Offshore drilling, UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 1 (3, 3-1 on kicks), at Real Madrid 2 (3)

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Man of the Match: Manuel Neuer was huge in the shootout, saving both Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká’s attempts. With Sergio Ramos’s pivotal kick going over the bar, the Bayern `keeper saved two of three chances he faced. While Luiz Gustavo possibly deserves this recognition for reeking havoc in midfield, Neuer was the difference.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • As much as you might hate penalty kicks, neither of these teams seemed capable of avoiding them. After a raucous first half, neither kept their verve in the second. They disappointed throughout the final 75 minutes, without only the tension of seeing a potential semifinal-deciding goal keeping the world from bursting out in collective exasperation.
  • In extra time, Real Madrid certainly tried to press the issue, but having Kaká on, Mesüt Özil off really hurt them. Perhaps Özil was gassed, but even when he and Kaká were on together, he had been marginalized in Real’s attack.
  • In extra time, the move really ended up hurting. After going the whole game without being able to maintain meaningful possession, Real finally got some control of the match. When they did, their best playmaker was gone, and his replacement was too slow with his decisions.
  • That control was a huge turnaround from a second half when Madrid were completely frustrated by Luiz Gustavo and Bayern Munich. It’s a shame the Bayern midfielder took a petty yellow late (a booking that will have him miss the final), because he was a principle reason why Real’s attackers were left frustratingly underserved throughout the match.
  • And who would have thought we’d be saying that after 15 minutes. A penalty conversion from Cristiano Ronaldo and then a complete defensive breakdown to gift him a second had this match minutes from a landslide. Credit to Bayern for collecting themselves and getting back into the match.
  • They got back in through Pepe’s penalty. Where there are no advised penalties, this one was particularly ill-advised. He and Sergio Ramos had Mario Gomez marked on Arjen Robben’s cross, yet Pepe still took the Bayern attacker down. If he just pulls up, what are the odds Gomez converts that cross? If he takes Gomez down? The odds are pretty good it’s both noticed (with the officially calling a tight penalty on Bayern earlier) and converted.
  • Already people were talking about how Ronaldo and Messi both missed penalties. Small note: Ronaldo also converted a penalty today. While it might not fit a nice, neat narrative that can romantically encapsulate the two Spanish teams’ frustrations, it might be a bit more even-handed to note that Neuer did a job on those two stops.
  • Iker Casillas’s heroics are unfortunately going the be forgotten. With his team down 2-0 after two rounds of kicks, he could have mentally packed it in. That’s not Casillas, though, and with successive saves, he put Real back on serve ahead of their fourth kick …
  • Which was one of the worst attempts I’ve ever seen. Dimitar Berbatov had a horrible try two years ago in the Community Shield, and Yakubu rolled a tumbleweed in Blackburn’s latest match against Liverpool. But at least those were on frame. Ramos’s was Baggio-esque, if only skied higher.
  • And, of course, Bastian Schweinsteiger, taking the next kick, was the exact opposite. He got the ball off the ground, but it in the middle where Casillas’s trailing feet couldn’t nick it, and sent Bayern through the to final. The contrast between that and Ramos’s attempt is all you need to know about this game.
  • Mourinho, his players and Madridistas are going to be crushed, but the team only has itself to blame. While Bayern were good enough, they were there to be had, particularly playing at the Bernabeu. From the quarter-hour mark on, Real Madrid presented no new ideas in attack. Whatever changes Mourinho might have made in approach didn’t end up being reflected on the field. The attackers were left frustrated, the midfield left to kept pinging balls at Bayern defenders, and Real left to wait for their shootout loss. At some point, with all the talent you have at your disposal, you have to change things up. You just have to.
  • Bayern, however, managed the away leg masterfully, particularly considering they were down on aggregate within 15 minutes. They dominated possession if not chances, and kept the home team from being able to dictate the game’s pace and tempo. Instead of letting this match degrade into Real counters against their craft (which defined the first 25-30 minutes), Bayern maturely slowed things down and played a match they could control.
  • Now, FCB get what they’ve wanted all year: the Champions League final at home, where they’ll be favored over Chelsea. Unfortunately, they’ll have to win it without Holdger Badstuber, David Alaba and Luiz Gustavo, but given the players Chelsea will be missing, Bayern will still be expected to claim their fifth European Cup.

Premier League clubs vote VAR into use for 2019-20 season

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It’s been inevitable for quite some time, but now it’s official: video review will be used in the Premier League when the 2019-20 season kicks off next August.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

20 of 20 current PL clubs voted on Thursday to confirm the use of the modern technology beginning next season.

The Bundesliga and Serie A began using the video assistant referee (VAR) at the start of the 2017-18 season, and have continued (successful) operation of the system in 2018-19. Major League Soccer introduced the protocol two-thirds of the way through its 2017 season, to far greater degrees of varying success. La Liga is set to begin use of VAR next season as well.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

VAR was first used in the English game last season, when select FA Cup fixtures were used as test runs, while the same is being done in the EFL Cup this season.

Chelsea expected to let Cahill leave on loan in January

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Gary Cahill is no longer first-choice at Chelsea — anything but, in fact, as he’s played just 21 minutes in the Premier League this season — and the club is prepared to allow its captain to leave on loan in January as a reward for six years of excellent service, according to a report from the Guardian.

[ MORE: Fulham hire Claudio Ranieri after firing Slavisa Jokanovic ]

New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has used Cahill sparingly thus far — even leaving him out of the 18-man team for Sunday’s draw with Everton — but has praised the 32-year-old for his professionalism and influence as a valued member inside the locker room. For those reasons, Sarri is prepared to do right by one of the club’s most senior members as Cahill seeks regular first-team minutes.

[ MORE: England vs. USMNT preview ]

Cahill’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2020, thus a loan in January and an ensuing permanent transfer this coming summer represents the club’s final opportunity to recoup a small fee for a player who will surely garner plenty of interest from within the PL. Having paid under $9 million to sign him from Bolton in January 2012, Chelsea have gotten pretty good value for their initial investment, including two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and one Champions League and Europa League title each during Cahill’s spell at the club.

U.S. U-20 men one win from World Cup

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One win.

That’s all the United States’ U-20 men’s national team will need to advance to this summer’s World Cup in Poland and the Pan-American Games in Peru.

[ MORE: Surgery for Mendy ]

The Yanks cruised through group play with a nearly perfect nine days of soccer, the closest of five wins a 6-1 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago.

Competition is a bit tougher in the knockout stage, but Costa Rica and Honduras did the U.S. a massive solid by drawing 1-1 in their opener.

Now Tab Ramos’ kids can qualify for the World Cup with a defeat of Costa Rica on Friday or Honduras on Monday.

The top two teams in each group qualify for Poland, while the Group A winner advances to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship to face the winner of Group B (Mexico, El Salvador, or Panama).

The U.S. has spread the scoring around, lead by 17-year-old Ulysses Lainez of LA Galaxy II (six goals). His former Galaxy Academy buddy, Alexis Mendez of Freiburg has five goals, as does Toronto FC 18-year-old Ayo Akinola.

Atlanta United sits atop Forbes’ list of most valuable MLS franchises

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Atlanta United came up just short of the Supporters’ Shield, but it’s off-the-field success is No. 1 with a bullet.

Giving high marks to attendance and merchandise sales, Forbes places the Five Stripes atop its list of the most valuable franchises in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Surgery for Mendy ]

United sits first, with a valuation of $330 million. Both Atlanta and the second place Galaxy have valuations ahead of the two-least valuable teams combined (Columbus and Colorado). And the Five Stripes are worth twice the individual values of those teams and Vancouver. Full list here, from Forbes.com:

“Last season, average home-game attendance was 48,200, and this year the team is drawing over 50,000 fans per game. In just two seasons Atlanta has already laid claim to the league’s eight best-attended games ever, and nine of the top eleven.”

The margins are fine, relatively speaking, with Atlanta’s advantage over second place LA Galaxy by $10 million. Seattle is third at $310m, with newcomers LAFC at $305m, and Toronto FC at $290m.