In their words: Players, coaches react to Borussia Dortmund’s thrashing of Real Madrid

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“I’m happy to have scored four goals, but obviously the big picture is reaching the final and that’s the only thing that counts. Real played well in the first half but we had things under control in the second half.” — Robert Lewandowski, forward, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I gave all my players a hug, because they fully deserved it. That was pure football tonight, my players were unstoppable. We lost the plot a bit after 25 minutes, however, and the players were a bit unsettled, which led to the equalizer.” — Jurgen Klopp, head coach, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I’ve never seen such a great goal as [Robert Lewandowski] ‘Lewy’s’ third – that was absolutely amazing.” — Kloop, via UEFA.com

“The bad thing about having a first and second leg is that we still need to play a game in Madrid. Therefore, we need to keep calm and not go crazy after this game. We all know that it won’t be a walk in the park in Madrid.” — Klopp, via UEFA.com

“They were the better side by far. They won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally. The game went from 1-1 to 4-1 in such a short space of time. We lost possession easily and couldn’t cope with their transitions and speed on the break.” — José Mourinho, head coach, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“For three of the goals we lost possession too easily and didn’t mark properly. We know about Lewandowski’s movement and he deserves great credit for his performance, but we didn’t make it as difficult for him as I would like.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“[M]any of the boys had a bad game and a bad night. At club level this is the second-most important game, after the final. Obviously I am very disappointed with how it’s gone.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“In football anything is possible. On a crazy night when everyone performs at a high level, when every chance is a goal, we can turn it around.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“It was a royal evening for us, it would have been perfect if we had kept a clean sheet. However, it’s quite hard to get a better result against a team like Real. We played a great game from the start until the final whistle and deserved to win by this margin.” — Ilkay Gundogen, midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“We were lacking in attitude and I point to myself first when I say that. It will be very difficult in the return leg at home but we must remain confident and try to react. When the draw for the semi-finals was made a lot of people thought this was going to be easy for us but this is a German team we are talking about; they are a great side.” — Sergio Ramos, defender/captain, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“I’m happy my teammates helped me recover from the mistake. I’m not happy with my performance but the rest of the team played great.” — Mats Hummels, defender, Borussia Dortmund, via @cnyari

 

Antoine Griezmann dismisses Man United reports

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Antoine Griezmann isn’t saying he is close to signing for Manchester United, but he isn’t saying he isn’t close either…

[ MORE: United win Europa League

The French forward, 26, has been at the center of intense media speculation over the past few weeks that he will sign for United this summer as the Red Devils will likely meet his $110 million release clause.

Sending out a message via his Twitter account, Griezmann said the following regarding the rumors he has agreed a contract and reaffirmed his connection to Atleti.

“All the rumors are unfounded, I’m always Colchonero,” Griezmann said. “My direction will be established after discussion with my sports consultants.”

The man who scored 26 goals in 53 appearances for Atleti in 2016-17 is said to be at the top of United’s summer wishlist and it is not like the the PL giants can’t afford to sign any player they want. They proved that last summer by paying Juventus a world-record fee of $114 million for Paul Pogba, who just happens to be Griezmann’s good friend…

Jose Mourinho said after United’s Europa League final win on Wednesday, which secured them a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for next season, that “Ed Woodward has my list, what I want, what I would like for more than two months. So now it’s up to him and the owners.”

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic recovering from a serious knee injury and out of contract at United this summer, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have chipped in with important goals in the past few months but United are lacking a talismanic striker. That’s where Griezmann comes in.

Alongside a star center back and a new left back, United’s main target is Griezmann.

Whether or not the Frenchman admits it now, United are chasing him hard and there only seems to be one outcome: Griezmann wearing the No.7 jersey at Old Trafford next season.

Toronto FC beats Crew 5-0 to extend unbeaten streak to 8

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TORONTO (AP) Victor Vazquez scored twice and Toronto FC routed the Columbus Crew 5-0 on Friday night to extend its unbeaten streak to a franchise record-matching eight games.

[ MORE: Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape ]

Toronto (8-1-5) is 7-0-1 since its lone league loss of the season, a 2-1 decision in Columbus on April 15. Columbus (6-7-1) has lost five of seven since topping Toronto.

Justin Morrow and substitutes Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton also scored for MLS-leading Toronto. The Canadian team also was unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4) from May 8 to July 10, 2010.

Toronto was reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when midfielder Marky Delgado was red-carded for a studs-up tackle on Columbus captain Wil Trapp. Osorio and Hamilton then scored to pad the lead for Toronto in its sixth shutout of the season.

Toronto played without the starting forward tandem of Sebastian Giovinco (injured) and Jozy Altidore (suspended for yellow card accumulation). Defender Nick Hagglund also is injured.

Agent: Barcelona offered more than Real for Vinicius Junior

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If Vinicius Junior can become half the player at Real Madrid that Neymar has lived up to be at Barcelona, Los Blancos will be pretty pleased.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on Monaco’s Silva ]

Real closed the deal for the 16-year-old Brazilian this week, but there were several other lucrative offers on the table, according to the player’s agent, Frederico Pena.

[ MORE: Totti leaves future uncertain heading into final Roma match ]

That includes bitter Spanish rivals Barcelona.

The agent stated that the Blaugrana did in fact offer a higher deal to acquire the Brazilian, however, he felt it would have complicated matters further to seek a greater offer from Real.

“There is practically unanimous view of the deal as a success,” Pena said. “If anybody gets criticised it is Real Madrid, for the risk they have taken, but they are sure that it will work. There were other clubs interested, and one offered to pay more money … Barca’s remuneration package offer for the player was higher than Real Madrid.

“But as we had reached an agreement with Real, we did not want to make this last push for them to match it. That could have embittered the relationship. Many people think it is crazy what Madrid are doing, but they were not alone in this craziness. They were not the only ones willing to pay this much for Vinicius.”

Pena also clarified as to why Vinicius chose Real over Barcelona, citing the player’s excitement about the development of Los Blancos during recent seasons under manager Zinedine Zidane and prior.

“Because Vinicius liked Madrid’s project better. There is always the feeling that players choose based on financial reasons, but that is not true. I assure you of that. Real Madrid’s negotiating posture was better.”

Real is on the verge of winning its third UEFA Champions League trophy in the last four seasons as the club prepares to face Juventus in the upcoming final.

Zidane’s men also won La Liga during the 2016/17 campaign.

Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape

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U.S. Soccer has come a long way over the years, and one of the nation’s most promising young players recognizes the progress the United States has made.

[ MORE: Man City acquire Monaco’s Silva after passing medical ]

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is one of several young talents that U.S. hopes to finally bring the American men a moment of glory on the biggest of stages — the World Cup.

The 18-year-old has done just about everything a player of his age could do. He’s played in one of the top leagues in the world, appeared in various UEFA Champions League matches and now he’s likely on pace to appear in the 2018 World Cup, assuming the USMNT advances out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The U.S., who have reached the World Cup during seven straight cycles, have come a long way in a short period of time, and Pulisic is happy with the improving U.S. Soccer landscape.

“It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” Pulisic told The Guardian. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.

“There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.

“We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”

During this past Bundesliga season, Pulisic recorded three goals and added six assists for a club that has become well known for its high-powered offensive attack.