By Rad Rich
What a lot of news in what is going to be a interesting weekend.
First off, in Major League Soccer, the semifinals are this weekend! The Houston Dynamo will take on Sporting Kansas City this Saturday in the eastern Conference Championship match up in Sporting Park in Missouri. Tomorrow is the second leg of their home and away series, the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw on November 9th . The winner of tomorrow’s match up will advance to the MLS Cup 2013 set for December 7. They will either take on Real Salt Lake or the Portland Timber who are playing in the Western Conference Semifinals. Real Salt Lake leads the series 4-2 on aggregate after the first leg and play on Sunday. Saturday’s match is the third straight season that Houston and Sporting Kansas City have met in the playoffs, and the third time overall that they have met in a conference championship. (2007,2011) For Houston, Jermain Taylor will be out with a left foot fracture and it is questionable if Will Bruin and Ricardo Clark will to play. On the Sporting K.C side, Peterson Joseph is out with an illness and Josh Gardner and Paulo Nagamura are game time decisions. Tomorrow’s matchup is 6:30 PM. It will be televised on cable on the NBC Sports Network and Univision Deportes Network. It will also be on the radio on Sports 1560AM. Real Salt Lake vs. Portland match is on Sunday at 8:00 PM in the Western Conference Final.
In another big announcement, in Major League Soccer! Orlando Florida became the 21st MLS franchise to join the league. The name of the team is Orlando City Soccer Club and they will begin play in 2015 along with New York City F.C.
“We are proud and excited to welcome Orlando to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “From the success of the Orlando City S.C., to the incredible fan support and passion in the community, this is a new market that really excites us. “We have great confidence in Flávio Augusto da Silva, Phil Rawlins and the rest of the Orlando City ownership group. They love this sport, our League and this city. And thanks to the commitment of ownership, the City of Orlando and Orange County, Orlando City will soon have a spectacular new stadium that will provide fans and the entire community with a truly unique downtown sporting experience.”
The club begin in 2007 in Austin Texas but moved to Orlando Florida 3 years later with a plan to make it into Major League Soccer. They played in the United Soccer League Pro regular season title in 2011 and 2012 while massing a huge fan base. That is set to get bigger as it is rumored that, Brazilian attacker, Kaka is set to join the club in 2015. They will play 2014 at the ESPN Wide World Sports complex before opening 2015 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. They then move into their 18,000 seat soccer stadium in downtown later that year. Construction on the new stadium was approved by the Orange County Board of Commissioners and is set to start next spring.
Away from MLS in world cup news, all qualifying is finished and Mexico has made it in. Last weeks 5-1 in Mexico city at the Azteca left New Zealand needing a miracle to book their way to Brazil. The away leg for Mexico left them in their own driver’s seat to qualify. They flew down to Wellington New Zealand and kept there heads up and qualified with a 4-2 win in the second leg. Also, Uruguay became the final team to qualify for the 32 team tournament as they played Jordon to a 0-0 draw in Uruguay’s capital’s Montevideo’s famous Centenario Stadium. This comes after they dominated Jordon 5-0 in Amman, Jordon in the first leg. They join Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile as the South American representatives at the finals. In COCACAF the United States, Costa Rica, Hounduras and Mexico will represent the region. Europe is represented by Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Switzerland. Africa is represented by Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria, and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Oceania is bringing back a strong presence with Australia, Iran, Japan and Korea Republic. The draw for who plays who and pool matches will be on December 7th.
Well, wrapping up even though there is so much more. The Grey Cup is being held on Sunday in Regina. That is Canadian Football’s Championship.