UEFA Women’s Champions League: If you want to see Americans in European competition, this is the place

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Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) and Jermaine Jones (Schalke) are active in the men’s competition, but compared to the number of U.S. internationals involved in the women’s version of UEFA Champions League, two seems like a relatively paltry number. As the women’s competition’s Round of 32 started today, 27 U.S. players were listed on squads set to take part in this year’s knockout round.

That’s right: 27. There’s nearly one American player per team in UEFA Women’s Champions League, names that range from your top-flight U.S. Women’s National Team talents (Tobin Heath, pictured,, Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger) to NWSL players looking to supplement their income (Joanna Lohman, Sinead Farrelly) to players who make Europe their home base on a permanent basis (Christen Press, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg).

The full list of players is at the bottom of this article, but with the world’s biggest women’s club competition starting in earnest today, it’s worth asking why these players aren’t getting a little more publicity back home. Of course, we know the answer … but stay with me while we build toward it (and, eventually, get to today’s results).

Can you imagine the amount of attention we’d be giving to men’s Champions League if eight prominent players — talents close to or in the national team — were active in the competition? That’s how many players with national team possibilities are on the women’s list. Yet for as much as we hear about the exploits of Tim Howard and Michael Bradley and the Champions League outcomes of Schalke (Jones) and Anderlecht (Kljestan), the European exploits of some of the women’s game’s biggest stars are completely overlooked.

And, of course, this is the inherent sexism of sport at work. It’s sports-level patriotic to write and consume “yanks abroad” updates for the most obscure male talents, most of whom are reported on despite their games being unavailable to watch. But for women playing top-level soccer abroad? Many of whom are not available to watch weekly via internet streams? Patriotism apparently has its limits.

There are a couple other notable, confounding (though not independent) factors. The Women’s Champions League, as a tournament, has yet to capture imaginations like the men’s. It’s getting there, seemingly taking notable steps forward each year, but it’s not at the point where it’s readily accessible to the U.S. audience. You can stream it, but it’s mid-day. And aside from the final, it’s not on television (and being on GolTV makes that claim somewhat debatable).

Second, the women’s club world, while rapidly evolving, still sees a huge disparity between great teams and average ones. The divide often leads to some non-Champions-y results in UEFA’s showcase. Today there were 14-0 and a 7-1 results, both high numbers coming from the road team.

But let’s be honest: The inability to watch game never stopped people from tracking the biggest men’s talents. And with the popularity of the women’s national team in this country, it’s difficult to definitely argue there’s no interest in this type of coverage. While it would be difficult to justify throwing men’s Champions League or Premier League attention at the “WUCL”, it should justify a post vague, one-line “played 90 minutes, team lost X-Y” type coverage.

So what’s left? Where are we left with excuses? A lack of bandwidth to cover it? Maybe. But there may also just be a lack of males playing, and as anything regarding these issues, the reasons may be too confounded to untangle.

But maybe this is a case, of the simplest, most accessible answer is the right one. If 27 U.S. males were playing in Champions League, you wouldn’t have to hear it from me.

(Given the length of this post, I’ve broken the result of today’s Round of 32 action into a separate, upcoming post. Here, however, it the list of U.S. players on squads playing in this year’s UEFA Champions League):

U.S. PLAYERS IN 2013-14 UEFA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

  • Ingrid Wells, Turbine Potsdam
  • Alex Singer, Turbine Potsdam
  • Ashlyn Harris, Tyresö
  • Christen Press, Tyresö
  • Ali Krieger, Tyresö
  • Whitney Engen, Tyresö
  • Meghan Klingenberg, Tyresö
  • Lindsey Horan, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Tobin Heath, Paris Saint-Germain
  • Michelle Betos, Apollon Limassol
  • Kelly Ann Henderson, Apollon Limassol
  • Joanna Lohman, Apollon Limassol
  • Tina DiMartino, Apollon Limassol
  • Sinead Farrelly, Apollon Limassol
  • Jasmyne Spencer, Apollon Limassol
  • Gina DiMartino, Apollon Limassol
  • Kristen Nicole Edwards, Rossiyanka
  • Lydia Hasting, PK-35 Vantaa
  • Megan Rapinoe, Lyon
  • Viktoria Alonzo, Thor/KA
  • Thanal Annis, Thor/AK
  • Kayla Grimsely, Thor/AK
  • Chante Sandiford, Zorky
  • Amy Barczuk, Zorky
  • Nick Ashley, Zorky
  • Alyssa Mautz, Zorky
  • Amanda Mcmullan, Fortuna

MLS Snapshot: FCD lose 2nd in a row; Fire win 4th straight

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The game in 100 words (or less): After starting the 2017 season nine games without a loss, FC Dallas, the longest-lasting unbeaten team in MLS, has lost two straight. Saturday saw their unbeaten start come to an end, against the San Jose Earthquakes, just as Wednesday’s trip to Toyota Stadium saw Oscar Pareja’s side drop all three points to the Chicago Fire. All three of the game’s goals were scored during the opening nine minutes, as FCD fought back from 1-0, but couldn’t find a second equalizer on the night. Nemanja Nikolic bagged the opener, his 11th goal in 13 games to extend his lead in the Golden Boot race to two, in the 3rd minute. Roland Lamah brought FCD back to level terms three minutes later, but David Accam restored the home side’s advantage after three more minutes. Nikolic had every opportunity in the world to take his goals tally to a dozen during second-half stoppage time, but Chris Seitz denied the Hungarian international from the penalty spot. For the first time since Sept. 2012, Chicago have won four straight league games, and sit just two points back of Eastern Conference-leading Toronto FC (26 points).

[ WATCH: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to $10M contract demands ]

Three moments that mattered

3′ — Nikolic redirects past Seitz for 1-0 — Nikolic ran 15 yards straight ahead without a single FCD player picking him up or impeding his path to the near post, and they paid for it.

6′ — Lamah taps it in to make it 1-1 right away — Lamah has been quite the disappointment since arriving in Dallas this winter, but he happened to eb in the right place at the right time in this one, as a failed clearance fell to the five-times-capped Belgian international for an easy tap-in, and his first MLS goal.

9′ — Accam cuts inside to make it 2-1 just as quickly — At some point, Accam will be properly rated by the wider MLS audience, as he’s been Chicago’s best player for two full seasons, and has only hit a new high with capable attackers all around him.

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

Man of the match: Dax McCarty

Goalscorers: Nikolic (3′), Lamah (6′), Accam (9′)

Report: Chicharito-to-MLS in doubt due to contract demands

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While Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has the feel of the player most clearly destined to play in MLS since Thierry Henry, we might have to wait a little while longer before the 28-year-old Mexican international ditches Europe in favor of a return to North America.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to a report from ESPN FC on Thursday, Hernandez is seeking an annual salary “way north of $10 million,” which would shatter the current record contract for an MLS player (Kaka — $7.2 million per year).

Hernandez has one more season left on his contract with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. During the summer of 2018 he’ll be available for any club in the world to sign on a free transfer. With Los Angeles FC, the team Hernandez has reportedly been negotiating with for months now, set to debut in MLS in March 2018, chances are they’d like the centerpiece of their squad (and the largest annual investment in MLS history) to be involved on opening day, thus a fee will be required, very likely pushing the club’s total investment (salary plus fee) into the neighborhood of $50 million.

[ WATCH: Giovani dos Santos’ jaw-dropping volley vs. MIN ]

You can see pretty quickly why LAFC might balk at such demands.

With that said, 1) LAFC shouldn’t be surprised by this recent development, given Hernandez’s otherworldly allure within the LA market; 2) to piggyback on no. 1, a player should be paid every cent he’s worth to the club, on and off the field, and there might not be a player in the entire world (this side Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) who’d make LAFC a bigger hit in LA from day one.

Enrique “more than satisfied” with Barca tenure, eyes one more trophy

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique is finally saying goodbye to Barcelona, with one last chance at a trophy.

The Luis Enrique era in Barcelona ends after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday, when the coach could cap his three-year stint with a ninth trophy out of a possible 13.

It would be a fitting farewell for him nearly three months after his surprise announcement that he was leaving.

“It would be a special title,” Luis Enrique said.

The former Barcelona midfielder has won nearly everything as the coach, since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014.

He led the team to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey, and Champions League in 2015. He achieved the league-Copa double in 2016, and began this season with the Spanish Super Cup title, their only trophy so far.

It hasn’t been Luis Enrique’s best season with Barcelona, which was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, and lost the Spanish league to Real Madrid last weekend.

“I’m happy and more than satisfied for all the years that I’ve enjoyed with this club,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said.

He announced in March he was leaving so he could get some rest.

“I came here to be a leader and I’ve been one. I’m leaving when I think it’s the best time to do it.”

His other titles included the 2015 European Super Cup and the 2015 Club World Cup.

Barcelona has yet to lose a Copa del Rey home-and-away series since he took over, a run of 12 straight triumphs.

“We are all thankful for these three years (with Luis Enrique),” captain Andres Iniesta said. “We have to win one last title to finish the best possible way.”

Barcelona has been in the Copa final in seven of the last nine seasons, including the last four. It has won it a record 28 times, including the last two.

Alaves will be playing in the final of a major tournament for only the second time in its 96-year history. The other was the UEFA Cup 16 years ago, when it lost to Liverpool 5-4 in extra time.

Alaves’ only winner’s trophy is for Spain’s second division. It was a promoted club in Spain’s top division this season after 10 years in the lower divisions, including four in the third tier. It finished ninth in the Liga.

Alaves enters the Copa final boosted from having beaten Barcelona 2-1 at Camp Nou at the beginning of the season.

The coach touted to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona is Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao this week. An official announcement is expected next week.

Marco Silva leaves Hull; Premier League clubs lining up

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Marco Silva came to the Premier League, he saw the PL, but he didn’t conquer the PL — at least, not yet.

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It was announced on Thursday that the 39-year-old Portuguese manager, who took over last-place Hull City in January, has left the club after succumbing to relegation from the PL. Silva, whose stock rose quickly during his brief stay in England, signed a contract that ran only through the end of the season should they be relegated, thus he’s not sure on options these days. Hull would have undoubtedly welcomed him back for a run at promotion from the Championship next season.

As recently as Wednesday, Silva was expected to be named the new boss at Porto, though various reports stated that talks between the manager and club had broken down.

[ MORE: Terry “couldn’t care less” about criticism of his farewell ]

Watford and Crystal Palace, both of whom are manager-less after Walter Mazzarri was fired and Sam Allardyce resigned, respectively, are said to be extremely interested in Silva’s services.