In their words: Players, coaches react to Borussia Dortmund’s thrashing of Real Madrid

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“I’m happy to have scored four goals, but obviously the big picture is reaching the final and that’s the only thing that counts. Real played well in the first half but we had things under control in the second half.” — Robert Lewandowski, forward, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I gave all my players a hug, because they fully deserved it. That was pure football tonight, my players were unstoppable. We lost the plot a bit after 25 minutes, however, and the players were a bit unsettled, which led to the equalizer.” — Jurgen Klopp, head coach, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I’ve never seen such a great goal as [Robert Lewandowski] ‘Lewy’s’ third – that was absolutely amazing.” — Kloop, via UEFA.com

“The bad thing about having a first and second leg is that we still need to play a game in Madrid. Therefore, we need to keep calm and not go crazy after this game. We all know that it won’t be a walk in the park in Madrid.” — Klopp, via UEFA.com

“They were the better side by far. They won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally. The game went from 1-1 to 4-1 in such a short space of time. We lost possession easily and couldn’t cope with their transitions and speed on the break.” — José Mourinho, head coach, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“For three of the goals we lost possession too easily and didn’t mark properly. We know about Lewandowski’s movement and he deserves great credit for his performance, but we didn’t make it as difficult for him as I would like.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“[M]any of the boys had a bad game and a bad night. At club level this is the second-most important game, after the final. Obviously I am very disappointed with how it’s gone.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“In football anything is possible. On a crazy night when everyone performs at a high level, when every chance is a goal, we can turn it around.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“It was a royal evening for us, it would have been perfect if we had kept a clean sheet. However, it’s quite hard to get a better result against a team like Real. We played a great game from the start until the final whistle and deserved to win by this margin.” — Ilkay Gundogen, midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“We were lacking in attitude and I point to myself first when I say that. It will be very difficult in the return leg at home but we must remain confident and try to react. When the draw for the semi-finals was made a lot of people thought this was going to be easy for us but this is a German team we are talking about; they are a great side.” — Sergio Ramos, defender/captain, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“I’m happy my teammates helped me recover from the mistake. I’m not happy with my performance but the rest of the team played great.” — Mats Hummels, defender, Borussia Dortmund, via @cnyari

 

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.

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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.

Lagerwey staying in Seattle after GM vote

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Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey will stay in his position for four more years after the club’s alliance members voted to keep him in the role.

The Sounders’ have an Alliance Council that can vote its general manager in or out of the job after a set period of time in the position.

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Lagerwey, the ex-Real Salt Lake executive, has been in his role as Seattle’s GM since 2015, and led the team to two MLS Cup Finals, winning one.

The club demands 40 percent of alliance members to vote in order for the decision to be valid and only 37.2 percent did so, but the 87.2 percent of voters in favor or retention sent “a clear message” of approval.

The 45-year-old former MLS goalkeeper certainly had the right things to say in discussing his club’s disappointing end to the season. Seattle went on another late season red-hot run, but fell to its rivals in the playoffs.

“You can’t lose to Portland and call the season a success,” Lagerwey said. “You can’t be the only favorite to be knocked out and call it a success. Performance in the playoffs matters.”

Sure, but Lagerwey was able to pull the strings to fix the season, adding Raul Ruidiaz after forward Jordan Morris was lost for the season. He’s a future Soccer Hall of Famer, and Seattle is right to largely acknowledge that with his vote.