Major Link Soccer: New owners for Aston Villa

Tony Marshall

Villa will be bought by a group led by two American billionaires -- if it can avoid relegation.

Seattle

As of yesterday morning, Clint Dempsey was running away with the Goal of the Week voting, with over 61% of the vote.

The Seattle Times held another live chat with a Sounder. This time, goalkeeper Stefan Frei took questions from fans.

Eriq Zavaleta talked to Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times to discuss his journey in determining which position suited him the best as a pro soccer player and why he chose to go on loan to Chivas USA over other opportunities. Don Ruiz of the News Tribune talked to former Sounder Mauro Rosales, who had some very kind words for Sounders fans.

For the first time this season, Soccer By Ives named the Sounders its MLS Team of the Week for their comeback win at FC Dallas last weekend.

MLS

The addition of Atlanta likely ensures that the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will move to the Western Conference in the next few years. Despite plenty of criticism of granting Atlanta an expansion franchise, there are plenty of reasons to believe it will be successful.

In an interview with Alexi Lalas, MLS commissioner Don Garber discussed the reasons why he believes a team in Atlanta makes sense, despite a bit of a departure from the soccer specific stadium model toward the Seattle model. CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, who has ties to Atlanta, supports MLS expansion and sees the growing number of teams in the league as a positive sign for soccer in North America.

An article from Forbes highlights the importance of the "Hispanic Millennial" demographic, as far as the growth of soccer in America is concerned.

Jermain Defoe is set to miss his third straight match with Toronto FC, while Michael Bradley is questionable ahead of this weekend's match against FC Dallas.

NWSL

Pro Soccer Talk named 3 Reign players to its Team of the Week and had this to say about head coach Laura Harvey's offseason moves:

We’re one step away from Power Rankings, but this should be the real order:

1. Laura Harvey’s offseason

We talked about it on Sunday, but we can’t do this Digest feature without mentioning the obvious. Harvey’s winter overhaul has the potential to define this season. Even if it doesn’t, 2013 should be a distant memory in Seattle.

NASL

The Atlanta Silverbacks released a statement in response to the announcment of the MLS expansion franchise in Atlanta, noting that they have already met with Arthur Blank's ownership group.

Europe

Manchester United finally appears to be ready to sell Javier Hernandez, after months of "Chicharito" complaining about his lack of playing time at Old Trafford. This news inevitably led to speculation of the possibility of MLS making a move for him this summer.

If Aston Villa manage to avoid relegation, American investors are set to acquire a controlling interest in the club.

A writer for Metro made a case for Tony Pulis to replace Tim Sherwood as Tottenham's manager that was so weak that it prompted a derisive response from Cartilage Free Captain, but the best part is the amazing collection of reaction GIFs in the comments section.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called stadium closures an "excessive" punishment for racist behavior by supporters. Instead, he proposes "sporting sanctions", like points deductions, that could "cause the clubs real hurt".

Inter Milan owner Erick Thohir would like to see the Milan derby played in Singapore one day, citing precedents in both major American professional sports leagues and in Italian soccer.

A fan of PAOK (Michael Gspurning's current club) was arrested for dumping fish on the Olympiakos bench prior to the Greek Cup semifinal between the rival clubs. Gspurning had a front row seat to the spectacle that included flares around the stadium and 3 red cards. He is coming off his first appearance for PAOK on Sunday, playing a full 90 minutes in a 3-2 loss, as the club prepares for the Super League playoffs, which begin later this month.

Barcelona has lost Neymar and Jordi Alba for the remainder of the season. If you aren't yet convinced that these are the darkest days Barcelona has faced in years, consider the following bit of trivia:

US Soccer

Details of USMNT World Cup training camp are out, and Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, and DeAndre Yedlin will likely be expected in camp by May 14, assuming they're all on the 30 man provisional roster. This means that the last game the Sounders will have a full roster before the World Cup is the away match at New England on May 11.

United States and Hertha Berlin defender John Brooks decided to get a very large tattoo on his back, causing him to miss training and this weekend's Bundesliga match against Augsburg.

Tim Howard has signed a contract extension with Everton that will keep him with the club until 2018.

Regardless of which direction the USSF decides to go with the position of head coach for the USWNT, it seems fairly obvious that the 4-3-3 formation is here to stay.

Comparing any two players in soccer is tricky, particularly if they don't play the same position and/or role. Even when they do, it can be an exercise in futility, as Matthew Doyle points out on MLSsoccer.com in the case of Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman.

World Cup

David Luiz has been given a new role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations to help raise awareness about HIV.

Weekend Games to Watch

Friday
Championship 9:15 AM Blackpool vs. Burnley beIN Sports, beIN Play
La Liga 11:30 AM Atlético Madrid vs. Elche beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Play
Ligue 1 11:30 AM Saint-Étienne vs. Rennes Univision Deportes, beIN Play, TV5 Monde
Liga MX 5:30 PM Morelia vs. Cruz Azul Azteca, ESPN Deportes
A-League 11:30 PM Central Coast Mariners vs. Adelaide United Fox Sports 2, Fox Soccer 2 Go, One World Sports
Saturday
Premier League 9:30 AM Chelsea vs. Sunderland NBC, Live Extra
Serie A 9:30 AM Juventus vs. Bologna (Erik Friberg) beIN Sports, beIN Play, RAI
Liga MX 3:00 PM América vs. Querétaro Univision, Univision Deportes
MLS 5:30 PM FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC MLS Stream of the Week
Liga MX 6:05 PM León vs. Tigres UANL Telemundo
Sunday
Premier League 4:00 AM Norwich City vs. Liverpool NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League 6:05 AM Hull City vs Arsenal NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League 8:10 AM Everton vs. Manchester United NBCSN, Live Extra, Mun2
Liga MX 10:00 AM Pumas UNAM vs. Guadalajara Univision, Univision Deportes, El Rey
Liga MX 3:00 PM Atlante vs. Tijuana Univision Deportes
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