If you love continental tournaments, you were in for a treat yesterday. The UEFA Women's Euro tournament played its first semifinal, the CONCACAF Gold cup played both semifinals and CONMEBOL's Copa Libertadores played the second leg of its final. Former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage's Sweden was eliminated from the Euro 1-0 by Germany.
In the first semifinal of the Gold Cup, the USMNT beat Honduras 3-1 after Eddie Johnson opened up the scoring to set up Landon Donovan's 2 goal, 1 assist performance. EJ now has 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 4 matches with the national team. Jurgen Klinsmann was sent off in the second half and will have to await a decision by CONCACAF over whether he will be suspended for the final.
In the second semifinal, Panama once again bested Mexico 2-1 in front of a very Mexico friendly crowd. A pep talk from legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera may have provided extra motivation to secure their spot in the final.
This sets up a rematch on Sunday of the 2005 Gold Cup Final between the United States and Panama. Last time, the United States won on penalties after 120 scoreless minutes. The final also marks the ninth appearance for the United States, which is the most in Gold Cup history. It will also be the fifth consecutive appearance in the finals for the United States. Landon Donovan will be looking to add to his 18 career Gold Cup goals, which is already a tournament record. This is Panama's second appearance in the final. The final will also give Sounders fans another look at former trialist, Roberto Chen.
Easily, the most exciting match last night was the Copa Libertadores Final in Brazil. Atlético Mineiro needed two goals after going down 2-0 to Olimpia in the first leg in Paraguay. After getting the first goal just after halftime, Leonardo Silva provided an aggregate equalizer in the 87th minute with a floating header into the side netting. After 30 minutes of extra time failed to provide a goal, Atlético Mineiro won their first ever Copa Libertadores title on penalties 4-3.
The accolades just keep coming DeAndre Yedlin's way this week. Not only is he the first rookie to be named to the All-Star Game since Michael Parkhurst in 2005, but he is also the first alumnus of Akron's soccer program to become an all-star. That means he beat Teal Bunbury, Steve Zakuani, Darlington Nagbe, Perry Kitchen, Kofi Sarkodie and Darren Mattocks to the All-Star Game. Anybody predicting that before the season started would be derisively dismissed as a loon. That just goes to show how meteoric Yedlin's rise has been in 2013. Another indication of that is his appearance in the Castrol Index Weekly Top 20. Yedlin took the second spot, thanks to his equalizing goal against Colorado. Lamar Neagle's performance was good enough for the 18th spot.
There's a lot of news coming out of Toronto this week, and not all of it is good if you're a TFC fan. Waking the Red wonders if losing out on Diego Forlan isn't such a bad thing when the club is trying to rebuild their roster. Despite failing to sign Forlan, they appear to be successful in bringing in Spanish winger Alvaro Rey. TFC's new CEO seems to be supportive of the efforts to continue rebuilding the roster, indicating that he is reserving judgment until the season is completed. Something that he would obviously like to see changed is the fact that they haven't won at BMO Field in over a year. Perhaps to distract from that, TFC is attempting to incorporate ideas from other clubs with soccer specific stadiums to improve BMO Field.
The Real Sports report on Chivas USA aired Tuesday night, and if you don't have access to HBO, Fox Soccer has a good recap of what was covered in the report. There doesn't seem to be a ton of new information, but the high profile of Real Sports sure isn't doing any favors to their public image. Chivas USA released a statement in response to the airing of the report. It's important to remember that their lease at the StubHub Center is up in 2014, which gives both the club and the league options moving forward.
When Chivas USA comes to Seattle on Sunday night, they will be without the services of Eric Avila, which will most likely result in playing Tristan Bown on the right side and bringing Jorge Villafaña to play on the left side. On the subject of Sunday night's match, I will be bringing my father to his first Sounders match (and first soccer match as far as I know).
DC United is probably the MLS team most in need of a new stadium. They appear to finally have an tentative agreement with Mayor Vincent Gray. Any stadium deal would also have to be agreed to by the city council. The location would be near the MLB stadium, which would definitely be ideal.
If you would like to add Lamar Neagle's autograph to your collection, you might want to consider heading down to Cheney Stadium tonight when the Tacoma Rainiers celebrate Sounders Night. Neagle will throw out the first pitch and be available to sign autographs. The first 2000 fans will receive a Sounders/Rainiers scarf. The Rainiers will be playing in Sounders themed jerseys. That link is worth a click, especially considering which Sounder is featured in the advertising for Sounders Night.
If you ever run into Sebastian Velasquez, don't let him anywhere near your hair. The man with the worst haircut in MLS made a fine effort at dethroning himself when Benji Lopez
fell asleep while Velasquez was mowing his lawn willingly allowed Velasquez to destroy his hair.
I have far too many links queued up to fit into just one article. Be sure to check back tomorrow for more MLS news and some truly insane stories from the world of soccer.