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The weekend in Germany: Dortmund drop points in Bundesliga action

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It’s been a tough week for Borussia Dortmund. First, last year’s runners-up lost 2-1 to Napoli in the first round of Champions League action — but that loss also included the meltdown and sending off of Jurgen Klopp, a straight red card for starting goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, and an injury to Mats Hummels.

Those hoping Dortmund would bounce right back ended up disappointed. BVB were playing away to one of the worst teams in the league, and it should’ve been simple to collect all three points. Sure enough, the visitors opened the scoring with a beautiful direct free kick from Marcel Schmelzer — alas, both the fullback and Marco Reus came off at halftime with injury. Nurnburg deepened the pain shortly thereafter, equalizing through a goal from Per Nilsson. Dortmund remain top, but are no longer perfect, and are forced to share the spotlight with Bayern Munich, who easily beat Schalke in the late Saturday match.

Now, the rest of this week’s Bundesliga action:

Friday

Borussia Monchengladbach 4-1 Braunschweig

Braunschweig made a game of it for about 15 minutes, after Mirko Boland knocked in the newcomers’ only goal of the night. Oscar Wendt and Raffael had scored prior to the break, with Max Kruse putting in a penalty and Raffael adding another in the second half. Altogether it was an easy victory for the Foals, who moved up to fifth place and a Europa League position

Saturday

Hannover 2-1 Augsburg

The first half brought plenty of shots, but all goals came in the second. Paul Verhaegh opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty conversion, but Artur Sobiech equalized less than ten minutes later. Hannover finally got their winner in the 89th minute, through a penalty of their own, scored by Szabolcs Huszti. The win moves Hannover up to 4th and Augsburg down to 7th.

Wolfsburg 2-1 Hoffenheim

Anthony Modeste put Hoffenheim on the board after just fifteen minutes, but a brace from Ivica Olic, bagged on either side of the halftime whistle, saw Wolfsburg trot out the winners. Their third win puts them into sixth place, while Hoffenheim fall to 10th.

Nurnburg 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

See above.

Mainz 05 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen

Note to self: don’t bet against Leverkusen. With the two sides sitting so close in the table, it seemed the home side might squeeze out a win, but instead Bayer went wild. Robbie Kruse had scored two before the halftime whistle blew, bracketing a goal from Lars Bender. The visitors’ fourth came from Stefan Kiessling, with Mainz only able to add a consolation from Yunus Malli. Now Leverkusen are within a point of the league leaders, and Mainz have slipped down to 8th.

Hamburg 0-2 Werder Bremen

No surprises here, what with Hamburg lingering just above the relegation zone and all. Hamburg controlled the majority of the possession, both sides got in plenty of shots, but it was a brace from Nils Petersen that proved decisive. Werder is now solidly midtable, while Augsburg’s point means Hamburg are officially in the drop zone.

Schalke 0-4 Bayern Munich

Thought around the 20th minute: Hmmm, Bayern aren’t looking so great. 21st minute: Bastian Schweinsteiger scores. 22nd minute: Mario Mandzukic scores. The visitors put together a few more attacks in the first half, then go back to hiding in the second. After spending much of the second sitting back, Franck Ribery scored the third for Bayern, and Claudio Pizarro, on for Mandzukic, put in a fourth shortly before the final whistle. So much for a Schalke revival.

Still to come

Freiburg vs Hertha Berlin

Hertha BSC certainly aren’t behaving like a just-promoted side, having collected seven points thus far and sitting solidly midtable. Freiburg, meanwhile, have yet to win and sit only above Braunschweig in the table.

Stuttgart vs Eintracht Frankfurt

A battle at the bottom as these two sides, each with six points, hope to make a big jump and end up closer to the European positions than the relegation zone.

MLS Snapshots: Impact 5-1 Union | Toronto FC 4-1 DC United (video)

Didier Drogba
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Look out, America, for the Canadians of Major League Soccer are here, and they mean business. Saturday night saw the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC thrash the Philadelphia Union (5-1) and D.C. United (4-1), two playoff-caliber teams in their own right, each at home, to move to within four and six points, respectively, of New York City FC, the current leaders of the Eastern Conference. The stars for the two sides? Would you believe me if I told you Sebastian Giovinco and Didier Drogba each scored a hat trick on the night? Of course you would, because they’re Giovinco and Drogba. At their best, it’s hard to argue any team in the East is better than either Montreal or Toronto. Here’s to 180 minutes of Drogba vs. Giovinco in the Eastern Conference finals.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

19′ — Silky smooth build-up ends with a Drogba tap-in — If you’re allowing Drogba chances that are this easy, good luck to you. The real story here, though, is the backheel by Piatti. A moment like this is enough to flip me into a second-assist advocate.

42′ — Drogba slots home a rebound for 2-0 — Unlucky carom on the rebound, but you’re really not doing a great job of “don’t give Drogba chances that are that easy,” Union defense.

52′ — Drogba gets his hat trick — The Union are really, really not doing a good job of making life even the least bit difficult for Drogba.

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

Man of the match: Didier Drogba

Goalscorers: Drogba (19′, 42′, 52′), Pontius (72′), Piatti (87′), Mancosu (90+1′)


Three moments that mattered

21′ — Giovinco ends his skid with a stunning free kick — It had been eight full games since Giovinco last scored a league goal for TFC, by far the longest such streak of his time in MLS. The wait was (almost) worth it. (WATCH HERE)

39′ — Giovinco does it again — What is there to say at this point? The angle is ridiculous. The power is ridiculous. The swerve is ridiculous. Giovinco is a ridiculous player. (WATCH HERE)

90+1′ — A hat trick for Seba — Not to be outdone, Giovinco bags his third of the night.

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

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (21′, 39′, 90+1′), Jeffrey (24′), Delgado (29′)

WATCH: Giovinco’s goal drought is over after a pair of stunning free kicks

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Colorado Rapids during the first half of the MLS soccer game in Toronto on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP)
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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Oh, how we have missed you, Sebastian Giovinco, scorer of amazingly beautiful, video game-like goals.

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If you can believe it, Toronto FC’s tiny superstar entered Saturday’s clash with D.C. United without a goal in any of his last eight league games. Six minutes before halftime, the drought was over after not one, but two “only Giovinco could do that” free kicks (videos below).

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

It was by far the longest such streak of Giovinco’s (brief) time in MLS, and at least he had the decency to make it worth our wait.

Scholes: Pogba “nowhere near worth” rumored Man United transfer fee

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  Paul Pogba of Manchester United looks on during Paul Scholes' Testimonial Match between Manchester United and New York Cosmos at Old Trafford on August 5, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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If a player is only worth what a club is willing to pay them, then aren’t they also worth a price at the top of the pay scale, as long as a club is willing to pay it?

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Manchester United legend Paul Scholes doesn’t think so, at least not in the case of Paul Pogba, the highly-sought Juventus (and former Man United, which he left for free) midfielder. Rumored to be the subject of $113-million bid by the Red Devils, Pogba’s footballing future remains a question, though an answer will have to be realized in the coming days and/or weeks, as the 2016-17 Premier League season kicks off 21 days from today.

That’s a price that, according to Scholes, should be reserved for “someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi” — quotes from the Guardian:

“He was a very talented young player, I played with him and I knew how good he was. He played for the first team maybe once or twice, but from my understanding he was asking for too much money [when he left in 2012].

“For his age, he was asking for far too much money, for a player who hasn’t played first-team football. OK, he has gone on to great things. I think certainly there has been a lot of improvement. He needed to improve if he is going to be a player worth £86m.”

While United may have to pay closer to [$131 million], Scholes added: “I just don’t think he is worth [$86 million]. For that sort of money, you want someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like Ronaldo or Messi. Pogba is nowhere worth that kind of money yet.

[ PRESEASON: PL clubs in action with opening day three weeks ago ]

On Scholes’ assertion that Pogba was asking “for far too much money”: United have finished 7th, 4th and 5th in the last three PL seasons, while in that same time Pogba has gone on to become on of the top five players in the world; meanwhile, none of the world’s 20 best (or is it 50?) players currently play for United. It would have been a risk to pay a 19-year-old with three first-team appearances like a seasoned veteran, to be sure, but so much of succeeding at the top level of the sport is down to hitting pay dirt on exactly that kind of calculated risk. If everyone plays it by the book, no one’s ever going to get ahead.

On Scholes’ obviously fear he may no longer be United’s greatest “Paul”: It’s OK, Scholesy, it’ll be terribly difficult to top in 10 years what you achieved in 18.

MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-2 LA Galaxy (video)

CARSON, CA - MARCH 06:  Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick in the second half of their MLS match against D.C. United at StubHub Center on March 6, 2016 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated United 4-1.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are firing on all cylinders these days, having extended their winning streak to four games (six games unbeaten) with a 2-1 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday. The win sees Bruce Arena’s side move to within two and five points of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield-leading Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, respectively (the two sides face one another later on Saturday), while the Timbers miss out on their chance to jump two places, up to fourth, in the West. Back to Saturday’s game, Robbie Keane bagged the 80th goal of his time in MLS (to go with 44 assists, bringing the Irishman’s impressive statline up to 124 goals and assists combined in 118 appearances), but it was Gyasi Zardes who scored the winner, just four minutes after Keane’s opener, in the 11th minute. As I’ve opined the last two weeks, the Galaxy are peaking at the right time of year, and the rest of the league should be terrified.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

7′ — Keane taps home at the far post — Keane won’t score many goals easier than this one. Giovani dos Santos teed him up, and fortunately for Keane, Nat Borchers dropped his controller as GdS hit his cross.

11′ — Zardes heads home after another defensive breakdown — Zardes has real striker’s instincts. Let’s let him put those to good use, like he did in making the late run to the back post for the Galaxy’s second goal.

41′ — Valentin rolls one past Rowe for 2-1 — The finish from Valentin is nice, but how about Darlington Nagbe with the skill and the vision inside the penalty area to created the space, time and chance?

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

Man of the match: Robbie Keane

Goalscorers: Keane (7′), Zardes (11′), Valentin (41′)