Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.
1. SOUNDERS SILENCED
Once again, a first-leg defeat has Seattle on the ropes in the CONCACAF Champions League. This time, Santos Laguna rolled into town and put on a professional display, as they left CenturyLink Field with a 1-0 win. Sigi Schmid’s injury-ravaged lineup created plenty of chances but failed to capitalize, leaving the Sounders with a mountain to climb in the second leg in Torreón. Watch the highlights here. But Shalrie Joseph – making his first start for Seattle – remains positive ahead of next week’s second leg. “We have to finish one of those chances we had tonight,“ Joseph said. “We have to find a way to score one early in the game and that will change everything.”
2. HERCULEZ HAUNTS FORMER SIDE
Herculez Gomez has scored nine goals in his CCL career – all of them have come against MLS teams, and four in three games against Seattle. Still, chants of “Sounders reject … Sounders reject,” rang down from the stands after Gomez blasted an early effort wide. So the USMNT forward's game-winning goal in the second half must’ve tasted sweet. “I love it. Being called a Sounders’ reject – any kind of reject – digs deep. It fuels fire,” Gomez said. “I didn’t have the easiest go at the beginning of my career, so any chance I can get to definitely redeem myself is a good chance.” So Herc got the last laugh, and this pillow. Stellar night.
3. CHANGES NOT ENOUGH FOR SEATTLE
Schmid made a plethora of changes, with the injured duo of Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson out, and Steve Zakuani on the bench. But it made no real difference. “You can’t plan on injuries. Players should be able to play two games in succession like that,” the Sounders boss said. Schmid also spoke to the Seattle Times and didn’t play down the size of the task ahead: “So we just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. But that’s not impossible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”
4. KEANE FIT FOR MONTERREY CLASH
LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane is fit and raring to go for Wednesday’s CCL semifinal clash with Monterrey, (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com) following a calf injury. “Once I'm playing, I'm playing,” Keane said. “Once I start, I'll be ready to go [for 90 minutes].” While Jose Villarreal has stepped in to score in Keane’s absence, the young attacker is delighted to see Keane back: “He's our leader on the field, and we've got out goal scorer back.” Villarreal also spoke of fulfilling his dream of playing in a game in Mexico.
5. MONTERREY “KNOWS HOW TO GET THROUGH THIS DIFFICULT GAME”
Monterrey defender Ricardo Osorio is confident his sides experience in CCL action will help them dispatch the LA Galaxy in the first leg. “[We want] to get a good result and try to get the away goal,” Osorio said. “If you remember two years ago, we drew 2-2 at home and got the 1-0 result over there [against Real Salt Lake] to become champions.” Monterrey will be fielding a full-strength team, after seeing crosstown rivals Tigres UANL knocked out when they sent a reserve side to Seattle in the quarterfinals.
6. POWER RANKINGS: HOUSTON, WE HAVE A NO. 1
Listen up people: We have a new No. 1. For the opening weeks of the season, LA and the Montreal Impact have dominated top spot in the MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings. But after the Impact's defeat to Sporting KC last weekend, Dominic Kinnear’s Houston side replaced them at the summit. How’d your squad fare?
7. FIFA CHOOSES GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM
The long wait is over. FIFA has finally picked which company and system it will use when goal-line tech comes into play. German firm GoalControl got the contract. Here is the official release from FIFA. The system will be used during this summer's Confederations Cup and next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
8. BLOND-HAIRED BEDLAM IS BACK!
MLS defenders, keep a careful eye over your shoulder. Steven Lenhart is back fit, and raring to go. Frank Yallop gives it to you plain and simple: “Lenny’s back.” The only problem now is who starts out of Chris Wondolowksi, Adam Jahn, Alan Gordon and Lenhart?
9. CREW FIT, ZUSI AND CLARK BOTH ON FIRE
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha didn’t have this luxury last year. Now his players aren’t just fit, they’re playing well, too: “I’m glad a lot of players have performed well. That’s a great thing for me because they’re developing and they’re playing well and scoring the goals.” So how far can the Crew go this term? Graham Zusi, meanwhile, can keep going further and further, according to Sporting KC's Peter Vermes: “His game is definitely evolving, and the confidence is allowing him to do some of the things that he's progressed in on the field.” And Ricardo Clark is impressing in Houston in his second spell with the Dynamo.
10. ORLANDO CITY UP AGAINST NFL, NASCAR
So with Orlando City’s much publicized plans to try and move into MLS, now they’ll have to compete against other pro teams in Florida just to get a chunk of cash they were hoping could help with plans downtown to build a new soccer specific-stadium. The Orlando Business Journal looks at the states new legislation that will see the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Orlando City lock horns for state grants over updating and building new facilities. Could be one almighty battle in the Sunshine State.
11. DONOVAN, KELLER, HENRY MAKE IT INTO PREMIER LEAGUE XI
Honoring the best players who’ve played in both the FIFA U-20 World Cup & Premier League, the English FA named its best XI, and three MLSers made it. Landon Donovan and Kasey Keller made it onto the subs bench, while New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry is up front alongside Michael Owen and Sergio Agüero. Check out all the top players who’ve shone in previous U-20 World Cups.
12. USA U-17 ROSTER ANNOUNCED FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Richie Williams has named his 20-man roster that will compete in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama from April 6-19. All but two of the players are currently attending the national residency program in Bradenton, and Williams knows how important this tournament is: “Now it comes down to the most important international tournament, and that’s the qualifying. Either you move on to the World Cup or you come back home.”
13. BECKS STARTS FOR PSG vs. BARÇA; MADRID UP NEXT IN UCL QUARTERTD
David Beckham was a surprise starter for PSG yesterday in their enthralling tie with Barcelona. Les Parisiens drew level with the last kick of the game, with the match evenly balanced at 2-2 ahead of the second leg at the Camp Nou. Heading to the Santiago Bernabéu to face Real Madrid on Wednesday (Fox Soccer, 2:45 pm ET), you might think some of Galatasaray’s players were a little bit nervous … think again, and watch on in bewilderment as right back Emmanuel Eboué gives one of the strangest interviews ever by repeatedly blowing into, and poking the reporters ear.
14. HENRY AT LIVERPOOL FOR “LONG TERM,” UPROAR AT SUNDERLAND
Despite their struggles on the field this season, John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group are delighted with Liverpool FC. The Reds managing director, Ian Ayre, spoke on CNBC’s Power Lunch show and discussed what lies ahead for the Merseyside outfit: “I think the most important thing is understanding the heart of the brand, and what we have seen is owners who are respectful of that. That's very important." The EPL isn’t short of US owners, and one has come under fire from the soccer world for his appointment of controversial manager Paolo Di Canio. Sunderland chairman and Dallas businessman, Ellis Short, has a lot of explaining to do, according to the London Evening Standard.
15. DEDICATED FAN MISSES FIRST GAME ... IN 40 YEARS!
OK, there are plenty of amazing fans out there that follow their side all over the World. But can many say that Easter Monday was the first-time they’ve missed a game since 1973? I doubt it. One Nottingham Forest fan was forced to miss his team’s game at Burnley on Monday after having knee surgery, breaking his streak of seeing 1,786 games in a row. Respect.
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