Brek Shea is having a very, very bad week

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You know what they say about spiraling times of misfortune like these: If it was raining $20 bills, Brek Shea would surely get conked on the head with a roll of old pennies.

The young U.S. international (at right, in a rare thumbs-up moment of 2012) needs a life timeout or something. He’s having a  very bad week month year.

Yesterday, a story in Dallas’ alternative weekly detailed a conversation that Shea says took place in 2010 between MLS commissioner Don Garber and FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. According to Shea, Garber called Hyndman to deliver a sort of ultimatum: either play the young man or move him elsewhere, via sell or trade.

My first reaction: that certainly doesn’t sound like Garber (nor any right-minded league official). That sounds more like a player’s interpretation of events, possibly (but not certainly) attached to a tangle of informal conversations between players, agents, coaches and power ties in league and team offices.

So I called MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche, who relayed a message from commissioner Garber.

“Decisions about who plays are made by clubs and their technical staffs, not by the league office,” Courtemanche told me.

He didn’t want to address any specific this or that. Courtemanches didn’t say why, exactly, but I think I get it. Shea is having a crappy week – if I’m guessing, construction workers are busily working in the blazing Texas sun at this very minute, constructing a new wing in Hyndman’s dog house for the young left winger – and the league office didn’t want to pile on by making things worse on Shea.

Did I say “crappy week?” Maybe that’s underselling the point. Dallas’ young star is not performing well, he’s being asked to play out of position, he’s not scoring, he’s lost his mojo with the national team and that U.S. Olympic dream went kablooey, his battered MLS team is struggling mightily just to tread water and now the man seems to have gotten sideways with a no-nonsense coach.

Things could only be worse if someone kidnapped Shea’s dog.

So that’s why the league passed on addressing this specific situation. Besides, I get the feeling that I could have ticked off a long list of similar scenarios and I would have gotten the ditto answer: “The league office does not decide who plays,” Courtemanche reiterated. “Those decisions about who plays are made by the clubs’ technical staffs.”

Not long after that story came out Wednesday, national TV cameras saw a pouting Shea subbed out in Dallas’ loss to San Jose. He had what looked like a brief, terse sideline exchange with Hyndman. Here’s what FCD veteran midfielder Daniel Hernandez told ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle afterward:

Nobody likes to come out of a game. I don’t like to come out of a game. I’m pissed off when I come out of a game, or when I don’t play. But when things are not going well for you, or you’re not having a good game, and coach needs to make a change, you have to respect it. At this point in the season, we can’t have those breakdowns right now, because we need everybody. We need him. He’s one of the stars of our team, and we need him to step up with his leadership and his play. He’s obviously one of the best players in the country. In order for us to try to fight to get into the playoffs, we’re going to need him and everyone else, 100 percent.”

She wasn’t made available for comment (for which the team will probably be fined.) Hyndman declined to comment on his young star other than to say, “I think he is in enough hot water already.”

Sounds like Shea is in for a “talking-to.” From Hyndman and probably from team leaders, too.

So, yes, this is a bad time for Brek Shea. He’s young. He’ll bounce back.

But if we could offer a wee bit of advice: just keep your head down for a while, kid. Because those doggone rolls of old pennies can leave a mark!

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

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Borussia Dortmund moved back within one point of Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with a 4-0 win against Freiburg on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd ]

Dortmund went ahead in the 11th minute when 19-year-old Jadon Sancho scored from the six-yard box after a run by Marco Reus. It was Sancho’s 11th Bundesliga goal this season.

Dortmund added three after the interval with goals from Reus, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer with a penalty.

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

In the day’s other game, Hertha Berlin was held 0-0 at home by bottom side Hannover, which ended an eight-game losing streak.

On Saturday, Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0.

With four rounds left, Bayern leads with 70 points, Dortmund has 69 and Leipzig is third with 61.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

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Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.