AGUDELO RETURNS TO MLS

New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo (10) and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler, back, vie for a head ball during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match in Kansas City, Kan., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.
Associated Press / Orlin Wagner, File

After one year in the wilderness, U.S. national team forward and New Jersey native, Juan Agudelo, is returning to his old team the New England Revolution in MLS. The forward left the Revs after the 2013 season for chance to play in the English Premier League, which turned out to be futile.

“I’m bummed out that it didn’t work out,” Agudelo said of the Stoke City situation. “But everyone moves forward, and I’m really excited to come back to a team that I’m familiar with. It feels like I never left.”

Agudelo encountered problems in getting a work permit to play in Europe and spent the last year just training and hoping for good news that never came. New England retained his rights and after watching his former teammates battle in the 2014 MLS Cup lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy, he wanted to come home. In the past two months, the forward made contact with the Revs.

“December through January we started to have more dialogue,” said Jay Heaps, the Revs coach. “I think Juan realized there was a really good opportunity here not only to come back to somewhere he was familiar, but also to come back and get really good playing time with good players around him.

“When he’s at his best and he’s playing well, he should be in that national team camp. He should be looked at as a forward that Jurgen [Klinsmann, U.S. national team head coach] is looking at.”

“It’s not a bad team to come back to,” he said. “They got so far last year and just came up a tiny bit short. I’m just hoping that I can help the team anyway that I can to finish it off.”

U.S. women prepare

The U.S. women’s national team is starting its preparation for next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in June in cities throughout Canada with a two week tour of Europe. The tour involves two games and daily training, with the first game on Sunday, Feb. 8, versus France in Lorient and the second against England five days later in Milton Keynes. The USA has never lost to France (14-2-0) in 16 games and is also unbeaten against England with seven wins in 11 matches.

The Americans are in a difficult World Cup group which includes Nigeria, Sweden and Australia. U.S. forward Alex Morgan returns from injury, veteran midfielder Shannon Boxx has been recalled and forward Amy Rodriguez also recently returned to the team after a maternity hiatus.

Barbados, Guyana draw

World Cup qualifying preparations for the in the Caribbean region is heating up and Barbados and Guyana wasted no time in getting their teams ready. Last Sunday night, the two met in an international friendly in Bridgetown, Barbados and played to a 2-2 draw in what was reported as a very exciting game.

Qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup in Russia get under way in earnest next month for the lower ranked teams, but Guyana and Barbados kick off their campaigns later in June.

Four goals were scored in the first half as the teams battled for a win the rest of the way. After 33 minutes, the home team found itself trailing by two goals. Sheldon Holder put Guyana ahead in the 12th minute; he dribbled past on the right wing beat goalkeeper Dario Weir with a shot from close range. Emery Welshman made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute with a shot from 20 yards.

With their backs to the wall, the Bajans roared back just minutes after Welshman’s score; Jomo Harris volleyed a shot form just outside the 18 yard box to pull the hosts within a goal, then Barbados captain Mario Harte tied the game with his first international goals when he sent a low shot that beat Guyana goalkeeper Akel Clarke.

US backs FIFA executive

FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan said that the United States Soccer Federation is one of six national associations to nominate him for May’s FIFA presidential election.

At a news conference in London to launch his campaign to be the next FIFA president, the vice president talked about a “culture of intimidation” that haunts FIFA, world soccer’s governing body; he also stated that he is also supported in his bid to be the top man in world soccer by his home federation, Belarus, Malta, England and Georgia.

Ali bin al-Hussein and other candidates bidding to unseat current FIFA president Sepp Blatter will have a very difficult time; Blatter is running for a fifth consecutive term, and, reportedly, is supported by Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania confederations.

United States’ Alex Morgan, left, controls the ball against Guatemala’s Coralia Monterroso during the first half of a CONCACAF Women’s Championship soccer game Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, in Bridgeview, Ill.
Associated Press / Nam Y. Huh

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