River Plate

Houston lands third DP in Argentina U-20 vet Martinez (video)

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As if Houston’s attack wasn’t dynamic enough, the Dynamo have added another young talent to complete its corps of Designated Players.

Argentine attacking midfielder Tomas Martinez, 22, joins Alberth Elis and Erick Torres as Houston’s youthful DPs, and he looks the part.

The River Plate product arrives from an underwhelming stint at Braga in Portugal, but made 10 appearances with two goals for Argentina’s U-20s. That includes 90-minute runs in all three matches of the 2015 U-20 World Cup on a squad with Angel Correa and Giovanni Simeone.

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Currently sitting third in the Western Conference, Houston’s turnaround under Wilmer Cabrera has been dramatic; The Dynamo finished second-last in points last season, just three ahead of bottom-feeding Chicago.

The question in adding another young focal point is how much is too much? The Dynamo have yet to win on the road, and Cabrera will need to lean on DaMarcus Beasley and Ricardo Clark for continued leadership.

FC Dallas gave injured Mauro Diaz a home champagne shower (video)

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
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FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.

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A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.

Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.

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Club World Cup final: Messi to face Argentina powers River Plate

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It’s Argentina’s best versus, well, Argentina’s best.

Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Barcelona seek the club’s third Club World Cup title early Sunday when they take on River Plate in Japan.

Mascherano actually started his career with the Argentine champs, and will look to deny River Plate its first ever Club World Cup (Messi started with Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys at age 7, moving to Barcelona at age 13).

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Barca is a heavy favorite here, and counts nine of South America’s best on its roster. There’s a flip to the script, too, with longtime Barcelona player Javier Saviola in the River Plate set-up.

The two sides have never met, which is one of the major allures of such a tournament. Far from home, and in the wee hours of the European morning, anything can happen.

That said, the Club World Cup has been dominated by UEFA. Other confederations have a grand total of one title since 2007 after Brazilian clubs swept the first three. Barcelona can give a nation back-to-back titles for the first time since Internacional capped Brazil’s run in 2006.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Guangzhou Evergrande play the third-place game at 2 a.m. ET Sunday before Barca and River Plate tangle at 5:30 a.m. ET.

VIDEO: Suarez hat trick sets up Barca-River Plate World Club Cup final

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Without Lionel Mesi or Neymar through injury, it was down to one man to deliver the goals for Barcelona on Thursday. And boy, did he deliver.

[ MORE: Messi out with abdominal injury

Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to lead Barcelona to a 3-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande in their FIFA Club World Cup semifinal in Japan on Thursday.

Suarez followed up expertly in the first half for his first, then controlled Andres Iniesta’s superb pass brilliantly with his chest and volleyed home his second. The icing on the cake was Suarez’s third goal as he slammed home from the penalty spot to set up a mouthwatering final in Yokohama on Sunday against Argentine outfit River Plate.

[ VIDEO: Wambach’s emotional farewell

The South American champs edged past Sanfrece Hiroshima 1-0 with Lucas Alario scoring the winner for the Buenos Aires based club.

Sanfrece Hiroshima and Guangzhou Evergrande will contest the third place game on Sunday in Yokohama before the final between Barca and River takes center stage to crown the number one club side on the planet.

Watch video of all three of Suarez’s goals in the video link on their website, here.

Drive for five: Barcelona chasing 5th trophy of 2015 at Club World Cup

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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This week, Barcelona will attempt to do something no club in the world has done before: win the FIFA Club World Cup, the tournament that pits club champions from six continents against one another with the title of “world’s best” on the line, for a third time.

[ MORE: La Liga roundup ]

Only two clubs have won the end-of-year worldwide club tournament on more than one occasion — Barcelona (2009, 2011) and Brazilian side Corinthians (2000, 2012) — which means the reigning European (and Spanish league, Spanish cup and Spanish super-cup) champions will play for a bit of history, beginning when they take on Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande in the semifinals of the Club World Cup on Thursday (5:30 a.m. ET) in Yokohama, Japan.

Guangzhou Evergrande advanced to the semis with a victory over CONCACAF Champions League winners Club America on Sunday. Former Tottenham Hotspur and sometimes-still Brazilian national team midfielder Paulinho scored the game-winning goal in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. The reigning AFC Champions League champions are managed by former Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League last 16 full draw results ]

Barcelona have taken a full-strength side, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, to Japan. Barcelona, who were last in the Club World Cup four years ago, defeated Santos, then the club side of current Barca superstar Neymar, to win the title in 2011.

The first semifinal, to be played on Wednesday (5:30 a.m. ET), will see 2015 J1 League winners (host) Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who beat reigning CAF Champions League winners TP Mazembe in the quarterfinals, take on the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, River Plate.

The final of the 2015 Club World Cup is scheduled to be played Sunday (5:30 a.m. ET) in Yokohama.