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Anything but Quakes

06 June 10:49 am

Major League Soccer is looking for people who have demonstrated leadership and a willingness to better their community.

Until June 20, the Earthquakes are accepting nominations for people who have made a difference to the San Jose community. Fans can nominate themselves or someone else and have the opportunity to win great prizes.

If selected, our Earthquakes Community MVP will win tickets to a home game, recognition during the game, club merchandise and an autographed item! In addition, our winner will compete for a Grand Prize with the MVP’s of the other 18 MLS organizations. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Also, the winner and a guest will win round-trip airfare for two to Kansas City, two-night hotel stay, two tickets to the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Sporting Park and much more.

The nominator of the Grand Prize winner will receive the same fantastic gift package so send in those nominations!

For full details and entry form, click here.

06 February 6:00 pm

It wasn't a dream start for the U.S., but let's slow down on the doomsday scenarios. Life on the road in the Hex ain't easy.

In case you missed the match, here's a snapshot courtesy of US Soccer. Included is that unreal bicycle kick from Juan Carlos Garcia (a play that originated with Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez).

28 January 11:31 am

A dramatic weekend of FA Cup results left an indelible mark on the overall strength of some Premier League sides. Notably, Liverpool's rollercoaster season continued after an embarassing 3-2 loss to League One side Oldham. Such improbable results shape the tournament's excitement. 2012 Champions League holders Chelsea almost fell victim to Liverpool's fate. If it wasn't for a Fernando Torres equalizer, Chelsea's interim manager Rafa Benitez would probably have seen his last match in charge of the Blues.

Matches of the Week:

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Wednesday, January 30, 11:45 a.m. PST, Emirates Stadium

Arsenal's title tilt may be finally turning in its favor. Sitting in sixth place, the Gunners put the finishing touches on London rivals West Ham last weekend with an emphatic 5-1 victory. French hitman Olivier Giroud's left-foot keeps on getting better. Giroud bagged a brace against West Ham and added another in this past week's FA Cup action.

Could Arsene Wenger finally have refined his team into that reminiscent of 2003 and 2004? Maybe. A lot of question marks still remain for an inconsistent, yet offensively appealing side.  To the delight of the Arsenal faithful, Theo Walcott has re-signed and looks to maintain his scoring streak.

Liverpool's inconsistency, though, knows no bounds. The verdict is still out on Brendan Rodgers' philosopy and methodology to return the club back to prominence despite the Barcelona-esque soccer he employed at Swansea last year (often dubbed Swanselona). The mercurial Luis Suarez has been a seldom golden light for the Reds. Suarez has bagged 16 Premier League goals but the club still sits in seventh place on 34 points, three points behind Arsenal.

Liverpool has yet to beat a side above them in the 2012/13 Premier League season and this week's encounter at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium may not be the most welcoming place to start.

With both teams firing on all cylinders and managers preaching a free-flowing ideology, goals may come aplenty for both sides.

Fulham vs. West Ham: Wednesday, January 30, 12:00 p.m. PST, Craven Cottage

An appetizing London derby between Fulham and West Ham, sitting in the 14th and 12th positions respectively, may paint a better picture of the ominous relegation battle looming over both sides. A mere two points seperate Fulham and West Ham (25 and 27 respectively).

Fulham's 2012/13 form has yet to mirror that of the previous season. The loss of Clint Dempsey to Tottenham may be partially to blame but the paucity of goalscorers and creativity may be more at fault. The addition of Man United's want-away Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov would have been perceived to add a certain elegance to the Cottagers' goal-scoring chances. With only seven goals in the Premier League, Berbatov is still seeking the form that catapulted him to Man United. Fulham will introduce Emmanuel Frimpong, a young Arsenal midfielder now on-loan to the Cottagers, against West Ham. The move will be mutually beneficial for both parties; Frimpong will gain experience for Arsenal's sake, and Fulham should see heightened team performances.

Big Sam Allardyce holds the reigns for a gritty West Ham side looking to maintain their survival in the top-flight. Recent acquisition and former West Ham youth product Joe Cole will add his veteran abilities to a predominantly English side. The forecast appears bright for West Ham despite the 5-1 drubbing from Arsenal last week. At an enviable 12th place in the table, West Ham will continue to seek points in whatever way possible.

Man City vs. Liverpool: Sunday, February 3, 8:00 a.m. PST, Etihad Stadium

Liverpool's tough week will conclude at nearby Etihad Stadium. Two wins, against Arsenal and City, may be the catalyst that both the Kop and Brendan Rodgers need to not only surge players' confidence but to execute the team's vision.

City will also see their second match of the week. City travel to QPR on Tuesday, Jan. 29 to face a new-look side now under the guidance of relegation specialist Harry Redknapp. Considering City's depth, many would expect City to walk away with the three points. Manchester's "noisy neighbors" have won their past three Premier League matches including beating Arsenal 2-0 and a resolute Stoke City side 1-0.

Should Liverpool find a way to claim two wins over the week, Brendan Rodgers' efforts may have finally come to fruition. Based on past results for the Reds this year, City should be triumphant and Roberto Mancini's side will continue their focus on retaining the Premier League crown.

14 January 10:56 am

Game of the Week:

Chelsea vs. Arsenal: Sunday, Jan. 20, 5:30 a.m. PST, Stamford Bridge

The London derby will headline the upcoming weekend's fixtures. Chelsea, sitting in third on 41 points, look to bring their away form home against their northern London rivals. While both sides have encountered adversity and internal turmoil, Arsenal's form may be the most scrutinized of any "Big Four" team this season. A side that prides themselves on finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League, Arsenal unfavorably sit in sixth and have yet to find a clear talisman with the departure of Dutch striker Robin van Persie. To make matters worse, Arsenal's esteemed leader Arsene Wenger has deemed his players as "timid."

Under Rafa Benitez's guidance, Chelsea has seen an astonishing spell away from home. The Blues walked to a 4-0 victory over a resolute Stoke City this past weekend (in part to Jonathan Walters' two own goals) and have made it seven victories out of their past nine away games. Rafa Benitez's interim status will only remain interim unless Chelsea maintain their ascension up the table.

Fans may be entitled to goals galore in this encounter as both sides have been firing on all cylinders. Arsenal capped 2012 with a 7-3 victory over Newcastle and Chelsea has been finding the net at an alarmingly similar rate. While the clash will draw international attention, a developing subplot is the short-term future of Chelsea's tenured box-to-box midfielder Frank Lampard. Frequently linked with an MLS side, Lampard may truly be in the winter of a once electric career.

Notable Matches:

Tottenham vs. Manchester United: Sunday, Jan. 20, 8:00 a.m. PST, White Hart Lane

As appetizing as Chelsea vs. Arsenal is for fans, north London's White Hart Lane may produce a matchup just as mouthwatering. A battle between first-place Manchester United and third-place Tottenham, Sir Alex Ferguson's United will be seeking revenge for the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Spurs on Sept. 29. Tottenham's summer signing Clint Dempsey found the net in the match and pacey Welsh winger Gareth Bale was a handful for a typically fortified United backline.

Tottenham will be without their lanky Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor, who has opted to play for his country in the upcoming African Cup of Nations. Andre Villas-Boas side, though, won't be without their offensive weapons. Striker Jermaine Defoe has netted 10 goals on the year while Bale has added nine more.

League leaders, Manchester United, are expecting three points from the affair. The Red Devils are unbeaten in their past nine Premier League matches, including eight victories. Robin van Persie leads his side with 17 goals in 22 matches played and, based on his form from the past year, is hungry for more.

Valencia vs. Real Madrid: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 12:00 p.m. PST, Estadio Mestalla

In the first leg of this home and home Copa del Rey matchup, Real Madrid look to the non-league match to rebound to winning ways. A media firestorm has surrounded the most illustrious and accomplished European club. Real's manager, Jose Mourinho, is no stranger to the media's spotlight but a departure from the club appears imminent for the self-described "Special One." Real Madrid sit in third-place with 37 points after tying La Liga bottom-dwellers Osasuna 0-0 over the weekend. Although Los Merengues were without defender Sergio Ramos and the oft-polarizing Cristiano Ronaldo to suspensions, Madrid sit 18 points behind archrivals F.C. Barcelona; a near insurmountable lead.

To keep their trophy ambitions alive (and Mourinho's career), Madrid's matchup against historic rival Valencia may be the turning point that the side needs.

 

 

 

 

07 January 12:45 pm

Game of the Week:

Manchester United vs. Liverpool FC: Sun. Jan. 13, 5:30 a.m. PST, Old Trafford

Bay Area faithful may have their eyes set on the 49ers’ playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, but the palpable drama will resurface some 12 hours later in Manchester, England.

Manchester United face their bitter northeastern rivals Liverpool in what looks to be a mouthwatering encounter. United looks to stay at the summit of the Premier League and move up to 55 points off of their 22nd match. Liverpool, whose season has not reached their newly elevated expectations under the guidance of first-year manager Brendan Rodgers, simply seeks points. Qualification for a spot in European competition next season may just appease the Kop faithful.

United’s blistering start to the season has been pinpointed to the arrival of Dutchman, and former Arsenal striker, Robin van Persie. The talisman’s prolific goal-scoring run has seen him net 16 league goals in 21 league games so far. Yet, Liverpool’s much-maligned and divisive Luis Suarez has also re-discovered his goal-scoring abilities. The Uruguayan has bagged 15 league goals, including braces in his previous two Premier League matches.

While a 21 point gap displaces Liverpool from Manchester United, the magnitude of the match will draw on decades of competitive battle. Liverpool’s recent rich vein of form has seen the Merseysiders win their previous four matches. Similarly, United is undefeated in their past nine matches from all competitions. With two short-tempered squads, fans will be the greatest beneficiaries of Sunday’s excitement.

Notable Matches:

Manchester City vs. Arsenal: Sun. Jan. 13, 8:30 a.m. PST, Emirates

Sunday’s drama continues an hour after the conclusion of the Old Trafford battle. Arsenal’s Emirates will play host to Man City in a matchup between the sixth and second sides in the Premier League. To the unrest of Gunner’s fans, Arsenal’s current position would not allow for Champions League qualification and may lead to the termination of Arsene Wenger’s tenure. To make matters worse, Arsenal’s leading goal-scorer, Theo Walcott, has yet to agree upon a new contract despite netting an audacious hat-trick against Newcastle last week.

City is in pursuit of its second consecutive Premier League title despite a seven point discrepancy behind neighbors Manchester United. The recently financed club is led by a three-pronged attack in Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, and Carlos Tevez.

Last season’s matchup at Emirates left the City faithful in a state of bewilderment. Spaniard Mikel Arteta hit an 87th minute wonder strike to give Arsenal the three points in a 1-0 win.

Arsene Wenger has built his well-deserved reputation on earning points from hard-fought matchups and the Frenchman may field a tactically-astute side ready to seize the given opportunity.

Malaga vs. FC Barcelona: Sun. Jan. 13, 12:00 p.m. PST, Estadio La Rosaleda

First-place Barcelona will travel to the Estadio La Rosaleda in a matchup against fourth place Malaga. Barcelona recorded four first-half goals against Espanyol to stroll to victory this past weekend. The Andalusian side, though, may prove more formidable to the Catalonians. Malaga’s combination of a veteran attack supplemented with a young nucleus has catapulted the once overlooked side into fourth place.

Barcelona is expected to secure three points from the match but away games can prove difficult for even the best of sides. Messi has netted an astonishing 27 league goals in 18 league games and Malaga may fall prey to the predatory diminutive Argentine.

Juventus vs. Parma: Sun. Jan. 13, 6:00 a.m. PST, Stadio Ennio Tardini

A multi-faceted Juventus attack will look to maintain its first place position against the eighth-spot Parma. Juventus leads Serie A with 44 points from 19 matches and is ready to gather three more off of the upcoming away game. Parma’s attack is led by Ishak Belfodil’s six strikes. The 20-year-old Algerian and former French youth national team member has embraced his first season with Parma. He may be the catalyst the side needs to climb up the Serie A ladder.

The Turin side should grab three points but fans may be entitled to goals galore in this encounter.

 

18 December 1:00 pm

Clint Dempsey named US Soccer “Male Athlete of the Year”:

The Nacogdoches attacker has had a memorable 2012. After recording six goals for the US Men’s National Team, including a memorable strike to beat Italy, Dempsey has received his third “Male Athlete of the Year” honor by US Soccer. Dempsey couldn’t stop scoring for club or country in 2012. The former Fulham hit-man left the club as its all-time leading Premier League scorer. In a much-publicized transfer saga, Dempsey switched to North London side Tottenham. Dempsey has three league goals for the Spurs who currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League table.

For more information on Dempsey’s award, click here.

Lionel Messi keeps scoring:

Ninety goals in a calendar year and still one more game to play. The diminutive Argentine saw Gerd Muller’s  40-year-old record of 85 goals and didn’t blink. Messi will lineup against Villadolid on Sat., Dec. 22 to conclude a historic goal-scoring year. FC Barcelona must also feel relieved to have secured Messi’s abilities for the long-term. Messi, Puyol, and Xavi all extended their stays with the only club that they have ever played for professionally. Messi signed until 2018 while Puyol and Xavi are now contracted until 2016. The 25-year-old Argentine has 25 La Liga goals in 16 games played this season as well as having netted 22 braces in the 2012 calendar year.

Find out more about Messi and Co. here.

Corinthians host Club World Cup:

The nightmare for Rafa Benitez can’t get any darker. After almost having successfully rejuvenated Fernando Torres’ career circa 2008, Benitez lost his most important game to date during his ever-increasingly short tenure as manager of Chelsea. Chelsea lost to Brazilian outfit Corinthians 1-0 and are still trophy-less after their dramatic 2012 Champions League title win.

For the full recap, click here.

Zenit St. Petersburg fan group demands all-white, heterosexual team:

The Landscrona, the largest fan group of Zenit St. Petersburg, has demanded that their team be composed strictly of white, heterosexual players. The blatantly intolerant mandate is somehow justified by the fan group that these players are “only worthy” of the great city of St. Petersburg. The comments have not come without ramifications. Manager Luciano Spalleti has reiterated his firm stance against such demands and has pledged to do everything in his power to increase tolerance among the fan base.

Read the full story here.

Man City denies rumors that it will buy MLS team:

Last week, rumors swirled that Man City was positioning itself to purchase an MLS expansion team in New York City. The Citizens have denied such claims even though the club looks to expand its brand stateside in a growing soccer market. City was reported to purchase a team for $100 million and then re-sell a minority portion to local investors. Among notable names involved in the possible deal was none other than David Beckham. The new team would’ve played out of Queens.

For more on this development, click here.

18 December 11:02 am

A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.

Games of the Week:

Liverpool FC vs. Fulham FC, Sat. Dec. 22, 9:30 a.m. PST, Anfield

With the holiday season approaching, many set aside the time to reflect on the year past. The Barclay’s Premier League will reach its near midway point before the holiday break and finds that the usual suspects are at both the summit and the basement of the league standings.

If the 2011/2012 Premier League season would be any indication of team’s performances in the 2012/2013 season, the upcoming Liverpool FC vs. Fulham match at Anfield may take on more significance for European qualification than the current sides sitting in the 12th and 13th spots respectively.

Liverpool has undergone significant front office changes in recent years. John Henry and Tom Werner’s Fenway Sports Group purchased the famed club in October, 2010 and have set their sights on returning the club to the prominence it found in the 1970’s.

Former Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers now holds the reigns for the Merseysiders. Yet, he is still waiting to align the club’s on-field success with that of their ownership’s vision.

Saturday’s match against Fulham may be the inflection point for a team striving to break into the top four. Despite suffering a 3-1 loss at the hands of Aston Villa last Saturday, Liverpool must now re-group and prepare for the final months of the season.

Expect an open match between the two sides. Fulham’s refined Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov has a knack for taking advantage of opportunistic chances.

AS Roma vs. AC Milan, Sat. Dec. 22, 11:45 a.m. PST, Stadio Olimpico

Rome’s Stadio Olimpico will host the traditionally heralded matchup between two sides admittedly underperforming. AS Roma sits in sixth place and AC Milan are right behind them; two teams perennially fighting for not only a Champions League berth but the Serie A crown.

AC Milan’s performances to date have fluctuated as they try to find their offensive prowess. The loss of journeyman Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have left an indelible mark on their goal-scoring abilities. With rumors that Robinho may leave in January, Milan’s attack may be on a precipitous decline. Young Stephan El-Shaaarawy, though, has taken advantage of the opportunity left by Ibrahimovic’s exit. The Italian has tallied 14 goals in 17 Serie A games this season and is hungry for more.

Roma’s attack is once again spearheaded by an Italian presence. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo has recorded eight league strikes while forever young 36-year-old Francesco Totti has added six more.

Points will be crucial for these two sides as they fight for a place in Europe.

Notable Matchups:

Manchester United vs. Swansea City, Sun. Dec. 23, 5:30 a.m. PST, Liberty Stadium

The “Swans” will host the matchup between first place Manchester United and the 10th place Welsh side. Michael Laudrup has helped Swansea pick up where Brendan Rodgers left them last year; embracing a dynamic brand of passing soccer commonly not found in the British Isles. Swansea may be playing some of the best soccer in the Premier League. Relatively unknown Spanish striker, Michu, has taken the league by storm.  The former Rayo Vallecano has provided 12 league goals for Swansea and seems to do nothing wrong in the process. United will be led by Dutchman Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. Although United are expected to walk away with three points, the Liberty Stadium has proven difficult for many away teams.

Real Madrid vs. Malaga, Sat. Dec. 22, 11 a.m. PST, Estadio La Rosaleda

Real Madrid are desperate to resurrect their winning ways. After a loss and a tie in their past two matches, Real Madrid sit in third place in the La Liga table; four points behind cross-town rivals Atletico and 13 points behind archrivals Barcelona. Add internal strife to the equation, a foreseeable managerial change in the coming weeks, and Real Madrid may be all but out as repeat league title contenders. Fourth place Malaga will be no easy team or place to play. The Champions League side has found a recipe of success through a motley crew of individuals. Madrid may be in for another surprise and, should Madrid not get a win, it may be the last match for Jose Mourinho.

11 December 1:40 pm

A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.

Game of the Week:

FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid: Sun. Dec. 16, 12 p.m. PST

This past weekend’s Manchester derby fell nothing short of the drama it promised. Robin van Persie’s 92nd minute free-kick, deflecting past a cheating Joe Hart, gave the Red Devils a 3-2 victory and a six point lead in the Premier League.

Meanwhile across the Celtic Sea, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid strolled to another comfortable three points. Iconic strikers Lionel Messi and Radamel Falcao led their clubs, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively, to victory and maintained the first and second spots in La Liga.

The two South American strikers have been nothing short of sensational in the past calendar year. Messi’s brace on Sunday gave him 86 goals and cemented his position as the highest all-time scorer in a calendar year, one more than Gerd Muller’s 85. The 25-year-old Argentine has already netted 23 La Liga goals through 15 games and still has three games remaining to improve upon his record. The Colombian Falcao, named after the legendary AS Roma and Brazilian midfielder, has embraced his namesack's industriousness and netted a cool five goals against Deportivo La Coruna last weekend. He currently has 40 La Liga goals in 48 games.

FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou will play host to Sunday’s 12 p.m. PST matchup. Although Messi had an injury scare ahead of last week’s game, the Argentine and company look to be fully fit for the crucial matchup against Atletico. To many of their competitors’ envy, FC Barcelona sits on 43 points through 15 matches. Atletico trails with 37 points.

With Messi and Falcao firing on all cylinders, fans may be treated to an offensive exhibition.

Notable Matchups:

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach: Fri. Dec. 14, 11:30 a.m. PST

Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena will host this Bundesliga battle between top spot Bayern and eighth spot Monchengladbach. After 16 matches, Bayern is in the driver’s seat with 41 points. Croatian and Euro 2012 phenom Mario Mandzukic paces Bayern with nine goals.

Fulham vs. Queens Park Rangers: Sat. Dec. 15, 7: 00 a.m. PST

Queens Park Rangers are still in search of their first win of the season. Fulham earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory at the expense of a struggling Newcastle side on Monday. This London derby will either help propel Fulham back into their UEFA Cup ambition or start QPR’s ascension out of relegation

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon: Sun. Dec. 16, 12:00 p.m. PST

A battle between the number one and two teams in Ligue 1, Lyon vs. PSG should provide fireworks. Enigmatic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will once again try to lead the nation’s capitol to three points all the while attempting to secure the career of his under-fire manager Carlo Ancelotti. Ibrahimovic has an astounding 14 goals in 13 games played for second-place PSG while the athletic Bafetimbi Gomis leads Lyon with 10 strikes.

03 December 11:54 am

A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.

Game of the Week:

Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Sun. Dec. 9, 5:30 a.m. PST, Fox Soccer Channel

The Etihad Stadium will play host to the Manchester derby, headlining this week’s Barclay’s Premier League matchups. United and City sit at the one and two spots respectively atop the league summit after 15 matches played.

United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson may be closing in on his tenure after 27 seasons at the helm but the Scotsman has once again put his team in the top spot. United’s “noisy neighbors”, though, are right on their rivals’ heels – only three points behind Manchester United – after securing 36 points.

If Wayne Rooney’s February 2011 bicycle kick was any indication, expect fireworks between the two sides. Former Arsenal hitman, Robin Van Persie, leads the Red Devils with 10 strikes on the year. Supersub Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko paces City with six goals.  

Notable Matches:

Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund: Tues. Dec. 3, 11:45 a.m. PST, Champions League

Sunday’s derby aside, Manchester City face a must-win situation against Group D leaders Borussia Dortmund. With just three points from five matches, Roberto Mancini’s side are desperate to advance to the knockout stage.

Chelsea FC vs. FC Nordsjaelland: Wed. Dec. 4, 11:45 a.m. PST, Champions League

Recent managerial appointment Rafa Benitez enters Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with one goal in mind: securing his first win for his employers. After enduring two ties and a loss, Benitez needs three points to ensure that his third-place Chelsea are eligible of making the knockout round. Chelsea currently sits with seven points. Danish side FC Nordsjaelland only has one tie through five matches.

NCAA College Cup:

Division 1 Men’s Semifinals and Finals: Friday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 9

Creighton, Indiana, Maryland, and Georgetown make up the Final Four. Maryland looks to be the favorite after having earned their sixth College Cup appearance in 11 seasons. Sasho Cirovski’s Terrapins will face College Cup newcomers, Georgetown, in one semifinal while Indiana is pitted against Creighton in a Midwestern matchup. Quakes’ players Jed Zayner and Brad Ring will push for their Indiana Hoosiers as they enter their 18th College Cup. Zayner won the national championship in 2003 and 2004 and Brad Ring suited up for Indiana from 2005 to 2008.

27 November 12:45 pm

A weekly insight into local, national, and international soccer, “Anything but Quakes” previews the best matches of the week ahead.

Welcome to the first installment of the weekly, “Anything but Quakes.” We will select certain local, national, and international games to preview and analyze.

Game of the Week:

LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, MLS Cup, Dec. 1, 1:30 p.m. PST on ESPN

A rematch of 2011, the LA Galaxy face the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Quakes fans may still be bitter about a premature exit from the MLS Cup Playoffs and a replay of last year’s matchup may not add much consolation.  Yet, there are plenty of storylines for Quakes fans to keep an eye on ahead of the match.

Dominic Kinnear has once again led his troops through the trenches and into the MLS Cup Championship. Kinnear, who assisted 2012 MLS Coach of the Year Frank Yallop from 2001 to 2003 in San Jose, garnered the fifth and final seed in the Eastern Conference. Like recent Dynamo teams, Kinnear has built a resolute squad eager to take on any opponent.

David Beckham’s MLS tenure is coming to an imminent close. After six seasons with the LA Galaxy, the 37-year-old Beckham has ignited a media firestorm surrounding his next possible venture. He has been linked to ownership groups, a January transfer to Premier League side QPR, or a short spell with Australia’s A-League. Love him or hate him, even his move will make international headlines.

With a team full of veterans pitted against a team without a central figurehead, the MLS Cup should prove its mettle once again.

International Game of the Week:

Real Madrid vs. Atlético Madrid, Dec. 1, Santiago Bernabéu

Los Merengues could not have fathomed a worse start to their campaign. Like the fractured relationship between Michael Corleone and his older brother, Fredo, in the beginning of the “The Godfather Part II”, more worry has surrounded the commonly overshadowed sibling rather than the heir apparent.

In this narrative, Fredo is the historically working class Atlético Madrid and the heir apparent is their glamorized cross-town rival, Real Madrid.

Real finds themselves in third place after 13 games with 26 points; 11 points behind archrival and potential Catalonian separatists Barcelona and eight points behind Atlético.

The Madrid derby, though, may be the wake-up call that Mourinho’s men need to not only regain their supremacy in La Comunidad de Madrid but also to contend for the La Liga title.

When the two-sides met on April 11, 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo rose to the occasion – bagging a hat-trick including two astonishing long-range efforts. The Portuguese’s effort helped push his club to their first La Liga title since the 2007/2008 season.

Yet, Cristiano Ronaldo, despite scoring 12 league goals thus far, has not scored in Real’s past three matches. Meanwhile, Atlético’s frontman, Colombian Radamel Falcao, has paced his squad with 11 goals in 12 matches played.

Mourinho and company are desperate for a win. If his track record has proven anything, Mourinho’s Real Madrid side will be tactically prepared to grind out the three points.

Notable Games:

U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Ireland on Nov. 28, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. PST on Fox Soccer:
Interim head coach Jillian Ellis is set to lead the US Women against Ireland.

NCAA Men’s College Cup Quarterfinals, Nov. 30 to Dec. 1:
With eight teams remaining, the ACC is well-poised to hoist the championship trophy yet again. UNC and Maryland look to head into the Final Four after matching up against Indiana and Louisville respectively in the quarterfinals.

NCAA Women’s College Cup Final Four, Nov. 30:
Stanford, UNC, Florida State, and Penn State make up the Final Four. Traditional powers Stanford and UNC make up one electric semifinal matchup. Stanford women seek their second consecutive national championship.