Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. CAN SOUNDERS REBOUND IN CCL SEMIS?: The Seattle Sounders are experiencing their worst start ever to an MLS campaign. But can they turn it around in time for tonight’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg vs. Herculez Gomez and Santos Laguna (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com)? Here’s a closer look at the Sounders’ opponents, and you can listen to GK Marcus Hahnemann, who will start against Santos in place of the suspended Michael Gspurning, preview the match on ExtraTime Radio.
2. GALAXY WAIT THEIR TURN: The LA Galaxy get their crack at Mexican opposition on Wednesday night when they host two-time CCL champions Monterrey. For a preview of the match, here’s Fox Soccer’s Brian Dunseth on Galaxy All-Access.
3. THE WORD: JOHN SPENCER’S TIMBERS DIVORCE: Ever wondered about the story behind Spencer’s departure as head coach of the Portland Timbers last year? MLSsoccer.com’s Nick Firchau got to the bottom of it in Part 2 of his in-depth feature on Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. Stay tuned for the last piece in the series later this week.
4. KLINSMANN TO RING NYSE CLOSING BELL: That’s one of the perks of U.S. Soccer Centennial Week being celebrated in New York City. It starts with today’s closing bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange featuring Sunil Gulati, Jurgen Klinsmann and Carli Lloyd.
5. TRADE YOU A PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD?: Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson earned the nod from the media as MLS’ top performer in Week 5, but he says he was hoping for something else (watch the video here): “I would have traded that for three points. I think in the big picture it’s not a huge thing.”
6. LATEST SERIE A IMPORT HEADS TO MONTREAL: Forward Daniele Paponi is set to start his trial with the Montreal Impact in the hope of landing a contract after being released by Serie A side Bologna. Meanwhile, today will mark the first practice session for Philadelphia’s new Brazilian acquisition Kléberson. Defender Zarek Valentin, meanwhile, appears set for his loan to Norwegian second-division club Bodo Glimt.
7. GET IN LINE FOR SUNDAY MBA: That’s the name of the Africa Cup of Nations hero from Nigeria, and according to a report from Africa there’s an MLS club in the mix of teams chasing his services, which apparently is at 15 clubs and counting.
8. MORE RESERVE TEAM GAMES AT RIO TINTO?: They may want to begin entertaining that idea at Real Salt Lake after Monday night’s 1-0 win over BYU drew more than 6,000 people. They watched rookie John Stertzer get the winner and Enzo Martinez put on a show at holding mid. RSL regular Chris Wingert also returned to the pitch in the match.
9. SET YOUR DVRs FOR UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QFs: Some are calling them the two biggest series of this stage in the European version of the Champions League and they both take place today. Paris Saint-Germain host FC Barcelona (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Fox Deportes), while Bayern Munich welcome Italian champs Juventus (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer Plus). Even US ‘keeper Tim Howard is dreaming of Champions League soccer with Everton.
10. WILL BOCANEGRA PREFER RANGERS TO MLS?: With many assuming it’s a foregone conclusion that former US captain Carlos Bocanegra will be in MLS after his contract is up with Racing Santander in the summer, his former club is calling again. Read the comments of Glasgow Rangers boss Ally McCoist and the revelation that he may begin competing with MLS for CONCACAF talent.
11. US PLAYERS AT HOFFENHEIM HAVE NEW COACH: Mired in a relegation battle, Hoffenheim have decided to replace their manager and head coach with just a few games left in the system. We’ll see what impact, if any, the changes have on US internationals Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams.
12. US U-17s GET SET FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: The CONCACAF Under-17 World Cup qualifying tournament has kind of crept up on us. The US squad sees action on Sunday in Panama. Here’s a preview of the tournament.
13. WORLD CUP “A STEP BACK” FOR WOMEN’S GAME: Those were the strong words of USWNT star Abby Wambach in response to FIFA’s decision to host the large majority of women’s World Cup matches in Canada on artificial surface. “We believe this is a shame not only for the players but for the fans,” she said.
14. AMÉRICA DE CALI COME OFF CLINTON LIST: One of the most storied Colombian soccer teams, América de Cali, are celebrating their formal removal from the Clinton List, which identified individuals and business with ties to drug trafficking. The label has prevented them from traveling to the USA for matches and shedding it will be a “benefit to the club’s supporters who, during 16 years, were saddled with this and have been run dry by the lack of sponsors and the inability to develop commercial relationships,” according to the club’s president.
15. WHAT IF BASEBALL MADE SOCCER JERSEYS?: It was MLB Opening Day yesterday, and one person used his creative juices to mock up soccer-specific jerseys for each baseball franchise. Based on the comments section of this article, they’d be a merchandise hit.
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