Apollon Limassol

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Malta captain mutes goal celebration after journalist slain

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Malta captain Andre Schembri says the car bomb slaying of a Maltese investigative journalist prompted him not to exult after scoring an historic goal.

Schembri’s temporary equalizer for Cypriot club Apollon in a 3-1 loss to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday made him the first Maltese player to score in proper European competition – excluding qualifying.

[ PL PREVIEW: Saints vs. West Brom ]

But instead of pumping his fist or leaping in joy over the achievement, Schembri hung his head as teammates mobbed him.

Schembri wrote on Facebook on Friday, “Celebrating my goal didn’t feel right after what happened in Malta this week.”

Malta has been stunned since Monday by the slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an anti-corruption reporter whose targets included Malta’s leading politicians.

“When they killed Daphne I wasn’t able to sleep for three nights,” Schembri told the ANSA news agency. “Malta is Europe, it’s not the third world. We need to be united when faced with grief like this, to say that we’re better than all of this.

“I love my country and with that goal it came naturally to me to think about a reporter’s freedom and the life of a mother of three children.”

Europa League preview: Everton hosts Cypriots; Arsenal in Belarus

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The two Premier League clubs currently in this season’s Europa League could hardly have found more differing stars to life in the UEL.

Everton was thumped 3-0 by Atalanta, an embarrassing set back albeit a surmountable one, while Arsenal overcame an early scare to cruise past noisy visiting Koln 3-1.

[ MORE: Mourinho on CSKA Moscow blowout ]

The Toffees have a good match for a club trying to get off the mat, with Apollon Limassol visiting, but will be without center backs Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane.

Arsenal should be able to build on its win when it visits BATE Borisov.

Other intriguing matches see AC Milan hosting Rijeka, and Villarreal taking a rare trip to Israel for a match with Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Don’t sleep on USMNT center back Matt Miazga and Vitesse, as the young Yank looks to help hold Mario Balotelli off the score sheet. In the last four Nice matches, no one has been able to do that.

Not so sleepy: Lyon vs. Atalanta, as two clubs quite capable of fireworks meet in France.

Full schedule

11 a.m. ET kickoff
Astana vs. Slavia Prague

1 p.m. ET kickoff
Lazio vs. Zulte Waregem
Zenit vs. Real Sociedad
Ostersund vs. Hertha Berlin
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Marseille
Koln vs. Red Star Belgrade
Rosenborg vs. Vardar
Konyaspor vs. Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao vs. Zorya Luhansk
BATE Borisov vs. Arsenal
Lugano vs. Steaua Bucuresti
Plzen vs. Hapoel Beer-Sheva
Nice vs. Vitesse

3:05 p.m. ET kickoffs
Sheriff vs. Copenhagen
Braga vs. Istanbul Basaksehir
Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Zlin
Lyon vs. Atalanta
Skenderbeu vs. Young Boys
Everton vs. Apollon Limassol
Partizan vs. Dynamo Kyiv
AEK vs. Austria Wien
AC Milan vs. Rijeka
Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Villarreal
Ludogorets vs. Hoffenheim

The strange trip of U.S. U-23 back Shane O’Neill heads to England

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What a weird journey it’s been for former Colorado Rapids youngster Shane O’Neill.

As long as the paperwork goes through, England is about to have another American competitor. The 22-year-old Irish-born defender is leaving Cypriot side Apollon Limassol to join Cambridge United on loan.

[ MORE: Deadline Day Done Deals ]

The U’s are three points out of a promotion playoff spot in League Two, England’s fourth-tier. Cambridge is managed by longtime Crystal Palace, QPR and Leeds midfielder Shaun Derry.

O’Neill has made 22 appearances for the United States’ U-20 and U-23 sides, but can still represent Ireland if he’d like. He left Apollon Limassol on loan last year, but hasn’t played for loan club Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz or his permanent club.

Let’s hope this is a step in the right direction — or at least out of the wilderness — for the promising and versatile O’Neill.

UEFA Women’s Champions League: If you want to see Americans in European competition, this is the place

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Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) and Jermaine Jones (Schalke) are active in the men’s competition, but compared to the number of U.S. internationals involved in the women’s version of UEFA Champions League, two seems like a relatively paltry number. As the women’s competition’s Round of 32 started today, 27 U.S. players were listed on squads set to take part in this year’s knockout round.

That’s right: 27. There’s nearly one American player per team in UEFA Women’s Champions League, names that range from your top-flight U.S. Women’s National Team talents (Tobin Heath, pictured,, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger) to NWSL players looking to supplement their income (Joanna Lohman, Sinead Farrelly) to players who make Europe their home base on a permanent basis (Christen Press, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg).

The full list of players is at the bottom of this article, but with the world’s biggest women’s club competition starting in earnest today, it’s worth asking why these players aren’t getting a little more publicity back home. Of course, we know the answer … but stay with me while we build toward it (and, eventually, get to today’s results).

Can you imagine the amount of attention we’d be giving to men’s Champions League if eight prominent players — talents close to or in the national team — were active in the competition? That’s how many players with national team possibilities are on the women’s list. Yet for as much as we hear about the exploits of Tim Howard and Michael Bradley and the Champions League outcomes of Schalke (Jones) and Anderlecht (Kljestan), the European exploits of some of the women’s game’s biggest stars are completely overlooked.

And, of course, this is the inherent sexism of sport at work. It’s sports-level patriotic to write and consume “yanks abroad” updates for the most obscure male talents, most of whom are reported on despite their games being unavailable to watch. But for women playing top-level soccer abroad? Many of whom are not available to watch weekly via internet streams? Patriotism apparently has its limits.

There are a couple other notable, confounding (though not independent) factors. The Women’s Champions League, as a tournament, has yet to capture imaginations like the men’s. It’s getting there, seemingly taking notable steps forward each year, but it’s not at the point where it’s readily accessible to the U.S. audience. You can stream it, but it’s mid-day. And aside from the final, it’s not on television (and being on GolTV makes that claim somewhat debatable).

Second, the women’s club world, while rapidly evolving, still sees a huge disparity between great teams and average ones. The divide often leads to some non-Champions-y results in UEFA’s showcase. Today there were 14-0 and a 7-1 results, both high numbers coming from the road team.

But let’s be honest: The inability to watch game never stopped people from tracking the biggest men’s talents. And with the popularity of the women’s national team in this country, it’s difficult to definitely argue there’s no interest in this type of coverage. While it would be difficult to justify throwing men’s Champions League or Premier League attention at the “WUCL”, it should justify a post vague, one-line “played 90 minutes, team lost X-Y” type coverage.

So what’s left? Where are we left with excuses? A lack of bandwidth to cover it? Maybe. But there may also just be a lack of males playing, and as anything regarding these issues, the reasons may be too confounded to untangle.

But maybe this is a case, of the simplest, most accessible answer is the right one. If 27 U.S. males were playing in Champions League, you wouldn’t have to hear it from me.

(Given the length of this post, I’ve broken the result of today’s Round of 32 action into a separate, upcoming post. Here, however, it the list of U.S. players on squads playing in this year’s UEFA Champions League):

U.S. PLAYERS IN 2013-14 UEFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

  • Ingrid Wells, Turbine Potsdam
  • Alex Singer, Turbine Potsdam
  • Ashlyn Harris, Tyresö
  • Christen Press, Tyresö
  • Ali Krieger, Tyresö
  • Whitney Engen, Tyresö
  • Meghan Klingenberg, Tyresö
  • Lindsey Horan, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Tobin Heath, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Michelle Betos, Apollon Limassol
  • Kelly Ann Henderson, Apollon Limassol
  • Joanna Lohman, Apollon Limassol
  • Tina DiMartino, Apollon Limassol
  • Sinead Farrelly, Apollon Limassol
  • Jasmyne Spencer, Apollon Limassol
  • Gina DiMartino, Apollon Limassol
  • Kristen Nicole Edwards, Rossiyanka
  • Lydia Hasting, PK-35 Vantaa
  • Megan Rapinoe, Lyon
  • Viktoria Alonzo, Thor/KA
  • Thanal Annis, Thor/AK
  • Kayla Grimsely, Thor/AK
  • Chante Sandiford, Zorky
  • Amy Barczuk, Zorky
  • Nick Ashley, Zorky
  • Alyssa Mautz, Zorky
  • Amanda Mcmullan, Fortuna