$10,000 flights and personal credit: How the US Open Cup cripples smaller clubs

Smaller teams dream of taking on an MLS club in the US Open Cup. But that dream can come at a steep cost For the US Open Cup, 2017 was the year of the underdog. The hype started early when Christos FC – an amateur club out of Maryland named after a local liquor store – upset two fourth-division sides and a USL team before going out to MLS’s DC United. Upsets continued to prevail, as the USL’s FC Cincinnati beat the Columbus Crew and Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Chicago Fire en route to a quarter-final showdown with then-NASL side Miami FC. Cincinnati won, serving as the tournament’s first non-MLS semi-finalist since 2009.  “For these lower-division clubs, the Open Cup is a one-off opportunity to prove themselves,” according to Peter Wilt, who launched Chicago Fire, NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, and NASL/USL’s Indy Eleven. “That dream of beating the bigger clubs is very Continue reading "$10,000 flights and personal credit: How the US Open Cup cripples smaller clubs"

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stunning MLS debut is starting to look like an exception

The Swede’s LA Galaxy career is still in its infancy but his red card this week came as his new team continues to struggle It was a moment completely and utterly befitting of the theatre that follows Zlatan Ibrahimovic wherever he struts. Video of the Swede’s first goal for the LA Galaxy, a 35-year drive over the goalkeeper, was replayed around the world. It clocked up over 3m views on Twitter and 3.6m views on Facebook. It made ESPN’s SportsCenter and sparked discussion among soccer fans everywhere. On and off the field vindication of Ibrahimovic’s move to California couldn’t have come any quicker. This week, another clip of Ibrahimovic went viral. It too was viewed by fans across the planet, but this time it showed him slapping Michael Petrasso of the Montreal Impact for treading on his toe. Despite falling to the ground himself in an attempt to Continue reading "Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stunning MLS debut is starting to look like an exception"

Brandi Chastain puts on brave face over ‘not the most flattering’ plaque

Chastain, who won two World Cups with USA, inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame – but a tribute to her achievements has … provoked debate The sculptural humiliation of football’s finest players continues apace. Few thought the bar could be lowered after one artist’s interpretation of Cristiano Ronaldo last year prompted much amusement on social media – but a strong contender has emerged in California. On Monday one of America’s finest ever footballers, Brandi Chastain, was inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame. The plaque in her honor has … provoked debate. Continue reading...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic in spotlight again after red card for slapping opponent

  • Galaxy star hits Montreal’s Michael Petrasso in head
  • Swede has scored just once since his two-goal debut
Zlatan Ibrahimovic received a red card for slapping an opposing player in the head but the LA Galaxy were still able to eke out a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact without their marquee acquisition.  Impact defender Michael Petrasso stepped on the 36-year-old’s foot in the 40th minute of the match in Montreal and the towering Swede retaliated with a slap to the back of Petrasso’s head.  Continue reading...

Why the US men will never win the World Cup (and that’s OK)

The dream of USA dominating world football has been a dream for years. But structural and cultural issues ensure it won’t happen anytime soon It’s only a matter of time, they tell us. The powerful economy. The changing demographics. All the kids who can’t remember when the USA didn’t have a pro league and Americans couldn’t watch the Premier League every weekend on TV. All of those things, they say, will propel the US men to global dominance one day, if we can only fix one or two things. There’s only one problem. It’s not going to happen in a long, long time. Not by 2022. Not by 2026, when the USA may be a World Cup co-host, depending on the level of anger over US policies when the vote is taken in June. Not in the next century at the very least. And the women may not win much Continue reading "Why the US men will never win the World Cup (and that’s OK)"

Klinsmann says USA could have ‘realistically’ made World Cup 2018 semi-finals

  • Former USA manager said club would have rebounded in Russia
  • Klinsmann was fired in 2016 after USA’s flat start in qualifying
  • United States failed to reach World Cup for first time in 32 years
The United States national team will be watching the World Cup from their living rooms after disastrously failing to qualify for next month’s tournament in Russia, but in the eyes of former manager Jürgen Klinsmann it’s not for lack of talent. Klinsmann, who has resurfaced in a series of interviews this week after an extended period of radio silence following his removal as USA manager in November 2016, believes the Americans could have reached the semi-finals in Russia. Continue reading...

Is the Seattle Sounders’ era as an MLS superclub coming to an end?

The Sounders showed soccer can draw big crowds in the US. But as they’re outshone by the likes of Atlanta United, some fans fear a lack of ambition For years, it was the most authentic experience Major League Soccer had to offer. In many ways, they were US soccer’s marquee club. The usual derision thrown at American teams, the kind that mocks the plastic rivalries and contrived narratives of a soccer-sphere still establishing itself, never stuck on the Seattle Sounders with their decades of history and average home attendance of over 40,000 fans. They set the precedent for what a soccer team could achieve in the States. Making it to the MLS Cup final in back-to-back seasons, winning their first championship in 2016, underlined the stature of the Seattle Sounders. But despite that second MLS Cup final appearance coming just five months ago, a lot has changed. An insipid Continue reading "Is the Seattle Sounders’ era as an MLS superclub coming to an end?"

Israeli football club renames itself Beitar Trump Jerusalem after ‘courageous’ president

  • Six-time Premier League champion have ‘greatest love’ for Trump
  • Move made after president moves US embassy to Jerusalem
As Jerusalem prepares for the inauguration of its new US embassy on Monday, the city’s best football team has announced it is renaming itself in honour of Donald Trump. Related: Ivanka Trump in Jerusalem for embassy opening as Gaza braces for bloodshed Continue reading...

North American bid denies underhand tactics in 2026 World Cup campaign

  • US-governed territories have votes on 2026 tournament
  • Lilian Thuram attacks Donald Trump’s ‘power game’
The North American bid team for the 2026 World Cup has defended the right of four US-governed territories to vote for the host of the tournament after a complaint was made to Fifa that it was a clear conflict of interest. The Fifa hierarchy, including president Gianni Infantino, are widely thought to favour the joint bid from the US, Mexico and Canada. It is understood members of the Morocco delegation privately believe that football’s governing body has repeatedly moved the goalposts with regard to the bidding regulations in an effort to derail their campaign. The Morocco 2026 team has also written to Fifa to complain that the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands should not retain a vote but it has not yet received a response. Continue reading...

Wayne Rooney wants Everton manager clarification before deciding future

• DC United offer on the table for former England captain
• Rooney unhappy at lack of playing time under Sam AllardyceWayne Rooney will await clarification from Everton on the club’s future management situation before deciding whether to end his Goodison Park comeback after only one season. The 32-year-old has an offer from DC United to move to MLS in July, with the Washington club willing to give the former England captain a two‑year contract. DC United have held talks with Rooney’s representative, Paul Stretford, but are one of several overseas opportunities available to the boyhood Evertonian. Continue reading...

Tangled up in blue: NYC FC’s brand new training center stresses City connection

NYC FC may not yet have opened the stadium home their fans want, but last week’s opening of their Etihad City Football Academy may prove to be just as significant in the long run Last week two more pieces of infrastructure were added to the growing body of Major League Soccer buildings dotted across the US and Canadian landscape. There was no doubt which was the more celebrated one – LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium is a transformative addition to one of the top two media markets in the country, and with its dramatic framing of downtown LA, and the fashionably steep rake and standing areas, it adds to the burgeoning narrative of glamorous MLS expansion that the league office is keen to promote. Continue reading...

Will Donald Trump cost the United States the 2026 World Cup?

The North American bid that once felt like a lock is looking more vulnerable by the day thanks in no small part to the US president
Thirteen months ago when the United States launched a joint bid to host the World Cup with Mexico and Canada at a news conference on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center, the outcome felt like little more than a formality. There was a compelling proof of concept in USA 94, which set a World Cup attendance record that still stands with nearly 3.6m spectators (for only 52 matches), auguring record-smashing profits for the expanded 48-team, 80-match tournament in 2026. There was a nod toward the fiscally responsible, infrastructure-ready leanings of the moment: the US is one of the few countries on the planet with enough world-class stadiums and airports to host the World Cup tomorrow if it needed to. Perhaps most Continue reading "Will Donald Trump cost the United States the 2026 World Cup?"

Patrick Vieira has been tipped to succeed Wenger – just how good is he?

New York City manager lacks the experience of rival contenders for the Arsenal job but he has built a solid reputation in MLS Almost as soon as he’d sat down in front of the waiting press upon his appointment as New York City FC head coach in January 2016, Patrick Vieira was asked to name a manager he’d modelled his own coaching style after. It was a question set up to garner one answer: Arsène Wenger. Vieira spoke about José Mourinho’s insistence on meticulous preparation, Roberto Mancini’s determination and Manuel Pellegrini’s levelheadedness. Then he got to Wenger, highlighting the unwavering faith the Frenchman puts in his players. Even at that early stage, as Vieira took his first step into senior management, there was a sense that similar faith might one day be put in him to succeed his former manager. Continue reading...

FSG’s grand plan for Liverpool bears fruit on pitch and the streets

The US owners have transformed Anfield, healed rifts with the community and addressed blight but poverty remains stark Throughout Tuesday’s exhilarating Champions League night at Anfield, when Roma were overpowered by Jürgen Klopp’s resurgent Liverpool, there was an irresistible sense of a whole club, not just a team, coming to fruition. Eight years after the Boston Red Sox owners, Fenway Sports Group, bought Liverpool and cleared the £200m debt from the dismal 2007 acquisition by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the club have been greatly renewed. Their old ground, in which supporters’ songs recall European adventures under Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, has been transformed by the booming new £114m main stand and the strolling and shopping space outside that was claimed around it. It may seem an odd fate for the few people who were left in Lothair Road and one side of Alroy Road after 20 years Continue reading "FSG’s grand plan for Liverpool bears fruit on pitch and the streets"

Sports quiz of the week: Mo Salah, Mo Farah, maximums and musicians

Who was quick? Who hit a hat-trick? Who scored spot-kicks?

Which of these statements about Arsène Wenger is false?

He was the first non-British manager to win the league championship in England

He was the first manager to go unbeaten all season in England’s top flight

He released a book in 1997 called The Spirit of Conquest for the Japanese market

He made his playing debut for Strasbourg aged 29

Arsène Wenger will take Arsenal to Old Trafford for the final time this weekend. Who scored the winning goal when Arsenal beat United 1-0 in Manchester to win the Double in 2002?

Thierry Henry

Marc Overmars

Sylvain Wiltord

Freddie Ljungberg

Which of these British records does Mo Farah not hold?

1,500m

3,000m

5,000m

10,000m

Half-marathon

Marathon

He holds them all

Which one of these teams has scored more Premier League goals this season than Mohamed Salah?

West Brom

Huddersfield Town

Continue reading "Sports quiz of the week: Mo Salah, Mo Farah, maximums and musicians"

Sports quiz of the week: Champions League, Tyson Fury and F1

Who is racing? Who remain unbeaten? And who won big at 68? Related: Football quiz: name the missing club in these playing careers

Where are Rachael Blackmore, Katie Walsh and Bryony Frost racing this weekend?

The Gold Coast

Shanghai International Circuit

Cheltenham

Aintree

Which of the Europa League semi-finalists has won the Champions League?

Arsenal

Atlético Madrid

Marseille

RB Salzburg

The top three finishers at the Masters were American. Who was the best placed European on the leaderboard?

Rory McIlroy

Henrik Stenson

Jon Rahm

Tommy Fleetwood

Which two teams met in the European Cup final in 1980-81, the last season in which the semi-finals were contested by clubs from England, Italy, Germany and Spain?

Aston Villa and Bayern Munich

Nottingham Forest and Atlético Madrid

Liverpool and Real Madrid

Leeds United and Juventus

Tyson Fury will make a comeback on 9 June. Who did he beat in his last fight?

David Continue reading "Sports quiz of the week: Champions League, Tyson Fury and F1"

Toronto FC still hungry after reaching Concacaf Champions League final

  • Toronto FC into final after draw with Club América at Estadio Azteca
  • Canadian club look to become first ever MLS winner of competition
The Concacaf Champions League has notoriously proven a tough nut to crack for Major League Soccer clubs down the years. No MLS team has ever won the annual club competition in its current iteration with only two – Real Salt Lake in 2011 and the Montreal Impact in 2015 – having even played in the final. Continue reading...