‘Unacceptable’ goal costs Shakhtar’s Luiz Adriano one Champions League match


Last week, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Luiz Adriano screwed up. In UEFA Champions League action, the Brazilian striker took a ball played back to Danish champions Nordsjaelland and scored a goal. He sprinted past a pair of unresponsive central defenders, won a race to the ball that only he was contesting, and dribbled around a bewildered goalkeeper before finishing into an open net.

Today, UEFA has suspended Adriano one match and ordered him to perform one hour of community service for “violation of the principles of conduct” (pasted, below). Shakhtar Donetsk’s owner, Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov, has already said the club will abide by the punishment, calling the behavior “unacceptable.”

The controversy was born from a play we see almost every game. For whatever reason (usually, suspected injury) a ball is played out of bounds or the lead official has stopped play. Be it by throw in or a return ball from a drop kick, the team that had possession is allowed to re-gain it. The event is so common that players rarely have to discuss what’s happening before normal play resumes.

Last week in Copenhagen, somebody should have stopped and talked to Luiz Adriano, because he never stopped playing. Though he conceded after the game that what he thought was a good goal shouldn’t have happened, it’s difficult to believe the thought never occurred to him in real time. Again, this is a play that happens so often that he couldn’t have been caught by surprise. When his team needlessly punted the ball toward Nordsjaelland’s keeper (and nobody on the field reacted), he should have figured it out.

His team certainly did. At least, most of them did. Coach Mircea Lucescu immediately ordered his team to give up a return goal only to see a defender interfere with the concession. The game went on, with Shakhtar winning in Copenhagen, 5-2.

Here’s the goal:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10Rj79yTNo0]

Now Adriano is set to miss next week’s Champions League game against Juventus. Shakhtar, having already secured a place in the knockout round, needs at least a draw to secure first place in Group E (and a much easier route in the knockout round), with a loss giving the packet to Juventus.

That means Chelsea have been hit with some collateral damage from this whole affair. The Blues need to beat Nordsjaelland and have Shakhtar win in order to advance to Champions League’s Round of 16.

In case you’re curious, here are UEFA’s Principles of Conduct — Article 5 of the governing body’s disciplinary regulations:

Article 5 Principles of conduct
Member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members, shall
conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and
For example, a breach of these principles is committed by anyone:
a) who engages in or attempts to engage in active or passive bribery and/or
b) whose conduct is insulting or otherwise violates the basic rules of decent
c) who uses sporting events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature;
d) whose conduct brings the sport of football, and UEFA in particular, into
e) who does not abide by decisions and directives of the Organs for the
Administration of Justice;
f) who does not comply with instructions given by the match officials;
g) who culpably reports for a match late or not at all;
h) who culpably causes a match to be interrupted or abandoned or who is
responsible for its interruption or abandonment;
i) who inscribes on the match sheet a player who is not eligible to play;
j) who acts in a way that is likely to exert an influence on the progress and/or
the result of a match by means of behaviour in breach of the statutory
objectives of UEFA with a view to gaining an undue advantage for himself or
a third party.
k) who commits an act of assault;
l) who participates directly or indirectly in betting or similar activities relating to
UEFA competition matches, or who has a direct or indirect financial interest
in such activities.

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

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There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

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The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.

MLS Weekend Preview: Friedel’s Revs get NYCFC test

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It’s an international break, and Major League Soccer is only sorta observing it.

More than half of the league’s clubs will participate on Saturday match days, with several shorthanded by national team duty.

[ MORE: Southgate on racism in football]

Columbus won’t have Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp for a visit from DC United — who is missing Zoltan Steiber, Bruno Miranda, and Oniel Fisher — while the Red Bulls will be without Tyler Adams, Kemar Lawrence, and Michael Murillo for Minnesota United’s visit.

NYCFC won’t have Alexander Ring, Ronald Matarrita, and Rodney Wallace, Portland’s without David Guzman and Andy Polo, and Sporting KC loses Daniel Salloi.

The Whitecaps won’t have center back Kendall Waston, while opponents LA Galaxt are without Ola Kamara.

New England Revolution vs. New York City FC — 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Brad Friedel‘s New England revolution, purposely lower case, is making believers out of its players. It would take a giant step if it could slow the NYCFC juggernaut. The visitors have allowed just one goal in their 3-0 start.

As for the hosts, Friedel has made his mark in a way that mostly makes you wonder what in the world Jay Heaps was doing:.

(Bunbury) pointed to a fine system in the locker room, increased accountability, how Friedel posts the starting XI on game day, and occasional two-a-day training sessions, which never occurred in the forward’s four years under Heaps.

“I think it unifies the team,” Bunbury said. “The broad sense of professionalism, it’s about having respect for each other and making sure you are held accountable in every part of this club.”

Never occurred under Heaps? Woof.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers — 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

FCD had an uninspiring ending to their CONCACAF Champions League dreams, but that’s little compared to the Timbers’ 0-2 start under Gio Savarese. A trip down South isn’t a surefire way to right the ship.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET Saturday

A long trip up North is only made worse by a laundry list of injuries for Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy. We’re only listing it amongst our Top Three because an LA win would be wildly impressive given the ‘Caps strong start.


Columbus Crew vs. DC United — 6 p.m. ET Saturday
New York Red Bulls vs. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET Saturday
Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC — 9 p.m. ET Saturday

Mourinho: “People with brains” understand Man Utd in transition

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Jose Mourinho’s been having a little fun on his international break, “managing” a team of superstars including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt in a charity match.

[ MORE: Southgate talks racism in football ]

Speaking CNN as part of a publicity run, Mourinho was asked about Manchester United’s second place campaign and disappointment after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League.

Mourinho reiterated his position that United is a team in transition, and that the season is going along at an acceptable clip.

“I understand the frustration, I understand the sadness of being knocked out in the Champions League, but I don’t understand anything more than that,” Mourinho said to CNN’s Amanda Davies.

United has scored the third-most goals in the Premier League, and allowed the fourth-fewest. It’s drastically reduced its propensity to draw matches, which hurt its table position last season, and has already surpassed last season’s goal total.

Two more wins, 10 goals better differential, and the list goes on but unfortunately also includes crosstown rivals running away with the league and still alive in the UCL.

“Of course in the future we want to have 19 clubs behind us but this is the reality,” said Mourinho. “And the reality is for people with brain, with sense, with common sense, with knowledge of what sports is, we are in a moment of transition. Being in a moment of transition and still manage to do what he did last season and win trophies and to do what we are trying to do this season, which is still trying to win a trophy, and try to be second, because in this moment it’s the only top position that is possible for us to get. I think we are in a good position.”