I love the idea of MLS-Liga MX friendlies – but only where they make sense.
Chivas de Guadalajara or a couple of the other clubs that have healthy fan bases in the United States? Sure, those make (dollars and) sense.
Even the middle-weights of Mexico can draw a crowd and give a good game to MLS clubs in Texas or California where the Latino populations are large enough to have reasonably sized fan bases nearby.
Or, catching the flavor the moment in these friendlies represents a solid plan, too.
So I’ve got mixed feelings about the LA Galaxy’s upcoming friendly against Liga MX champions Club Tijuana. Just announced yesterday, the nearby neighbors meet Feb. 19 at the Home Depot Center.
Formerly obscure Tijuana is an amazing story in regional sports, having just won the Liga MX Apertura title, punctuating a rags-to-riches rise that we just don’t see very often on highly financed soccer.
In this one, Bruce Arena is likely to deploy his starters for at least a half. That’s different than what we often get in mid-summer friendlies that feature MLS-Liga MX matchups. In the stack-up of league matches, Open Cup contests and game in CONCACAF Champions League, some clubs have no choice but to run out a team of reserves.
It’s a real ticket sales conundrum, because fans are asked to support a game devoid of stars – and are sometimes stuck with a portion of the bill when their season ticket series includes “International Game A” and “International Game B” and so on.
The problem then becomes this: Where does the match fall for the Mexican club? Here, the answer for the Xolos is “In the worst possible place.”
Club Tijuana actually has a Copa Libertadores match the same day! And that is a far, far more important match for such a tiny club.
Jadon Sancho made history for English players in Germany thanks to a little help from an American teenager.
Christian Pulisic dribbled free from a pack of would-be tacklers to cue up the ex-Manchester City player for a finish against Bayer Leverkusen in the 13th minute of a match at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday.
[ MORE: Klopp rips West Brom ]
Sancho just turned 18 on March 25, and becomes the youngest English goal scorer in Bundesliga history having entered the match with one assist in 415 Bundesliga minutes.
As for 19-year-old Pulisic, the USMNT prodigy has five goals and seven assists in 39 matches across all competitions this season.
Paul Pogba made amends for an early marking error that led to a Spurs opener by setting up Alexis Sanchez’s equalizer as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are tied at 1 after 45 minutes of their FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium.
[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]
Spurs went ahead through Dele, as Pogba lost Christian Eriksen as the Dane raced onto a long ball. Eriksen crossed to the back post for Dele’s sliding finish.
Pogba made amends in his preferred third of the pitch, stealing the ball from a Mousa Dembele and lofting an inch-perfect cross for Alexis to nod home. The headed finish was anything but easy, hit across the goal while falling to the pitch.
It’s one-and-done for Sunderland in the Championship, though not in the way expected by most supporters of the Black Cats.
[ RECAP: WBA 2-2 Liverpool ]
Relegated from the Premier League under David Moyes‘ guidance last season, Sunderland lost Saturday to leave them six points back of safety with two to play.
But either Burton Albion or Bolton will get at least a point from a match against each other, meaning Sunderland would need at least seven when all is said and done.
- Twenty-one clubs have been relegated since the start of the 2010-11 season.
- Six have sunk as low as League One (including Sunderland)
- Seven returned to the Premier League (including Wolves for 18-19)
- Ten are currently in the Championship
It’s a message to all Premier League sides expecting favorite status in the Championship, including likely relegation side West Bromwich Albion.
Here’s how the most recent sides have fared since dropping out of the top flight.
Relegated sides this decade, and current status
*club still alive for 2018-19 promotion to Premier League
#club could be relegated from current league
Hull City (2016-17) — Championship
Middlesbrough (2016-17) — Championship*
Sunderland (2016-17) — Relegated to League One
Newcastle United (2015-16) — Returned to PL in one season
Norwich City (2015-16) — Championship
Aston Villa (2015-16) — Championship*
Hull City (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance, then relegated last season
Burnley (2014-15) — Promoted at first chance
Queens Park Rangers (2014-15) — Championship
Norwich City (2013-14) — Has since been promoted, relegated back to Championship
Fulham (2013-14) — Championship*
Cardiff City (2013-14) — Championship*
Wigan Athletic (2012-13) — promoted to Championship for 2018-19
Reading (2012-13) — Championship#
Queens Park Rangers (2012-13) — Since promoted, relegated back to Championship
Bolton (2011-12) — Championship#
Blackburn (2011-12) — League One*
Wolves (2011-12) — Promoted to Premier League this season
Birmingham City (2010-11) — Championship#
Blackpool (2010-11) — League One
West Ham United (2010-11) — Promoted at first chance, still PL
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Saturday (12:15 p.m. ET kick off) with both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho aiming to keep alive their only remaining hope of winning a trophy this season.
[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]
For Spurs, they are certainly used to playing at Wembley after calling it home all season long while their new stadium is completed. Yet Harry Kane and Co. know they will keep hearing about how they need to win a trophy to prove themselves as Spurs have gone 10 years without a piece of silverware.
Mourinho is the master of grinding out wins in these kind of situations but United were dominated by Spurs at Wembley back in January in the PL and were lucky to escape with just a 2-0 defeat.
[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on United v Spurs ]
Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.