12/06/21 MLS Finals Sat 3 pm ABC Portland vs NYCFC, UCL Tues/Wed, US Men tix for Columbus Jan 27 on Sale  

Tix on Sale for US Men to Play in Columbus Thur Jan 27 7 pm vs El Salvador Anyone interested in roadtripping? If so reach-out  — I think I can get American Outlaw tickets (up to 4) around $75-$80 each.  

MLS Cup Finals – Portland Timbers vs NYCFC – 3 pm on ABC

I gotta chance to watch both MLS Conference Finals this weekend – and wow is Portland a hotbed of Soccer.  The Portland Timbers are headed to their 4th MLS Cup and for the first time ever THEY ARE HOSTING on Saturday at 3 pm.  The Timbers Army is one of the best supporters sections in the US and rivals those in England and Europe for rowdiness.  From the Tifos, to the inventive chants to the wonder of Timber Joey cutting a log with a 4 foot Chainsaw after every goal  – Portland’s Providence Park is Special.  A TV audience of millions will be in for a real treat this Saturday – be sure to add it to your Saturday plans!!  All About the Victory Log

Great crowds were on hand for both Conference Final games – Portland’s Timber Army was in rare form as 25K were on hand for Portland’s solid 2-0 victory over the Cinderella Real Salt Lake.  Highlights Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake

Philly’s 20K park was full to the brim and the Sons of Ben (supporter’s section) sounded much louder than just 20K.  While the atmosphere was great the youngster of Philly gave NYCFC all they could handle for 80 minutes before finally falling 3-1.  Philly was missing 11 players (6 starters) due to Covid protical which just left them too undermaned.   Highlights Philly Union vs  NYCFC

Champions League Group Stage Final Round – Barca, AC Milan, Atletico could be out? 

Several of Europe’s biggest teams are staring at early exits UEFA Champions League as the final round of the group stage kicks off to headline this weekend’s Soccer on TV and Online.  Barcelona, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid are some of the teams still fighting for knockout round survival heading into the final group matches. Group B has been locked up by Liverpool, leaving Atlético Madrid, AC Milan, and Porto to decide who will join them. As things stand, Porto controls its own with a win over Atlético Madrid. It might feel like a stretch, but the Portuguese powerhouse held Atlético scoreless in the September matchup and has a reputation to protect after making it to last year’s quarterfinal round.AC Milan has to find some sort of magic trick to hand Liverpool its first loss in UCL play this year, but if it can, the possibility is there to move up to second and secure the chance to fight another day in the knockout round if Porto can’t take care of business.Wednesday’s Bayern Munich – Barcelona matchup is a hard one to gloss over, and the stakes are high. Barca hasn’t exactly struck fear into the world’s elite this year, and you probably wouldn’t want to bet on them beating the German giant, but it could spell the end of their UCL campaign if they don’t. A loss plus Benfica win (which is likely) over Dynamo Kyiv will render Barcelona Europa league contestants for the first time ever.Here is a look at This Week’s Top 5 Matches to Watch, as well as a full rundown of This Week’s Soccer on TV and Online:

This Week’s Top 5 Matches to Watch

1. Bayern Munich vs Barcelona – Barcelona is effectively eliminated if it can’t pull off an upset.

2. AC Milan vs Liverpool – Milan needs a lot of help to avoid heading to the Europa ranks, but crazier things have happened. Can they muster up an upset in an effort to control what they can?

3. Wolfsburg vs. Lille – John Brooks and Tim Weah are both vying for a place in the knockout rounds, but only one of the USMNT teammates will go through, and this one will decide which makes it.
4. Mexico vs Chile – Back-to-back losses in World Cup Qualifying have El Tri looking out of order. Can Mexico course correct with something better against a respectable CONMEBOL opponent?

5. Napoli vs Leicester City – The Europa League isn’t what either team would like to be battling in, but from the neutral point of view, this is a fun matchup that should serve as a good test for both teams. Who comes out on top?

Indy 11 Goalkeeper’s Run Ends

Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr excelled in the playoffs for San Antonio and is up for Save of the Playoffs for USL – vote here !!!  Hopefully some MLS teams are taking note as it appears Jordan has not been invited to return to the Indy 11.  I have NOTHING GOOD to say about that. 

BIG GAMES TO WATCH

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tuesday, Dec 7

UEFA Champions League

12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –      PSG vs Club Brugge
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, Galavision –          RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Manchester City (Steffan)
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –           AC Milan vs Liverpool
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Ajax vs Sporting CP
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Porto vs Atlético Madrid
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sheriff
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –             Real Madrid vs Inter Milan
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Borussia Dortmund vs Beşiktaş

Wednesday, Dec 8

UEFA Champions League

12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –      Zenit vs Chelsea (Pulisic)
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, Galavision –          Juventus vs Malmö FF
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Lille (Weah)
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Salzburg (Aaron) vs Sevilla
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Atalanta vs Villarreal
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –             Bayern Munich vs Barcelona (Dest)
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Manchester United vs Young Boys (Pfuk)

9 p.m. –TUDN USA, TUDN.com –               Mexico vs Chile

Thursday, Dec 9

UEFA Europa League

12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, Galavision –          Real Sociedad vs PSV
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –        Sturm Graz vs Monaco
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –   Napoli vs Leicester City
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –        Antwerp vs Olympiakos Piraeus
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –        Olympique Lyonnais vs Rangers
12:45 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –        Fenerbahçe vs Eintracht Frankfurt
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Genk vs Rapid Wien
3 p.m. – Paramount+, Galavision –                 Celtic vs Real Betis
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN USA –             Lazio vs Galatasaray (Yedlin)
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Ferencváros vs Bayer Leverkusen
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –           West Ham United vs Dinamo Zagreb
3 p.m. – Paramount+, TUDN.com –               Olympique Marseille vs Lokomotiv Moskva

Sat, Dec 11 

7:30 am NBCSN           Man City vs Wolverhampton

9:30 am ESPN+             RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Mgladbach (Joe Scar?)   

10 USA                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leeds  

10 am NBCSN??           Liverpool vs Aston Villa

12:30 NBC                    Norwich (Stewart) vs Man United  

12:30 ESPN+                 Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Stutgart

3 pm ABC                     Portland Timbers vs NYCFC MLS Finals 

Sun,  Dec 12

9 am NBCSN                      Brighton vs Tottenham  

10:15 am ESPN+                Osasuna vs Barcelona (Dest)

11:30 NBCSN                      Crystal Palace vs Everton

11:30 ESPN+                       Frankfort vs Leverkusen

2:45 pm CBSSN                  Inter vs Caglairi                    

3 pm ESPN+                     Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Please Consider the Carmel Dads’ Club Annual Fund This Holiday Season

Champions League

Barca, Atletico in danger of Champions League exit
Atletico troubles bring fresh scrutiny on Simeone ahead of Porto decider

Ancelotti: Madrid as good as Man City, Bayern
Klopp ‘must’ rotate for Champions League trip to Milan

MLS Super Cup Finals

MLS analysis: Portland downs RSL convincingly, NYCFC slips past undermanned Union  ASN Brian Sciaretta
New York City beats Covid-hit Union to reach MLS Cup final

 Portland Timbers’ MLS dream becomes a reality  ESPN FC Kyle Bonagura 
Portland beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 to reach MLS Cup final

NYCFC’s depth outlasts COVID-stricken Philly ESPN FC Jeff Carlisle

Charra part of the heart and Soul of Portland

Bob Bradley looks to Turn things Around in Toronto  

EPL

Report: USMNT, MLS legend Chris Armas set to join Manchester United coaching staff
Ralf Rangnick on Ronaldo’s work rate, Manchester United press in win

Tuchel questions Chelsea focus after shock defeat at West Ham

USA / World

 Berhalter’s 26-player December camp roster mixes veterans and youth  ASN Brian Sciaretta

Marsch out at Leipzig as most Americans struggle throughout Europe  ASN

Leipzig bring down the curtain on Marsch’s unhappy tenure
Jesse Marsch out as RB Leipzig coach after five months

Lewandowski nets double as Bayern down Dortmund to go four points clear

Barca, Atletico in danger of Champions League exit

Martyn WOOD  Sun, December 5, 2021, 10:59 PM·4 min readXavi Hernandez faces his first critical test as Barcelona coach with the club at risk of failing to make the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in two decades.A goalless draw at home to Benfica last month left Barca with their destiny in their own hands, but with a much trickier final game away to Group E winners Bayern Munich.Spanish champions Atletico Madrid have their work cut to secure one of the five unclaimed last-16 tickets after three defeats on the spin, while all four teams remain in the hunt in an unpredictable Group G.

AFP Sport looks at what’s at stake going into the final round of Champions League group games:

Ballon d’Or backlash from Bayern?

Barca find themselves on the ropes ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Germany, but it could have been far worse were it not for Benfica forward Haris Seferovic’s glaring miss in stoppage time at Camp Nou.

Bayern are one of three teams with a perfect record in this season’s competition, and Robert Lewandowski’s perceived Ballon d’Or snub may give the star striker extra incentive to prove a point.

Xavi suffered his first defeat as Barca coach on Saturday against Real Betis. He rested key players with a view to the game in Munich, where victory would guarantee Barca go through as runners-up in Group E, extending their 20-year run of reaching the knockout phase.A youthful Xavi was establishing himself as a mainstay of the midfield when Barca exited in the first group stage of the 2000-01 competition.  Failure to secure maximum points would open the door for Benfica to pip them to second place, with the Portuguese needing to beat Dynamo Kiev in Lisbon.

Three-horse race and four-way showdown

Porto, AC Milan and Atletico will battle it out for the second qualification spot behind Liverpool in Group B.

Two-time former European champions Porto hold a one-point edge over both rivals ahead of the visit of Atletico. Milan host a Liverpool side that Jurgen Klopp could rotate heavily ahead of a busy festive schedule.

Last season’s Europa League winners Villarreal, beaten at home by two late Manchester United goals on matchday five, go to Atalanta knowing they will advance at the expense of the Italians if they avoid defeat in Bergamo.

Austrian champions Salzburg appeared to be coasting through after accruing seven points in three games, but back-to-back away losses mean they could still miss out. Salzburg can seal a knockout berth with a draw at home to Sevilla, who in turn would qualify if they win.

Lille top Group G with eight points and will progress if they get a point at Wolfsburg. The Germans are last in the section but victory would send them through instead. 

Already in the last-16 pot

Eleven clubs are assured of their place in the last-16 draw on December 13, five of which have already clinched top spot. Erik ten Hag’s impressive Ajax will attempt to complete a perfect group stage for the first time in club history at home to Sporting, certain of second above Borussia Dortmund irrespective of Tuesday’s results.

Manchester City cannot be caught by Paris Saint-Germain in Group A, while Real Madrid have a two-point lead over Inter Milan in Group D ahead of their Bernabeu showdown.

Holders Chelsea, who go to Zenit Saint Petersburg for their final Group H game, will nail down top spot if they match Juventus’ result at home to Swedish outfit Malmo.

Ralf Rangnick made a winning start to his spell as United’s interim manager and is safe in the knowledge his team will move on as winners of Group F come what may against Switzerland’s Young Boys.

Europa League consolation

All third-placed clubs will drop into the Europa League, but a revised format now sees them face the group runner-ups from the second-tier tournament in a play-off round before the last 16. Sheriff Tiraspol, losers of three straight games after shocking Real in September, will continue their European adventure in the Europa League, as will Dortmund and Zenit.  RB Leipzig look favourites to finish third behind City and PSG despite parting ways with coach Jesse Marsch. The Germans are level on points with Club Brugge but have the head-to-head advantage prior to their home game with Pep Guardiola’s side.

MLS Cup Playoffs 2021: Saturday Dec. 11: Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC, 3 p.m. ET (ABC, UniMás)

USA TODAY  Sun, December 5, 2021, 8:10 PM· The matchup for the 2021 MLS Cup is set.  The Portland Timbers – winners of the Western Conference – will host New York City FC – winners of the Eastern Conference – at Providence Park on Saturday, Dec. 11 (3 p.m. ET, ABC). For Portland, this is the club’s third MLS Cup, winning the league title in 2015. NYCFC, meanwhile, is making its first appearance in the championship game.  MLS CUP: Ranking every Major League Soccer championship game

Here is the 2021 MLS playoff schedule with dates, times and television information. Live streams for ABC/ESPN games available on Watch ESPN; FOX games on FOX Sports Live. Games also available to be live streamed on fuboTV.

MLS CUP

  • Dec. 11: Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC, 3 p.m. ET (ABC, UniMás)

CONFERENCE FINALS

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

ROUND 1

Which teams have won MLS Cup?

2020: Columbus Crew over Seattle Sounders (Mapfre Stadium), 3-0

2019: Seattle Sounders FC over Toronto FC (CenturyLink Field), 3-1

2018: Atlanta United over Portland Timbers (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), 2-0

2017: Toronto FC over Seattle Sounders FC (BMO Field), 2-0

2016: Seattle Sounders FC over Toronto FC (BMO Field), 0-0 (Sounders won penalty shootout, 5-4)

2015: Portland Timbers over Columbus Crew (Mapfre Stadium), 2-1

2014: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (StubHub Center), 2-1 (extra time)

2013: Sporting Kansas City over Real Salt Lake (Sporting Park), 1-1 (SKC won penalty shootout, 7-6)

2012: Los Angeles Galaxy over Houston Dynamo (Home Depot Center), 3-1

2011: Los Angeles Galaxy over Houston Dynamo (Home Depot Center), 1-0

2010: Colorado Rapids over FC Dallas (BMO Field), 2-1 (extra time)

2009: Real Salt Lake over Los Angeles Galaxy (Qwest Field), 1-1 (RSL won penalty shootout, 5-4)

2008: Columbus Crew over New York Red Bulls (Home Depot Center), 3-1

2007: Houston Dynamo over New England Revolution (RFK Stadium), 2-1

2006: Houston Dynamo over New England Revolution (Pizza Hut Park), 1-1 (Dynamo won penalty shootout, 4-3)

2005: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (Pizza Hut Park), 1-0 (extra time)

2004: D.C. United over Kansas City Wizards (Home Depot Center), 3-2

2003: San Jose Earthquakes over Chicago Fire (Home Depot Center), 4-2

2002: Los Angeles Galaxy over New England Revolution (Gillette Stadium), 1-0 (extra time)

2001: San Jose Earthquakes over Los Angeles Galaxy (Crew Stadium), 2-1 (extra time)

2000: Kansas City Wizards over Chicago Fire (RFK Stadium), 1-0

1999: D.C. United over Los Angeles Galaxy (Foxboro Stadium), 2-0

1998: Chicago Fire over D.C. United (Rose Bowl), 2-0

1997: D.C. United over Colorado Rapids (RFK Stadium), 2-1

1996: D.C. United over Los Angeles Galaxy (Foxboro Stadium), 3-2 (extra time)

Portland Timbers’ Major League Soccer dream becomes a reality

Dec 5, 2021  Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

Portland Timbers midfielder Santiago Moreno settled the ball with his chest and turned centrally. He had received the pass near midfield and suddenly found himself in acres of space with teammates flanking him on both sides. He drove toward the penalty box and when the defenders didn’t close out, he released a shot from just beyond the penalty arc.

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa has his post covered, but Moreno’s shot ricocheted off the post, into Ochoa and back into the net. “What a perfect moment to score his first goal,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said.The strike put Portland up 2-0 in the 61st minute and, with the way Savarese’s side had been playing, it might as well have been lights out. The Timbers still had to see out the match, but it was at that moment when the raucous crowd at Providence Park could start to taste it: The Timbers were going to MLS Cup. Half an hour later it was official.And not only that, by virtue of their regular season points total, the Timbers will host whoever comes out of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Union or New York City FC.Reaching MLS Cup isn’t new territory for the Timbers — they won it in 2015 and were runners up in 2018 — but Saturday’s return trip will be the first time they will play host to Major League Soccer’s grandest stage.For Savarese, that has been the dream since he started managing the team in 2017.”The dream became a reality,” he said. “And the only way this became a reality is because of the hard work everyone has put in this year and all these years that have been here. To be able to win this game tonight and host MLS Cup is something that we feel very proud and excited about.”It also provides the Timbers with plenty of reason to be confident headed Saturday’s game. During the regular season, only the New England Revolution — which set the league’s single-season points record — won more games (12) than Portland did at home (11). The combination of one of the league’s most enthusiastic fan bases with a turf playing surface has turned Providence Park into a fortress.”It’s definitely very important for us to be home,” said Timbers forward Felipe Mora. “Just being with our fans here, they make us feel great at home. So that’s going to be really important to play in the final.”As the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, Portland took an unlikely path to get here. It opened its playoff run with a 3-1 win against Minnesota United before beating top-seeded Colorado Rapids 1-0 on the road to earn another home game in Saturday’s conference final. Both Philadelphia and New York City went into the playoffs with better seeds, but were just off the Timbers’ regular-season points total (55).

Sloppy defending from Salt Lake in the fifth minute gave Portland the cushion it was looking for. A poor effort to clear the ball from seven yards in front of goal by Aaron Herrera put the ball at Mora’s feet and his quick reaction sent the ball back toward goal beyond Ochoa’s reach.Portland got the win despite its best attacking player, Sebastian Blanco, watching from the bench. With another week to recover from a hamstring injury that was initially thought to have kept him completely out of the lineup against RSL, he figures to have a good shot at being back in the starting XI.The loss spells the end of the line for RSL, but what a magical run it was. The team was moments from being eliminated on Decision Day only for Damir Kreilach’s last-minute goal to keep the season alive. Then came the historic win-without-a-shot game to advance through Seattle and a strong showing to knock off Sporting Kansas City.

“I couldn’t be more proud of being a part of this group,” RSL interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “Nobody gave us a shot when the season started and no one gave us a shot when the playoffs started either. And so to have the mental toughness to overcome the perception of who we are is fantastic. You can always look at things from either perspective, but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and commitment of this group that I was able to lead.”As usual, MLS Cup will run through a team from the Pacific Northwest. No team other than Portland or Seattle has represented the Western Conference since 2014.

NYCFC’s depth outlasts COVID-stricken Philadelphia as MLS Cup calls for Bronx Blues

8:03 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

From the moment word emerged that 11 Philadelphia Union players would miss Sunday’s Eastern Conference final due to MLS health and safety protocols, attention was rightly focused on the five starters who would sit out.The likes of goalkeeper Andre Blake and captain Alejandro Bedoya would be spectators. So would three fourths of the usual backline, with center-backs Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes as well as left-back Kai Wagner also out. But the knock-on effect was that the Union would have precious little depth to change the course of the match should that be required. Opponents New York City FC were missing some key players as well, most notably MLS Golden Boot winner Valentin Castellanos, but it was obvious that manager Ronny Deila had more resources on his bench than counterpart Jim Curtin. In the end, that proved to be the difference, as New York City came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to substitute Talles Magno‘s late goal, and set up an MLS Cup showdown on Saturday with the Portland Timbers (3 p.m. ET, stream live on ABC).Conference finals are rarely remembered, save by the fans of the teams who win them, even if there is a contrived trophy presentation at the end. MLS Cups make more of an impression. But such was the gutty performance by the Union — as well as NYCFC’s comeback — that Sunday’s encounter will likely stick in the memory a bit longer than most.The circumstances alone made for a unique matchup. Word emerged Friday that the Union were hurting in terms of personnel. On Saturday, there was confirmation that 11 players would be out, and there was concern that the game might devolve into a farce unbecoming of a conference final. For Curtin, even filling out his lineup card was a challenge.”When I was writing in the team messages at the beginning of the game there are a couple of names I didn’t know how to spell quite yet, so I had to do some peeking at the backs of jerseys, which is a situation that was unique for sure,” he said.Fortunately, that blowout scenario was avoided. While Deila was complimentary of the Union players who took the field, and noted that Philadelphia’s style didn’t change, he admitted that the home side’s depleted numbers did change the mental dynamic of the match.”It has a different pressure to us to be more, ‘We have to win,’ instead of, ‘Amazing to win,'” he said.Perhaps that explains the rather tepid nature of the first half, when NYCFC had the vast majority of the ball but never really threatened the Union goal. In fact, Philadelphia’s patchwork backline led by Aurelien Collin — who had played one minute of competitive soccer for Philadelphia the past two seasons — looked comfortable for the better part of an hour. And when Kacper Przybylko forced an own goal from Alex Callens in the 63rd minute, it really looked like the Union would get their “Rocky” moment.But after scaling the mountain, the Union’s legs weren’t strong enough to stay there. The lead lasted all of 110 seconds, with Maxi Moralez hammering home a rebound to bring NYCFC level. From there, the Blues were running downhill.”I think we needed to get a period to get the crowd into it, to have a five-minute window where now it puts a little stress and pressure on New York City,” said Curtin. “Maybe they start to throw numbers forward and we can hit them on the counter.”By then, Deila had already made a trio of substitutions, turning to record signing Magno, Gudmundur Thorarinsson and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, all of whom helped tip the balance toward the visitors. Thorarinsson got forward with greater effect than Malte Amundsen, while Tajouri-Shradi and Magno perked up the Blues’ attack in the final third.As for Curtin, he was hamstrung, with little in the way of options as his valiant band of starters was gassed.”They had some weapons that came off the bench that I’ll just say are expensive,” said Curtin.The most expensive one of all delivered with less than two minutes of normal time remaining. Thorarinsson robbed Olivier Mbaizo, and fed Magno — a $8 million midseason acquisition — to fire home the game-winner from close range in the 88th minute.The goal was cruel on the Union, especially given that Nathan Harriel sent a free header over the bar just minutes earlier. But it seemed deserved for an NYCFC side that slowly turned up the pressure after halftime.”I think we were the dominant team in the second half,” said Deila. “And we knew that in the last minutes of the game, we will get more space and [create] more chances, and we did. The substitutes worked really, really good. You saw how fresh they were.”Curtin is the kind of manager who isn’t one to give into excuses, but he couldn’t help but let his mind drift into what-if scenarios. Nine months of sweat and effort went down the drain due to a virus that remains stubbornly part of American life. Without going into specifics, and stressing how he’s a firm believer in science, Curtin felt that the league’s COVID-19 protocols could do with some tweaking given “we had 11 guys that are healthy to play a soccer game that aren’t here because they have a version of sniffles.”He added, “You’re at a loss for words, man. I just feel bad for the guys that weren’t here, because again, they had incredible seasons. COVID sucks. I don’t know how else to put it. The protocols are the protocols, but could they be updated, adjusted for common sense? I don’t know. Again, it hurts.”In response to Curtin’s comments, a league spokesperson said, “Infectious disease experts and science drove the decision regarding why 11 Union players were listed in the MLS Health and Safety protocol.”That pain will linger for a while in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, it is NYCFC who will move on to MLS Cup.”What we have done so far, it’s been just amazing,” Deila said. “But the biggest one is coming on Saturday.”

Marsch out at Leipzig as most Americans struggle throughout Europe

Jesse Marsch is out as the Leipzig manager. Many American players in Europe struggled with the notable excpetions of Chris Richards, Sam Vines, and Christian Ramirez. Overall it’s been a tough several months for Americans abroad and ASN’s Brian Sciaretta walks you through it all. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  DECEMBER 05, 2021  10:45 PM

YET AGAIN, IT WAS another bad weekend for Americans abroad. It’s become a disappointing trend over most of the past few months and it should be a concern as many of the European leagues reach their midway point. A few good performances aside, this weekend was lackluster and the top story is that the top American club coach in the game lost his job.

 MARSCH OUT AT LEIPZIG

 Jesse Marsch is out as the RB Leipzig head coach after the club lost to Union Berlin 2-1 on Friday. Marsch was not actually on the bench for this game as he has missed the last three games due to COVID. Still, he was making the major decisions and relaying them to the staff. Tyler Adams started in the game and actually had an assist on Leipzig’s goal – although it was largely an individual effort.With the loss, Leipzig fell to 11th place in the Bundesliga while are also struggling to finish third in their Champions League group just to qualify for the Europa League.The leash Marsch had in Leipzig was short.  After winning two Austrian Bundesliga titles with Salzburg, Marsch moved to a Leipzig team which was the runners up in the Bundesliga the last two seasons.But the team was far different. Top players were sold as Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer were sold to Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konaté was sold to Liverpool. Marsch was brought in knowing he would be more tied with the Red Bull system than his predecessor Julian Nagelesman and he did so with a less talented squad. Marsch’s team dropped points at times where they shouldn’t have but the Wisconsin native wasn’t even allowed to get to the transfer window and essentially begin building his own team.Was it a harsh decision? Yes. But this is how European soccer works among the top teams in the top five leagues. Fellow American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo has struggled a bit with Stuttgart this season but he remains at the club because expectations aren’t quite as high. At big clubs, expectations are high and decisions sometimes aren’t fair. This isn’t the first time a manager a club of this level was treated with a rash decision.As for Marsch, he will land on his feet. Whether or not it is in Europe remains to be seen. He has served as an assistant manager before and that might be an option. He probably could also get a first team head coaching job as vacancies might open during the winter. With two Austrian Bundesliga titles, two Austrian cups, plus a long list of impressive young players he has managed (like Erling Haaland for starters), he will catch someone’s eye. With numerous MLS gigs still open and with the demand at an all-time high for coaches who know the league, it is easy to see teams willing to spend a lot on Marsch (LAFC is definitely the top job open domestically).It certainly is disappointing to see an American trailblazer like Jesse Marsch suffer a setback but almost all coaches get fired at some point. He won’t be unemployed for that long.

 ARMAS TO BECOME MAN U ASSISTANT

 On Monday morning, Taylor Twellman broke the news that former United States national team midfielder Chris Armas would join Ralf Rangnick’s staff at Manchester United as an assistant coach. Rangnick was hired as an interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021/22 season after the club fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Armas was on Jesse Marsch’s staff from 2015 to 2018 and his career highlight came in 2018 with the New York Red Bulls when Marsch left for Europe halfway through the season and Armas guided the club to the Supporters Shield. Armas was later given the job on a full-time basis but was fired in 2020 when the club began to struggle. He was hired as Toronto FC’s head coach ahead of the 2021 season but was fired 11 games into the season after winning just once.

In addition to coaching RB Leipzig, Rangnick had previously served as head of sport and development for Red Bull GmbH – which included a role overseeing the New York Red Bulls. During this period, New York won three Supporters Shields. It was at this time where Rangnick likely became familiar with Armas while he was a top assistant to Jesse Marsch.Regardless of how his two previous head coaching gigs ended, this is a massive opportunity for Armas to continue to learn and develop as a coach at an environment in Manchester United under an importnt figure like Ralf Rangnick. 

WHAT WENT WRONG THIS WEEKEND?

 Unfortunately, Marsch losing his job was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of rough news for Americans abroad (both Europe and South America).Two of the top American players remained out with injuries. Gio Reyna was still out for Borussia Dortmund and he did not play in the club’s 3-2 loss at home to Bayern Munich. Weston McKennie avoided a serious injury last weekend when a knock to his knee forced him out of a 1-0 loss to Atalanta. The Texan, however, was not in the 18 for the club’s 2-0 win over Genoa on Sunday.

Joe Scally at just 18 has been a model of consistency for Borussia Monchengladbach this season but he learned a hard lesson on Sunday when the club dropped a 6-0 decision at home to a very good Freiburg team. Like every player on M’Gladbach, Scally went the distance but did not have a good game. He was only at fault for Freiburg’s second goal, but he also wasn’t able to help his team push forward and help dictate the pace of the game. This was a useful learning lesson for a young player. A team that can beat Bayern Munich 5-0 can also lose to Freiburg 6-0.

Staying the Bundesliga, Pellegrino Matarazzo is the only American manager in a top league and his Stuttgart team blew a 2-0 lead at home to Hertha BSC in what was a 2-2 draw.

Mainz blew past Wolfsburg 3-0 on Saturday. John Brooks started for Wolfsburg but he struggled and was one of three Wolfsburg players pulled to start the second half.

Julian Green did not get off the bench for Greuther Furth in an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. Furth remain on pace to be one of the worst Bundesliga teams in history with just one point and a -34 goal differential after 14 games. Whether it is good or bad that Green did not play is a debate simply not worth having. He can’t be in a good place in an environment like this and the fact that all he has to look forward to is the 2.Bundesliga next season is not idea to the progression of his career.

In the Premier League, Christian Pulisic played the final 12 minutes for Chelsea in a 2-1 derby loss away at West Ham. Pulisic was relatively uninvolved and was on the field for West Ham’s winner. Zack Steffen did not get off the bench for Manchester City in a 3-1 away win over Watford.

Last-place Norwich dropped a 3-0 decision on the road to Tottenham in an expected result. Josh Sargent was dropped from the starting XI but played the final 22 minutes. He had one big miss on the team’s best scoring chance of the game but otherwise was quiet. It’s been a rough season for Sargent and his biggest problem is confidence. If he buried the sitters, he’d be in a better frame of mind and better form.

In La Liga, Sergino Dest made his first start for Barcelona under new manager Xavi. Dest, like many of his teammates, struggled in a 1-0 loss at home to a very good Real Betis team. Barcelona needs a ton of work to become one of the elite teams in the world again. Dest was unable to get forward very much or create anything dangerous from the right side. He will get more opportunities, but this is a tough assignment with an anxious and disappointed fanbase which will probably push for massive overhauls.

On Friday, Matt Miazga went as an unused sub for Deportivo Alaves in a 2-1 loss on the road to Genanda. Alaves sit just two points above the relegation zone.

On Sunday, Yunus Musah played the final six minutes plus stoppage time for Valencia in a 2-1 away win over Celta Vigo. Musah had just three nonconsequential touches in his brief outing. The only other news from La Liga is that Matthew Hoppe remains out injured for Mallorca.

In Serie A, it was an absolute disaster for Venezia when they hosted Hellas Verona on Sunday. Both Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann started this game on the bench. The game couldn’t have started any better for Venezia which had a 3-0 lead at halftime. That is when the wheels completely fell off. Hellas Verona rallied with three quick goals and Venezia was reduced to 10 players. Busio came in in the 64th minute and Tessmann came in in the 75th to help stop the bleeding – but they were unsuccessful as Hellas Verona found an 85th minute winner.

Venezia still sit five points above the relegation zone and that is better than expected given where the club was after the first few games of the season. But their positive momentum has been halted and three straight losses have hurt. It remains to be seen if the heartbreaking nature of this loss will linger.

Also in Serie A, Bryan Reynolds was an unused sub for AS Roma in a 3-0 loss at home to Inter Milan. Jose Mourinho only used two subs in the loss. Reynolds will join the U.S. national team’s December camp at some point, but it remains unclear when Mourinho will let him go.

In Ligue 1, Tim Weah did not participate in Lille’s 2-1 win over Troyes, but his was likely due to rest ahead of the midweek Champions League game. Erik Palmer-Brown remains out injured for Troyes.

Marseille lost to Brest 2-1 at home on Saturday. Konrad de la Fuente started but was ineffective and was subbed out at the 57th minute mark. The Miami area native has struggled to make an impact for the past six weeks. Still the club see the upside are are continuing to let him play and work through it. The loss, however, might force a change. 

In Belgium, Chris Durkin earned the start for St. Truiden and played 82 minutes but the Richmond, VA native wasn’t able to help his team avoid a 2-1 loss at home to upstart leaders Union St. Gilloise.

In Portugal, U.S. national team right back Reggie Cannon was an unused substitute for Boavista as they conceded a stoppage time equalizer to Maritimo to play to a 1-1 draw at home.

In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre and Heracles hold the last automatic survival place after dropping a lethargic 1-0 decision to Heerenveen. 

In the Swiss Super League, Jordan Perfok started for BSC Young Boys as they hosted Servette on Saturday. Pefok was subbed out at halftime (with Young Boys up 1-0) due to a teammate’s red card forcing a defensive tactical shift. The tactical adjustment did not work and Servette rallied for a 2-1 win. The four-time defending Swiss champs, Young Boys are nine points behind leaders FC Zurich and are in fourth place.

In Turkey, U.S. national team right back DeAndre Yedlin started and played 89 minutes for Galatasaray in a 1-1 draw at home with Altay. Yedlin picked up a yellow card and wasn’t bad, but this has been a disappointing season for Galatasaray, which expects to compete for the title every season. But in 2021/22, Galatasaray are in seventh place and 16 points behind Trabzonspor.

At the very bottom of the Turkish Super Lig, things are worse for Tyler Boyd. He remains a starter for Rizespor but rarely making any sort of positive impact. On Saturday, he played 66 minutes for Rizespor in a 4-0 loss to Fenerbahce. The club sit dead last and are eight points deep in the relegation hole. Boyd is at the club on loan from Besiktas who would love to unload him as soon as they can.

In Argentina, Alan Sonora has been having a good season for Independiente but was off his game and struggled in a 1-1 draw with San Lorenzo on Sunday night.

In Serie B, Andrija Novakovich was an unused sub for Frosinone in a 1-1 draw with Ternana.

In the Championship, Matthew Olosunde made his first start of the season – playing right back for Preston North End but wasn’t able to help his team achieve a result in a 1-0 loss on the road to Blackburn.

Finally, at the top of the Championship, Tim Ream and Fulham were unable to take advantage of a big opportunity when hosting second place AFC Bournemouth at Craven Cottage. Ream played well but a 1-1 draw to Bournemouth is disappointing despite the result keeping Fulham atop the table. Antonee Robinson missed the game with an illness.

 RICHARDS SURGES FOR HOFFENHEIM

 While most of the weekend was dismal for Americans abroad, the one American who managed to put in a top performance in one of the top European leagues was Chris Richards. It came at a good time for Richards who was making his first start for Hoffenheim since October 23 and came through with a performance that showed why he should be starting for Hoffenheim.In a 3-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt (which fellow American Timothy Chandler started in the loss), Richards was not at fault for either of Eintracht’s goals. Defensively, he was solid and won just about every lose ball which he had a chance to win. He frequently intercepted Eintracht’s passes into the box and was solid in nearly every facet of the game except for his long-balls out of the back.Richards was not in a great place heading into this game as he had lost his starting spot with Hoffenheim. Still, he was a regular off the bench (not common for a central defender) so it was clear that he was eventually going to get another chance. In this game, he seized his opportunity.

 RAMIREZ’S BIG OUTING FOR ABERDEEN

 Heading up to Scotland, Aberdeen’s Christian Ramirez remains one of the Scottish Premierships best goalscores this season and the former Houston Dynamo, LAFC, and Minnesota United forward bagged two for his club in a 4-1 win over St. Mirren. Those two goals gave him eight goals in the Premiership this season and 11 in all competitions for Aberdeen since transferring from Houston in June.Ramirez’s first goal (Aberdeen’s second goal) was a really impressive finish.It will be intresting to see what happens to Ramirez after this season. He’s no doubt going to be in demand by a club who could use someone to help immediately.

 VINES IMPRESSES FOR ANTWERP

 Sam Vines hasn’t always been solid for Royal Antwerp since completing his transfer from the Colorado Rapids in August – following winning the Gold Cup with the U.S. national team. His integration was slowed by a broken collarbone and he missed six weeks.But Vines has been solid more times than he’s been off and he has locked down the starting left back job for Royal Antwerp, which now sits in second place in Belgium’s First Division.n Sunday, Vines went the distance in a 1-0 away win over last-place Beerschot. His numbers were decent. What has been particularly striking about Vines and his early steps at Antwerp is that he’s become more of a conventional left back. At Colorado and with the U.S. national team, he was very offensively minded. At Antwerp, he is defensively minded. While there have been concerns over this area of his game, his defense has been solid. Now, if/when he reintroduces his offense to the mix, he could be very, very effective as a top left back in the Belgian league.

 ANYTHING ELSE GOOD?

 There is no sugar coating that this weekend was mostly entirely negative for Americans abroad. There still were some other net positives aside from Richards, Ramirez, and Vines.Mark McKenzie returned to the starting lineup for KRC Genk and he played the entire game in a 1-1 draw with KV Mechelen. Genk are likely to be disappointed by this result as KV Mechelen were reduced to 10 players in the 62nd minute with the score 1-1 but were able to bunker their way for a draw. McKenzie wasn’t tested much defensively and was on the ball a lot. It was a big positive to see him return to the starting XI even if he wasn’t tested all that much.

In Ligue 1, Nicholas Gioacchini played the final 22 minutes for Montpellier in a 1-0 win over relegation battling Clermont Foot. Playing right wing, he had just nine touches but was aggressive in trying to get the ball forward.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Brenden Aaronson was not expected to play for Red Bull Salzburg as it was hoped he could rest ahead of the Champions League this week. The runaway leaders found themselves trailing 1-0 at the hour mark and Aaronson came into the game in the 63rd minute. Salzburg ended up rallying for a 2-1 win. While Aaronson was not directly part of either of the goals, he helped his team keep up pressure to earn the win – which kept them 12 points ahead of 2nd place Wolfsberger.

In the Scottish Premiership, Cameron Carter-Vickers returned to the starting lineup for Celtic on Saturday against Ian Harkes and Dundee United. Carter-Vickers missed the last game due to “personal issues.” Carter-Vickers ended up having a very good game and picked up a rare assist in a 3-0 win. Hakres was good for Dundee United but his club was simply overmatched. 

NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE

 In the Danish Cup, Emmanuel Sabbi started and played 63 minutes for OB Odense in a 2-0 away win over Randers. Christian Cappis played the final 13 minutes for Brondby in a 2-0 home loss to Midtjylland.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Thomas Roberts was an unused sub for Austria Klagenfurt in a 1-0 away win over TSG Tirol.

On Monday, Joel Sonora and Banfield will visit Newell’s Old Boys. Johnny Cardoso and Internacional will host Atletico MG.  Shaq Moore and Tenerife will visit Cartagena.

Finally, a big congratulations for Duane Holmes who had a very good reason to miss Huddersfield’s 1-1 draw with Barnsley on Saturday.

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