Seattle falls at home in Champions League semifinal opener


Herculez Gomez. Of course it had to be Herculez Gomez who scored the goal that will make it so hard for Seattle to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Gomez, a U.S. international who had to ditch MLS for opportunities in Mexico to get his career past a sticking point, scored the lone goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 win for Santos Laguna.

Gomez has proven to be quite the MLS killer over the years. The California native had three goals over two legs against the Sounders last year in this competition. (Santos prevailed in that one, 7-3 on aggregate.)

Feel free to ask yourself at this point, was it really such an awesome idea for Sounders fans to chant “Sounders reject!” early in the match? Gomez played briefly for the Sounders on loan in 2003; clearly, the fans mocking words acted as accelerant on the man’s inner fire. 

Next week’s return leg is in Mexico, and the chances that Seattle can become the second MLS club to find its way into the Champions League final aren’t exactly zero. But they are pretty close. We told you yesterday that it was tough to like Seattle’s chances in the series. Well, stack the odds a little higher in the “against” category.

Listen to Sounders manager Sigi Schmid: “…we just now have to go down there and play pretty much a perfect game. But that’s not impossible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

Seattle played without four important attackers, who were rested or injured: strikers Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson and starting flank midfielders Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani.

Barring a shocking result next week in Torreon, this leaves the LA Galaxy as the only MLS club with a fighting chance of landing in the the regional tournament final. Bruce Arena’s club begins it home-and-away series against Mexico’s Monterrey tonight. (More on that later at ProSoccerTalk.)

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.