Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Al Ahli failed to reach the semi-final stage after drawing 1-1 at home with Esperance of Tunisia in their final group game in the Egyptian capital on Friday.
It was Egypt’s last chance of salvaging some success from what has been a terrible year for their football.
They have gone from an unprecedented three successive African Nations Cup titles to missing out on defending their title at the next edition, to be hosted in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon early next year.
There is a rare air of jubilation around Major League Soccer after Real Salt Lake managed to come away from the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League final away to Mexican champions Monterrey with a 2-2 draw but it is tempered by the loss of their best player for the return game.
MLS commissioner Don Garber took to twitter to post ‘Congrats RSL! Well done’ and many fans of other MLS teams have been quick to applaud the result. In many ways, this year’s run to the final by RSL has been taken by the league and its supporters as a validation of their status in the game.
After little more than four hours’ sleep, plenty of driving and the inevitable drop in adrenalin following a big game such as Saturday’s U.S. v England match, there were a few weary souls among the reporters following the United States when we headed to team HQ at Irene Farm on Sunday morning for a press conference with coach Bob Bradley and defender Steve Cherundolo.
There was no sign of jadedness from Bradley, though, who when touching upon Steven Gerrard’s fourth minute opener for England, described it in the following terms:
USA 2 Czech Republic 4 was hardly a morale boosting result for American fans as their team prepares for the World Cup finals, which begin for the U.S against England on June 12.
Of course, as the ESPN commentators were at pains to point out, perhaps worried about viewers turning off from the team before the tournament has even begun, the squad on the field last night was missing key starters such as Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra (who instead was spotted chomping chicken wings in the stands) and Clint Dempsey. And as the ESPN crew also repeatedly reminded us, the result of games like these are “meaningless”.
The 15th Major League Soccer season kicks off on Thursday as fans thankfully turn their thoughts from collective-bargaining agreements and guaranteed contracts, to action on the field, safe in the knowledge that the only strikers making the news this week will be those who score goals.
Others will make their judgments on the deal that avoided a strike — but what is certain is that the new five-year contract and modest salary structure ensures not only that MLS will start on Thursday (Seattle Sounders host the Philadelphia Union) but also that it will enter its 20th year in much the same status as it began its first – a league featuring a surprising number of good players, being paid a surprisingly low amount of money.
After a wave of optimism following their successful run in the Confederations Cup, the United States have come back down to earth with their 2-1 defeat to Mexico.
Although Mexico didn’t seal their victory on Wednesday until Miguel Sabah’s strike seven minutes from the end, the result actually flattered the United States who were outplayed at the Azteca stadium.
The Confederations Cup, effectively a warm-up tournament for the World Cup, rarely captures the imagination but fans in the United States aren’t lacking enthusiasm for the tournament after their team produced a major upset by defeating European champions Spain 2-0.
Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey ended Spain’s world record run of 15 successive victories and their 35-match unbeaten sequence, a world record streak they share with Brazil. That run has taken Spain to world number one in FIFA’s global rankings.