[THIS WEEK IN SOCCER: March 3-9]Despite the latest turn of events in Ukraine, where Russian troops have occupied the Crimean peninsula, the Ukraine-USA friendly (without MLS players except Clint Dempsey) is still scheduled to go forward in Larnaca, Cyprus, on Wednesday. Three days later, Major League Soccergets right into its 19th season with two must-watch games: Seattle-Sporting Kansas City and LA Galaxy-Real Salt Lake.
MONDAY, March 3:
MLS's Jersey Week kicks off as Chivas USA, Houston, the LA Galaxy, Portland and Seattle will host events where they will unveil a new primary, secondary or third jersey. This year’s theme: “Soccer, Made in North America."
TUESDAY, March 4:
Theid2 National Selection International Tour of Italy begins in Florence against the youth academy squad of Fiorentina and will continue with matches against Inter Milan and Juventus teams later in the week. Tony Meola is traveling with the U-14s on the tour that has generated lots of attention from scouts. Last year's team featured Jonathan Gonzalez, who has signed with Monterrey in Mexico, and Edwin Lara and Nick Taitague, who are playing up with the highly rated U.S. U-17s.
-- Not a new day goes by without a new turn in the Ukrainian crisis that has hung over the Ukraine-USA friendly for weeks. For the previous two weeks, it was whether to hold the game in Kharkiv or move it to a neutral site in light of the violent response by police to protests in Kiev. Now, it's escalated to a Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula. The friendly with a reduced U.S. squad is still scheduled to go forward in Larnaca, Cyprus (live on ESPN2, WatchESPN and UniMas at 2 pm ET).
-- World Cup tuneups on the last fixture day before teams must submit their initial rosters to FIFA include Spain-Italy in Madrid, France-Netherlands at the Stade de France, Germany-Chile in Stuttgart and Mexico-Nigeria in Atlanta.
-- The Algarve Cup begins in southern Portugal with a huge women's match: USA-Japan. It was two years ago to the day that the Americans lost their last game. They'll carry a 42-game unbeaten streak into the game that follows with a match against Sweden Friday and the final group match against Denmark three days after that.
SATURDAY, March 8
Major League Soccergets right into its 19th season with seven games (schedule). The two must-watch games will be Seattle-Sporting Kansas City on NBCSN and LA Galaxy-Real Salt Lake. One game on Sunday -- Chivas USA-Chicago on UniMas -- concludes Week 1. The San Jose-Colorado opener was postponed because of the Quakes' quarterfinal match in the Concacaf Champions League on March 11.
Arsenal-Everton kicks off an English FA Cup quarterfinal lineupthat continues on Sunday with Sheffield United-Charlton Athletic (meeting of two lower division clubs), Hull City-Sunderland (Jozy Altidore against his former team) and Manchester City-Wigan Athletic (rematch of the 2013 final won by the Latics, now in the League Championship).