Offshore drilling, German Cup final: Borussia Dortmund 5, Bayern Munich 2

Leave a comment

Man of the Match: His last three goals proved to be the final margin, and having played a small role of the build up for Borussia Dortmund’s first, Robert Lewandowski is the obvious vote. After posting nine goals last season (his first after moving from Lech Poznan), Lewandowski  finishes this season with 30 (all-competitions). His first two were smooth (if powerful) finishes that, while the third was a bit of a gift.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Bayern’s now lost five in a row to Dortmund, outscored 12-4 in the process. Three of those losses came this year – one home, one away, and one at a neutral site. Bayern may be in next weekend’s Champions League final, but there’s little doubt which team is Germany’s best.
  • Like many cup finals, this one featured a cagey start. Bayern controlled possession, though little came of it, even after the teams exchanged a pair of odds goals. The opener from Dortmund attacker Shingi Kagawa came after a Byaern midfielder Luiz Gustavo backpass for everybody and nobody led to a shot at an open net from 17 yards out. The second saw Bayern striker Mario Gomez go in alone on BVB `keeper Roman Weidenfeller, drawing a penalty (converted by Arjen Robben) after incorrectly being ruled un-trapped by Dortmund 38 yards out.
  • Toward the end of the first, Dortmund pressure and opportunism started dictating the match. While there was some fortunate in BVB’s second (a shot deflecting off Kagawa, sending the defense scurrying, leading to Jerome Boateng bringing down a man), the third and fourth saw Bayern’s defense taken apart. Each time, Dortmund finished sequences by finding Lewandowski with tons of space in the middle of the area, the young Polish international allowed to unload shots Manuel Neuer had little chance to stop.
  • Given Bayern’s seven days out from contesting a European title, this is obviously a very disturbing result. Stylistically, Chelsea is very different from Dortmund – the way they create goals is entirely different – but given how Bayern defended on Saturday, that might not matter. The season-long worries about FCB’s central defense that never manifested during the club’s Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid now appear to be justified. It’s unlikely Bayern can win next Saturday if Boateng and Holdger Badstuber play like this. Daniel van Buyten’s return’s looking more vital than anitcipated.
  • For Dortmund, there were only two negatives. First, Weidenfeller was forced to leave mid-way through the first with an apparent abdominal strain, the product of an early first half collision with Gomez. Second, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was in attendance, presumably looking a Kagawa ahead of a possible move to Old Trafford.
  • Those are but qualms in BVB’s first league-cup double. Even if they lose Kagawa, this is a team that’s primed to push on. While this season say them struggle to manage both their domestic and European aspirations, next year will allow them to leverage their 2011-12’s experiences.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
Leave a comment

2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

Twitter/@fanly_timbers
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 12 — Time to settle Groups A & B

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Monday, and with it begins the final round of group games to decide the 16 teams headed to the knockout rounds. For the next four days, we’ll be treated to four games each day.

Also, the end of 8 a.m. ET kickoffs. Hooray for sleeping in.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

First up, the conclusion of Group A, where both the hosts, Russia, and Uruguay have already advanced with wins in their first two games. Now, the two meet in the southwestern city of Samara to determine who’ll go through to the round of 16 as the group winners, and who’ll be the runners-up. Most likely awaiting either of them will be Spain and Portugal, pending the order in which they finish in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Speaking of Group B, Spain will finish group play against fourth-place and points-less Morocco, while Portugal have a tricky meeting with third-place Iran, who sit just a point behind the reigning European champions. The winner of Group B will face the runners-up of Group A, and vice versa.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 25

Group A
Uruguay vs. Russia: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Spain vs. Morocco: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Portugal: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE