US Open Cup semifinals preview: Dallas, Philly battle to host final

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In the next 48 hours we’ll know the opponents for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, with Philadelphia visiting FC Dallas on Tuesday and Chicago heading to Seattle on Wednesday.

The century-old competition has a bevy of former winners, from the familiar (DC United, L.A. Galaxy) to the lesser know (Brooklyn Italians, Bethlehem Steel) to the downright unfamiliar (St. Louis Simpkins-Ford, New Bedford Whalers).

Though the competition is now dominated by Major League Soccer teams, with the 1999 Rochester Rhinos the last non-MLS team to win the tournament, it’s still a boatload of fun. And Tuesday kicks off with a good match-up.

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The Union are the only remaining team to not have lifted the Cup, as Chicago has won four times, Seattle thrice and Dallas clinching its title in 1997. But the may have the juice to do the trick this year if they can get out of Texas alive, with an opportunity to become the first tourney champion from Pennsylvania since 1966.

The winner of Tuesday’s 9:30pm ET tilt gets to host the final in early Fall (The 2013 final was played on Oct. 1, with DC United besting Real Salt Lake 1-0).

Philly played host to Montreal this weekend in MLS play, a 2-1 win for the Union, while Dallas was home for a 3-1 win over Colorado.

Seattle and Chicago will tangle on Wednesday at 10:30pm ET, with the status of DeAndre Yedlin in question as his pending European move is still getting sorted out. The Sounders beat Houston at home on the weekend, while Chicago beat visiting New York 1-0.

Paths to the semis

FC Dallas – beat San Antonio Scorpions 2-0, Houston Dynamo 3-2 (et), Carolina Railhaws 5-2
Philadelphia – beat Harrisburg City 3-1, New York Cosmos 2-1, New England Revolution 2-0

Seattle – beat PSA Elite 5-0, San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 (PKs 4-1), Portland Timbers 3-1 (et)
Chicago – beat Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-1, Columbus Crew 4-2, Atlanta Silverbacks 3-1

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

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With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.