Djimi Traore, Nigel Reo-Coker

MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps

Leave a comment
  • Vancouver are undefeated at home, with a 6-0-4 record
  • Seattle are unbeaten against the ‘Caps going 3-0-3
  • MLS leading goalscorer Camilo has 10 goals for the Whitecaps

This is it guys, a huge Cascadia Cup clash is tabled for Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps host the Seattle Sounders at BC Place on Saturday evening.

You can watch the game live on NBC Sports Network, 11pm ET, as these arch rivals face off for bragging rights in one of Major League Soccer’s largest rivalries.

Both teams are in fine form, with Vancouver defeating D.C. United 1-0 on the road before drawing 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City last time out. While Seattle also beat D.C. as Obafemi Martins scored twice to down United on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver are still searching for their first-ever win against Seattle in MLS play, with the Sounders undefeated in six contests between the two teams. But ‘Caps coach Martin Rennie must be confident heading into this game, after his side seem to have fixed their jinx on the road.

The Whitecaps have had a terrible time away from BC Place since joining MLS, but they have lost just once in their last five away games. Bad news. That was against Seattle, in a pulsating 3-2 defeat which saw Vancouver leading 2-1 but the Sounders rally to score two late goals.

However Rennie’s team are 5-1-2 in their last eight games and the Scotsman is their improving home form is helping with confidence heading into this huge clash. “In the first year, the team didn’t win on the road, but last year we won I think three games, we’ve now won at least two so far this season,” said Rennie. “We need to improve on that if we want to be right up there in the table.”

Perhaps the improved form on the road has something to do with Vancouver’s intense table tennis tournaments whilst traveling?

Anyway, Vancouver will be missing winger Russell Teibert, who has been a revelation in recent weeks. He is away with Canada on Gold Cup duty. While defender Andy O’Brien could make a return but is listed as questionable.

As for Seattle, it has been a strange season for Sigi Schmid’s men, who are up and down like a yo-yo. Just when it seems as if they’ve turned the corner, Seattle flounder. That was the case against Real Salt Lake in a 2-0 defeat earlier this month. But the team from the Emerald City are hoping for better luck on the road this time out.

Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani are still missing for Seattle, while Honduran international Mario Martinez is off the Sounders roster and is unlikely to return.

As for the rivalry, these old foes go back quite some time if you open up the history books. During their days in the NASL and United Soccer League First Division they clashed often, with the Sounders just coming coming out on top all-time with a record of 57-42-18.

In terms of the 2013 Cascadia Cup, the Whitecaps are currently in last place with one point, while Portland are second with two points, and Seattle first with four points. A win for the ‘Caps would take them to the top of the standings. That seems like extra incentive for Vancouver, not that they need any.

OTHER NOTES: There could be as many as seven former EPL players on the pitch, with Lee Young-Pyo, Nigel Reo-Coker, Kenny Miller, Andy O’Brien, Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Djimi Traore all expected to be included in the match day squads.

Too early for Guardiola to concede Premier League title?

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola suffered his worst-ever league defeat as a manager on Sunday as Manchester City were hammered 4-0 at Everton in the Premier League.

Post-game he was understandably glum.

[ MORE: Klopp slams United ]

Guardiola even appeared to concede the Premier League title, as the preseason favorites for the crown have now fallen 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go.

When asked if City’s title hopes were over after a fifth defeat of the season, the Spaniard’s answer was emphatic.

“Yes. Ten is a lot of points,” Guardiola said. “The second one [Tottenham] is three points. We have to see. I spoke to my players the last three weeks or a month, forget about the table. Focus on the next game and try to do our best to win the games and after that at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how our level and performance was — how was the coach, how was the players and after we are going to decide.”

It seems like Guardiola has already decided that the title race is over for City, but has he thrown in the towel too early?

With just five points separating second-place Tottenham with sixth-place Manchester United, it appears City’s primary focus will now be to finish in the top four as a mammoth battle ensues in the final third of the season.

Yet, we have seen some miraculous comebacks from teams in the past to win the title. These stats could give Pep hope.

In the 1997-98 season, Arsenal were 12 points behind United after 21 games of the season (United had played a game more) but roared back to win the PL by one point. And of course, City’s two PL crowns came courtesy of stunning late surges in the season with thanks to Sergio Aguero’s magic on the final day in 2011-12 and then Liverpool’s collapse in the closing weeks of 2013-14.

Pep, don’t lost the faith. It can be done.

However, if City lose to Tottenham next weekend and Chelsea extend their lead over Pep’s boys to 13 points by beating Hull City, it is curtains.

Such is the dominance of the big boys this season, City pretty much have to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to have a shot at winning the PL. Given their recent defensive displays that seems unlikely.

We all know Pep is an idealist when it comes to how he wants his team to play but now we are seeing he is a realist too.

Conte urges players “money is not everything” amid Costa rumors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
1 Comment

While new reports are suggesting that China will have to curb its massive spending, Antonio Conte has urged his players that they don’t have to be tempted by the Chinese Super League.

[ MORE: United, Liverpool finish level after late Ibrahimovic equalizer ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League — seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool — but the club has recently been at the center of controversy as star striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move away from the club.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit number of foreign players per team ]

Costa missed his side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday after several outlets reported a rift between the Spaniard and Conte.

The Chelsea manager told reporters following the match that Costa wasn’t available due to a back injury he suffered in training, but there has been continued speculation that the 28-year-old could head to China.

Conte has made it clear to his squad though that the quality of competition in England supersedes the money offered abroad.

“The money is not everything,” Conte told reporters. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

“I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players.

The Blues have lost a number of high-profile players over recent seasons to the high spending of Chinese football, including Brazilian duo Oscar and Ramires, as well as John Obi Mikel.

Oscar departed Chelsea this month to join Shanghai SIPG for a reported $72 million.

“I have to look at the past,” Conte said. “Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

Report: Ian Harkes expected to sign with DC United

@MacStLouis
Twitter/ @MacStLouis
Leave a comment

D.C. United didn’t have a top 10 selection in the MLS SuperDraft, but the club is likely to end up with one of the most talented collegiate players in the game.

[ MORE: Robinson, Ebobisse headline latest U.S. U-20 roster ]

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United is expected to sign Wake Forest attacker Ian Harkes to a multi-year contract.

[ MORE: Galaxy keeper Rowe replaces Frei with USMNT ]

Harkes, 21, came up through D.C.’s academy system before playing all four years for the Demon Deacons. The midfielder has gained significant notoriety over his college career, which concluded with Hermann Trophy honors following his senior senior.

As a former member of the D.C. academy, Harkes didn’t have to declare for the SuperDraft and is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in the coming days.

Harkes has also been considering his options abroad, which included second-division sides in England, where he was born. Ian is the son of former U.S. Men’s National Team star John Harkes, who played both in the United States and England over his professional career.

Bayern Munich signs Suele and Rudy from Hoffenheim

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Sebastian Rudy of Germany controls the ball during the International Friendly Match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Milan, .  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic rescues draw for United against Liverpool ]

Bayern said Sunday on its website that Rudy – who is out of contract in the summer – has signed a three-year deal until 2020 while Suele has agreed a five-year deal until June 2022.

[ MORE: Morata to Chelsea? Dybala staying put? ]

“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”

The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.

“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”

Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.

The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.