Reyna assist video
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Bundesliga wrap: Reyna assists as Dortmund clinches 2nd; Richards debuts

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The Bundesliga’s top four picture is a lot clearer on a day that Americans danced through many of the matches on the penultimate match day of the season.

[ MORE: Brighton-Arsenal recapSpurs-Man Utd recap ]

USMNT teen prospect Giovanni Reyna made his first start and got his first assist, 20-year-old Chris Richards saw his first Bayern Munich league minutes, and several other American mainstays logged minutes across Germany.

RB Leipzig 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

Giovanni Reyna’s first Bundesliga start was a good one, the 17-year-old American setting up Erling Haaland for the first of 2 goals that sealed BVB’s second-place standing this season.

Haaland’s second goal came off a Julian Brandt feed, as Dortmund’s team is loaded with youth even with Jadon Sancho seemingly set for a summer sale. Haaland had no mercy on his former Red Bull family and now has 13 Bundesliga goals in 14 appearances since arriving from Salzburg in January.

Leipzig will finish top four with a point at Augsburg next week or dropped points from Borussia Monchengladbach or Bayer Leverkusen.

Reyna went 81 minutes, completing 86 percent of his passes including his only long ball. He converted four of five dribbles, won 10 of 17 duels, drew three fouls, and was credited with three tackles (SofaScore).

American midfielder Tyler Adams was a halftime sub for Leipzig, entering with the score 1-0. He won 2-of-3 duels, connected on 3-of-4 distance passes, made two interceptions and two tackles.

Supreme calmness and smarts on the assist, as Reyna darts into the box and knows where to find Haaland with his first touch.

Paderborn 1-3 Borussia Monchengladbach

Gladbach continues to control its top four destiny following a straight-forward win over already-relegated Paderborn, who took a red card with less than a half hour to play.

The visitors led 2-1 at that point on goals from Patrick Herrmann and Lars Stindl, the latter adding another on a Ramy Bensebaini assist with 17 minutes remaining on the clock.

Hertha Berlin 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Dodi Lukebakio had a goal and an assist as Bruno Labbadia’s Hertha continued its fine post-pause play and limited Bayer’s top four hopes to just that with one week to play.

Bayern Munich 3-1 Freiburg

The champions indoctrinated some new blood after building a 3-1 halftime lead on two goals and an assist from Robert Lewandowski.

American center back Chris Richards, 20, made his Bundesliga debut in the 84th minute of the win, completing all four of his passes and losing his only duel. Ex-Southampton and Chelsea man Jamal Musiala, 17, also made his Bundesliga debut.

Joshua Kimmich scored Bayern’s other goal.

Here’s what Richards told CBS’ Roger Gonzalez after the game:

“I was very excited when I heard my name to come over to the bench. Once I got the instructions from the coach then the nerves started to kick in, but after my first action I felt right at home.”

 

Hoffenheim 4-0 Union Berlin

Four different players scored as Hoffenheim clinched a place in the Europa League. Union is guaranteed a bottom-half finish but won’t care: There will be a second season in the top flight.

Mainz 3-1 Werder Bremen

Bremen now needs help from Union Berlin to avoid its first season in the second tier since 1980 after three different Mainz players scored to key a 3-1 win.

In-form Davy Klaassen set up Bremen’s lone goal from Yuya Osako, and American forward Josh Sargent’s good day up top wasn’t enough to produce a result. Sargent took two shots, completed two of three dribbles, and won five of nine duels as center forward.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-1 Augsburg

Fortuna’s point coupled with Werder Bremen’s loss means the hosts need to match or better Bremen’s final week result to avoid automatic relegation and contest the playoff against 2.Bundesliga’s third-place finisher. USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales was an unused sub in the draw, and Rouwen Hennings was again Fortuna’s scorer.

Schalke 1-4 Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg is headed back to the Europa League after clobbering woeful Schalke. Wout Weghorst scored two more goals to pace the visitors.

USMNT center back John Brooks made his 12th-straight start in the win, helping to limit Schalke to zero big chances (SofaScore). International teammate Weston McKennie went 90 minutes in the loss, picking up a yellow card, a blocked shot, an interception, and two tackles. He won 10 of 20 duels, drew two fouls, and fouled three times himself.

Koln 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht had the better of play but needed a 72nd-minute Bas Dost goal to take a point after Florina Kainz gave the hosts a lead before halftime. Neither team is going to Europe nor the second tier.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 33 25 4 4 96 32 64 13-2-2 12-2-2 79
 Borussia Dortmund 33 21 6 6 84 37 47 11-3-2 10-3-4 69
 RB Leipzig 33 17 12 4 79 36 43 7-8-2 10-4-2 63
 Mönchengladbach 33 19 5 9 64 39 25 11-2-3 8-3-6 62
 Bayer Leverkusen 33 18 6 9 60 44 16 8-4-4 10-2-5 60
 VfL Wolfsburg 33 13 10 10 48 42 6 4-7-5 9-3-5 49
 1899 Hoffenheim 33 14 7 12 49 53 -4 7-1-9 7-6-3 49
 SC Freiburg 33 12 9 12 44 47 -3 8-2-6 4-7-6 45
 Eintracht Frankfurt 33 12 6 15 56 58 -2 7-4-5 5-2-10 42
 Hertha BSC Berlin 33 11 8 14 47 57 -10 6-3-8 5-5-6 41
 FC Schalke 04 33 9 12 12 38 54 -16 5-7-5 4-5-7 39
 1. FC Union Berlin 33 11 5 17 38 58 -20 7-3-6 4-2-11 38
 FSV Mainz 05 33 11 4 18 44 64 -20 5-2-10 6-2-8 37
 1. FC Köln 33 10 6 17 50 63 -13 6-4-7 4-2-10 36
 FC Augsburg 33 9 9 15 44 61 -17 5-5-6 4-4-9 36
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 33 6 12 15 36 64 -28 4-6-7 2-6-8 30
 Werder Bremen 33 7 7 19 36 68 -32 1-3-12 6-4-7 28
 SC Paderborn 33 4 8 21 35 71 -36 2-2-13 2-6-8 20

Actors Reynolds, McElhenney bid to invest in Wrexham AFC

Wrexham AFC
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“The Gang Buys a Football Team?”

“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” actor Rob McElhenney and “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds are said to be in talks to buy National League side Wrexham AFC, reports The Guardian.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

The Welsh club, nicknamed the Red Dragons, was founded in 1855 and made it to the European Cup Winners’ Cup eight times between 1972-96.

They’ve since been relegated out of the Football League, dipping out of League Two in 2008.

McElhenney and Reynolds have bid to take over the club, and the Wrexham Supporters Trust says 97.5 percent of their members voted to allow the actors to propose their vision for the club before a second vote.

From wst.org.uk:

As a result, talks with the proposed bidders will now continue and we are in a position to confirm the two people interested in investing in Wrexham AFC.

Rob McElhenney is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter, best known as the creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Ryan Reynolds is an award-winning Canadian actor, writer, producer and business entrepreneur whose credits include Marvel’s Deadpool.

It’s gotta get McElhenney’s goat that Reynolds gets the “award-winning” adjective added to his name.

Either way, this is definitely an intriguing club for investment and the potential addition of Reynolds and McElhenney to the fray would only increase the interest in Wrexham AFC.

Deadpool and Mac would be quite a combo in the transfer market.

Arteta drawn into Ozil discussion, reacts to Liverpool doubleheader

Arteta on Ozil
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Mikel Arteta did his best not to give a soundbite that included Mesut Ozil’s name following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester City in League Cup action on Wednesday.

Ozil, 31, has not played since assisting the lone goal in a March 7 win over West Ham and has since only twice even made the bench (June 20 and 25).

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Asked six times about the German, Arteta painted in broad strokes before mentioning Ozil in the second set of questions.

Arteta said that Ozil simply hasn’t warranted a place in an 18. This is how he responded when asked if he understood why there are so many questions about a player who has 44 goals and 77 assists in 254 appearances for the Gunners.

From Football.London:

“Of course I understand and I respect your questions but I have to try to do my job as fair as possible. I try to select the players that are, in my opinion, in better condition.”

Okay then.

As for Wednesday’s win, the Gunners broke through on a Christian Fuchs own goal before sealing the deal on Eddie Nketiah’s marker just before the final whistle.

Arsenal was outshot 15-10 but both teams were decidedly second-string. Now the Gunners get consecutive affairs at Anfield, as Liverpool is the hosts for a Monday meeting in the Premier League and a League Cup fourth round tie days later.

Arteta was asked how big of a test that will be for the Gunners.

“You can imagine, probably the toughest place to go in Europe or the world. That’s the fixtures, we have to go there. Let’s go first on Monday, let’s prepare well and see how it goes.”

Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in July to deny the Reds a 100-point season, weeks after the Reds clinched the Premier League title. The Gunners again topped Liverpool in the Community Shield one month later.

The atmosphere and stakes will be high again next week. Surely Arteta can’t go 4-0 against Jurgen Klopp, right? Right?

Leicester City’s Rodgers: Gruesome Ndidi injury could cost him 12 weeks

Ndidi injury
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For every team, there’s an indispensible player and it’s difficult to argue against Leicester City’s player being Wilfred Ndidi.

The groin injury that kept the Nigerian out of Leicester’s 2-0 home loss to Arsenal in the League Cup could require surgery, said Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers after the game.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

One of the game’s top destroyers, Ndidi had played two matches at center back as Leicester opened the season 2-0.

Rodgers could hardly have made the injury sound more painful.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“We’re just waiting to hear more on that but it could be anything between six and 12 weeks,” Rodgers said. “It’s a groin abductor which may have come off the bone, which is quite a nasty one. We’re waiting to see if he needs an operation or not. If he does, it will be at least 12 weeks.”

Leicester missed Ndidi for five-of-six games in early 2020 and went 2D-3L, starting a skid that ended up costing them Champions League football.

The 23-year-old already has 34 caps for Nigeria.

The Foxes have Nampalys Mendy, Hamza Choudhury, and Daniel Amartey amongst their defensive midfield options.

They next face Man City, West Ham, Aston Villa, and Arsenal in Premier League play. Leicester will learn its Europa League group on Oct. 2 before beginning its UEL run the week of Oct. 22.

Champions League: Six-goal thriller in Norway; Marsch’s Salzburg lead

Champions League qualifying
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The UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round is delivering entertainment, with six first legs dotting the European landscape over the past 27 hours.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

American coach Jesse Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg take a first leg advantage home from Israel, while U.S. right back Henry Wingo and Molde played the game of the round so far against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.


Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg

The Austrian visitors were heavy favorites, especially with the hosts dealing with positive COVID-19 tests, but Maccabi took a ninth-minute lead through Dan Biton.

But young Dominik Szoboszlai’s Man of the Match showing began with a goal in the 49th minute and Masaya Okugawan gave Salzburg the lead eight minutes later ahead of next week’s second leg in Austria.

Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros

A thriller in Norway saw the hosts erase a 2-0 deficit only to hand a big away goals advantage to the Hungarian visitors with minutes to play.

Ferencvaros scored early in each half through Franck Boli and Myrto Uzuni. Both goals were set up by Endre Botka and Ferencvaros looked set to cruise through the first leg.

Molde snapped awake through former Manchester United, Cardiff City, and Seattle Sounders man Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who set up Leke James in the 55th minute before scoring a classy goal that was started on the right flank by fellow ex-Sounder and American export Henry Wingo.

Martin Ellingsen gave Molde its first lead in the 83rd, but Ihor Kharatin made it 3-3 four minutes later to send Ferencvaros back to Hungary with three away goals. A draw any less insane would be enough for them to head to the group stage.

Elsewhere

Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia Nicosia
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland

Second legs

Sept. 29
Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30 
Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv