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Match Picks of the Week

Selected games to watch from British Columbia's top senior men's and women's amateur leagues.
Please check league schedules for late changes.

Wednesday December 17

VMSL: Surrey United Firefighters vs ICST Pegasus
8:45pm Cloverdale Athletic Park
The ‘Surrey Derby’ will feature two teams in desperate need of points, but for totally different reasons: the first place ICST Pegasus and the struggling Surrey United Firefighters.

friday december 19

FVSL: Westcoast Selects vs Abbotsford United
8:00pm Pitt Meadows Sec TURF

LIWSA: Winter Break

MWSL: Winter Break

VISL: TBA

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Whitecaps FC 2USL PRO

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Canada's Other Teams

Toronto FC (MLS)Montreal Impact (MLS)
FC Edmonton (NASL)Ottawa Fury FC (NASL)

The Women's Pro Game

National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)National Women's Soccer League
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USL W-League

MLS & NASL Schedules

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Toronto FC
Montreal Impact
FC Edmonton
Ottawa Fury FC

BC League Schedules

CIS Canada West - Men
CIS Canada West - Women
Fraser Valley SL - Men
Lower Island Women's SA
Metro Women's SL
Pacific Coast Soccer League
PACWEST - Men
PACWEST - Women
SFU Clan - Men (NCAA II)
SFU Clan - Women (NCAA II)
Vancouver Island Soccer League
Vancouver Metro Soccer League
BC Soccer Premier League
Youth Leagues - Boys
Youth Leagues - Girls

International Tournaments

CONCACAF Champions League FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015
  FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

This Day in Football History

19 December 2010
Canada draws 2:2 with Brazil and wins the II Torneio Internacional in São Paulo. Despite the draw in the championship final, Canada wins first place on goal differential from three earlier matches. Josée Bélanger opens the scoring before Marta reverses the lead with a pair of goals in the second half, the second of which comes on a penalty after Canada is diminished to 10 players. Canada comes back, however, with Christine Sinclair scoring the tournament-winning goal in the 83rd minute.
(Canada Soccer)

Inter FC 1-3 Langley FC Hurricanes
Vancouver Metro Soccer League Premier Division - October 18, 2014 - Trillium Park, Vancouver, BC
Photos by Richard Howes © - See Photo Gallery for more

saturday - Sunday, december 20 - 21, 2014

Simon Fudge: Whitecaps recruitment plan in motion
Already linked with Uruguayan striker Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson hopes his offseason scouting and recruitment pays dividends. Goal

Whitecaps to host Toronto to open MLS season, Montreal visits D.C. United
After eight losing campaigns, Toronto FC will have to turn things around the hard way starting in 2015. Toronto usually opens the season on the road because of the unpredictable weather come March. But the time away home will be far longer to start next year due to renovations to BMO Field in advance of the Pan American Games. Canada.com

SFU coach Alan Koch supporting Whitecaps FC's SuperDraft scouting efforts
In Major League Soccer, where there’s a salary cap in place to create parity among teams, building through the MLS SuperDraft can be a vital tool to sustain long-term success. It’s not the only one – a successful academy can be equally if not more important. But there’s no doubt the SuperDraft is something worthy of a club’s time and resources. Whitecaps FC

The Montreal Impact will play its 2015 home opener on March 28
The Montreal Impact will play its 2015 home opener on Saturday, March 28 at 4pm, at the Olympic Stadium against the new expansion team Orlando City SC and its star player Kaká. Montreal Impact

Findley could be good find for TFC
His numbers don’t scream World Cup veteran. But that’s what Robbie Findley is: An MLSer who will always be remembered for his brief foray into the U.S. national team — an anointment that saw him appear for the Yanks at the 2010 World Cup. Toronto Sun

Canadian defender Doneil Henry headed to West Ham
It appears Canadian international defender Doneil Henry is getting his wish to play in Europe, only not in Cyprus as originally thought. Three sources confirmed Saturday the 21-year-old from Brampton, Ont., is headed to West Ham United in the English Premier League, pending a work permit hearing Monday. CBC

Atiba Hutchinson can negotiate new deal in January: And he’s open to MLS move
Atiba Hutchinson, named Canada’s player of the year on Thursday, is nearing the end of his contract with Turkish giants, Besiktas. In January, he can start negotiating with other clubs unless his contract is extended before that time. And, the Canadian says that he wants to stay, but he’s also open to moving on if the opportunity was right — and that would include Major League Soccer. The11

Fury FC Announces Signing of LW Paulo Jr, Release of GK Gorrick, Loan of DM Ryan
It was a busy day of roster transactions for Ottawa Fury FC yesterday, with the signing of LW Paulo Araujo Jr., release of GK Devala Gorrick, and temporary loaning out of DM and captain Richie Ryan. OttCityFootie

the women's pro game

London, Toronto pulling programs from W-League?
Canada's highest level of women's soccer is taking a beating just as the country prepares to host the game's biggest tournament. With the official draw for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup now in the books and the tournament itself set to begin in June, the top level of women's soccer available in the country appears poised to begin the 2015 season with just three Canadian teams. Ottawa Sun

university soccer

Kovacs named new UBC women's soccer coach
UBC Athletics and Recreation i has appointed Marisa Kovacs, a native of Windsor, Ont., as head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds women's soccer program. Kovacs comes to UBC after successful coaching tenures at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga., and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., both NCAA Div. II institutions. UBC

Tsawwassen soccer product enjoys impressive freshman season with Pilots at NCAA Div. 1 levelTsawwassen soccer product enjoys impressive freshman season with Pilots at NCAA Div. 1 level
A grounded young lad, Erik Edwardson is anything but, on the pitch.The high flying winger for the University of Portland Pilots men's soccer team is coming off a standout freshman season.  Delta Optimist

team canada

Atiba Hutchinson savours award, looks to lead Canada to higher ground
At 31, Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is hitting his stride at Turkey’s Besiktas. And people are taking notice. “Atiba is our best player,” says Canadian coach Benito Floro. “He is the best player in Besiktas.” Vancouver Desi

Hutchinson hungry for success with Canada Hutchinson hungry for success with Canada
With his third Canadian Player of the Year award now to his credit and a career that is thriving at the club level, Canadian International Atiba Hutchinson is now that much more hungry to achieve a similar level of success with the Canadian Men’s National Team at the International level. RedNation

Sinclair cites team consistency as biggest success in 2014
As a superstar player who has now won the Canadian Female Player of the Year award a remarkable eleven straight times, Christine Sinclair was probably the only person surprised by the fact that she earned the distinction for the twelfth time overall in 2014. RedNation

women's world football

Report of Brazil pulling out of Pan Am Games and potentially Women's World Cup jumps the gun, but it may indicate there are more turf concerns
Canadian artificial turf soccer fields have sparked a lawsuit from international women's players ahead of the 2015 Women's World Cup, and they've apparently given pause to some men's teams too. Yahoo!

The U.S. looks bad right now, but it may not matter come Canada 2015
The United States’ women’s soccer team has a problem, one it hasn’t had to deal with in 14 years: The team is just not that good. At least, it’s not good by the standards of the number one team in the world – a two-time World Cup winner that aspires to add a third next year in Canada. Soccer Goads

world football

USMNT climb one spot in final FIFA World Rankings of 2014; Costa Rica finish tops in CONCACAF
The US national team concluded an eventful 2014 as the 27th-ranked team on the planet, according to the year-end edition of the FIFA World Rankings released on Thursday, while their CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica finish the year at No. 16, the region's top-ranked team. MLS

Real Madrid defeats San Lorenzo in Club World Cup final
Real Madrid outclassed San Lorenzo of Argentina 2-0 in the Club World Cup final on Saturday to put a crown on their status as the best club in world football. CBC

Cruz Azul settle for fourth in Club World Cup after penalty loss to Auckland City
Cruz Azul’s run in the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco ended unceremoniously on Saturday with a loss in the third-place game to an amateur club from New Zealand with a knack for springing upsets. MLS

Former Major League Soccer top scorer Camilo Sanvezzo suffers torn ACL
Former Major League Soccer top scorer Camilo Sanvezzo suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during a friendly match in Mexico on Saturday, and will miss the next 6-8 months of action. Sanvezzo, 26, suffered the injury in the 27th minute of a match between Queretaro and Irapuato, and was immediately taken out of the game and did not return. MLS

ISL kicked off a revolution in India: Nita Ambani
As the 70-day long Indian Super League gets ready for its biggest match yet, TOI speaks to Nita Ambani, the inspiration behind the initiative. She promises that the league will only become bigger and better in the coming years, even help the country showcase its talent to the world. The Times of India

ISL’s biggest fans have been youngsters
Shrinivas Dempo, the co-owner of FC Goa and one of the vice-presidents of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) opined that several issues need to be taken into considerations before deciding to make the Indian Super League (ISL) as the numero uno league of India to replace the I-League. Goal

friday, december 19, 2014

Vancouver Whitecaps FC to host Toronto FC in 2015 MLS season opener at BC Place
Vancouver Whitecaps FC confirmed today that the club will kick off their fifth season in Major League Soccer by hosting Canadian rivals Toronto FC on Saturday, March 7 at BC Place. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on TSN1. Whitecaps FC

MLS unveils home openers for 2015 season, featuring six games on national networks
Major League Soccer’s two expansion franchises will make their league debut against one another when the 2015 season opens next March, one of 10 opening weekend matchups revealed by the league on Friday. MLS

Impact adds defender Bakary Soumare while Toronto FC trades Jeremy Hall
The Montreal Impact used the first overall pick in Stage 2 of the MLS re-entry draft Thursday to acquire veteran Mali defender Bakary Soumare while Toronto FC shipped midfielder Jeremy Hall to the New England Revolution. The Impact now have seven days to make an offer to the 29-year-old Soumare. Metro

Re-Entry Complete
The Stage 2 Draft of the MLS Re-Entry Process saw eight players selected. The Montreal Impact snagged Chicago Fire center back Bakary Soumare with the #1 pick. Any eligible players not selected in the Re-Entry Process are now available to MLS clubs on a first come, first served basis. MLS

Future plans for TFC hinge on short-term success
Toronto FC's presentation for its vision for the future on Thursday morning featured some good ideas, but all of this will be for naught if the first team continues to struggle. The execution of any long-term plan is entirely dependent on achieving short-term success. TSN

Toronto FC notebook: Defoe staying for now
Toronto FC has a long-term vision and plan but whether or not Jermain Defoe will be along for the ride is still anybody’s guess. TFC management on Thursday met with a small group of local reporters to outline the club’s strategies for player development from the youth academy level right through to the first team, and its long-term developmental goals. Sportsnet

TFC too smart for its own good
 I can tell you this with all confidence: If winning an MLS championship ever came down to cognitive development and executive cognitive function, Toronto FC would kick butt. The amount of off-the-pitch work that goes on behind the scenes at TFC headquarters is truly impressive. Toronto Sun

Toronto FC shows off vision for future, but has to answer questions about present
It speaks volumes about Toronto FC that after a lengthy presentation to local media about the team's vision, the questions afterwards focused almost entirely on the immediate status of Jermain Defoe. No matter what general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and coach Greg Vanney do to right the ship down the line, the future is now for TFC. Canada.com

Yankee President Levine: NYCFC were “very, very close” to South Bronx stadium deal
Close, but no cigar. That was the message from New York Yankees President Randy Levine as he fielded questions on the club’s pursuit of a possible stadium location just south of Yankee Stadium. “We tried very, very hard,” Levine said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. We are looking around for other stadium sites in New York City right now.” Empire of Soccer

Stories of the Year: MLSers make their mark at World Cup in Brazil
MLSsoccer.com polled 22 of our editors, writers, videographers, statistics specialists and social media masters to bring you the Stories of the Year, our annual look at the top 10 biggest storylines in Major League Soccer. MLS

2014 in Review: Seattle Sounders enjoy historic season, but fall just short of reaching MLS Cup
Even with a disappointing exit from the Western Conference Championship at the hands of the eventual MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy, 2014 can still be considered a mighty successful year for the Seattle Sounders. MLS

Ottawa Fury FC Add Brazilian Winger Paulo Junior
Ottawa Fury FC announced Thursday that they have signed Brazilian Paulo Junior pending international transfer. The forward has 53 career NASL games under his belt in two separate stints with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and has appearance in 36 games with MLS side Real Salt Lake. NASL

Portland Timbers hire longtime Wake Forest head coach Jay Vidovich to lead USL PRO side Timbers 2
The Portland Timbers' newly-formed USL PRO team will be led by one of the nation’s best-known college coaches. Jay Vidovich, Wake Forest’s head coach the past 21 seasons and the architect of the Demon Deacons' 2007 NCAA national championship, has been hired to coach Timbers 2. MLS

FIFA moves to abolish referees' age limit
FIFA is abolishing age limits for international referees. FIFA says it is relaxing the rule which forced match officials to leave its international list at the end of the year they turned 45. Now, referees "shall be carefully evaluated" annually after reaching that age. FIFA said Friday officials will undergo "technical assessments, medical examinations and fitness tests" by its referees committee. WFP

TSN, RDS announce new media rights agreement for Champions League, Europa League
TSN and RDS announced a multi-year broadcast rights agreement with UEFA on Friday, making Canada's number one English and French specialty networks the primary Canadian broadcasters of the crown jewels of club soccer – the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League – beginning in 2015. TSN

youth soccer

Should academies be segregated from their first teams – an ongoing debate
he grand opening of the new 200 million pound academy by Manchester City has re-ignited the discussions if investments made by top clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton in their academies will result in more young players at these clubs graduating to the first team. RedNation

women's world football

Germany oust USA at summit, France go third
The final 2014 edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking sees a change of leadership, with Germany leapfrogging USA thanks to away wins over Sweden and England to hold the top spot for the first time in seven years. The Americans have paid dearly for their two defeats to China PR (13th, up 1) and Brazil (8th, down 2). FIFA

USWNT fall out of No. 1 ranking for first time since March 2008
For the first time in nearly seven years, the U.S. Women’s National Team is being recognized as anything but the best team in the world. FIFA’s latest rankings were revealed Friday, as, for the first time since March 2008, the USWNT does not hold the top spot. SBI

US women rout Argentina 7-0 in Brasilia Tournament to reach final against host Brazil
Christen Press scored four goals and Carli Lloyd had a hat trick as the United States women's soccer team routed Argentina 7-0 in the Brasilia Tournament on Thursday, securing its place in the final of the four-team competition. WFP

world football

FIFA to publish Garcia report in 'appropriate form'
FIFA's executive committee has unanimously agreed to publish an "appropriate" version of a report into the bidding process for the 2018/2022 World Cups but said Russia and Qatar would still stage the tournaments. Reuters

FIFA won't reopen vote on 2018, 2022 World Cups
FIFA will not reopen the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and will publish at least some of the confidential report into the bidding process, President Sepp Blatter said Friday. CBC

Ethics: Executive Committee unanimously supports recommendation to publish report on 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ bidding process
The Executive Committee unanimously supported the recommendation expressed by the chairman of the independent Audit and Compliance Committee Domenico Scala in his report to the Executive Committee today that the chairmen of the Ethics Committee (both chambers) publish the report on the inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup™ Bidding Process prepared by the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee. FIFA

Statement from the FIFA President on the 2018/2022 bid process investigation
It is clear that while a summary of the report was issued, the publication of this report has become a barrier to rebuilding public confidence and trust in FIFA. Part of this is due to the fact that we have been deliberate in the way that we have moved through the process. We need to ensure that we respect the rules of our organisation and that we do not breach confidentiality in a way that will prevent people from speaking out in the future. FIFA

Summary of the report of the chairman of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee
In a letter dated 20 November 2014, the chairmen of the two chambers of the FIFA Ethics Committee approached the chairman of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee to ask him to decide which information should be passed on to the FIFA Executive Committee so that it could meet its duties as the management body of FIFA. FIFA

FIFA promises $300K bonuses to member federations
FIFA plans to give a further $300,000 bonus to each of its 209 member federations from 2014 World Cup revenues. FIFA says the payments will help cover "the costs of qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup." The payments follow FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s promise in June that each member will get a $750,000 bonus. Sportsnet

USMNT climb one spot in final FIFA World Rankings of 2014; Costa Rica finish tops in CONCACAF
The US national team concluded an eventful 2014 as the 27th-ranked team on the planet, according to the year-end edition of the FIFA World Rankings released on Thursday, while their CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica finish the year at No. 16, the region's top-ranked team. MLS

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli suspended for 1 match for racially offensive social media post
Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli has been suspended for one game and fined 25,000 pounds ($39,000) by the governing body of English soccer for making a racially offensive online post. The Football Association said Friday that Balotelli also has been ordered to attend an education program for the "aggravated breach" of its rules. Canada.com

Moroccan king suspends sports minister over soggy soccer field during Club World Cup
Moroccan King Mohammed VI has suspended the country's sports minister and ordered an investigation into the state of the field at Moulay Abdellah Stadium after heavy rain disrupted a Club World Cup match. WFP

At Stadium in His Backyard, He Stands Alone
When Bristol City demolished its East Stand, Ben Swift was granted one side of Ashton Gate, the club’s stadium, to himself. Now he has a free, mostly unobstructed view, at least temporarily. Telegraph UK

thursday, december 18, 2014

Rumour: Has Carl Robinson found one of his strikers?Rumour: Has Carl Robinson found one of his strikers?
Twenty-two year old striker Octavio Rivero is bound to sign with the Vancouver Whitecaps for the upcoming 2015 MLS season according to reports coming from South America . The young Uruguayan currently plays for O'Higgins in the Chilean first division. 86Forever

Will Whitecaps FC's love affair with Latino talent continue in 2015?
Will Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s love affair with Latino talent continue in 2015? Carl Robinson was quick to introduce a Latin flair to his squad when he took over as Whitecaps FC boss late last year. And he and assistant Martyn Pert both went on recent scouting trips in South America with an eye to adding some more. Whitecaps FC

Weber: Rosales’ return a big plus for the Whitecaps
Trading for Mauro Rosales was already a good deal. It became even better business on Tuesday. Rosales and the Whitecaps came to terms on a new contract that will keep the veteran Argentine midfielder in Vancouver for 2015 and perhaps beyond. The Province

Whitecaps FC to participate in 2015 Simple Invitational
Vancouver Whitecaps FC confirmed today that the club will participate in the 2015 Simple Invitational, the annual preseason tournament hosted by Portland Timbers. The 2015 tournament will take place February 22 to 28 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. Whitecaps FC

Stories of the Year: Toronto FC's "Bloody Big Deal" and another postseason missed
Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Toronto FC's owners Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, probably summed it up most succinctly. “I'd say some of our partners think we've lost our minds,” acknowledged the veteran MLS executive when unveiling TFC's twin Designated Player signings Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley in January. MLS

'I think Adrian Hanauer is going to look for a stadium,' Taylor Twellman says
There have been hints being dropped for a few months now. The Seattle Sounders are not happy with the state of the CenturyLink Field turf and are growing frustrated with what seems to be an increasing sense that they are secondary tenants at the facility they share with the Seattle Seahawks. Sounder at Heart

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes says club hope to finalize transfer of Brek Shea to Orlando City Stoke City manager Mark Hughes says club hope to finalize transfer of Brek Shea to Orlando City
Stoke City on Thursday confirmed multiple reports, including those of the Orlando Sentinel, of ongoing talks between the Potters and MLS expansion club Orlando City about a transfer of US national team winger Brek Shea. MLS

New York City FC announce multi-year local television broadcast agreement with YES Network
On Thursday, New York City FC announced a multi-year local broadcasting agreement with the YES Network, which will serve as the club's exclusive home for local, English-language broadcasts. MLS

Las Vegas gets its soccer stadium, too
It isn't every day that two cities pass measures to build soccer stadiums. Hours after the D.C. council approved a development plan for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium in the Buzzard Point neighborhood of Southwest Washington, the Las Vegas city council narrowly agreed to help fund a soccer stadium, contingent on the city being awarded an MLS expansion team. Soccer America

Eddies Add Net-Minding Van Oekel To Roster
“I’m delighted that we’ve come to an agreement with Matt,” said FC Edmonton head coach Colin Miller. “He is arguably the best goalkeeper in the North American Soccer League (NASL). This is also a great signing for John Smits, Tyson Farago and Christian Kaiswatum - they will be able to work with someone who is experienced and knows the league very well. FC Edmonton

Portland Timbers to hire Jay Vidovich as head coach of USL Pro club T2
The Portland Timbers have hired former Wake Forest soccer coach Jay Vidovich to be the head coach of their USL Pro club T2, sources confirmed to The Oregonian Wednesday. The Oregonian reached out to the Timbers, but the organization would not comment on the hire. OregonLive

NCAA most winningest soccer coach to speak at BC Sport Conference
Intercollegiate sport is competitive and it takes a great deal of hard work for one team to dominate year in and year out. Coaches Anson Dorrance and Doug Reimer, who have both been at the helm of consistently successful varsity programs, will discuss their winning strategies at the BC Sport Conference on January 10, 2015 at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby.

Pro leagues divided over legalizing Canada's $15.5B sports betting industry
If Canada legalizes betting on single sports events, it could claw billions of dollars from the shady world of organized crime. Cash would be pumped into health care, education and other social programs. Authorities would be better equipped to sleuth out incidents of match-fixing by athletes. Yet making the vice more readily available would also come with a social cost. TSN

the local game

Langley Hurricanes narrowly defeat aspiring West Van FC 1-0 (File photo by Richard Howes)Langley Hurricanes narrowly defeat aspiring West Van FC 1-0
All six of the scheduled VMSL Premier Division games were played this past weekend, with 4 of the matches ending in ties. Only one big upset took place as the Langley Hurricanes narrowly defeated the aspiring West Van FC by a 1-0 margin.

team canada

Stalwarts Hutchinson, Sinclair selected 2014 BMO Canadian Players of the Year
Canada Soccer announced that midfielder Atiba Hutchinson and forward Christine Sinclair are the male and female selections for the 2014 BMO Canadian Players of the Year award. The Besiktas playmaker and Portland Thorns FC captain were honoured in a vote shared by Canadian media (50%) and Canadian coaches and clubs (50%). Canada Soccer

Marco Carducci: Canada U20 Confident of World Cup Qualification Marco Carducci: Canada U20 Confident of World Cup Qualification
Canada hasn't qualified for a World Cup since 2007. In early January they will try to break that drought, now with more confidence than ever that this could happen. Waking the Red

fifa women's world cup canada 2015

Voss-Tecklenburg: We have everything to gain
"Happy” by Pharrell Williams was the hit of the year, making it practically impossible for any fan inside the stadiums in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ to escape this catchy tune. The title of the track also neatly sums up the mood of Swiss national team coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg after the final draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ in Ottawa. FIFA

Road to Vancouver: More to Brazil than Marta
There’s been an injection of young talent into the Brazilian squad — Poliana, Tayla, Andressa Alves and Debinha are all 23 or younger — into Brazil’s starting lineup. Poliana and Andressa Alves will also move to the NWSL in 2015, joining Houston and Boston, respectively, from Sao Jose. inSoccer

world football

FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia's resignation
Amid another crisis at FIFA, President Sepp Blatter and his executive committee opened a two-day meeting Thursday to discuss the sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia and whether to publish his confidential World Cup report. Metro

Germany conquer 2014, Belgium, Slovakia impress
In 2014’s last edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the top 20 remains unchanged. FIFA World Cup™ holders Germany retained a comfortable lead over Argentina and Colombia, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Brazil. It is only the second time since 1993 that the Germans have finished a year on top, securing them the title of Team of the Year for 2014. FIFA

Morocco hit by Madrid fervour
“Welcome to your second home”, read the enormous banner created by Moroccan fans for Real Madrid’s 2014 FIFA Club World Cup semi-final clash with Mexican outfit Cruz Azul, which ended in a comprehensive 4-0 victory for the reigning European champions. FIFA

San Lorenzo hold off Auckland to reach final
San Lorenzo made the most of their maiden appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup with a 2-1 win in extra time of the semi-finals against a resilient Auckland City to set up a date in the final with European champions Real Madrid. FIFA

Spanish police make more arrests in fan fight
Spanish police have made 13 more arrests of members of radical football groups who allegedly participated in a massive street brawl that left one man dead before a match between Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna last month. Police say the 13 people were arrested on Thursday in the northwestern region of Galicia, home to Deportivo. Sportsnet

Report: Reus fined $673K for driving infractions
Germany and Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus has been fined 540,000 euros ($673,000) for repeatedly driving without a license. Dortmund prosecutor Henner Kruse said Reus was fined because he’s accused of deliberately driving without a license six times between September 2011 and March this year.

Qatar: Building a team to spring a surprise, showcase little nations at 2022 World Cup
It's a cold, hard fact of football: Countries with tiny populations don't generally beat big ones with deep wells of talented players. So how embarrassing might the score be when Qatar — smallest host in World Cup history, with just 282,750 citizens — plays the opening game of its 2022 tournament against, for example, titans Brazil or Germany? At best 5-0? At worst 10-0, even 30-0? [Editor: Qatar has just 278,000 citizens.]

To assuage critics, Qatar builds two-speed labour system of haves, have-nots for 2022 World Cup
Men crammed together, dozens to a room, on bunk beds so close they can reach over and shake hands. Qatar, on paper at least, has rules that forbid such uncomfortable conditions for its massive workforce of migrant labourers. Yet this is how the government-owned transport company, which the Gulf nation will use to ferry visitors around the 2022 World Cup, has housed some of its workers. WFP

2015 Asian Cup wide open after rash of coach firings among top teams
With the start of the Asian Cup only weeks away, a wide-open tournament has become even more unpredictable after a rash of coach firings in recent months left many of the top teams in disarray. Only six of the 16 teams in the tournament that starts on Jan. 9 in Melbourne have the same coach they started the year with. WFP

Player loses his wig!
The 19-year-old defender Baily Cargill was one of the top rated players for second division Bournemouth -- "solid in the heart of defense and provided a towering presence," according to The Mirror -- during its 3-1 English League Cup loss to Liverpool. But he'll be remembered for losing his hairpiece during a counterattack. Soccer America

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