Abby Wambach FBL-KOR-USA-FRIENDLY

U.S. vs. Brazil on Nov. 10: National television, out-of-window matches, and an infrequent Selecao

2 Comments

After the 2011 World Cup, matches between Brazil and the U.S. Women’s National Team will never be the same, something which may explain why today’s announcement of a Nov. 10 friendly between the two sides came with the unexpected surprise of a network television appearance. As Kyle Bonn mentioned earlier, the game is going to be on NBC, but the more interesting parts of today’s announcement: the game doesn’t take place on an FIFA international match day; and it represents one of the infrequent times Brazil’s national team actually plays soccer games.

U.S. Soccer made the news official this morning, announcing the rumored November friendly will take place at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Capitalizing on the profile the teams’ rivalry has achieved in the wake of their dramatic, quarterfinal meeting at Germany 2011, the game will get a 3:30 p.m. Eastern, national television kick off.

While the game will almost assuredly lack another Abby Wambach, at-the-death equalizer, it will present a chance to get the top three finishers for FIFA World Player of the Year on the same field. Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Brazilian attacker Marta were all finalists for last year’s award.

“Over the last several years, there’s been an intense rivalry between the two countries and a series of games that have been very tightly contested, highly competitive and of course extremely dramatic,” U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni said, through U.S. Soccer. “It will be a fantastic game to finish the year off.”

It will also give the Orlando soccer community a chance to take center stage. As their local third division club (Orlando City SC) claimed this season’s USL PRO title, the city gained national attention for the multiple five-digit crowds they were able to attract to the Citrus Bowl (attendances that far eclipsed the league’s average draw). The fervency of the area’s growing soccer fanbase has led to widespread speculation the club will be among Major League Soccer’s expansion franchises as the league, currently at 19 teams, seeks to reach 24.

With the likes of Wambach, Morgan, and Hope Solo likely to join their teammates in Florida, the Brazil friendly gives Orlando another chance to shine on the soccer landscape.

“Orlando City SC is thrilled to help bring the U.S. Women’s National Team to Orlando,” said Orlando City President Phil Rawlins told U.S. Soccer. “Successfully hosting this match will be yet another step forward in Orlando City’s goal of being announced this year as the next Major League Soccer (MLS) Expansion Club.”

Among the players unlikely to join the U.S. in Orlando: Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Ali Krieger. All four U.S. regulars play in Europe, and because this Brazil friendly is scheduled outside a FIFA reserved match date, Lyon (Rapinoe), Paris Saint-Germain (Heath), and Tyresö (Press, Krieger) will be under no obligation to release their players.

FIFA has a break scheduled for Nov. 23 through Nov. 28, and while clubs could still grant their players permission to join their national team for its game on the 10th (Tyresö, in particular), the U.S. may be left in the same position as it is for an upcoming friendly against Australia: Without it’s Europe-based talent for the visit from A Seleçao.

That the U.S. will play Brazil at all may be more notable than the match date tension. November’s will be Brazil’s sixth game of the year, a paltry number for a team ranked fourth in the world. The U.S. (ranked first by FIFA) is scheduled to play 16 times. Japan (third) is scheduled to play 15, while Germany (second) will play 20 times in 2013. Historically underfunded and borderline neglected beyond qualifying tournaments and major events, Brazil’s women’s team will get one of their infrequent opportunities to test themselves.

(Brazil did play 13 games in 2012, the same number of games as Germany. Japan played 19. The U.S. played 20 times. In the down years of 2009 and 2010, Brazil averaged 8.5 games per year.)

The last time the teams met, the U.S. won 3-0 in Japan, the teams playing in Chiba during a spring tournament. Given the lack of work Brazil gets at this point of the cycle, the result may be the same in Orlando. That will probably suit the home crowd just fine, with the Citrus Bowl potentially packing a large crowd to see the world’s top-ranked team take on one of its biggest rivals.

Blatter says he will accept verdict as CAS appeal begins

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter speaks during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived for his appeal hearing against a six-year ban from football on Thursday, pledging to accept the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport

“I do hope it will be positive for me,” Blatter, sporting a light gray beard, told reporters at around 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) ahead of a hearing expected to last several hours.

The court’s verdict is expected within several weeks, and could be challenged in a further appeal to Switzerland’s supreme court.

The 80-year-old Blatter denies wrongdoing in authorizing a $2 million payment to former FIFA vice president Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was for backdated and uncontracted salary for work Platini did in advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The so-called “disloyal payment” led Blatter to be put under investigation for criminal mismanagement by Swiss federal prosecutors last September. That investigation is ongoing.

FIFA’s ethics committee judged the $2 million deal was a conflict of interest and initially banned Blatter and Platini for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut both bans to six years.

Platini’s appeal to CAS was already judged in May, when Blatter appeared in person as a witness. Platini promised a further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after his ban was only cut from six to four years.

Platini arrived at the hearing around midday local time to be a witness. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter’s comments Thursday suggest he would not pursue a federal case. Federal judges can intervene only if legal process is abused.

“We are football players, we learned to win but also we learned to lose and it will not be the end of the world,” Blatter said outside CAS.

The three-member panel for Blatter’s case is expected to respect the verdict of a separate panel which judged Platini.

A failure to overturn the ban for Blatter would likely end his hope to one day be named FIFA honorary president by its 211 member federations.

[ MORE: Ranking Champions League groups ]

The case already ended Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as FIFA president, and also forced him out of European governing body UEFA.

On Sept. 14, UEFA members will elect a successor to replace Platini who had a mandate through March 2019. By imposing a four-year ban, the CAS panel ensured UEFA had to replace Platini, rather than wait for him to return.

The “disloyal payment” emerged last year when Platini was strongly favored to win the election to replace Blatter, who had announced his departure plans after 17 years as president amid pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior FIFA officials.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters last September by Swiss investigators who were waiting for them outside an executive committee meeting.

During the turmoil in world football, Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, Gianni Infantino, submitted an election candidacy on the entry deadline day and won the vote in February.

Arriving at the hearing with his Zurich-based lawyer Lorenz Erni, Blatter said he hoped the CAS panel “will understand that the payment made to Platini was really a debt that we had against him.”

“This is a principle, if you have debts you pay them,” Blatter said.

NASL weekend preview: Miami, Minnesota meet playoff fortunes head on

twitter.com/naslofficial
twitter.com/naslofficial
Leave a comment

There are still two full months of soccer to go in the NASL’s Fall Season, but this weekend could be a major day for the title fortunes of one squad in particular.

Miami FC and Minnesota United are level on points with 15 heading into Saturday’s match at FIU Stadium.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

If you’re unfamiliar, the NASL Playoffs involve four teams: the Spring champion (Indy Eleven), the Fall champion, and two other teams with the best combined record between seasons.

Miami’s played one fewer game, and both it and Minnesota — fresh off the news it’s headed to MLS in 2017 — are seven points shy of first-place FC Edmonton.

But Minnesota is on pace to make the playoffs through combined schedule, while Miami had a poor first half and would be better served to win the Fall Season if it wants a shot at the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Saturday
Carolina Railhawks at New York Cosmos
Rayo OKC at Tampa Bay Rowdies
Minnesota United at Miami FC

Sunday
Indy Eleven at Ottawa Fury
Puerto Rico at FC Edmonton

Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 14:  Lucas Perez of RC Deportivo la Coruna reacts during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio Teresa Rivero on September 14, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger‘s much-maligned transfer business is about to take the “much” off the verb.

Lucas Perez of Deportiva de la Coruna is reportedly going to be joining Arsenal on Friday, and the Gunners are also close to finally landing Valencia center back Shkodran Mustafi.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

Perez, 27, broke out for a career-best 17 goals last season, and scored on debut last weekend. He’s set to cost $22.5 million, while Mustafi makes up the other $46.5 million.

The 12-times capped German center back stands 6-foot, and would bring stability to a Gunners unit which has (again) been beset by injuries.

From the BBC:

Spaniard Lucas, 27, scored 17 goals in 37 games last season and Arsenal will meet a 20m euro (£17.1m) buyout clause.

Germany international Mustafi, 24, is set to join for a fee in excess of £35m.

Is this, coupled with the Granit Xhaka buy, enough to help Wenger right the ship? Mustafi, especially, would be a key piece. Perez is a bit of a lesser-known quality.

MLS Weekend Preview: Desperation mounts as rivals meet in Oregon

Portland Timbers defender Vytas Andriuskevicius, second from right, trips up Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, right, in the second half of a MLS soccer match, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in Seattle. Andriuskevicius was called for a foul on the play, and the Sounders' Clint Dempsey scored a goal on the resulting penalty kick. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Leave a comment

Desperation is up-and-down the schedule this weekend in Major League Soccer, as the playoff race really heats up.

The calendar turns to September next week, and teams will end this weekend with a clear view of their runs into the season’s final Sunday: Oct. 23.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season primer ]

The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).

Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:

Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).

Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.

Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.

Schedule

Friday
Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT

Saturday
Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT

Sunday
New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT