DaMarcus Beasley’s Gold Cup captaincy: Not everything is about Landon Donovan

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It’s not all about Landon Donovan, though from DaMarcus Beasley’s perspective, it could be. Even when the Puebla midfielder, who recently accrued his 100th cap for the U.S. Men’s national team, was named team captain for the Gold Cup, people are using the occasion to talk about his old pal from Bradenton: Why wasn’t Landon Donovan given the arm band? (Just search Twitter for “Landon Donovan” to see some of the reaction.)

Can’t we take a moment to think about why Beasley may be deserving of this honor? The veteran who has worked his way back into the national team picture, one of the few holdovers from June’s qualifiers who will take part in this month’s Gold Cup? The man who’s been to three World Cups, who has had the misfortune of having some of his prodigious professional accomplishments overshadowed during a career that’s run parallel to Donovan’s?

I’m feigning surprise, but it’s no shock that the most popular player in the history of the men’s national team is going to be the subplot whenever he’s around. And with Donovan in the Gold Cup squad, loyal fans still expect a certain deference, including the arm band.

It should go without saying that was never going to happen. The guy has rarely been a part of the setup since Jurgen Klinsmann took over. He went on walkabout earlier this year. He knows he has to work his way back into the team.

Do you really think Landon Donovan’s locked away in his San Diego hotel room ruminating about this? Probably not. Donovan seems to have accepted the consequences of his early 2013 vacation. He’s said all the right things. He knows he has to work his way back into the team, and he’s continuously reiterated his desire to do so. At no point has he intimated anything approaching the entitlement of expecting to be made captain, and Klinsmann’s choice of Beasley’s is less a reflection of some theoretical grudge than a reflection of Donovan’s reality. A reality he’s created.

But look at me, falling into the same trap. At a moment where we could be paying tribute to Beasley, I’m helping fuel a conversation about Donovan. Oh, the tacit hypocrisy of commentary.

I suppose it is what it is, but I can’t help but wonder if Beasley ever stops and thinks about Donovan’s shadow. While he was playing in Champions League semifinals for PSV, making stops at Manchester City and Rangers, U.S. Soccer and Nike were all-in on Landon. Don’t mind me, I’m just playing in England and the Champions League, Beasley could have sarcastically said to himself. If the prime of his career was happening right now, he might get Dempsey-level attention.

That attention never came, but with today’s announcement, Beasley can content himself with this honor. He’s had a fabulous career, one worthy of this recognition.

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-5 Montreal Impact (video)

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The match in about 100 words: Well, here’s a formula for ending Toronto FC’s 11-match unbeaten run –

  1. Hope they don’t use Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Victor Vazquez.
  2. Have your best player ball out of control.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti did just that, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first half alone. A 42nd minute own goal from Montreal opened the door to home hope, but Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his breakout campaign with two goals in four minutes. Tosaint Ricketts scored a pair of late headers to complete the score line.

Toronto FC’s home crowd didn’t see arguably its three top performers of the season, and did see something it hadn’t this year: a home loss. That it was a derby loss won’t feel good for the Reds, who also gave oxygen to their rivals’ flickering playoff hopes.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

12′ — Michael Bradley clears TFC’s runway — Not the finest moment for Captain America, as Marco Donadel opens up his laser and fires.

24′ — “When defenders fall down” — …And when they do it in front of Nacho, inside the 18.

47′ — AJH puts it to bed — It wasn’t Toronto’s night, and a bad back pass met tepid decision-making and one of the sleepy breakout players of MLS in Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Piatti

Goal scorers: Piatti (10′, 24′), Donadel (12′), Boldor (o.g. 42′), Jackson-Hamel (47′, 51′), Ricketts (77′, 79′).

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 4-0 LA Galaxy (video)

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The match in 100 words (or less): Somewhere, Atlanta United is still scoring now with 19 goals in its last five outings. The “Five Stripes” fired at will for the second-straight game, leading 3-0 before Jermaine Jones made it academic with a silly red card. Yamil Asad had two goals and two assists in the first half, while Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez also scored. For Martinez, it’s seven goals in seven days. LA has quit, and Tata Martino’s Atlanta may just pose a threat to Toronto FC’s presumed MLS Cup Final spot.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

13′ — Maaaaayyyybe defend, LA? — It’s one thing for Rafael Garcia to back off and back off and back off and back off Yamil Asad. It’s another thing to fail in any attempt to mark the hottest scorer in MLS: Josef Martinez.

20′ — Three goals in seven minutes — About that “defending”… woof. This is a straight-up passing drill for ATL.

39′ — Jermaine Jones rolls back the years (not in a good way) — The combustible midfielder showed that vibes haven’t settled in LA despite Sigi Schmid’s presence, taking an easy red considering VAR’s abilities for dragging his cleat in the direction of a fellow human’s spine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Asad

Goal scorers: Martinez (13′), Asad (16′, 20′), Almiron (43′)

Atletico Madrid to host 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final

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The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Final is headed to Madrid.

Atletico Madrid announced that next season’s final will be played at the recently-opened Wanda Metropolitano, making Atleti the fourth Spanish club to host a UCL final (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla).

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational goal ]

Atleti raves of its new home, “The Wanda Metropolitano can seat 68,000 spectators and is at the technological forefront due to agreements with top companies in their sector.”

This season’s final will be played at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, the home of the Ukraine national team and Dynamo Kiev.

The UCL Final was last in Madrid at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, for Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich in 2010.

Mourinho: League Cup “important to” Man Utd, but asks if it’s necessary?

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Marcus Rashford‘s heroics helped Manchester United cruise past visiting Burton Albion, 4-1, in a League Cup third round match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Mourinho said the League Cup is important to Manchester United because it’s an official tournament, and United wants to win everything it can as a club.

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational second ]

Yet he stopped short of endorsing the Cup’s long-term future, a tournament which his side won last season but is perhaps the major obstacle towards the Premier League joining other European leagues with winter breaks. From ManUtd.com:

“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager. If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe, maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.”

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]

United drew a trip to Swansea for the fourth round, and is certainly among the favorites to win the whole thing with their solid depth (See their Starting XI below).

Would you miss the League Cup if it went away?