Germany the favorite for 2018: Would you bet against them?

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Seven wins, no losses, eighteen goals, four goals allowed and a six-goal defeat of the host nation/No.1 team in the world: this is how Germany’s World Cup run looks after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Argentina in the title match.

And I’m here to tell you: they should get better.

While the same thing may’ve been said about Spain after their 2010 World Cup preceded this tournament’s failure, it’s hard to imagine Germany’s future will follow that path. Through the 2016 Euro in France and into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Die Mannschaft should continue to function at a very, very high level.

[ MORE from our 2014 World Cup review ]

Would you bet against Germany becoming just the third team to win back-to-back World Cups?

Consider:

1) (Most of) the boys will be back

While Miroslav Klose will ride off into the sunset for sure, there are few other on the roster who should be ruled out of competing for the 2018 World Cup trophy. Captain Philipp Lahm will be 34 to go with a trio of 33-year-olds (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker). Of that group, only Podolski and Mertesacker seem longshots.

Here are the 2018 ages for some key figures in the 2014 run:

Toni Kroos, 28
Thomas Mueller, 28
Andre Schurrle, 27
Sami Khedira, 31
Mario Goetze, 26
Mesut Ozil, 29
Jerome Boateng, 29
Mats Hummels, 29
Benedikt Howedes, 30
Manuel Neuer, 32

Julian Draxler and Matthias Ginter made the side at 20, Christoph Kramer at 23 and Shkodran Mustafi at 22. They’ll seemingly only get better.

2) And those young guys who were on the fringe…

Here’s a list of players Germany left home, and their ages for 2018:

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 26
Marco Reus, 29
Lars Bender, 29
Pierre-Michel Lasogga, 26
Emre Can, 24
Kevin Volland, 25

3) Russia is closer to Germany than Brazil

I know! It surprised me, too.

Aside from falling in the 1998 quarterfinals in France, here are Germany’s finishes in World Cups played in Europe dating back to 1938: third, first, second, first, second, fourth, first.

4) The mighty BuLi!

If there’s a league that can compare to the Premier League, the Bundesliga can make the most claims. And only seven of the 30 players that made up Germany’s preliminary World Cup roster were plying their trade away from the BuLi.

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

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Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)

Video: Watts gifts D.C. United own goal for the ages

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Not many things have gone right for either side involved in 2017, but D.C. United was the recipient of a gift early on against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.

[ MORE: Piatti brace lifts Impact to fourth win in a row; Orlando, Crew draw ]

In the 27th minute, Rapids center back Jared Watts received the ball at the back, before making a routine back pass to USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard

Or at least, it should have been a routine back pass.

Instead, Watts’ pass was well off target and too strong for Howard to reach and landed in the back of the Rapids goal. 1-0 in favor of D.C.

Reminder: Both these teams sit at the bottom of their respective conferences on points.

MLS Snapshot: Piatti brace lifts Impact | Crew, Orlando City draw

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact have proven to be a second-half of the season team the last several years, and that form appears to be holding true once more. Mauro Biello’s side won its fourth straight match on Saturday, while Ignacio Piatti continues to show he’s one of the most deadly scorers in the league. Meanwhile, RSL’s six-match unbeaten run is snapped north of the border, leaving the Western Conference side three points out of sixth place.

Three four moments that mattered

11′ — Piatti nets his first of the night — The Impact made this attack look so easy, and Ignacio Piatti simply won’t miss a chance like this one.

26′ — Evan Bush left motionless as RSL equalize — Luis Silva took matters into his own hands, and boy did he connect with this effort!

29′ — Impact punish poor RSL defense — Guess who? Piatti has his second of the evening.

47′ — Hosts begin to pile it on — Anthony Jackson-Hamel played provider in the first two goals, so it’s only fair he got one of his own.

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

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Ignacio Piatti (11′, 29′), Luis Silva (26′), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (47′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Orlando City and the Crew settled for a point apiece on Saturday night, but for the former the club is running out of opportunities to pick up points in the playoff race. Giles Barnes pulled a goal back for the hosts after Lalas Abubakar netted his first MLS goal for the Crew, but Orlando couldn’t find a second. The Lions played up a man for the final 13 minutes, following Harrison Afful’s dismissal.

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Abubakar knocks in first MLS goal — Orlando City’s defensive woes are certainly notable as well, but for Lalas Abubakar this is a quality way to open his scoring account in MLS.

67′ — Barnes knots it up at 1-1 — The veteran MLS forward picked up his second goal of the season.

77′ — VAR used for red card decision — The video monitor came into play briefly in the second half, and Harrison Afful was sent off the pitch early after the referee viewed the defender’s elbow to the head of Yoshi Yotun.

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

Man of the match: Zack Steffen

Goalscorers: Lalas Abubakar (35′), Giles Barnes (67′)

Atlanta United fans pack 20,000 into new stadium for training session

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Atlanta United is currently in the midst of a three-match road trip in MLS play, but that didn’t stop the club from unveiling its new home venue to a massive crowd of supporters on Saturday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Over 20,000 fans of the Eastern Conference expansion side filed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch Gerardo Martino’s side train on Saturday as Atlanta prepares to finish out its road trip against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta will open up home play at their new stadium on September 10 when they host FC Dallas. The club will have the benefit of playing eight of its final 10 regular season matches in front of its Georgia fan base.

The first-year MLS side will share the stadium with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Here are some sights from the training session