Hernandez of Mexico reacts after missing a chance to score against Costa Rica during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Mexico City

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Honduras want to wrap up third, Mexico and Panama desperate to slip in

Leave a comment

There’s just two matches left in the Hexagonal, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more drama. Sure, the United States have qualified, so there’s little to fret about regarding their match with bottom-dwellers Jamaica (although the match presents plenty of opportunities for the USMNT before they travel to Brazil). Costa Rica, too, have qualified with two games to spare. But there’s still that third placed slot, the one that leads directly to the World Cup, and fourth-place, which requires a win over New Zealand to get to Brazil.

Here’s where the drama comes in: two spots, four contenders. Honduras currently occupy the third spot, the last that can take a country directly to the World Cup. They seem relatively safe, but with two games left, their three point lead over both Panama and Mexico looks a bit too narrow, particularly considering they face Costa Rica on Friday night. A win, however, combined with a draw between Mexico and Panama, sees Honduras buying tickets to Brazil.

Jamaica could still, technically, slip in to that playoff spot, but they’ll have to beat both the United States and Honduras, and hope that Panama and Mexico play out a draw. If that happens, and Panama lose to the U.S., and Mexico lose to Costa Rica, Jamaica will have staged a wonderful comeback and will just need to beat New Zealand to reach Brazil.

CONCACAF Matches (Friday, October 11)

Honduras vs. Costa Rica (5 p.m. ET)

If Honduras want to keep their hold on third place, they really need more than a point in San Pedro Sula. Sure, it’s just Jamaica in the final round, and Los Catrachos can likely make it to Brazil with just four points. But do they really want to put that sort of pressure on themselves? If Honduras can secure a win, and Mexico vs. Panama ends in a draw, the Catrachos are through. But there’s an added complication: Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto has declared his intention to finish first in the Hex, stating that he will not treat these last two matches as mere friendlies, but instead as a warm up to the World Cup.

United States vs. Jamaica (6:30 p.m. ET)

Don’t worry, United States supporters — Steve Davis has you covered with an excellent, in-depth preview on the opportunities the USMNT has to fine-tune and perfect its game in the match against Jamaica. There will be more to follow from Kansas City as we count down the hours to kick off.

 Mexico vs. Panama (9:30 p.m. ET)

Definitely the big match in CONCACAF qualifying. Both sides are going to need to go full out: a draw, plus a win for Honduras, leaves them fighting for the spoils of fourth place. Mexico have lost their last two, but new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich is determined to reverse that trend. He hasn’t recalled Carlos Vela, despite his performances with Real Sociedad, but he’s brought in playmaker Lucas Lobos and recalled Rafa Marquez and Guillermo Memo Ochoa. Panama, meanwhile, will be looking to emulate Honduras by getting a win at the Azteca in Mexico City. The Canaleros beat Mexico twice in the Gold Cup this summer, and are hoping that the third time’s a charm as they continue to chase the dream of reaching their first World Cup.







Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

Jesse Marsch
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.

Mourinho says bad pitch in Tel-Aviv injured Ramires, John Terry

during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea left Israel with a 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but also left with some injuries.

Ramires was hurt in training the day before the match, and John Terry was forced off in the second half.

[ RECAP: Tel-Aviv 0-4 Chelsea ]

Jose Mourinho talked about the condition of the pitch before the match, and was even more upset after it as two of his players are now hurt, although the extent of those injuries is not yet known.

Terry was stretchered off and looked to be in quite a bit of pain after going up for a challenge, as his ankle twisted awkwardly when he landed.

The pitch in Tel-Aviv was in poor condition, as large chunks of turf could be seen flying up when players planted or went in for tackles. Mourinho himself was seen on the field trying to fill in divots during stoppages of play.

While Mourinho said he didn’t want to jump to conclusions before getting test results, he believes John Terry will be unable to play this weekend, a huge Premier League match away at Tottenham.

[ MORE: Arsenal ready to “play for our lives” in match vs. Olympiacos ]

Other than his issues with the conditions, Mourinho was relatively happy with the team’s play and believes they are getting some confidence back, now with consecutive wins after beating Norwich City over the weekend.