Major Link Soccer: Copa America comes to America

American fans will get the chance to see Messi play competitive matches on US soil in 2016 - Alex Grimm

The 100th anniversary edition of Copa America will be held in the United States

Copa America

CONMEBOL and CONCACAF finally made the announcement that the 100th anniversary Copa America tournament will be held in the United States in 2016. Participants will include 10 teams from CONMEBOL and 6 teams from CONCACAF. Miami has already been confirmed as one of the city's bidding to host matches for the tournament.

Cobi Jones believes that the tournament could increase South America's influence on soccer in the United States.

Stars and Stripes FC is a bit more glass half-empty about the tournament, pointing out that it's not yet clear if it will be added to the FIFA calendar. If it isn't, clubs will not be obligated to release CONCACAF players for the tournament, as those nations will be considered guests in CONMEBOL's tournament.

Pro Soccer Talk looks at what a hypothetical Copa America field might look like.

Seattle

Although Chad Marshall's defensive contributions have often been overlooked in the past, he appeared at #3 in Pro Soccer Talk's top 5 list of early Defender of the Year candidates.

In a surprise to nobody, Clint Dempsey was named MLS Player of the Month, winning 84.3% of the voteSoccer By Ives and Pro Soccer Talk concur.

If you're playing Fantasy MLS, there are 3 Sounders you have to have on your team right now: Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Lamar Neagle.

In Oba's quest to win MLS Goal of the Week for the second consecutive week, he is again locked in a tight battle in the voting with a Real Salt Lake player. Last week, it was Ned Grabavoy. This week, it s Alvaro Saboriowho trailed Martins by less than 1 percentage point as of yesterday morning.

American Soccer Now's new ASN 100 is out, and there are now 3 Sounders in the top 40. Dempsey's excellent play in April boosted him from 8th to 3rd. Due to his injury, Brad Evans fell from 25th to 31st. DeAndre Yedlin improved from 54th to 39th. Kenny Cooper is also on the list, but he fell from 68th to 88th. Lamar Neagle and Chad Marshall weren't included.

Not all the Sounders-related news is positive. According to a Liviu Bird report on Soccer Wire, the Sounders have terminated the contract of academy director Darren Sawatzky. Additionally, assistant coach Dennis Sánchez was also reportedly fired. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer's only comment on the story was, "You are correct. Neither of them are with the academy any more. But we won't be commenting beyond that." Sawatzky will continue in his role as coach of the Sounders U23's.

MLS

The Colorado Rapids announced a deal with Ciao Telecom that makes the 3 year-old telecommunications company Colorado's shirt sponsor for the next 5 years. The deal is worth about $2 million per year.

We often talk about how the single-entity structure of MLS makes it different than most soccer leagues around the world, but Beau Dure (author of Long Range Goals and Enduring Spirit) explains how it has evolved throughout the nearly two-decade history of the league, becoming more complicated over time.

Although it has yet to sign a player, New York City FC is planning on making a few signings this summer.

The presence of a consistent time slot, along with the benefit of lead-ins from Premier League coverage, has helped improve MLS ratings thus far in the 2014 season on NBCSN. While in 2013, two of the first five MLS matches on NBCSN drew less than 100,000 viewers, all five NBCSN broadcasts of MLS games this season were watched by over 150,000 viewers. It will be interesting to see how the numbers on NBCSN will be affected over the summer, when there will be no Premier League lead-in.

Two of the hottest young players in the first quarter of the season may have played their last soccer of 2014. After undergoing surgery, Chivas USA midfielder Thomas McNamara will miss 8 months. If the following report is accurate, it doesn't look good for FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz.

The latest episode of MLS Insider features Graham Zusi:

USL Pro

Starting next year, St. Louis will again have a professional soccer team, joining Colorado Springs and Tulsa as expansion teams in USL Pro in 2015. This will bring the total number of teams in the league to 17 next season (not including the likely Sounders II USL Pro team). Between USL Pro, NASL, and MLS expansion, there will be 51 pro soccer teams in the top 3 divisions in the American Soccer pyramid.

St. Louis will reportedly be the USL Pro affiliate of the Chicago Fire.

Michigan Bucks, a PDL team based in Pontiac, Michigan, could join St. Louis in USL Pro next season, as the team's owner plans on applying to join the league next season.

College Soccer

We wouldn't normally mention college soccer in early May, but Akron freshman midfielder Richmond Laryea changed that with the following goal in the spring game against Xavier.

US Soccer

Jürgen Klinsmann says he will call up a full 30 man preliminary roster for the USMNT's pre-World Cup training camp.

USMNT and Hertha Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks is hoping to be included on Klinsmann's preliminary 30 man roster. He's currently doing pretty well, winning the Bundesliga player of the week award for his role in Hertha's 2-0 win against Eintracht Braunschweig last weekend.

Champions League & Europa League

Last week, I mentioned the possibility of a pair of all-Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) European finals. The results in the semifinals in both Champions League and Europa League worked out to make it a reality. The Madrid Derby will travel to Lisbon for the Champions League Final, while Benfica and Sevilla will face off in Turin in the Europa League Final.

With Benfica's win over Juventus in the Europa League semi-final, Portugal's Primeira Liga has passed Italy's Serie A for the #4 spot in the UEFA coefficient rankings.

The second leg of the Champions League semi-final between Atlético Madrid and Chelsea managed to pull pretty strong ratings on Fox Sports 1:

Atlético's run is pretty incredible, especially since the combined transfer fees of its starting 11 against Chelsea cost nearly $35 million less than what Chelsea paid for Fernando Torres. English Championship side QPR also reportedly paid higher wages to its players than Atlético did this season.

If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em certainly appears to be Chelsea's philosophy, as it will reportedly pay a $54 million transfer fee to sign Atlético striker Diego Costa. Appearances aside, Chelsea have planned to move for Costa for a while now. Striker is one of the 3 positions Jose Mourinho wants to address this summer.

The other semi-finalist on the wrong side of a team from Madrid, Bayern Munichplans on signing 5 new players in the summer transfer window.

TV Listings

Friday
Ligue 1 11:30 AM Bastia vs. Lille beIN Sports, beIN Play, TV5 Monde
La Liga 12:00 PM Rayo Vallecano vs. Athletic Bilbao beIN Sports en Español, beIN Play
USL Pro 4:00 PM Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Charleston Battery YouTube
USL Pro 4:00 PM Richmond Kicker vs. Rochester Rhinos YouTube
Japan J1 League 11:00 PM Kawasaki Frontale vs. Ventforet Kofu One World Sports
Saturday
Bundesliga 6:30 AM Hamburger SV vs. Bayern Munich GOL TV, My German TV+
Premier League 7:00 AM Manchester United vs. Sunderland NBCSN, Live Extra
La Liga 7:00 AM Barcelona vs. Getafe beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Play
Premier League 9:30 AM Everton vs. Manchester City CNBC, Live Extra
Coppa Italia Final 11:45 AM Fiorentina vs. Napoli beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español, beIN Play
Liga MX Playoffs 5:00 PM Cruz Azul vs. León Univision Deportes
Liga MX Playoffs 7:00 PM Santos Laguna vs. América Univision Deportes
Sunday
Premier League 5:30 AM Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion NBCSN, Live Extra
Premier League 8:00 AM Chelsea vs. Norwich City NBCSN, Live Extra
La Liga 8:00 AM Levante vs. Atlético Madrid beIN Sports, beIN Sports en Español
Liga MX Playoffs 10:00 AM Toluca vs. Tijuana Univision Deportes
MLS 12:00 PM FC Dallas vs. New York Red Bulls Univision Deportes, UniMás
MLS 1:00 PM Sporting KC vs. Columbus Crew NBCSN, Live Extra
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