All of the competition, drama, and contention was at Old Trafford. It was an easy day at the Westfalenstadion.
Borussia Dortmund dominated from the opening kickoff, broke through near the half-hour mark, and finished the job just after halftime. What could have been an entertaining affair between two of Europe’s coming sides turned into a walk. Borussia Dortmund eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk, 5-2 (aggregate).
Many might see the easy defeat of a Ukrainian club by a German champion as par for the course, but consider what Shakhtar had done this tournament. They got a result at Juventus and three points at home from Chelsea, a victory that helped Shakhtar advance over the European Champions in Group E. In leg one against Dortmund, they earned a 2-2 result, another in the series of strong results that went for naught at today’s final whistle.
The biggest loss Shakhtar had suffered in the tournament before today was by one goal (to Juventus and Chelsea). Today they lost by three, a hint of how strong this Dortmund team can be.
Perhaps Dortmund’ struggles to keep up Bayern Munich in Germany have obscured their quality, but today against Shakhtar, they looked like one of Europe’s best.
It’s difficult to absorb their quality in two-minute bursts, so if you have a chance to catch the first hour of today’s game, do so. You’ll see a comprehensive performance against a talented Ukrainian champion, one that will make you ask who beyond Bayern have a better chance to win this tournament.
Check out the day’s highlights, above, courtesy of FOX Soccer.
It makes a lot of sense, you know?
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will turn 30 in 2018, not a spring chicken for a striker but still plenty productive if healthy.
His national team, Mexico, will likely be revving its engines for the World Cup, and won’t be upset to have the forward playing a bit less soccer and a lot closer to home.
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And Los Angeles FC will want to make a massive mark as it seeks to butt its head into a market dominated by the LA Galaxy (and, perhaps still then, Mexico national teamer Giovani Dos Santos).
So, tell us more, Steve Brisendine of MLSSoccer.com:
“[LAFC] are going to do everything possible to sign the current Bayer Leverkusen player, whose contract ends in 2018 and could therefore leave for a reduced fee. That’s what AS.com has confirmed with sources close to the project. LAFC hope to announce their new manager this spring and dream, a little later, to do the same with Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito.”
Make it happen. Make. It. Happen. We’re already reserving his spot on our MLS fantasy teams.
There’s action all over England, from those defending the goal mouth to others striving to conquer it.
[ MORE: More transfer gossip ]
— Bournemouth wants an upgrade on Artur Boruc, according to The Telegraph, and that could come in the form of Chelsea backstop Asmir Begovic.
The Cherries reportedly had a $12.5 million bid turned down by Antonio Conte, who has Thibaut Courtois in the No. 1 seat and Portugal national team backup Eduardo in the ranks (along with three keepers on loan and young goalie Mitchell Beanie).
— Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shut the door on acquiring West Ham wantaway Dimitri Payet according to Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre:
“We have many players offensively who can play in this position. You are interested by the quality of the player but there needs to be a need as well, and we have no need in this domain.”
— Clubs in need of experienced Premier League backs need look no further than Everton, where manager Ronald Koeman has admitted that England international Phil Jagielka could leave Goodison Park. The 34-year-old center back has 40 caps for England and has made 337 appearances for Everton. He could be a massive upgrade for Sunderland if David Moyes is up for a reunion.
— Stoke City chairman Peter Coates says a purchase of Saido Berahino from West Brom is not contingent on a sale of Bojan Krkic. The latter has been linked to Middlesbrough.
— Mauro Zarate may be returning the Premier League. Watford boss Walter Mazzarri has been largely let down by his strike corps as Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have taken steps back this season. Could $4 be enough to bring the ex-West Ham and QPR man from Fiorentina to Vicarage Road? Zarate has four goals in nine matches for La Viola, and has nine goals in 40 Premier League matches.
New LA Galaxy midfielder and USMNT mainstay Jermaine Jones is hoping he can clarify Tim Howard’s controversial comments about dual nationals.
Howard said Wednesday that there were commitment issues with some of the dual nationals on the United States squad, adding that players like Jones and Fabian Johnson were great for the team.
[ MORE: Galaxy adds Portugal CM ]
Jones answered those thoughts on Thursday, labeling them “dangerous stuff”.
From ESPNFC’s Doug McIntyre:
“With all the respect for Timmy, I feel it’s not if you’re half American or full-American. It’s more what you have in here [taps his chest].
“If you go on the field and you give everything for this country, then of course sometimes there’s a situation where you’re not playing good.
“But it’s normal. That can happen to everybody, and that’s what you have to understand.”
Jones isn’t shy to share his comments on anything, and it was definitely a surprise to hear Howard’s thoughts on dual nationals. Salient words from Jones.
Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.
Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.
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Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.
“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.
“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”
Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.
Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:
“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.