Mexico’s moment of truth almost here; the massive World Cup qualifying series with New Zealand begins Wednesday

3 Comments

It isn’t often that World Cup qualifying in our region can kick up such a U.S. interest when it does not involve the United States.

Then again, it isn’t often that Mexico is this awful.

So here it is, El Tri’s last stand. The chances for getting this wayward, mess of a World Cup qualifying campaign together are pretty much up. They get things right over the next few days against New Zealand, or mighty Mexico – well, you know, “mighty” in our region – misses the quadrennial world soccer mega-party for the first time since 1990.

Heck, as World Cup qualifying opened, some pundits were suggesting Mexico could be a dark horse favorite to accomplish something truly special next summer in Brazil. Now, they are running out of chances to even get there.

We’ll have more about it at ProSoccerTalk over the next week and a half. It starts Wednesday when the teams meet at Azteca.

Mexico finished fourth among six teams in final round World Cup qualifying in our region. (The United States finished first, claiming an automatic berth along with Costa Rica and Honduras.)

(MORE: Why U.S. fans might WANT Mexico in the World Cup)

What former Club America manager Miguel Herrera told FIFA.com: “The first thing we said was that we shouldn’t think about what happened in the past because that’s something we can’t resolve. … We are going to win in Mexico and we will also seek to win over there [in New Zealand].”

Ordinarily, a home game against a team like New Zealand (No.  79 in FIFA’s latest world rankings) would hardly be worth a Tri-Colored sweat. But Mexico won just once in five final round World Cup qualifiers inside Azteca, so the All Whites can like their chances of a draw or a close loss before heading back home for the second leg.

(MORE: Price for Mexico missing World Cup seems to be rising)

Herrera certainly made a statement by choosing an All-Mexico-based roster for the do-or-die set; that means no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, an unthinkable exclusion just a few months ago.

New Zealand is missing a big start, too, although for completely different reasons. West Ham defender Winston Reid, the All Whites’ captain, was recently ruled out with a serious ankle injury.

The second leg is Nov. 20 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

(more…)

EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET