DUSSELDORF, Germany — Making a mark in German soccer is far from easy for any player, even more so at perennial champion Bayern Munich.
United States center back Chris Richards is adapting well to life in Europe, though, and has become a regular starter on loan at Hoffenheim. He’s already eyeing a place in parent club Bayern’s first team next season on a squad that’s among the most competitive anywhere.
“With a team like Bayern, you never really know how close you are to the first team or how close you are to making the starting 11,” Richards said last week. “All I can do is get good performances here and then go back next summer and give them a convincing argument as to why I should be in that starting 11.”
Alabama-born 21-year-old Richards joined Bayern in 2018 from its partner club in Major League Soccer, FC Dallas, initially on loan before signing a permanent contract in January 2019.
He’s played 10 times for Bayern, including three games in last season’s Champions League, but Richards’ main impact has been on loan at Hoffenheim with 22 games, 19 of them starts, this season and last.
Hoffenheim allows Richards much more game time in what he calls “grown man football” in his favored center-back role, after experimenting with a shift to full-back for Bayern. It also puts him up against talented, experienced strikers week-in, week-out, as Richards says he’s focused on improving his one-on-one defensive skills.
Returning to Bayern next season would pit him against some of the best defenders in Europe for scarce starting spots.
“If I continue doing what I should be doing here and continue to develop, I don’t see why I can’t push (Niklas) Sule, (Benjamin) Pavard or (Lucas) Hernandez, (Dayot) Upamecano, any of those guys out,” he said. “It’s one thing to say it and one thing to do it. I have a lot of work to do.”
Richards is part of a long tradition of U.S. players in the German league, going back to the likes of Landon Donovan or Eric Wynalda in the 1990s, and more recent standouts like Christian Pulisic, now at Chelsea. Richards has four caps for the U.S. and played the full 90 minutes in last month’s 2-1 win over Costa Rica.
Even while Richards is still establishing himself in Germany, he’s trying to encourage more American players. Bayern’s partnership with Dallas led to six players coming over to Munich from the U.S. last season to train, with 17-year-old defender Justin Che also playing eight games for Bayern’s reserve team on loan.
“A lot of us played in the academy together. And so when they came over, I saw them around Munich,” Richards said.
“We’ve always kept in contact since I’ve left the academy and wherever they are in their careers, we always kept contact. And so with them coming over here, they gained a lot of valuable experience and it’s their first look into European football. They were seeing how high the level was and how close they were to making it.”
Tied at 0-0 from the first leg of the final in San Nicolas on Thursday, the advantage is with red-hot Chivas as their stunning recent form saw them win their final four games of the Clausura regular season to finish third in the table before beating Atlas and Club America in the playoffs.
Victor Guzman and Alexis Vega are Chivas’ main attacking threats as they will keep it tight defensively and the energy of the home crowd at Akron Stadium should be a huge help as Chivas aim to win their first Clausura title since 2017, when they also beat Tigres in the final.
Tigres finished seventh in the Clausura standings and beat Toluca and Monterrey to reach the final. The duo of Sebastian Cordova and Andre-Pierre Gignac are their main hope of winning on the road in Guadalajara and lifting the trophy.
Below is everything you need for Chivas vs Tigres, one of whom will be crowned as the Clausura champions on Sunday.
Borussia Dortmund gave the Bundesliga title to heated rivals Bayern Munich on a shocking final day in the Bundesliga, a stunning collapse that left a ready-to-party Westfalenstadion in mourners’ status.
Bayern took an early lead through Kingsley Coman at Koln and Dortmund went down 2-0 in the first half versus Mainz, missing a penalty that would’ve tied the score at 1.
Dortmund entered the day with the table lead and dominated Mainz to the tune of 26-7 in shots and 3.64-0.62 in expected goals, but Andreas Hanche-Olsen and Karim Onisiwo’s goals were enough as only Giovanni Reyna’s set-up of Raphael Guerreiro got Dortmund on the board in a 2-1 loss.
Koln briefly gave hope with a penalty equalizer in the 80th minute versus Bayern, but Jamal Musiala’s 89th-minute goal put the defending champions back in front.
Dortmund would’ve won the league by matching or bettering Bayern’s result and but Instead hand an 11th-straight Meisterschale to the Bavarians. No one has won more German top-flight titles than Bayern’s 33.
BVB remains on eight Bundesliga titles and remains one behind Nurnberg, which has not won since 1968.
MAINZ TAKE LEAD AT DORTMUND 🇩🇪 If results hold, Bayern win 11th straight German title. Bundesliga scriptwriters trying to one-up Premier League counterparts.pic.twitter.com/dXn5Ruk5If
Luton Town overcame a blown lead in regulation to earn a place in the Premier League by outlasting Coventry City in penalties during Saturday’s playoff final at Wembley Stadium.
USMNT goalkeeper Ethan Horvath watched as Fankaty Dabo’s penalty sailed over the goal to give the Hatters a 6-5 win after 120 minutes ended 1-1 and neither team missed on 11-straight attempts from the spot.
In 2018 Luton and Coventry were both in the fourth-tier of English football. Now Luton is joining Sheffield United and Burnley in the top flight.
Jordan Clark scored Luton Town’s goal, while Gustavo Hamer leveled the line for Coventry City.
Coventry City vs Luton Town as it happened:
GOAL! Luton’s taken the first five shots of the match and now one’s found the back of the goal. It’s Jordan Clark who belts home in the 23rd minute to put the Hatters on top! Luton Town, 1-0
CHANCE! It’s Elijah Adebayo, who assisted the opener, who can’t quite get a very decent chance right, as Luton is looking to put an early vice grip on the final. Still 1-0, 30′.
Shots are up to 9-0 in favor of the Hatters but the total xG is still below 1.00. Coventry has to wake up, but maybe they’d take getting to halftime down one at this point.
The 11th shot of the game is Coventry’s, and it’s a high volley that slashed over the goal. Off-balance and improbable, but Coventry will be hopeful it’s a sign that they’re coming into the affair; Soon after, a rush is bungled but into the Luton third.
HALFTIME: Luton Town 1, Coventry City 0 — (Clark 23′)
SECOND HALF: Coventry has more of the ball and is building off its late first half, but Luton looks well-drilled into its system despite the concession of some set pieces.
Good news on a scary-looking injury for Luton star Tom Lockyer:
We are able to report that after collapsing on the pitch, Tom Lockyer has been taken to hospital for further tests.
He is responsive and talking to his family, who are with him.
GOAL! And the Sky Blues are level! It’s Brazilian-born Dutch youth international Gustavo Hamer who has it so with a solid finish, though the playmaking’s come from star performer Viktor Gyokeres. It’s all on now at Wembley! 1-1, 66′
A dangerous free kick in stoppage time for Luton after a very questionable foul, but fate makes sure this one doesn’t end with ignominy. Are we headed for penalties? Extra time is almost certain deep in stoppage.
xG is basically even after 90 minutes, as are shot attempts, and anything can happen when it comes to the 20th berth in the 2023-24 Premier League season.
END OF 90: Coventry City 1, Luton Town 1 — (Clark 23′, Hamer 66′)
INJURY! USMNT keeper Ethan Horvath is down for treatment 11 minutes into the first frame of extra time, which has otherwise been a scrappy period. Looks like he’s going to try to continue despite dropping to the pitch after a long goal kick.
END OF FIRST ET PERIOD: Coventry City 1, Luton Town 1 — (Clark 23′, Hamer 66′)
Not much happened there. Nerves? Can someone seize history in the next 15 or will we go to pens?
NO GOAL! Joe Taylor has it in the goal for Luton off a bad giveaway but VAR, not used in the regular season, spots a handball and the Hatters won’t win it here. We’re going to penalties.
END OF SECOND ET PERIOD: Coventry City 1, Luton Town 1 — (Clark 23′, Hamer 66′)
Horvath was a penalty hero for the USMNT in the CONCACAF Nations League against Mexico, while well-traveled Ben Wilson is between the sticks for Coventry. Here we go…
X Carlton Morris goal for Luton 1-0
X Matty Godden goal for Coventry 1-1
X Taylor goal for Luton 2-1
X Viktor Gyokeres goal for Coventry 2-2
X Marvelous Nakamba goal for Luton 3-2
X Ben Sheaf goal for Coventry 3-3
X Jordan Clark goal for Luton 4-3
X Josh Eccles goal for Coventry 4-4
X Luke Berry goal for Luton 5-4
X Liam Kelly goal for Coventry 5-5
X Daniel Potts goal for Luton 6-5
X Fankaty Dabo miss for Coventry 6-5
Coventry City vs Luton Town player ratings: Stars of the Show
The managers and star players
Luton Town boss Rob Edwards left rival club Watford in November and the risky maneuver has paid off for the coach and club. Viktor Gyokeres is the club’s 21-goal scoring hero and he’s chipped in 11 assists as well, and Gustavo Hamer has been sensational as well.
Coventry City manager Mark Robins has been with the club since 2017 and it’s been up-up-up. Carlton Morris leads the way with 20 goals, while Alfie Doughty and Tom Lockyer have been key players, too, with Lockyer scoring in three of the Hatters’ last four matches.
Championship playoff schedule, how to watch, updates
Dates: Final – Saturday, May 27 at 11:45am ET Updates: Via scoreboard on NBCSports.com How to watch: ESPN+
Can Manchester United’s new-look side keep its place in the top four? What about Newcastle? Is Tottenham going to turn things around to claim a place or will another new name, Brighton or Aston Villa, make their claim? Liverpool’s not out of this, either…
How will the new boys get on? Who will be the surprise package? Can Chelsea salvage any pride from the season? Who will stay up in the congested scrap against relegation?
Those questions will be answered from August 2022 to May 2023, with the full list of Premier League fixtures.
While below are the answers to all of the questions you have around the Premier League fixtures and everything else you need to know for the upcoming season, with full details on the Premier League TV schedule across the NBC family of channels and more.
The Premier League fixtures for the 2022-23 season were announced on Thursday June 16, 2022 at 4am ET. Below is the full schedule, as you can watch all 380 games across our NBC platforms.
The Premier League fixture computer decides who plays who and when, as teams located close to one another are usually playing at home on opposite weekends to help with policing, crowd control and transport congestion in those areas.
When did the Premier League take a break for the 2022 World Cup?
When will the 2022-23 Premier League season finish?
The final day of the season will be on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Which teams will compete in the 2022-23 Premier League?
These are the 20 teams which will compete in the Premier League for the upcoming season:
Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers