Up two after 25 minutes, Barcelona looked en route to a typical Blaugrana Saturday. Messi was on the board as was Pedro, the young Spaniard with only his fourth goal for the season. Against a team averaging fewer than a goal-and-a-half per game, it should have been enough, particularly considering Real Sociedad was unlikely to keep Spain’s leaders off the scoresheet over the final 65 minutes. (Barcelona came into the game averaging 2.8 goals-per-65 league minutes.)
Even when Gonzalo Castro pulled one back for Sociedad minutes before half time, Sociedad could not have predicted they were on their way to a 3-2 victory over the previous undefeated Barcelona. It was only after 11 minutes of the second half that La Real could have started to dream, with a sending off leaving the hosts to play the final third of the match up a man. Castro added a second seven minutes later, and in stoppage time, Imanol Agirretxe finally put a “1” in Barcelona’s loss column.
Barcelona’s only other loss this season had been to Celtic in Champions League group play.
After the match, Tito Vilanova said he’d cautioned Gerard Piqué and halftime. Something about the match must have convinced the Barcelona head coach to reiterate the obvious. Carrying a caution into the final 45, Piqué couldn’t afford any mistakes. Yet only 11 minutes into the second period, the Barcelona defender was gone after taking down Carlos Vela.
It was the break Sociedad needed. So were the posts Messi and Pedro hit. So was the incredible performance from Castro. So was a defensive performance that limited Barcelona to three shots on goal. Not all of these breaks were luck, but for Sociedad to pull of this upset, they needed a number of things to go their way, not the least of which was their own resilient performance.
Such is the nature of unexpected results. They usually require a number of coincidental events to line up. On Saturday in San Sebastian, that’s exactly what happened.
Real Sociedad’s three unexpected points vaulted them to fifth (temporarily) while Barcelona must remain content with an 11-point lead on second place Atlético Madrid.
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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.