Lets set aside all the branches of the Landon Donovan debate for a moment, shall we? (Ahem … pretty please?)
Temporarily lay away the arguments about whether he deserves a World Cup roster spot, his value to the national team going forward, his tactical role, etc.
For now, let’s just quickly examine – and marvel at – the man’s assault on every scoring record around the team. Because it really is quite something else.
Donovan is the national team’s all-time leader in goals and assists. That’s not exactly news, but it is topical today because Donovan had a goal and two assists in last night’s ground-and-pound against helpless Belize.
That gives Donovan 52 goals and 51 assists; he is the first U.S. player to reach the “50 milepost” in either category.
(MORE: Player ratings from last night’s U.S. win)
More to the point here: I just don’t see anybody capable of duplicating the 50 double – Shall we just call it the “Donovan Double Five-O?” – for a long, long time. In fact, I’m not sure I see anybody making up the ground on Donovan in either category, especially since the LA Galaxy attacker isn’t done internationally, surely about to scoop up more goals and more assists in the Gold Cup games ahead.
No active player is anywhere close to Donovan in assists. Dempsey is nearest; he has 12.
Dempsey does have a legitimate shot at catching Donovan in goals, currently second on the all-time chart with 35. Then again, Dempsey is just a year younger than Donovan – so he may not be around the international scene much longer than his U.S. teammate. Plus, Donovan will benefit from any Gold Cup stat padders over the next couple of weeks the way Donovan may.
Here are the U.S. all-time goals and assists leaders:
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.