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MLS: Birnbaum the latest USMNT player linked with Bundesliga transfer

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Steve Birnbaum has been a valuable commodity for Jurgen Klinsmann, and now he may have the chance to move to his national team coach’s home country.

The DC United center back, often linked with a move to Israel Premier League side Maccabi Tel Aviv, is now getting looks from the Bundesliga according to FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio.

[ MORE: Cameron backs Stoke’s Hughes ]

The 25-year-old Cal product has made almost 80 appearances for DC, earning seven caps for the USMNT and scoring a goal against Iceland.

From FourFourTwo.com/us:

Maccabi Tel Aviv is prepared to make another run at Birnbaum in the January transfer window, according to a source, and teams in Germany – including Werder Bremen, which recruited Jordan Morris and has American forward Aron Jóhannsson on the roster – have also expressed interest in adding Birnbaum when the window opens.

Birnbaum would join John Brooks (Hertha Berlin) as American center backs in Germany’s top flight. Along with Patrick Nyarko, he’s been one of DC’s best this season.

Werder Bremen started Lamine Sane and Niklas Moisander in the middle for its last match, and has struggled to replace Jannik Vestergaard, who transferred to Borussia Monchengladbach this summer.

Werder is dead last in the Bundesliga after four matches, allowing 14 goals in its four losses. The club barely avoided relegation last season, but Werder has been a top-flight club since being promoted in 1981.

Europa League roundup: Saints win, Man United fall, Zenit thrills

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The group stage is underway in the UEFA Europa League, and there were plenty of goals — and draws — around the tournament.

[ MORE: Rangers’ Barton sent home ]

An Irish team picked up a point in European competition for the first time ever, Alexandre Pato found the UEL scoreboard for Villarreal, and Ajax came back on the road in Greece.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 3-4 Zenit Saint-Petersburg

An 81st minute red card to 23-year-old Israeli defender Eli Dasa helped turn a 3-0 lead into an embarrassing home loss. A brace from Bosnia and Herzegovina international Haris Medunjanin helped build the three-goal lead, but Aleksandr Kokorin made it 3-1 moments before Dasa was sent off with his second yellow card in three minutes (Amazing how often this happens).

Mauricio made it 3-2 in the 84th minute, before fellow Brazilian midfielder Giuliano notched the equalizer two minutes later. Montenegran youngster Luka Djordjevic found the winner in stoppage time, as the Champions League veterans rescued not just one but all three points at Netanya Stadium.

Southampton 3-0 Sparta PragueRECAP

Charlie Austin converted a fifth-minute penalty and then scored again in the 27th minute to give St. Mary’s a taste of the high life with a two-goal halftime lead. Jay Rodriguez completed the score line in stoppage time as Saints opened the group stage in style.

Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester UnitedRECAP

Tonny Vilhena’s late goal frustrated Jose Mourinho on a day he felt “we were always in control”. There was a razor-thin onside call in the build-up to the goal, but the Red Devils didn’t finish at all in the group stage-opening loss.

Thursday’s Europa League scoreboard
AZ Alkmaar 1-1 Dundalk
Qarabag 2-2 Slovan Liberec
Rapid Wien 3-2 Genk
Fenerbahce 1-1 Zorya Luhansk
Anderlecht 3-1 Qabala
Young Boys 0-1 Olympiacos
Viktoria Plzen 1-1 Roma
Mainz 1-1 Saint Etienne
Apoel Nicosia 2-1 Astana
Astra Giurgiu 2-3 Austria Wien
Sassuolo 3-0 Athletic Bilbao
Red Bull Salzburg 0-1 Krasnodar
PAOK 0-0 Fiorentina
Panathinaikos 1-2 Ajax
Osmanlispor 2-0 Steaua Bucharest
Inter Milan 0-2 Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Standard Liege 1-1 Celta Vigo
Villarreal 2-1 Zurich
Braga 1-1 Gent
Konyapor 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Nice 0-1 Schalke

UEFA Champions League Tuesday preview: Arsenal, Roma in tough spot

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To say it’s do-or-die for some UEFA Champions League sides in the group stage of this 2015-16 tournament is a bit harsh, but only a bit.

[ MORE: Champions League clubs dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist ]

And for some, like Arsenal, it’s the absolute truth. A loss for the Gunners to Bayern Munich — hardly unexpected — would leave them 0-for-3 in group stage games with a visit to the Allianz Arena still to come.

Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich

Aside from the home field advantage provided by the Emirates Stadium, things don’t bode well for the Gunners. The opponents have both faced Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb. Arsenal is 0-2, having allowed give goals. Bayern is 2-0, scoring eight and not conceding a single tally.

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Olympiakos

The winner of this battle will be alone in Group F’s second place, and both are dreaming of the knockout rounds after taking care of Arsenal earlier in group play.

Dynamo Kyiv vs. Chelsea

This is a brutal and tricky trip for the Blues, probably the most difficult to navigate fixture of Group G outside of the other three clubs’ trips to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea enters the match in third place, but will fancy its chances to take all three points from Andriy Yarmolenko, Niko Kranjcar and Dynamo.

Porto vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv

The Israeli side is another club on the brink after starting 0-2 and failing to score a goal. Going to Porto is no cakewalk for any club, and Maccabi could find the end of Tuesday with very little hope of advancing to the knockout rounds.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Hulk and Artem Dzyuba of FC Zenit St. Petersburg celebrate after scoring a goal during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow and FC Zenit St. Petersburg at the Arena Otkritie Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
Hulk and Artem Dzyuba of FC Zenit St. Petersburg (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)
Zenit Saint-Petersburg vs. Lyon

Don’t mess with Hulk and Danny (and Javi Garcia… and Axel Witsel). The Russian powers are off to a great start in Group H, and can essentially seal its fate in the knockout rounds with a win.

Valencia vs. Gent

Fancy Valencia’s chances here, though Gent has been valiant both its defeat at Zenit and home draw versus Lyon.

[ UCL: Bale out for Madrid | No Robben for Bayern ]

BATE Borisov vs Barcelona

Neymar has filled the void of Lionel Messi, inasmuch as filling the shoes of the best player in the world is possible. But Barca’s Belarusian opponents present a hostile place to play, having knocked off Roma this season and Athletic Bilbao last UCL season.

Bayer Leverkusen vs. AS Roma

The Serie A side had its chance to lick its UCL wounds, having fell at BATE and drawn at home against Barca. Now it needs a big road result against Bundesliga opposition, an enemy that plays quite well at home.

UCL roundup: Arsenal, Barca start slow; Chelsea win

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Just like that, Matchday 1 of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League group stage is done and dusted. For the four sides representing the Premier League, it wasn’t the best 24 hours England’s top flight has ever had — one win and three defeats in four games played.

Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal MORE

Olivier Giroud had a really, really bad night out in Croatia. The French striker had a pair of close-range chances saved in before the hour mark and was eventually sent off shortly before halftime. With just 10 men on the field, Arsenal shipped a second goal to the reigning Croatian champions and currently find themselves third in Group F.

Chelsea 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv MORE

Back in London, Chelsea made fairly easy work of Maccabi Tel Aviv, despite a stumble out of the blocks that included a skied penalty attempt from Eden Hazard. Willian, Oscar (penalty), Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas provided the Blues’ haul of goals on the evening, sending the reigning Premier League champions top of Group G.

Roma 1-1 Barcelona

Roma midfielder Alessandro Florenzi did this, which was pretty memorable. On second thought, it was an all-time great Champions League goal. Luis Suarez scored Barcelona’s only goal of the game off a header from close range. Lionel Messi appeared in the 100th Champions League of his career, and for what seems like the first time ever, failed to mark the occasion with a goal.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Olympiakos 0-3 Bayern Munich

Not wanting to feel left out in the wake of Florenzi’s stunner, Thomas Mueller scored a cheeky chip of his own, though it felt more like a wayward cross that crept inside the far post. That made it 1-0 in the 52nd minute. Mueller completed his brace in the 89th minute, two minutes after Mario Goetze had made it 2-0 to the Bavarian giants. The reigning Bundesliga champions are top of Group F.

Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 BATE Borisov

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored his first goal for Leverkusen (WATCH HERE), which made the score 3-1 in the 58th minute. Hakan Calhanoglu, who is widely recognized as “the free kick master,” bagged a brace as Leverkusen rolled to a 4-1 victory and the top spot in Group E.

Valencia 2-3 Zenit St. Petersburg

Hulk bagged a brace, including one particularly notable laser beam from 25 yards out — typical Hulk stuff, you know — to cancel out a goal scored by Andre Gomes and an own goal pushed over the line by Zenit midfielder Axel Witsel. It was Witsel, though, who scored the eventual winner in the 76th minute to put the reigning Russian champions top of Group H.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Dynamo Kyiv 2-2 Porto

Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar bagged a brace of his own, but goals scored by Oleg Gusev and Vitaliy Buyalsky — the latter coming not until the 89th minute — meant the points were to be split between the reigning Ukrainian champions and Portuguese league runners-up.

Gent 1-1 Lyon

Christophe Jallet gave Lyon a 1-0 lead int he 58th minute, but Danijel Milicevic equalized 10 minutes later for the reigning Belgian champions to rescue a point at home.

Chelsea 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv: Mourinho’s men ease to win

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Phew. That was a relief.

Chelsea bagged its first home win of the season on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge, as Jose Mourinho’s side put their bad start in the Premier League behind them to beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 in their UEFA Champions League opener.

[ MORE: UCL standings ]  

The Blues scored twice in each half to down the Israeli outfit and go top of Group G, with Willian, Oscar, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas scoring, while Eden Hazard also missed an early penalty kick. Next up in UCL play for the Blues is a trip to Mourinho’s old club, FC Porto, while Maccabi have a vital home game against Dynamo Kiev as they aim to kick-start their first Champions League campaign in 11 years after a humbling defeat in London.

After just one minute, Chelsea youngster Loftus-Cheek was shown a yellow card for a strong tackle with the academy product walking a tightrope for the rest of the match. Just five minutes in Chelsea were awarded a penalty kick as Tal Ben Haim gave the ball away and Loic Remy played in Willian who was brought down by Pedrag Rajkovic. Stonewall penalty. However, Belgian winger Hazard smashed the resulting spot kick miles over the bar as Chelsea missed a great opportunity to go 1-0 up with less than five minutes on the clock.

[ MORE: UCL schedule ]

The Blues did go ahead after 15 minutes as Willian curled a long-range free kick into a dangerous area and the ball missed everyone and flew into the far corner. 1-0 to Chelsea as Mourinho punched the air with relief more than delight. However, Willian’s joy was short-lived as the winger was forced off through injury moments later after appearing to pull his hamstring. Diego Costa came on in his place as Remy was moved out to the wing.

In the 30th minute Maccabi had a great chance to make it 1-1 as Nikola Mitrovic’s free kick from the right found Eran Zahavi unmarked but the attacker sent his header way over despite slack marking. A let off for the Blues. Just before half time Oscar rattled the bar with an effort from close range but the referee had already pulled play back for a high foot from Costa, then Chelsea won another penalty as Costa wriggled free in the box and Ben Haim was adjudged to have brought him down. This time Oscar stepped up and the Brazilian playmaker sent Rajkovic the wrong way. 2-0 to Chelsea as the half time whistle blew. In the second half Maccabi started brightly and Avi Rikan’s shot bounced off Nosa Igebor and squirmed agonizingly wide for the Israeli outfit.

But just before the hour mark Chelsea trebled their lead as Fabregas clipped in a delightful ball into the box as Costa sent a volley off the crossbar and in with his back to goal. 3-0, as the Spanish international scored his first goal in Europe for the Blues. Late on Mourinho’s men added some more gloss to the scoreline as a rapid counter attack saw Remy have his shot saved but Fabregas was on hand to tap home Chelsea’s fourth.

Youngster Bertrand Traore came off the bench for the final 15 minutes, replacing the impressive Loftus-Cheek, and he curled a beauty just wide of the post as the West London club got their UCL campaign off to a flying start with a comfortable victory.

Now, can they take this form into their huge London derby vs. Arsenal (who lost away at Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League opener) on Saturday at Stamford Bridge?