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Report: U.S. soccer offers technical director job to Marcelo Bielsa

March 02, 2011, 8:03:04 PM | BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
The U.S. Soccer Federation has contacted ex-Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa about a position as technical director, according to a report. TandilDiario reports that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have pursued the Argentine, who led Chile to the second round of the World Cup, where they lost to Brazil. The report also claims he could earn $3 million _ less than Qatar and Saudi Arabia offered _ and would oversee all on-field aspects of U.S. soccer but would NOT coach, thus leaving Bob Bradley as the men’s National Team coach. “We have always stated that adding a technical director, or a similar position, on the men’s side is something we are exploring,” U.S. Soccer spokesperson Neil Buethe told “but we have not made any decisions at this point.” Chile was known for all-out attacking soccer under Bielsa, but he quit after the World Cup due to a spat with the Chilean Football Federation. He came back briefly to coach in their 1-1 tie with the U.S. at the Home Depot Center in January, then stepped down again on Feb. 4.

Man Utd's Sir Alex Ferguson likely to face action over criticism of referee

Yesterday, March 02, 2011, 5:27:18 PM | NewsCoreGo to full article
LONDON -- Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to face disciplinary action from the Football Association (FA) after appearing to question the integrity of Martin Atkinson, the referee in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat away to Chelsea. In a direct challenge to Atkinson's impartiality, the United manager claimed that he had wanted a "fair referee," but was left disappointed by proceedings at Stamford Bridge. Ferguson was furious at Atkinson's failure to send off David Luiz for a second-half foul on Wayne Rooney and condemned his decision to award a "soft" penalty to Chelsea, which was converted by Frank Lampard as Carlo Ancelotti's side came from behind to condemn the visiting side to its second Premier League defeat of the season. The FA seems sure to investigate Ferguson's comments, particularly after being widely criticized for failing to take retrospective action against Wayne Rooney for his elbow on James McCarthy during United's 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the weekend, The (London) Times reported. "It was a major game for both clubs and you want a fair referee," Ferguson said. "You want a strong referee anyway and we didn't get that. I don't know why he's got the game. I must tell you, I must say that when I saw who was refereeing it I feared the worst. "It's hard to take. It was decisions again. How was Luiz not sent off? It was incredible ... these decisions change the game, and he's going to be refereeing every week." Ferguson claimed United had been the victim of injustice at the hands of referees in its past three matches against Chelsea, and even suggested that if the champion continues to be favored, it could complete a remarkable comeback to retain its title, despite trailing United by 12 points. In reality, Arsenal is best placed to take advantage of United's slip-up, being four points behind with a match in hand. United's misery was compounded by the late dismissal of defender Nemanja Vidic, which means he will miss Sunday's Premier League match away to Liverpool because of suspension. Ferguson also confirmed that Rio Ferdinand will miss the trip to Anfield with a calf injury, leaving him with a patched-up center-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Wes Brown.

Arsenal advances to FA Cup showdown with Man U, Man City also moves on

March 02, 2011, 5:25:26 PM
| Sky SportsGo to full article

LONDON -- Backed by Nicklas Bendtner's hat trick, Arsenal set up an FA Cup quarter-final showdown at Manchester United after Leyton Orient were swept aside 5-0 at Emirates Stadium Wednesday. The Danish international scored three times, including once from the penalty spot, as Arsene Wenger's side responded in winning style to Sunday's Carling Cup final heartbreak against Birmingham. Marouane Chamakh had opened the scoring against Russell Slade's League One Orient side with his first goal since November, while substitute Gael Clichy added Arsenal's fifth. Orient had battled to a draw against their Premier League opponents in the original tie, but they were overawed at Emirates Stadium as Wenger's men deservedly set up a trip to Old Trafford. Only Tomas Rosicky, who would later become another untimely Arsenal injury casualty as he limped off, remained from the starting eleven left crestfallen at Wembley. Teenage defender Ignasi Miquel made his first home appearance and 19-year-old winger Connor Henderson made his senior debut. Center-back Laurent Koscielny was, officially at least, rested because of a minor hamstring problem, while keeper Wojciech Szczesny -- the other guilty party in Sunday's dramatic and costly mix-up which gifted Birmingham a last-gasp winner -- warmed the bench to give him a break from the spotlight. Chamakh was deployed in Robin van Persie's role at the spearhead of the attack, with the Dutchman set to be out for around a month with a knee injury. Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere and Andrey Arshavin were also among the substitutes. Meantime, Manchester City booked their place in the quarter-finals with a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Eastlands. Goals from Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and David Silva were enough to see off a much-changed Villa lineup. City was rarely troubled throughout the 90 minutes as they kept alive their hopes of getting to Wembley and winning some silverware. The win sets up up a meeting with Championship side Reading after they dumped out Everton on Tuesday.Read more:,19764,11065_3369904,00.html

Chelsea upends Manchester United on Lampard penalty

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 5:23:36 PM | Sky SportsGo to full article
LONDON -- Frank Lampard rammed home a second-half penalty as Premier League champions Chelsea kept their title hopes alive by coming from behind to beat leaders Manchester United 2-1 in an absorbing encounter Tuesday at Stamford Bridge. England midfielder Lampard emphatically fired home from the spot 11 minutes from time to earn his team the points after substitute Yuri Zhirkov had fallen over Chris Smalling's outstretched leg. The victory moves Chelsea to within 12 points of United, with a game in hand and a trip to Old Trafford to come later in the season. A high-octane contest in West London saw United head into half-time in front through a thumping low drive by Wayne Rooney, who had been cleared to play after escaping FA action for his elbow on James McCarthy in Saturday's win at Wigan Athletic. United had largely been the better team in the first period, but Chelsea rallied after the interval and equalized on 54 minutes when January signing David Luiz volleyed home his first goal for the club. Luiz was then fortunate not to pick up his second yellow card of the match on 77 minutes for a trip on Rooney. Two minutes later, the Blues struck decisively when Zhirkov was felled by Smalling. Zhirkov came close to a third goal as United struggled to respond and the visitors were reduced to 10 men in stoppage-time when Nemanja Vidic was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Ramires. Vidic will now be suspended for Sunday's trip to arch-rivals Liverpool when United can ill-afford to lose in their quest for a record-breaking 19th top-flight title. The Red Devils are currently four points clear of Arsenal in the Premier League standings, though the Gunners have a game in hand. Read more:,19764,11065_3350664,00.html

Red Bulls waive Garcia, Chinn

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 4:38:48 PM | BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
Red Bull New York announced today that it has waived forward Conor Chinn and midfielder Irving Garcia. New York selected Chinn with the 34th overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of San Francisco. Chinn featured in five regular season matches with the club during his rookie year, logging 29 minutes. He earned four starts in the U.S. Open Cup, scoring three goals. Garcia was selected by the Red Bulls with the 50th overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of California-Irvine. Garcia did not appear in any regular season matches in 2010. He made four appearances in the U.S. Open Cup, including two starts.

RBNY adds performance analyst

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 1:57:31 PM | BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
Less than three weeks before the Red Bulls open their season on March 19, they fired two longtime veteran assistant coaches in Richie Williams and Des McAleenan. No reasons were given, other than a source saying repeated infractions of “team rules” were involved. At the moment, that leaves just newly-hired Jan Halvor Halvorsen _ a Norwegian just hired this winter _ as the only full-time assistant coach on the payroll. Ex-Red Bull defender Mike Petke retired in 2010 and has been brought on as an individual development coach, although it’s unclear if he will take on a greater role. The club will add Dave Lee _ no, not the ex-Knick forward _ who left English side Exeter City FC to take a position as head of Performance Analysis. He’ll record every game in wide-angle and give the staff post-match and opposition analysis. He’ll analyze performances to find weaknesses and trends. “The organization is excited to add a person of David caliber to our staff,” said Red Bull GM and Sporting Director Erik Solér. “We feel that David’s expertise in scouting and ability to provide performance feedback will greatly benefit the club going forward.” Lee joins the Red Bulls after working as Head of Performance Analysis for Exeter in England’s third division from 2009. Prior to his time at Exeter, he worked as a Performance Analyst at the Hartpury Football Academy from Sept. 2008 until June 2009. He earned a Master’s Degree in Performance Analysis from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Technology from Staffordshire University.

Colombian soccer mascot owl dies after player kicks it off field

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 12:58:01 PM | NewsCoreGo to full article
BARANQUILLA, Colombia -- A Colombian soccer team's mascot owl died after being kicked by a rival player, Radio Santa Fe reported Tuesday. The bird landed on the field with an apparent broken wing during Sunday's game between Barranquilla's Atletico Junior and Deportivo Pereira. The visitors' Panamanian striker Luis Moreno kicked the owl off the field, provoking a furious reaction from the Baranquilla crowd, who considered the bird to be a good luck charm. Moreno had to be protected by police when walking off the field. He is facing a possible one to three months in jail and a maximum fine of 50,000 pesos ($26), according to Radio Santa Fe. He also faces possible sanctions from soccer league officials. "I apologize to the whole country and more to the fans of Barranquilla because it was a very serious action, and if I get a penalty, then I'll take it," Moreno told reporters at a news conference Monday. Veterinarians treating the bird said it died of respiratory arrest early Tuesday, most likely brought on by the stress of being handled excessively following the incident. Read more:

Beckham to line up for LA Galaxy against Club Tijuana in San Diego

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 12:53:45 PM | NewsCoreGo to full article
LOS ANGELES -- LA Galaxy star David Beckham said he was excited about lining up against Club Tijuana in a preseason match in San Diego on Wednesday night. The match against the Mexican club at the University of San Diego will be Beckham's first hit out for LA Galaxy since returning from training with prestigious English Premier League (EPL) side Tottenham Hotspur over the winter. "This is the first time I have played in San Diego and I'm excited about that. I have been there once or twice before and it's such a great city, it's nice to be playing a game there. It's important these games for us because we are leading up the season," Beckham said in a video posted on the LA Galaxy website. The England international added, "It's important that we A get our fitness and B get the team shape right. It's a big game for us, a good game for us leading up to the season." LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said the match was an important clash before the start of the Major League Soccer (MLS) season. "Wednesday is our first chance to have our full team together, David [Beckham is] here now, he'll play and we will see where we are at. We expect big things," he said."It's our first real preseason game, we've played a lot of scrimmages but this is our first chance and we're two weeks out now so this is a big test. It's going to be a fun, good game against a Mexican team that should be a challenge for us," the American international added. Club Tijuana plays in the Liga de Ascenso league in Mexico, the country's second highest soccer division, but is on track for promotion to Mexico's Liga Mayor (Premier League) following a successful season. LA Galaxy plays Seattle away in the first game of the MLS season on March 15.

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand taunts Chelsea ahead of huge tilt

Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 12:51:58 PM | Sky SportsGo to full article
MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand taunted Chelsea ahead of a crucial Tuesday night English Premier League (EPL) showdown by saying that the rival club's big-money signings will not make an impact this season. Chelsea's $82 million (£50 million) capture of former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and $34.4 million (£21 million) deal for Brazilian defender David Luiz in the January transfer window were viewed as drastic actions by manager Carlo Ancelotti. The splurge was seen as Chelsea's attempt to stay in the Premier League title race. But Torres has failed to score since joining Chelsea, and last season's title winners now only seem set to battle for a place in the top four. Luiz showed mere glimpses of potential in his two matches. Ferdinand, who will miss the trip to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge with a calf injury, admitted to being impressed by Chelsea's spending power but said he did not expect the money to prove a rescue remedy. The center back was quoted in his club's official magazine Inside United as saying, "The Torres deal did make me think, 'Wow -- they've really gone for it.' But will those transfers really improve Chelsea this season? I don't know. Next season, I would say, 'Yes, they will'. But it is hard to settle in quickly in January." Manchester United is currently on top of the EPL ladder, four points ahead of its nearest rival Arsenal, while Chelsea is 15 points behind the leader, in fifth place.Read more:,19528,11668_6786973,00.html

Red Bulls fire two assistants

Monday, February 28, 2011, 5:39:00 PM | By BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
The Red Bulls fired assistant coaches Richie Williams and Des McAleenan today. “As an organization, we decided to go a different direction with our coaching staff,” said Red Bull New York General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “We want to thank Richie and Des for their contributions to our franchise and wish them good luck in their future endeavors.” A league source said “there were repeated violations of team rules involved.” For their part, the Red Bulls declined comment, and said head coach Hans Backe was unavailable and would have no statement tonight. Kevin P. CoughlinRed Bulls assistant coaches Richie Williams (l.) and Des McAleenan (r.) were fired Monday. Williams served as an interim coach on several occasions for the Red Bulls, going 4-3-2 from June 27 through Aug. 2006 as Mo Johnston’s replacement, and then turning one of the worst teams in MLS history around to a 3-3-2 mark down the stretch in 2009 after Juan Carlos “quit” on Aug. 21. After being passed over for Backe he not only stayed on to help the latter adjust to the league but took his name out of contention for the D.C. United gig. McAleenan is regarded as arguably the best goalkeeper coach in the league. He was in his 11th season as goalkeeper coach, and has trained four U.S. National Team keepers in present U.S. starter Tim Howard, Tony Meola, Jonny Walker and Zach Wells. He also helped Jon Conway finish first and fourth in MLS in goals-against-average, and Bouna Coundul harness his raw athletic ability.

Red Bulls unsettled at forward and keeper

Monday, February 28, 2011, 3:46:47 PM | BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
Red Bull coach Hans Backe admits he has some fairly large question marks to straighten out before the March 19 season-opener. With Luke Rodgers and Juan Agudelo injured he has no idea who’ll line up at striker, and with Greg Sutton challenging incumbent Bouna Coundoul, who’ll start in goal either. "If you look at our number of strikers, there are not that many now. I think that Juan and Luke are out for the opener,’’ said Backe. “It is not the best situation." Clearly not. Agudelo picked up a minor groin injury going for a cross in the recent 2-0 preseason victory over Fort Lauderdale, and admits “I should’ve been smarter, and come out of the game.’’ As it stands now, he’s expected to miss another five or six days and resume his partnership with French star Thierry Henry; but with groin injuries, one never knows. "I hope (it’s) not (serious). You're always going to get groins. It's a little bit alarming,'' Backe said. "Groins are always a concern. I think he picked up the first one with the National team in January and this is almost the same, so groins are a problem. But hopefully (it’s) a soft one. "You have to be careful. It’s not (a good) idea to rush into games or training sessions. He just has to take his time and get 100 percent.’’ For his part, the 18-yar-old Agudelo downplayed the injury. “I stopped suddenly and I felt like a pinch," he said. "I started running and I was like, 'Oh this is weird. I might have did something to my groin.’ I thought the ball was going to be played across and I just stopped. I felt a pop, (but) it was nothing serious." As far as Rodgers, the club had hoped that he would’ve returned to full training last week. At this point, they’ll settle for a return to the U.S., as the English forward returned to the U.K. to handle to paperwork issues. He’s scheduled to return to the U.S. tomorrow, but Backe wouldn’t hazard a guess as to when he’d be fully fit. "That’s a problem to say a time frame with him,’’ Backe hedged. “His knee is fine, but there are some bones under his toe that is giving him problems and pain. Hopefully at the end of this camp in Arizona. He’s been away for almost two months. He did some training until mid-January. “He's not a heavy guy: He’s a short, pacey guy and they are always coming back earlier. He trained up to mid-January and so we're talking about six weeks he's behind. If he's just fit, we can use him pretty quick.’’ They’d better hope so, because none of their other options are all that appealing. They could use Dane Richards, Mehdi Ballouchy or Salou Ibrahim, but the first is a natural winger, the next Backe prefers tucked in behind the strikers and the latter is simply too slow to fit the Red Bulls’ system. When asked if Ibrahim was an option, Backe replied “No, not really. (Because of) the pace up front. We can't have two strikers coming short. We need to be threat in behind when we attack." And while Richards has been on a scoring binge, both down the stretch last regular-season and winning the Golden Boot in the Digicel Caribbean Championships, the tiny Jamaican is just ill-suited to play up front. “I think we all know he is not a target forward,’’ said Henry, who has been Richards’ biggest backer calling him the team MVP last week and likening his speed to Theo Walcott’s today. “It's not fair to Dane; he is a midfielder. He's absolutely (deadly) with the runs from the midfield. (That) is his best position. Of course, to suddenly play striker, it takes time to get into it. I don't think he is a central striker. That is an option that we are forced to use,’’ said Backe, who admits he might use Ballouchy there if needed. The Moroccan-born midfielder had a goal and an assist against Fort Lauderdale. "That is a possibility,’’ Backe said. “I wonder how we will be able to attack because Mehdi is still the guy who likes to come short as a second striker. Thierry a lot of times moves out to the left-hand side, and if you look at that balance, then you don't have one central striker. But it could be an option. “He played higher up on the pitch (against Fort Lauderdale) so he gets involved in supporting the strikers much more, and is always available for the higher pass, as he should be instead of coming short too much. He always asks for the ball, and that’s good; but I more like to have him disciplined in the area behind the strikers to support them. But he played well.’’ Backe has another tough call in net, between nominal starter Coundoul, and Sutton. “I don't know yet. That has to be decided next week,’’ Backe said. “They're so even." Coundoul had a career-year, with a 14-8-5 mark, 1.04 goals-against average and a team-record 11 shutouts. Meanwhile, Sutton was 1-1-1 with a 0.30 GAA in three MLS tilts last year, and has shown well this preseason. Coundoul opted to go away with the Senegalese National Team instead of stay with theRed Bulls for the first camp in Mexico, a decision that Backe admitted at the time he wasn’t “too pleased with.” That cracked the door open for Sutton, and the former Canadian National Teamer has made the most of it. "He's been solid all the time, the last season, too. In the [U.S.] Open Cup, I think he played three competitive games for us and conceded only one goal against Salt Lake away,’’ Backe said. “(He’s) very solid. They were tight even last season, too."

Birmingham City lands Carling Cup with shock 2-1 win over Arsenal

Sunday, February 27, 2011, 9:08:39 PM | Sky SportsGo to full article
LONDON -- Birmingham City shocked Arsenal in the Carling Cup final Sunday as Obafemi Martins capitalized on a defensive mix-up to secure a last-gasp 2-1 victory at London's Wembley Stadium. With extra-time looming, a header from Nikola Zigic caused panic in the Arsenal box and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny gifted the ball to Martins, who supplied the simplest of finishes to give Birmingham its first piece of silverware since 1963. Arsene Wenger's quest for a first major trophy in almost six seasons had dominated the build-up to the Wembley showpiece but it was Birmingham who started out looking the brighter of the two teams. Alex McLeish's Blues were rewarded with the opening goal in the 28th minute as Roger Johnson headed a corner towards goal and the giant Zigic nodded home the finishing touch. Zigic was denied a second goal by Szczesny moments later before Arsenal finally started to discover some fluency and equalized on 39 minutes. Jack Wilshere struck the woodwork but the rebound fell to Andrey Arshavin and the Russian did well to set up Robin van Persie for a fantastic volleyed finish. Arsenal looked more settled at the start of the second half but was unable to take firm control against a hard-working Birmingham team. The danger posed by Birmingham was evident just before the hour mark as Keith Fahey's low shot ricocheted agonizingly off the post. Ben Foster kept Birmingham level with a series of fine saves and it looked as though extra-time would be needed until substitute Martins slammed home the winner in the 89th minute. Read more:,19528,11670_6784058,00.html

Chelsea to take 'appropriate action' after Ashley Cole allegedly shoots intern with air rifle

Sunday, February 27, 2011, 9:07:06 PM | Sky SportsGo to full article
LONDON -- English Premier League soccer club Chelsea revealed Sunday it was taking "appropriate action" following reports that star defender Ashley Cole accidentally shot an intern with an air rifle. The News of the World newspaper claimed Cole did not know the weapon was loaded when he fired it at 21-year-old Tom Cowan at the club's training ground. "We have fully investigated the incident and we are taking appropriate action," a club statement read. "We will not be commenting further as it is an internal matter." It was reported that Cowan, who is on a one-year work assignment at Chelsea, was hit in the side by a lead pellet at the club's training ground in Cobham, Surrey, about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of central London. Chelsea's medical staff reportedly treated the bleeding wound and the sports sciences student did not require hospital treatment. Police said Sunday they would question Chelsea staff members regarding the incident. "We can confirm that while no direct allegation has been made to Surrey police, the matter has been brought to our attention through reports in the media, and we will be contacting the club in due course to establish whether any criminal offense has been committed," a Surrey police spokesman said.Read more:,19528,11661_6784187,00.html

Fans give Schalke 04 manager thumbs-down after Facebook charm offensive

Sunday, February 27, 2011, 9:05:09 PM | AFPGo to full article
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany -- The coach of German soccer team Schalke 04 was reflecting on the fickle fortunes of social networking Sunday after the club's fans gave him a clear thumbs-down after a recent Facebook charm offensive. Earlier this month, Felix Magath set up a Facebook page to try to win over supporters upset by the former Germany international's perceived dictatorial management style and underperforming transfer policy. In a little over two weeks, Magath collected more than 140,000 friends, who all clicked "like" -- with the thumbs-up icon -- on the website to show their approval for the Schalke boss. But after his side was held at home 1-1 by a resurgent Nuremberg, hard-core fans held up a banner at Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena that said "Felix: we don't like you any more" next to a large picture of a downturned thumb. To reinforce their message, home fans chanted it during the second half of the Bundesliga game, before cries of "Magath out" were heard after the final whistle. Copyright 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

Ballouchy goal, assist leads RBNY in 2-0 preseason win at Ft. Lauderdale

Saturday, February 26, 2011, 4:54:53 PM | BRIAN LEWISGo to full article
The Red Bulls beat NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2-0 today at Lockhart Stadium. They got a goal and a full 90 minute performance from French forward Thierry Henry, nearing full fitness. Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, who could play a huge role with the Red Bulls should coach Hans Backe play his preferred diamond formation, set up Henry and had a goal of his own as well. In the second minute, Ballouchy played a cross from the right wing that bounced between a pair of Fort Lauderdale defenders, allowing Henry to poke it home from close-range. Ballouchy was acquired late last season from Colorado for Mac Kandji. The enigmatic striker went on to score for the Rapids in MLS Cup as they won the title, while an ankle injury limited Ballouchy’s effectiveness for the Red Bulls. Backe has repeatedly said his preference would be to scrap the 4-4-2 formation he used last year in favor of a diamond midfield, and expected Ballouchy, reigning team MVP Joe Lindpere and possibly Brian Nielsen to compete for the playmaking role. But with Nielsen having missed essentially two years with injuries and not even practicing fully yet, any hopes of a diamond may rely on Ballouchy. If so, he acquitted himself well today. The Moroccan-born midfielder didn’t travel with the team to Mexico because of visa issues, instead training with the U.S. Under-17 team in Florida. But he followed his assist with an impressive 75th-minute run through the Strikers defense, slotting the ball home low in the far corner of the net for a 2-0 lead. The Red Bulls started Greg Sutton in goal, Roy Miller, Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez and trialist Teemu Tainio in defense, Lindpere, Tony Tchani, Ballouchy and Jan Gunnar Solli in midfield with Dane Richards pairing alongside Henry up front. With English forward Luke Rodgers still injured, Backe has been preparing Richards for some work at forward. The Jamaican looked far more dangerous in the second half when Juan Agudelo came on for Solli, playing up front and allowing Richards to move back to his customary right wing position.