We’re a couple weeks into the college soccer season, and already we’ve seen more than a few brilliant goals and performances from around the country. A No. 1 team has been upset, and we’ve got a new NSCAA poll leader after just two weeks of the season in the Creighton Bluejays.
And we’re seeing the same names bringing us video gold. Earlier, JPW brought you video of Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone returning to this space with a great free kick. Now Evansville’s Ian McGrath has forced us to acknowledge his distance wizardry for a second time in just a couple weeks.
Usually we’ll bring you teams that are hot or have done something extraordinary, but for this debut edition let’s begin with three teams who’ve looked strong to start the season despite tricky schedules.
1. Creighton (3-0) — Throw in exhibition wins over Bradley and Northwestern, and Bradley has given up one goal through six matches, scoring 19. Bonkers.
2. Notre Dame (3-0-1) — Yet to concede a goal, starter Chris Hubbard has only had to make nine saves through four matches.
3. Coastal Carolina (3-0-1) — Beat No. 22 Old Dominion, then VCU, then No. 18 Charlotte by 2-0 score lines before drawing No. 6 Clemson 1-1.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Daniel Johnson‘s goal for Louisville tonight versus Kentucky, which was a dipper from the former West Ham Academy man from Georgia.
Sticking with the theme of teams we’ve written about, Jamie Clark’s Washington Huskies went cross country to keep their record unblemished at 3-0-1. Like his Dad at Notre Dame, Clark’s charges have yet to allow a goal in wins over Gonzaga, UC Davis and Drexel plus a draw at Penn.
Sometimes you just catch a team worth watching, and Wright State has really impressed me early this season (most notably in last night’s 3-0 win over Cincinnati). Peguy Ngatcha has four goals in as many games, and goalkeeper Tyler Blackmer has shone between the sticks. In the buildup, Eric Lynch and Jackson Dietrich have shown good vision. Keep an eye on the Raiders.
DYK: The top three assist men in Division I this early season all come from the MAC? West Virginia’s Joey Piatczyc has five, while Bowling Green’s Bismark Agyeman and Buffalo’s Marcus Hanson have four a piece. Also with four, but not a part of #MACtion, is American University’s Liam Robley.
Maryland! The Terps have taken an amazing 82 shots — 20.5 per outing — to lead the nation in shots per game. The Terps have come out of the gate with a tough set of matches (Notre Dame, St. John’s, UCLA and Akron), and are 2-1-1.
Benzema, who hasn’t feature for France’s national team since he was allegedly involved in a scandal to blackmail teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape in 2015, slammed compatriot forward Olivier Giroud as the “go-karting” alternative to his own “F1” quality.
His main gripe with Giroud doesn’t appear to actually be with the player himself, but the fact the two get compared to one another so frequently. In Benzema’s absence from Les Bleus, Giroud has been the main beneficiary, leading many to wonder if the team could have reached greater heights with Benzmea in the team instead — quotes from Sky Sports:
“You shouldn’t confuse F1 and go karting and that’s me being kind. On to the next topic. I’m not talking about him [Giroud] anymore. I just know that I’m F1.
“He has his career, he does what he wants and scores the goals that he wants to score. He’s in his corner and I’m in mine, I’m not thinking about him. If we’re talking about playing style, his suits France well.
“It’s good because there are fast players like (Kylian) Mbappe and (Antoine) Griezmann who play out wide or feed off the centre-forward. When Giroud is up front, he’s a handful for defenses, which gives the other two plenty of space to show what they can do.
“He occupies defenders and it works. It might not be brilliant to watch and you won’t say, ‘Wow, that was incredible.’ Does everyone like that style of play? I don’t know, but it suits France well.”
Giroud: 39 goals (third-highest) in 97 appearances for France. Benzema: 27 goals in 81 appearances.
Through all of the innumerable challenges and tragedies the world is currently facing during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is doing his best to not only help the fight back in his native Spain, but also give everyone a chance to smile and laugh at their own expense.
Guardiola, who last week donated $1.1 million to fight the virus in Catalonia, released a video message of encouragement and hope on Monday — encouraging everyone to stay inside, and hopeful of returning to a sense of normalcy in short order:
“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses.
“You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”
DUSSELDORF, Germany — Four German soccer clubs have pledged a combined $21.9 million to support other teams struggling to stay afloat after games in the country were suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen will forgo $13.7 million in as-yet undistributed TV money and add another $8.2 million from their own funds. All four clubs played in the Champions League this season, giving them extra income.
The German Football League, which oversees the top two divisions, will decide how the money is distributed. The league has previously said it fears many clubs could face financial collapse if games can’t resume.
“In these difficult times, it’s important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders,” Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said on Thursday.
It’s the latest in a string of gestures to help those in need in German soccer. Players at clubs including Bayern, Borussia Monchengladbach and second-tier Karlsruhe have agreed to voluntary pay cuts to help other staff.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said clubs had a responsibility to keep other teams running in what could be a long period without income from ticket sales and sponsors.
“We have always said that we would show solidarity if clubs, through no fault of their own, should run into difficulties that they can no longer overcome themselves,” Watzke said in a statement.
“BVB is currently having a major impact on society through a wide range of initiatives. And naturally we are prepared to help out other professional football clubs if it is ultimately a matter of cushioning the financial effects of the pandemic.”
Transfer rumor roundup: Sancho to Man Utd; Madrid’s Haaland backup plan
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images
Jadon Sancho is a virtual lock to leave Borussia Dortmund and return to the PL this summer, and the 20-year-old winger will almost certainly command a transfer fee of more than $150 million just three years after signing from Manchester City for just $10 million. Today, it’s Manchester United who are rumored as frontrunners for Sancho’s services, based upon reports that Sancho has “unofficially confirmed” he will choose to join Man United when the transfer window opens.
Updating a transfer rumor from last week, Real Madrid are still very much in on another Dortmund starlet, Erling Haaland, but that doesn’t mean they’re putting all of their eggs in one basket. Los Blancos are reportedly eyeing Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a former Dortmund man himself, as a backup option should Haaland remain at Dortmund or land elsewhere this summer. Aubameyang, who’ll turn 31 this summer, isn’t likely to move for less than $60 million, which could prove a stumbling block.
If the rumors are to be believed, this summer will be a costly one for Man United, who are also interested in Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez. The price tag on the 25-year-old? Close to $170 million. It would seem unlikely that United could afford Niguez (at that price) without getting $100 million (at least) for Paul Pogba.
Another current Arsenal (and former Dortmund) player, midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, hopes to turn his loan to Roma into a permanent move this summer. Arsenal are expected to ask $22 for the 31-year-old, but the Serie A side is hoping to pay closer to $12 million instead.