One of the most anticipated derby matches of all lived up to its expectations today with a match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. With stars returning from injury to make the match including Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid. Barcelona saw starters Eric Abidal and Lionel Messi return, as well as Yaya Toure and Zlatan Ibrahimovic made appearances from the bench. Cristiano would have the best chance for Real to get ahead midway through the second half when he struck the ball first time with only the keeper to beat. Victor Valdes would make a great save on the play as Ronaldo struck the ball directly at him allowing for a brilliant foot save. Zlatan would make the largest impact on the match with his goal in the early running of the second half, just five minutes after being subbed on for Henry. More drama was introduced into the match as Sergio Busquets for Barcelona was sent off in the 63rd minute leaving Barcelona a man down with nearly a half hour left in the match. Despite the disadvantage Barcelona would give away nothing to Real, and even kept their edge in possession. Messi would miss a chance to put Barca ahead by two scores from a chance he had one on one with Casillas, but would fire directly at the goalkeeper. In the closing moments of the match the playing field would be leveled as Diarra was sent off for Real with his second yellow card. Ibrahimovic's goal would prove to be all Barca needed to finish off Madrid as 'El Clasico' came to a close. With the victory Barcelona reclaimed the top spot in the Spanish League moving two points above Real Madrid.
Real Salt Lake shocked the U.S. soccer world with their upset over the highly favored LA Galaxy. In the early running of the match it appeared that the Galaxy would run away with the game after one of Salt Lake's better midfielders, Morales, had to leave the game due to injury. Then in the Galaxy would take the lead minutes before the half after some brilliant play from Donovan and Beckham.
At the start of the second half, another one of Salt Lake's key players was forced to leave the field due to sickness. Johnson had been ill from food poisoning that he had caught just the night before the match. But it was truely a tale of two halves, as in the second it was all Salt Lake with the possession and momentum. This would result in an equalizer for Salt Lake midway through the second half by former LA Galaxy striker Findley from a scramble play in LA's 18 yard box. Soon after LA's star keeper was injured in a collision with Findley and his own player Gonzalez that would force him out of the game with massive swelling to his right hand.
Living up to all the drama that is to be expected in a championship final, the game was forced into overtime. Chances would come and go for both teams, with an extremely close chance for Salt Lake in the closing moments of the second overtime, but in the end it would be penalty kicks to decide the match. Both keepers would make key saves in the high pressure situation, with a particularly amazing save from LA's backup keeper to keep them alive in the match after an unexpected Donovan miss. It would be Salt Lake, however to come out on top with a 5-4 advantage in penalties, leaving them the Cup Champions. A true Cinderella story come true for the team and their Coach who has become the youngest Coach to ever win an MLS Cup.
With all of the international matches that took place yesterday, the final 6 countries have been added to round out the 32 that will be playing in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Many of the games following through with the drama that is to be expected in the knock out stages of the qualifying rounds. It came down to being an evening of the predicted teams edging out the underdog squads who gave them a run for their money. Two of the biggest games where between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal, and France against the Republic of Ireland. Both games where settled with a single goal in the early stages of the second half. Thus advancing both France and Portugal to South Africa in 2010.
Now that all the teams are set, all eyes are on the World Cup draw on Friday which would decide the groups for the initial stages of the Cup. As always, it will be very high tension as teams will soon know just who lies in their path to the round of 16 tournament over the summer.
Last Thursday a soldier opened fire on Ft. Hood in Texas outside of a processing center, killing 12 and wounding 30 before he was killed by emergency personnel. Eleven of those killed were soldiers and the remaining one was a civilian contractor working on the base. The shooter, identified as Maj. Nidal Hasan is believed to have been upset about being scheduled to be deployed to Iraq, however much more investigations are being done to determine his motive. Also, it is believed that there may have been more than one shooter in the incident. However the primary shooter was seen carrying two weapons, both handguns. Fort Hood and its approximate 40,000 troops is the largest Army installation in the U.S. As of now the base is officially closed and an order has been passed to execute 100 percent accountability for all personnel.