Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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With the start of the European soccer season, Soccercentric is expanding its reach and will proviide occassional updates on soccer around the world. You can also keep up with news, standings and scores by going here.
HEADLINE | The FA Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser in England, was Sunday. This exhibition is played yearly, the Sunday before the Premier League season begins, and is contested between last year's league champions - in this case, Manchester United - and last year's FA Cup winners, in this case Wigan.
Generally, this means that the game is between two powerhouses; the last four years, the game has involved some combination of Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea. And so even though winning the Community Shield means nothing, it has served as preliminary skirmish in the battle for the real prize, the Premier League title.
Wigan's FA Cup victory over Manchester City last May, though, meant that Sunday's game was a little less glamorous. Wigan were the first team in history to win the Cup and be relegated in the same season, making this a matchup of the Egnlish champions and a second-division side. Maybe 5,000 Wigan fans showed up at Wembley Stadium, compared to at least ten times as many United fans, possibly more.
It's no surprise, then, that the Red Devils won rather breezily, 2-0. Robin Van Persie scored in the sixth minute, and in the 59th, and Wigan hardly troubled the ManU goal. Most of the coverage focused on the fact that new United manager David Moyes had not, after all, screwed up in his first game as the replacement for the irreplaceable Sir Alex Ferguson.
There is more ManU drama ahead - striker Wayne Rooney is said to be desperate to move to title rivals Chelsea, and wasn't in the squad on Sunday - but for now, all is calm at Old Trafford.
Note: With the start of league play over the weekend in many of Europe's soccer league, SoccerCentric is branching out to include a roundup of soccer headlines from throughout the world. Bookmark this page for international soccer headlines, scores and standings.
MLS | US national team superstar Clint Dempsey made his debut for Seattle, one week after his surprising move back to America from Tottenham. Dempsey came on in the first half in Toronto, after Obafemi Martins limped off with a calf injury. The Sounders beat Toronto 2-1 and climbed to fifth in the Western Conference standings, and though they're seven points behind Real Salt Lake, Seattle has three games in hand on the Royals. Technically, if the Sounders win their games in hand, they'll climb to first - and no doubt Dempsey will get the credit for the turnaround.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE | The draw for the play-off round of the Champions League, which will determine the final ten teams in the 32-team group stages, was held Friday. Most notably, Arsenal will face Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, and AC Milan will take on PSV Eindhoven. The two-legged playoffs will take place August 20-21 and August 27-28, with all the riches and glory of the group stage on the line.
EUROPE | Half the leagues across the continent kicked off over the weekend - most notably Germany's Bundesliga. Bayern Munich won pretty much everything last year - the league, the cup, the Champions League - and began 2013-2014 by beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1, their first league win under their new coach, former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. Bayern's leading - perhaps only - competition in the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund, also started in style, waxing FC Augsburg 4-0 on the road.
Also, I would be remiss not to mention that Partick Thistle beat Ross County 3-1 in the Scottish league, mostly because I can't help but mention a team as wonderfully-named as Partick Thistle at every opportunity.
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