If you thought that soccer would somehow all of a sudden become less interesting now that the Barclay’s Premier League is over, then I shake my head at you in dismay and revoke your soccer fan card. Leagues are beginning to wrap up in Europe, but we’ve still got a great final day in Spain, World Cup camp news, and there’s even some pretty awesome stuff happening on this side of the pond in Major League Soccer. So strap yourselves in, and let’s have a look around!
Barcelona v. (Atletico) Madrid
This isn’t the Catalan v. Capital matchup we were quite expecting, but it just may prove to be my new favorite. With Real Madrid losing to Celta Vigo last weekend, they eliminated themselves from title contention before the final match was even to be played. It seems that Real Madrid went out with more of a whimper than with a bang, as they were in prime position to go for the treble (Copa Del Rey, La Liga, and Champions League). Both Barcelona and Atletico tied in their respective fixtures last weekend, with Barcelona unable to score against Elche, and Atletico also sharing points with Málaga in a 1-1 draw. Barcelona hosts Atletico in the last match of the season, and will determine who wins the title. Winner leaves with the trophy. It can’t get any more straight-forward than that, and it’s sure to be a thrilling finish.
FA Cup Final at noon
If you're still pining for football from Merry Olde, then today's FA Cup final is just the ticket. Arsenal v. Hull, noon on Fox. Can Arsene finally win another trophy?
Liga MX Final, Leg 1
León hosted Pachuca in the first leg of the Liga MX Final in what was a high-paced, chance-for-chance matchup that was dominated by great goalkeeping from Pachuca’s Oscar “Conejo” Perez. El Conejo made some outstanding saves late into the match to maintain a 3-2 away win for Pachuca heading into next week’s final leg, where they’ll enter with an all too important away goal. Rafael Marquez was also lucky to leave the first leg with only a yellow, as he nearly flew off the handle (again) berating the referee late in the second half, making contact with the official, and even throwing the ball at him. If there’s one thing we know about Rafa Marquez, it’s that he’s always good for a blow up. It’ll be interesting to see the antics he pulls away from home.
MLS Rivalry Week
There are a few matchups in MLS this week that will tug on supporters’ heart strings. Everyone loves a good rivalry, and this week we’ve got three good one to look forward to. The first is Philadelphia Union v. New England Revolution. Union were finally to end their nine game losing skid against Sporting Kansas City in a 2-1 match midweek. The Revs are also coming off of a 5-0 beating of the Seattle Sounders last week, so it’ll be interesting to see if Philly can finally get on a roll, or if the Revs will continue to show dominance in the league.
Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy also square off this weekend, and we know the history of these two teams meeting in the playoffs. I’m not sure if it’ll live up to the excitement of past playoff match ups, but it will still be an interesting matchup with both teams missing players to international duty.
The most important of rivalry matchups to take place this weekend is of course Chicago Fire v. Sporting Kansas City. This match could be the start of a swing for both teams; Fire looking for their second straight win after a shocking goal fest win at New York last weekend, and Chicago is also looking to give Sporting a streak of their own in handing them their second consecutive loss. SKC may be without three key players in their lineup, with Graham Zusi and Matt Besler away at USMNT camp, and Aurelian Collin possibly out with an injury he sustained mid-week vs. Philadelphia. This could be the Fire’s chance to build momentum in the league with another big statement win at home against the Fire faithful. Sporting Kansas City will be well represented as well, as 450+ SKC fans plan on making the trip to Toyota Park.
USMNT Camp Underway
Jürgen Klinnsman opened up camp yesterday in California, and 20 players from the preliminary 30-man roster reported for training. First of which was Maurice Edu, who did not play with Philadelphia in their 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City. The ‘official’ reasoning for Edu’s absence from the Union squad was cited as lingering symptoms from a concussion sustained earlier in the season. The US is one of the first World Cup squads to open camp. Klinnsman has stated that opening camp this early is important for the preparedness of the players, as they’re essentially playing catch up with the rest of the world. With many of their group stage rivals ending their seasons around this time, they’ve got considerably more matches under their belt. Klinnsman wants to build a strong foundation in camp early to get his players ready for the slew of matches to come.