US Under-20 national team side will find out at 1 pm ET today who they’ll face in the U-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer. Find out all the details ahead of the draw here, and it'll be streamed on FIFA.com live from Istanbul this afternoon.
15. BECKHAM FALLS HEAD OVER HEELS FOR CHINA….
On David Beckham’s recent trip to China as their new soccer ambassador, the former LA Galaxy star posed for pictures galore in suavely cut suits. But taking a free kick in dress shoes and a suit and tie proved too much for Becks, as he took a tumble, but laughed it off.
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