Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

SuperLiga: Morelia claim first title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 2, 2010

New England Revolution’s attempts at winning the North American SuperLiga title for a second time were dashed on Wednesday as they were defeated at home by Mexican opponents Monarcas Morelia by two goals to one in front of a disappointing 10,000 crowd. The Revs had previously won the competition two years earlier having beaten compatriots Houston Dynamo in a penalty shoot-out but any repeat of that triumph was put to the sword after Morelia left the American hosts with too much to do after taking a two goal lead in this game. Miguel Sabah scored midway through the second half from the penalty spot after Colombian striker Luis Gabriel Rey was brought down by New England’s Darrius Barnes. Ten minutes later Monarcas had doubled their lead thanks once again to Sabah whose beautiful left-footed volley gave keeper Matt Reis no chance. New England reduced the arrears in the 79th minute after Kevin Alston calmly slotted the ball home to provide the game with a grandstand finish but Morelia held out to win their maiden title and increase Mexico’s lead over the United States in terms of titles to 3-1.

WATCH SUPERLIGA 2010 FINAL HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

SuperLiga: New England and Morelia in 2010 final (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on August 6, 2010
Tigres UNAL

Mexican side Tigres UNAL lifted the SuperLiga title in 2009. Who will win it in 2010?

For anybody unfamiliar with the SuperLiga one could call it a mini version of a UEFA Europa League or a Copa Sudamericana. I say “mini version” because it is pretty much a best of the rest competition limited to teams from the United States and Mexico with the best four teams who have not qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League from each country allowed to participate in this tournament. Now in its fourth year the SuperLiga shows the Mexicans enjoying more success than the Americans with two titles to one so far, Tigres UNAL winning the title last year after defeating Chicago Fire in a penalty shoot-out after the game finished 1-1. In this year’s competition the group stages, divided into two groups of four teams, were completed in July with each team only having to play their group opponents once. The best four teams in the competition have played in the semi-finals this week and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog brings you the latest action:

New England Revolution, 2008 winners of this event, have qualified for their second final after beating Mexican side Puebla F.C. in a penalty shoot-out after their semi-final contest finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. The Revolution qualified for the semi-finals after finishing top of Group B with a 100% record over Morelia, Chicago Fire and UNAM Pumas and had the home draw against their Mexican opponents, who finished second behind Houston Dynamo in Group A. Kenny Mansally gave the Revs the lead after 56 minutes but the New England outfit were made to pay the price just two minutes later when Nicolás Olivera equalized for Puebla to restore parity so soon after going behind. With no further scoring in the ninety minutes the match went straight into a penalty shoot-out and each team were equal to each other until they took their fourth penalty with the Revs having the advantage once Edgar Lugo hit his kick straight at keeper Matt Reis. Kenny Mansally scored the winning penalty to take former Liverpool man Steve Nicol’s team into their second SuperLiga final.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS OF NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION V PUEBLA F.C. HERE:

The second semi-final was played between Houston Dynamo, who finished top of group A with two wins and a draw from three games, and Morelia. The Mexicans went through courtesy of a goal just two minutes into the second half after Miguel Sabah coolly finished to give his side a 1-0 lead which they never relinquished. It sets up the third America v Mexico final in the tournament’s four year history with only the 2009 final being an all-American affair. The final takes place in late August and will be hosted at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the home of the New England Revolution.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS OF HOUSTON DYNAMO V MORELIA HERE:


MLS: 2010 Season Preview – part 2

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 23, 2010
Columbus Crew

Columbus Crew, seen here winning the 2008 MLS Cup final, will be amongst the favourites in 2010

The new Major League Soccer (MLS) season is upon us. Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders, the league’s two newest franchises, face-off against each other on Thursday, March 25th to get things underway. In the second part of the “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” preview to the 2010 season we focus here on the eight teams that comprise the Eastern Conference.

Columbus Crew have been one of the most consistent teams in the league in the last couple of years. In 2008 the Crew topped the Eastern Conference and the overall standings for the league as a whole, thus securing the MLS Supporters’ Shield, and then went on to win their first MLS Cup defeating New York Red Bulls 3-1 in the final. In 2009 they repeated the feat of having the best record in the Eastern Conference and the league generally but were ultimately knocked-out of the MLS Cup by the team who would go on to usurp them as champions Real Salt Lake. American legend and club captain Freddie Hejduk will again be a pivotal figure with his many years of experience at the back as well as the goals from Argentinian Guillermo Barros Schelotto up front. With the club suffering disappointment in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals recently the club will want to get back to winning ways once the MLS season begins.

D.C. United, the most successful club in Major League Soccer history with four MLS Cup wins (1996, 1997, 1999, 2004), haven’t enjoyed the best time of it in the last two years. The club finished 6th in the Eastern Conference in 2008 and only marginally improved to finish fourth last year but on neither occasion has qualified for the play-offs. United are still dependent on the goals of Bolivian striker Jaime Moreno who, at 36 years of age, doesn’t have many more years at the top remaining. The club has also done plenty of trade both in and out so it is difficult to predict how they might perform with so many comings-and-goings. Chicago Fire have improved in the last three years with one fourth-place and two second-place finishes since 2007 but they’ve been unable to get past the semi-finals of the MLS Cup in that time. In fact the “Fire” has found it hard to live up to expectations since their inaugural season in 1998 when they won the MLS Cup and US Open Cup double. The club will depend on another one of the many veterans who are still making a living in the MLS, namely Brian McBride for whom it could be the last chance he has to bring the cup back to his hometown club before the end of his career.

In the rest of the east all eyes will be on newcomers Philadelphia Union who have appointed experienced coach Piotr Nowak hoping that his previous success with Chicago Fire and D.C. United will stand them in good stead. Naturally for a new team the Union have had to draft in a roster of players who have come from other MLS outfits and will hope to get a perfect blend of youth and experience. Their opening day fixture against Seattle Sounders will prove to be an exciting test for the league’s newest franchise who will hope to emulate their opponents’ achievements from 2008. New England Revolution, under the leadership of former Liverpool FC player Steve Nicol for the eighth consecutive year, have been the “nearly men” of Major League Soccer in the last decade having reached four MLS Cup finals (in 2002 and from 2005-07) and lost them all. The last two MLS campaigns have seen the Revs finish third in the conference standings with the club going on to lose in the play-offs at the first hurdle.

The New York Red Bulls have never won the MLS Cup despite being one of the league’s founder members but did come close in 2008 when they lost out to fellow easterners Columbus Crew. Their Colombian star Juan Pablo Ángel has never quite hit the heights his talents have deserved since leaving Argentinian giants River Plate but he has been the Red Bulls’ top scorer for the last three seasons. However New York’s aspirations in 2009 were to win the MLS Cup but they ultimately finished as the worst side in the league at the end of the regular season and will believe that things can only improve on last season’s dismal showing. Kansas City Wizards, MLS Cup champions in 2000, are another one of the big boys who didn’t qualify for last year’s play-offs having finished in a disappointing 6th in the Eastern Conference finishing eight points ahead of the Red Bulls. Finally Canadian side Toronto FC are another recent expansion team whose inclusion has been justified by their high crowds with the second highest average in the MLS last season behind Seattle Sounders. However in the three years that they’ve participated in the league Toronto’s form has been less successful with finishes of 7th, 7th and 5th in the Eastern Conference since 2007. Can they qualify for the MLS play-offs this time round?

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER 2010 OPENING FIXTURES

Philadelphia Union v Seattle Sounders

Colorado Rapids v Chivas USA

Toronto FC v Columbus Crew

Houston Dynamo v FC Dallas

Chicago Fire v NY Red Bulls

D.C. United v Kansas City Wizards

Real Salt Lake v San Jose Earthquakes

New England Revolution v LA Galaxy