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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tiger claw to the face

Nosa Igiebor administers a tiger claw to the face of an unlucky Chelsea player.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Atlanta to break all-time MLS single-game attendance record vs. Orlando

(by Sam Stejskal mlssoccer.com 9-15-17)

Atlanta United have made plenty of history already in 2017.

On Saturday, they’ll further write their name into the MLS record books.

Atlanta announced late on Thursday that they've sold more than 69,256 tickets for Saturday's match against Orlando City SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (4 pm ET | Univision, Facebook Live, MLS LIVE in Canada), officially breaking the all-time MLS record for tickets sold to a standalone match. The record was previously held by the LA Galaxy, who drew 69,255 fans to the Rose Bowl in their first-ever game in 1996.

The all-time attendance MLS single-game attendance record is 92,650 for Chivas USA-New England Revolution match at the LA Coliseum. That contest was part of a doubleheader with a friendly between FC Barcelona and Club America.

The all-time single-season attendance mark is also in reach for Atlanta. The Five Stripes are averaging 45,811 fans per match through 11 of 17 home games. With the club set to fully open Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday and in the season finale against Toronto in October, the all-time MLS record of 44,247 fans per home match set by Seattle in 2015 is in reach.

The all-time single-season average attendance mark for a pro soccer team in the US and Canada of 47,856 set by the NASL’s New York Cosmos in 1978 is also potentially in play for Atlanta.


69,2554/13/1996Los Angeles vs. MetroStarsRose Bowl
67,3858/25/2013Seattle vs. PortlandCenturyLink Field
66,45210/7/2012Seattle vs. PortlandCenturyLink Field
66,2378/18/2007Red Bulls vs. Los AngelesGiants Stadium
66,21610/27/2013Seattle vs. Los AngelesCenturyLink Field

Friday, September 15, 2017

2017 MLS Super Cup preview

KNOW YOUR ENEMY: Seattle Sounders FC | 9.16.17

(by Jean Pierre Guzhnay fcdallas.com)

FC Dallas will host defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night for the first meeting this season. Dallas (9-8-10, 37 pts) returns to home action after a 3-0 defeat in Atlanta on Sunday and winless in their last eight matches. Seattle (8-1-5, 43 pts) sits in second place after taking their unbeaten record to 12 games with a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy last week, with their last loss coming on June 17th.

Budding Foes

After three consecutive MLS Cup Playoff meetings, FC Dallas and Seattle hold bad blood despite their geographic disposition. FCD mounted a comeback for the ages two years ago to advance, while the Sounders dispelled Dallas en route to their first MLS Cup last season. Add into the mix the injury to Mauro Diaz in the last regular season meeting between the two, sparks are sure to fly as the teams meet twice down the stretch.

Key Match-Ups

Maxi Urruti vs. Chad Marshall - The Sounders' center back has been a regular in the backline playing 23 games this season seeing 90-minutes of action in each game of Seattle's unbeaten streak. The Argentine striker has been a crucial player in Dallas' attack with 12 goals this season and will look to rejuvenate himself against a sturdy defense anchored by a well-in-form Marshall.

Clint Dempsey vs. Jesse Gonzalez - The USMNT veteran has eleven goals to his name and has taken 20 shots at goal over the last five games. Gonzalez is coming off a season-best eight saves last week despite the loss in Atlanta. Against Seattle and Dempsey, Gonzalez’s key saves can give Dallas the momentum and motivation it needs to take away a much-needed victory at home.

Last Time Out

(4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei: Kelvin Leerdam, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Oniel Fisher; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Victor Rodriguez; Jordan Morris.

Keys to Three Points

Against a potent attacking side, Dallas’ defense will have to be on their toes to prevent early goals after conceding the first goal in eight straight games. A rivalry matchup against Seattle, who they have seen in three straight postseasons and eliminated them in the Western Conference Semifinals last year, should give Dallas the needed motivation to find a victory this coming Saturday.


DALvSEA 101: Everything you need to know when the Seattle Sounders visit FC Dallas

(by Ryan Krasnoo soundersfc.com)

WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 5 p.m. PT at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be televised on JOEtv and in Spanish on Univision-Seattle.

WHERE TO LISTEN: The game will air on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM and in Spanish on El Rey 1360 AM.

2017 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders: 11-7-10 (43 points, 2nd West); FCD: 9-8-10 (37 points, 6th West).


ALL-TIME HISTORY: The Sounders are 10-5-5 all time against FC Dallas, including a 3-4-4 mark on the road.

RECENT MEETINGS: The fourth-seeded Sounders knocked off top-seeded FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals last season, 4-2 on aggregate. Seattle scored three goals in eight minutes in the first leg at CenturyLink Field before holding on in the second leg in Dallas.

UNBEATEN RUN: The Sounders head to Texas looking to extend their club-record unbeaten streak to 13 matches. Seattle is outscoring its opponents 23-11 and has not lost since June 17.

MORRIS SIDELINED: Forward Jordan Morris exited early against the LA Galaxy on Sunday when he pulled up with a strained hamstring. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

SEPTEMBER SUCCESS: The Sounders have a chance to make September their most successful month as an MLS club. If Seattle wins its remaining three matches this month against FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps, it would push its all-time September points-per-game average to 1.92, surpassing April and August’s 1.86.

NEAGLE TO THE RESCUE: Lamar Neagle entered Sunday’s home match against the Galaxy in the 83rd minute with the Sounders trailing 1-0. Less than two minutes later, his one-timed half-volley equalized and helped keep the Sounders’ unbeaten streak alive. It was his first goal for the Rave Green since rejoining the club from D.C. United on Aug. 7.

TORRES SUSPENDED, NOUHOU RETURNS: Defender Roman Torres will serve a one-match suspension on Saturday for his red card near the end of the Galaxy game. Left back Nouhou, who missed last weekend while serving his own one-match suspension for a red card against the Portland Timbers on Aug. 27, will be available for selection in Dallas.

DALLAS DIVE: FC Dallas are winless in their last eight MLS matches and have not won since July 22. They’ve been outscored 19-7 and have fallen to the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, just one point ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes.

EARLY CONCESSIONS: FC Dallas have conceded first in eight of its last nine matches, with the ninth a scoreless draw. FCD is 2-8-4 on the season when conceding first compared to 6-0-3 if it goes in front first.

MISSING MAXI: Forward Maxi Urruti leads FCD with 12 goals this season, but he has only scored once in the last nine games. He had found the back of the net in four straight matches before then.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Dreams are soaring for new Utah soccer academy

(by Peter Rosen ksl.com 9-7-17)

The campus is a construction site and the turf is still being grown 85 miles away, but RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen looks out over fields of dirt and sees a verdant soccer promised land.

“I have the absolute belief that we’ll be known as the best place in the United States to be a soccer player, to progress your career to its highest potential,” he said. Hansen is showing off the site of the new Zions Bank Real Academy — a charter high school and sports training facility intended to home-grow talent for the MLS team. This year, RSL moved the academy from Casa Grande, Arizona, to Herriman, Utah. When complete, there will be eight outdoor soccer fields, two indoor fields and one stadium where academy students will train alongside players from Real Salt Lake and RSL’s United Soccer League team, the Monarchs.

“I can bring in a player at a lower cost at a higher quality than going and searching the world and then having to pay for a player; we can grow a player,” Hansen said.

He said the talent search will begin early at training centers for boys ages 7-14 around the state and Arizona. The first, in North Logan, is already under construction. “We want to find the 30 best throughout Utah and Arizona in every age group,” he said. “We want to track them, and so if you’re good we want to know you’re good.” The best will be invited to the academy. “The training here is a lot better (than U.S. soccer clubs) you know, the coaches work with you individually and with the team a lot better,” said Erik Virgen, an academy midfielder from Tucson. “They’re more strict, you know. They want things like the right way, and it just makes you develop as a player and a person.” Virgen and his teammates live in an on-site dormitory and then train and go to school next door. The school, which teaches a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, is open to the general public. About 50 slots are reserved for academy members. That school is an important recruiting tool: a draw for parents.

“My parents always tell me ‘Education, education;’ the only way I can play soccer is my education,” said academy player Sebastian Soto, who last year was the leading scorer in the country in his age group. “Yeah, soccer’s No. 1 for me, but for my parents, I have to have some education there, too.”

Academy director Martin Vasquez said Soto is already committed to Berkeley on a full scholarship. “That’s huge, you know, that’s big,” Vasquez said.  Virgen, now in his senior year, is hoping RSL will offer him a contract. If he doesn’t turn pro yet, he’s poised, with a commitment to the University of New Mexico, to become the first in his family to go to college.  “So I want to like make that first step for my family and be a good role model and example for, you know, my nephews, nieces, and I think they need to see somebody taking an education path,” Virgen said. The academy system is firmly established in Europe. It’s relatively new to the U.S.  Since RSL opened Casa Grande in 2010, though, it’s already graduated about a half-dozen players to the first team.

RSL midfielder Sebastian Saucedo grew up Park City and was a ball boy for the team.

“I would always go to Rice-Eccles Stadium with my father and he would always take me to all the home games, and it would be a dream come true for me to play for RSL,” he said. “When I got the opportunity to be scouted … took advantage of that and didn’t think twice about the opportunity to join the academy, left my family, which was the hardest part, but, you know, ended up paying off, and I’m super happy with where I’m at now.”  RSL coach Mike Petke sees the advantages of having the academy and both teams on the same campus.  “To have all three of those organizations within one organization together collaborating, working together, playing one style with the same philosophy throughout, it’s going to be invaluable for someone like myself that these players are coming up through the pipeline through the ranks to get to me,” he said. “They’re gonna know, by the time they get to me, exactly what is expected of them, exactly what their role is, and to me there’s nothing more valuable than that.”

RSL general manager Craig Waibel sees a revenue source for the business. When players go to the academy, they agree, if they turn pro, to play for RSL or any team that buys the player. Selling players has become the biggest source of income for many European clubs.

“At some point you’re gonna start seeing more young players in America that come through our academies being sold to clubs around the world for really good prices,” Waibel said.  “I believe I see this place is gonna be a soccer center in the U.S. for coaches’ education, for player development, for, you know, coaches symposiums for tournaments, some of the best tournaments in the country,” Vasquez said.  There is a catch. Girls can go to the charter school, but they can’t go to the academy. At least not yet, Hansen said.  “In two years — I’ll put a promise out there — we think we’ll have a women’s professional team here just like RSL,” he said. “We can start down that path. We decided let’s get the boys' program perfect and then let’s move into the women’s program.”



Saturday, September 9, 2017

With playoff hopes fading, Orlando City playing for pride to close 2017

The Godfather, running out of time
(by Mike Gramajo mlssoccer.com 9-8-17)

With only seven games remaining in the regular season and with their playoff hopes looking ever slimmer, Orlando City SC are vowing to continue to fight for full points – even if that means playing only for pride.

The Lions started the season brightly, running out to a 6-1-0 start to claim an early lead in the Eastern Conference. They’ve been in a tailspin since the start of May, however. They’ve only recorded two wins in their last 20 matches and enter Saturday’s game at D.C. United (7 pm ET; MLS LIVE) on an eight-game winless streak.

The extended slump has dropped Orlando from the top of the table to out of the playoff picture, with the Lions currently in 10th in the East. They’re five points behind Atlanta for the conference’s sixth and final playoff spot, and have played three more games than the Five Stripes.

While their hopes look bleak, OCSC head coach Jason Kreis is demanding that all his players continue to fight throughout the remainder of the season.

“From my point of view, pride better play a part in every single game that we play,” he said after Wednesday’s training session. “These players need to be proud about what they’ve done and how hard they’ve worked this year.

“They need to go into every match expecting that they’re basically on trial because we are. We’re professionals, we get paid well to do what we do, and if we don’t do a good job, they’ll give the job to somebody else. It’s same for the players and coaches, all of us should know that.”

Despite the bad run of games, defender Scott Sutter said that the Orlando locker room is still optimistic. The veteran right back said it’s been tough keeping a positive mindset, especially after losses, but that the team don’t have any other options.

“It’s definitely tough. There’s moments where the positivity does waiver, especially right after a loss, it’s difficult to stay positive when you lose 4-0,” said Sutter. “There’s no real way forward other than stay positive because if you’re negative, it’s definitely not going to get better.”

Sutter acknowledged that the club’s playoff hopes are fading, especially after their 4-0 loss at New England last Saturday. Playing with pride could prevent a similar result at D.C., who would pass Orlando and put the Lions in last in the East with a win on Saturday.

“That’s the main objective. It’s definitely a pride thing, and you don’t want to be at the bottom of your conference, absolutely not, and we’ll do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen and take it from there,” said Sutter.



Friday, August 18, 2017