Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: MLS to St. Louis heating up

UEFA Champions League- Round of 16 First Leg
KAA Gent 2-3 Wolfsburg
(Kums 80', Coulibaly 89')-(Draxler 44', 54', Kruse 60')

AS Roma 0-2 Real Madrid
(Ronaldo 57', Jese 86')

Full Champions League Recap

La Liga
Sporting Gijon 1-3 Barcelona
(Castro 27')-(Messi 25', 31', Suarez 67')

As Barcelona stretches their LA Liga lead to six points, Messi nets his 300th career league goal. Barcelona, in general, are playing out for their minds right now and are being talked about as one of the best teams ever. I don't quite know if they fir that bill, but they are certainly the best team in the world right now. They will win Spain by a long ways, but can they topple the rest of the continent in the Champions League? Probably, but anything can happen with this field.

Headlines
Wayne Rooney is the latest blow for Manchester United;s increasingly futile quest for the top four in England. He did not make the trip to Denmark for today's Europa League clash, and  will miss about eight weeks with an unspecified knee injury. This comes at the worst time for United. Rooney has been on fire since the turn of the new year. He has scored seven goals in 2016.

The pots for the Copa America Centenario draw have been determined. Pot 1 will feature the four seeded nations: The USA, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. Pot 2 contains the next four ranked CONMEBOL sides based on the December FIFA rankings: Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Colombia. Pot 3 has the four unseeded CONCACAF participants: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti, and Panama. The final pot has the other sour South American teams: Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

The MLS to St. Louis talk has taken another turn towards reality. A group of local investors, including Jim Kavanaugh, owner of St. Louis FC, have come together to attract an MLS team to St. Louis. Since the Rams left town for Los Angeles, St. Louis has been increasingly mentioned as a prime location for MLS expansion. The league will likely hit 24 teams by 2020, but has stated the intention to expand up to 28 clubs.

In other MLS expansion news, Minnesota United is probably going to be forced into changing their name, The current NASL side is entering MLS next season along with Atlanta United. MLS feels that having two "United" teams coming in at the same time could be confusing to fans, I guess.

This is a crime against the club and its supporters. Minnesota United has gone by that name since before Atlanta United was even thought of. If I'm a Minnesota United supporter (or not), I'm outraged. Minnesota, who has gone by United longer than Atlanta and was awarded their franchise before Atlanta, and has an actual history of playing as Minnesota United should not have to change their name to satisfy the ultra rich owner of Atlanta. If MLS was worried about having too many Uniteds (a legit concern, actually), then they never should have allowed Atlanta to use the name. Instead, they are telling an organization that they committed to last summer that they have to completely rebrand their franchise in the one year before they start playing. That's low MLS. Very low.

Today's Matches
Europa League- Round of 32 First Leg
St. Etienne v. FC Basel- 1pm
Fiorentina v. Tottenham- 1pm- ESPN3
Sevilla v. Molde- 1pm- ESPN3
Anderlecht v. Olympiacos- 1pm
Borussia Dortmund v. FC Porto- 1pm- ESPN3
FC Midtjylland v. Manchester United- 1pm- ESPN3
Villarreal v. Napoli- 1pm- ESPN Deportes
Galatasaray v. Lazio- 3:05pm- ESPN3
Valencia v. Rapid Vienna- 3:05pm- ESPN3
FC Augsburg v. Liverpool- 3:05pm
Sporting CP v. Bayer Leverkusen- 3:05pm- ESPN Deportes
Marseille v. Athletic Bilbao- 3:05pm- ESPN3
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Schalke 04- ESPN3
Sparta Prague v. Krasnodar- 3:05pm
FC Sion v. Braga- 3:05pm

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