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Bundesliga wrap: BVB goes atop the table with wild comeback

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It’s nearly October, and Bayern Munich is not atop the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: What did we learn from PL Saturday? ]

Have you wiped your eyeglasses, phone, or computer screen? Cause that’s a true statement.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Borussia Dortmund

For about an hour, Bayer Leverkusen’s turn in form looked to have firm roots in the soil. Bidding for a third-straight win following an 0-4 start, the hosts got goals from Mitchell Weiser and Jonathan Tah to stun visitors intent on claiming the top of the table.

Jacob Bruun Larsen and Marco Reus scored five minutes apart to level the score in the 69th minute, and Paco Alcacer scored twice in the final nine minutes as Borussia Dortmund won at BayArena.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic missed a lot of the fun, subbing off shortly after BVB pulled to within one via Brunn Larsen.

Hoffenheim 1-2 RB Leipzig

Six teams are now within three points of first place after Yussuf Poulsen scored his fifth and sixth goals in all competitions, and RBL only conceded a stoppage time penalty from Andrej Kramaric in moving sixth. The Danish 24-year-old has three of his goals in Bundesliga play.

Schalke 1-0 Mainz

Alessandro Schopf’s 11th minute goal was one of just two shots on target for Schalke, but the perennial contenders don’t care how their first league win arrived, just that it’s here.

Elsewhere
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Bayern Munich — Friday
Stuttgart 2-1 Werder Bremen
Wolfsburg 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
Nurnberg 3-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hannover — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Augsburg vs. Freiburg — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 6 4 2 0 19 5 14 3-0-0 1-2-0 14
 Bayern Munich 6 4 1 1 12 5 7 2-1-0 2-0-1 13
 Hertha BSC Berlin 6 4 1 1 12 7 5 3-0-0 1-1-1 13
 Mönchengladbach 6 3 2 1 12 9 3 3-0-0 0-2-1 11
 Werder Bremen 6 3 2 1 11 8 3 1-2-0 2-0-1 11
 RB Leipzig 6 3 2 1 10 9 1 2-1-0 1-1-1 11
 VfL Wolfsburg 6 2 3 1 10 9 1 1-2-1 1-1-0 9
 FSV Mainz 05 6 2 2 2 4 4 0 2-1-0 0-1-2 8
 1. FC Nürnberg 6 2 2 2 7 10 -3 2-1-0 0-1-2 8
 1899 Hoffenheim 6 2 1 3 10 10 0 1-1-1 1-0-2 7
 SC Freiburg 5 2 1 2 8 9 -1 1-1-1 1-0-1 7
 Bayer Leverkusen 6 2 0 4 7 13 -6 1-0-2 1-0-2 6
 FC Augsburg 5 1 2 2 7 8 -1 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 6 1 2 3 5 9 -4 1-0-2 0-2-1 5
 VfB Stuttgart 6 1 2 3 5 10 -5 1-1-1 0-1-2 5
 Eintracht Frankfurt 5 1 1 3 6 9 -3 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
 FC Schalke 04 6 1 0 5 3 9 -6 1-0-2 0-0-3 3
 Hannover 96 5 0 2 3 4 9 -5 0-1-1 0-1-2 2

Sorting the CONCACAF nations on the road to Qatar 2022

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The United States men’s national team picked up a feel-good win over Mexico on Tuesday in Nashville, and there’s no reason to feel bad about enjoying the win.

Yet as general manager Earnie Stewart sorts through his options regarding the next full-time coach of the USMNT, where do the Yanks sit in the race to qualify for Qatar 2022?

[ MORE USMNT-MEXICO: 3 things | Player ratings ]

Yes, the World Cup is still going to Qatar. Yes, the games will be played in December in the middle of the night local time. Had to be said, again.

First and foremost, assuming the World Cup stays at 32 teams in the 3+1 CONCACAF qualifying format, who are the front-runners to make the Hex?

Let’s say the chalk plays out through qualifying and these 12 teams make the fourth round of qualifying. Since the Hex began for the 1998 cycle, the following nations have participated: USMNT (all), Mexico (all), Costa Rica (all), Honduras (4), Trinidad and Tobago (4), Panama (3), Jamaica (3), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (2006), Canada (1998).

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

We still don’t know which U-20 sides will qualify for next summer’s U-20 World Cup — qualifying is in November — but the U.S. won the CONCACAF U-20 title in 2017, with Mexico winning the previous three, and Costa Rica before that. Panama were runners-up in 2015, so it’s a pretty good predictor of the pipeline.

Here are the current Elo Ratings and FIFA world rankings for CONCACAF sides:

Mexico — Elo 20, FIFA 16
USMNT — Elo 26, FIFA 22
Costa Rica — Elo 43, FIFA 32
Honduras — Elo 58, FIFA 61
Panama — Elo 63, FIFA 69
Jamaica — Elo 67, FIFA 54
Canada — Elo 73, FIFA 79
Guatemala — Elo 80, FIFA 146
Haiti — Elo 84, FIFA 104
El Salvador — Elo 87, FIFA 72
Trinidad and Tobago — Elo 96, FIFA 91
Curacao — Elo 132, FIFA 81

For now, we will only rank the sides who have qualified to a prior Hex, though Haiti has a chance to impress us and join in the next power rankings some time in the future.

Long shots: El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica

Hex candidates: Panama, Canada, Honduras

Yes, Panama qualified for the World Cup, but it happened via a goal that never crossed the line and the poor performances of an American team that rarely showed up to work and a Honduran team which just couldn’t pull it together. Still, it’s best player at the World Cup were young: Ricardo Avila (21), Yoel Barcenas (24), and Jose Luis Rodriquez (20). Need to figure out life post-Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, and (probably) Jaime Penedo.

Honduras is going to be in the discussion due to home field advantage alone. Even when Los Catrachos aren’t shining at San Pedro Sula, they are a handful. A bit longer in the tooth than you’d like for a tournament run, young forward Alberth Elis has to join Romell Quioto, Bryan Acosta, and Anthony Lozano in taking the next step.

The wild card here is Canada, which remains a green project and has new leadership in former WNT coach John Herdman. He will have a trio of teens at significant clubs when Alphonso Davies leaves Vancouver for Bayern Munich, joining Jonathan David at Gent and Liam Millar at Liverpool (Alessandro Busti is with Juventus B and Zahcary Brault-Guilard, Lyon). TFC’s Jonathan Osorio is in his prime, Cyle Larin isn’t there yet, and goalkeeper Milan Borjan starts on Red Star Belgrade.

Hex participants: Costa Rica, USMNT

Let’s start with the one of the bunch which played in the World Cup; Costa Rica is a difficult team to read. It will qualify for the Hex because it’s never failed to and it won’t be too old… yet. Of the 13 players to play more than 100 minutes for Los Ticos at the World Cup, only Joel Campbell and Francisco Calvo (both 26) were under the age of 28. All five players who manned all 270 minutes of the World Cup were 30 or older.

The reason the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for Russia was considered a disaster is that the Yanks should never, ever, ever miss a World Cup given their talent and resources. Even with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore getting on in years for their respective positions, the new manager could instantly trot out this lineup in CONCACAF and not worry about experience or age (at least not too much, and we’re not yet including Geoff Cameron):

Steffen

Yedlin — Miazga — Brooks — Lichaj

Adams — D. Williams — McKennie

Pulisic — Altidore — Wood

Subs: Guzan, Acosta, Weah, Green, Bradley, Ream, Sargent

The unquestioned No. 1: Mexico

Sure the U.S. was missing big names Pulisic, Brooks, Cameron, Bradley, and Altidore in the 1-0 win over Mexico, but El Tri was without a whole lot more. Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Raul Jimenez, Carls Vela, Hirving Lozano, Chicharito (I’m just gonna stop now).

Mexico’s very best players are playing for some of the best clubs in the world, and Liga MX is still plenty ahead of MLS in depth and churning out youngsters.

Serie A 2018-19: Empoli, Parma, Frosinone make return

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MILAN (AP) The Italian league begins this weekend with Parma returning to the top flight only three years after being declared bankrupt.

Empoli and Frosinone are also back in Serie A.

The three promoted clubs replace Crotone, Hellas Verona and Benevento, which were relegated last season.

Spal was the only promoted team not to go back down last season.

[ MORE: Ramos takes shots at Klopp ]

Here’s a look at the new teams in Italy’s top division:

EMPOLI

Empoli, which is in the city of Florence, bounced back up to Serie A after only one season in the second division.

The Tuscan team won Serie B with four matches remaining and went on to finish 13 points ahead of second-place Parma.

Much of the credit goes to former Roma coach Aurelio Andreazzoli, who replaced Vincenzo Vivarini in December, with the team in fourth place.

It was Andreazzoli’s first managerial role since 2013 but, under the 64-year-old coach, Empoli went on a remarkable 23-match unbeaten run to the end of the season.

When it was last in Serie A, Empoli spent three seasons in the top flight before being relegated on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign after it failed to beat Palermo.

Andreazzoli has made astute signings, bringing in defenders Luca Antonelli and Matias Silvestre as well as young forward Antonino La Gumina.

Francesco Caputo was the top scorer in Serie B last season with 27 goals, six more than teammate Alfredo Donnarumma, who has since moved to Brescia.

The 31-year-old Caputo has scored only one Serie A goal, for Bari in the 2010-11 season.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

PARMA

Parma earned promotion to Serie A only three years after being declared bankrupt, becoming the first Italian club to earn three straight promotions.

Parma beat Spezia on the final day to finish second in Serie B after Frosinone conceded a late goal to draw 2-2 at home against Foggia. They finished level on points but Parma clinched second because of its head-to-head record.

Parma also became embroiled in an attempted match-fixing case after it was revealed forward Emanuele Calaio had sent text messages to Spezia defender Filippo De Col, encouraging him and another former teammate to not try too hard in the game.

Calaio insisted he was joking but Parma risked being demoted back to Serie B. It was deducted five points from the upcoming season but that was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Calaio, who was originally banned for two years, is suspended until Dec. 31.

Parma has signed a number of players, including Portugal defender Bruno Alves and Inter Milan trio Jonathan Biabiany, Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni.

It could also sign Antonio Cassano, who is looking to make a comeback after two years out of the game.

[ MORE: VAR at World Cup changed our brains ]

FROSINONE

Frosinone recovered from missing out on automatic promotion to win the playoffs and earn a second season back in Serie A.

Frosinone, which is south of Rome, advanced with a controversial 3-2 aggregate victory over Palermo. It had lost the first leg but won the return match 2-0, although players were accused of intimidating the referee, while substitutes threw balls onto the field to delay play.

Palermo complained but the Italian soccer federation ruled that the promotion was not going to be overturned. However, Frosinone will have to play its first two home games on neutral ground.

Frosinone opened its Benito Stirpe Stadium last season, more than 40 years after construction began, including 30 years of inactivity.

In its only previous campaign in Serie A, Frosinone finished 19th out of 20 clubs in 2016.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

WATCH LIVE: Wolves vs. Everton

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Two clubs dreaming of monumental seasons begin their campaigns at the Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Nuno Espirito Santo’s Portuguese-flavored Wolves host countryman Marco Silva and big-spending Everton to kick off both teams’ Premier League seasons.

[ STREAM: Wolves vs Everton live ]

LINEUPS

Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Boly, Coady, Bennett, Otto, Neves, Moutinho, Jota, Costa, Jimenez. Subs: Ruddy, Enobakhare, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Vinagre, Hause, Bonatini

Everton: Pickford, Baines, Keane, Jagielka, Coleman, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Gueye, Richarlison, Tosun, Walcott. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Digne, Sandro, Niasse, Davies, Calvert-Lewin.

Alexis leads Man United past Real Madrid; Spurs, Roma win

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The International Champions Cup brought some power matches to the preseason pitch on Wednesday, and two of the three brought some real entertainment.

[ MORE: Modric interested in Inter ]

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez’s wonder assist joined his opening goal to make him the easy Man of the Match as Jose Mourinho’s men emerged victorious from Miami Gardens.

Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid, but the reigning UEFA Champions League victors couldn’t find a second against United’s defense.

Now back to Alexis’ assist. Consider the athleticism involved in nodding this Juan Mata cross into the path of Ander Herrera. Insane.


Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 AC Milan

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s early second half hammer in Minneapolis was enough to let Spurs leave the ICC with two wins and a loss in penalties.


Barcelona 2-4 AS Roma

Rafinha gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead before Justin Kluivert fed Stephan El Shaarawy to leave it level at the break in Arlington.

New winger Malcom restored Barca’s lead from an assist courtesy former Montreal Impact man Ballou Tabla, but that was about all she wrote for the Blaugranas. Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante, and Diego Perotti scored thrice in eight minutes to hand Barca its first loss of the preseason.

Rafinha’s goal was pretty nice, though.