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Dortmund struggles to come to terms with bomb attack on bus

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MUNICH (AP) Sometimes, it’s hard to focus on a soccer game.

Borussia Dortmund players had to, though, less than 24 hours after a bomb attack on their team bus. And they will have to do so again on Saturday, when Eintracht Frankfurt visits in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin made it clear that his thoughts were far from the field in the rescheduled Champions League quarterfinal match against Monaco on Wednesday – a game Dortmund lost 3-2 after an uncharacteristically hesitant start.

“Until I was on the pitch in the second half, I didn’t think about football, to be honest. Because last night I didn’t realize what happened, and when I was at home and my wife and my son were waiting in front of the door, there I felt how lucky we were,” the visibly shaken Sahin told former Norway international Jan Aage Fjortoft, now a journalist.

“I know football is very important. We love football. We suffer with football. We love football. I know we earn a lot of money, we have a privileged life, but we are human beings. There’s so much more than football in this world. Last night we felt it.”

Dortmund defender Marc Bartra was hit by shrapnel as three explosions hit the bus. The Spaniard was taken to the hospital and had surgery on a broken bone in his wrist.

A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, Frauke Koehler, said metal from one of the bombs lodged in a headrest. It could easily have been a lot worse.

“I can’t forget the faces,” Sahin said of his teammates, who ducked for cover when the explosions hit. “I will never forget these faces in my life for sure. Oh yeah, when I saw Marc there and I saw Schmelle (Marcel Schmelzer), I sat next to Schmelle and I will never forget Schmelle’s face. It was unbelievable.”

Schmelzer also highlighted the impact of the attack on his side.

“We have to function like puppets,” the Dortmund captain said. “You read the whole time of an attack on our bus. But you shouldn’t forget there were 30 people sitting in it, so it’s an attack on us as people. It makes us incredibly sad but also incredibly fortunate to be standing here today, especially when you hear the details that are coming out (from the investigation). We’re just incredibly lucky no one else besides Marc was seriously injured.”

Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel was stinging in his criticism of UEFA for going ahead with the Champions League game so soon after the attack.

“We had the feeling that we were being treated as if a beer can had hit our bus,” said Tuchel, who claimed he wasn’t asked about whether to proceed with the game.

But Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said Tuesday that a congested calendar meant there was little option for postponing the game further. UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto told The Associated Press the governing body was in touch with all parties.

Tuchel may have been trying to protect his players but it’s clear that the attack had an effect on his side.

“Most players hardly slept, myself included,” Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl said. “I tried to come to terms with it with my family, tried to wind down and switch off. In the end in the game we made the best we could of it.”

Amid increased security and while the investigations continue, Dortmund will have to make the best of it again Saturday as it seeks to improve upon its fourth place to secure automatic Champions League qualification. Fourth only brings a playoff.

Apart from Bartra, who would have been suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards anyway, Dortmund is struggling with injuries – there was one spot free on the bench against Monaco because of a lack of available players.

Dortmund is unbeaten in a club-record 34 league games at home. It has scored in its last 19 games, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang second behind Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the scoring chart. Lewandowski has 26 goals in 28 games. Aubameyang, who played two games less, has 25.

Frankfurt, which was previously third, has lost its last four games away and it hasn’t won any of its last nine.

VIDEO: Accam’s slick backheel puts Chicago ahead

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For the last two years, David Accam has been, in my estimation, the best player in MLS that no one talked about.

[ MORE: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win NY derby 2-0 ]

Understandably so, of course, given the 26-year-old Ghanaian international and the Chicago Fire been rooted to the bottom of the league table for two years running. All of that has changed in 2017, though, as Accam finally has a forward (Nemanja Nikolic) who can not only put chances away, but create space and chances for his teammates, and a solid midfield base which allows him to cherry-pick counter-attacks just that little bit more.

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Entering Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC, Chicago sat second in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of Toronto FC, and Accam’s 9 goals and 5 assists (in 15 games) were a huge part of the why and the how. It didn’t take Accam long — two minutes, in fact, to put Chicago ahead of Orlando with a ridiculous backheel finish to Matt Polster’s cross.

 

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

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Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)