Liverpool may have beat Newcastle 2-1 to finish up their season, but the Reds had already let the Premier League title slip away. Sure enough, Manchester City’s win over Newcastle meant it was the Citizens throwing the championship party at close of business on Sunday.
But that’s not to say that Liverpool didn’t have a fantastic season. Consider this: last year Liverpool finished 7th, 14 points back of a Champions League position. Now they’re in second, are headed to Europe’s premier tournament and did it all while scoring 101 goals along the way.
It’s no wonder, then, that Steven Gerrard sounded rather optimistic when speaking after the match:
If someone had said to me that we would go into the last game with a slim chance of winning the league I’d have taken that at the start of the season. We have been unlucky – we gave it a great shot, but we fell a little bit short. But what do we do? We dust ourselves down and go again.
Liverpool know that they have some areas in which they need to improve – certainly the penultimate game, in which Palace came back, in the last fifteen minutes, from 3-0 down to draw 3-3, showed that was the case. Their defense away from home needs to be strengthened and lapses in concentration need to be reduced.
But that doesn’t stop the Liverpool captain from believing that, come next season, his side will be capable of proving themselves the best team in the league:
I believe the title is not too far away if we continue to produce performances like we have done this season. If we add to this team and the squad in the right areas we are capable of challenging. We are genuine title contenders before a ball is kicked next year, and we need to go and prove that we’re the top side in the league over 38 games, and not second.
Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley
to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.
Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.
[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]
Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:
Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.
Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.
[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]
Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?
- Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
- FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
- LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack. Upset chance: Long shot.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.
Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.
Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.
Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.
Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.
Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.
Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.
Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.
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