Major League Soccer’s quest for better regional standing, and for a long-sought place in the FIFA Club World Cup, begins anew on Tuesday.
Houston Dynamo is first up as CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play begins, this one in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo, Seattle and LA Galaxy are Major League Soccer’s three survivors in the regional club championship. MLS clubs remain on the hunt for that historic breakthrough, a CCL win that would give MLS a place in the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
Real Salt Lake has come closest to the small FIFA pot of gold, the Utah club’s bid for continental supremacy falling a goal short in 2011 as Mexico’s Montrerrey claimed the prize.
Seattle’s home-and-away series with Tigres (also based in Monterrey, not far south of the Texas border) begins Wednesday. The Galaxy begins its two-leg series with Costa Rica’s Herediano on Thursday. Full tournament details are here.
Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo should be full of confidence following Sunday’s 2-0 opener in MLS play. Ricardo Clark was in on both goals as the U.S. World Cup 2010 midfielder began a bid to re-establish himself within Jurgen Klinsmann’s current pool.
(MORE: Highlights from Houston’s season opening win)
Of slight concern to Houston perhaps is an additional day of rest for Santos. Los Guerreros last played on Friday, as American international Herculez Gomez scored twice in Santos’ 3-1 win on the road. That left the club 6th of 18 teams in the Liga MX Clausura.
Gomez is second in team scoring in league play with three goals and is tied for team leadership in assists, also with three.
Here is a great match breakdown of tonight’s contest from longtime Houston-based soccer writer and broadcaster Glenn Davis. Davis reckons the Dynamo needs more from Oscar Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis, needs to put pressure on former Mexican national team goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez (who has gone a bit wobbly) and tame Colombian playmaker Darwin Quintero.
There is more on Santos and the club’s current form here.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.