College Top 25: Duke ousted, Charlotte climbing and more | Soccer By Ives

By JOHN BOSCHINI

Its more of the same at the top of the table this week as the top four schools in the NSCAA poll, Akron, Louisville, Maryland and North Carolina, stayed in the same position as last week. Southern Methodist moved up one spot to round out the Top 5, bumping Connecticut down to No. 6. The Zips again receivedall 23 first-place votes.

Buters perfect record may be a thing of the past, but the Bulldogs retained some respect, dropping only one spot to No. 8. Virginia dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time this season, landing at No. 11.

Charlotte continue to climb up the rankings, rising from unranked two weeks ago to No. 16. Michigan State is headed in the opposite direction, dropping seven spots to No. 23.

Dukes freefall continues as the Blue Devils drop out of the rankings for the first time this season. They are joined on the outside looking in by South Carolina and Ohio State. Indiana, UC Santa Barbara and William Mary broke into the rankings at No. 25, No. 19 and No. 17, respectively.

The full NSCAA poll is after the jump:

1. Akron (23) 575 (11-0-1)2. Louisville 547 (10-0-2)3. Maryland 527 ( 11-2-1)4. North Carolina 506 (11-2-1)5. Southern Methodist 475 (13-1-0)6. Connecticut 454 (10-1-4)7. UC Irvine 435 (12-1-2)8. Butler 402 (13-0-1)9. Creighton 387 (11-2-1)10. California 352 (9-2-3)11. Virginia 346 (9-2-3)12. Monmouth 314 (10-1-2)13. Brown 275 (8-1-3)14. Pennsylvania 267 (11-2-0)15. UCLA 244 (10-4-0)16. Charlotte 175 (10-4-0)17. William Mary 166 (11-2-1)18. Boston College 144 (7-2-5)19. UC Santa Barbara 132 (10-3-2)20. Princeton 131 (10-3-1)21. Loyola Marymount 113 (9-3-2)22. Tulsa 103 (8-4-1)23. Michigan State 75 (11-4-0)24. South Florida 72 (8-3-4)25. Indiana 69 (8-4-2)Also receiving votes: Central Florida 56, Georgetown 29, Duke 19, Notre Dame 11, South Carolina 9, College of Charleston 9, Colgate 4, UAB 4, Florida Gulf Coast 3, Penn State 3, Loyola (MD) 1, San Diego State 1

Henry “probably out” for playoff opener | Soccer By Ives

By ADAM SERRANO

The New York Red Bulls are likely to begin the 2010 playoffs without the services of their star striker, Thierry Henry.

Head coach Hans Backe told reporters on Tuesday that Henry is probably out for Saturdays playoff opener against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Designated Player trained on Tuesday, but he was reportedly experiencing too much discomfort to feature in Saturdays match. Henry has missed the last two matches for the Red Bulls with a knee strain.

Backe also said that he is optimistic that there is a possibility that Henry will play in Thursdays second leg at Red Bull Arena.

Starting to doubt if Henry will return at all in the playoffs? With Henry out, can you see the Earthquakes pulling off the upset?

Share your thoughts below.

MLS teams preparing for 2011 preseason in Arizona | Soccer By Ives

By JOSE M. ROMERO

On the pitch, the Seattle Sounders are focused on their opening-round playoff series that begins this weekend against the L.A. Galaxy.

Off the field, the team is firming up plans for a return to Casa Grande, Ariz., in winter 2011 for preseason camp.

Sources close to the team and and Grande Sports World, the soccer complex in Casa Grande about an hours drive south of Phoenix, said the Sounders are set for a return to the eight-field, 45-acre facility. Discussions are ongoing and nothing has been made official, but the first team to arrive at Grande Sports World is likely to be Real Salt Lake in late January. RSL was scheduled first because it has CONCACAF Champions League matches in February.

The Sounders and expansion Vancouver Whitecaps are scheduled for early February arrivals, followed by the expansion Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls, and possibly one or two more teams.

RSL, Seattle and Vancouver spent time atGrande Sports Worldlast offseason. So did the Colorado Rapids and Galaxy. Additionally, the Kansas City Wizards, who trained in Arizona last winter, are set for a return trip, this time to Surprise, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb that is also home to the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball.

Reach 11, a complex of fields in North Phoenix, also figures to host MLS teams. The Columbus Crew, Chivas USA, Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes rounded out the list of teams to spend time in the desert last offseason, and matches and training were held at Phoenixs Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University in Tempe.

The Valley of the Sun is already home to many baseball teams spring training; now it is a legitimate destination for MLS clubs seeking good weather and dry fields year in and year out.

Chicharito’s dream Manchester start continues with latest game-winner | Soccer By Ives

For those who thought it would take at least a few months, if not a season or two, before Javier Hernandez made in impact at Manchester United, guess again.

The Mexican striker added another chapter to his dream start in England, scoring the game-winning goal in the 90th minute of Tuesdays Carling Cup victory over Wolverhampton.

In addition to scoring for the Red Devils in the MLS All-Star game and in the Community Shield win over Chelsea, Hernandez has three Premier League goals, a game-winning UEFA Champions League goal and now a game-winning Carling Cup goal in just 12 overall appearances mostly off the bench with his new team.

Video of Tuesdays match-winner is after the jump:

http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=106906277,t=1,mt=video

What did you think of Chicharitos goal? Are you surprised that he is contributing so much so soon into his career with Manchester United? Do you see his hot start continuing throughout the season?

Share your thoughts below.

How would you like the MLS playoffs to be set up? | Soccer By Ives

Photo by ISIphotos.com

As the Major League Soccer postseason nears, much is still being made about the playoff set-up.

Why should the Supporters Shield winner be forced to play a team like Seattle when two other teams finished with fewer points? Why does Real Salt Lake, who finished in second, have to play the team with the fifth-most points in the league?

Nows your chance to have a say. Cast your vote here:

poll by twiigs.com

How did you vote? What, if anything, do you think should be changed?

Share your thoughts below.

MLS Playoff Ticker: Shea to the bench, Crew inks backup keeper and more | Soccer By Ives

Photo by Nick Turchiaro/ISIphotos.com

Brek Shea spent the bulk of the 2010 Major League Soccer season breaking out as a major contributor to the FC Dallas attack. His play was so solid that it even earned him a call-up for the United States friendly against Colombia earlier this month.

It appears as if hell be starting the MLS playoffs on the bench.

Schellas Hyndman is reportedly going to start Marvin Chavez on the left wing and keep Shea as an option off the bench in FCDs playoff opener against Real Salt Lake. Shea hasnt started since Sept. 16, when he was sent off for a harsh challenge in Dallas draw with the New York Red Bulls. He had five goals and four assists on the year.

Here are a couple of more notes regarding MLS playoff teams:

CREW SIGNS HARRISON

With the season-ending injury to Will Hesmer, the Columbus Crew is a bit shorthanded at goalkeeper. Backup Andy Gruenebaum will be getting the start for Robert Warychas side in Hesmers stead, but that didnt stop the team from signing an emergency backup to a short-term contract.

Columbus signed Chase Harrison, who spent the last month of the season as a backup with D.C. United but did not see any game time. Harrison, a lower-division journeyman throughout his professional career, played for the Richmond Kickers and Crystal Palace Baltimore this season.

JOHNSON STRAINS HAMSTRING

Real Salt Lakes Will Johnson, one of the more under-the-radar midfielders in MLS, strained his hamstring in training on Tuesday and, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, coach Jason Kreis said that Johnson is day-to-day as to whether hell be available for this weekend.

COLORADO ATHLETES RALLY AROUND RAPIDS

A number of professional athletes in Colorado were featured in a video to rally around the Rapids ahead of their playoff opener against Columbus.

The Denver Nuggets Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Nene and Denver Broncos rookie Tim Tebow were among the many that vocalized their support of the team. Take a look at the video:

Do you think Shea should be starting for FCD, or is Hyndman doing the right thing? Do you see goalkeeping as a major problem for the Crew against the Rapids? Do you think losing Johnson would be a big loss for RSL? Happy to see the MLS playoffs drumming up some buzz in Colorado?

Share your thoughts below.

Altidore featured in La Liga interview | Soccer By Ives

United States mens national team striker Jozy Altidore should be in action later Wednesday afternoon when Villarreal takes on Club Polideportivo Ejido in a Copa del Rey match. Altidore was recently featured in a La Liga interview, where he touched on topics such as the growth of soccer in the United States, the quality of Spains top flight, Villarreals depth of forwards and his connection to family in Haiti. Give it a look: