This weekend the FA Cup takes center stage in England, as the oldest knockout competition in history is looking to provide some big upsets.
First up on Friday were two matches as potential banana skins were thrown towards Arsenal and Nottingham Forest, with lower-league opposition standing in the way.
Let’s see how both games panned out, as the magic of the cup continues…
Arsenal 4-0 Coventry
The Gunners eased through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, following two first half goals from German international Lukas Podolski and late strikes from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. But visitors Coventry — who currently sit 11th in League One and play 35 miles away from their home city and Northampton Town’s ground due to severe financial issues — certainly made the Gunners work for the win as Leon Clarke struck the post in the second half, as the Sky Blues were roared on by a large contingent of traveling fans. However Arsenal had that extra bit of class that showed why there are 55 places above Coventry in the English soccer pyramid as the North London club strolled into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a classy performance.
However the big factor to come out of this routine win for Arsenal, from a U.S. standpoint, was that 16-year-old wonderkid Gedion Zelalem made his Gunners debut as a 71st minute substitute. The youngster who lived in D.C. from the age of 9-16 showed incredible composure to slot right into the team and spray the ball around effortlessly in his 20 minute debut. They say this kid can “dribble like Iniesta and pass like Xavi”… No pressure, Gedion. But if his first outing in an Arsenal shirt is anything to go by, Zelalem will take to the Premier League like a duck to water. And oh yeah, the German born teenager is eligible to play for the U.S. national team. Sign him up!
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Preston
Elsewhere on Friday night there was one other FA Cup fourth round match, as League One side Preston North End held Championship high-fliers Nottingham Forest to a 0-0 draw at the City Ground. Forest, who hammered Premier League side West Ham 5-0 in the third round, weren’t at their best in the driving rain in the East Midlands and the game didn’t really get going until the final 30 minutes. That’s when Preston burst into life as they sensed Forest were there for the taking. In the final minute Josh Brownhill almost caused a big upset but his rasping free kick was saved well by Forest ‘keeper Karl Darlow, as Preston earned a replay and ensured a League One side would be in the hat for the fifth round draw.
Another interesting note for U.S. fans is that right-back Eric Lichaj went the full 90 in defense for Forest, while Canadian international attacker Iain Hume came on as a second half sub for Preston.
Borussia Dortmund substitute and USMNT phenom Christian Pulisic subbed into Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League match versus Real Madrid and made a difference.
Given 17 minutes to work, Pulisic needed about 10. The 18-year-old American sent in a cross that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t volley but fell to another BVB player.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
That was Andre Schurrle, and the ex-Wolfsburg and Chelsea man lashed a shot behind Navas to make it 2-2 at the Westfalenstadion.
Pulisic does well here, real well, and had a chance to make it 2-2 himself that was smothered by Navas.
A 67-day reign as a national team blown up by allegations of corruption? We’ve seen similar situations in world soccer, but certainly not at a high-profile, traditional headline-grabber like the England national team.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
English legend Alan Shearer called the Three Lions a “laughing stock”, adding that, “I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m staggered at the misjudgement from a guy who admitted this was his dream job.”
The UEFA Champions League’s group stage hits its second round of matches Tuesday, with two Premier League teams in play and a bevy of big names from outside England.
[ MORE: Dempsey out for 2016 ]
Leicester City 1-0 Porto
The chemistry between Algeria and now Leicester City teammates Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani is very real.
The former fed the latter for an opening goal on Tuesday in UEFA Champions League play at King Power Stadium, as the Foxes have opened up a 1-0 lead on Porto.
You can imagine the visitors aren’t too pleased with having to meet up with Slimani, who they just managed to see out of their league only to watch him arrive in their UCL group.
And how about the mad dabbing kid shown just after Slimani’s celebration? Wild nights in Leicester.
CSKA Moscow 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs are controlling the play, but have yet to find a goal in Russia.
Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Juventus
Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic have the goals for The Old Lady.
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo got on the scoresheet, though the hosts have been by far the more dangerous side. USMNT teenager Christian Pulisic is on the bench for BVB.
Thomas Tuchel’s side threatened to score through a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rocketed a shot just over the frame, and the Gabonese man made it 1-1 soon after when Keylor Navas punched Raphael Guerriero’s free kick off Raphael Varane. Aubameyang touched it over the line for an academic marker.
Here’s Ronaldo’s goal:
Sevilla 0-0 Lyon
Monaco 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Copenhagen 0-0 Club Brugge
Sporting CP 2-0 Legia Warsaw
The Seattle Sounders may yet make a playoff appearance, but it will be without Clint Dempsey.
The USMNT star recently returned to training with the team after dealing with an irregular heartbeat.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerway made the announcement on Tuesday.
“If we prioritize this now, hopefully we can get Dempsey back in 2017.”
That does not seem to bode well for his participation with the United States men’s national team, which has October friendlies with Cuba and New Zealand before the first two matches of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in November.
Fortunately for the Sounders, both Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro have their upped their games in his absence, and Andreas Ivanschitz has been decent as well.
Seattle is five points back of fifth place Sporting KC, and three back of sixth place Portland. The Sounders have played two less matches than both sides.