Evening Ticker: Fabregas questionable vs. Celtic, Whitbread sidelined and more | Soccer By Ives

Arsenals tough UEFA Champions League playoff series vs. Celtic could get a whole lot tougher.

The Gunners have injury concerns surrounding star Cesc Fabregas, Brazilian midfielder Denilson and defender Bacary Sagna ahead of Tuesdays first-leg clash with Celtic at Parkhead.

Arsenal is fresh from its 6-1 mauling of Everton in its EPL opener, but the promising start could quickly become nightmarish if the club stumble in Champions League play.

Here are some other stories to help wrap up your Monday.

Whitbreak has hip surgery

American defender Zak Whitbread will have to wait a while for a potential transfer away from Millwall after having hip surgery that will likely sideline him for up to 10 weeks.

Whitbread looked like a likely transfer target this summer, but after he passed on a potential move to Peterborough United, transfer interest appeared to fade. Now, with him sidelined, it looks as though Whitbread will have to battle through at least one more half-season at Millwall.

Red Bulls sign defender

From the What is the point now department comes word that the Red Bulls have signed Argentine defender Walter Garcia. The 25-year-old former Argentine Under-20 player is expectedstep in and battle for playingtime, then again sowasfellow recent Red Bulls signing Leo Krupnick, who has managed to already earn a permanent spot on the bench despite having been signed to a six-figure contract as a mid-season upgrade.

Bremen close in on Pizarro

Werder Bremen is preparing to add some punch at forward, and with a familiar face no lese.

Reports have linked Bremen with a move for Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro, who joined Bremen on loan last year and scored 28 goals in all competitions.

What do you think of these developments? Think Arsenal still has enough to post a result in Parkhead, a notoriously tough place to play? Disappointed to see Whitbread miss out on a transfer? Wondering why the Red Bulls are still signing players to a team with nothing to play for?

Share your thoughts below.

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Adu loan to Odense collapses | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Just when you thought Freddy Adu would find steady playing time thanks to a loan move to Denmark, now comes word that Adu is still looking for a loan move to make after a discussed loan to Danish side Odense BK has collapsed.

According to Portuguese publication Record, Adus proposed loan to Odense stalled due to a inability to reach an agreement over Adus salary, which is considerably higher than the standard salaries in Denmark.

So whats the problem? Benfica wants to loan Adu to a club willing to pay his full salary, but teams from the leagues where Adu could conceivably get steady playing time cant afford Adus wage bill.

What does this mean for Adu? It means he could wind up stuck on the end of Benficas long bench unless either Benfica relents and agrees to pay a portion of his salary in a loan, or if Adu agrees to take a paycut in order to find playing time.

What remains clear is that Adu needs to leave Benfica this season because the arrivals of Brazilian starlets Ramires and Keirrison are certain to eliminate any chance Adu had of receiving playing time.

What do you think of this news? Disappointed? Hoping a bigger club than Odense steps forward with an offer? Think Adu should take a paycut if it means regular playing time?

Share your thoughts below.

Red Bulls need to clean house immediately | Soccer By Ives

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There is bad, there is awful, and then there are the 2009 Red Bulls, who have taken an already tortured fan base and dragged it to new depths of disappointment.

The Red Bulls are on pace to post the worst record in the history of MLS, havent won in 13 matches, and have seen anything worth playing for disappear over the past few weeks. The Red Bulls are a dead team walking, yet not a soul has paid the price for this train wreck of a season.

Why? Where are the pink slips, the firings and the accountability for soccers version of The Titanic? The inactivity by the clubs ownership in Austria suggests the painful reality that Red Bull doesnt care about how bad things get this season, and consequently doesnt care what it puts its fan base through.

That might be acceptable in the world of soft drinks, but in the world of soccer that is as egregious a crime as a club can commit.

No, nothing Red Bulls owners will do at this point will erase the memories of a season full of blunders, bad signings and gut-punch losses, but some firings would at the very least show fans that the club has some sort of interest in the team it bought four years ago, and it may help the team salvage something from this season.

That purge should begin with two men, head coach Juan Carlos Osorio and technical director Jeff Agoos, the two men responsible for the construction of this abomination of a team.

Osorio did lead the team to last years MLS Cup final, a first for the club and a high point for most Red Bulls fans, but no coach can survive a disaster like this season has become, at least no coach should. He has made a series of failed signings, and has made questionable lineup decisions throughout the year. When his team failed to dispose of a mid-table Trinidadian team in the CONCACAF Champions League, it should have marked an automatic pink slip for Osorio.

It didnt though. Things remained the same and Osorio remained on the sidelines to watch his team lose to Chivas USA, a team that hadnt won in seven matches.

As much as some would like Osorio to be the fall guy, the sole person to blame for this disaster, he isnt. Jeff Agoos has worked hand in hand with Osorio and is just as culpable for the construction of a team that has manage just two wins all year. Agoos has held a front post for three years, after never having held one, and his on-the-job training has produced nothing of consequence. Sources suggest that Agoos tries to hang his hat on the acquisition of Juan Pablo Angel in 2007, but its pretty common knowledge that Bruce Arena was the instrumental figure behind that deal.

The scary part is that it is starting to look like nobody will be fired for this train wreck, at least not until the end of the season, and even then only Osorio looks like a good bet to be let go. Agoos and managing director Erik Stover went to Austria earlier this summer to answer for why things have gotten so bad, and while we dont know how those meetings went, we can assume that neither man is too worried about their future considering both men just took vacations during the worst season in MLS history.

Think about that. Two of the three highest-ranking members of a team ready to post the worst record in the history of Major League Soccer just went on vacation. Think that would happen anywhere else in the world? And think either of them is that worried about their future if they feel comfortable enough to take a break while their team crumbles? You might recall that Osorio canceled a family vacation last season when things were looking bleak. Apparently, Stover and Agoos didnt feel a similar sense of urgency.

Firing the men responsible for this mess isnt just about appeasing fans. Its also about giving the players a chance to prove that they arent as bad as they have looked all season. There is this perception that Osorio has held the team back, and that the talent exists to be miles better than a two-win laughing stock. Th best way to find out if that is true would be to fire Osorio and see how the team responds to a new leader. If the players cant step up and show something more than they have in the first 24 games of the season, then the belief that an almost total purging of the roster is needed after this season is legitimate.

You might think that such an exercise is futile because the team has nothing to play for. That isnt exactly true. The team does have something to play for. It is playing for the chance to prevent being the worst team in league history. That distinction would spell doom for the careers for everyone involved with the organization. Think any team would be rushing to bring in a player or coach from a club that failed so miserably and showed so little heart and ability for a full season?

There is also the matter of who will ultimately replace Osorio. Red Bulls assistant Richie Williams was long regarded as one of the leagues most respected assistants, and a good head coaching candidate, before this season. Rather than take advantage of his presence and handing him the keys to the faltering club, Red Bull has done nothing. While eight games may not be much time, it could be enough time to allow Williams to show the club that he could be a viable replacement. Apparently Red Bull has forgotten that it was Williams who served as a capable interim head coach back in 2006 when the team was starting to look like the disaster it became this year.

There is little doubt that wholesale changes are coming this off-season, with the new Red Bull Arena set to open, but Red Bull ownership is absolutely clueless if it doesnt think there is risk in standing pat and doing nothing for the rest of this season. Doing nothing will further alienate an already fed-up fan base, will further damage the development of the handful of talented young players on the roster, and will ensure that this team will go down as the worst team in the history of MLS.

None of that may matter to Red Bull now, but it will when Red Bull Arena opens next spring and the best stadium in MLS has trouble filling its seats. Come see the worst team ever doesnt quite sound like the marketing campaign you want if youre trying to sell tickets and trying to recoup the cost of a $150 million stadium project.

There is still some time left, time for Red Bull to do something, anything, to salvage something from this season and show its fans that this nightmare season is an aberration and not the unavoidable consequence of having an incompetent ownership group.

CONCACAF Champions League Group Stages kickoff tonight | Soccer By Ives

by TRAVIS CLARK

What will MLS teams be able to accomplish in the second edition of the CONCACAF Champions League? Fans will be able to get their first glimpses this week, as the three teams representing MLS take the field against foreign opposition.

Based on league form, Columbus and Houston seem to have the best shot at getting out of their groups. D.C. United is a bit of an enigma at the moment, and their poor showing at Toronto on Saturday couldnt have done much for their confidence ahead of a difficult road test this evening.Here is a closer look at tonights matchups:

Puerto Rico Islanders at Columbus Crew (8 p.m., FSC)

A tough first match for the Crew in their Champions League debut as the Puerto Rico Islanders visit Columbus. The Islanders did a fantastic job knocking Toronto out in the play-in round, holding onto a 1-0 lead through both legs. Colin Clarke has done a great job with the Islanders, narrowly missing out on a spot in the Champions League finals last season. Theyll likely bunker down and force the Crew to attack from the opening kick. Guillermo Barros Schelotto returned to the pitch last Saturday for just a few minutes, and may see a brief cameo again tonight. Even if he cant go, Columbus has proved that they can succeed without their Argentine playmaker. D.C. United at C.D. Marathon

(10 p.m., FSC)

Things didnt start off well for D.C.s brutal stretch on Saturday, falling to Toronto FC 2-0. They traveled straight to Honduras after the game, and are set to face CD Marathon for the second year in a row. Forgetting last seasons performances is vital for United, as they lost both group games, 4-2 and 2-0 respectively. Fred will be missing due to the red card he picked up at the end of the second leg at Firpo, and Chris Pontius is listed as doubtful. Marathon won their Champions League group last year, though were knocked out in the quarterfinals by the Islanders.

CSD Comunicaciones at Pumas UNAM (10 p.m., Galavision)

Group Ds first match pits a struggling Mexican club against the Guatemalan club CSD Comunicaciones. Pumas have gotten off to an atrocious start to the 2009 Apertura, and have looked poor to boot. Theyve lost all four of their opening games, scoring just one goal while conceding nine. Perhaps its a chance for Comunicaciones to grab a result on the road.

Which game will you watch? What do you think of tonights matches? Can either D.C. or Columbus get the win? Will Pumas atrocious start to the season continue? Share your thoughts below.

Soccer Tuesday: Your Running Commentary | Soccer By Ives

If you were thinking that today would be a quiet day in the soccer world, think again.

From UEFA Champions League qualifiers (like Arsenal-Celtic), to a heavy slate of English Premier League matches (like Chelsea-Sunderland), to CONCACAF Champions League play, there is plenty on the slate today.

If you will be watching todays action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action.

Report: Osorio and Agoos to be let go after season | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIphotos.com

The New York Red Bulls nightmare season is apparently going to lead to some people losing their jobs, but not as quickly as some might have imagined.

Stefon Bondy of The Bergen Record (NJ) is reporting that the Red Bulls have already made the decisionto not retain either head coach Juan Carlos Osorio or technical director Jeff Agoos, and the club is already looking for replacements for both.

They know its important to make this move, but they know the problem isnt just about one or two people, a source told the Record. With the new stadium opening, the team is approaching one of the most critical points in its history.

The story also goes on to suggest that neither Osorio or Agoos is likely to be let go until after the season.

Whats my take? While it is certainly a promising development that the club does plan to make some changes, the idea that Red Bull is considering riding out the remainder of the season with Osorio and Agoos is absolutely mind-boggling.

Why? I laid out my argument for why on Tuesday and nothing has really changed. Allowing Osorio to remain as head coach, and doing nothing to shake up the teams sad state, will all but assure that the club secures the worst record in the history of Major League Soccer.

As for Agoos, my question is why does the team have someone who is essentially a lame-duck still handling player acquisitions?Agoos has spear-headed the teams recent acquisitions of Bouna Coundoul, Leo Krupnick and Walter Garcia. If hes not being brought back, and he isnt being given any substantial duties to handle, why keep him around?

What do you think of this development? Relieved to know that Osorio and Agoos wont have a hand in the 2010 team? Disappointed to hear that both men may stay on through the remainder of the season? Are you still torn about whether to follow the Red Bulls in their new stadium in 2010?

Share your thoughts below.

CONCACAF: Crew dumps Islanders, D.C. United falls | Soccer By Ives

The defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew helped restore some pride to MLS after downing MLS-killers Puerto Rico Islanders, 2-0, in their opening match of the CONCACAF Champions League group stages. Goals from Steve Lenhart and Robbie Rogers provided the difference for the Crew.

D.C. United didnt fare quit as well on Tuesday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to Honduran side CD Marathon. D.C. defender Greg Janicki had a night hell want to forget, while Marathon takes early control of a group that includes Toluca and San Juan Jabloteh.

The Houston Dynamo makes its CCL group stage debut tonight against Isidro Metapan (7pm, FSC).

What did you think of last nights Champions League action? Liking the Crews chances of making a respectable run through the tournament? Starting to wonder if D.C. would have been better off not making the group stages? Think Houston will roll through the group stage?

Share your thoughts below.

Fox Soccer Channel beats out ESPN for rights to UEFA Champions League starting next season | Soccer By Ives

In a move that is sure to rock the American soccer-viewing audience, Fox Soccer Channel has beaten out ESPN for the U.S. broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League. The new agreement will kick in starting with next seasons Champions League Tournament.

The story, first reported by The Unprofessional Foul more than a week ago, was finally confirmed byESPN on Monday,signaling a big blow toESPNs plans to increase the visibility of soccer in its broadcasts.

The victory is a major won for Fox Soccer Channel, which already boasts the English Premier League and Italian Serie A.

The bad news? Far more viewers have ESPN than have Fox Soccer Channel, making it that much tougher for American soccer fans to watch Champions League action. Then there is FSCs lack of an HD option.

What do you think of this news? Happy? Disappointed? Wondering what Champions League matches might be like with Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan calling them?

Share your thoughts below.

Fox’s UEFA Champions League coverage is a big winner | Soccer By Ives

Admit it, you had serious concerns when Fox Sports scored the rights to the UEFA Champions League. Unproven American announcers, no HD and uncertainty about Foxs experience covering club soccers most prestigious event had many American soccer fans wondering if they were necessarily getting an upgrade from ESPN coverage.

Based on the first day, Foxs coverage of the Champions League is a smash hit.

Soccer fans with DirecTV were not only treated to the one Champions League match on Fox Soccer channel, but subscribers to the sports package had access to every game on a variety of channels, and all of the non FSC matches were in HD. There was even a channel with every match on one screen, with a function allowing you to select whichever match you wanted to turn to.

Imagine being able to take your pick from every single Champions League group match? Now throw in the HD, and you have a soccer fans fantasy.

What did you think of the Fox Sports coverage of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday? Excited at the possibility of quality picture and announcers and a full menu of games to choose from?

Share your thoughts below.

Wednesday’s Soccer on TV | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIphotos.com

If you take a look at todays schedule of soccer matches on TV, you might think its the weekend. Unfortunately it isnt, but fortunately for soccer fans, there is a plethora of quality soccer to choose from.

Whether its the quartet of EPL matches, UEFA Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League, a top MLS match-upor the WPS playoffs, there is something for everybody.

If you will be watching any of todays action TV (or the internet), please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (todays schedule of soccer on TV is after the jump):

Wednesdays soccer on TV

2pm- FSC- Lyon vs. Anderlecht (UEFA Champions League)

2:45pm- Setanta USA- Burnley vs. Manchester United

2:45pm- FSE- Panathinaikos vs. Atletico Madrid (UEFA Champions League)

4:45pm- Setanta USA- Hull City vs. Tottenham (tape delay)

5pm- FSC- Panathinaikos vs. Atletico Madrid (UEFA Champions League, tape delay)

7pm- FSC- St. Louis Athletica vs. Sky Blue FC (WPS playoffs)

8pm- Telefutura- Arabe Unido vs. Pachuca (CONCACAF Champions League)

8:15pm- FSE- River Plate vs. Lanus

9pm- FSC- Houston Dynamo vs. Metapan (CONCACAF Champions League, tape delay)

9pm- ESPN- Chicago Fire vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

10pm- Telefutura- Cruz Azul vs. Deportivo Saprissa

Which matches are you most looking forward to watching today? Pumped to see Houston in the CONCACAF Champions League? Will you be watching the WPS playoffs? Think the Fire can top the Beckham-less Galaxy?

Share your thoughts below.