Bundesliga Wrap: Bayern Munich come back to score big, Schalke prove a point

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It’s never boring in the Bundesliga, and Saturday’s matches only emphasized that point. 24 goals from seven matches, with a full quarter of them coming in Bayern Munich’s come from behind win at Wolfsburg. The giants remain top, naturally, although Dortmund could reduce their lead to a mere 20 points by the end of the weekend. It’s still Braunschweig, Freiburg, and Hamburg at the bottom, although a surprise win from Freiburg on Sunday could lift them out of danger, while Stuttgart and Nurnberg are making a compelling case to fall down to Bundesliga 2.

Saturday Results

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-2 Augsburg
It was the expected result, although many thought Gladbach would be leading at the break. See, the Foals have had a terrible time of it recently, taking leads only to lose them by the end of the match. Today was no exception. Raffael scored five minutes in, but by the 35th minute, Halil Altintop had canceled out the lead. The hosts had hope until the 81st minute, when an Augsburg counter produced a goal from Tobias Werner. Gladbach, now down to eighth, remain winless in 2014, while Augsburg move into sixth and a European position.

Hamburg 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Hamburg, who – exempting a surprising 3-0 victory over Dortmund a couple weeks back – have been in horrible form lately, are likely relieved to have come out of this match with a point. The hosts came undone following a corner, resulting in a goal from Eintracht center back Alexander Madlung. A penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu tied things up, keeping Hamburg in 16th.

Hannover 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
If Leverkusen don’t watch out, they’re going to lose out on next season’s Champions League, after holding second for much of the season. The draw with Hannover puts Dortmund, who’ve yet to play, in second, while Schalke are now even with Leverkusen on points. It could’ve been worse for the visitors had Szabolcs Huszti scored his penalty in the fifth minute, but they still let the lead slip away when Artjoms Rudnevs canceled out Gonzalo Castro’s goal.

Schalke 4-0 Hoffenheim
After losing 6-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League fixture, then falling 5-1 to Bayern last weekend, it seems Schalke had something of a point to prove. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar opened the scoring in the sixth minute and went on to score a hat-trick, despite missing a penalty. Schalke’s fourth came from Chinedu Obasi, off an assist from Kevin-Prince Boateng. After a dreadful start to the season, it’s looking like Schalke will play in the Champions League again next year.

Stuttgart 2-2 Braunschweig
A draw must seem like a great result for Stuttgart, who’d lost their last seven matches. Then again, a point doesn’t do much, considering the side, which started the season in the Europa League playoffs, are now just barely above the relegation zone. Braunschweig, of course, remain dead last, but they’ll be thrilled that a late goal from Ermin Bicakcic got them at least a point. Oh, and this match featured yet another missed penalty, this one from Christian Gentner of Stuttgart.

Wolfsburg 1-6 Bayern Munich
Teams just never learn their lesson, do they? If you score early on Bayern Munich they will punish you. Naldo put in the opening goal in the 17th minute, but Xherdan Shaqiri had the visitors level by the break. Then Pep Guardiola must have raged in side the FCB dressing room. Bayern scored five goals in seventeen minutes: two from Thomas Müller, one from Franck Ribéry and two more from Mario Mandžukić. Seriously, don’t make Bayern angry.

Nurnberg 0-2 Werder Bremen
Werder Bremen are sitting a bit more comfortably now, extending their unbeaten run to four games with a win over Nurnberg. Franco Di Santo and Philipp Bargfrede scored for the visitors, while Nurberg made some panicked attempts at avoiding sliding closer to the relegation zone.

Sunday Matches

Freiburg vs. Borussia Dortmund
It’s tough to see Freiburg, second from bottom, getting a result against Dortmund, second from top. But Hamburg did just that a couple weeks back, so it is possible. Not probable, but possible.

Mainz vs. Hertha Berlin
Hertha’s European hopes haven’t quite been extinguished – a win at Mainz would put them back into contention. But the visitors have struggled as of late, whereas Mainz, just a point outside the European positions, are unbeaten in their last three, and have kept a clean sheet throughout.

Lukaku coy on Everton future, says “decision has already been made”

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Romelu Lukaku has made it no secret that he hopes to play Champions League football, and reality may be setting in that the opportunity to do so won’t come at Everton.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break during Ireland match ]

While the Belgium international hasn’t dealt his hand in regards to his future at Goodison Park, it seems as though the Toffees could be losing out on keeping their star striker.

[ MORE: UEFA qualifying roundup — Wales in trouble, Buffon hits 1000 ]

Last month, agent Mino Raiola claimed that Lukaku’s deal with the English side was 99.9 percent complete, however, the 23-year-old has still yet to ink a new contract.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s UEFA World Cup qualifier against Greece, Lukaku says that his future plans are already made up.

“The decision has already been made so I can’t talk about that,” Lukaku said of his future at Everton.

The former Anderlecht standout has had nothing but success since joining Everton, first on loan and then making a permanent transfer from Chelsea in 2014. Over the combined stints, Lukaku has bagged 83 goals in all competitions for the Toffees, but the young attacker says there’s nothing wrong with having “ambition.”

“There is nothing wrong with ambition. You have to embrace it and where you are as a footballer,” Lukaku said. “I’ve made a long way until now but the road is still long and I know I have to improve and get better. I want to help Everton as much as I can, as well as the national team. I think a lot of stuff can be achieved.

“Sometimes people will mistake things that I say but it’s just ambition that I have; I want to win titles and trophies and I don’t think people should take that as arrogance — people should embrace it.

“This is what footballers need to achieve if they want to become the best, and I think young kids need to learn that too.”

Making sense out of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras

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In the lead up to Friday night’s clash at Avaya Stadium, the U.S. Men’s National Team was faced with a must-win scenario. What came next though was a bit more shocking than most U.S. Soccer supporters could have possibly imagined.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

An emphatic 6-0 scoreline was how it finished in San Jose, California as the USMNT took down Honduras to lift itself out of the cellar of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, but it’s how Bruce Arena’s side picked up the result that was so impressive.

After an extended layoff that began in the final months of the 2016 Major League Soccer season, Clint Dempsey has returned to both club and country with a vengeance following Friday’s performance. The artist formerly known as “Deuce” recorded a hat-trick in a span of 22 minutes to solidify an already convincing American lead, leaving Dempsey just two goals shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT scoring record (57).

Dempsey wasn’t the only bright spot though, as Sebastian Lletget, Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore and most notably, Christian Pulisic, turned in stellar performances that really left Honduras with no chance to find its rhythm in the match.

The 18-year-old Pulisic continues to be the talk of the town when it comes to the USMNT, and rightfully so given his club situation. There’s never been a U.S. talent succeeding at a club as big as Borussia Dortmund at such a young age, and Pulisic’s effort against Los Catrachos proved further that the young attacker could be the playmaker the Yanks have been looking for since Donovan’s retirement.

Meanwhile, another player that turned in a great performance was Jozy Altidore, and probably not for the reasons you’d normally think. The Toronto FC striker didn’t get on the scoresheet, however, it was Altidore’s hold-up play and vision that helped the U.S. dominate Honduras.

Altidore has long been a staple of the American attack, and an important one at that with his 37 international goals, which ranks third all-time for the U.S.. If the 27-year-old is able to replicate more performances like Friday night though, that makes the Stars and Stripes significantly more dangerous because of Altidore’s duel-threat ability.

The lone area the U.S. will look to clean up heading into Tuesday’s important qualifying match against Panama will be some of the team’s defensive letdowns. Jorge Villafana turned in a strong performance in his WCQ debut at left back, while veteran Omar Gonzalez had several moments of weakness in the heart of the American backline.

The Pachuca defender was caught out of position on several occasions and gave the ball away at times as well, but fortunately for the U.S., Honduras was unable to capitalize on those errors.

Overall though, the U.S. did exactly what it needed… and then some. The three points was all Arena’s group could have hoped for from the start after lackluster performances against Mexico and Costa Rica back in November, but adding six goals could certainly help down the road as well if goal differential becomes a key factor in the Hexagonal.

It’s difficult to say the U.S. is back because that’s a relative phrase that can be interpreted in numerous ways. The USMNT put in a stellar performance, albeit without key players like Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin defensively, while Bobby Wood and Jermaine Jones are two others that didn’t feature.

[ MORE: Three takeaways from USMNT’s emphatic win on Friday night ]

Only time will tell when it comes to how this team gels over an extended period of time, but it was certainly a dream start for the Americans as Arena Part Deux continues.

Up next, Panama.

Chastain, MacMillan inducted into US Soccer Hall of Fame

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Brandi Chastain looked at the assembled crowd in a tent under the rain and addressed former coach Tony DiCicco, who had just introduced her at the induction ceremony for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

[ MORE: USMNT smashes six past Honduras in CONCACAF WCQ ]

“Thank you, not just for today but for every day that you gave me the chance to play for the women’s national team, and for having the confidence in me and the guts to tell me I wasn’t going to be a forward,” she said.

Chastain, a forward on the 1991 World Cup champions and a left back whose penalty kick won a shootout for the 1999 title, was inducted Friday night along with midfielder Shannon MacMillan, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion three years later.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

The ceremony was held before the U.S. men played Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Remembered most for pulling off her shirt after her World Cup-winning goal and celebrating in a sports bra, Chastain grew up in San Jose and talked about her early days playing youth soccer in the area, starting with the Quakettes. After winning her first World Cup title, she was left off the 1995 roster. She revived her career as a defender.

“Change is good. Though, scary, it’s good. And I think we would all benefit from seeing change as an opportunity for growth and development, and for a new adventure,” she said.

Now 38, Chastain scored 30 goals in 192 international appearances and also won a pair of Olympic gold medals. MacMillan, 42, had 60 in 176 international games.

“It was always such a massive honor that gave me chills every time I walked in that locker room, whether it was my first cap, my 100th cap or my last cap,” MacMillan said. “It was something that I never took for granted.”

Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy was given the Colin Jose Media Award.

The Hall’s building in Oneonta, New York, closed in 2010 and a new Hall is being built in Frisco, Texas.

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.