As MLS pushes towards the playoffs and the end of its season, Americans in Europe are just beginning their seasons. With domestic leagues and cups in full swing, there is plenty of news to report this week.
We start on American soil, as MLS clubs remain winless in CONCACAF Champions League play. DC United fell 2-0 to Honduran club CD Marathon, while the Western Conference-leading Houston Dynamo lost to Panamanian club San Francisco FC.
In a tournament that was predicted to showcase the dominance of American and Mexican clubs in CONCACAF, the American club have disappointed at every turn. Things won't get any easier either, as DC has to play five league games mixed in with five Champions League matches in the run up to the MLS playoffs. Fixture congestion is a pain.
For more on the various theories on US failure in this tournament, be sure to check out Eric Gomez' article here.
MLS clubs are faring poorly in cup competitions on this side of the pond, and American players are faring poorly in cup competitions in Europe.
Watford defender Jay DeMerit is the only American player left in the Carling Cup as Brad Guzan's Aston Villa side, Tim Howard's Everton, Clint Dempsey's Fulham and Eddie Johnson's Cardiff City all crashed out in midweek play.
The good news for the Americans? Dempsey and Johnson actually got a chance to play, a rarity these days. The two need to consistently break into the starting lineup if they are to stay sharp and be able to help the US National Team in World Cup Qualifying.
Freddy Adu was also given a start for Monaco as they lost to Paris Saint-Germain in French Cup action. Heath Pearce and Hansa Rostock advanced in the DFB Pokal, but Sal Zizzo and Hannover were not so lucky.
For those of you keeping track at home, that's two for seven.
With only a few games left to play, only one spot in the MLS playoffs has been locked up. The Columbus Crew are sitting atop the Eastern Conference with MLS' best record and can begin printing playoff tickets. Everybody else in the league still has some work to do.
The LA Galaxy are still alive despite the fact that their 5-2 win over DC last weekend was their first victory in three months. San Jose is still alive after a slow start, a revival which saw them climb into a playoff position, and a recent slump which has seen them fall to the bottom of the Western Conference.
The absurdity of the MLS playoff hunt this season only serves to strengthen my belief that they should be completely abolished in favor of a league-wide cup. Eight of the league's fourteen clubs qualify for the playoffs, so they may as well throw the other six into the pot and hope for some upsets. Give a trophy to the team who tops the league table at the end of the season, and give another trophy to the team that wins the League Cup.
Lastly, women's soccer.
Remember the WUSA? It was a short-lived attempt to cash in on the temporary popularity boost that women's soccer enjoyed immediately after the 2003 World Cup.
The WPS (Women's Professional Soccer) league is the latest incarnation of a women's league in the United States, and has just held its first ever draft and allocated players out of the US Women's National Team pool.
Several notable figures in women's soccer will be playing in the new league. The Brazilian trio of Marta, Daniela and Cristiane will be playing in Los Angeles, St. Louis and Chicago, respectively. US goalkeeper Hope Solo will join Daniela in St. Louis while Abby Wambach heads to Washington and US icon Kristine Lilly will suit up for Boston.
The new league looks like it might actually stand a chance of survival. Phoenix Suns' point guard Steve Nash is an investor in the league, and the goals of WPS are far less ambitious than those of the WUSA. To succeed, the league needs to think small at first and not try and expand before it is ready.
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