Major Link Soccer: Pay to Play

Don't worry, Servando. Her knee will be okay. - Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A fan in England paid over $15,000 to play in a pre-season friendly for his club. Would you pay that much to play for the Sounders?

How much would you be willing to pay to play for the Sounders in a pre-season friendly? One fan of Football Conference Premier side Macclesfield Town FC paid £10,000 ($15,537) to the club. This was part of a fundraising promotion for the club, which is struggling financially. The fan lasted only 10 minutes before injuring himself in the team's final pre-season friendly against Stoke City.

Goal-line technology will debut in the Premier League this season. It will be referred to as a "goal decision system". Within a second of the ball crossing the goal line, the referee will be informed on their wristwatch that a goal should be awarded. It is widely believed that a key component of successful goal-line technology is to limit stoppages in the run of play as much as possible.

The Premier League will also debut a panel to review plays that were missed by referees in matches each week that will have a similar function to the MLS Disciplinary Committee. The main difference is that, while the MLS Disciplinary Committee is made up of 3 former players, 2 former coaches and 1 former referee, the Premier League panel will be made up of 3 former referees.

With all the uncertainty surrounding Gareth Bale, NBC has removed the giant Bale display in Times Square promoting their Premier League coverage. Their Premier League Team Picker has been making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook this week. The first time I tried it out, it told me I should be a Tottenham fan, partially because I follow them on Twitter. After I briefly unfollowed Tottenham, it told me I should support Liverpool. Go figure.

Bloomsberg Sports has used OPTA data and run 10,000 simulations to project the final table for the Premier League. They project Chelsea to win the league, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal predicted to take the remaining spots in Champions League. They also have projected Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

A recent study revealed that more than half of the soccer fans in England think about soccer at least once every minute. I would probably fit into that group as well, particularly since Dempsey-mania ran wild on Seattle.

Speaking of Dempsey, his USMNT teammate Tim Howard has weighed in on his return to MLS. He doesn't seem to buy into the argument that the move could hurt his performance in the World Cup, citing Landon Donovan's play for the national team while staying in the league. In the same interview, Howard shared his hope that Donovan will be called up for the World Cup qualifying matches next month.

The new FIFA rankings are out, and for the first time since 2011, the United States is ranked ahead of Mexico and have broken into the top 20. ESPN FC notes that the FIFA ranking system is much more heavily influenced by the results of the Gold Cup than ESPN's own Soccer Power Index (SPI), which was created by Nate Silver. The SPI takes into account whether one or both teams played their "A" team. Because most teams in the Gold Cup did not bring their strongest sides, Panama did not jump as high in the SPI as they did in the FIFA rankings.

With the return of Dempsey to MLS and the announcement that the league will expand to 24 teams by the end of the decade, many fans and media outlets have opined that the league is entering a new "MLS 3.0" era. Drew Epperly of WVHooligan.com argues that a MLS team needs to win CONCACAF Champions League before the league can truly reach a new level. Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated also shares this view.

The Colorado Rapids have finally signed the first Designated Player in franchise history. Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres has signed with the Rapids. He was a co-winner of the Golden Boot in the 2013 Gold Cup, equaling Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski's total of 5 goals in the tournament. Torres will be a DP on the basis of his salary and transfer fee.

New England has also signed a new striker. They have brought in Charlie Davies to help soften the blow of losing Juan Agudelo after the 2013 season. It's unclear whether he's joining the Revs on a loan or even whether the Sounders and Timbers passed on him in the allocation order.

The New York Red Bulls have signed Socceroos defender/midfielder David Carney. Carney has 46 caps for Australia's national team.

Thierry Henry is scoring goals for a cause for the remainder of the season. For every goal he scores, he will donate $5000 to Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit organization that focuses on HIV prevention. Goldman Sachs has pledged to match his donation for each goal scored.

Former Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch feels that he is ready for another MLS coaching job after taking an extended vacation with his family.

It looks like Orlando might actually have a stadium deal, which is probably the only real hurdle standing between them and joining MLS as an expansion franchise. Orlando City SC's ownership has reached a deal with the mayor of Orlando and the mayor of Orange County to build a soccer specific stadium in downtown Orlando. The deal also includes renovations to the Citrus Bowl, where Orlando could play matches with expanded capacity.

It looks like Alex Morgan's knee injury isn't nearly as bad as was feared after she had to leave the Thorns' match Wednesday evening. She should only miss 2-4 weeks.

Also in Portland, 64 players have been invited to US Soccer's national combine intended to help find players for future U18 and U20 teams. No Sounders Academy players were invited, but goalkeeper Avery Miller of Crossfire was invited. Miller is from Selah, Washington, which is a suburb of Yakima.

It appears that John Anthony Brooks will be called into the upcoming USMNT friendly against Bosnia after apparently turning down a call up for Gemany's U21 side. Soccer By Ives has a good guide for anyone wanting to plan their weekend around watching American players play for their teams in foreign leagues.

I'll leave you with some games to watch for this weekend:

Friday:

  • Montpelier vs. PSG: beIN Sport, 11:30 AM
  • Querétaro vs. Chiapas: ESPN Deportes, Azteca, 5:30 PM
  • Tijuana vs. Pumas UNAM: ESPN Deportes, Azteca, 5:30 PM

Saturday:

  • Bordeaux vs. Monaco: beIN Sport, 12:00 PM
  • Cruz Azul vs. Guadalajara: Univision, 3:00 PM
  • Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders: KONG, 4:00 PM
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes: MLS Stream of the Week, 4:30 PM
  • Philadelphia Union vs. DC United: NBC Sports Network, 5:00 PM
  • León vs. Morelia: Telemundo, 6:05 PM

Sunday:

  • Manchester United vs. Wigan Athletic (FA Community Shield): Fox Soccer, 6:00 AM
  • Puebla vs. Veracruz: ESPN Deportes, Azteca, 10:00 AM
  • Toluca vs. Santos Laguna: Univision, 10:00 AM
  • Guingamp vs. Marseille: beIN Sport, 12:00 PM
  • FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy: ESPN2, ESPN3, 5:00 PM
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