Klopp defends Liverpool: “Not far away from a real challenger”

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NEWCASTLE — Jurgen Klopp cut a frustrated figure throughout Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

The German coach chuntered away at the fourth official on multiple occasions, seemed annoyed by Newcastle coming back onto the pitch later than usual for the second half and was screaming at his players as they allowed Newcastle to dictate the midfield and shut down any rhythm his side created.

Following Philippe Coutinho‘s screamer to make it 1-0, a sloppy, and now characteristic, defensive mistake cost the Reds all three points and Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Daniel Sturridge were all guilty of missing key chances.

Speaking to the media after the game, Klopp was tetchy as one reporter suggested it was a fair result for Liverpool to draw at Newcastle.

“Was it the first football game you saw?” Klopp replied. “Interesting. I thought we were the better and the more active side. We created better chances, didn’t we?”

Klopp went on to try and defend his team after the mistake for the first goal saw Jonjo Shelvey thread through a perfect ball for Joselu to run on to after his two center backs, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren, were caught napping.

“It was a good goal. A good pass absolutely in the right moment. For me it looks like some of us didn’t see the ball because two or three players are in front of them,” Klopp said. “If they see it they have to make a step and then Joselu is offside and then in the end it is unlucky. We cleared the ball pretty much but the ball then went into the corner.”

Going into the international break Klopp’s side have 12 points after their first seven games of the Premier League season and have just one win in seven games in all competitions.

“It feels not to cool you can imagine. I played a lot of times with different teams in my life and got a point and after it feels like you won a point. We have a problem because we have to play better next game otherwise we will not get a point,” Klopp explained. “We are the better team. Again. We created better chances. Again. We were in very promising situations and then we don’t score. That is of course the problem. I know, I have been in football long enough that one day when the knot opens maybe we will score more than one time. That’s pretty likely.”

Asked further about a poor run of form for his side which has seen them lose in the League Cup to Leicester City, draw with both Spartak Moscow and Sevilla in the Champions League and now draw against Burnley, Newcastle United and lose at Manchester City in the last seven, Klopp believes scoring goals will solve the problem.

“There are different ways to get one win in seven. You can play really bad and lose most games or you can play more than a few games really, really good,” Klopp said. “Most of the games we were the better side. But a few chances are enough for the opponent to score and we need a lot more. That happens too often the last few weeks but the only alternative for us is to carry on.”

When they carry on after the international break they face Manchester United at Anfield on Oct. 14 with the Red Devils flying high along with Manchester City as they have 19 points from their opening seven games and are seven points ahead of Liverpool.

“Now it is the international break and the boys will go away and we all feel not perfect at the moment. The main problem is that football is not fair but people like you write things about it and boys read it. That makes it even worse,” Klopp said. “You feel you have a point but you feel like you lost. I hope they all come back healthy and we go again. In the next game we will probably have different problems to a game like today. It is against United, full of confidence and stuff like this. We force ourselves into quite good shape and a good situation. It is really difficult.”

Klopp continued to defend his Liverpool side, saying they made “one real mistake” in the draw and believes they’ve had their tough patch of the season.

He still believes Liverpool are genuine title contenders.

“We have obviously had our hard moment. Other teams will have hard moments. It is really rare a season is going like this [makes a whooshing sound] so we need to work on our team. I really think it looks like we are not far away from a real challenger,” Klopp said. “If we do what we are good at it, and we score more goals we will win games and we don’t have to think about other teams. We will close the gap, how big it is, and we will see where we are at the end.”

MLS 3 Things: Resurgent Zardes, Toronto up, New England down

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A busy Saturday in Major League Soccer sees three interesting results bolstering the story lines of the final few months of the season.

[ MORE: Unstoppable Josef | Zlatan, too ]

1) Imagine a world with the reigning champs as your reward for finishing first.

With 14 matches to play, Toronto FC has Jozy Altidore back in the fold and has pulled to within eight points of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot after a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Sebastian Giovinco looks like Sebastian Giovinco in scoring another outstanding goal, just his fifth of the season, while Jonathan Osorio also scored in the win.

Before you watch Seba’s goal, picture you’ve won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Now picture TFC as your semifinal reward.

2) New England is well and truly slumping

Brad Friedel‘s Revs are slipping after losing a third-straight league match, and New England has gained a solitary point since the calendar turned to July following a 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena.

Fourth through ninth in the East are separated by nine points, and New England is very much in that mix now. Friedel is certainly at the most trying time of his tenure.

Second half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer did the trick for RBNY, who have claimed 15 of the last 18 points available to them (The lone blemish is the Hudson River Derby).

The Red Bulls are now 8-1-1 at home this season, while New England is 1-4-4 away from Foxboro.

3) Gyasi Zardes’ return to form is surprising and wonderful

Columbus has its second win since May 19, and will be feeling much better about itself following a 3-2 comeback win over Orlando City which included a pair of equalizers.

One of those came in the 88th minute, as Gyasi Zardes completed his brace by converting a penalty won by new arrival Patrick Mullins.

The Crew won late via a rare Wil Trapp goal — the USMNT midfielder has just two in 161 matches — but let’s focus on Zardes.

Zardes’ 13th goal of the season continues an amazing turnaround under striker whisperer Gregg Berhalter. It’s Zardes’ second double-digit season, and his first since 2014. He is firmly in frame for another USMNT look, this time as a center forward, but first there’s plenty to like about the big man.

Surging Galaxy ride Ibrahimovic magic to 3-1 win (video)

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a man on fire, and the LA Galaxy are rounding into form.

The Galaxy overcame an early deficit in Chester to clobber the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Saturday behind a goal and an assist from their world-class striker.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

Romain Alessandrini had two assists, while Michael Ciani and Ola Kamara also scored for LA. CJ Sapong scored for Philly, assisted by Borek Dockal.

Unbeaten-in-seven LA moves into fourth in the West with the win, while Philadelphia remains three points back of sixth in the East.

Ibrahimovic has now scored in six of his last seven matches, and has 12 goals and two assists in 21 matches overall.

Let’s start with the assist, which we must’ve seen two dozen times when the big Swede was with Paris Saint-Germain.

Ibrahimovic takes a difficult pass out of the air with absurd touch, then waits for the right time to send an impeccable through ball into the path of Kamara.

As for the goal, you almost feel for Mark McKenzie.

The Union’s Homegrown defender has to choose between Alessandrini darting into his box and allowing Ibrahimovic a lick of space.

He gives it, understandably, then rushes to close down Ibrahimovic.

It wasn’t fast enough. Boom.

Americans on both sides, Weah scores as PSG fall to Bayern (video)

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Two hopes of the USMNT’s future — one more immediate than the other — squared off in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain teenager Timothy Weah, 18, went 90 minutes and scored his side’s only goal in the 3-1 loss in Austria.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

On the other side of the field was 62nd minute substitute Chris Richards, far less known to the American supporter.

Richards is on loan from FC Dallas, where he’s a Homegrown Player. The 18-year-old center back is going to play for Bayern’s U-19 side following a successful trial in April.

Both Bayern and PSG were without key pieces, as Weah went up against a decent Bayern back line of Juan Bernat, Javi Martinez, Josip Stanisic, and Rafinha.

Arjen Robben, Sandro Wagner, and Franck Ribery were the biggest names in Bayern’s XI, while David Alaba, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry came off the bench.

For PSG, Gianluigi Buffon started as did Adrien Rabiot.

Weah’s goal is below, and here’s what he had to say about it:

“It’s an amazing feeling and getting a well-done job. Me scoring goals, I was really happy to get my first goal for PSG and first goal in this competition. We’re going to Singapore with our head on our shoulders. We’re going to be really humble and keep playing.”

Klopp talks Pulisic, Liverpool’s spending

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Jurgen Klopp admits he’d love to work with Christian Pulisic again, but isn’t going to butt his nose into Borussia Dortmund’s business.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s International Champions Cup match against BVB, Klopp was asked about his interest in the American teenager.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez bags 3 more ]

Klopp was quick to point out that Pulisic is under contract to Dortmund and not for sale, as much as he’s aware.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“He had not his best season last year but he was still a decisive player but it’s important in that age group that there’s no rush. He still has 14 or 15 years to play in his career and that’s good and he wants to be the best Pulisic he can be. For this, there is still space for development.

“If – at one point – he will join us, I don’t know. I like him, it’s not that that could be the problem, but we respect contracts still and there’s no market I know about at the moment. We did our business and Dortmund are doing theirs. All good.”

Also all good? Klopp’s evolution on spending after blasting other Premier League clubs for big money buys in the past.

Klopp said he would quit football if transfer fees like Paul Pogba‘s became the norm. Well, they have, and no club has spent as much money as the Reds this summer.

“That’s the problem these days, hey? Whatever b.s. you say, nobody will forget it. On the other side, it’s still kind of true. I couldn’t have imagined since then that the world would change like it has. Two years ago £100million was a crazy number. Since then the world has changed completely.”

He said he’s going to do whatever it takes to make Liverpool successful, and Klopp now has the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and most expensive defender in his squad.