Huge, huge day in birthdays ….
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea turns 22.
United States international Jonathan Bornstein, who took his spins on the revolving wheel of U.S. left backs, turns 28.
England international and Manchester United defensive staple Rio Ferdinand turns 34.
Dutch international Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (whose name is actually even longer than that, because his proper name is Johannes Vennegoor of Hesselink) also turns 34
Scottish international and Vancouver Whitecaps chatty midfielder Barry Robson turns 34. (Come to think of it, perhaps the fact that one of their central midfielders is 34 helps explain the Whitecaps demise over the second half of the season, which is when Robson joined up.)
Former England international and Liverpool legend left winger John Barnes turns 49.
Finally, while guys like Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia absorbed most of the headlines, guys like the fabulously talented Vladislav Bogicevic were just as important to those illustrious Cosmos teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The former Yugoslavian international, who is a member of the American National Soccer Hall of Fame, turns 62
Big Important Stories of the Day:
The United States learns its World Cup final round qualifying schedule today as FIFA and CONCACAF conduct the draw for six teams that have made it to the remaining stage, the so-called “Hexagonal.” The draw from Miami takes place tonight at 8 p.m. ET
It’s MLS playoff day – three of the four conference semifinal series will be settled today. By late into the evening, five Major League Soccer clubs will remain in contention for the 17th MLS Cup.
Plus, it’s another Champions League Day, with the other half of group play rolling out today from Europe.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day: Jennifer Grubb
*Ahead on the blog today:
More on the three MLS matches today, including the one in San Jose, where Major League Soccer’s reigning champs, the star-packed L.A. Galaxy, have some heavy lifting ahead just to remain in contention.
Later, we’ll have analysis and highlights from the trio of eliminators.
We’ll also tell you what happened in the UEFA Champions League, where the big matches include Scottish giant Celtic against inimitable Barcelona and title holder Chelsea against Shaktar Donetsk.
What you should watch on TV today:
- Braga host Manchester United live from Portugal at 2:35 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel. (The photo above is from Braga’s beautiful grounds.)
- Celtic hosts Barcelona on delay at 5 p.m. ET on FSC.
- In MLS, the New York Red Bulls host D.C. United at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
- And San Jose hosts Los Angeles at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Background noise while blogging today: All the fallout from another historic night in American will be fascinating. And if that gets tiresome, last night’s speech from the President of the United States is worth replaying a time or two. That was powerful stuff.
We’ll leave you with this: As someone who appreciates what Dutch soccer offered the game back in the day, it’s nice to see Ajax become a bigger player in European competition once again.