A few days ago, we took out the whuppin’ stick and beat on MLS for not “growing up” and getting on board with the way so many competitions finish their seasons or tournament group play, with simultaneous kickoffs.
It’s the best way to increase chances that one team does not benefit from an unfair advantage of additional rest. Teams that kick off later might land fortuitously into a situation where they can roll out the reserves, therefore gaining more rest for starters by virtue of greater knowledge.
(MORE: Time for MLS to get scheduling right)
Houston did just that Saturday. With his regulars available, but hearing a result out of Chicago a couple of hours earlier that made the Dynamo result irrelevant in playoff positioning, coach Dominic Kinnear did the wise thing and deployed a bunch of reservists.
So his first team enjoyed the weekend off – and a few additional days of rest over the Fire starters.
Did it affect the match? Fire manager Frank Klopas doesn’t seem to think so. Good on him for not making this an excuse in a home loss. On the other hand, wouldn’t it be better if we weren’t asking this question?
What Klopas said when asked about it following last night’s match:
I don’t know. Sometimes it’s good when you’re in a rhythm when playing. The only guy I was a little bit concerned with was Pavel [Pardo] because he had missed six weeks and he had played a full ninety. I think he felt a little heavy legged and we so we made the sub. And Patrick [Nyarko], because he’s been playing all these games with some issues, hats off to the guy. We were looking at taking him out but when you’re down two zero we needed to push the game and keep all of our attacking guys on the field. I feel it’s better to get into a rhythm with playing. We played Saturday and Wednesday so for me that’s not an excuse. I feel like it’s better to be playing. We were still at home. The trainings were light. I felt we had the energy. I think maybe there were a few 50/50 balls where we could have done a little better.”
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.