Americans Abroad: A Look Ahead | Soccer By Ives

By FRANCO PANIZO

Michael Bradley and Borussia Moenchengladbach escaped the Bundesligas dungeon with their 4-0 rout of FC Cologne last weekend, and now theyll turn their sights towards escaping the relegation zone altogether.

Moenchengladbach hosts Mainz, and despite sitting pretty in third place, the O-Fives are reeling, having lost their last three games all by way of shutout. Should Bradley and Moenchengladbach extend Mainzs losing streak to four and win back-to-back games for the first time this season, they could leave the drop zone if other results go their way.

One of the clubs in direct competition with Moenchengladbach in the race to avoid the drop is Schalke 04, who should have Jermaine Jones in its starting eleven when it locks horns at home with Werder Bremen. With a Champions League match against Lyon looming, Jones and Schalke cant get caught looking ahead, otherwise last place could await them.

Far from battling relegation, Pachuca will look to defeat Monterrey in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the Apertura. Pachua was held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg on Thursday, and Jose Torres, Herculez Gomez and Marco Vidal will be hoping to continue their playoff run with a road victory.

Here is a rundown of who the Americans Abroad play this weekend:

SATURDAY

Marcus Hahnemannand Wolverhampton Wanderers play Blackpool.

Jonathan Spectorand West Ham United play Liverpool.

Stuart Holdenand Bolton Wanderers play Newcastle United.

Zak Whitbreadand Norwich City play Leeds United. (Whitbread is out injured.)

Conor Doyleand Derby County play Scunthorpe United.

Jemal Johnsonand Milton Keynes Dons play Sheffield Wednesday.

Anton Peterlinand Plymouth Argyle play Brentford.

Frank Simek, Mike Grellaand Carlisle United play Walsall.

Maurice Eduand Rangers play Kilmarnock. (Edu is out injured.)

Dominic Cerviand Celtic play Dundee United.

Jozy Altidoreand Villarreal play Valencia.

Oguchi Onyewuand AC Milan play Fiorentina.

Michael Bradleyand Borussia Moenchengladbach play Mainz.

Daniel Williamsand SC Freiburg play Borussia Dortmund.

Ricardo Clarkand Eintracht Frankfurt play TSG Hoffenheim.

Jermaine Jonesand Schalke 04 play Werder Bremen.

Steve Cherundolo, DaMarcus Beasleyand Hannover 96 play Hamburg SV.

Amaechi Igweand FC Ingolstadt 04 play VfL Bochum. (Igwe is out injured.)

Charlie Daviesand Sochaux play Lorient.

Carlos Bocanegraand St Etienne play AJ Auxerre.

Sacha Kljestanand RSC Anderlecht play Germinal Beerschot.

SUNDAY

Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan, Eric Lichajand Aston Villa play Blackburn Rovers.

Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnsonand Fulham play Manchester City.

Luis Roblesand Karlsruhe play FC Augsburg.

Kenny Cooperand TSV 1860 Munich play FSV Frankfurt. (Cooper is out injured.)

Freddy Aduand Aris Salonika play Kerkyra.

Michael Parkhurstand FC Nordsjaelland play FC Copenhagen.

Marcus Tracy, Chris Rolfeand Aalborg BK play Brondby. (Tracy and Rolfe are out injured.)

Benny Feilhaberand AGF Aarhus play Bronshoj.

Steve Clarkand Honefoss BK play Fredrikstad in the first leg of the promotion/relegation series.

Edgar Castilloand San Luis play Club America.

Jose Torres, Herculez Gomez, Marco Vidaland Pachuca play Monterrey.

MONDAY

Tim Howardand Everton play Sunderland.

David Yeldelland MSV Duisburg play Energie Cottbus.

How do you see Bradley and Moenchengladbach doing this weekend against Mainz? Think Schalke and Jones can defeat Werder Bremen and jump out of the relegation zone? How do you see the trio of Americans at Pachuca faring in the second leg?

Share your thoughts below,

NCAA Tournament: Virginia falls, UMBC downs Princeton, UCSB wins and more | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By JOHN BOSCHINI

After one day of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, one thing is certain. There wont be a repeat champion.

Virginias dreams of a repeat were extinguished on Thursday as the Cavaliers fell 1-0 to Old Dominion. Alex Vaughan scored in the 62nd minute for the Monarchs, who proved that their midseason upset of North Carolina was no fluke.

Old Dominions victory was far from the only upset of the first round. Princeton, Ivy League champions and winners of 12 straight, were shocked2-1 by American East champion Maryland-Baltimore County. Antoine Hoppenot put Princeton ahead in the 32nd minute but goals from Levi Houapeu and Andrew Bulls secured a victory for the Retrievers.

Ryan Kinne and the Monmouth Hawks were routed 4-0 by Dartmouth in Thursdays early kickoff. Andrew Olson scored in the ninth minute to give Dartmouth the lead and second-half goals from Nick Pappas, Lucky Mikosana and Aaron Gaide secured the victory.

Joining its ACC colleague on the outside is Boston College, who fell 2-1 to Brown. Jon Okafor put Brown up early but Kyle Bekker managed to equalize for Boston College. Austin Mandel scored the winner for the Bears just three minutes before halftime. Duke managed to remain in the tournament with a comeback 2-1 victory over Coastal Carolina. Cole Grossman provided both second-half goals for the Blue Devils.

UC-Santa Barbara barely kept its ambition of playing for the College Cup on its home field with a 1-0 victory in double overtime over Denver. Waid Ibrahim netted the golden goal for the Gauchos in the 105th minute.

There was also plenty of offense in the first round. On top of Dartmouths four goals, Providence scored three in each half for a 6-2 victory over St. Peters. Creighton ran up a 4-1 score on New Mexico while Georgetown easily saw off UNC-Greensboro with a 3-0 victory.

Pennsylvania nicked a 1-0 overtime victory from Bucknell with a golden goal from Christian Barreiro just two minutes into the added period. Its the first time Penn will advance to the second round since 2002. The College of Charleston ran out to a 3-0 lead with goals from Shawn Ferguson, Andy Craven and Francis Twohig. East Tennessee State scored to in the second half but the Cougars held on for a thrilling 3-2 win.

Central Florida thoroughly dominated its in-state rivals with a convincing 3-0 victory over South Florida. Ben Hunt, Yaron Bascher and Nik Robson provided the goals. Michigan State overcame a difficult first half to post a 2-0 victory over Oakland courtesy of a Domenic Barone brace.

Sacramento State needed a late winner to advance to the second round at the expense of Santa Clara with a 2-1 victory. Christ Bettencourt scored with less than five minutes to go for the victory. West Virginia erased a 2-0 defecit to get an emphatic 4-2 victory. Frank Tayou scored a hat trick for the Mountaineers. Former No. 2 Tulsa is into the second round with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bradley. Kyle Cummings scored in the first half while Ashley McInnes doubled the Golden Hurricanes lead in the second half.

The second round kicks off this weekend with the winners traveling to the 16 seeded teams.

What did you think of todays results? Surprised to see Virginia go out so early? Impressed with the Big 10 so far? Any first-round teams primed for an upset this weekend? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Fantasy Premier League: Matchweek 14 | Soccer By Ives

By AVI CREDITOR

Wayne Rooney is on his way back, and it couldnt happen at a better time for Manchester United.

With three very favorable matchups in the coming weeks (home against Wigan Athletic and Blackburn, away to Blackpool), Rooney can transition back to game shape and form just in time for the Red Devils Matchweek 17 and 18 tilts with Arsenal and Chelsea, respectively.

Should you expect a hat trick this weekend from Rooney? Probably not, especially considering his playing status has yet to officially be confirmed. However, now is the time to take a look at acquiring or re-acquiring him at his current £11.3 price tag. As soon as he proves his worth, that price will most certainly skyrocket upwards of £12. If you believe that he can re-discover even a fraction of last seasons success, dont hesitate in making the move.

Here are a few more Fantasy Premier League notes along with our captain pick of the week and an SBI league standings update:

AMERICAN WATCH

Stuart Holden exploded onto the fantasy scene with his first goal and first assist of the season against Wolves last weekend, breaking a string of two- and three-point performances with a 10-spot that was good for third-most points among all players. Hes worth a look given Boltons match at home against Newcastle.

Clint Dempsey is also a decent play, as hes at home against Manchester City.

All three starting American keepers, Brad Friedel, Tim Howard and Marcus Hahnemann, have road games, but each has an enticing matchup. Fridel against Blackburn, Howard against Sunderland and Hahnemann against Blackpool are all worthy of starting consideration.

INJURY QUICK HITS

The mid-week friendlies have struck again, with Liverpools Steven Gerrard and West Broms Chris Brunt the latest casualties of international playChelseas central defense has been weakened a bit with word that Alex and John Terry are both un-fit. However, Alex is delaying his necessary surgery to play this weekend, and Terry appears to be trying to play through a nerve issue in his leg, though hell miss the Blues league match this weekend. Both are risky selections for your teamBlackpools Charlie Adam is a doubt for the weekend, though he would merit captain consideration if fit (at home vs. Wolves)Tottenhams Jermain Defoe is set to return to action this weekend, and it couldnt come at a better time for Spurs, who face Arsenal.

LAST WEEKS CAPTAIN PICK

Florent Malouda, Chelsea (12=2 points; Sorry guys)

WHAT I REALLY MEANT TO SAY WAS

Gareth Bale, Tottenham (182=36 points)

THIS WEEKS CAPTAIN PICK

Nani, Manchester United, £9.1

The Red Devils have a stellar matchup at home against lowly Wigan, and Nani should be able to deliver the goods. In four of his 12 appearances this season hes tallied a goal and an assist, giving him four double-digit performances. Should Rooney return hed have another option to find offensively and more space with which to work. Considering the matchup, Nani should be a safe bet for the armband.

Other options: Liverpools Fernando Torres (vs. West Ham); Chelseas Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda (at Birmingham); Arsenals Cesc Fabregas and Marouane Chamakh (vs. Tottenham); Tottenhams Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart (at Arsenal); Evertons Tim Cahill (at Sunderland); Boltons Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies (vs. Newcastle)

Soccer By Ives League Standings (Top 10)1. The 14ers FC.7452. typos by ives7353. Austin Killbotz!!..7274. SP7275. Sloppy and Careless7166. scoobys doos.7147. De Jongs Right Boot7138. Zlatans Revenge.7129. The Old Onion Bag.70710. vonruedenFC706

LAST WEEKS SBI LEAGUE TOP SCORER

TheSoccerSage (86 points)

Van der Sar(2)–Sagna(8)-Hangeland(5)A. Cole(1)-Jagielka(1)Bale(18)Fabregas(C-18)Van der Vaart(10)Holden(10)Gyan(8)Carroll(5)

Who are you making your captain this week? Whats your lineup looking like?

Share your thoughts below.

Timbers considering options as MLS expansion draft nears | Soccer By Ives

By JOSE M. ROMERO

The four walls of Gavin Wilkinsons office are covered with white boards on which there is much of the information the Portland Timbers technical director will need for next weeks MLS expansion draft.

But first, Wilkinson and other representatives of the organization will head to Toronto to be part of the MLS Cup festivities and gatherings this week. When they all return, the focus turns immediately to an important day for the new franchise.

The preparation for [the draft] has been under way for some time, Wilkinson siad. Weve identified the players from every roster who we like.

Wilkinson said the Timbers will be looking for perhaps a veteran who can make an impact, but also a younger player with an upside. The Timbers are also willing to talk trades with other teams once they have made all 10 of their picks, to help ensure they get the players they seek.

Portland selects first, followed by the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, and then the teams will alternate picks from round to round. The full list of unprotected players from all MLS teams will be given to Portland and Vancouver on Monday, with the draft on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

For ourselves, picking first is brilliant, but coming into 2011 with Vancouver is not necessarily great for the Timbers, Wilkinson said. Weve got to make sure we maximize picks one through five so we get the best players we can get.

That is to say that the players the Timbers are really after must be chosen as early as possible, as the talent and potential could drop in picks 11 through 20.

In Wilkinsons office, every roster from every MLS team is on the boards, with player name tags that can be moved from one list to another. Then there are sub-lists of designated players, internationals and Generation Adidas players from all teams.

For Wilkinson, the first pick figures to be the best player available on the board, regardless of need or position.

After that, its a a matter of balancing out the squad, he said.

In making selections, the Timbers also want players that fit the clubs philosophy of hard-working, blue-collar guys who will be contributors that the fan base can identify with. Coach John Spencer likes a 4-4-2 formation with wide players who get forward, and the Timbers, who already have their first four players signed from USSF Division II, will also consider box-to-box midfielders.

Wilkinson said the club hopes to announce a couple of more signings from the USSF Timbers before Christmas. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin, midfield wing Ryan Pore and forwards Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike are under contract for 2011.

We want to be known as an organization known for being loyal to its players, Wilkinson said.

Pearce still questionable for MLS Cup | Soccer By Ives

By ADAM SERRANO

FC Dallas full back Heath Pearce has been on the sidelines for much of FC Dallas run to MLS Cup with a hamstring injury, but Pearce is still aiming to return to the field for Sundays MLS Cup Final. After undergoing a number of fitness tests on Friday, Pearce was bullish about being ready to take the field against the Colorado Rapids.

I dont remember the last time I had to do so many sprints in one training session beside pre-season training, but it felt good, Pearce said. The staffs going to have to sit down and discuss my situation. Obviously I havent been training and thereve been guys putting in the work in the last weeks so I cant expect to be on the field or on the bench.

Brazilian right back Jackson Goncalves has been starting at right back in Pearces place, though he has struggled at times to match Pearces effectiveness and consistency. Pearce has been out since an Oct. 16th loss to Real Salt Lake. Four days before that, he played 90 minutes in the U.S. national teams 0-0 tie against Colombia.

Im working my hardest to make it a difficult decision for the coach, said Pearce, who I feel like Ive been a significant factor, just like everybody whos played this year and contributed. Like anybody else, I want to get on the field and be with the team. I feel I did well in the fitness test and right now its out of my hands.

Whether FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman starts Pearce or not, it is looking like a safe bet that Pearce will see the field at some point in Sundays final.

I feel fit. Whether I can play 90 minutes is difficult to say because its difficult to replicate game-like situations or even training situations. The muscle feels good, and after today the fitness feels good.

Who do you think Hyndman should start? Should he stick with Jackson, or bring in Pearce?

Share your thoughts below.

Hernandez right at home with FC Dallas | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By JOSE M. ROMERO

TORONTO Tyler, Texas will always be known for NFL Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, the Tyler Rose.

And to some extent, other local celebs such as actress Sandy Duncan and former NBA player Larry Grandmama Johnson.

Win the MLS Cup, and perhaps Daniel Hernandez will receive a key to the city and take his place in Tyler lore. After all, the FC Dallas captain is proud of his Texas roots, and excited to be close to bringing a championship to his home state.

For years Ive kept up with Dallas, said Hernandez, who signed with the club in September of 2009 after a long career between MLS and La Primera Division of Mexico. Its no secret that Ive tried to get back to Dallas for years, since I left college. I think its all just played out perfectly for me. This is exactly why I wanted to be home, to have the success for this club, to take this franchise to a different level.

That is exactly where FC Dallas finds itself just a couple of days from playing for its first MLS title. Hernandez is a major key to the teams transformation from league laughing stock to powerhouse. The clubs fortunes turned around the time Hernandez got into the starting lineup for coach Schellas Hyndman, which happened from the first day he joined the team.

Hes not only the anchor in the middle third, hes the captain of the team and a bit of an inspirational player, Hyndman said of Hernandez. Hes my right hand on the field.

Dallas ended the 2009 season on a roll, falling just short of making the playoffs. This year, the Hoops, a perennial loser in MLS, finally had their dream run and wound up with the Colorado Rapids as their last obstacle to reach the top.

We finally have a great group of guys on the field and for me its just that much more special because its my hometown. This is where I wanted to be. It feels like I have a sense of responsibility for the city of Dallas and the city of Tyler (96 miles east, but Hernandez played in college at Southern Methodist in Dallas).

There is more to play for, and Hernandez feels less pressure than responsibility. Hernandez feels the Hunt family, which owns the club, deserves a title. Plus he is motivated by his built-in fan base, friends and family who get the opportunity to see him play often and up close.

For all of them he had a message, spoken in Spanish.

Were ready, he said. Were not overconfident but were ready and focused for the biggest game of the year. Weve already made history for this club, but were out for more. This isnt done yet.

Dont think that Hernandez doesnt have some personal scores to settle. Hes playing in his fourth career MLS Cup final and has never won one. With New England in 2002 and 2005, his team lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy. In 2006, the Revolution fell to Houston.

Why are we talking about the past? Hernandez joked when asked about what hes learned from past MLS Cup experience. Obviously Ive been fortunate enough to play in MLS Cups. Unfortunately I havent won one yet.

But playing at home in Texas for Hyndman, his SMU coach, is nothing short of special for the 34-year-old Hernandez. The ultimate prize for him is within reach.

I hope we can end [this year] on a good note and lift that trophy come Sunday, Hernandez said.