Man of the Match: It’s nice to see Pedro Rodríguez healthy. Hampered by injuries through most of 2012, Pedro returned and scored twice for Barcelona, undoubtedly opening the eyes of Spain national team bas Vicente del Bosque. Despite making Spain’s team for South Africa, the Barça attacker is on the borderline for Euro 2012: Will he make it or not? Today’s performance won’t hurt.
Packaged for takeaway:
- As I type, it occurs to me this may be the shortest offshore drilling in this segment’s history. This match taught us nothing new and unfolded in a very predictable way.
- Barcelona came out quick, scored in the third minute (through Pedro) and looked like a team refreshed. Within half an hour, they were up three and seemed to let up, as if the were told by pre-match by Pep Guardiola that if they worked hard for 30 minutes, they’d undoubtedly have control of the match.
- As a result, the last hour was worthless.
- Not a bad way to go out for Guardiola. His team was clearly well prepared.
- Athletic didn’t look as tired as they did earlier this spring, when they were juggling Europa League with fading league prospects. Their energy almost played into Barcelona’s hands, though. At the beginning, they were willing to run with Barça, allowing them to be picked apart.
- The second goal was a thing of beauty. A knifing ball from Andres Iniesta put Lionel Messi behind the defense, but a little heavy, the pass was speeding out fora goal kick. Messi burst, got to it just in time, and although Gorka Iraizoz gave him little to shoot at, Messi found the upper right hand corner from six yards out.
- Five minutes later, Pedro completed his double, after which the match was basically over. Athletic played like a team scared of making things worse. Barcelona played like a team that’d spent their season’s last piece of motivation.
- For Barça, the win is the team’s first major trophy of the season, something the history books will look upon kindly. It would have been strange to look back at 2011-12 and think “wow, Barcelona didn’t win anything.” Copa del Rey and close calls in league and Europe? That sounds about right.
- Athletic, for the second time in three years, finishes second to Barça in Copa. They also lost in the final of Europa League. Are they the Spanish Bayern Munich, 2012’s bridesmaids that should have been brides? Not quite.
- Marcelo Bielsa’s team finished the season as they started it: Unimpressively. After getting used to their new boss, Athletic was one of the top 10-or-so teams in Europe. But that was the middle of the year. At the end, they alternated between spent and underwhelming. Today, they were the latter.
This is a big blow to Everton, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Yannick Bolasie is set for a long spell on the sidelines after suffering an ACL injury in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United.
The 27-year-old attacker has played in every match for the Toffees, and is an electric attacking threat. He has one goal and four assists in PL play this season, after nabbing five and four for Palace last season.
[ PL: Grading the superstars’ seasons ]
A $32 million buy from Crystal Palace, Bolasie will miss the Africa Cup of Nations next month and likely send the Toffees into the transfer market.
Manager Ronald Koeman has made no secret of his Memphis Depay admiration, and this could tip Everton’s hand.
Game changer, season changer, title changer.
It’s hard to find a phrase that would overstate what it would mean if a club could pry Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the hands of Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang raised eyebrows Monday with his non-dismissal of a transfer possibility. It wasn’t quite a “come and get me”, but the door is certainly open.
[ MORE: U.S. Soccer’s Player of Year finalists ]
“I don’t know if I will stay. I just think about playing good football right now. I want to give my best and win titles. I just think about the sport and nothing else.”
If you don’t pay a lot of attention to the Bundesliga, it might be easy to overlook Aubameyang. But the season he’s having with BVB’s wealth of playmaking midfielders is overwhelming. Give him less than a yard, and he’s all set.
Throw in the UEFA Champions League, and “Auba” has 18 goals in 18 matches. In the Bundesliga, he has a 4-goal night at Hamburg but also goals against Bayern and Hertha. Aubameyang has two braces, and has only been held off the score sheet three times (BVB is 1D-2L in those contests).
Put plainly, no one is doing what he’s doing right now.
Top Five leagues, 2016-17 goals (matches)
- Aubameyang, BVB — 15 (12)
- Edinson Cavani, PSG — 14 (14)
- Anthony Modeste, Koln — 12 (13)
- Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan — 12 (14)
- Eden Dzeko, Roma — 12 (15)
- Alexandre Lacazette — 11 (11)
- Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal — 11 (14)
- Diego Costa, Chelsea — 11 (14)
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid — 10 (11)
- Sergio Aguero, Manchester City — 10 (12)
- Andrea Belotti, Torino — 10 (13)
- Lionel Messi, Barcelona — 9 (9)
- Luis Suarez, Barcelona — 9 (12)
- Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich — 9 (13)
- Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo — 9 (13)
- Ciro Immobile, Lazio — 9 (15)
- Alassane Plea, Nice — 9 (16)
As we await the future of both the North American Soccer League and its champion New York Cosmos, another dark cloud arrived regarding both.
Empire of Soccer reports that the Cosmos have terminated all of its player contracts, putting a 2017 season into the neighborhood of improbability.
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New York’s staff is on furlough, and the club has been “on the brink of collapse” for weeks (if not longer).
The USL avoided having its champion collapse by finding new owners for the Rochester Rhinos in the offseason. Will New York be able to do the same?
U.S. Soccer unveiled the finalists for its top 2016 Male, Female, and youth awards on Monday.
MLS stars Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey are joined by Geoff Cameron and Bobby Wood as top men’s player nominees. The winner will be announced on the eve of Saturday’s MLS Cup Final.
[ MLS: Best XI has historic American low ]
Stoke City’s Cameron and Hamburg’s Wood are the European-based players on the list, while Fabian Johnson did not make the cut. Dempsey has been limited by heart problems, but still found a way to the list.
John Brooks and Christian Pulisic are also notable exceptions, though the latter is a finalist for the younger award.
The five-woman list for Female Player of the Year sees Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, and Becky Sauerbrunn vying to finish second behind Carli Lloyd (Sorry, we couldn’t resist even with Heath’s incredible season).
The Young Male award promises to be a showdown between Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) and Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), though it’s difficult to see the latter edging the former. Also in the frame are Spurs back Cameron Carter-Vickers, Atlanta United teenager Andrew Carleton and U.S. U-17 star Josh Sargent.
The Young Female nominees are midfielders Emily Ogle and Andi Sullivan, defenders Kaleigh Riehl and Karina Rodriguez and forward Ashley Sanchez.