Chicago Fire host SuperLiga 2010; First Game Tonight against Monarcas Morelia

superliga

The World Cup in South Africa is officially over. However, in Chicago, soccer is just getting started. Tonight, at 8:30 PM CT, the Chicago Fire will kick off the SuperLiga 2010 against the Monarcas Morelia. The Chicago Fire and their home stadium, Toyota Park, will be one of four hosts for this year’s SuperLiga.

Every year, eight teams qualify for the SuperLiga tournament and are then split up into two groups. This year, Group A consists of two MLS teams (Chivas USA and Houston Dynamo) and two Mexican clubs (Pachuca and Puebla F.C.). Notable players from this group includes three U.S. National Team players from the 2010 World Cup roster: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca) and Jose Torres (Pachuca).

Joining the Chicago Fire in Group B is MLS Eastern Conference rival New England Revolution along with two other Mexican clubs (Monarcas Morelia and Pumas UNAM). Notable players from this group includes four members of the Mexican National Team’s 2010 World Cup roster: Efrain Juarez (Pumas UNAM), Israel Castro (Pumas UNAM), Pablo Barrera (Pumas UNAM) and Paul Aguilar (Pachuca).

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Spain Wins Their First World Cup Ever; Plus Post-World Cup Awards

spain world cup

It wasn’t always the beautiful game, but the best team came out victorious as Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 Sunday to win its first ever World Cup trophy.

Andres Iniesta got the crucial goal for the Spanish in extra time, just four minutes away from a penalty shootout. The midfielder smashed home a close range half-volley after being put through by Cesc Fabregas- it was a classy finish on a night where those were sorely lacking.

By: Sam Svoboda and Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Top 5 reasons to root for the Netherlands in the World Cup Final

As even most non-soccer fans know, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will conclude on Sunday afternoon as the Netherlands takes on Spain for the right to call themselves World Champions. The match itself should be an exciting contest between two attacking sides, but it’s always more fun when you’re rooting for a team. So for those of you who can’t decide who to pull for in this clash; or for those of you who don’t feel informed enough to make a decision, here are five reasons to throw your support behind Netherlands:

1. Karma: The Dutch reached two World Cup finals in the 1970s but lost both, and are commonly labeled “the best team never to win a World Cup”. Those 70s squads were some of the most transcendent in soccer history, creating a whole new style called “Total Football” in which players could swap positions on the fly. In short, although their style isn’t quite as beautiful today, they’re past due for a World Cup triumph.
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World Cup Night as Fire host MLS Champs

chicago fire

As the World Cup comes to a close, the Fire will celebrate the 19th edition of the World’s largest sporting event, when they host reigning MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake on “World Cup Night” at TOYOTA PARK on Thursday, July 8 at 8:30 PM CT (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes).

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Uruguay to Face the Netherlands in Semifinals sans Luis Suarez and Others

suarez

Heading into Tuesday’s semifinal match, The South American Cinderellas (Uruguay) will be without their co-leading goal-scorer, forward Luis Suarez. He was given a red card in extra-time against Ghana for his handball, which prevented a possible game-winning goal (watch here).

Once again, we are all forced to listen to the same song; referees and FIFA’s rules costing countries opportunities. “Awarding” Ghana with a penalty kick after their should-have-been-goal is like having a basketball team shoot free-throws after a goal-tending violation. The right call would have been to award Ghana with the goal.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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USA World Cup Group Stage Grades (Midfielders and Forwards)

The group stage of the 2010 World Cup is now over for the United States, and while the Yanks were three minutes from being eliminated, they will now advance to the knockout rounds. As the team prepares for Ghana on Saturday, TSB is grading each player on the team based on their performance in the group stages. Part One will look at the teams goalkeeper and defenders, and Part Two will look at the midfielders and forwards.

Midfielders:
Landon Donovan: A. He may not have the captain’s armband, but the US team clearly runs through Donovan, its best player. When the team needed someone to take over the match down 2-0 against Slovenia, Donovan obliged, scoring a wonder-goal early in the second half and then setting up the equalizer later with a perfect long ball (he would have had the assist on Maurice Edu’s game-winner as well, but we won’t get into that). Then, with the USA staring at an early exit after countless missed chances against Algeria, who else but Donovan popped up with an injury time goal. A more complete performance against Algeria, or a little magic against England would have garnered Donovan an A+, but he’s still a front-runner for US MVP at this point.
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USA World Cup Group Stage Grades (Goalkeeper and Defenders)

The group stage of the 2010 World Cup is now over for the United States, and while the Yanks were three minutes from being eliminated, they will now advance to the knockout rounds. As the team prepares for Ghana on Saturday, TSB is grading each player on the team based on their performance in the group stages. Part One will look at the teams goalkeeper and defenders, and Part Two will look at the midfielders and forwards.

Goalkeepers:
Tim Howard: A. Yes, Timmy has let in three goals in the tournament, but those three were far more about lackadaisical defending than any goalkeeper error. Howard has been near spotless, coming up with huge saves in the first match against England and putting in assured performances against Slovenia and Algeria. In a tournament where we have seen many a goalkeeper gaffe, Howard is looking like one of the world’s best.
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Donovan’s stoppage-time goal puts Americans into knockout round (plus US player ratings)

donovan usa world cup

For 90 minutes, it looked like it was just not meant to be for the US national team in its must-win World Cup match against Algeria. Another slow start by the Yanks saw the Desert Foxes’ Rafik Djebbour hit the crossbar after six minutes, and although the Americans began to dominate the match, they could not find their much needed goal- or at least, a goal that would count.

The US once again had a goal disallowed, this time with Clint Dempsey’s tidy finish of a Herculez Gomez cross called offside in the 20th minute (the replays show Dempsey was even with the last defender). The US continued to push forward, but spurned chance after chance to score the winner. As the clock hit 90 minutes, the Americans were on the edge of a disastrous exit from South Africa.

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USA-Slovenia Game Poster-Child for Instant Replay in Soccer

world cup ref

The USA’s disallowed goal against Slovenia may go down as one of the worst calls in sports history and may leave a sour taste in the mouths of USA fans for the rest of their lives. However, if the right action is taken by FIFA, it could be a blessing in disguise for the future of soccer. Sometimes there needs to be a catastrophe in order to perfect a system. We have seen this happen in other sports.

  • In the 1998 NFL Wild-Card Round, before there was instant replay, Jerry Rice blatantly lost the ball before his knees touched the ground, resulting in what should have been ruled as a fumble. However, he was ruled down before the ball popped out. This play paved the way for instant replay in the NFL.
  • Just recently, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call that cost Detroit’s pitcher, Armando Galarraga, a perfect game. Bud Selig came out after the game and said he would look further into instant replay in baseball. The MLB already has replay for home runs.

So, why is FIFA refusing to budge when it comes to replay?

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Mexico Blanco’s PK seals the victory over France

blanco_mexico

France has never lost to a CONCACAF (North American, Central American and Caribbean) soccer team and Mexico is 0-11-5 against countries that have won the World Cup…until now.

Mexico showed the world that they have the talent to play with anyone, beating France 2-0. In the meantime, the curse of Zinedine Zidane continues to haunt France, as they have failed to score a goal in the World Cup since the 2006 Final.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Slovenia player guarantees victory over the U.S.

landon donovan

Slovania’s midfielder Andrej Komac is quoted as saying “We will win this game. I have a good feeling.” Unfortunately for the United States, history is on Slovenia’s side. The U.S. is 3-10-3 against European teams in the group stage (0-2-2 in their last 4 games).

Slovenia is a small country, with a population the size of Houston, Texas. They gained independence in 1991 and won their first-ever World Cup game last Saturday against Algeria. Small country or not, any team that beats a team like Russia and qualifies out of Europe needs to be taken seriously.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group H Preview: Should Spain be the favorite to win it all?

spain

Group H is the group of similarities. For starters, three of the four teams (Spain, Honduras and Chile) are Spanish-speaking countries. This means that both teams will be able to comprehend “yo mama” jokes, which may lead to more Zinedine Zidane-like headbutts.

Another similarity is the fact that some of the most accomplished coaches are in this group. Spain is coached by Vicente del Bosque, who has won two Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and one Intercontinental Cup. Switzerland’s coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, also has two Champions League titles along with two Intercontinental Cups and seven Bundesliga championships. Chile’s coach, Marcelo Bielsa, won the Olympic Gold in 2004 and is the only coach in this group with World Cup experience.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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