• The American soccer world was saddened by the death of Sigi Schmid on Christmas Day at age 65. Schmid coached UCLA for nearly two decades, then moved on to MLS, coaching for Los Angeles, Columbus and Seattle. His teams won the MLS Cup twice and the Supporters’ Shield three times. His squads also won five U.S. Open Cups, making him one of the most decorated managers in American soccer history.
• In a different sort of sad, Serie A chose to play games the day after Christmas hoping to attract more attention for the Italian league. The marquee game of the day between Inter Milan and Napoli proved to be a disastrous black eye for the country. A group of Inter “ultras” ambushed Napoli fans outside the stadium. In the ensuing melee, a fan was run over and killed. Inside the stadium, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was racially abused for the entire game by Inter’s fans. Inter is being punished by playing its next two home games without fans in the stadium.
• The saga of Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors captivated the soccer world, and now two of the major figures in that long-delayed Copa Libertadores final are headed for the United States and MLS. River Plate midfielder Pity Martinez is (likely) headed for Atlanta. Boca Juniors coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto will manage the Los Angeles Galaxy.