U.S. Defeats Germany, Advances to Women's World Cup Final: In a meeting of the world's top two FIFA-ranked teams, the United States defeated Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup semifinal and advances to the final for the second straight cup. Germany had a chance to take the lead in the second half but missed the first penalty kick in the team's WWC history. The U.S. got a penalty of its own shortly afterwards and Carli Lloyd scored. Lloyd had an assist on the second goal with a pass scored by Kelley O'Hara.
U.S. Defeats China, Advances to Women's World Cup Semifinals: The U.S. women's soccer team defeated China 1-0 Friday night, advancing to the semifinals of the Women's World Cup in Canada. The Americans were in solid control for most of the match but went into the half in a scoreless tie. In the 51st minute, Carli Lloyd scored on a header with a terrific pass from Julie Johnson near midfield. The U.S. will face Germany, which defeated France 5-4 on penalty kicks after being tied 1-1.
Brazil's World Cup Stadiums, One Year Later: ESPN looks at Brazil's 12 World Cup stadiums, some of which are barely used because they have no soccer club to fill them. One of the most glaring examples is Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia, which cost $900 million to build and is only used by semi-pro clubs because the city lacks a large pro club. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of construction costs of these venues was lost to corruption.
U.S. Beats Nigeria, Wins World Cup's "Group of Death": After finding out that qualification was guaranteed before the game, the United States defeated Nigeria 1-0 and won top spot in Group D of the Women's World Cup. Abby Wambach scored the only goal shortly before the half, turning a cross from Megan Rapinoe into a flying karate kick. The Americans' potential opponent in the first knockout game is looking like Thailand, France or Spain.
U.S. Men Beat Germany After Beating The Netherlands: The United States came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat world champs Germany in a friendly in the latter country Wednesday. Mix Diskerud scored after a terrific setup from Michael Bradley ending a 30-pass sequence by the Americans and Bobby Wood scored the winner late on a curving scorcher from just outside the penalty arc. Last Friday the U.S. achieved another surprising comeback victory, 4-3, on the road over The Netherlands.
U.S. Women Impress in World Cup Opening Win Over Australia: Australia gave the U.S. a scare in the Women's World Cup opener Monday, evening the score at 1-1 27 minutes in and putting keeper Hope Solo to work with a stronger and faster attack. But over time the U.S. began to take charge in a convincing 3-1 Group D victory. Megan Rapinoe scored the first and third goal and Christen Press the second. Player of the Match Rapinoe was exceptional on the ball, and called her play "my best Messi impression -- much slower." "She is the most skillful player I've come across," said Australian midfielder Katrina Gorry
Barcelona Wins Champions League, Completes the Treble: FC Barcelona has won the Champions League for the fifth time, defeating Juventus 3-1 Saturday on goals by Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Alvaro Morata scored for Juventus in the 55th minute to tie the match after Rakitic's early goal, but Lionel Messi and his teammates displayed the skill that enabled the Spanish side to complete a treble after also taking La Liga and Copa Del Ray. This was the last game in Barcelona for Xavi Hernandez, who after 17 years is leaving for the Al Sadd club in Qatar. Juventus sets a record for Champions League runner-up finishes at 6.
Enter the Women's World Cup Confidence Pool: The Women's World Cup begins Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern as Canada hosts China. We're running a confidence pool for the tournament, a contest in which you give all 24 teams a point value from 24 to 1 and receive points each time they win or tie in the tournament. The first prize is an Adidas Performance Conext15 Glider soccer ball.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter Announces His Resignation: Just days after he was voted to another term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter has announced his resignation. The Guardian is live-blogging the news, which he revealed during a press conference Tuesday. TalkSport radio in the U.K. is currently covering it as well. The announcement comes after media reports that Blatter's top lieutenant, Jerome Valcke, made $10 million in transactions central to the bribery scandal involving World Cup site selection.
Arsenal Dismantles Aston Villa in FA Cup Final: Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup Final Saturday, winning the trophy for a record-setting 12th time. Arsene Wenger became the first post-war manager to win it six times. Theo Walcott opened the scoring late in the first half. Alexis Sanchez roofed a brilliant long-range shot off the crossbar for the second and the Gunners were cruising after that. "Arsenal were so utterly superior here, in every department," writes Daniel Taylor in The Guardian. The win puts Southampton in the Europa League next season.
Henchmen arrested, but the Joker is still at large: 10 FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland for extradition to the U.S. for a whole host of corruption charges. Sepp Blatter is up for re-election on Friday, but with only one challenger and such rampant corruption, it's a wonder whether or not this will affect his chances.
Messi goal puts Barcelona past the post: Winning 1-0 over Atletico Madrid, last season's champions, at the Vincente Calderon, clinches the season title despite Real Madrid's 4-1 win today. This is their seventh title in ten years, with the Copa Del Rey and Champions League finals still to play.
Relegation-Bound Blackpool's Fans Storm Field, Cancel Match: The fans in Blackpool invaded the field during the English Championship team's final game before relegation Saturday, calling for chairman Karl Oyston's ouster. The game had to be cancelled. Fans announced earlier they would begin their anti-Oyston protest at the statue of legendary Blackpool player Stan Mortensen outside their stadium. The team had the statue cut down on Tuesday, so all that remains is the base. Daniel Taylor of The Guardian writes of Oyston, "I couldn't say with absolute certainty that he is deliberately setting out to be regarded as the most unpleasant man in the business, but he is certainly making a good fist of it."
Arsene Wenger, The Martyr: The sacrifices involved in playing the beautiful game.
U.S. Men Win 2-0 Over Mexico in San Antonio: Playing on a dismal surface, the U.S. men's national team handed Mexico another 2-0 loss in a friendly Wednesday night in San Antonio. Jordan Morris, the first current college player to play for the U.S. since 1999, scored a scrappy goal off a defender's carom and Juan Agudelo took a long pass out of the air, opened up a little space outside the box and beat the goalie to hang the famous "dos a cero" on the Americans' southern rival.
Former Bradford chairman linked to at least eight fires before Valley Parade disaster: '[T]here had been at least eight other fires at business premises either owned by, or connected to, Stafford Heginbotham, Bradford’s then-chairman, in the previous 18 years, resulting in huge insurance claims . . . "Could any man really be as unlucky as Heginbotham had been?"
Cyclones and Grass Roots Football: The Nerimbera Magpies. The soul of a town.
62,000 Welcome Orlando City to MLS in Franchise Opener: Kaka scored an equalizer on a free kick in extra time as Orlando City SC played to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC in the Major League Soccer franchise opener for both teams. Mix Diskerud had scored in the 76th minute on a pass from David Villa to put the visitors ahead. A crowd of 62,000 fans packed the Citrus Bowl, the second largest ever for a team's first game in MLS.
Revealed: the ghost game bet on around the world ... that never actually took place.:
All this would have been reflected in the odds offered before and during the game by bookmakers such as bet365 and SBOBET, odds that should have been increasingly in Shakhter’s favour. Except most people backing them were doomed to lose from the outset, because FC Slutsk 2 Shakhter Soligorsk 1 was always going to be the final score of a match Inside Sport can reveal never took place.
Belgian Soccer Fans Lose Their Heads: Fans of the Belgian soccer team Standard Liege greeted the return of their former captain Steven Defour on the opposing team with an enormous banner that depicted his decapitated head. Belgian foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders called it "stupid, nasty and irresponsible."
Coming of Age: The long, hard luck story of Australian football may be coming to an end.
Former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo joins crowded field looking to unseat Sepp Blatter as President of FIFA.: The 78-year-old Blatter is seeking his fifth consecutive term as FIFA President in an election to be held May 29th. Figo joins Frenchman Jérôme Champagne, Jordanian Prince Ali (who has won the backing of England's FA), Dutch FA President Michael van Pragg, and a bookmaker-backed publicity candidate. ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti offers a brief primer (autoplay audio/video warning).
The Miracle of Sociedad Deportiva Eibar: The town of Eibar, Spain, population 27,000, has a club playing in La Liga's top division for the first time in its history. Sociedad Deportiva Eibar has a $22 million budget compared to $934 million at Real Madrid, but after 16 games it has five wins and five draws and is in ninth place, seven points above the relegation zone. The club, the smallest ever in Primera Division, is debt-free and self-sustaining. "We could be a little bit uncomfortable for a lot of clubs, because they have done things in the opposite way," said club president Alex Arranzabal.
Chris Wondolowski Relives That Shot: "Wondolowski went back to the locker room and showered and dressed. Moments later, he did something that no athlete in the aftermath of failure should ever, under any circumstances, do: He checked Twitter." Jordan Ritter Conn of Grantland catches up with Chris Wondolowski, six months after the World Cup round of 16 game-winning goal that wasn't.
Plans for 39th Premier League Game Abroad Fizzle: Six years after Premier League chief Richard Scudamore floated the idea of playing a 39th game in other countries, he is conceding defeat. "The idea of an extra game is gone," he said. "I bear the scars from thinking it’s a good idea." Another proposal has been more successful: The next broadcast deal will feature Friday evening games beginning in 2016.
New India Super League Has Fourth-Highest Attendance in Soccer: The India Super League began a month ago, hoping to bring soccer to prominence in a country where it was once the most popular sport. The league has brought on some older foreign stars -- Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and David Trezeguet -- and drew 56 million viewers to its opening matches. The league has eight teams, plays three months and does not relegate, although it plans a merger with the smaller, established I-League within five years. Organizers tout that it has the fourth-highest attendance of any league, ahead of Serie A and behind the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga. In a country of 1.2 billion, there are a lot of potential eyeballs. "Even a niche does very well for numbers," said Siddhanth Aney, editor of Sports Illustrated India. "You only need 1 percent of the TV audience to be successful."
Wigan owner makes controversial comment about Jews: Will the English get their own Donald Sterling moment? Kick It Out think so, and Wigan's shirt sponsor has already cancelled their deal over Mackay's hiring.
FIFA Goal of the Year nominees:
(Where "year" is October 2013 to September 2014.)
World Cup inquiry clears Qatar but criticises English FA: Or does it? Fifa report 'erroneous', says lawyer who investigated corruption claims and Fifa World Cup report pointless and a joke - FA boss Greg Dyke. So, Fifa corruption report: Who is to blame and what happens now?
What's in a shirt?: "With financial fair play forcing clubs worldwide to maximize their revenue streams, the once-humble kit deal is now more important than ever before. What used to be a local, pragmatic endeavor - you sponsor it, we wear it - has become a global statement of commercial intent."
Drone with Flag Sparks Brawl at Euro 2016 Match: The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a banner with an Albanian nationalist message flew over the pitch at Partizan Stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, and sparked a brawl between the teams after a Serbian player pulled it down and Albanian players tried to take it from him. Albanian supporters had already been banned from attending over security concerns, given turbulent relations between the countries. Deadspin has the video.
Gus Johnson Booted as Fox Soccer Announcer: Gus Johnson has stepped down as Fox's No. 1 soccer broadcaster. When Fox Sports president Eric Shanks was asked whether Johnson being widely reviled calling the sport was a reason for the move, he said no but added, "I am not going to lie and say we were unaware of it."
Diego Simeone gets eight match ban: Although Athletico Madrid started off the season with a trophy, winning the Spanish Super Cup will cost their manager a spell off the sidelines as he behaved very poorly when the assistant ref was slow in allowing his fullback back on the pitch after treatment for a bloody nose. Simeone was suspended for four games for tapping the back of the assistant referee's head, two games for protesting, one game for applauding his sending off, and one game for remaining in the stands instead of going to the changing room after his expulsion. Atletico assistant coach German Burgos will take charge in his absence.
Soccer Player Killed by Thrown Object from Stands: Albert Ebosse, a 24-year-old striker from Cameroon playing in the top-flight Algerian league for JS Kabylie, died after he was hit in the head by a thrown object from the stands at the end of a game Saturday. Ebosse scored the team's only goal in a 2-1 home loss to USM Alger.
Men in Blazers Move to NBC Sports: Sunday's Premiership opener between Manchester City and Newcastle was followed on NBC Sports by the Men in Blazers, television producer Michael Davies and writer Roger Bennett, broadcasting from their new Panic Room. "Not since Lewis and Clark have two men been so excited to be here," Bennett told the Wall Street Journal. "We're incredibly surprised that they wanted us," Davies said.
The Premier League Season Kicks Off Tomorrow: After a short post-WC break, the season in England's top flight begins tomorrow. The first manager to quit or get fired has already left the building, in the form of a man who seems almost unrecognizable minus the hat. Don't forget to join the SpoFi Fantasy Premier League mini-league (anyone know the SpoFi league code?). Post your season predictions inside.
Donovan to Retire at the end of this MLS season: An outstanding player and professional.
Will Financial Fair Play kill youth development at larger clubs?: "They will, at some point, be sold on, a premium fee guaranteed by having attended finishing school at one of the world's elite clubs. Chelsea are essentially running a recruitment and development business completely unrelated to their first team . . . Investment in their youth structures is exempt from FFP. But the money the club raise by selling players is not. They are making their money work for them. As one observer put it to me Wednesday, they are 'gaming' FFP."