Jamaica v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Americans Abroad preview: Domestic, Champions leagues resume

1 Comment

After two victories to close out World Cup qualifying for the United States, its players dispersed back to their club teams again, ready for action again this weekend.

Those who did not have their names called by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann will also be prepared, with a full week of training and no transatlantic flights from which to recover. Crunch time starts now, with just eight months to impress and earn a World Cup roster spot.

Only 23 players will wear the red, white and blue in Brazil, so there is little time to waste.

(MORE: Americans Abroad full archive)

If you’re looking for American soccer players on TV this upcoming week, here’s where you’ll find them:

ENGLAND

Jozy Altidore returns to his club after another successful outing with the national team when Sunderland takes on Swansea City (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Live Extra). He scored an insurance goal for the U.S. in its 2-0 win over Jamaica on Oct. 11, which was his first tally since a League Cup match on Aug. 27.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City return to action against West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Live Extra). The question moving forward for Cameron will be whether he can work his way into a starting center back spot, as Klinsmann said he wants.

• Aston Villa hosts Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 10:30 a.m., NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra), and Brad Guzan will once again have to be in top form for his team to have a chance at three points. He made a rare start for the U.S. in Tuesday’s crazy 3-2 win in Panama.

ITALY

Michael Bradley is close to making his return from an ankle injury he suffered on national team duty. When AS Roma hosts Napoli on Friday (2:30 p.m., beIN Sport Español, replay at 4:30 p.m. on beIN Sport), he could be on the bench.

MEXICO

• Puebla’s American duo of DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco play Club Atlas on Saturday (12:50 noon, ESPN Deportes).

Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Joe Corona, Hérculez Gómez and Paul Arriola will all be available for Club Tijuana on Sunday against Toluca (12:50 noon, Univision).

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Jermaine Jones’ Schalke faces a stern test in Group E, hosting Chelsea (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer2Go). The Germans won their first two group games, while Chelsea has endured more of an up-and-down season in both league and continental play, losing to Basel before beating Steaua Bucharest.

• Anderlecht and Sacha Klještan host Paris Saint-Germain (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m., ROOT Sports and FoxSoccer2Go). Klještan started for the U.S. against Panama after coming off the bench against Jamaica, but that’s a far cry from facing Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

meninblazers
Leave a comment

In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.