Bayern Munich will take on Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday in Jupp Heynckes' final Bundesliga match in charge of the German champions, coincidentally where his career began 68 years ago.
West Bromwich Albion announced they have extended Northern Irish international Garteh McAuley's contract by a year, keeping him at The Hawthorns until 2015.
After his two-and-a-half year stint with Manchester City, Italian international Mario Balotelli says he is happy be out of England and back home where can is closer to friends and family.
The North American Soccer League Spring Season reaches its midpoint Saturday afternoon for Minnesota United FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who square off at 2:30 p.m. CDT inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The game is the first of two straight between the clubs, who find themselves locked in a tie for second place, chasing the league-leading Carolina RailHawks.
While the stakes aren’t quite as high as the last time these two teams met—last October’s NASL Championship Series, which the Rowdies won in a shootout after two legs ended deadlocked—both will want nothing less than full points. With the RailHawks currently holding a three-point lead at the top of the NASL table, dropped points for either the Rowdies or United FC could open too deep a deficit to make up with the handful of games remaining.
Minnesota had a chance last weekend to keep pace with Carolina, but a slow start cost the team in a 2-1 loss at Lockhart Stadium against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The game marked the third straight that Minnesota has faced a halftime deficit. Head coach Manny Lagos admitted his team wasn’t at its best during another slow start last week, but he said the team has raised its level during the past week of training.
“We’re really excited to get back on the field and hopefully respond with a better effort than last weekend,” he said. “It’s important as you get to the middle part of the season to continue to improve, and after a loss, this is a big game for us. It’s against the defending champions, it’s against a very good team, and it’s at home.”
Other than acknowledge Tampa Bay’s 2012 championship, Lagos wouldn’t be drawn on the revenge factor of the game. His players did the same, choosing instead to focus on Tampa Bay’s quality and a tight history between the clubs over the past three seasons.
“I think most guys are over it by now. Maybe a few will leave a little bit extra in some challenges, but we’ve got to put that aside and focus on this year,” defender Justin Davis said. “We’re more focused on coming out the right way, not having a little lull like we did against Fort Lauderdale and setting the tempo in the first five minutes so the game goes the way we want it to.”
Midfielder Lucas Rodriguez has played against Tampa Bay since it returned to action in 2010 and said that revenge doesn’t matter with the NASL’s split season and the need to pick up points at every opportunity. “They have good players, a good coaching staff. They’ve done really year the past few years. One year you beat them, one year they beat you, that’s just soccer, that’s just how it is. Every time you start a new season you always want to win, and this year with the new format we have to beat everybody and everybody, it doesn’t matter who we play, we have to be ready to win.”
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A final look at this week’s practices for Minnesota United FC as they prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Saturday in the Metrodome. Interviews with Lucas Rodriguez and Bryan Arguez as they discuss their preparations for the game.