Saturday, April 21

LD Update: USL Game Night; Fucito & the two Eddie Johnsons; & more

Charlotte Eagles 1:2 Harrisburg City Islanders - The Charlotte Eagles finally found their first goal of the season with Mauricio Salles striking a first-half equalizer, but the Harrisburg City Islanders, making their season debut, kept the Eagles out of the win column. A free kick led to Andrew Welker heading in a Brian Ombiji cross in the 23rd minute for the visitors.

Salles answered with a rifled free kick in the 35th. Just before the break Nick Noble made his second superb save of the night to keep Charlotte from taking their first lead of the year. Four minutes on the other side of the intermission a penalty kick proved to be the decider with JT Noone converting. Noble made another great save 10 minutes later, stopping Jorge Herrera a second time, to preserve the lead. – More

LA Blues 0:2 Rochester Rhinos – In what could have been treated as a week-long California preseason trip, the Rhinos came away with a full six points from Fullerton, doubling last Saturday’s effort against the Blues.

After each club had a quality chance in the first half, the Rhinos grabbed the advantage five minutes into the second stanza when Andrew Hoxie made a terrific play, acquiring the ball and driving toward goal before ripping a perfect shot inside the post. Six minutes later, Tam McManus hit a fantastic service from the right that allowed JC Banks to head past Jose Miranda.

Miranda would go on to deny another great effort from Hoxie before the match turned in LA’s favor as they pressed to rally. The Blues had a shot ring off the post and another stopped by the Rhinos Kristian Nicht with two more narrowly missing. - More

Friday, April 20

Stories Of the Day: FIFA museum; Hejduk retires; Goal-Line tech; UEFA contracts

International news…

FIFA museum: With their $1.2 billion announced cash reserves, FIFA thought it would be a good idea to spend some of it and decided that an underground museum next to its Zurich headquarters was a good way to use up nearly $200 million of it. According to the organization’s site, it will include animations, games and trophies.

The weird thing to me is that the sport, played in fantastic open-aired stadiums (for the most part) is going to have a claustrophobic-feeling museum underground – makes no sense to me. Now, I guess this is where we make jokes about FIFA possibly being a museum itself with of its archaic dedication to the rules and advancement of the game. Or, will the museum have a section for corruption?  -

Hejduk hangs ‘em up: Longtime US international and Columbus Crew player called it quits officially today. After an acclaimed career it came to kind of a sad end where nobody really wanted him other than LA, who grabbed his rights after everyone else passed – but they were unable to agree to terms. He returned to Columbus to take a front office position as brand ambassador.

Over the course of his storied career in Columbus (2003-10), Hejduk was a part of four major trophies – the 2008 MLS Cup title and three Supporters’ Shields (2004, 2008, 2009) – while becoming one of the most popular figures in club history. He won a second MLS Cup with the Galaxy in 2011 and was on 1996 and 2011 Supporters’ Shield winning teams with Tampa Bay and LA, respectively.

Thursday, April 19

LD Update: Match Previews; Signings; Charity

The NASL heads into the third weekend of action looking for more offense. In 10 games thus far, there have only been three occurrences of a team scoring more than one goal in a game, and only two contests that have had at least two goals. Four have finished scoreless and another three were 1-0 decisions. Only four games have had a winner, and the Puerto Rico Islanders account for two of them.

USL Pro has been almost the exact opposite with only one match of nine finishing in a draw. There have been six shutouts, including one scoreless stalemate. Six of the eight match-winners scored at least two goals in the contest. The third weekend will finally see its last remaining season opener as Harrisburg City takes to the field.

LD Update: NASL Game Night; USL Pro signing

Tampa Bay Rowdies 1:1 Carolina RailHawks – The RailHawks just can’t find a victory. Earning a third consecutive draw Wednesday evening, at least they aren’t going empty handed. In the 66th minute Carolina took the lead on the road when Mike Palacio sent a cross to the back of the box to Brian Shriver, who volleyed it past Jeff Attinella. Four minutes later, though, the Rowdies answered when Dan Antoniuk redirected a cross back across the goal mouth with a header to Tsuyoshi Yoshitake for the equalizer. – More 

Puerto Rico Islanders 0:0 FC Edmonton – The bad news is that Edmonton is still scoreless after three games. The good news they finally picked up a point, playing to a scoreless draw in Puerto Rico after suffering 1-0 losses in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay. Puerto Rico has been nearly perfect thus far, shutting out all three opponents. – More 

Wednesday, April 18

Stories Of the Day: Sounders owner sued; strike ends; Sweden-bound

Some overlooked stories in a day with UEFA & CONCACAF Champions League, MLS and NASL games…

Sounders co-owner Joe Roth sued: Sure, lawsuits and legal entanglements are not exactly rare in Hollywood, but this one is an eye-catching headline with the $50 million dollar figure attached to it. Seems Roth is being accused by a former employee/partner that claims he helped create the new FX show ‘Anger Management’ and was supposed to have backend ownership of the show. The new show’s value is due primarily for the involvement of Charlie Sheen, who in the small world of Hollywood worked on Two and Half Men with Ryan Stiles, a friend a co-star of another Sounders co-owner Drew Carey on ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ and ‘Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza.’

More Money Matters: A week-long strike of construction workers at a Brazilian World Cup venue came to an end today. The workers at Fonte Nova stadium, located in the city of Salvador, accepted a 10.5 percent raise and better benefits. It was the second group to return to work this week with a two-week strike ending at a stadium in Fortaleza Monday.

Going Home - US Women to play in Sweden Invitational: Preparations for the Olympics will include a trip to the native country of head coach Pia Sundhage. They will play host Sweden June 16 and Japan two days later in the three-team event. All three clubs are also participants in the upcoming London Olympics. Both games will be held Halmstad, one of the host cities for the 2013 European Women’s Championship.

CONCACAF Champions League starts tonight

While there is not the appeal of  a Major League Soccer team in this year’s final of the CCL, fans throughout the United States and Canada should still tune in to watch the championship series tonight and next Wednesday because Monterrey and Santos Laguna have continually been among the most exciting throughout the tournament this year.

Oh, and there is American Herculez Gomez who could very well be named the tournament MVP with another standout performance. He has been a star for the club, starting games instead of coming off the bench as he has done with his two previous Mexican clubs.

I am not going to try to match what is an excellent preview from Fox Soccer’s Ives Galarcep, who points out among many interesting items that Monterrey is attempting to become only the fourth repeat champion as the confederation’s club champion.

Speaking of Tournament MVP...

CONCACAF announced today that is anointing a Player of the Tournament for the first time in tournament history. And, it is giving 50 percent of the vote to fans via Facebook. CONCACAF will select what it considers the top six players so far for fans to vote for. The poll will begin April 19.

Tuesday, April 17

LD Update: Game Night, Honors & Signings

Charlotte Eagles 0:3 Charleston Battery – It has been a tough start for the Charlotte Eagles as they fell at home for the second time and remain without a goal through three games on the young season. The Battery got two in the first half and a third late for the win on the road, where they are a perfect 2-0.

Charlotte nearly found their first goal in the 17th minute, but Joseph Kabwe’s effort denied with a great diving save from Andrew Dykstra, who returned to the Battery on loan from DC United last week. Hero in the season opener, Jose Cuevas served a cross in the 23rd minute that Tony Donatelli, who drove it past Eric Reed to open the scoring. A minute before the break Ryan Richter made a fantastic play on his own, beating the Eagles defense in a counter-attack and firing past Reed.

LD Five Stars - Round 2

Five Stars of the Week – Round 2

1 – Reinaldo Navia – F – Atlanta Silverbacks: Scored two goals in a 4-4 draw against Carolina, the second coming while playing a man down.

2 – John Rooney – F – Orlando City: The striker gave the Wilmington Hammerheads a rude opening to their season, tallying two goals (one penalty) and an assist in the contest.

Monday, April 16

Stories Of the Day: Health Triumph & Jerseys

A bit of good news followed by mixed reviews...

Good Health News: After a number of unfortunate health stories in the past few weeks – Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest in England and the passing of Livorno player Piermario Morosini in Serie B this week – there is finally a triumphant story in the medical department of the sport. Paraguayan international Salvador Cabanas returned to competitive play for the first time since being shot in the head.

Cabanas, playing for Club America in Mexico at the time, was shot in January of 2010 during an argument in a Mexico City bar. For his new return, he called upon his first professional team, Club 12 de Octoubre of Paraguay’s third division.

Red Stripes: No, not a six-pack of the Jamaican beer. The US Soccer Federation and Nike unveiled the new unified national team jersey designs that will be worn by both the men’s and women’s programs. The new jersey design featuring solid red hoops in one afternoon is quickly getting mixed reviews and interesting comments, such as Where’s Waldo jokes and comparisons, not surprisingly, to the kit of FC Dallas.

LD Update: Honors, signings & midweek preview

NASL Honors: The North American Soccer League recognized the Puerto Rico Islanders duo of Jonathan Fana and Richard Martin as the NASL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively. Fana scored twice and helped set up a third in a 4-0 road win in San Antonio while Martin recorded his second consecutive clean sheet in goal.     

Stadium Delays: Steven Sandor of reports that Clarke Stadium had had delays that will limit capacity for FC Edmonton’s home opener Sunday to 2,000 instead of the nearly 4,000 it is supposed to have when construction is complete.

Tuesday Fixture: In the first mid-week action of the USL Pro campaign, the 0-1-1 Charlotte Eagles, still looking for their first goal, play host to the 1-1 Charleston Battery Tuesday evening.  

PDL Signings: The Ottawa Fury added three experienced players, including Anthony DiBiase, who returns after seasons with local rivals London and Hamilton.

PDL Preseason: The Sounders U23 squad kicked off the preseason with a 3-2 victory over visiting Gonzaga University Sunday.

W-League Signing: While a good number of US internationals are signing on the left coast, US National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn is returning to familiar territory, signing with the DC United Women of the W-League, where she previously played for the Richmond Kickers Destiny (2006-07).

LD Update: Sunday Blowouts

The NASL and USL Pro wrapped up Week 2 action with a pair of big victories on the day.

NASL: San Antonio Scorpions 0:4 Puerto Rico Islanders – The Islanders wasted no time in spoiling expansion San Antonio’s home debut in front of a sold out 13,000-plus, scoring just seven minutes into the contest when David Foley found Jonathan Fana. Thirteen minutes later Foley doubled the lead himself. Nicholas Addlery, last week’s hero in the 1-0 win, made it 3-0 in the 56 and Fana added a second in the 73rd to round things out. – More 

USL Pro: Orlando City 4:1 Wilmington Hammerheads – The defending champions are off to a flying start. John Rooney gave the Lions the lead nine minutes in from the spot and pushed the lead to two with his second four minutes before the break. Rob Valentino made a three-goal margin in the 54th on a Rooney corner kick with Wilmington answering on a corner of their own two minutes later via Bryce Taylor. Kevin Molino, who set up Rooney’s second connected with Dennis Chin to close out the scoring in the 65th. – More

USL Pro Signing: The Harrisburg City Islanders, who have yet to open their season, announced the addition of rookie defender Tom Brandt out of the University of Pennsylvania.

Sunday, April 15

LD Update: NASL/USL Game Night

The trend of minimal offense continued Saturday night in the NASL with one exception. Last week two games went scoreless and the other two were 1-0 decisions; on Saturday there was one more of each and a 4-4 thriller between a pair of clubs that involved in the scoreless stalemates the week before.

In USL action, road teams continue to perform well. Through seven games, home clubs have posted only one victory and a single draw.