Offshore drilling, UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 1 (3, 3-1 on kicks), at Real Madrid 2 (3)

3 Comments

Man of the Match: Manuel Neuer was huge in the shootout, saving both Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká’s attempts. With Sergio Ramos’s pivotal kick going over the bar, the Bayern `keeper saved two of three chances he faced. While Luiz Gustavo possibly deserves this recognition for reeking havoc in midfield, Neuer was the difference.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • As much as you might hate penalty kicks, neither of these teams seemed capable of avoiding them. After a raucous first half, neither kept their verve in the second. They disappointed throughout the final 75 minutes, without only the tension of seeing a potential semifinal-deciding goal keeping the world from bursting out in collective exasperation.
  • In extra time, Real Madrid certainly tried to press the issue, but having Kaká on, Mesüt Özil off really hurt them. Perhaps Özil was gassed, but even when he and Kaká were on together, he had been marginalized in Real’s attack.
  • In extra time, the move really ended up hurting. After going the whole game without being able to maintain meaningful possession, Real finally got some control of the match. When they did, their best playmaker was gone, and his replacement was too slow with his decisions.
  • That control was a huge turnaround from a second half when Madrid were completely frustrated by Luiz Gustavo and Bayern Munich. It’s a shame the Bayern midfielder took a petty yellow late (a booking that will have him miss the final), because he was a principle reason why Real’s attackers were left frustratingly underserved throughout the match.
  • And who would have thought we’d be saying that after 15 minutes. A penalty conversion from Cristiano Ronaldo and then a complete defensive breakdown to gift him a second had this match minutes from a landslide. Credit to Bayern for collecting themselves and getting back into the match.
  • They got back in through Pepe’s penalty. Where there are no advised penalties, this one was particularly ill-advised. He and Sergio Ramos had Mario Gomez marked on Arjen Robben’s cross, yet Pepe still took the Bayern attacker down. If he just pulls up, what are the odds Gomez converts that cross? If he takes Gomez down? The odds are pretty good it’s both noticed (with the officially calling a tight penalty on Bayern earlier) and converted.
  • Already people were talking about how Ronaldo and Messi both missed penalties. Small note: Ronaldo also converted a penalty today. While it might not fit a nice, neat narrative that can romantically encapsulate the two Spanish teams’ frustrations, it might be a bit more even-handed to note that Neuer did a job on those two stops.
  • Iker Casillas’s heroics are unfortunately going the be forgotten. With his team down 2-0 after two rounds of kicks, he could have mentally packed it in. That’s not Casillas, though, and with successive saves, he put Real back on serve ahead of their fourth kick …
  • Which was one of the worst attempts I’ve ever seen. Dimitar Berbatov had a horrible try two years ago in the Community Shield, and Yakubu rolled a tumbleweed in Blackburn’s latest match against Liverpool. But at least those were on frame. Ramos’s was Baggio-esque, if only skied higher.
  • And, of course, Bastian Schweinsteiger, taking the next kick, was the exact opposite. He got the ball off the ground, but it in the middle where Casillas’s trailing feet couldn’t nick it, and sent Bayern through the to final. The contrast between that and Ramos’s attempt is all you need to know about this game.
  • Mourinho, his players and Madridistas are going to be crushed, but the team only has itself to blame. While Bayern were good enough, they were there to be had, particularly playing at the Bernabeu. From the quarter-hour mark on, Real Madrid presented no new ideas in attack. Whatever changes Mourinho might have made in approach didn’t end up being reflected on the field. The attackers were left frustrated, the midfield left to kept pinging balls at Bayern defenders, and Real left to wait for their shootout loss. At some point, with all the talent you have at your disposal, you have to change things up. You just have to.
  • Bayern, however, managed the away leg masterfully, particularly considering they were down on aggregate within 15 minutes. They dominated possession if not chances, and kept the home team from being able to dictate the game’s pace and tempo. Instead of letting this match degrade into Real counters against their craft (which defined the first 25-30 minutes), Bayern maturely slowed things down and played a match they could control.
  • Now, FCB get what they’ve wanted all year: the Champions League final at home, where they’ll be favored over Chelsea. Unfortunately, they’ll have to win it without Holdger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo, but given the players Chelsea will be missing, Bayern will still be expected to claim their fifth European Cup.

Sporting KC claims its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (video)

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
1 Comment

Latif Blessing and Daniel Salloi scored as Sporting KC held on to beat New York Red Bulls 2-1 in the 104th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park in Missouri.

Bradley Wright-Phillips blasted a Gonzalo Veron rebound beyond Tim Melia in the first minute of stoppage time to set up a nervy final five minutes. It was the Red Bulls’ second final, and second loss.

The win marks KC’s fourth title, tied for the most amongst active clubs, and its third in six tournaments.

KC now qualifies for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.

[ MORE: Pulisic scores 10th BVB goal ]

Sporting KC could’ve been down a man within five minutes, as referee Hilario Grajeda was handing out a yellow card to Seth Sinovic when Diego Rubio inexplicably kicked Felipe Martins in the ankle. It went unseen, and VAR is not a part of the final.

Gerson arrived on the doorstep with the ball and instead side-footed a pass that never got to Benny Feilhaber, a huge let-off for the Red Bulls.

Sacha Kljestan ripped a shot through traffic that forced a save out of Tim Melia in the 14th minute.

KC went ahead when Graham Zusi’s cross was somehow missed by a trio of Red Bulls defenders, allowing Blessing to pound a header home.

Benny Feilhaber committed a pair of fouls to allow a Red Bulls free kick from just outside the 18 and the end line, but the chance was blocked. A counter attack pass from Blessing sprung Gerso on a breakaway, but Ryan Meara blocked the shot.

Meara made another save after the first ball off the ensuing corner cranked off the cross bar.

Feilhaber then cued up Salloi for the insurance marker, before tournament leading scorer Wright-Phillips pulled one back for New York.

Ike Opara ripped down Wright-Phillips in the sixth of six stoppage time minutes, earning a yellow card and giving RBNY a free kick from 23 yards. Felipe skied his effort over the bar.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-5 Montreal Impact (video)

Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The match in about 100 words: Well, here’s a formula for ending Toronto FC’s 11-match unbeaten run –

  1. Hope they don’t use Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Victor Vazquez.
  2. Have your best player ball out of control.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti did just that, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first half alone. A 42nd minute own goal from Montreal opened the door to home hope, but Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his breakout campaign with two goals in four minutes. Tosaint Ricketts scored a pair of late headers to complete the score line.

Toronto FC’s home crowd didn’t see arguably its three top performers of the season, and did see something it hadn’t this year: a home loss. That it was a derby loss won’t feel good for the Reds, who also gave oxygen to their rivals’ flickering playoff hopes.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

12′ — Michael Bradley clears TFC’s runway — Not the finest moment for Captain America, as Marco Donadel opens up his laser and fires.

24′ — “When defenders fall down” — …And when they do it in front of Nacho, inside the 18.

47′ — AJH puts it to bed — It wasn’t Toronto’s night, and a bad back pass met tepid decision-making and one of the sleepy breakout players of MLS in Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Piatti

Goal scorers: Piatti (10′, 24′), Donadel (12′), Boldor (o.g. 42′), Jackson-Hamel (47′, 51′), Ricketts (77′, 79′).

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 4-0 LA Galaxy (video)

Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The match in 100 words (or less): Somewhere, Atlanta United is still scoring now with 19 goals in its last five outings. The “Five Stripes” fired at will for the second-straight game, leading 3-0 before Jermaine Jones made it academic with a silly red card. Yamil Asad had two goals and two assists in the first half, while Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez also scored. For Martinez, it’s seven goals in seven days. LA has quit, and Tata Martino’s Atlanta may just pose a threat to Toronto FC’s presumed MLS Cup Final spot.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

13′ — Maaaaayyyybe defend, LA? — It’s one thing for Rafael Garcia to back off and back off and back off and back off Yamil Asad. It’s another thing to fail in any attempt to mark the hottest scorer in MLS: Josef Martinez.

20′ — Three goals in seven minutes — About that “defending”… woof. This is a straight-up passing drill for ATL.

39′ — Jermaine Jones rolls back the years (not in a good way) — The combustible midfielder showed that vibes haven’t settled in LA despite Sigi Schmid’s presence, taking an easy red considering VAR’s abilities for dragging his cleat in the direction of a fellow human’s spine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Asad

Goal scorers: Martinez (13′), Asad (16′, 20′), Almiron (43′)

Atletico Madrid to host 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Final is headed to Madrid.

Atletico Madrid announced that next season’s final will be played at the recently-opened Wanda Metropolitano, making Atleti the fourth Spanish club to host a UCL final (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla).

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational goal ]

Atleti raves of its new home, “The Wanda Metropolitano can seat 68,000 spectators and is at the technological forefront due to agreements with top companies in their sector.”

This season’s final will be played at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, the home of the Ukraine national team and Dynamo Kiev.

The UCL Final was last in Madrid at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, for Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich in 2010.