After wrapping up his second preseason as manager of New York City FC, Patrick Vieira is looking ahead to today’s match against Orlando City. There is optimism in the air for the Frenchman. After all, his first season in the Big Apple was considered a success. He guided the second-year franchise to a second place finish in the Eastern Conference and the conference semifinals of the playoffs – albeit the embarrassing aggregate loss at the hands of Toronto (0-7).
After last year’s all-Liga MX semifinal round in the CONCACAF Champions League, we’ve been given some welcome variety in this year’s edition with two MLS sides reaching the semis for the first time since 2012-13.
FC Dallas, the 2016 MLS Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup winners, will play Pachuca, champions of the 2016 Liga MX Clausura. In the other tie, the Vancouver Whitecaps, victors over the New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinals, will play Tigres, the side that won the Liga MX Apertura championship in December.
We’ve had the 2017 NWSL College Draft, the dramatic sale and relocation of the 2016 champions and the historic television deal with A&E Network. Opening weekend match-ups have also been revealed, but finally, NWSL fans have their first look at the 2017 schedule.
Here are a few key notes from the league’s press release:
While the entire 2017 calendar for the USWNT is still unknown, it’s fair to say that the SheBelieves Cup will serve as their biggest and toughest competition of the year. With all four participating nations ranked in the top five of the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, the tournament will prove to be a marquee event.
UWSNT coach Jill Ellis released the 23-player roster for the Cup that will kick off on Wednesday, March 1 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.
For better or for worse, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has taken every competition seriously this campaign. You could say for better because it’s resulted in United reaching the EFL Cup final, the FA Cup quarterfinals and the Europa League round of 16.
You could say for worse because with the Red Devils holding a 3-0 advantage over Saint-Etienne in the Europa League, Mourinho elected to field a strong side in the second leg, resulting in injuries that will rule both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick out of Sunday’s EFL Cup final.
It’s been a busy, and at times hectic, offseason for the NWSL. But as a growing league, both should be expected and desired. The league courted controversy last year for substandard playing conditions, the WNY Flash vs. Seattle Reign playing on an undersized field and, as is course throughout professional sports, taking a stand in the tumultuous political situation of the country.
Waking up this morning to work out any takeaways from the first leg of Manchester City’s clash with Monaco is like piecing together a night of heavy drinking. It was a night of degeneracy — mistakes were made, people were throwing themselves headfirst at objects and someone pulled out their Willy (Caballero).
As we move toward the second leg at the Stade Louis II in Monaco on March 15, the most obvious talking point will be City’s defense of their two-goal advantage. So what’s Pep Guardiola’s plan?
Prior to the start of the 2017 NWSL season, several key players will have the chance to represent their countries in the 2017 Cyprus Women’s Cup. The months of February and March mark a quiet period for some of the world’s biggest leagues, including the United States, England and Australia. This creates the perfect time for international friendly competitions to take place, including the SheBelieves Cup in the US and the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
The competition features 12 teams placed into three groups of four.
The 2015 MLS Cup champions took an unexpected turn in 2016, going from league champions to missing out on the playoffs entirely. The Timbers finished with a record of 12-14-8, just missing the playoffs in seventh-place in the Western Conference.
The Timbers will be looking to make it back into the postseason in 2017, and here are three areas that they will have to improve on to make that happen.
Improved Play Away from Home
A lot can change in a few months. The gap between the draw for the Champions League round of 16 and the matches themselves can be vast. Even in countries where a winter break (or the lack thereof) is not just an annual excuse for under-pressure managers, the sides which face off in February can be entirely different from those which were first drawn out of the pots. Now, after a relatively normal week in Serie A, what should we expect from the Italian teams still in Europe’s premier cup competition?