So much has happened in Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the men’s national team, hasn’t it? Players have risen high and fallen hard – sometime the very same player! Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea, for instance.
The fall and rise of Landon Donovan during Klinsmann’s time could be the next compelling Showtime drama.
During the affable German’s time in charge, the whole program teetered on the brink (depending on how deep you believe the fissures of February and March were) and then rallied spectacularly (Can we talk about that 12-game winning streak?).
There have been famous wins (victories at Mexico, at Italy spring immediately to mind), some beautifully surreal scenes (the Snow Clasico, of course) and the big hammer of accomplishment, qualifying for the World Cup with a full two games to spare.
There have also been moments worth of self-examination (losses in Jamaica last year and Honduras this year) and some uncomfortable times (moving on from the Carlos Bocanegra era, and Altidore’s eventually useful benching, for instance). The fusillades of media criticism were arriving in force for a while, mostly attached to stylistic concerns: The high pressure and pacey tiki taka may have trotted here and there, but never quite seemed to take hold and run completely free at full stride.
The point today is this …
How is it possible that all of this has happened in just a little over two years? But this is, for the record, the anniversary of Klinsmann’s first win. On this date waaaaay back in 2011, a 1-0 result against Honduras at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium became the first of 25 wins under the current U.S. manager.
Here is a quick rundown from U.S. Soccer on what has been accomplished in the interim, in the 24 months since Klinsmann got his debut victory as U.S. manager.
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.