La Liga

USMNT, European review: Pefok scores for leaders Union Berlin; McKennie’s Juve lose

0 Comments

This was a heck of a weekend in European football, and the USMNT players abroad played their parts well.

Also a heck of a weekend for Borussias (Borussium? Plural police?), but that’s nothing compared to the vibes in Berlin.

Union Berlin remains first in the Bundesliga as USMNT man Jordan Pefok continues his dynamic duo with Sheraldo Becker.

Borussia Dortmund won a derby and sits first after Bayern Munich suffered a surprise loss.

Borussia Monchengladbach thumped RB Leipzig to move back within shouting distance of the top of the table.

[ MORE: Premier League hub -> Fixtures, results, highlights ]

Over in La Liga, Robert Lewandowski proved his shooting boots are still fine while the latest Barcelona teen to raise eyebrows picked up two assists.

Serie A saw another loss for Juventus, whose last season swoon might’ve been a harbinger of what’s to come for Weston McKennie and Co.

And Ricardo Pepi had a little more pep in his step after being called up to USMNT camp and bagged his first Eredivisie goal.

Read on!


Bundesliga: USMNT youngsters play roles in major wins; Bayern loses

Giovanni Reyna in a Revierderby. Joe Scally In a top-four tilt (most years) versus RB Leipzig. Jordan Pefok (Siebatcheu) keeeping Union Berlin in first!!!!!?!?!?!?!111

Oooh, this is why we like our best and brightest sliding into historic club.

Reyna again had to come off the bench for injured Marco Reus, the latter part being a disheartening trend and a possibly World Cup-ending injury for the BVB bright light, but Borussia Dortmund won the first Revierderby in a few seasons by a 1-0 score at home to Schalke.

Reyna entered in the 32nd minute and went 52 minutes before Thorgan Hazard brought a more veteran presence to the field with BVB in the lead with six minutes to play at the Westfalenstadion.

He finished with a key passes, two completed dribbles, and two shots (neither was on target).

As for Scally, Borussia Monchengladbach seized a bit of momentum by putting a 3-0 beating on Leipzig. The right back won 7-of-10 duels and drew two fouls while registering a key pass

By the way, Bayern lost to Augsburg despite Manuel Neuer’s best efforts.

And Union Berlin won again, with uncalled USMNT striker Jordan Pefok continuing his electric introduction to the Bundesliga and an incredible partnership with Union forward Sheraldo Becker.

Becker had a goal and an assist in Union’s 2-0 win over Wolfsburg, registering five shots and two key passes in a performance that would raise the eyebrows of any national team boss (though maybe any says too much, as Pefok’s only played 30 minutes for Gregg Berhalter since Sept. 9, 2021.

In a nice addition, Wolfsburg deployed 19-year-old American left back Kevin Paredes for the final 11 minutes. The diminutive DC United product has made three first-team appearances this young season.

Union sits first with 17 points, two ahead of Dortmund, and four clear of Freiburg. Bayern, Hoffenheim, and Gladbach follow with 12 each.

Serie A: What?!? 10-man Juventus loses at Monza

What’s more surprising:

  1. Monza has its first Serie A win after entering the game with a minus-11 goal differential through six outings
  2. Juventus has just two points and sits eighth going into the international break?

Wow.

An early Angel Di Maria red card put Weston McKennie and Juve behind the 8-ball away from home but surely winless Monza’s only hope was a point, yes?

Wrong.

Outshot 17-10, Juve’s attack struggled despite McKennie’s best effort. The USMNT man was pretty good and registered two key passes in the loss.

La Liga: Lewandowski shines with latest Barcelona teenager

Robert Lewandowski is going to get a whole ton of headlines after bagging a pair of goals in La Liga following his chance-frittering day against former club Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.

But look at Xavi doing Barca things, bringing a teenage-year-old left back into the fold for a two-assist day in a 3-0 win over 10-man Elche.

Balde turns 19 next month and has made a handful of senior appearances in each of the last two seasons, but appearance No. 6 was a magic one on Saturday (video below).

La Masi-you later!

Elsewhere in La Liga, USMNT man Yunus Musah remained out through injury for Valencia and that meant we did not have USMNT vs USMNT when Luca de la Torre came off Celta Vigo’s bench late in Valencia’s 3-0 win.

Americans Abroad: Ricardo Pepi scores first Eredivisie goal

Even as Augsburg scores a historic win over Bayern Munich, Ricardo Pepi is enjoying life on loan from the Bundesliga set.

Called up to the USMNT for friendlies versus Japan and Saudi Arabia later this month while in-form Union Berlin striker Jordan Pefok was not, his form is clearly joining his national team stock while on loan in the Netherlands.

An assist on debut in a draw versus Cambuur was nice and now the lone Groningen goal in a 2-1 loss to Sparta Rotterdam gave him goal contributions in consecutive games.

Look out Saudi Arabia and Japan? Look out Wales? Here’s where I embed the video at top of my questioning Pefok’s omission and Pepi’s inclusion. Because honesty is good.

Really classy header here:

Gabriel Jesus goal celebration ‘for Vinicius Jr’; Racist attacks ‘need to stop’

0 Comments

Brentford vs Arsenal gave us plenty to talk about but do not miss the importance of Gabriel Jesus’ post-goal celebration.

The Gunners’ brilliant Brazilian showcased a version of countryman Vinicius Jr’s goal dance, a note made much more poignant given the grief and racial animus driven toward the Real Madrid man this week.

Jesus spoke out on the matter after the game, saying, “The celebration was for my guy Vinicius Junior. It needs to stop and it was for him.”

[ MORE: What we learned from Brentford vs Arsenal ]

The racial attacks on Vinicius weren’t simply a matter of faceless ghouls on social media. Pedro Brava is the president of the Association of Spanish Agents and said that Vini needed to “respect your colleagues and stop playing the monkey.”

He has since apologized on Twitter, but Vinicius’ comments on Instagram were a strong and inspirational response. Real Madrid’s 22-year-old forward said plenty (full statement at bottom of post), part of which translates roughly to:

“Weeks ago, they started criminalizing my dances. Dances that are not mine. They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, Paquetá, Griezmann, João Félix, Matheus Cunha … they belong to Brazilian Funk and Samba artists, to reggaeton singers and to Black Americans. They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I’m not going to stop. The script always ends with an apology and an ‘I’ve been misunderstood, but I’ll repeat it for you, racist: I will not stop dancing. Whether it’s in the Sambadrome, in the Bernabéu or wherever.”

Brazilian legend Pele also spoke out in support of Vinicius, saying,

“Football is joy. It’s a dance. It’s a real party. Although racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism this way: fighting for our right to be happy.”

Gabriel Jesus goal video, Vinicius celebration dance

Right on, Vini. And rIght on Gabriel. There’s no room for racism in football.

USMNT, European review: Pepi stars on debut; great weekend for Belgian contingent

0 Comments

USMNT players are in action across Europe this weekend but it was a disappointing few days for Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Yunus Musah and their respective teams.

On a more positive note, in the Netherlands Ricardo Pepi grabbed a debut assist, while Mark McKenzie, Sam Vines and Bryan Reynolds all got wins in Belgium’s top-flight.

[ MORE: Global soccer scoreboard ]

With the 2022 World Cup fast approaching (just over two months to go, everyone), the scramble for spots in Gregg Berhalter’s squad is well and truly on and that is leading to some really good performance from USMNT youngsters all across Europe.

From Germany to Italy and Spain to Turkey, there is a lot going on with these American talents.

[ MORE: USMNT player pool rankings ]

Below is a look at how things are going for the USMNT players in Europe, plus a general roundup up of the top-flight leagues they’re playing in.


World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
Group stage game kick off times: 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
Location: Qatar
TV channel in English: Fox
TV channel in Spanish: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock


Yunus Musah plays 90 but Valencia stumble

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

After grabbing two assists in the win against Getafe last week, U.S. midfielder Yunus Musah started but couldn’t stop Valencia losing 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano. Musah was his typical self, buzzing around and making forward runs to try and help get Valencia back in the game. His cross led to a huge chance early in the second half but Nico Gonzalez couldn’t convert and moments later scored an own goal to seal the win for Rayo. Musah, still just 19, was booked in the second half and played the full 90 minutes. Valencia have lost three of their first five games in La Liga and Musah has started all five and played the full 90 in four games.


Gio Reyna, Dortmund lose at Leipzig; Bayern’s record-breaker

[ MORE: Bundesliga scores, schedule

Marco Rose got off to the perfect start as RB Leipzig’s new manager, as he saw his new side thump his former side Borussia Dortmund 3-0. Two first half goals from Willi Orban and a stunner from Dominik Szoboszlai put Leipzig in a commanding position as substitute Amadou Haidara scored a late goal to clinch it. USMNT attacking midfielder Gio Reyna, 19, came on in the second half as he continues his recovery from long-term injury issues. Reyna (who grabbed two assists in their midweek Champions League win) was subbed on in the 59th minute and had a shot blocked and tried to get his side going, but they finished the day with zero shots on goal. Not great.

Elsewhere in Germany’s top-flight, Mathys Tel made Bayern history as the 17-year-old made his first Bundesliga start against Stuttgart and became their youngest-ever goalscorer in the Bundesliga. He also became the fourth-youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history. What a moment. Bayern did cough up a stoppage time equlalizer, though, as Matthijs de Ligt gave away a penalty kick and Stuttgart snatched the 2-2 draw. Bayern have won three and drawn three of their opening six games this season.


Pefok misses PK, McKennie starts in draw; Dest, De La Torre unused subs

Jordan Pefok missed a first half penalty kick but he continues to help Union Berlin as they secured a 1-0 win against FC Cologne and they sit top of the Bundesliga table on 14 points after six games. With Union already 1-0 up, Pefok hit his penalty kick straight at goalkeeper Marvin Schwabe in the 10th minute. It was a very poor penalty kick. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Joe Scally started at right back and played the full 90 as Borussia Monchengladbach drew 0-0 at second-place SC Freiburg.

In Serie A, Weston McKennie started and played 85 minutes for Juventus who were 2-0 down at home to Salernitana but Juve fought back to make it 2-2 in the 93rd minute. They thought they had won it when Arkadiusz Milik scored late on but the goal was chalked off by VAR and Milik was then sent off as he was shown a second yellow card for taking his shirt off in celebration. Oh dear. Juve sit in 8th place on 10 points, while Napoli, Atalanta and AC Milan all have 14 points atop the table. Speaking of AC Milan, Sergino Dest was an unused sub as 10-man Milan battled to a 2-1 win at Sampdoria, as Olivier Giroud was the hero for the reigning champs.

In La Liga, midfielder Luca de la Torre, 24, was an unused sub as Celta Vigo were smashed 4-1 by Atletico Madrid. Their crosstown rivals Real Madrid continue to set the early-season pace as they roared back from 1-0 down at home to Real Mallorca and won 4-1 thanks to a stunner from Federico Valverde, plus a Vinicius Jr go-ahead goal and goals from Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger. Barcelona also continued their fine start to the new season as they won 4-0 at Cadiz and sit in second-place, two points behind Real Madrid.


Wrapping up the best of the rest

Bryan Reynolds started and played the full 90 at right back for Westerlo as they beat Belgian giants Anderlecht 1-0, while elsewhere in Belgium Sam Vines played the full 90 at left back as Royal Antwerp won 2-0 against Cercle Brugge to remain perfect at the top of the table with eight wins from eight this season. Staying in Belgium’s top-flight, center back Mark McKenzie put in another fine display as Genk won 2-1 at Union Saint-Gilloise.

Across the border in the Netherlands, Ricardo Pepi marked his first appearance for new club Groningen with an assist on their winning goal against Cambuur. The FC Dallas product left Augsburg on a season-long loan to Groningen and it looks like the striker may get on pretty well in the Eredivisie. Coming on as a half time sub, Pepi set up the winner with 20 minutes to go as he won the ball back and set up a counter.

In Greece, Konrad de la Fuente came on as a second half sub for Olympiacos as they drew at home to Volos and sit in second place in the table. While in Turkey, Haji Wright started up top and played the full 90 minutes for Antalyaspor but they lost 1-0 at Kayserispor. Finally, in Portugal Reggie Cannon started but was subbed off at half time as Boavista came from behind to win 2-1 at Arouca. Benfica lead the way in Portugal’s top-flight with six wins from six to start the season.


Sevilla vs Manchester City: How to watch live, updates, team news

0 Comments

Sevilla vs Manchester City live: With Erling Haaland already pouring in goals in the Premier League, surely this must finally be the season that Pep Guardiola and Man City lift the UEFA Champions League trophy. Surely, right?

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The quest begins on Tuesday, as they kick off a hectic 10-week stretch featuring 17 games in 68 days (one game every four days, on average, for just over two months straight) between now and the start of the 2022 World Cup.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Below is everything you need to know for Sevilla vs Manchester City.


How to watch Sevilla vs Manchester City live and start time

Date: Tuesday, September 6
Kick off time: 3 pm ET
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+


Key storylines

Haaland’s 10 goals in six games are, of course, a record for the best goal-scoring start (to a season or career) in Premier League history. The big Norwegian has taken to his new team (and vice versa) better than perhaps anyone thought possible. It’s clear to see that Haaland was signed to win not the Premier League (Man City have already done that six times in the last 11 seasons, including four of the last five), but the Champions League. It’s the last remaining box to tick since Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s takeover in 2008, and Haaland’s red-hot start (and impending month of rest during the World Cup) has Manchester City looking like heavy favorites already.


The lowdown on Sevilla

Sevilla qualified for this season’s Champions League (their sixth appearance in seven seasons) by finishing 4th in La Liga. Last season, they finished 3rd in the UCL group stage (behind Lille and Red Bull Salzburg) and advanced to the round of 16 in the Europa League, where they were bounced by West Ham United. It’s been a rocky start to the 2022-23 season, though, as Julen Lopetegui’s side sits 17th in La Liga with just one point from their first four games.


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Aymeric Laporte (knee), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: John Stone (undisclosed), Kyle Walker (undisclosed), Kalvin Phillips (shoulder)

Barcelona forward Aubameyang attacked by robbers at home

2 Comments

BARCELONA, Spain — A group of masked men broke into the house of Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and attacked and robbed him early Monday, the club said.

Barcelona confirmed the incident and said the player and his wife were doing well.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Authorities told the Spanish daily El Pais that Aubameyang was hit and forced to open a safe where the couple kept jewelry. The attackers allegedly threatened him and his wife with guns and iron bars.

Authorities said at least four men entered the player’s home and then escaped in a car.

The 33-year-old Aubameyang, a Gabon international, signed with Barcelona in the beginning of the year after long stints with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Arsenal in the Premier League.

Aubameyang did not play in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday evening. He is among the players expected to be sold to another team so the club can clear salary cap space.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Two weeks ago, new Barcelona signing Robert Lewandowski had a watch snatched from his arm as he arrived for practice at the club’s training center.

It is not uncommon for soccer players’ houses to be robbed in Spain, though the crimes usually happen when the athletes and their families are away during matches. Among the reported victims in the past were Casemiro, Alvaro Morata, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba and former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Spanish police a few years ago dismantled a gang that had been robbing players’ houses during games.