Major Link Soccer: Copa Del Rey Clásico

Angel Martinez

Spain's two biggest clubs will meet in the Copa Del Rey final for the 7th time.

Seattle

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann participated in a live chat on the Seattle Times website yesterday. Some of the highlights included his thoughts on Stefan Frei and his new central defenders Chad Marshall and Jalil Anibaba, his time with the A-League Sounders, his accomplishments in England and the VW Thing he has owned since high school.

DeAndre Yedlin and Sounders HGP prospect Jordan Morris get mentions in a Goal.com article that attempts to project a United States 2016 Olympic men's soccer team.

As good as Seattle Reign and USWNT forward Sydney Leroux still has plenty of room to grow at only 23 years old, which is a scary prospect for opposing defenses.

MLS

Jeremiah Oshan has a story on SB Nation about why, despite the less than stellar MLS ratings in 2013, the demographics of MLS fans suggest substantial long-term growth potential.

According to Red Bull New York head coach Mike Petke, a free kick that was given to Philadelphia in a pre-season match after Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles took too long to put the ball back in play is due to a new MLS initiative that seeks to crack down on time wasting by goalkeepers.

Chicago Fire

The Fire will host a doubleheader match on April 19, with the second match involving the Chicago Red Stars and the Western New York Flash of NWSL.

The addition of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni during the offseason has created some pretty significant competition for the starting spots in central defense.

Chivas USA

Mauro Rosales may not be the only Argentine on the roster for Chivas USA in 2014. A report out of Argentina has linked the club with a loan move for 22 year-old Argentinos Juniors forward Leandro Barrera.

Paul Grafer has joined the Chivas USA coaching staff as a goalkeeper coach. Grafer, a former Colorado Rapids and MetroStars goalkeeper, has served as the goalkeeper coach for the USMNT U17 since 2007.

Colorado Rapids

Colorado announced the signing of two players yesterday: second round draft pick Jared Watts, a defensive midfielder and former Atlanta Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Nasco.

The team is also considering possible replacements for defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas.

Columbus Crew

For the first time in 10 years, the Columbus Crew back line will be missing Chad Marshall. Even though Columbus added Michael Parkhurst, head coach Gregg Berhalter sees the competition for every spot on the back line as pretty open.

DC United

ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle has a story about some of the underlying issues that led to Eddie Johnson's exit from the Sounders after the 2013 season and how a move to DC United may restore a bit of mutual trust that may have been lacking at the club level last year.

Black and Red United wonders if defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen will be named as the team's captain. Although Kitchen is only 21 years old, he is already one of the longest-tenured players on the team.

FC Dallas

Oscar Pareja brought one of his players from his 2013 Colorado team, as FC Dallas acquired holding midfielder Hendry Thomas from the Rapids in exchange for allocation money. Big D Soccer looks into what that means for the team.

LA Galaxy

In an interview with Medio Tiempo, Landon Donovan said that he thinks Mexico's poor performance in qualifying won't affect its ability to "do something special" in Brazil this summer. He went on to praise Mexico's youth system, calling it "better than ours". He added that, although he has had chances in the past to play in Mexico, he plans to finish his career with LA.

LA Galaxy's USL Pro side will be closely watched this year by the Sounders and other MLS teams with plans to launch their own USL Pro teams. LA Galaxy II is holding an open tryout at the beginning of March that is open to adult males willing to pay the $175 registration fee.

Miami

On Wednesday night, David Beckham's publicist took to Twitter to reject reports that Beckham's MLS team would be named Miami Vice.

Beckham made an unannounced visit yesterday to Tacloban in the Phillippines. Tacloban was hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November with a death toll of approximately 6,200.

Montreal Impact

Impact midfielder and Quebec native Patrice Bernier was named as the team's captain ahead of the 2014 season.

Instead of taking up the team's third DP spot, Santiago Gonzalez will be signed under a little known and seldom used mechanism known as "Special Discovery".

New England Revolution

Former New England and DC United midfielder Clyde Simms has been forced to retire by a kidney disease.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC has brought back Colombian midfielder Jimmy Medranda on a multi-year transfer deal from Colombia Primera B club Deportivo Pereira. Medranda arrived in Kansas City on loan last summer, but Sporting wanted to bring him back on a permanent transfer.

Toronto FC

Waking the Red notes that Toronto could have as many as 4 players at the World Cup this summer. Despite moving away from a top 6 club in England to TFC, Jermain Defoe still could be included in his national team's World Cup roster. Bright Dike was called up for Nigeria's March 5 friendly vs. Mexico, where he could improve his chances of making the World Cup roster for his national team.

NASL

Marcos Senna has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the New York Cosmos until July 2015.

Europe

Denmark

Richard Møller Nielsen, who managed Denmark when it won the 1992 European Championship, passed away yesterday at the age of 76. Former Sounder Chistian Sivebæk's father John Sivebæk played for the Danish national team under Nielsen that also won the 1995 Confederations Cup. Nielsen later managed the national teams of Finland and Israel before retiring.

England

The Premier League is not willing to support a change in the ban on standing areas in top-flight stadia. Despite that, Manchester City and Aston Villa seem to be open to the possibility of rail seating and the Football League has voted in favor of rail seating.

Tottenham Hotspur has extended its partnership with AIA through the 2018/19 season. Although the deal previously specified a shirt sponsorship in cup competitions, the new deal will make AIA the shirt sponsor for all competitions, beginning next season.

The proposal to expand Manchester City's Etihad Stadium has been approved. The expansion will increase capacity from 48,000 to 62,000.

Manchester United stands to lose $117 million if it fails to qualify for 2014/15 UEFA Champions League.

Beijing Liangzhu International Media, an advertising firm based in China, has agreed to purchase a 12% stake in Sky Bet Championship club Birmingham City FC for £3.5 million.

USMNT midfielder Stuart Holden is set to rejoin training with Bolton. The club's manager thinks Holden should be ready to play for Bolton's reserves within 6 to 8 weeks.

Luis Suarez re-visited his alleged racial abuse of Patrice Evra in 2011 in an interview with a sports radio station in Montevideo, Uruguay. Suarez still contends that the allegations were "all false".

According to former Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chairman Clark Carlisle, homophobia remains a big problem in professional soccer. At the start of the FA's Football v. Homophobia month of action this month, 11 of the 20 Premier League clubs and 16 of the 72 Football League clubs had signed up for the campaign.

One issue that the PFA isn't dropping is depression among current and former players. The PFA claims that retiring players are the group whose mental health is most at risk.

France

After a deal made between AS Monaco and the LFP last month that stipulates a voluntary €50 million lump sum in order to keep playing in Ligue 1 within the borders of Monaco, several Ligue 1 clubs are pursuing legal action in the hopes of nullifying the agreement.

Now that Sporting CP has exercised its purchase option on Fredy Montero's contract, Monaco appears to be interested in signing him this summer, uniting him with his potential World Cup teammate Radamel Falcao.

Ireland

Jimmy Jones, who still holds the record for goals scored in a Irish Football League (Northern Ireland) season, passed away yesterday at the age of 85. Jones scored 74 goals for Glenavon FC in the 1956/57 season and was the league's leading scorer for 10 consecutive seasons from 1952/53 until 1961/62. His 289 career goals is still an Irish League record.

Italy

Lazio strongly denied claims that 17 year-old academy player Joseph Minala is actually 41. The club is now threatening legal action against a website that claimed the player told them that he is 41.

Portugal

For the first time in 30 years, Primeira Liga side Rio Ave have qualified for a cup final. After beating Braga 2-1 yesterday in the Taça de Liga semifinal, Rio Ave will play either Porto or Benfica in the final in April. The club's only other cup final appearance was in 1984 against Porto, which they lost. Rio Ave have yet to win a major trophy. The best finish they have achieved in Portugal's top flight league was a 5th place finish in 1981/82.

Scotland

With his team currently sitting at the top of the Scottish Premier League table with 21 wins and 3 draws in 24 matches, Celtic manager Neil Lennon has issued a challenge to his team to finish the season unbeaten.

A Kilmarnock FC supporters group has made an offer to purchase the club due to concerns of issues that may arise from having a single majority owner.

Spain

Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to face off in the Copa Del Rey Final for the 7th time in the 112 year history of the tournament. Barcelona advanced after a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad that allowed it to advance on 3-1 aggregate. Real Madrid avenged its loss in last year's final, with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Atlético Madrid. Real Madrid and Barcelona have each won 3 of the Copa Del Rey final meetings between the clubs.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed that the club will not sell Lionel Messi and is working to extend his contract.

World Cup

FIFA Rankings

The latest FIFA rankings are out, and the United States moved to the 13th spot, just above Chile and below Greece. The USMNT is now 8 spots ahead of Mexico, which is the second highest ranked national team in CONCACAF.

Steven Goff of the Washington Post analyzed each group at the World Cup according to the FIFA ranking of each team. Just about any way you slice it, Group G seems to clearly be the toughest group in the tournament, with two teams ranked in the top 5, three teams ranked in the top 5 and all four teams ranked in the top 40. No other group has two teams in the top 5, only Groups B and D have three teams in the top 15, and only Groups D and E have all four teams in the top 40.

Kits

Adidas has revealed several kits that will be used in the World Cup this summer, including kits for Spain, Germany, Argentina and Russia.

Ghana

Michael Essien is hoping to be included in the World Cup roster for Ghana this summer in Brazil, after missing out on the 2010 World Cup.

USMNT

It was announced yesterday that the United States will play a friendly against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on April 2. Because the match does not fall on a FIFA date, clubs are under no obligation to release players for the friendly.

2022 World Cup

FIFA claims that there isn't much it can do about working conditions in Qatar for migrant laborers. Theo Zwanziger, a FIFA executive from Germany, isn't supportive of threatening to take the World Cup away from Qatar if conditions don't improve.

TV Listings

Friday
Ligue 1 11:30 AM PSG vs. Valenciennes beIN Sports USA, Univision Deportes
Serie A 11:45 AM AC Milan vs. Bologna beIN Sports en Español
La Liga 2:00 PM Elche vs. Osasuna beIN Sports en Español
Colombia Primera A 5:00 PM Atlético Huila vs. Medellín TV Colombia
Liga MX 5:30 PM Morelia vs. América ESPN Deportes, Azteca America
Liga MX 7:30 PM Santos Laguna vs. Tijuana Univision Deportes
Saturday
FA Cup 4:45 AM Sunderland vs. Southampton Fox Sports 2
Bundesliga 6:30 AM Bayern Munich vs. Freiburg Gol TV USA
FA Cup 7:00 AM Cardiff City vs. Wigan Athletic Fox Sports 2
La Liga 7:00 AM Atlético Madrid vs. Real Valladolid beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Español
Ligue 1 8:00 AM Bastia vs. Monaco Univision Deportes
Championship 8:55 AM AFC Bournemouth vs. Burnley beIN Sports USA (tape delay)
Liga Adelante 9:00 AM Real Madrid II vs. Barcelona II beIN Sports en Español
FA Cup 9:15 AM Manchester City vs. Chelsea Fox Sports 2
Bundesliga 9:30 AM Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke 04 Gol TV USA
Eredivisie 9:45 AM Twente vs. Vitesse ESPN3
Ligue 1 11:00 AM Nice vs. Nantes Univision Deportes
La Liga 11:00 AM Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Español
Serie A 11:45 AM Fiorentina vs. Inter Milan beIN Sports USA
Colombia Primera A 12:15 PM La Equidad vs. Uniautónoma TV Colombia
La Liga 1:00 PM Villarreal vs. Celta de Vigo beIN Sports en Español
Colombia Primera A 2:30 PM Itagüí Ditaires vs. Fortaleza TV Colombia
Liga MX 3:00 PM Veracruz vs. Toluca Univision Deportes
Liga MX 3:00 PM Cruz Azul vs. Puebla Univision
Colombia Primera A 4:45 PM Santa Fe vs. Deportivo Cali TV Colombia
Liga MX 5:00 PM Monterrey vs. León UniMás
Liga MX 5:00 PM Pachuca vs. Atlante Univision Deportes
El Salvador Primera Division 5:00 PM Águila vs. FAS Centro America TV
Liga MX 7:00 PM Chiapas vs. Tigres UANL Univision Deportes
A-League 10:00 PM Brisbane Roar vs. Newcastle Jets Fox Sports 2
Sunday
FA Cup 5:30 AM Everton vs. Swansea City Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes
Serie A 6:00 AM Juventus vs. Chievo beIN sports USA
Serie A 6:00 AM Sassuolo vs. Napoli beIN Sports en Español
Eredivisie 7:30 AM Ajax vs. Heerenveen Gol TV USA
FA Cup 8:00 AM Arsenal vs. Liverpool Fox Sports 2, Fox Deportes
La Liga 8:00 AM Getafe vs. Real Madrid beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Español
Costa Rica Primera Division 9:00 AM Saprissa vs. Santos de Guápiles Centro America TV
Championship 9:55 AM Queens Park Rangers vs. Reading beIN Sports USA
La Liga 10:00 AM Athletic Bilbao vs. Espanyol beIN Sports en Español
Liga MX 10:00 AM Pumas UNAM vs. Atlas Univision Deportes, El Rey Network
Ascenso MX 10:00 AM Cruz Azul Hidalgo vs. Lobos BUAP Mexico TV
Brazil Campeonato A1 11:00 AM Corinthians vs. Palmeiras Gol TV USA
Serie A 11:45 AM AS Roma vs. Sampdoria beIN Sports USA
Ligue 1 12:00 PM Saint-Étienne vs. Olympique Marseille Univision Deportes
La Liga 12:00 PM Sevilla vs. Valencia beIN Sports en Español
Colombia Primera A 12:15 PM Once Caldas vs. Alianza Petrolera TV Colombia
Colombia Primera A 2:30 PM Junior vs. Patriotas Boyacá TV Colombia
Uruguay Primera Division 2:30 PM Sud América vs. Nacional Gol TV USA
Liga MX 3:00 PM Guadalajara vs. Querétaro UniMás, Univision Deportes
Colombia Primera A 4:30 PM Atlético Nacional vs. Deportes Tolima TV Colombia
Argentina Primera Division 4:30 PM Boca Juniors vs. Belgrano Gol TV USA
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