Major Link Soccer: Univision dominates soccer TV ratings

Univision's Fernando Fiore promoting the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City last year - John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Univision Deportes may be the fastest growing network on cable television

UEFA Champions League and Europa League

With the first leg completed in the semi-finals of both continental competitions in Europe, it's looking increasingly likely that we could see a couple of all-Iberian Peninsula finals. In Champions League, Atlético was held to a scoreless draw by Chelsea, but since away goals act as a tiebreaker, it still has a decent chance of progressing to the final. Real Madrid took advantage of playing at home in the first leg against Bayern Munichcoming away with a 1-0 win in the first leg.

In Europa League, Portugal's newly crowned Primeira Liga champion Benfica defeated this year's likely Serie A champion Juventus 2-1. Sevilla took a 2-0 lead over Valencia.

TV Ratings

In the first quarter of this year, Univision Deportes has pulled in higher ratings than the other Spanish language sports networks, beating ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, and beIN Sports en Español. Univision's networks broadcast the 5 most watched soccer matches in that time period. Univision's Liga MX coverage beat NBC's Premier League coverage by about 5%. Univision Deportes appears to be the fastest growing cable network, with ratings improving by at least 100% in the past year. This is good news if you have cable and you like watching soccer, because as Univision Deportes becomes more popular, it will also become more accessible for all cable subcribers.

Meanwhile, Canada is taking steps to allow consumers to select and pay for only the channels they are interested in watching in their cable and satellite subscriptions. It would be nice if this catches on and spreads to the US, because I have a pretty good idea of which channels I would pick, and I don't know of any provider that includes them all in the same package.

Seattle

Seattle Reign newcomers Kim Little and Nahomi Kawasumi talked about coming to Seattle. Kawasumi finds it refreshing to play on the same side as Rapinoe, Solo, Cox, and Leroux for a change. Little is happy to not only come to America, but to be reunited with Laura Harvey, who she played for at Arsenal.

As of yesterday morning, Obafemi Martins trailed Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy by less than 2% in MLS Goal of the Week voting. The winner should be revealed sometime today.

As Tony Edwards writes on US Soccer Players, DeAndre Yedlin is probably the USMNT player of the next generation that has the most impact on games right now. Yedlin has acknowledged that the area he needs to work on most is knowing when to go forward and when to stay home in a more defensive position, but Edwards thinks he'll be able to find opportunities to get forward and cause problems for Colorado tomorrow, due to the Rapids' lack of width.

Sigi Schmid isn't a huge fan of US Open Cup matches being scheduled during the World Cup break. He has also let it slip that the Open Cup winner might not be given a spot in CONCACAF Champions League after beyond this year. Pro Soccer Talk's Richard Farley praises Sigi for putting pressure on US Soccer.

Here's a blast from the past:

MLS

After being fired by Manchester United, there aren't too many people with a whole lot of positive things to say about David Moyes, but Landon Donovan praised his former manager and said Moyes would be welcome in MLS.

Fox Sports got a behind the scenes look at PRO's Referee Review Center, learning a bit about how referees are judged, tested, trained, and developed.

If you were wondering why FC Dallas had to wear its away kits last weekend against Toronto FC, it's apparently because its red home kits are considered too similar to TFC's dark gray away kits.

Michael Bradley had a minor foot procedure that was scheduled before the start of the season, while Jermain Defoe is looking like he could return next week. TFC sure seems to be making the most of its bye week.

Is MLS expansion moving too quickly? A contributor at Black and Red United believes it could be.

The LA Galaxy won Throwback Thursday, with this video of an Alexi Lalas goal celebration in the US Open Cup:

US Soccer

The schedule and format for the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup was revealed yesterday, with the tournament including 80 teams, which is an all-time high and also happens to be the same number of teams as there are in the tournament proper of England's FA Cup. MLS teams will join the competition in the fourth round this time, and all 38 pro teams participating this year.

Tab Ramos talked about his plans with the U21 national team, looking ahead to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. Assuming the qualifying tournament is around the same time as it was for the 2012 Olympics, Ramos has just under 2 years to prepare the team for Olympic qualifying.

Klinsmann showed up for U21 camp as well:

Sean Okoli and Sounders HGP prospect Jordan Morris of Stanford played a key role in the USMNT U21's 2-1 win over Club Tijuana on Wednesday. If they can continue to put in that kind of performance, we'll probably see at least 3 Sounders at the Olympics in 2016.

USMNT and Rapid Vienna striker Terrence Boyd spoke with German media about the World Cup match up between his two countries, as well as his vision for the growth of the game in the United States.

Europe/UEFA

Taking a page out of Norwich City's book, Nuremberg fired its manager for the second time this season, with just 3 games left in the season. Nuremberg currently sits in the automatic relegation zone, one point below Hamburg SV for a relegation playoff, which is probably the best case scenario for Tim Chandler's team this late in the season.

With Barcelona's transfer ban suspended while the appeal process is ongoing, it didn't take long for transfer news to kick back into full gear. Alexis Sanchez appears to be moving to Juventus, while Mats Hummels has reportedly agreed to sign with Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo was named in Time's 100 most influential people in the world, with Pele writing his profile. No other soccer players were named to the list, but Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks was also included.

After losing several players to national team call ups for World Cup qualifying, Israeli club Hapoel Petah Tikva made the seemingly unusual move of looking to Arab villages in northern Israel to find players to replace the national team players. The founder of the club says that the move has been successful and that the team is happy, using external racism as a way to unify the team.

World Cup

Some national teams have already made some interesting demands ahead of the World Cup.

College Soccer

Top Drawer Soccer decided to take an early look at the 2014 men's soccer season, ranking the Washington Huskies #4 in the nation. Jordan Morris' Stanford team is ranked 7th. Other teams in the top 10 with Sounders Academy alums include #2 UCLA (Seyi Adekoya) and #8 North Carolina used to have Jalen Markey, but he just transferred to Oregon State this week.

Games on TV

Friday
Bundesliga 11:30 AM Hannover 96 vs. Stuttgart GOL TV USA
Ligue 1 11:30 AM Nantes (Alejandro Bedoya) vs. Olympique Marseille beIN Sports Play, Univision Deportes
Serie A 11:45 AM AS Roma vs. AC Milan beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español
Liga MX 5:30 PM Querétaro vs. Pachuca Azteca, ESPN Deportes
Liga MX 7:30 PM Tijuana vs. León Azteca, ESPN Deportes
Saturday
Premier League 4:45 AM Southampton vs. Everton NBCSN, Live Extra
Serie A 9:00 AM Bologna (Erik Friberg) vs. Fiorentina beIN Sports, beIN Play, RAI
La Liga 11:00 AM Real Madrid vs. Osasuna beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español
NASL 4:30 PM Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (David Estrada) ESPN3
Liga MX 5:00 PM Tigres UANL vs. Atlas Univision Deportes
Sunday
Premier League 4:00 AM Sunderland (Jozy Altidore) vs. Cardiff City NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League 6:05 AM Liverpool vs. Chelsea NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League 8:10 AM Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City NBCSN, Live Extra
Liga MX 10:00 AM Toluca vs. América Univision, Univision Deportes
Liga MX 10:00 AM Puebla vs. Morelia Azteca, ESPN Deportes
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