Thursday kickaround

October 24, 2013
(Soccer Insider)
(Soccer Insider)

*The week began with the New York Red Bulls leading the heated chase for MLS’s Supporters’ Shield with one set of matches remaining. Last night Real Salt Lake claimed the top position in its season finale with a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA. By Saturday afternoon, with a draw or victory at Philadelphia, Sporting Kansas City could claim the first slot. Late Saturday night, if K.C. failed to take three points, Portland will have an opportunity to vault into first. And then late-day Sunday, the Red Bulls can clinch the Shield for the first time by defeating visiting Chicago.

There are no great teams in MLS this year, but there are a lot of good ones. And while four remain in the hunt for the most points — and a chance to host MLS Cup on Dec. 7 — the mad scramble for playoff berths and positions will continue until the last of the year’s 223 323 matches Sunday evening when more than 60,000 take in the Seattle-Los Angeles collision at CenturyLink Field.

The Western playoff field is all but settled: RSL, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle and Colorado.

In the East, only New York and Kansas City have clinched. Montreal, Chicago, New England, Houston and Philadelphia remain in pursuit of the last three spots.

*While MLS’s regular season is unsettled, MLS’s pursuit of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal berths is proceeding smoothly. Last night Kansas City and San Jose joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in the round of eight, and Houston needs just a draw at Arabe Unido in Panama tonight to secure passage (8 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Plus, Univision Deportes).

Cruz Azul, Toluca, Tijuana and Alajuelense have also advanced to the quarterfinals in March. With the eight teams seeded based on group point totals, the Earthquakes will likely face front-runner Toluca, while Kansas City will probably end up with Cruz Azul, Tijuana or Los Angeles. CONCACAF standings are available here.

*Americans abroad:

Wednesday, UEFA Champions League

MF Sacha Kljestan 90 minutes in Anderlecht’s 5-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain [Video of Ibrahimovic's 4 goals]

Thursday, Europa League

F Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar at Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan), noon, foxsoccer2go.com

F Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna at Genk (Belgium), 1 p.m.

GK Brad Friedel and Spurs at Sheriff (Moldova), 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1, ESPN3.com

Veteran right back Steve Cherundolo, sidelined for months with knee injuries, is almost ready to return to Hannover’s game-day roster. He discusses his health and prospects of rejoining the U.S. national team ahead of the World Cup.

*Ticket sales update for U.S. women’s national team friendlies:

Sunday in San Francisco vs. New Zealand: 13,000

Wednesday in Columbus vs. New Zealand: 12,500

Nov. 10 in Orlando vs. Brazil: 11,500

*NCAA roundup:

All-American forward Steve Neumann posted two goals and an assist, raising his season totals to 10 and five, as ninth-ranked Georgetown (11-3-1) rolled to a 6-0 victory over DePaul. Red Bulls academy forward Brandon Allen also notched his 10th goal for the Hoyas, who equaled the program record for shutouts (10). GU will visit No. 16 Marquette on Saturday.

Tonight, the top-ranked Virginia women will seek their 17th victory without a defeat or draw when they host Miami at Klockner Stadium. Midfielder Morgan Brian has returned from national team duty. On Sunday the Cavaliers will welcome third-ranked Florida State, which tonight is in Blacksburg to face No. 4 Virginia Tech.

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · October 23, 2013