Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
MLS in CONCACAF
Three MLS Clubs played preliminary qualifying matches for the CONCACAF Champions League tournament this week: Toronto FC, FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders FC.
Toronto faced Real Estell FC from Nicaragua at home, defeating them by one goal, but conceding a crucial goal that could yet prove to be their downfall. Toronto has the edge heading into the away leg, but Real Estell only need to score one goal on their own turf to advance thanks to the away-goal rule.
Dallas, on the other hand, took home an away goal of their own, defeating Alianza FC in El Salvador and bringing the lead back with them to Dallas. A win or a draw will see Dallas FC advance to the tournament's group stage.
The Sounders have a lot of work ahead of them, after suffering a defeat in Panama to San Francisco FC. Seattle conceded a penalty, and gave San Francisco the lead coming back to Seattle.
They will have to score at least one goal to advance, but they'll have to score three if the Panama side manages to find the back of the net in Seattle.
New York Red Bulls Win Emirates Cup in London
It's been a rough stretch for soccer in the United States, with the national squad losing a heartbreaking Gold Cup Final to Mexico, the majority of MLS teams performing poorly in friendly matches with the eyes of the world watching and even one club in particularly falling 7-0 to the defending EPL champions, Manchester United.
Honestly though, it's all to be expected. The U.S. is supposed to be bad at world football. Our teams are supposed to lose.
The problem? Nobody told that to the New York Red Bulls.
While the Emirates Cup, an annual tournament hosted by Arsenal FC in London as part of their preseason training program, might be just for fun (with a few elements of skill-honing and providing valuable minutes on the pitch for young players who wouldn't get them otherwise), it's still a tournament hosting some of the most impressive clubs throughout the world.
Winning it, especially for a team in a league that gets so much criticism for underachieving, is an accomplishment, no matter how small or meaningless the tournament itself might be.
This year, Arsenal hosted three other top teams from around the world, including the New York side, Paris Saint-Germain from French Ligue 1 and Boca Juniors of Argentina. Arsenal, PSG and Boca Juniors are all considered consistent contenders for their country's top league honors.
RBNY first shocked MLS supporters yesterday, when they defeated PSG to take the lead in the tournament. Joel Lindpere scored the only goal of the match, as the Red Bulls surprisingly took care of one of Europe's top sides.
Today, in their final matchup against the host club, New York tied Arsenal (though never scoring for themselves, and reaching a 1-1 scoreline only thanks to a Kyle Bartley own goal) and secured their position as winners of the Emirates Cup with four points.
Notably, PSG returned with a vengeance, defeating Boca Juniors 3-0 in the only other victory in the four-match tournament. PSG took second place, and Arsenal was left in third with two draws in their home stadium.