The playoffs finally have a little time to breathe, a.k.a. “something different” after the hurry-hurry-hurry of the initial two weeks of Major League Soccer’s post-season.
The most significant effect from a competitive standpoint, of course, is additional rest for the weary. Houston and Los Angeles played four matches over 12 days; Seattle and D.C. United have been stretched to, although to a slightly lesser extent. Either way that’s a fairly ridiculous haul, one bordering on unnecessarily dangerous for the athletes, especially considering that it’s late in the year, when injuries are piling up anyway.
So a full week between matches in these ongoing conference finals will provide some needed relief for everyone.
And there is a significant net-out for the front office staffs, too.
There’s actually a little time to sell these matches. All things considered, attendance has been solid through the MLS playoffs, even though tiny sell windows were challenging in places like Los Angeles and Houston.
A D.C. United spokesperson told me via email this morning there are no plans to expand beyond the lower bowl capacity of 19,647. Given that the club is just 2,000 and change short of that already, we’re sure to see a second consecutive down-sized sellout at RFK.
PSG loans goalkeeper Sirigu to Spanish side Sevilla
Robert Lewandowski continues to rack up goals in a Bayern Munich jersey, and the Bundesliga side reaps the rewards for their star striker’s production.
The Polish international began the new Bundesliga campaign on Friday with a hat-trick, as Bayern capped off a dominating 6-0 win against Werder Bremen.
Xabi Alonso opened the scoring for the home side after just nine minutes, but all eyes were on Lewandowski on the night as he netted his first three goals of the 2016/17 season.
The 28-year-old added Bayern’s second goal in the 13th minute, before finishing off his hat-trick performance with tallies in the 46th and 77th minutes, respectively. While his final finish came from the penalty spot, Lewandowski already looks more than ready to help Bayern retain its Bundesliga crown.
Veteran defender Phillip Lahm and Franck Ribery also converted their chances past Bremen goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald on an afternoon that saw Bayern tally an overwhelming 27 shots, 14 of which landed on target.
Werder Bremen’s chances were limited, with Viktor Skrypnyk’s group recording a mere two shots on net throughout the night.
Meanwhile, U.S. attacker Julian Green was on the bench for Bayern, however, the young American wasn’t introduced into the match.
Frustration has set in with the young American, but is a move away from Borussia Dortmund really the best move for Christian Pulisic’s growth?
With the additions of Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Emre Mor and Ousmane Dembele this summer, Dortmund has not only retooled its already dangerous attack, but also created a tricky scenario for one of its most promising youth talents.
For Pulisic, it’s a simple dilemma with two possible outcomes; remain at the club and try to earn his way into the side over the next few seasons or move on his way to a destination that presents more promise towards his development as a budding star within the club and international levels.
The 17-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania bursted onto the Bundesliga scene a season ago, making 12 appearances for the German runners’ up while also notching two goals.
While it was only a small sample size, there was no question that Pulisic has already earned the respect of his teammates due to his impressive control on the ball and high work rate on both ends of the field.
Now, several clubs have already shown interest in the young American, which is certainly promising for the attacker as he looks to make a name for himself.
It just seems too early though for Pulisic to try to maneuver his way out of the Borussia Dortmund set up. In only one season with the club — a major one at that — Pulisic has already made himself relevant within U.S. and foreign circles as a young talent that will be seen for many years to come.
The situation isn’t optimal for a player seeking first-team minutes this season, but his age certainly plays into the equation. At 17 years old, very few players are starting on elite squads. That’s not a knock on Pulisic or any other aspiring player, but a mere fact when looking at how top teams are built.
On Friday, Bundesliga club RB Leipzig emerged as a suitor for Pulisic, reportedly offering over $16 million for the young USMNT attacker, before further reports linked Liverpool with a bid of $14 million to the Dortmund product.
While a move to Leipzig doesn’t seem so far-fetched, particularly at this stage of his career, picking up and heading to Anfield doesn’t seem like the ideal scenario for a player looking to further his young career and find consistent playing time.
Liverpool’s defensive issues remain a concern for Jurgen Klopp, but the former Dortmund boss has a plethora of options with the Reds in the attack, which would make it nearly as difficult for Pulisic to break into the squad on a regular basis if he were to complete a move to England.
Ideally, as a 17-year-old player it’s all about how much playing time you get. That essentially applies to every player, but especially to someone like Pulisic who is looking to establish himself at Dortmund and break into Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT lineup.
A loan move for Pulisic seems like the best scenario for the youngster, and with the reported interest in him it appears quite likely that Dortmund can find a suitable team to house the U.S. midfield as he continues his development.
Leipzig appears to have legitimate interest in Pulisic, and with the Bundesliga newcomers looking to make an impact in their first season in Germany’s top flight. With other clubs expressing interest in Pulisic as well, it seems unlikely that Dortmund would have a tough time offloading him for a season or two, but selling the American would be a bit of an oddity.