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Bartra error emphasizes Dortmund’s latest Bundesliga woes

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Christian Pulisic sat out Friday’s 2-1 Dortmund defeat against Stuttgart. Coincidence? Perhaps.

However, the club’s struggles are apparent as Dortmund’s winless run extended to four matches and their gap from Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich could be up to nine points by the end of the weekend.

[ MORE: Chris Coleman steps down from Wales, expected to take Sunderland job ]

BVB was without several of its top talents for the match, including U.S. Men’s National Team star Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it’s Dortmund’s defending that continues to be the side’s biggest issue.

Stuttgart struck after five minutes when Chadrac Akolo broke the deadlock off of an embarrassing blunder by Marc Bartra and the Dortmund defense.

Bartra attempted a routine back pass to goalkeeper Roman Burki during the early moments of the match, but his ball back proved to be way too strong and deflected off of Burki and into the path of Stuttgart forward Akolo (video below).

Dortmund atoned for the former Barcelona man’s mistake just prior to halftime when Maximilian Philipp equalized, but it took just six minutes into the second stanza for Josip Brekalo to restore the Stuttgart advantage.

Suspect in Dortmund bus bombing to go on trial next month

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BERLIN (AP) A man charged in the bombing of a German soccer team’s bus seven months ago will go on trial Dec. 21.

Borussia Dortmund defender Marc Bartra and a police officer were injured when three explosions hit the bus as it left for a Champions League game on April 11.

German news agency dpa reported Friday that the Dortmund state court has scheduled 17 sessions for the trial through March.

The 28-year-old suspect faces 28 counts of attempted murder, two counts of bodily harm and setting off an explosion.

Investigators allege he took out a loan to bet Borussia Dortmund’s shares would drop in value, then bombed the bus and tried to disguise the attack as Islamic terrorism.

He has been identified as Sergej W. in line with German privacy laws.

Teenager Weston McKennie ready for USMNT debut

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Weston McKennie doesn’t seem like a shy kid at all.

[ MORE: USMNT roster for Portugal ]

19 years old and already a regular in midfield for Schalke in the Bundesliga, McKennie was called up to the U.S. national team for the first time last week for the friendly at Portugal next Tuesday.

[ MORE: McKennie speaks to Mendola ]

Speaking to SI.com, McKennie revealed he wants to remain in the USMNT squad for many years to come.

“It’ll feel really good to be able to get back out and play for my country. Anything that you do for the first time, you can see as a tryout. But I’m looking forward and I’m planning on staying with this team from here on out. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I get the opportunity to play and show what I have and how I fit in.”

The former FC Dallas academy product also admitted that despite being hurt by the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia (he felt particularly sad for his good friend Christian Pulisic who plays for Schalke’s fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund) he couldn’t help but feel his chance has now arrived with the full U.S. national team.

“It was a lot of mixed emotions. It’s a normal thing as an athlete, as a competitor—if someone’s ahead of you, it’s not being selfish or wrong. Every player thinks about it. Is this guy going to play good? You’re lying if you say you don’t think like that. Of course I’m disappointed. But I also think, ‘Does this open more doors for me on the national team?'”

That defeat in Trinidad & Tobago has definitely opened the door for McKennie and many believed he could force his way into the USMNT squad ahead of a potential World Cup tournament next summer.

Now he will get the chance to strut his stuff against Portugal on Nov. 14 and prove that he belongs with the seniors after impressing for the U.S. U-20 side in the past. Admitting he has been in awe of playing against Bayern Munich and other stars in Germany, McKennie also seems to exude confidence as a ball-playing, defensive midfielder and his star is rising.

Over to you, Weston.

Chelsea, Arsenal target Icardi linked with Bayern move

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Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi is said to be interesting two Premier League giants and Bayern Munich.

[ MORE: Messi makes World Cup promise ]  

Both Chelsea and Arsenal are said to be tracking the Argentine international as Icardi, 24, is in red-hot form in Serie A with 11 goals in 12 games so far this season.

The predatory forward has scored 89 goals in 156 appearances for Inter since 2013 and according to Spanish outlet Don Balon, Bayern are said be lining Icardi up to replace Robert Lewandowski who has been vocal about the German giants’ lack of summer spending. Real Madrid are reportedly interested in signing Poland international Lewandowski.

What about Chelsea and Arsenal chasing Icardi?

Icardi has a release clause of $130 million and Inter have stated that they are trying to increase the release clause for their captain by offering him a new and improved deal to remain at the San Siro.

However, Icardi has clashed with Inter’s fans on many occasions over the years and the versatile forward could well see the next 12 months as pivotal in his career as he tries to become a regular for Argentina.

Chelsea certainly need another option up top with Alvaro Morata the main man but the Spaniard can play on the left, as he did for Antonio Conte at Juventus, and perhaps the clinical Icardi would be better suited through the center.

As for Arsenal, any move for Icardi would surely only come if they can offer him Champions League action (even though Inter cannot) and if both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez did not remain at the Emirates Stadium.

Bayern may well be the favorite to sign Icardi but there is a problem for all three teams: his release clause.

He is predatory goalscorer but Icardi comes with plenty of baggage. In the current transfer market, is he worth $130 million? Quite possibly.

It’s still quite difficult to see either Chelsea or Arsenal stumping up that kind of cash after their recent signings of Morata and Alexandre Lacazette respectively.

RBL will not consider allowing Keita to Liverpool early

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Liverpool needs help in the center of the park, but won’t be getting Naby Keita earlier than the summer.

The Reds agreed a fee for the dynamic RB Leipzig star, but the Bundesliga club says they will not consider any offers from Liverpool to get him in January.

[ MORE: MLS Conference Finalists cheat sheet ]

And that’s true regardless of whether RBL makes it to the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League, says sporting director Ralf Rangnick.

“Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, it would make no sense to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier. We want to qualify for Europe again and we need Naby for that.”

RBL is back second in the Bundesliga after a slow start in league play, and the 22-year-old Keita remains one of their top players via the eye test and advanced metrics. Not a real surprise here, but an important note for Reds fans hoping for better at Anfield.