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Americans Abroad: Pulisic, Sabbi extend scoring spree

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For a second consecutive weekend, Christian Pulisic tops the list of Americans abroad.

A week removed from his historic, perfect hat-trick, the 21-year-old ace followed up by scoring Chelsea’s game-winner against Watford, stretching his Premier League goal count to four.

From the looks of it, Emmanuel Sabbi has been taking notes of Pulisic’s recent form.

The U.S. U-23 forward also scored for a second consecutive week in the Danish Superliagen. 31 minutes into Hobro’s match against Odense on Sunday, Sabbi, 21, executed his free kick perfectly, curling a right-footed strike over the wall and into the top-left corner.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic’s fine run of form continues. The Pennsylvanian played 83 minutes and scored Chelsea’s second and game-winner against Watford.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 3-2 win against West Ham on Saturday. The Magpies are no longer in the drop zone.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan dropped to Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is back healthy and starting. On Saturday, Miazga played all 90 minutes in Reading’s 2-1 win over Millwall.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The captain played the full 90 minutes and was instrumental in Hull City’s 3-0 win over Fulham. That’s two straight clean sheets for the Tigers.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender didn’t dress for QPR on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 3-0 loss to Hull City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers and the Potters take on West From on Monday.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t dress in Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Southend United on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 draw loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  After being inactive against Borussia Dortmund, McKennie played all 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-2 win over Augsburg on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen played all 90 minutes and recorded a save and clean sheet in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat of Koln. Morales also started and played 81 minutes on Sunday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench in the 72nd minute in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s 8-0 thumping of Mainz on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature for leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler was on the 18 but didn’t play in Frankfurt’s 5-1 win over Bayern Munich.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss on Friday.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in Greuther Furth’s 3-1 win over Darmstadt.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest dressed but didn’t feature in Ajax’s 4-2 win over PEC Zwolle.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 90 minutes in VVV’s 3-0 loss to Feyenoord.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend, again.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Rennes’ match against Nimes over the weekend was postponed.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored Hobro’s lone goal in their 2-1 loss to Odense on Sunday.

Ulysses Llanez, U-19 Wolfsburg – The 19-year-old played 82 minutes and scored in Wolfsburg’s 4-2 win over Hamburg on Saturday.

MLS Cup Final roundtable: Plenty of talking points for a ‘three-match’

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Don’t call it a three-match. Or do. That’s fine, too.

The MLS Cup Playoffs are down to two very familiar teams, as Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC sprung upsets to set up their third final in four seasons.

[ MORE: Berhalter calls up 20 ]

We asked our writers to lay out the main talking points for the Nov. 10 final in Washington state.


So, Toronto v. Seattle again. MLS won’t tell you they hate it, but the league almost certainly wanted LAFC and Atlanta in this spot, xyeah? What’s your level of interest for the final besides the inherent attraction that comes from it being the last match until Spring?

Joe Prince-WrightI’m like 8/10 intrigued. Toronto and Seattle have provided two very tight and chippy finals in the past. Seems like there’s some bad blood between these teams and add to that an incredible atmosphere at a sold out CenturyLink Field, it should be intense on the pitch and off of it. Also, it’s tough not to focus on Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore for Toronto. With the decline of the USMNT in recent seasons, they’ve taken a lot of stick traveling around MLS from disgruntled U.S. fans. If they deliver a second MLS Cup in three years with Toronto, their moves back to MLS can be deemed a success even if things haven’t been going well on the international stage.

Nick Mendola: There were so many reasons to love the idea of LAFC-Atlanta, with weapons like Carlos Vela, Pity Martinez, Diego Rossi, and a now in-form Ezequiel Barco trying to outdo each other while big names Bob Bradley and Frank De Boer match tactical wits. I also think Atlanta would’ve traveled very well to make a riotous (in a good way) atmosphere even wilder. But… I like this rematch. In terms of tactics, Vanney-Schmetzer should be just as fun for neutrals as Bradley-De Boer, and the USMNT-heavy lineups will make for proper industry and added emotion. Plus, it’s Canada against the U.S. sandwiched between the two nations dueling in high-tension CONCACAF Nations League matches.

I also really like the contrast of the quality dual national goalkeepers, with Quentin Westberg playing his entire career in France before taking Alex Bono’s job in Toronto and Seattle backstop Stefan Frei moving from Switzerland youth player to American college and MLS star.

Kyle Bonn: They definitely wanted LAFC v. Atlanta, which would have been awesome. Now it’ll still be fun, but way more meh.

Joel Soria: I’m moderately interested in this final, mainly because we saw this matchup in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017, respectively. If this were a Champions League Final, then repetition would be much easier to digest. But MLS is supposed to be based around parity, and this has no inklings of that.

What could have been… (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

MLS has shown a home-field advantage that perhaps no other top flight can boast, for lack of a better word. Whose loss was more surprising, LAFC or Atlanta?

Joe Prince-Wright: Hmmm, I want to say LAFC because they were so damn good during the regular season. But they did ease off in the final months and you always sensed they had an early playoff exit in them. For whatever reason, Bob Bradley’s side looked like they were feeling the pressure and the weight of finishing off an incredible season in style was too much. I’d actually vouch for Atlanta being the bigger shock. Frank de Boer’s side finished the season so well and in front of that huge, fired-up crowd they start so well. But fair play to TFC, they dug deep and delivered when it mattered most. ATL’s decision to start an injured Josef Martinez backfired spectacularly and kind of summed up their season. FDB turned it around in the end, but it was far from smooth for the reigning champs.

Nick Mendola: Atlanta, mostly because Toronto was without Jozy Altidore and started Wednesday’s match like the game plan was, “Just play a high line against an electric team and let ’em go back to the final.” Bob Bradley’s LAFC was fantastic, but was bidding to go to their first final. There’s something to be said for going somewhere you haven’t been before, and the three other semifinalists had all won the MLS Cup over the past three seasons. I’m more surprised that Bob Bradley was out-foxed than Frank de Boer’s failure, for what it’s worth.

Kyle Bonn: Atlanta’s was more surprising because they made uncharacteristic mistakes. LAFC always felt like it was on the verge of a disappointment despite all the excitement and positivity surrounding that team. With Atlanta, they really felt like they had figured things out, but suddenly made insane defensive mistakes and misses in front of net uncharacteristic of that team, especially at home.

Joel Soria: LAFC’s without a single doubt. What was destined to be the greatest season put together by any team in the league’s history ended in sheer disappointment at home, inches away from a final. Hard pill to swallow.

Seattle righteously deserved their win while TFC looked very sloppy aside from two impeccable moments from Benezet and DeLeon. How heavy favorites should Seattle be at home?

Joe Prince-Wright: Very heavy. They have so many attacking talents and Toronto have had injury issues to deal with all season long. Seattle should win this by two or three goals, but we all know how crazy and unpredictable MLS can be. I actually think playing away suits TFC. They can sit back, soak up pressure and rely on the talent they have in attack from Pozuelo and Alitdore, if he’s fit to play.

Nick Mendola: Are Omar Gonzalez and Jozy Altidore fit and ready to start? If that’s the case, I think I like the idea of Gonzalez, Laurent Ciman, and the stellar Chris Mavinga combining to make this a much closer match than any are suspecting at the moment and Altidore giving Seattle fits at the back. That said, Altidore’s health is the bane of both TFC and the USMNT over the past two seasons, so Seattle should be considered as comfortable under pressure as David Lee Roth in the bridge of “Panama.”

Kyle Bonn: Quite heavy. In fact I think Toronto is nearly +300 in some places. Anything can happen in this crazy league and Toronto is good enough to win a one-off game like this clearly, but Seattle should win.

Joel Soria: Sure, they’re favorites, but the topic should be approached cautiously. This is MLS, anything can happen.  CenturyLink Field is not immune to the disease.

What’s the top story line, or two, for this final?

Joe Prince-Wright: Redemption for Michael Bradley? He’s quietly been plugging away since Couva and he’s still in the USMNT but as we mentioned, for many he will always be the scapegoat for why the USA didn’t reach the 2018 World Cup. Bradley lifting the MLS Cup trophy with the captains armband on would be oh-so-sweet for his family, especially after LAFC’s failure to reach the final.

Nick Mendola: Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo and Seattle’s Nico Lodeiro are kindred spirits in that they had fits and starts outside of MLS but are megawatt talents in this league. Tell me which one plays better on Nov. 10 and I probably tell you your MLS champion. And I agree with my NBC teammates about Bradley carrying intrigue: The American legend has been fine but just that the past two seasons after spending his first four years with Toronto FC as an absolute game dominator. A title here would be very redemptive.

Kyle Bonn: The top storyline here is a number of U.S. internationals going at it for MLS glory. LAFC v. Atlanta wouldn’t have featured this kind of battle. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley against Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan. I’m excited to see how they do going up against one another.

Joel Soria: Seattle wins an MLS Cup in front of their massive fan base.

Rapid fire. Who would you rather have, assuming full health: Jordan Morris or Jozy Altidore? Nico Lodeiro or Alejandro Pozuelo? Michael Bradley or Cristian Roldan?

Joe Prince-Wright: Altidore, Lodeiro, Bradley

Nick Mendola: Altidore, Pozuelo, Bradley

Kyle Bonn: Altidore, Lodeiro, Bradley

Joel Soria: Altidore, Lodeiro, Roldan

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Either Brian Schmetzer or Greg Vanney will have two MLS Cup titles after Nov. 10. Both, seemingly, don’t get a ton of credit for what they’ve accomplished? If it came down to the better coach, who are you picking to win?

Joe Prince-Wright:  Vanney. I like Schmetzer a lot, and he’s proven to be a very good tactician over the past few years. That said, if it’s a tight, scrappy game, as we expect, then Vanney seems to be able to organize his teams better defensively for these one-off occasions.

Nick Mendola: Schmetzer’s story is wonderful enough that I despite choosing between the two, but what Vanney has done to stabilize an organization (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) which was a bonafide stranger to success is remarkable. Now TFC has a title and is going for two just a few months after the Toronto Raptors claimed an NBA crown. It might sound nuts, but Vanney’s stewardship started it all (as did the purchase of Sebastian Giovinco, but I digress).

Kyle Bonn: Schmetzer has done an unbelievable job with the Sounders in what can only be described as a less than ideal circumstance to begin his first MLS head coaching job. You never want to be the guy after the guy (just ask David Moyes), yet Schmetzer has excelled despite following Sigi Schmid. I think he’s the guy, even though Vanney might be one of the more underrated coaches in the league.

Joel Soria: This is tough, mostly because neither are known for being overly tactically astute coaches. If I had to choose, I’d go with Schmetzer because of his positive demeanor and penchant to win.

Finally, MLS is still gonna MLS, as Andy might say, but this league has grown so much and the trajectory stills feels upward. What’s your state of the league? What’s the best and worst of it?

Joe Prince-Wright: I think MLS is exactly where it should be. Nothing more. Nothing less. There has been some incredible growth in recent years, with Atlanta, Cincinnati and LAFC arriving, plus new stadiums for Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire moving downtown all positives. But with Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger gone and Zlatan Ibrahimovic likely to follow them, where are the next superstar signings coming from? That may be a good thing, as clubs will focus on recruiting young players smartly from Europe and South America, but there’s still a need to attract the world superstars coming towards the end of their careers. Let’s not kid ourselves otherwise.

From a managerial perspective, the league is very strong with a core of American coaches proving their worth (Bradley, Schmetzer, Vanney and Jim Curtin to name a few) and Matias Almeyda, Frank de Boer, Dome Torrent and Guillermo Barros Schelotto all faring well in their first full seasons in MLS. Teams are more interesting tactically and there is now more of a global feel within MLS. With Nashville, Austin, St. Louis, Miami CF and Sacramento all arriving in the coming years via expansion, these are exciting times. But more must be done to improve the fortunes of some of the MLS originals in the Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and Chicago Fire (who have set the wheels in motion) plus the likes of the Montreal Impact and Houston Dynamo need some TLC. MLS can now build from a position of strength, but the direction the league is going in with regards to big-name player purchases and making sure the spotlight is evenly spread across every franchise is perhaps more unbalanced than it has ever been.

Nick Mendola: The league has grown in quality, no doubt, but two major issues remain for it to take the next steps toward being a next level league. First, the top-end, well-paid stars are great but you cannot expect people to really rate a league when Liga MX is so much deeper due to better pay for guys 14-18 on the match day roster. Second, our country is gigantic and about to take its closed-door system and slam it shut on no more than 30-32 markets. That is insane, this league is never going pro-rel without a FIFA mandate (Heck, I bet many European leagues wouldn’t institute pro-rel if they started today because, well money). But try telling major league media markets like Phoenix, Detroit, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, even Buffalo that they’re never dancing on the center stage.

Kyle Bonn: The growth is there, it’s impossible to ignore. I’m still concerned about the overall skill level of the league even after all these years – it doesn’t look good when Zlatan and Rooney both look done in Europe, and come over to MLS and completely dominate the league despite clear weaknesses (have you seen Zlatan try to run?).  That to me is a bad sign. The pay structure of the league still lends itself to a few top-tier stars that dominate the otherwise mediocre talent across the landscape. Still, the league is growing in popularity and exposure, and youth development, and that’s always a positive. The next step is growing the base-level talent, not just investing in brand name stars. I think it’ll come…the base of the league is stronger than it’s ever been.

Joel Soria: From Zlatan (let’s see if he returns) to Vela, from LAFC to Atlanta United, there are a lot of positives going for MLS, at least from a marketing and quality standpoint. My doubts are in the league’s strategies and methods  behind their never-ending expansion process. Cincinnati, Nashville, Miami, Sacramento and Saint Louis are great additions, but no one wants a 35-team league. The approach needs to be pragmatic and less reflective of what has already been done by other major sports leagues in the U.S. It’s worth noting, however, that it might be too late to dial in damage control.

Americans Abroad: Pulisic shines with hat trick, Sargent assists

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A handful of Americans had a splendid weekend abroad.

Just ask Christian Pulisic, who took the world by storm as he became the youngest player to record a hat trick with Chelsea. The 21-year-old registered a perfect hat trick at Turf Moor in the Blues’ 4-2 win over Burnley on Saturday.

Over in the Bundesliga, Josh Sargent recorded his second assist of the season in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Also in Germany, John Brooks returned to Wolfsburg’s starting lineup.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic had a historic night on Saturday. The Pennsylvanian scored three goals in under 60 minutes against Burnley on Saturday.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 1-1 draw against Wolves on Sunday. The fullback has likely locked in his starting role in Steve Bruce‘s scheme after coming back from injury last month.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson is a fixture at Wigan. The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan picked up a point against Bristol City on Sunday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Reading’s match against Nottingham Forrest was rescheduled on Saturday.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain started and played the full 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-0 win over Derby County on Saturday.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender and QPR face Brentford on Monday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and went the full 90 minutes in Stoke City’s 2-0 defeat to Millwall on Saturday. The Potter’s demise continues, and Carter-Vickers is a part of it.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes for Derby County.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t play in Sunderland’s 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 0-0 draw against Augsburg on Saturday. He made two tackles, won six duels, and made two clearances.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie didn’t dress for Schalke on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen started and played all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat to Paderborn. Morales came off the bench and played 25 minutes.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  In 84 minutes of playing time, Sargent registered an assist in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s loss against Freiburg on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature on Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 18 this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler came off the bench and played 11 minutes in Frankfurt’s 4-2 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes for Greuther Furth. Unfortunately, they lost 2-0 to league-leading Stuttgart in the 2. Bundesliga.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started, registered one assist and played 81 minutes in Ajax’s smothering of Feyenoord. An update on his international future is expected soon.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 78 minutes in VVV’s 4-1 loss to Fortuna Sittard.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu came off the bench and registered an assist in Rennes’ 3-2 win over Toulouse.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored a goal in Hobro’s 1-1 draw with Silkeborg on Sunday.

Southgate, England players discuss racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.