Major Link Soccer: Tanking it in Qatar

Could this man bring Sacramento to MLS? - Mike Stobe

There's a new face on the cover of FIFA 14. The knockout round of the Gold Cup is nearly set. A MLS all star used to have a nasty gambling addiction. A goalkeeper likes to score goals; lots of them. Qatar is buying a few tanks for the World Cup.

The group stage of the Gold Cup wraps up tonight with the teams in Group C playing their final match. Group A finished Sunday evening, with Panama winning the group and Mexico joining them in the knockout round. Martinique can still qualify for the knockouts if the third place team in Group C fails to finish above them. Canada is the first team eliminated from the tournament, after failing to score in any of their matches.

Last night, Honduras won Group B despite losing to Trinidad and Tobago, who will join them in the knockout round. El Salvador eliminated Haiti and qualified for the knockout round as well, by finishing a point higher than Martinique: Group A's third place team.

Despite Canada's early exit, their fans may have some hope thanks to Camilo admitting that he would be open to playing for the Canadian national team. Elsewhere in Canada, Montreal Impact defender thinks Serie A is struggling and doubts the league's ability to compete financially with the other top leagues in Europe.

While the United States finished off Cuba with an impressive 4-1 victory over the weekend, Lion of Vienna Suite is concerned that Stu Holden struggled to create much in the attacking third in his 60 minutes against Cuba.

Fans in Boston and around the league will be thrilled to learn that Revolution defender Kevin Alston is ready to play again after undergoing treatment for leukemia. He could play tomorrow in Colorado, as he is in the traveling 18.

In New York City, a press release from Mayor Bloomberg inadvertently stated that the 20th MLS franchise, New York City FC, will play in Yankee Stadium. The press release was later revised. The possibility of NYCFC playing in Yankee Stadium prior to building their own stadium has been floated, but no decision has yet been made.

This has unquestionably been a great year for home grown players. Our own DeAndre Yedlin was named to the All Star Game yesterday. The Boston Globe has a piece on how successful the MLS Academies have been since their introduction in 2007. Real Salt Lake agrees that the academies have been a resounding success, and to prove it, they signed a home grown player from their Arizona academy: forward Benji Lopez.

The Sounders aren't the only team facing goalkeeper selection problems due to injury. Real Salt Lake's Josh Saunders tore his ACL against FC Dallas last weekend and will require surgery. They will have to use a third string goalkeeper through the end of the Gold Cup, unless the US is eliminated sooner. They will also be without Carlos Salcedo due to gall bladder surgery.

FC Dallas has been struggling lately after getting off to a flying start in the early part of the season. This article from WhoScored asks whether the league has figured out their tactics, which are heavily reliant on direct play and converting set pieces.

Could Jonathan Bornstein be headed back to Chivas USA? He seems to at least be considering it.

Here's an interesting article on Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen about how his time in Kansas City has turned around his career after it nearly ended due to his gambling addiction.

In the lower divisions, a group in Jacksonville is organizing in the hopes of landing a NASL expansion team. Sacramento's USL Pro team has hired, who won the MLS coach of the year award in 2010 with Chivas USA. They will begin play in 2014.

Forbes' annual list of the 50 most valuable sports teams has been released, and the top 3 teams on the list are all soccer teams. There is also a Seattle team in the top 30.

In European transfer news, Jose Mourinho reportedly failed in his attempt to convince Drogba to return to Stamford Bridge. Bayern Munich finalized the transfer of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona for €25 million.

Manchester City is expanding their stadium to seat 60,000, which will allow them to offer a £299 season ticket. Although that is below the Sounders' max capacity, £299 is also less expensive than many of the season ticket packages offered by the Sounders, which is pretty incredible for a top team in the Premier League.

We have seen FIFA adopt the MLS practice of referees spraying lines on the pitch on free kicks in international tournaments this summer. Now, England's FA is considering following the lead of MLS by amending their rules in order to take retroactive action against players for offenses in matches that go unnoticed by the officials.

Leo Messi is going to have company on the cover of FIFA 14 this year. Tottenham's Gareth Bale will be his co-cover boy. The Premier League's most famous and talented Welshman is everywhere these days.

It's been a month since Father's Day, but retiring River Plate player had one of the proudest moments of his life in his testimonial match, when he assisted a goal scored by his son. Also in South America, Rogerio Ceniscored one of the prettiest goals I've seen from a goalkeeper. Then again, he has scored well over 100 goals in his career, so I clearly need to set aside some Youtube time in the near future.

Many a Survival Saturday has seen some cruel finishes doom a team to relegation. That's nothing compared to what happened to Thurrock FC of the Ithsman Premier Division (one level below Conference). A month after the season ended with the team avoiding relegation by 1 point, they had 3 points deducted for mistakenly using a player who still owed $24 to his former team.

Do you like soccer? Do you like tanks? Have you always wanted to see the two combined? Then, have I got a World Cup for you! Qatar has purchased 118 Leopard tanks and 16 tank howitzers from Germany for billions of dollars. That's nearly 5 tanks for every FIFA official that was allegedly bribed ahead of the vote that granted hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. And we thought the use of wand metal detectors at Sounders games was over the top.

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