Bastian Schweinsteiger

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First pitches: Schweinsteiger, Villa take mounds at Wrigley, Yankee Stadium (video)

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A pair of World Cup winners took the mound at two of baseball’s biggest venues to throw out first pitches on Tuesday and Wednesday.

First up was new Chicago Fire star — he’s still new, right? — Bastian Schweinsteiger, who went with very little leg kick and the “just get it over the plate” idea.

Schweinsteiger’s pitch was quite high.

[ MORE: Manchester United – Celta Vigo preview ]

A day later, it was David Villa’s turn. Fresh off inking a contract extension with NYCFC, Villa went with more of an actual pitching motion.

Have to say, he gets it there with an awkward arm motion but makes the glove pop.

Advantage: Villa (Although he should be comfortable on that field, shouldn’t he?).

Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS, much more in lengthy interview

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Ambassadors responsible for Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s move to America extend deep into the 1970s.

1977 to be exact. That’s when Franz Beckenbauer first came to the New York Cosmos from Bayern Munich, a three-season tenure that went so well he returned to New York for his final professional season after time with Hamburg.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

Schweinsteiger said Beckenbauer’s words meant a lot to him, and admitted that he’s not imparting that wisdom to other overseas players who ask him about MLS.

From TSN.ca (Full video here):

“I remember when David Beckham was playing here or even I know when Franz Beckenbauer was playing here, and I was talking to him and he said he had his best life in America,” Schweinsteiger said. “We spoke about it and I was thinking about it a little bit.For me it was a little bit different because I love to play soccer and in Manchester I couldn’t play enough soccer so that was the problem.”

Among several interesting soundbites from the interview with Schweinsteiger also spoke about Germany’s memorable destruction of host nation Brazil at the 2014 World Cup:

“I remember the semifinal that we won 7-1. Everyone speaks about the 7-1, but we were not talking so much about it because we felt very, in a way, sad, because you saw your teammates like Dante and Luis Gustavo and the Brazilian supporters and the team crying, so you couldn’t really celebrate. Our focus was so much looking forward to the final. I remember things like this, sometimes more than the final.”

Not something you consider often. Winning a match 2-1 against your club teammates is one thing, but sending them to international humiliation is another.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Basti scores, Fire win again; Larin downs LA late

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The sixth MLS Saturday of 2017 is nearly halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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Chicago Fire 3-0 New England Revolution

Two wins, one draw — that’s Chicago’s record since signing Bastian Schweinsteiger. Now, an asterisk (or a few): all three games were played at home; in the first game, against the Montreal Impact, Ignacio Piatti was unavailable due to injury; in the second game, against Columbus Crew SC, Gregg Berhalter pieced together one of the worst starting lineups we’ve seen all season; in the third game, on Saturday, Chicago had a man advantage for over an hour.

The answer to “How good are the Fire, exactly?” is coming soon. For now, enjoy Schweinsteiger scoring his second MLS. Nemanja Nikolic also bagged a brace, his third and fourth goals since coming to the league in the winter. So far, it’s been an unbelievable return on signings made during the offseason (Schweinsteiger, Nikolic, Dax McCarty and Juninho, to name a few).

Orlando City SC 2-1 LA Galaxy

The “Cyle Larin is going to Europe, and soon” hype train continues to pick up steam, as the 21-year-old Canadian international bagged his 35th career goal (Orlando have scored exactly 100 in 73 MLS games) and fourth this season, this time an extremely late winner to top LA and preserve the Lions’ 100 percent home record at the brand new Orlando City Stadium.

Will Johnson fired Orlando into the lead in the 9th minute, chesting the ball out of the air and unleashing a powerful volley toward the far post. LA’s Clement Diop — nor any goalkeeper in the world, for that matter — didn’t have a chance. Romain Alessandrini pulled LA level with his fourth goal in three games, in the 83rd minute, but Larin reacted quickest when the ball came to him at the top of the six-yard box, and just like that, Orlando are top of the Eastern Conference (for now).

Montreal Impact 2-1 Atlanta United

Red cards change games, no matter when they’re given, but they change games especially drastically when they’re handed out before halftime. Atlanta’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was shown a straight red for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity — it was questionable — in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. That allowed Ignacio Piatti to score from the penalty spot, canceling out Kenwyne Jones‘ opener, his first MLS goal.

For the majority of the second half — as in, all but the final 30 seconds of extra time — Atlanta were hugely deserving of the draw and would have even felt hard done by given the nature of the dismissal. Alas, “deserve” doesn’t really mean much in soccer, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored from what can only be called a fortunate redirect after three and a half minutes of stoppage time.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: NYCFC top SJ; Schweinsteiger stars in debut

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The fourth (full — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is nearly halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

New York City FC 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

David Villa continues to be the best, most skilled pure striker to ever ply his trade in MLS, and we’re so lucky to watch on a weekly basis. His first touch, which set up Jack Harrison for NYCFC’s opening goal against San Jose on Saturday, is something that doesn’t even exist in video games.

Villa then proceeded to pick up a secondary assist on Tommy McNamara’s 67th-minute game-winner, playing the first-time through ball to Ronald Matarrita, who crossed for a late-arriving McNamara. Easy finish for him, and NYCFC have their second win of the season and a three-game unbeaten run.

[ MORE: Sporting KC rookie got GOT by Vermes, teammates’ April Fools’ prank ]


Chicago Fire 2-2 Montreal Impact

Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s MLS career got off to a flying start on Saturday, as the 32-year-old World Cup winner marked his Chicago debut with a goal after 17 minutes (WATCH HERE). Schweinsteiger was largely the best player on the field over the course of his 90-minute shift, on two occasions playing inch-perfect through balls to create clear-cut scoring chances — one led directly to a red card — while missing out on a brace by a matter of inches.

Chicago went down to 10 men themselves, in the 71st minute, when Hernan Bernardello’s awful dive conned Ismail Elfath into showing Juninho a second yellow card. Matteo Mancosu had already headed Montreal back onto level terms 10 minutes earlier.

Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla put Montreal 2-1 ahead in the 90th minute, but Luis Solignac fired a bouncing shot past Evan Bush three minutes later to rescue a point for the home side.

[ MORE: San Diego’s April Fools’ prank — Footy McFooty Face ]


Columbus Crew SC 2-0 Orlando City SC

Columbus are top of the league (they’re also the only team to have played five games already this season), and Justin Meram has already decided he’s a (very early-season) MVP candidate in 2017 (three goals, two assists thus far). The Michigan-born Iraqi international bagged goals no. 2 and 3 of the season on Saturday, as Gregg Berhalter’s side cruised past Orlando in comfortable, convincing fashion.

With Meram, and Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain back to firing on all cylinders while playing behind Ola Kamara — and Kekuta Manneh set to arrive and bolster an already lethal counter-attacking corps — the only thing that can keep Columbus of the playoffs this season will be more of the shoddy defending that befell them in 2016.

VIDEO: Schweinsteiger has a goal on his MLS debut

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Bastian Schweinsteiger wasn’t signed to spearhead the Chicago Fire attack — not in the slightest — but the newly minted Designated Player marked his MLS debut with a goal after 17 minutes anyway (below video).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Unable to believe the space he was given at the back post, the 32-year-old World Cup winner is already halfway to equalling his haul of goals while at Manchester United (two in 35 games), again, just 17 minutes into his MLS adventure.

[ MORE: Sporting KC rookie got GOT by Vermes, teammates’ April Fools’ prank ]

Through 30 minutes, Schweinsteiger looks exceptionally fine in terms of keeping up with the pace and physical demands of MLS. Do check back in June, July and August, though.