Bundesliga Roundup: Bayern fall, twice in a row

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It took more than three years, but it’s finally happened: Bayern Munich have lost back-to-back Bundesliga games for the first time since March 2011. Of course, the German giants have already wrapped up the title and are focused on winning the Champions League once more, but the 3-0 victory was still quite a coop for Dortmund.

Little changed in the bottom half of the table, with Hamburg, Nurnberg and Braunschweig still occupying the last three slots, and Stuttgart sitting just above.

Friday Results

Schalke 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Schalke are looking more and more certain of an automatic Champions League place next season, holding an eight point lead in third place with six games left to go. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to score again, missing a penalty in the 66th minute, but both Max Meyer and Jefferson Farfán stepped up, the latter grabbing a late goal after coming on to replace Julian Draxler in the 86th minute.

Saturday Results

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Stuttgart
Gladbach fought back to claim a draw, keeping the Foals within a point of fourth place and what’s certain to be a hard-earned Champions League spot. Daniel Didavi opened the scoring with a goal in the 12th minute, and it looked as though Stuttgart were set to hold on for a win. But Juan Arango got on the end of a cross from Max Kruse to equalize in the 89th minute. That leaves Stuttgart in the thick of the relegation battle, one point clear of the danger spots.

Freiburg 2-0 Braunschweig
Last week’s surprise 3-0 victory over rivals Hannover is now but a distant memory, with bottom-side Braunschweig losing once more and remaining three points clear of safety. The visitors even graciously gifted Freiburg the opener, with Damir Vrančić putting the ball into the back of his own net, and Julian Schuster added a second shortly after the restart. With just one loss in their last six, Freiburg are now looking like they just might stay up.

Hannover 2-1 Hamburg
After beating Leverkusen last weekend, Hamburg are once again back in the danger zone. Hannover’s Lars Stindl gave the hosts the lead before ten minutes were up, but Hakan Calhanoglu found an equalizer just after the second half began. It looked as though Hamburg might manage a point, but a tap-in from Didier Ya Konan secured the win for Hannover.

Mainz 3-0 Werder Bremen
It was all too easy for Mainz, who lost to Frankfurt last weekend, to overcome Werder this week. Another own goal, from Nils Petersen, opened the scoring, with Christoph Moritz and Yunus Malli adding two more before the clock had reached forty minutes. The result keeps Mainz, currently seventh, in the hunt for a Europa League spot, but they’ll be four points out if Leverkusen beat Hertha on Sunday.

Wolfsburg 4-1 Nurnberg
Their emphatic victory over Nurnberg lifted Wolfsburg into fourth, although they’ll remain wary of Gladbach and Leverkusen sneaking in – particularly with a potentially tiring Cup game against Dortmund midweek. Markus Feulner opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals from Ivica Olić and Ivan Perišić put Wolfsburg up 2-1 at the break. Junior Malanda put in the hosts’ third and Perišić  grabbed a second to make it 4-1. Nurnberg remain second from bottom, having lost three in a row and with Leverkusen, then Mainz up next.

Bayern Munich 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
A surprise win at the Allianz Arena keeps Dortmund in second, three points above Schalke. Marco Reus proved instrumental in the victory, setting up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the first goal and scoring the second himself. Jonas Hofmann got the third, before the hour mark. The match ended with Bayern’s Rafinha being shown a straight red for fighting. Oh, and if you’re worried about Manuel Neuer being subbed off at halftime, fret not – it was just a precautionary move to keep the goalkeeper healthy.

Sunday Fixtures

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin
The hosts have a chance to get themselves back into the Champions League spots, but you have to wonder – do they really want to reach such dizzying heights? In the twelve games played since the winter break, Leverkusen – who were second in January – have won just three times. Hertha, too, have fallen in the second half. They’ve won just twice and slid into tenth, but their excellent start to the season means they’ll spend another year in the top division.

Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg
The week finishes with a mid-table clash, so you might be tempted to tune it out. But Hoffeheim absolutely love high-scoring thrillers, routinely either netting four or allowing four. They have 64 goals scored, as many as Dortmund, but 63 conceded, which is the most in the Bundesliga. How can you not want to watch?

Kenya loses hosting rights to 2018 African Nations Championship

Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images
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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Kenya has been stripped of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship.

The Confederation of Africa Football cited “accumulated delays” in Kenya’s preparations for the tournament, which is the continental championship for players playing in their home leagues.

[ MORE: Premier League Sat. roundup ]

CAF made the decision to take the tournament away from Kenya at an executive committee meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday and opened the bidding process for a new host on Sunday. CAF says applications must be received by next Sunday and the new host will be announced in just over two weeks.

The African Nations Championship is scheduled to be played from Jan. 12-Feb. 4.

Kenya’s preparations for the 16-team tournament were already troubled before August when its presidential elections were nullified and a re-vote was ordered. That re-vote is scheduled for next month, and the political instability has meant preparations for the soccer tournament have been undermined.

CAF also says it is opening a tender process to recruit an audit firm to examine Cameroon’s preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, Africa’s top soccer event.

Like Kenya, Cameroon’s readiness to host the Cup of Nations has been under scrutiny. CAF says it needs to examine the state of Cameroon’s “infrastructure to host the tournament,” with the 2019 Cup of Nations the first to be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.

MLS Snapshot: Red-hot RSL end Sounders’ unbeaten run at 13

Photo credit: Real Salt Lake / @RealSaltLake
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The game in 100 words (or less): With the Seattle Sounders’ 13-game unbeaten run now a thing of the past (and the final four of those games all draws), Real Salt Lake (two losses in their last two, including wins in four of their last five) might just be the hottest team in MLS not named Atlanta United (just one loss in their last 12, including wins in three of their last four; combined score: 17-3). Furthermore, Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium boosts RSL into fifth place in the Western Conference, two points clear of the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, as Mike Petke’s side makes this year’s improbable, late charge toward the MLS Cup Playoffs, in much the same fashion Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders did a year ago. Jefferson Savarino, who scored one and assisted one on Saturday, has proven himself a star on the rise in recent weeks, and has RSL playing their best soccer of the year at exactly the right time.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three moments that mattered

52′ — Savarino slams home Rusnak’s pass for 1-0 — RSL have themselves an attacking trio (Savarino, Albert Rusnak and Brooks Lennon) that loves to play together, and that joy really shines brightly in moments like this.

66′ — Mulholland slams home from Savarino’s cross for 2-0 — Savarino turned provider just 15 minutes later, getting in behind Joevin Jones, corralling Joao Plata’s through ball, and picking out Mulholland atop the six-yard box.

92′ — Rimando makes a stunning save to deny Dempsey — Clint Dempsey tried to sneak a quick free kick past Nick Rimando, but the all-time greatest goalkeeper in MLS history was over it.

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

Man of the match: Jefferson Savarino

Goalscorers: Savarino (52′), Mulholland (66′)

MLS Snapshot: FCD’s winless skid hits 10 in loss to MNUFC

Photo credit: Minnesota United / @MNUFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): Just when FC Dallas think they’ve hit rock-bottom, the fall a little bit farther. Oscar Pareja’s side saw its winless skid hit 10 games on Saturday, with a 4-1 loss away to Minnesota United, a side themselves with all of three wins from their last dozen games. Gone now are the games in hand that buoyed FCD’s hopes just a few weeks ago, as they’re now level on games played with many of the sides presently ahead of them in the race for a Western Conference playoff spot, save for Real Salt Lake (level on points) and the San Jose Earthquakes (one point ahead). Following their sixth loss in 10 games, FCD remain eighth in the West, a point behind the Houston Dynamo for the sixth and final playoff place (RSL play later on Saturday with a chance to go fifth themselves. Minnesota, meanwhile, distance themselves from the 10th-place LA Galaxy and sit just six points behind FCD, having rebounded nicely after an appalling start to their expansion season.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

14′ — Akindele arrives late, slams home for 1-0 — Tesho Akindele waltzed through the penalty area, unnoticed and unmarked, before arriving at the top of the six-yard box just in time to meet Michael Barrios’ cross.

24′ — Ramirez finishes after a beautiful through ball sets him up — Kevin Molino picked the right pass, and played it perfectly (with a bit of help from Walker Zimmerman), and Christian Ramirez made no mistake with the finish.

35′ — Ibarra volleys past Gonzalez to make it 2-1 — Ramirez turned provider on Minnesota’s second goal, lofting the ball into the penalty area for Miguel Ibarra, whose first-time take beat Jesse Gonzalez to put the home side ahead.

68′ — Shuttleworth denies Diaz from the spot — Two games, two saves from the penalty spot for Bobby Shuttleworth.

71′ — Finlay finishes some fancy build-up for 3-1 — Heartbreak on one end of the field, heartbreak on the other end of the field. Anything and everything that could go wrong for FCD, continues to go wrong for FCD.

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

Man of the match: Christian Ramirez

Goalscorers: Akindele (14′), Ramirez (24′), Ibarra (35′), Finlay (71′), Danladi (88′)

MLS Snapshot: Fire lose again, continue slide into KO round

Photo credit: MLS / @MLS
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire’s slide toward the mean — some might call it regression, indicating maybe, just maybe, they overachieved during the first half of the season — continued on Saturday, following a brief reprieve to begin the month. Veljko Paunovic’s side lost its seventh game in 11 outings, falling 3-1 away to the Philadelphia Union. Bastian Schweinsteiger remains sidelined with a calf injury, but the rest of Chicago’s key figures — Nemanja Nikolic, Dax McCarty, David Accam and Matt Polster remain in place. Chris Pontius did the majority of the damage on Saturday, bagging Philadelphia’s first two goals, followed by CJ Sapong for the third. Luis Solignac grabbed a consolation goal inside the final 25 minutes, but the damage had been done. The result means Chicago (48 points) remain third in the Eastern Conference, still four points back of New York City FC and just two points clear of Atlanta United, who have two games in hand.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview — ATL host MTL; RSL desperate vs. SEA ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — Pontius heads the cross home for 1-0 — Keegan Rosenberry cut inside and delivered a delicate, left-footed cross into the box. Pontius got away from his man and met the ball with his head at the top of the six-yard box.

55′ — Pontius again, this time on the rebound — Fafa Picault’s shot was saved by Matt Lampson, but no one followed up to boot the rebound clear. Pontius reacted quickest, and the lead was two.

64′ — Sapong pokes it home for 3-0 — This is Sapong’s 14th of the season, tying Sebastien Le Toux’s club record (2010), and reminded me once again the Peter Vermes insisted on playing Sapong as a winger for multiple seasons before trading him.

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

Man of the match: Chris Pontius

Goalscorers: Pontius (10′, 55′), Sapong (64′), Solignac (67′)