Getty Images

Did Kompany help seal the title in possible final home game for Man City?

2 Comments

If that was Vincent Kompany‘s final match at the Etihad Stadium as a Manchester City player, it was just about a dream finish for the veteran defender.

Kompany’s 30-yard blast found the top corner, whooshing past the diving Kasper Schmeichel as Manchester City kept its hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Leicester City. Kompany, 33, is in the final two months of his current contract with Manchester City, and could conceivably retire or head to a new club come June 30, unless he reaches an agreement with the club to extend his stay. Although he’s pound-for-pound one of the best centerbacks in the world, he’s started less than half of Man City’s matches in each of the last four seasons, struggling with a myriad of muscular injuries.

[MUST-SEE: Kompany fires Man City back into Premier League lead]

“I said before the game ‘no shoot Vinny’,” Pep Guardiola said, jokingly, via Man City’s website. “He was right to not follow my thoughts. Incredible. The desire to win every game. There are important players in that club, it is more than one century history this club, not a lot of titles in trophy cabinet but a lot of players help us to be where we are right now.

“When fit, Vinny is an incredible player. He is real defender with personality and leader happy for him for the club and everybody.”

For most of his career for club and country, Kompany has been much more known for keeping goals out than scoring them. And even when he has scored, it’s often been with his head, or on a scrum in the penalty area. His goal on Monday showcased the brilliant technical ability he has. In the Premier League of the past, players of his strength and stature were more brute and brawn than finesse. Think Robert Huth or Philippe Senderos.

And yet, what sets Kompany apart from the rest of the pack is, when fit, he’s lightning quick, can play quick, zip passes on the ground or in the air, and he apparently can strike a ball as good as a forward or midfielder.

Following the match, Guardiola also lauded Kompany for what he did at Manchester City. Though Kompany is from Belgium originally, you don’t think of Man City without thinking of Kompany. Since his arrival at Man City, he’s seen the club go from a basically mid-table team with big ambitions to within a half dozen years, win the Premier League, and then within a decade, become one of Europe’s most ambitious and talented clubs.

Kompany is a big reason for that, even if his impact has been muted by injuries the past four seasons.

Ultimately, with Kompany’s contract running down, this may have been his last Premier League game in Man City colors at the Etihad. While Guardiola clearly appreciates what Kompany can bring, he also likely wants to have someone who will be fitter, and younger, especially with Man City surely attempting the quadruple again next year. Per Guardiola, we won’t know what will happen regarding Kompany until after the season. But talks are ongoing. So perhaps this wasn’t goodbye, just yet.

“We spoke with him and his agent,” Guardiola told the BBC. “At the end of the season we are going to talk to him. He is an incredible human being and he helps me a lot. Always I was sad I could not use him a lot but this club is what it is because of people like Vincent. At the end of the season after the FA Cup we will see.

“We will finish the season and after are going to talk. We spoke with him three weeks ago, one month ago. We spoke fluently. We are going to take a beer together and decide what is best especially for the club.”

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves travel to stadium burdened by racial abuse

Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United hopes to build off Monday momentum when it visits Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, though the hosts have some off-field aims following a pair of closed-door matches due to racist behavior.

Partizan boss Savo Milosevic, a former Aston Villa striker, has vowed that the match will be void of racism and a “celebration of football.”

United players Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford were part of an ugly atmosphere in Bulgaria while on England duty — something Maguire called “sickening” — but believe things will be better in Belgrade.

[ MORE: Genk 1-4 Liverpool | Ajax 0-1 Chelsea ]

Maguire is set for a new experience in the tie should he start, sort of. Maguire played a UEL qualifying round match with Hull City in 2014, but this is his first start in a European tournament proper. From ManUtd.com:

“Playing in Europe is another challenge,” he said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to, something I’m relishing. I want to play in the biggest games with the biggest pressure and that’s why I signed for a club like Man United, one of the biggest in the world. I’m looking forward to challenging myself under the lights in European football.”

United kicks off at 12:55 p.m. ET as one of two early starts for Premier League teams.

Wolves begin back-to-back matches against Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia, another situation where the hosts are dealing with recent racial problems.

Thursday’s match was supposed to be behind closed doors, but UEFA have allowed ticket giveaways to youth players and school kids. Wolves aren’t exactly impressed at the lessened punishment.

Here’s Matt Doherty, who says his Wolves will gladly leave the pitch if there’s a problem of any kind. From The Birmingham Mail:

“If it comes to it when players feel uncomfortable then I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Doherty adds. “I would hate to be in a position where you have to choose. I would hate that, so hopefully it doesn’t happen. I would be more in the mind of trying to beat them on the pitch.”

Wolves have a win and a loss, leaving them a point behind their Thursday opponents and Braga.

The lone PL club kicking off at 3 p.m. is Arsenal, the Gunners having played very well in the Europa League but fairly substandard in the league.

Arsenal is one of five 2-0 teams in the UEL, and can essentially cement their place in the next round by dealing with Vitoria at the Emirates Stadium.

Europa League full slate

12:55 pm. ET
Besiktas v. Braga
Roma v. Borussia Monchengladbach
CSKA Moscow v. Ferencvaros
Partizan Belgrade v. Manchester United
Qarabag v. APOEL Nicosia
Ludogorets Razgrad v. Espanyol
Slovan Bratislava v. Wolves
Porto v. Rangers
Saint-Etienne v. Oleksandriya
Gent v. Wolfsburg
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Wolfsberg
Young Boys v. Feyenoord
AZ Alkmaar v. Astana

3 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Lazio
Sevilla v. Dudelange
Arsenal v. Vitoria
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Standard Liege
Rennes v. CFR Cluj
Sporting Lisbon v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Basel
Dynamo Kyiv v. Copenhagen
Malmo v. Lugano
PSV Eindhoven v. LASK
Trabzonspor v. Krasnodar

LIVE MLS Cup Playoffs — NYCFC hosts Toronto, Seattle-RSL

Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Citi Field is the scene for New York City FC’s debut as the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Dome Torrent’s men have experienced opposition in Greg Vanney’s Toronto FC, who’ve been to two finals in three years but will have to advance another round without Jozy Altidore.

[ MORE: Live scores, box scores, stats ]

USMNT prospect Keaton Parks returns from injury for City and will partner with captain Alexander Ring beneath a dangerous quartet of attack-minded players.

Toronto hasn’t lost since Aug. 3 (5W-6D) and is well-equipped to deal NYCFC’s possession system on a postage stamp pitch.

The night-cap sees a 10 p.m. ET kickoff between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake, the visitors bringing a stingy record; RSL has allowed the second fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.

The Sounders only lost two home matches this season, and have not lost a home playoff match under Brian Schmetzer.

Champions League wrap: Barcelona, Napoli hold group leads

Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan got a necessary win, while several other notable teams had a lot of work on their hands on the way to three points in the UEFA Champions League.

Lionel Messi set another record, Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg put another scare into a big name, and both Lille and RB Leipzig puts difference-making wonder strikes on the board.


[ MORE: Genk 1-4 Liverpool | Ajax 0-1 Chelsea ]


Slavia Prague 1-2 Barcelona

Lionel Messi’s third minute goal didn’t send the Czech hosts running for cover, and Slavia Prague got a leveling goal through Jan Boril. It was deserved, too, with the hosts taking double the shots as their visitors when they made it 1-1. An own goal finished off the scoring in Prague.

Messi’s goal made him the first player to score in 15 Champions League tournaments. He’s good.

Red Bull Salzburg 2-3 Napoli

Jesse Marsch’s men know a bit about comebacks after last month’s memorable match in Liverpool, and Erling Braut Haland scored to make it 1-1 after Dries Mertens gave the favored visitors a lead. Haland answered another Mertens goal but the magic ran out for the hosts after Lorenzo Insigne provided the winner.

Lille 1-1 Valencia

Russian winger Denis Cheryshev looked like he’d see his goal stand up as a winner despite a late Valencia red card, but my goodness this equalizer from Jonathan Ikone:

Inter Milan 2-0 Borussia Dortmund

Make it six goals for Lautaro Martinez in 11 appearances for Inter Milan, who looked well-drilled at home under Antonio Conte. Roman Burki was sensational to keep the score 1-0, saving a penalty amongst several other timely interventions, but BVB couldn’t muster a goal. Antonio Candreva added the consolation marker.

Benfica 2-1 Lyon

Rafa Silva was in the right place to deposit a fourth minute goal, and Benfica rode the lead until Memphis Depay leveled in the 70th minute. Enter Pizzi, who scored with five minutes left to give Benfica a needed win. Last place Benfica is three points back of leaders RB Leipzig.

RB Leipzig 2-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg

Yaroslav Rakitskiy gave the visitors a halftime lead against the run of play but Konrad Laimer leveled the score line and then — clear the deck — Marcel Sabitzer did this:

USWNT star Morgan pregnant, due 3 months before Olympics

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
Leave a comment

Add childbirth into USWNT superstar Alex Morgan’s summer plans.

The two-time World Cup winner said the “newest member of the Carrasco family” will be a girl, due April 2020. The Olympics begin three months later.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists Chelsea winner ]

Morgan is married to LA Galaxy striker Servando Carrasco, and the comments on her Instagram post include a who’s who of soccer including Kaka and Canadian WNT star Janine Beckie.

Congratulations are of course in order for Morgan, who understandably did not comment on how the addition to her family affects her late summer plans, but NBC’s Olympic Talk reports that she plans to play:

A source close to Morgan said, after the pregnancy announcement, that her goal is to play at the Olympics. Morgan has not stated her intention publicly either way since the announcement.