As chaos continues in Ukraine, the soccer season is about to kick off in the Eastern European nation.
UEFA have already moved to separate teams from Russia and Ukraine playing against each other in the UEFA Champions and Europa League’s and now European soccer’s governing body has ruled that two of the countries biggest teams must play outside their home cities.
[RELATED: Shakhtar players fear for life]
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk says UEFA has moved the first leg of its Champions League qualifier against FC Copenhagen out of eastern Ukraine. The game will now be played in Kiev on July 30 at the Olympic Stadium. Dnipro are based in the largely Russian speaking city of Dnipropetrovsk, which is 131 miles from Donetsk but has seen few outbreaks of violence since the conflict with Russia began.
The other Ukrainian team in the UCL, Shakhtar Donetsk, will play its home games in the western city of Lviv because Donetsk is under pro-Russian rebel control. Lviv is 600 miles west of Donetsk, but the reigning five-time Ukrainian champions have no other options as unrest continues to surge in and around their home city.
In recent days the situation in Donetsk has got even worse as Ukrainian forces try to gain control of the city from rebel forces. Shakhtar’s coach Mireca Lucescu confirmed that “Arena Lviv will be our home arena” for Champions League and domestic games, but the players and staff will live in the capital Kiev. Those two cities are 335 miles apart. Not ideal.
This move should ease the worries of six Shakhtar players who have yet to return to Ukraine as they fear for their lives. Alex Teixeira, Fred, Dentinho, Douglas Costa, Facundo Ferreyra and Ismaily all refused to return to the war-torn nation, plus plenty of other players and clubs have felt the impact from the conflict that continues to rumble on ahead of the opening weekend of the new Ukrainian Premier League season.
In total four Ukrainian teams — Metalurh Donetsk, Olimpik Donetsk, Zorya Luhansk and Shakhtar — played in cities currently held by pro-Russian rebels and all will start the season playing in neutral venues.
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.