*With the NCAA College Cup a day away, I examine the Georgetown Hoyas’ rise from a middling Big East program to a final four team. The Terrapins Insider looks at Georgetown’s opponent Friday, a Maryland team hunting for its third national title in eight seasons. I will preview the match in Friday’s print editions, available online tonight. Hoover, Ala., awaits.

Cold weather hit the College Cup last year; no such issues this year as the forecast calls for sun and around 70 degrees during the day. ESPNU will carry both semifinals (Friday at 5 and 7:30 ET) and the final (Sunday at 2 p.m.).

*Several College Cup players will be available in the MLS draft. The date, time and location of the event is set: Thu., Jan. 17 at 11 a.m. ET in Indianapolis. Why Indy? The draft is always held in association with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s annual convention. The 2014 and ’15 gatherings are slated for Philadelphia, with Baltimore set for 2016.

 *Americans abroad:


D Michael Parkhurst 90 in Nordsjaelland’s 6-1 loss at Chelsea (UEFA Champions League)


UEFA Europa League

MF Clint Dempsey and Spurs vs. Panathinaikos (3 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer, foxsoccer2go.com)

D Steve Cherundolo and Hanover at Levante (3 ET, foxsoccer2go.com)

F Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna vs. Metalist

MF Alejandro Bedoya and Helsingborg at Twente

MF Mikkel Diskerud and Rosenborg at Bayer Leverkusen

F Josh Gatt and Molde at Stuttgart

MF Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Lyon

*FC Barcelona says Lionel Messi‘s knee injury, suffered in a Champions League match, is a mere bone contusion and he might be able to play within a week.

On a lighter note, Messi has made a fun TV spot with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant: