Major Link Soccer: MLS catching up with Liga MX?

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Cruz Azul's manager praised the quality of play in MLS after his side's 1-0 loss in Kansas City.

Seattle

Former NASL and USL Sounders manager Alan Hinton offered his thoughts about the Sounders and the rest of the league, praising the changes Seattle made during the offseason.

Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer participated in a live chat yesterday on the Seattle Times website and talked about whether "warm and fuzzy feelings" help a team win trophies, among many MLS, USL and NASL Sounders-themed questions.

Sydney Leroux and Hope Solo are ready for the 2014 NWSL season to begin:

Ives Galarcep wrote a feature on DeAndre Yedlin, as the 20 year-old fullback attempts to build on an impressive rookie season and make a case for being included in the World Cup roster.

MLSsoccer.com has a photographic feature chronicling Clint Dempsey's rise from playing pickup soccer in Nacogdoches, Texas to his current role as the captain of the USMNT and one of the highest paid players in MLS.

Fresh off signing with the Sounders, Cam Weaver joined Sounders FC Roundtable, along with Pete Fewing, his college head coach.

After the latest stoppage time victory over Sporting KC, the Sounders are #2 in RSL Soapbox's average of the various MLS power rankings.

Sounders draft pick Jimmy Ockford recently made a new friend in the desert:

MLS

The league announced yesterday that SiriusXM will provide live coverage of MLS games for the 2014 season.

MLS is also taking steps to guard against discrimination and harassment within the league in an expansion of its "Don't Cross the Line" initiative.

The MLS Stream of the Week this weekend is Saturday's Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas match at 5:30 PDT.

The league released its promo for this weekend's match between the Sounders and Toronto FC:

The design for Orlando's soccer stadium is "still in the infancy stages".

Manchester City appointed Rodolfo Borrell as its International Technical Director -- a role that will have him lead the NYCFC expansion project and the Melbourne Heart in Australia's A-League. Borrell has significant experience in youth development with Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona.

The decision of several MLS franchises to sign shirt sponsorship deals with multilevel marketing companies may wind up hurting the reputation of the league and/or the teams involved, as Richard Farley wrote on Pro Soccer Talk after news broke that Herbalife is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

DC United's Luis Silva has been fined "an undisclosed amount" for simulation in last week's match against Columbus.

CONCACAF Champions League

After his team lost 1-0 in the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals to Sporting Kansas City, Cruz Azul manager Luis Fernando praised the growth of MLS:

The MLS has obviously progressed. Technically, the players are very gifted. They're as athletically and strong as we've always known them to be, [but] now you see very technically-gifted players as well in the MLS. You see the improvement to the point where [I] consider the MLS and Mexican teams very even. In terms of quality, it's difficult to separate them.

Cruz Azul midfielder Marco Fabián echoed those sentiments:

After Toluca's 1-1 draw against San Jose, its manager Jose Saturnino Cardozo was a bit less conciliatory.

Despite the strong start MLS teams got off to in the first leg against their Mexican opponents, history still favors the Liga MX sides to advance to the semifinals.

USL Pro

A day after it was announced that Phoenix FC will not participate in the 2014 USL Pro season, the league announced that the club will be re-branded as Arizona United Soccer Club and will participate in the upcoming season.

US Soccer

The USMNT dropped one spot to number 14 in this month's FIFA rankings after losing 2-0 to Ukraine.

US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati is set to speak on the league development and commercialization panel at the Soccerex Asian Forum in Jordan in May.

USMNT manager Jürgen Klinsmann addressed where Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Julian Green stand with the national team.

Another American in the English League Championship received some bad news concerning his recent injury, as Eric Lichaj will have to undergo a double hernia operation.

Aron Johannsson scored his 25th goal of the 2013/14 season for AZ Alkmaar in the club's 1-0 win in Europa League.

The USWNT will likely want to forget about the Algarve Cup after finishing 7th and losing to Sweden and Denmark.

Europe

Arsenal's Premier League title hopes took a big hit, after news came yesterday that Mesut Özil will miss at least 4 weeks after scans showed a fairly serious hamstring strain.

Bayern Munich president Ulrich Hoeneß was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison yesterday on charges of tax evasion, with back taxes owed totaling $39.4 million. As Raphael Honigstein writes in The Guardian, there was no plan put in place to replace Hoeneß.

On the pitch, Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer worries that, despite the club's dominance this season, the style could become so boring that people may not want to watch them play.

Europa League's round of 16 is underway. Yesterday's results were good for the teams from the Iberian Peninsula.

As fans of teams in Europe outside the UK may have noticed, English broadcasts in European competition often have a tone of homerism in favor of the English side, perhaps operating under the assumption that the English speaking audience overwhelmingly supports the English team.

Cristiano Ronaldo recently donated $83,000 to pay for a critical operation for a 10 month-old boy with a rare brain disorder after the Portuguese star was asked to donate a shirt and a pair of boots to help raise the money. This isn't the first time he's done something like this.

World Cup

Anheuser-Busch InBev has managed to merge beer and soccer in its Brahma Selecao Especial, which is brewed using barley that was grown at the training facility of Brazil's national team.

5 to Watch

Friday
Bundesliga 12:30 PM Augsburg vs. Schalke 04 Gol TV, My German TV+
Ligue 1 12:30 PM Reims vs. Olympique Marseille beIN Sport USA, beIN Sport Play, Univision Deportes
La Liga 1:00 PM Getafe vs. Granada beIN Sport en Español, beIN Sport Play
Liga MX 6:30 PM Querétaro vs. Toluca ESPN Deportes, Azteca
A-League 11:30 PM Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Adelaide United Fox Sports 2, Fox Soccer 2 Go
Saturday
Premier League 8:00 AM Sunderland vs. Crystal Palace NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League
10:30 AM Chelsea vs. Aston Villa NBCSN, Live Extra
MLS 1:30 PM Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC Q13, NBCSN, Live Extra
Liga MX 4:00 PM Cruz Azul vs. Tijuana Univision
MLS 5:30 PM Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas MLS Stream of the Week
Sunday
Premier League 6:30 AM Manchester United vs. Liverpool NBCSN, Telemundo, Live Extra
Premier League 9:00 AM Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal NBCSN, Mun2, Live Extra
Liga MX 11:00 AM Puebla vs. Tigres UANL Azteca, ESPN Deportes
Liga MX 11:00 AM Pumas UNAM vs. Atlante Univision, Univision Deportes
MLS 12:00 PM Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire UniMás, Root Sports
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