U.S. and International Soccer Season Review

Mary Naughton, Maroon-News Staff

Soccer leagues all over the world are reaching one of the most exciting points of the season in upcoming weeks. In Europe, the quarterfinals of the Champions League are underway. In the first round, Real Madrid tied Atlético Madrid, Juventus ousted Monaco, Barcelona topped PSG and Bayern defeated Porto. The second leg will be decisive in seeing if last year’s champions, Real Madrid, can maintain the title or if they will fall to their cross-town rivals. Domestically, power rankings in the MLS are shifting constantly, creating an electrifying start to the season.

In the MLS, the New York Red Bulls lead the Eastern Conference, followed by DC United. The Western Conference top spot is currently occupied by the Vancouver Whitecaps, followed by FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy. The top scorer thus far has been Octavio Rivero, who has netted five goals this season. This past weekend saw an addition to record books, as Castillo scored in just 29 seconds, the fastest goal in FC Dallas history. The league record is held by Tim Cahill who scored after just eight seconds in 2013. After week six, the MLS power rankings saw FC Dallas take a tumble after a shocking loss to the Colorado Rapids. The rankings have the Red Bulls first, followed by the Whitecaps then LA Galaxy. However, the season has only begun, and it is only the seventh week of a 23-week season. A lot could happen in the following weeks to create even more havoc in the power rankings.

Internationally, European soccer is shaping up to a climactic end of the season. Continuing its historical pattern, La Liga has become a battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Two points separate the leaders, Barcelona, from Real Madrid. After a shaky start to the season, Barca was able to improve. After scoring unprecedented amounts of goals before the winter break, Madrid became plagued by injury and has suffered recently. Not surprisingly, both teams’ superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, hold the top numbers for goals as well as assists. Ronaldo has netted 39 league goals, and Messi has scored 35. Ronaldo and Messi have scored 14 and 10 more goals, respectively, than any other league’s top scorer. No wonder the two have seven Balón de Oro’s amongst them. By scoring against Malaga this past weekend, Ronaldo became the first ever La Liga player to score 50 goals for his club in five consecutive seasons.

Although the English Premier League (EPL) lacks the presence of Ronaldo and Messi, the league has generated its own status and rising stars this season. Chelsea has maintained a healthy ten-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester United. Sergio Agüero has yet again proven his potency with Manchester City, for he is the league’s top scorer with 20 goals. Harry Kane, of Tottenham Hotspur, is tied with Aguero at 20, and Chelsea’s hot-headed Diego Costa is third on the list.

The French League table has seen some differences from last year. Lyon currently holds the top spot, while Paris Saint-Germain holds the second spot, followed by AS Monaco. Last year’s egotistical scoring machine, Zlatan Ibrahimović, currently holds the third position for scoring while Alexandre Lacazette holds the top position with 25 goals.

The German Bundesliga is led by none other than Bayern Munich. Bayern has won the league the past two years for a total of 23 times. The usual second-place competition, Borussia Dortmund, has slid to ninth place after a disastrous season. Vfl Wolfsburg currently hold the second ranking. Alexander Meier of Eintracht Frankfurt has outscored the big names of Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski to hold the top scoring position thus far.

Serie A of Italy is currently led by the powerhouse team of Juventus, who have captured the league’s title 30 times and have been runners up 21 times. They lead the table by an impressive 15 points. Lazio currently holds second place. Carlos Tevez of Argentina, arguably the most valuable player in Italy, leads the scoring ranking with 19 goals.

However, no season review would be complete without an update of summer transfer rumors. The biggest possible move might involve Isco of Real Madrid. Arsenal and Manchester City have shown interest in the talented attacking midfielder. However, the question remains if Isco will leave, for Madridistas love the bull-legged attacker and he is seeing more playing time than his competitor, Karim Benzema. Chelsea’s young talent Oscar is also getting interest from other teams, especially Juventus. The youngster recently commented he is very happy in England, squashing transfer rumors for the moment.

All soccer leagues around the world are producing exciting seasons filled with classic rivalries and possible new teams to take the thrones. Only time will tell if the major clubs will be able to maintain their dominance against an array of impressive teams chasing them rampantly.