Say "goodbye" to the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. "Hello," Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
Major League Soccer's expansion to 20 clubs in 2015 provides Crew SC two new Eastern Conference foes for the season ahead. Road trips to play both clubs provide unique environments, says winger Ethan Finlay.
"I think the [Eastern Conference] will be difficult," Finlay said Wednesday. "I think it will be a unique experience playing at the Citrus Bowl, not so sure about the turf, but it is what it is this year, and then playing at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC. I think you have two organizations that are going to be class in two different ways. Orlando obviously has come in and has a good foundation of players coming from [USL PRO]. NYCFC is a team that’s owned by Manchester City and plans to come here and win, and win now."
Orlando City is bolstered by Brazilian superstar and former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká, while NYCFC has acquired the likes of Spanish striker David Villa, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud and, arriving in July, legendary English midfielder Frank Lampard. On top of that, Crew SC's neighbor up north, Toronto FC, has added USMNT striker Jozy Altidore and Italian attacker Giovinco, coming in July.
With the influx of stars, Finlay believes the East is stronger than it's been in recent years.
"It’s going to be great," he said. "It’s going to be extremely competitive. Then when you start talking about other teams like Toronto, the New York Red Bulls..."
"It’s going to be a competitive East, more so than I think it was in the past. "
Crew SC winger Romain Gall started and played 69 minutes in the United States Under-20 Men's National Team's 1-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago to advance out of Group A in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Wednesday evening in Montego Bay, Jamaica. LA Galaxy forward Bradford Jamieson IV's 78th-minute strike was the lone tally in the clash as the U.S. finished in second place of Group A, ahead of Guatemala on total goals scored.
The U.S. will discover its next oppoenent after the re-seeding process ahead of the Playoff Round. The Americans are currently one win away from qualifying for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer
Video courtesy of U.S. Soccer.
With advancement on the line, Crew SC attacker Romain Gall and the United States Under-20 Men's National Team are set to face Trinidad & Tobago Wednesday evening to close-out the Group Stage of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica. Coming off a hat trick and a brace in the Americans' previous to wins -- both wins against Aruba and Jamaica, respectively -- Gall shares the lead for the tournament's top scorer with Mexico’s Hirving Lozano, scoring five goals each.
Watching from afar, Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter is pleased with what he's seen from the 19-year-old midfielder, and hopes Gall's form can carry over into the MLS season.
"We expect Romain to contribute this year," Berhalter said Wednesday. "First and foremost, we hope they qualify for the [FIFA U-20] World Cup. We hope he’s playing in a youth world championship, but we want him to contribute here as well. He showed signs of it last year, and we believe he has the potential to contribute."
The U.S. needs a win or draw against the Soca Warriors on Wednesday night to advance to the Playoff Round of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The match kicks-off at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2.
Crew SC winger Justin Meram earned his first start of the AFC Asian Cup as Iraq was victorious over Palestine, 2-0, in Canberra early Tuesday morning to advance to the Quarterfinal Round of the competition. Before subbing-off in the 68th minute, Meram's biggest influence on the match was drawing a penalty for the Lions of Mesopotamia -- which was ultimately saved by Palestinian 'keeper Tawfiq Ali.
Iraq next plays Iran in Canberra at 1:30 a.m. ET on Friday morning.
After scoring in his first international cap for Iceland on Friday, Crew SC winger Kristinn Steindorsson was given rest in Iceland's 1-1 draw with Canada on Monday afternoon in Orlando. Steindorsson will now return to Columbus to prepare for his first season in Black & Gold.
Crew SC's Romain Gall scored twice from the penalty spot to help the United States U-20 Men's National Team to a 2-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday evening in group play of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Kingston. The brace pushed Gall's goal total for the tournament to five, leading all scorers in the competition. The Americans round-out the Group Stage on Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago, needing a win or draw to assure their advancement to the Knockout Stage.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer
It took only six minutes for Crew SC winger Kristinn Steindorsson to make his first cap for the Iceland National Team memorable. Steindorsson found himself unmarked in front of net to score his first international goal in a 2-1 win over Canada in Orlando on Friday.
Iceland faces Canada again in a friendly on Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET on beIN Sports. See below for the full MLSsoccer.com recap.
Canada 1 - Iceland 2 | International Friendly Match Recap
by Andrew Marcinko, MLSsoccer.com
Though they surely enjoyed the Florida sunshine, Friday's friendly against Iceland was likely not the start to 2015 Canada would have liked.
Iceland controlled the game early and held on for a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Columbus Crew SC midfielder Kristinn Steindórsson and Matthías Vilhjálmsson against a game Canada side. Despite being without several first-team regulars, both teams played spirited soccer on the night with former MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario nearly sparking a comeback for Canada with a 70th-minute goal.
Canada have a busy slate in 2015, as they will play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the summer, which includes one matchday hosted on home soil at BMO Field in Toronto, in addition tobeginning their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification quest in June. Meanwhile, Iceland are already in the thick of tournament qualifiers, having approached the midway point of Euro 2016 qualifiers in good shape, with a solid chance of qualifying for their first ever Euro tournament.
In Friday's friendly, Iceland came out strong, controlling much of the possession for the opening minutes. Rúrik Gíslason was a menace down the right wing, running at the Canadian defenders and quickly earning a free kick just inches outside the corner of the box in the fourth minute.
That kick was cleared, but Gíslason would be rewarded for his efforts just moments later. In the 5th minute, his inch-perfect cross to the far post was headed in easily by the newly signed Steindórsson to put the European side up 1-0.
Canada began to find the game after conceding, swinging crosses into the Icelandic box from all directions. In the 21st minute, Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio nodded a header just over the crossbar for Canada’s best chance of the half. Canadian forward Iain Hume, fresh off a strong season in India, showed his strength in challenging for a number of 50-50 balls.
The pace of play slowed down after the first 25 minutes, but Iceland was not quite done for the half. Sölvi Ottesen headed a far-post cross back across the face of goal, and Vilhjálmsson was just onside at the top of the six to nod it home to double their lead.
It was back-and-forth to start the second half, but Iceland was disciplined defensively and largely held the Canadians in check. De Rosario entered at the half for Canada and blasted a shot high and wide in the 60th minute. His aggression paid off in the 70th minute though, when he headed home a cross in traffic to bring Canada back within one.
It wasn’t enough in the end, however, as Iceland held on for the 2-1 win.
The Canadians won’t have to wait long for revenge, as the two teams face off again in a second international friendly on Monday afternoon (4:00 p.m. ET, beIn Sports).
Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and defender Chris Klute discuss Friday's transaction.