PST USMNT Man of the Match: Landon Donovan

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After 45 minutes, Michael Bradley looked set for man of the match. His 11th minute goal was not only the difference in the match (at halftime), it was one of the better strikes in recent men’s national team history. Add in his contributions on Landon Donovan’s opener (jumping into the play after Jose Torres and Terrance Boyd created an early turnover) and his efforts pressing through the midfield, and Saturday’s friendly against Scotland was shaping up as a statement match for Bradley. That statement: Bradley could play an even bigger part in the Klinsmann era than he did under his father.

But come full time, another statement had drowned out Michael’s, a statement we should have known was coming. After a week of pondering whether his time in the spotlight was waning, Landon Donovan rushed back center stage in a big way. With three goals and an assist, Donovan posted the third national team hat trick of his career.

His first goal may have been his toughest. At least, it required the most tenacity. On a ball in from the left, Donovan (back to goal) played a nice touch into the space right of goal, turning toward the sideline with his defender on his back. His right-footed blast from 12 yards out was blocked after Allen McGregor came aggressively off his line, but when the rebound offered Donovan a second chance, the national team’s all-time leading scorer proved unforgiving. Roofing his shot just inside the right post, Donovan put the U.S. up 1-0 in the third minute.

Two near identical second half finishes pushed Donovan’s career USMNT goal total to 49. In the 59th minute, Jermaine Jones got behind Soctland’s left back, cut a ball back toward the middle of the box for Donovan, whose right-footer found the side netting inside the far post. Five minutes later, it was more of the same, with Donovan first-timing a ball from Bradley to just inside the far post, an unstoppable finish.

And five minutes later (69′), Donovan was in on another goal, with Jones heading a cross from Donovan home for the U.S’s final goal.

Three goals and an assist should be enough to quell all speculation about Donovan’s future in Jurgen Klinsmann’s set up. While nobody saw Donovan fading from the scene any time soon, questions were being asked. Where does Landon fit, given his lack of time with the national team under Klinsmann? What does the emergence of Clint Dempsey mean for Donovan’s place in the pecking order?

Donovan’s performance undermined the idea of pecking orders. As did Michael Bradley’s and Jose Torres’s. Pecking orders are for teams that can’t accomodate more than one star. As the U.S. showed on Saturday, there’s room for more than one player to dominate. Against Scotland, Donovan just happened to be the most dominant.

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]

At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester