Video: Zlatan Ibrahimović, Michael Bradley, Neymar goals highlight Wednesday's international soccer action
Wednesday's international soccer action produced some quite spectacular goals by players on a lot of different national teams. Here's a roundup of the best ones.
First, Michael Bradley scored a beautiful volley for the United States in a 2-2 draw with Russia in Krasnodar:
I'm sure almost all of you watched the United States men's national soccer team's 3-1 win over Guatemala win Tuesday night, sealing passage to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
I shared some thoughts on what the win means for the U.S. and which players stood out in a video chat with Cinesport's Justin Shackil. We also discussed what U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has learned in the job so far.
Seven Hot Matches
United States at Antigua & Barbuda
6:55 p.m. Friday (beIN Sport English)
Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls
3:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)
Major League Soccer returns to network television as one of the league’s crown jewel stadiums, Red Bull Arena, gets a national spotlight. Chicago and New York are tied for second place in MLS’ Eastern Conference, and bring serious attacking firepower to this contest.
Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City
8:30 p.m. Friday (NBC Sports Network)
Major League Soccer’s two biggest games this weekend will both be featured on national television. The first is headlined by the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City needs to win this game to keep up its pursuit of the top overall seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs, while Chicago can jump over its Midwestern rival with a road win.
Seattle Sounders at Portland Timbers
3:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)
It might not be the most competitive game of the weekend in Major League Soccer, but from a leaguewide perspective it's the biggest game in years. This will be the first MLS game broadcast on an over-the-air English-language television network since 2008.
South Africa at Brazil
2:30 p.m. Friday (GolTV)
The last World Cup host nation crosses the Atlantic Ocean to face the next World Cup host nation in a friendly match at Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium. It's Brazil's first home game in over a year, and fans will demand their money's worth from the Seleçao.
I don't want this to get too buried amid the other stories I've written today, which is part of why I've saved it for last and broken it out separately.
I traded e-mails with a spokesperson at Comcast this afternoon regarding their plans to start carrying the al-Jazeera-owned soccer channel beINSport. The two sides agreed a carriage deal last week, but it was never quite made clear when the channel actually would show up on on local televisions.
That got many soccer fans nervous, as beINSport has the exclusive rights to the U.S. men's national team's big World Cup qualifying game at Jamaica on Friday, Sept. 7.
West Ham United at Swansea City
7:45 a.m. Saturday (ESPN2; ESPN3.com)
Contrary to what some people might believe, there are more teams in the Premier League than just the London and Manchester giants. This game features two of the league's so-called minnows, but the lack of star power could easily be made up for with hustle and a few goals.
West Ham are one of England's most historic teams, with famous former players including Bobby Moore and Paolo Di Canio. The current team is led by midfielder Kevin Nolan and Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Tê. Swansea will look for inspiration from Spanish forward Michu, who scored two spectacular goals in a 5-0 rout of Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
Fulham at Manchester United
10:00 a.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel)
U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey has endured a rough start to the season at Fulham. After a transfer to Liverpool fell through, Dempsey reportedly refused to play, and was forced to train with Fulham's youth team by manager Martin Jol.
Manchester United, meanwhile, is in great shape. With Robin van Persie bolstering an already-potent attack, the Red Devils are primed to deliver a serious title challenge to crosstown neighbors Manchester City.
Schalke 04 at Hannover 96
11:30 a.m. Sunday (GolTV)
Even though GolTV has lost the rights to the Spanish and Italian leagues, it still has rights to one of the most entertaining leagues in Europe – Germany's Bundesliga. This game will feature two U.S. national team stalwarts, Hannover defender Steve Cherundolo and Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones.
FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy
7:00 p.m. Sunday (NBC Sports Network)
After a dreadful start to the season, FC Dallas has won four straight game in August – including tough road tests against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake. Now they're just five points back of Vancouver and Los Angeles, who hold the Western Conference's last two playoff spots.
Dallas' resurgence has no better symbol than midfielder Brek Shea. After being benched by coach Schellas Hyndman for two weeks in July, Shea got his confidence back by assisting on the game-winning goal in the United States' historic victory in Mexico. If that form carries over, teams across MLS will start getting nervous.
New York Red Bulls at Sporting Kansas City
9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2; ESPN Deportes; ESPN3.com)
The marquee game of the weekend in MLS features the Eastern Conference's two best teams at what should be a raucous Livestrong Sporting Park. It's the first time this year that New York and Kansas City have met, with further meetings to come in September and October. Whichever team comes out on top is likely to finish first in the conference standings.
Santos Laguna at Toronto FC
8:00 p.m. Tuesday (Fox Soccer Channel)
Toronto FC's Cinderella run through the CONCACAF Champions League may finally be coming to an end. Despite winning four straight Canadian Championship tournaments, the Reds have perennially been one of the worst teams in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference.
Now they've been drawn with Mexican powerhouse Santos in the Champions League group stage, and only one team can advance to the knockout rounds. With a forward line that features U.S. national team star Herculez Gomez and Mexican Olympic gold medalist Oribe Peralta, Santos has proven itself to be one of North America's truly elite teams.
New York Red Bulls at D.C. United
8:00 p.m. Wednesday (Galavisión)
Major League Soccer's oldest rivalry has regained its edge this year, as both D.C. and New York are in the thick of the Easteren Conference playoff race.
The Red Bulls have scored the most goals in the conference this year, which matters a lot since goals scored is the first tiebreaker for playoff seeds. United hasn't lost at home since March 10. Something will likely have to give in this game.
Sunderland at Arsenal
9:50 a.m. Saturday (ESPN; ESPN3.com)
Whether or not you think it’s the world’s best league, there’s no denying that the English Premier League is the most glamorous. The new season kicks off this weekend.