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Major Link Soccer: Kicked in the Head

It's a dangerous week to be a soccer player. Ain't that a kick in the head? Tanks are back. Former Sounders were involved in Europa League action. Cascadia has a new PDL team. There was a different kind of drone strike in Brazil during the Confederations Cup. Montreal imitates the Sounders Alliance.

Doug Pensinger

The second qualifying round of UEFA Europa League began yesterday, and two former Sounders were involved. Erik Friberg's Malmo FF defeated Hibernian FC 2-0 in the first leg. Friberg came off the bench in the 68th minute to help preserve the lead. Adam Johansson's IFK Göteborg drew 0-0 against Trencin. Johansson played a full 90 but picked up a yellow card in the first half. Michael Gspurning's former club, Xanthi lost 0-1 to Linfield. The second leg will be played next Thursday. After the second qualifying round, there are two rounds remaining (third qualifying round, playoff round) until the group stage.

It hasn't been a great week for the heads of soccer players around the world. First, there was a tackle in the Peruvian league in which Smith, a Brazilian player won the ball and followed through in a kung fu style kick to an opponent's head, which knocked out the Peruvian player. Smith has been dealt a 14 match suspension. After conceding a goal, the goalkeeper for Notts County was inadvertently kicked in the head by one of his teammates in a friendly against Galatasaray. The death stares he will surely get from his keeper will be punishment enough.

In lower division expansion news, Sacramento unveiled the name and shield of their new USL Pro team. They will be known as Sacramento Republic FC. When the Kitsap Pumas, North Sound Seawolves, Washington Crossfire and Sounders U23's begin play next season, they will have a new opponent in the Northwest Division. Eugene, Oregon's Lane United FC will join PDL in 2014, bringing the Northwest Division back to 8 teams, after Fraser Valley's departure last year.

Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald feels that David Beckham's MLS expansion team should be located in South Beach. The argument is that Miami's fans are far too casual for the team to succeed otherwise. After watching Heat fans leave in droves before the end of game 6 of the NBA Finals, it's a tough argument to counter.

If you thought we were done talking about tanks and soccer, you were wrong. Italy's soccer governing body is investigating an incident in which a player from Atalanta was on board a tank at a supporters rally, at which the tank crushed two cars decorated in the colors of rival clubs. Also in Italy, it is being reported that a 75% share of Inter Milan will be sold to DC United owner Erick Thohir for €300 million. Perhaps this move will open the door for loan moves of younger players from Inter to DC United, as we've seen this year with players coming to Chivas USA from Guadalajara.

In Brazil, we have a story that gives new meaning to the phrase "drone strike". An unmanned drone doing a security flyover during the Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Japan happened to catch a goal by Neymar as it flew above the stadium. Also in Brazil, a goalkeeper made a great run down the length of the court in a futsal match to score a nice goal. Elsewhere in South America, Olimpia's fans pulled off an impressive mosaic display in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores Final.

The Gareth Bale saga just refuses to die. On the same day Manchester United was expected to offer $91 million for the Tottenham winger, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is reportedly planning on offering Bale £150,000 per week, which would double his current salary.

The importance of this obviously pales in comparison to the importance of what's going on in Egypt right now, but the Egyptian Premier League has been cancelled for the second consecutive season due to security concerns after the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi earlier this month.

I'll conclude with a few MLS stories.

Business Week has an article about how Sporting Kansas City is using technology to keep fans connected to the action while attending matches at Sporting Park.

Soccer By Ives has an in-depth feature on Federal Way native and New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe. Mentioned in the article is the fact that Rowe's older sister plays for the Seattle Reign's reserve team.

Finally, the Montreal Impact are introducing a system to allow season ticket holders become members of the club. This will sound similar to the way the Sounders Alliance works, but Montreal fans won't be able to remove the GM. They will be able to make recommendations on a whole range of issues.

Have a good weekend, good golf, good tennis or whatever makes you happy.

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