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U.S. Open Cup draw for Round of 16 after New Mexico surprises Colorado

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A minimum of one lower league side will feature in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s Round of 16.

New Mexico United got a helping hand from a red card, defeating Colorado Rapids in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule announced ]

Devon Sandoval gave the USL visitors a stunning lead, but Diego Rubio and Nicolas Mezquida scored on either side of halftime to restore order to the MLS hosts.

Then Axel Sjoberg was shown a 72nd minute red card, and Kevaughn Frater pushed an equalizer over the line deep into stoppage time to set up penalty kicks.

A second team could join New Mexico, but that would require a surprising win by Charleston Battery on Thursday versus Atlanta United.

A non-MLS club has won the USOC since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999.

Round of 16 schedule

Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United/Charleston Battery (USL)
Saint Louis FC v. FC Cincinnati
Orlando City v. New England Revolution
DC United v. NYCFC
LAFC v. San Jose Earthquakes
Portland Timbers v. LA Galaxy
Houston Dynamo v. Minnesota United
FC Dallas v. New Mexico United (USL)

Women’s World Cup: France overcomes Norway; Germany, Nigeria win

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After the goals and excitement of the first round of group stage games, Wednesday’s action saw more cagey affairs, with France dramatically winning on a controversial penalty kick.

Heres a roundup of Wednesday’s FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup action.

[MORE: Women’s World Cup news ]


France 2-1 Norway

Les Bleus survived a scare as they defeated Norway in Nice. Norway was the brighter of the two nations to start, putting one shot wide in the opening minutes and and having a header from a corner kick saved off the line.

However, France came out flying in the second half and Amel Majri delivered a ball that was smashed home by Valerie Gauvin less than a minute into the half. Norway was given a lifeline as Wendie Renaud inexplicably failed to clear a cross, instead side-footing it into her own net in the 54th minute. However, France kept pushing and were rewarded as the VAR saw a foul in the box missed by referee Bibiana Steinhaus, leading to a penalty kick. Eugenie Le Sommer stepped up to the penalty spot and calmly finished into the corner to take France on to six points in Group A.


Germany 1-0 Spain

For the second consecutive match, Germany didn’t look like the world beater that made it one of the top five teams in the world. And yet, Die Manaschafft picked up another three points.

Scoring on a loose ball in the box, Germany held off Spain to move to the top of Group B with six points from two games. Sara Dabritz snuck in and deflected a goal-line clearance across the line in the 42nd minute, which proved to be the difference. Lucia Garcia looked to have drawn a penalty kick in the 87th minute but the referee, and VAR, waved away the appeals.


Nigeria 2-0 South Korea

Nigeria kept itself in the conversation to move on to the next round with a big win over South Korea in Grenoble. The Super Falcons were on the front foot all game long and the attacking pressure directly led to the first goal of the match in the 29th minute, an own goal off the foot of Do-Yeon Kim.

The African nation kept pushing for more and finally saw another breakthrough as the speedy Asisat Oshoala scored to make it 2-0 in the 75th minute, effectively knocking South Korea out of the competition, with no points or goals from their first two games. Nigeria meanwhile is tied with Norway and if the standings stay the same, they could potentially advance in third place.

Three things learned: Tottenham v. Liverpool, Champions League Final

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MADRID — Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday, as Mohamed Salah‘s early penalty kick and Divock Origi‘s late goal was enough to edge Jurgen Klopp‘s men past Mauricio Pochettino‘s side.

[ MORE: Klopp reacts ]

In a game lacking in quality throughout, a handball given against Moussa Sissoko which resulted in a penalty 23 seconds into the game set the tone for a game riddled with errors.

Klopp and his Liverpool players celebrated wildly at the final whistle, as the German has won his first trophy as their manager and their sixth European title. In a season where Liverpool’s defensive unit has often won them games, they held firm once again as a lackluster Harry Kane and Spurs failed to make the most of several second half chances.

Here’s what we learned from a tense, dramatic encounter in the searing heat in Madrid, as Liverpool were crowned Champions of Europe for the first time since 2005.


HANDBALL CALL HARSH, BUT CORRECT

This is the last thing any player on either side wanted to happen 23 seconds into the match. Moussa Sissoko was the unlucky man.

Sadio Mane‘s clipped ball inside first hit Sissoko’s side then his outstretched arm, and in the laws of the game that is a penalty kick whether it was deliberate or not. UEFA’s head of referees Robert Rossetti said that “if the defender is making the body bigger in order to block the ball it is not fair” and that is what referees will make the call on.

Was this moment below fair on Sissoko? No. A few years ago there would have been outrage had this penalty been given. But under the new rules and the VAR world we live in, it had to be given.

That moment set the tone for a game where Liverpool largely held Tottenham at arms length.


SALAH, KLOPP GET THEIR TROPHY IN POOR FINAL

A punishing swipe of the Egyptian King’s right foot set Liverpool on their way to being crowned Champions of Europe.

Mohamed Salah didn’t play his best game, and both teams gave the ball cheaply in one of the worst finals in recent memory. Maybe it was the pressure of such a big occasion. Maybe the extreme Spanish heat. Or maybe, and more likely, it was the fact that these finely-tuned athletes had a three-week break after a punishing 10-month season and then had to restart their engines for the grand finale.

For large parts of the game Salah was hardly anywhere near the ball. But the way he celebrated his penalty kick showed just how much that moment meant to him. After being injured early in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last season, this was Salah’s shot at redemption. It wasn’t the best penalty kick he’s ever taken but it wasn’t about that. It was about scoring and exorcizing the demons from last season’s final.

Salah and Liverpool didn’t know if they would get another chance to play in the Champions League final and the way Salah’s final, and Liverpool’s hopes, were ended prematurely last season suggested he may not lead them to glory like he was supposed to after a glorious debut campaign.

But after Liverpool came up agonizingly short in the Premier League title race, Salah’s general brilliance helped lead them to the final in Madrid and his powerful penalty kick won them the trophy they deserved after such a stunning campaign. And Klopp can now shut everyone up as he has delivered the European Cup after losing his first three finals as Liverpool manager and his last six as a manager.

Liverpool are the Kings of Europe once again.


KANE GAMBLE BACKFIRES

It was the call which would decide not only the legacy of Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur, but likely that of the club itself.

And he got it wrong. With incredible emotions swirling around both sets of fans in the Spanish capital ahead of the game, it seems like starting Kane was a heart over head decision by Pochettino.

Harry Kane hadn’t played since April 9 when he injured his ankle against Manchester City and he looked like it. Pochettino decided to start Kane up top and leave out Lucas Moura, and that decision backfired. Spurs’ talisman looked unable to crank into third gear, let alone fourth or fifth, and his first touch was off and Tottenham’s entire attack faltered because Kane couldn’t manoeuvre himself deeper to create space for Alli and Son. Of course, Liverpool scoring in the second minute meant they could sit back and defend their lead, but Kane, as expected, just wasn’t his normal self.

Son, Alli and Christian Eriksen all struggled to impact the game and it was only when Lucas Moura came on in the second half that Spurs looked dangerous and able to get behind Liverpool’s defense but Alisson denied them on several occasions. Kane had 11 touches in the first half, fewer than any other player on the pitch. He had a few dangerous moments late on, but that was when Spurs had thrown everyone forward and had Liverpool pinned back.

The decision to start Kane will be remembered as a huge mistake by Pochettino. Not just because Kane didn’t score, but because he ruled with his heart over his head.

Carl Robinson on Alphonso Davies, MLS, and what’s next for him

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Canada named its Gold Cup squad this week, but you didn’t need to check a list to know one name was included on coach John Herdman’s list: Alphonso Davies, the 18-year-old Bayern Munich youngster who scored his first Bundesliga goal this March.

The Canadian teen hasn’t necessarily been top of mind this side of the Atlantic since his transfer; He’s being brought along slowly by Bayern, and didn’t quite get the publicity worthy of his immense talent while with Vancouver in Major League Soccer, either.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in UCL Final ]

So what should we expect from Davies at the Gold Cup, as the 18-year-old looks to build off a 3-goal performance at the 2017 edition which labeled him the youngest goal scorer in tournament history? Pro Soccer Talk asked the man perhaps most responsible for Davies’ development, former Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson, as part of a wide-ranging interview that touches on Davies, Tyler Adams, the future of MLS, and his desire to get back in a manager’s chair.

A former Norwich City, Toronto FC, and Welsh national team mainstay, Robinson is eight months removed from his first foray into management. From 2013-18 with Vancouver, Robinson led the ‘Caps to the MLS Cup Playoffs thrice, earning 50-plus points on all three occasions, and the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals once. He also became part of a select group to win the Canadian Championship as a player and as a manager.

PST: Let’s start here, how did you go about the development of Alphonso Davies with Vancouver?

Carl Robinson: “I used a plan that Arsene Wenger had with Aaron Ramsey, having known Aaron through the Wales set-up. When Aaron moved from Cardiff to Arsenal at age 17 for six million quid, he couldn’t understand why after every fourth game he got left out no matter how well he played. When he went to speak to the manager, the manager explained to him that this is what he’s done with young players, whether Cesc Fabregas or whomever.

“I used that, not letter of the law, but I used that plan with Alphonso. When I sensed a little drop off in training, I’d leave him out. People thought he should play every minute of every game, but I disagreed. I knew the fans wanted to see him as a wonder kid, but I knew the right plan for him. We tried to keep him away from the media, because he needed to concentrate on his football only. Looking back on it, it was the correct way of dealing with it and all credit to him for understanding.”

PST: At 16, he was being linked with Chelsea, Liverpool, reports even went as far as a reported trial with Manchester United. How did Bayern Munich become his destination two years later?

Robinson: “There were lots of rumors, but nothing ever concrete. The summer of 2018, everything went pretty quickly. A number of clubs explained their interest. Some were serious, some were very serious, and some weren’t serious because when a top club like Bayern Munich comes in, it alerts the other top clubs.

“Bayern did their homework. They watched the player, met the player, got references from people around him, then sat down with him and his representatives and laid down a five-year plan for him. In that plan was opportunities with first and second team, and that’s what people don’t understand with young players. It’s not just about what they do on a Saturday in front of 30,000 people. It’s what they do off the field. It’s what they do from Monday to Friday.

“When I saw the plan from Bayern Munich, and Alphonso saw it, it was an unbelievable opportunity for him. He’s been part of lifting two trophies but there’s still a lot left for his development. There are a lot of fantastic players in Bayern’s U-23 side who haven’t gotten a chance. He’ll have a fight on his hands but he’s got the right mentality to do it.”

PST: It can be difficult for those of us in MLS or American soccer circles to get a gauge for what we should expect from our phenoms, from Landon Donovan to Christian Pulisic to Diego Lainez? What should we be looking for when it comes to Davies? What’s his ceiling?

Robinson: “How good is he? He has got the potential to be an exceptional player. He’s a very good player at the moment, but I’ve seen players with huge potential. Ravel Morrison with Manchester United, Tyler Adams with the Red Bulls. It can go different ways.

“Tyler was in the German Cup final, Alphonso wasn’t in the 18. Tyler’s more suited now because of his positional awareness. The key element for Alphonso is attacking players are judged on outputs, goals and assists. He’s not judged on he worked really hard. Midfield players we can talk about pass location, covering ground, how hard they work, because Tyler’s as good as there is in relation to that.

“Alphonso needs to take his game to the next level when it comes to scoring goals and making assists. And Bayern will help him with all that. He was able to beat players in MLS with his power and his pace, but there are going to be players in the Bundesliga who have his power and his pace.

“Again, I don’t get carried away with saying he’s a superstar already. His football over there will make him a superstar. He’s still got a lot of work ahead of him but he has the mindset and mentality to get there for sure. Look at (Liverpool’s) Harry Wilson and (Chelsea’s) Mason Mount at Derby, there are high value players who are playing in the Championship, so he needs to find regular football. He might need to go on loan. He may break in with Robben and Ribery leaving.

“It’s going to take him some time to adjust, but there might be a bigger upside at the end of it if he can get himself into a rhythm, a groove, and play to a level in which I know he can get. Knowing the kid, and probably being a bit biased, he can make it. But there are also better players than him who have not reached their potential, so I think Bayern is a wonderful place for him.”

PST: MLS is a lot different then 2007, when you arrived from Norwich City and became TFC’s Player of the Season. What’s changed most? What’s your overall take on the league?

Robinson: “Back in 2007, there was a lot of hullaballoo with David Beckham arriving a week after I came over. Since then we’ve had Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, David Villa… The league has grown dramatically. The insertion of high level DPs has been important. It’s made people sit up and take notice. The addition of TAM money, even though it’s complicated and like Monopoly money, is increasing the quality over the squad.

“The way they’ve tried to build it slowly is correct. There still should be a big focus on development with the USL teams, which will help the Major League Soccer teams grow, and academies as well. It’s probably grown quicker than I thought it would, but now people don’t want to see it stagnate. That probably means more investment, and more TAM and more DPs. Given the new CBA, they have to figure out the way to do it right.”

PST: So there’s no denying your debut foray into management was a success in Vancouver. For a club spending in the bottom half at best to be a regular threat to host home playoff games… that’s pretty decent. Your numbers compare with the bigger American names in coaching: Vermes, Berhalter, Vanney. What’s next?

Robinson: “I’ve taken a much needed break. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I have two children, ages 17 and 11, and I missed a lot of their growing up because the commitment of being a player, coach, and manager. This is 24-7. I needed that time with them.

“But I’m still watching more football and traveling everywhere. Learning is paramount and I’ve been able to do that more. Spending time with other managers has been refreshing and valuable. There are also some excellent people within MLS clubs that have been great with me. You earn respect and trust. 10 years over here has been great. I know MLS inside out now. Although rules are always changing… These things don’t change. I’ll start to look at opportunities I feel are right. There have a number of conversations I’ve had with a people and teams in different countries, but what I’ve said to my family is I’ll take the right opportunity, not any opportunity. Being a manager for five years and inside one club for seven you understand how it works, and what you need to be successful  I’m looking forward to wherever my next challenge. I’m in no rush but I know my passion is football.”

PST: One more odd note. Your playing resume reads like a list of teams who were playoff-bound or promoted this year: Norwich, Sheffield United, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Wolves. Do you still root for all of them? Any more than the others?

“I follow all my former teams. I have friends and respect for them all. I still follow Red Bulls, Toronto. Wolves staying in the PL is a great opportunity. Norwich & Sheffield United getting promoted, that’s brilliant. Sunderland, that’s heartache. I know the Mackem fans will be absolutely devastated. Portsmouth too. What you learn in football is taking nothing for granted although people have short memories. I genuinely believe where I’m at at the moment, there’s a reason. What I do next, there’s a reason.”

Chelsea win Europa League after Arsenal capitulate (video)

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Chelsea are champions of the Europa League after thumping Arsenal, who hit the self-destruct button ahead of an ultimately decisive 20-minute period to begin the second half, thus kissing goodbye their last remaining chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

[ MORE: Sepp Blatter wants to sue Gianni Infantino ]

The final score in Baku, Azerbaijan: 4-1.

Things didn’t start out all bad for Arsenal, though. The Gunners had a claim for a penalty kick denied in the 18th minute, when Alexandre Lacazette was played in behind the Chelsea backline. Arrizabalaga came rushing out and arrived just after Lacazette scooted the ball out of reach. The contact between goalkeeper and forward was minimal, if any at all, but that didn’t stop Lacazette from going to ground in dramatic fashion. With video review in play for the final, no second viewing was recommended.

Granit Xhaka was next to go agonizingly close for Arsenal, but the 20-yard screamer he struck in the 28th minute grazed the top of the crossbar and would have likely been covered and pushed over by Arrizabalaga had it been on target.

Emerson unleashed a well-hit strike right in the chest of Petr Cech, playing in the final game of his glorious career, in the 33rd minute, followed six minutes later by a decent chance for Olivier Giroud, which proved to be Chelsea’s best of the first half. The former Arsenal man forced Cech to make a full-stretch save with his left hand, though he never appeared to be scrambling to cover his far post.

[ TRANSFER RUMORS: Sadio Mane plays down Real Madrid links ]

Chelsea needed just five second-half minutes to break the deadlock, though, as Giroud got his head on the end of Emerson’s cross at the near post and and redirected the ball, with power, past Cech and snuck it just inside the woodwork. The 32-year-old Frenchman opted for a largely subdued celebration against his club of five and a half seasons.

Pedro made it 2-0 exactly 10 minutes later, when Eden Hazard sprang to life for the first time in the game. The Belgian, perhaps playing his final game for the club, broke down the left side of Arsenal’s penalty area before cutting the ball back to Pedro near the penalty spot. The Spaniard swept the ball just inside the far post.

The meltdown was complete on 64 minutes, when Ainsley Maitland-Niles barged through the back of Giroud just inside the box. Hazard stepped to the penalty spot, sent Cech one direction and rolled the ball over the line the other way.

Alex Iwobi pulled the goal back for Arsenal — far and away the greatest moment of quality in the game (WATCH HERE) — just four minutes later, the Nigerian’s right-footed volley proved powerless in changing the course of the game, because Hazard struck again three minutes later.