nicemenu blogosphere


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.





09 January 12:58 pm

Wondolowski’s Rise to Stardom:

What a year it has been for the Quakes’ lethal finisher Chris Wondolowski? The striker netted a MLS record-tying and league-best 27 goals. A wealth of individual accolades followed. “Wondo” claimed the Budweiser Golden Boot award, was named an MLS All-Star, and garnered the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP award. The Danville, CA native couldn’t have asked for much more.

When looking at Wondo’s past, his journey to donning the number 8 has been a rollercoaster ride that would have directed many to seek other options. The 41st overall pick in the 2005 draft, Wondo netted only seven goals in his first six years in the MLS before transforming into the scoring-machine that the Quakes’ faithful have become so accustomed to.

Soccer America’s Mike Woitalla chronicles the early years of Chris and his family and Chris’ ascendancy to become the league’s most feared goal-scorer. To read the full story, click here.


Former Quake, Ryan Cochrane, joins Santa Clara's coaching staff:

Former Quakes defender, Ryan Cochrane, was named an assistant coach for his alma mater, Santa Clara University. Cochrane was selected by San Jose with the fifth overall draft pick in 2004 and would go on to have a nine year professional soccer career. The 29-year-old was previously an assistant with Wheaton College in 2011 and Trinity University in 2012.

Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury News wrote the full story which can be found here.

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.


27 December 5:25 pm

Bay Area's Top 10 stories from 2012

2012 has proven to be a memorable year for Bay Area sports fans. The Giants miraculously won their second World Series in three years. The A's were in first place in their division for only one day but it was the one day that mattered. The 49ers channeled the glory from the past years under Bill Walsh and nearly made the Super Bowl.

The Earthquakes, though, were no strangers to drama. Posting a league-best record of 19-6-9, the Quakes demanded that their fans stay at the game until the very end. The berth of the "Goonies" arose to the delight of the organization and the Quakes' faithful. A three-pronged attack from Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart, and Alan Gordon led San Jose into the playoffs at times to the bewilderment of their Bay Area fans. 

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News details the top 10 moments from 2012. Find the full article here.

21 December 4:58 pm

One week ago, our country was shocked and overcome with grief as details of a tragedy in Newtown, Conn. came to light.

As Washington Post soccer writer Steve Goff reported today, the news was especially significant to Earthquakes forward Marcus Tracy. The former Wake Forest product grew up in Newtown and his mother used to teach at the elementary school where 26 people were shot and killed on Friday, Dec. 14.

Tracy, his brother and a group of friends decided they wanted to do something to represent their community and pay tribute to those who lost their lives. They produced an original song and tribute that you can see above. Tracy also emailed the following statement:

“When CNN first stated how many people lost their lives, it was complete shock and disbelief. It was unfathomable to think that this happened in the same town I lived in for 18 years, two miles away, at the school my Mom once taught at. It's still hard to believe. It's a very real reminder whenever I leave the house and see all of the media, police from out of town and out of state, the volume of traffic; it’s amazing, though, to see how the town has come together to uplift those most affected by the tragedy. It hurts you as a resident of Newtown that something like this could happen, so just try and imagine how parents, brothers, sisters and spouses are feeling right now. You can't; it's impossible. After days of grieving and trying to comprehend what the hell happened, me and a few friends got together to think about what we could do to help uplift this town and its people. So I turned to one of the only things (besides soccer) that I know and love: music.

I produce music as a hobby and have a production team with my brother and my friend, Anthony Santella. My brother is in Boston, so me and Anthony led the way. We produced the entire song together, but brought in a few of our other friends and created this video/picture montage tribute. 

It was therapeutic for us, but also a means, we felt, to represent our town. Right now the whole world knows the town Newtown, CT for one reason only. But Newtown means something much more to each one of us. This is the only way we knew how to speak back to the community and the world that, yes, we were hit hard and suffered great loss, but we will bounce back. And also our way of recognizing and lifting up the 26 people who needlessly lost their lives that day."

The club's collective thoughts are with Marcus and Newtown during this holiday season.

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.

17 December 1:35 pm

Does it get any better than a seven-goal, multi-comeback California Clasico?

According to, it doesn't. San Jose's 4-3 win against the LA Galaxy on June 30 at Stanford Stadium was the pick for Best Game of 2012. The match featured a pair of rallies - LA from 1-0 down to take a 3-1 lead and San Jose from 3-1 down to win 4-3 - as well as goals from some of the most recognizable faces in the league: Landon Donovan, David Beckham and, of course, Chris Wondolowski.

In a year filled with memorable games (aka Goonie moments), the stunner at Stanford Stadium tops the charts. However, let the debate begin for which game was second best.

Was it Steven Lenhart's 'Blond-Haired Bedlam at Buck Shaw' against the Chicago Fire on July 28, Alan Gordon's header to knock off LA at The Home Depot Center on May 23 or maybe the stoppage-time thriller against Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 11? Vote now!


13 December 1:07 pm

Photo: Surveyors were on site Monday, another step as the club prepares to begin construction after the New Year.

The New Stadium blog will feature updates regarding the club's development project on Coleman Ave. Keep an eye out for Q&As, photos and breaking news about the facility. This week, features Part 2 of an interview with club president Dave Kaval about the latest new stadium developments.


SJEQ: One of the topics of discussion is the Supporters’ Section. You have been working with the club’s Supporters to finalize the design of this area – could you talk about the process and what decisions you’ve made?
DK: It’s been great. We worked with each of our different groups – the Ultras and the Casbah – to work on what they felt was the best set-up for them. I think one of the positives that came out of those discussions was to create a club area where our Supporters can congregate right on the pitch, adjacent to their seats and the stands, where they can have their own area to arrive early, make and set up tifo, enjoy their own food and beverage options and have their own clubhouse and place to hang out. That’s one of the unique pieces to our stadium and I think will really enhance the Supporters’ culture; it gives them their own space that they can use – with some guidelines – to really develop their group and membership. The section will be right in the end zone and will be a centerpiece for everyone in the stadium to see. We’re happy to have worked with our Supporters on that. It’s a bit derivative of what Sporting Kansas City has done, but I think the biggest difference is that ours will be all of the end zone as opposed to the corner.

SJEQ: You recently hired a project manager for the new stadium. What can you tell us about David Albert?
DK: He has a ton of experience in Silicon Valley and has worked with Santa Clara University, managing a number of their projects. He’s managed projects with Devcon, our construction partner. We’re thrilled to have him. There are so many moving pieces on this project – not even just with our own, but with the developments in the surrounding area; the office buildings, community soccer fields, all that stuff needs to be handled in an effective way and we’re confident David is the right person for the job.

SJEQ: You walked right into our next topic. What can you tell us about the commercial development project surrounding the stadium?
DK: I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.; what a difference this place will be from the days when it was a tank factory, creating a beautiful 18,000-seat soccer stadium, four community soccer fields, our training complex, a really awesome development around the facilities with bars, restaurants and commercial development – we’re really proud to be spearheading this whole thing. Obviously, this massive project will occur in phases.

I think one of the key things to keep in mind is that this isn’t just a soccer stadium. This is a redevelopment project for North San Jose where we’re creating sort of a gateway into San Jose from Santa Clara off Coleman Ave.

SJEQ: Could you give fans an update regarding the community fields being built on the site?
DK: We’ve been working with Interstate Grading and Paving, the contractor for those fields, and have met with the City of San Jose. The project is in its design/development phase. They’re going to have four fields going in as well as a fieldhouse, restrooms and concessions. Each of the fields will be lit and they’ll be located next to our current training field. We will manage these fields once they’ve been built and our academy will train there, which is an added benefit. It’s a big development and an important one that shows the synergy between our stadium project and the community developments surrounding it.

SJEQ: What other events do you expect to house at the new stadium?
DK: In terms of sporting events, rugby is one that we’re looking seriously at. We’ve looked at high school football and things of that nature. Obviously, the timing has to work out, but right now we’re focusing on laying out a schedule that would allow for these other events to come in while maintaining the playing surface for first team use. I also think there are opportunities for festivals and corporate events in the Epicenter. Over a dozen companies wanting to rent that area out for the hospitality or even for product launches have contacted me. I think that area will get even more use than we might have expected and so we need to be careful that we design the area to maximize use.

SJEQ: Speaking of corporations and the new stadium, where are we at in terms of naming rights?
DK: We’ve had in-depth meetings with the decision makers of a few Fortune 100 companies. We’re not ready to make an announcement yet, but we feel that we’ve made some great progress. There’s been more interest than we initially anticipated and we want to make sure that we partner with the right brand and find a partnership that furthers their marketing efforts while creating a great name for the new stadium – a win-win situation. These are long-term deals and so you have to make sure that you have the right partner and a partner that makes sense both for the team and the community.

SJEQ: The sales team has a unique bonus program while working through the seat selection queue. Could you shed a little insight on that program and why a certain ticket operations manager had to drop and give 10 push-ups at our last staff meeting?
DK: We have a cool incentive program built in for our sales reps that our vice president of sales Jared Shawlee put together where if you sell a seat, there’s a huge board with sticky notes; on the back of the note is a prize or a punk that you can play on your manager or director. For example, your manager might have to sing a song or do push-ups. It’s been a fun way to excite reps about the process. I think they’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and our staff has a high morale around the stadium project, but this is another way to make things interesting and invoke the spirit of the Goonies.

SJEQ: Is there anything else you would like to share with fans about the process?
DK: Overall, we’re excited to be in the thick of things with this project. There’s a tremendous amount of work going into this on a daily basis. We have structure meetings where we’re working from pretty much dawn until dusk with 360 Architecture and Devcon Construction. Big decisions are being made each day. We’re meeting with subcontractors and working on that side of the equation. We’re focused on making sure this project is done right and that our fans have a great product in the end.

11 December 1:46 pm

Busch accepts Heart of an Ultra award:

Jack’s Bar in San Jose played host to the 1906 Ultras’ award ceremony. The Earthquakes’ fanatics heaped praise on their entrusted leader between the pipes – Jon Busch. Busch, 36, was the recipient of the esteemed “Heart of an Ultra” award. The recognition personifies the desired commitment indicative of the impassioned fan group standing on the north side of Buck Shaw Stadium.

Busch, who habitually reciprocates his appreciation to the 1906 Ultras, was thankful for such an honor. “It means a lot,” Busch explained. “It is the icing on the cake when the fans accept you. You become one of them. It is a tremendous honor. “

Alan Black discusses the 1906 Ultras and Jon Busch’s award here:

Grantland honors the Quakes:

The Quakes storied 2012 season has seen the accompaniment of many postseason awards. As Jon Busch’s Heart of an Ultra explains, some are more sentimental than others.

Grantland’s Graham Parker honored the men in black and blue in yet another twist on the traditional awards banquet.

A full-throttle offensive attack left many teams in the Quakes’ wake in 2012. Franchise-bests of a 19-6-9 record and 72 goals placed a new benchmark for both the franchise’s and league’s history. As such, the Quakes were honored with “Team of the Year” by Parker.

The Quakes were also the recipients of, “Game of the Year”, commemorating the  4-3 come-from-behind victory over the LA Galaxy in front of 50,391 incredulous fans at Stanford Stadium. The match saw Wondolowski’s stunning back-heel strike, comebacks, off-the-ball-drama, and skirmishes.

Check out Graham Parker’s full story here:

2013 MLS Combine Preliminary Attendees announced:

MLS has released its list of preliminary attendees for the 2013 MLS Combine, set to take place Jan. 11-15. The tentative list only includes NCAA Division 1 seniors. Generation adidas players as well as select foreign players will be added at a later date.

Headlining the list of seniors are Big East stars Dillon Powers (Notre Dame), Ryan Finley (Notre Dame), and Carlos Alvarez (UConn). Each is predicted to be taken in the first round.

NCAA College Cup finalists Georgetown were the highest represented with three seniors receiving invites.

For the complete list of seniors named to the MLS Combine, click here:

Messi records number 86:

Lionel Messi can’t stop from scoring goals. His Barcelona team has 43 points out of a possible 45 and are comfortably positioned six points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid. The FC Barcelona youth product, one of many from the renowned La Masia academy, netted his 22nd and 23rd league goals of the season against Real Betis over the weekend.

The brace moved Messi to the all-time scoring leader in a calendar year. His 86 goals passed Gerd Muller’s 40 year record of 85. Messi has now scored 76 goals for FC Barcelona in 2012 while also adding 12 for Argentina. With three more games left in 2012 for the Argentine, Messi may dive head-first into the 90’s.

For Messi’s reaction, click here: