Mexico

ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 04:  Javier Hernandez of Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Olimpico Stadium on November 4, 2015 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Chicharito sidelined two weeks with muscle injury

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Bayer Leverkusen must move forward without their top talisman as Javier Hernandez is out with a muscle injury.

The Mexican international was forced off in the second half of Leverkusen’s midweek loss to Werder Bremen in the German Cup.

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Hernandez scored in that Werder Bremen match before getting injured, as the striker has now scored a remarkable 20 goals in his last 18 appearances for Leverkusen.

With a torn muscle fiber in his left glute, Leverkusen boss Rogers Schmidt announced Chicharito could be out for two or even three weeks.

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Including this weekend’s match at Darmstadt, Hernandez will likely miss both matches against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League as well as a huge Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Bundesliga: Chicharito, Aubameyang lead Leverkusen, Dortmund to big wins

Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez celebrates his third goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Moenchengladbach in Leverkusen, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Leverkusen defeated Moenchengladbach with 5-0, Hernandez scored three goals. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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BERLIN (AP) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice for Borussia Dortmund to beat promoted Ingolstadt 2-0 and provisionally cut the gap on Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich to five points on Saturday.

Bayern will host Hoffenheim on Sunday.

Aubameyang broke the deadlock with a header in the 77th minute, and secured the win with his league-leading 20th goal of the season four minutes from time.

“On such days you’re happy about a dirty win. We were lucky in many situations today,” Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said.

Dortmund struggled without Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan – ruled out through viral infections – and needed Lukasz Piszczek to clear off the line after Dario Leczano held off Mats Hummels and lobbed goalkeeper Roman Buerki in the first half.

The home side was fortunate not to fall behind to a Hummels own goal in the second half, when referee Guido Winkmann gave a free kick to the Dortmund captain for a foul by Leczano.

Dortmund increased the pressure and Piszczek crossed for Aubameyang to score, albeit from an offside position, before Gonzalo Castro played him through to settle it.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez also scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen defeated bottom side Hannover 3-0, Hertha Berlin drew at Werder Bremen 3-3 to consolidate third place, Schalke won at promoted Darmstadt 2-0, and Augsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt played out a scoreless draw.

Artem Kravets scored late for Stuttgart to come from behind and beat visiting Hamburger SV 2-1 in the late game for its third straight win.

Stefan Kiessling opened the scoring for Leverkusen before halftime, then Hernandez added a penalty afterwards. Hernandez racked his 13th league goal of the season late as Leverkusen moved two points above Borussia Moenchengladbach to fourth. `Gladbach lost 1-0 at Mainz on Friday.

It was Thomas Schaaf’s second defeat in his second game as Hannover coach.

“We played better than we did against Darmstadt,” Schaaf said referring to his first. “The problem is that we didn’t know what to do with the ball when we had it.”

Veteran striker Claudio Pizarro scored twice for Bremen to claim a point and consolidate the relegation playoff place.

“It was very difficult to come back again. To have achieved it is a very important sign in the relegation battle,” Bremen sporting director Thomas Eichin said.

Mexico boss Osorio won’t ignore MLS players; “ultimate goal” still Europe

Juan Carlos Osorio, newly-appointed head coach of Mexico's national soccer team, waves after donning his team jacket during a press conference in Mexico City, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Juan Carlos Osorio is walking back a series of comments made on Wednesday, in which the new Mexican national manager disparaged Major League Soccer as a “league for players at the end of their careers and not for a player who still has a lot to give.”

[ FOLLOW: PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Or, perhaps that particular line was cherry-picked an otherwise blasé set of comments, and there’s really not a ton going on here. In the sake of disclosure, here’s how Osorio rounded out the above comment:

“I expressed this to Carlos Vela last year when I was in Europe. I believe the objective of all the world’s players is to go to Europe — or at least that’s the primary objective — because there they have the best leagues, the best tournaments and the whole world can see you play there.”

Does anyone disagree with anything said therein? I sure don’t.

Regardless, Osorio was forced to clarify his comments on Thursday, in the name of good public relations — quotes from Goal.com:

“I did say that for any player the ultimate goal, especially at their peak, should be playing in Europe. This goes for any league in the Americas, whether it’s MLS, the Mexican league, Brazilian league, Argentinian league or any other.”

“I have never said that I won’t call in players from MLS. Any suggestion of that idea is false. I would never ignore a player because of the league they play in.”

We can debate MLS’s responsibility to the USMNT, and vice versa, and whether or not one, or both, should operate their respective programs with the best interests of the other in mind. U.S. Soccer probably still has more to gain from a strong domestic league than the other way around.

[ MORE: 5 USMNT players with most to gain in upcoming friendlies ]

There is, however, no such argument to made for Mexico, with regards to MLS, and only slightly more of a case to be made for Osorio’s perceived allegiance to Liga MX. The Mexican program is enjoying something of a golden generation at the moment, with just each and every one of its top players currently playing their club soccer for major clubs in major European leagues — the top divisions in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Holland. Osorio did not call Giovani dos Santos of the LA Galaxy into his first Mexico squad in November.

The Mexican national team is presently better than the USMNT — by quite some margin — and it looks likely to stay that was for quite some time. If Osorio wants to be choosy with whom he calls up, given the vast array of options at his disposal, that’s his prerogative, and certainly a luxury not currently afforded his USMNT counterpart, Jurgen Klinsmann.

FIFA fines 5 countries for anti-gay chants in games

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 03: A FIFA logo sits next to the entrance at the FIFA headquarters on June 3, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Joseph S. Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. The 79-year-old Swiss official, FIFA president for 17 years said a special congress would be called to elect a successor. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay for anti-gay chants by their national team’s fans.

FIFA says the “insulting and discriminatory chants” came during qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

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Chile’s fine is the biggest at 70,000 Swiss francs ($70,000) over cases at four different matches. The governing body imposed fines of 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000) on Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

FIFA added that “proceedings against the Honduras Football Association for apparent homophobic chants by its supporters are ongoing.”

Leverkusen want Chicharito to play in Copa America or Olympics, not both

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has a tough decision to make.

The Mexican international striker, 28, is on fire for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen following his move last summer to Germany from Manchester United.

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Chicharito has scored 19 goals in 22 appearances for Leverkusen this season and is currently on their winter break tour of Florida, as they beat Santa Fe 1-0 on Sunday in the Florida Cup friendly tournament.

Speaking in Orlando, Bayer’s sporting director Jonas Boldt told ESPN Deportes that they want Chicharito to play for Mexico in either the Copa America Centenario in June or the Olympics in Rio in August.

Not both.

“From our ideal point of view, for the club, it would be ideal if Chicharito played one of the two events, but not both,” Boldt said “That is our idea, although we have yet to sit and speak with our players. We have close to 10 players who could play at Copa America or the Olympic Games and the club also have their own commitments. But in addition to that, the players need to rest.”

If you were Chicharito, which tournament would you pick? Would you play in both?

Mexico are the defending Olympic champions when it comes to soccer after they beat Brazil in the final at London 2012. So being one of the three over-age players — one that has scored 40 goals in 74 games for El Tri, no less — on a squad that wins back-to-back gold medals would be pretty cool, right?

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As for the Copa America, Mexico have competed in that competition multiple times, not making it past the group stages in the past two tournaments they competed in. I’d go for the Olympics but then again, that competition will clash with the start of the Bundesliga season which is set to begin on Aug. 26, 2016. Bayer currently have 10 players on their roster who could play in either the Copa America or the Olympics so will want to manage the situation as best they can this summer so their preparations for the next season aren’t impacted too much.

There is also the small matter that if Chicharito wants to play in both and go against the wishes of Bayer then he is perfectly entitled to.