Malaysian Airlines disaster takes lives of two Newcastle fans

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It’s easy to imagine the excitement of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, traveling abroad to see their beloved Newcastle United take part in a tour of New Zealand. How would the new signings look? Did manager Alan Pardew have the late-season skid sorted out?

Tragically, they will not witness the answer to those questions. Alder and Sweeney were among the 298 people aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 that was shot down over the Ukraine on Thursday afternoon.

The pair were incredible fans, and the club will pay tribute in a number of ways: black armbands during the tour of New Zealand as well as a dedicated area outside the stadium for memories and flowers.

Newcastle released this statement on their web site:

Both men were familiar faces at every Newcastle United away game and attended not only first team games but Reserve and Academy matches too.

John was a lifelong supporter and a familiar sight in the stands for almost half-a-century, having barely missed a single game in that time.

Liam will be known to many fans during his time volunteering as a steward on supporters’ buses to away games.

The release also featured emotional quotes from NUFC managing director Lee Charnley and manager Alan Pardew, the latter referencing the attendance of Alder and Sweeney at Newcastle’s friendly against Oldham Athletic last week.

Current and former players responded on Twitter, too:

The Chronicle’s Sarah Scott told more of the deceased fans in two strong pieces.

On Alder:

He became known amongst fans for always wearing a black suit, getting himself the nickname ‘The Undertaker’. Even in sweltering heat John would be seen in his suit, no matter what country he followed the team to.

In 1999 John was included in the Hall for Fans after not missing a United game since his visit to Queens Park Rangers in 1973.

On Sweeney:

“Liam has been a Newcastle fan all his life and been going to the away matches since 2007.

“He was going to Germany, every away match, every European tour.

“He worked the night shift in Morrisons in Killingworth. He’d been there for 10 years, they are all gutted.

“Everyone is going to miss him, family and friends.

A “howay the lads” to Alder and Sweeney, and our deepest sympathies to their families and friends.

Klinsmann blames Costa Rica loss on Mexico hangover

Jurgen Klinsmann

The United States lost their third straight match on home soil tonight, the first such losing streak since 1997.

Following an extra-time loss to Mexico on Saturday, the U.S. failed to compete in a friendly against Costa Rica, putting in another poor performance as the side continues to struggle.

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In his post match press conference, Jurgen Klinsmann said his team was still shaking off the loss against Mexico, and couldn’t recover in time for tonight’s game.

Yes, the United States’ match against Mexico went 120 minutes. Yes, it was a very tough game both physically and mentally. However, it’s time for Klinsmann to stop making excuses.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from the USMNT’s loss to Costa Rica ]

Of the starting XI against Costa Rica, only four started against Mexico. Of the six substitutes Klinsmann brought in today, only Bobby Wood played in the Mexico match, and for less than 25 minutes.

The problem isn’t that the U.S. lost tonight; it’s that they didn’t even show up. What Klinsmann needed to do was walk into his press conference and say, “We didn’t come to play tonight. We stunk. That can’t happen and we need to be better. It starts with me.”

[ PLAYER RATINGS: Howard’s return highlights poor performances from USMNT ]

Top teams don’t dwell on past results. Top teams rebound quickly and back up poor performances with strong performances. When a top team would have bounced back, the United States fell flat.

Clearly the argument is, well, the United States isn’t a top team. But isn’t that what Klinsmann was brought in to do? To help develop the USMNT into a top team? The least they could do is act like one, and that starts with the manager.

College Soccer Update: Tragedy strikes USC Upstate with horrible car accident

USC Upstate
USC Upstate
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No interviews today. No star players and programs. Just mourning.

USC Upstate lost four students earlier this week, two of them men’s soccer players, in an early morning car accident this weekend. A fifth was injured when the car they were driving in ran off the road, hit a tree, and caught fire.

James Campbell and Mills Sproul are the soccer players who’ve left the pitch for the final time.

[ MORE: College soccer news ]

USC Upstate’s athletic department held a candelight vigil on Monday, and honored both players with online memorials.

From Campbell’s, entitled “James Campbell Was an Intense Player Whose Competitiveness Made Those Around Him Play Harder”:

While Kyle Juell and James attended different high schools, they played club soccer together. “James was intense and passionate on the field,” Juell said. “He was the kind of aggressive player you wanted as a teammate. He was fun and warm and full of life and he cared so much about his teammates.”

From Sproul’s, entitled “Mills Sproul Put the Needs of Others Before His Own and Was Accepting of All”:

Mills’ teammate Deon Rose said that Mills was like the brother he never had.

“The first time I met him, I knew that he was special,” Rose said. “Not because he asked me if we had beaches in Canada or how Canadians survived without Chick-fil-A, but because he had an unconditional love for everyone and everything.”

Our thoughts are with the USC Upstate team, and entire community. Rest in peace.

Three stars of the week

1. University of California Santa Barbara — The Gauchos leapt from “receiving votes” to No. 14 in the nation. The Gauchos have won five-straight, all in-state, by a combined score of 13-3.

2. Joey Piatczyc, West Virginia — The midfielder leads the nation in assists with 12, one coming in Tuesday’s upset of Penn State, a match in which he also scored his first of the year. The Mountaineers shocked PSU with a 3-0 home win in Morgantown.

3. Francis Atuahene and Colin McAtee, Michigan — The Ghanaian freshman is a lightning bolt, and keeps producing goals along with the redshirt senior McAtee, who hails from San Diego. The Wolverines beat Duquesne 3-0 on Tuesday.

Other notes

— Creighton dropped two of its 24 first place votes, one each to North Carolina and Stanford, but remains the No.1 men’s team in the nation.

— Wake Forest hasn’t allowed a goal in three matches, against quality competition in NC State, South Carolina and Boston College. There were stretches in the 2-0 win over South Carolina where they looked unbeatable.

— Speaking of the Demon Deacons, they’ll face dangerous UNC on Saturday in what will be a cracker.

— Also No. 1:Florida State (Women’s D-1), Gannon (Women’s D-2), Trinity of Texas (Women’s D-3), Pfeiffer (Men’s D-2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D-3).